US citizens of all political persuasions are still reeling from images of unparallelled police brutality in a coordinated crackdown against peaceful OWS protesters in cities across the nation this past week. An elderly woman was pepper-sprayed in the face; the scene of unresisting, supine students at UC Davis being pepper-sprayed by phalanxes of riot police went viral online; images proliferated of young women – targeted seemingly for their gender – screaming, dragged by the hair by police in riot gear; and the pictures of a young man, stunned and bleeding profusely from the head, emerged in the record of the middle-of-the-night clearing of Zuccotti Park.
But just when Americans thought we had the picture – was this crazy police and mayoral overkill, on a municipal level, in many different cities? – the picture darkened. The National Union of Journalists and the Committee to Protect Journalists issued a Freedom of Information Act request to investigate possible federal involvement with law enforcement practices that appeared to target journalists. The New York Times reported that “New York cops have arrested, punched, whacked, shoved to the ground and tossed a barrier at reporters and photographers” covering protests. Reporters were asked by NYPD to raise their hands to prove they had credentials: when many dutifully did so, they were taken, upon threat of arrest, away from the story they were covering, and penned far from the site in which the news was unfolding. Other reporters wearing press passes were arrested and roughed up by cops, after being – falsely – informed by police that “It is illegal to take pictures on the sidewalk.”
In New York, a state supreme court justice and a New York City council member were beaten up; in Berkeley, California, one of our greatest national poets, Robert Hass, was beaten with batons. The picture darkened still further when Wonkette and Washingtonsblog.com reported that the Mayor of Oakland acknowledged that the Department of Homeland Security had participated in an 18-city mayor conference call advising mayors on “how to suppress” Occupy protests.
To Europeans, the enormity of this breach may not be obvious at first. Our system of government prohibits the creation of a federalised police force, and forbids federal or militarised involvement in municipal peacekeeping.
I noticed that rightwing pundits and politicians on the TV shows on which I was appearing were all on-message against OWS. Journalist Chris Hayes reported on a leaked memo that revealed lobbyists vying for an $850,000 contract to smear Occupy. Message coordination of this kind is impossible without a full-court press at the top. This was clearly not simply a case of a freaked-out mayors’, city-by-city municipal overreaction against mess in the parks and cranky campers. As the puzzle pieces fit together, they began to show coordination against OWS at the highest national levels.
Why this massive mobilisation against these not-yet-fully-articulated, unarmed, inchoate people? After all, protesters against the war in Iraq, Tea Party rallies and others have all proceeded without this coordinated crackdown. Is it really the camping? As I write, two hundred young people, with sleeping bags, suitcases and even folding chairs, are still camping out all night and day outside of NBC on public sidewalks – under the benevolent eye of an NYPD cop – awaiting Saturday Night Live tickets, so surely the camping is not the issue. I was still deeply puzzled as to why OWS, this hapless, hopeful band, would call out a violent federal response.
That is, until I found out what it was that OWS actually wanted.
The mainstream media was declaring continually “OWS has no message”. Frustrated, I simply asked them. I began soliciting online “What is it you want?” answers from Occupy. In the first 15 minutes, I received 100 answers. These were truly eye-opening.
The No 1 agenda item: get the money out of politics. Most often cited was legislation to blunt the effect of the Citizens United ruling, which lets boundless sums enter the campaign process. No 2: reform the banking system to prevent fraud and manipulation, with the most frequent item being to restore the Glass-Steagall Act – the Depression-era law, done away with by President Clinton, that separates investment banks from commercial banks. This law would correct the conditions for the recent crisis, as investment banks could not take risks for profit that create kale derivatives out of thin air, and wipe out the commercial and savings banks.
No 3 was the most clarifying: draft laws against the little-known loophole that currently allows members of Congress to pass legislation affecting Delaware-based corporations in which they themselves are investors.
When I saw this list – and especially the last agenda item – the scales fell from my eyes. Of course, these unarmed people would be having the shit kicked out of them.
For the terrible insight to take away from news that the Department of Homeland Security coordinated a violent crackdown is that the DHS does not freelance. The DHS cannot say, on its own initiative, “we are going after these scruffy hippies”. Rather, DHS is answerable up a chain of command: first, to New York Representative Peter King, head of the House homeland security subcommittee, who naturally is influenced by his fellow congressmen and women’s wishes and interests. And the DHS answers directly, above King, to the president (who was conveniently in Australia at the time).
In other words, for the DHS to be on a call with mayors, the logic of its chain of command and accountability implies that congressional overseers, with the blessing of the White House, told the DHS to authorise mayors to order their police forces – pumped up with millions of dollars of hardware and training from the DHS – to make war on peaceful citizens.
But wait: why on earth would Congress advise violent militarised reactions against its own peaceful constituents? The answer is straightforward: in recent years, members of Congress have started entering the system as members of the middle class (or upper middle class) – but they are leaving DC privy to vast personal wealth, as we see from the “scandal” of presidential contender Newt Gingrich’s having been paid $1.8m for a few hours’ “consulting” to special interests. The inflated fees to lawmakers who turn lobbyists are common knowledge, but the notion that congressmen and women are legislating their own companies’ profitsis less widely known – and if the books were to be opened, they would surely reveal corruption on a Wall Street spectrum. Indeed, we do already know that congresspeople are massively profiting from trading on non-public information they have on companies about which they are legislating – a form of insider trading that sent Martha Stewart to jail.
Since Occupy is heavily surveilled and infiltrated, it is likely that the DHS and police informers are aware, before Occupy itself is, what its emerging agenda is going to look like. If legislating away lobbyists’ privileges to earn boundless fees once they are close to the legislative process, reforming the banks so they can’t suck money out of fake derivatives products, and, most critically, opening the books on a system that allowed members of Congress to profit personally – and immensely – from their own legislation, are two beats away from the grasp of an electorally organised Occupy movement … well, you will call out the troops on stopping that advance.
So, when you connect the dots, properly understood, what happened this week is the first battle in a civil war; a civil war in which, for now, only one side is choosing violence. It is a battle in which members of Congress, with the collusion of the American president, sent violent, organised suppression against the people they are supposed to represent. Occupy has touched the third rail: personal congressional profits streams. Even though they are, as yet, unaware of what the implications of their movement are, those threatened by the stirrings of their dreams of reform are not.
Sadly, Americans this week have come one step closer to being true brothers and sisters of the protesters in Tahrir Square. Like them, our own national leaders, who likely see their own personal wealth under threat from transparency and reform, are now making war upon us.
Thank you to xnegativeandviolentx for the link for this.
Mississippi voters will go to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 8, to decide Initiative 26, commonly known as the “personhood” initiative. The initiative declares that a fertilized human egg is a person. Initiative 26 would amend the Mississippi state constitution so that the term “person” be defined “to include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the equivalent thereof.”
This is just one of the horrendous examples of the religious right attempting to run amok in this country. This is an attempt to sneak in a provision that will effectively outlaw abortions. They know that they are unable to outlaw abortions outright but if they can change what is defined as a “person” they can make an abortion the equivalent of a murder. Not to mention how it may effect birth control, including “plan B”. This is an attack on women and the right’s of women. How can any state in this day and age stand for this type of outrage? How can something like this even make it on the ballot?
The war on women in this country needs to stop. We need to stop battling each other and looking to hold each other back and work on moving forward as a country. The United States is no longer the world power it once was, and it likely never will be again, our power is going to continue to wain as we have people continually attempting to oppress others. When will it end? When can we simply settle this subject and no longer have to endure these moronic lunatics attempting to tell women what to do with their bodies?
|—||Bill Maher (via anarchofeminist)|
Christians protest the stupidest things. This was taken from my Facebook page, I didn’t think I had any people that would put something like this still on my friends list. Also, brb, buying lots of Dr. Pepper.
The taste of secularism does make the world taste better!
Governor scumbag wants to become president scumbag. This is the country I live in.
Sen. Bernie Sanders kicks serious ass on the floor. Elections have consequences. Here’s a transcript:
We are at a pivotal moment in American history, and many Americans watching the deficit talks in Washington are confused, perplexed, angry and frustrated.
This country, which has paid its debts from Day 1, must pay its debts. Anyone who says it is not a big deal for this country to default clearly does not understand what he or she is talking about. This is a nation whose faith and credit has been the gold standard of countries throughout the world. Some people simply say we’re not going to pay our debt, that there’s nothing to really worry about. Those are people who are wishing our economy harm for political reasons, and those are people whose attitudes will have terrible consequences for virtually every working family in this country in terms of higher interest rates, in terms of significant job loss, in terms of making a very unstable global economy even more unstable.
Our right-wing friends in the House of Representatives have given us an option. What they have said is end Medicare as we know it and force elderly people, many of whom don’t have the money, to pay substantially more for their health care. So when you’re 70 under their plan and you get sick and you don’t have a whole lot of income, we don’t know what happens to you. They forget to tell us that if their plan was passed you’re going to have to pay a heck of a lot more for the prescription drugs you’re getting today. They we’re going to throw millions of kids off health insurance. If your mom or dad is in a nursing home and that nursing home bill is paid significantly by Medicaid and Medicaid isn’t paying anymore, they forgot to tell us what happens to your mom or dad in that nursing home. What happens?
And what happens today if you are unemployed and you’re not able to get unemployment extension? What happens if you are a middle-class family desperately trying to send their kids to college and you make savage cuts to Pell grants and you can’t go to college? What does it mean for the nation if we are not bringing forth young people that have the education that they need? They forgot to tell us that. And if you are one of the growing number of senior citizens in this country who are going hungry, they want to cut nutrition programs. And on and on it goes. Every program that has any significance to working families, the sick, the elderly, the children, the poor, they are going to cut in the midst of a recession when real unemployment is already at 15 percent and the middle class is disappearing and poverty is increasing. That’s their idea.
Shouldn’t the wealthiest Americans and the most profitable corporations contribute to deficit reduction rather than just the elderly and the sick and working families? They say no. They’re going to defend the richest people in this country - millionaires and billionaires - and make sure they don’t pay a nickel more in taxes. We’re going to make sure there is no tax reform so we can continue to lose $100 billion every single year because wealthy people and corporations stash their money in tax havens in the Cayman Islands or Bermuda, and that’s just fine. We’ll protect those tax breaks while we savage programs for working families.
Those are the choices that our right-wing Republican friends are giving us. Default with horrendous economic consequences for working families in this country and for the entire global economy or massive cuts to programs that working families desperately need.
Neither of those options is acceptable to me. Neither are those options acceptable to the vast majority of the people in this country. Every single poll that I have seen says that the American people want shared sacrifice. They don’t want or believe that deficit reduction can simply come down on the backs of the weak and the vulnerable, the elderly, the children, and the poor. They believe that the wealthy and large corporations also have to participate.
In all honesty, I also must tell you that I have been disappointed by President Obama’s role in these discussions. He has brought forth and idea which I categorically reject, that we should make significant cuts in Social Security, that when someone when someone reaches the age of 85, they would lose $1,000 as opposed to what they would have otherwise gotten. This senator is not going to balance our budget on the backs of an 85-year-old person who’s earning $14,000 a year. And this senator does not agree with the president that we should raise eligibility age for Medicare from 65 to 67, because I don’t know what happens to millions of people who have worked their whole lives, finally reach 65 anticipating Medicare but it’s not going to be there for them.
One of the most important lessons in all of this is that elections have consequences. Many people now are beginning to catch on to that. It is no secret that our right-wing Republican colleagues did very well in November 2010. They captured the House of Representatives.
If you believe that we have to start investing in America and creating the millions of jobs that this country desperately needs, elections have consequences. If you believe that we have to address the deficit crisis in a way that is responsible, in a way that asks the wealthy and large corporations also to play a role, in a way that calls for cuts in defense spending and bringing our troops home as soon as possible from Afghanistan and Iraq, you have got to be involved in the political process.
In my view a group of people in the House whose views represent a small minority of the American people are holding this Congress hostage. It is time for the American people to stand up and say, enough is enough; the function of the United States Congress is to represent all of our people and not just the wealthy and powerful.
Have you seen Colbert hilarious anti-fracking rant? Brilliant.
We have learned to make solar cells that are nearly as easy as printing them and as thin as paper. Can we start using energy that doesn’t turn our water in flammable poison please?
Say what you want about Slick Willie’s personal life, but he’s not wrong here people. US politics needs to start operating in reality. Currently not our strong suit but we can do it I’m sure of it.
This isn’t a shock at all. Still think we don’t need more gun regulation USA? It’s not that I want you not to have one. It’s that it shouldn’t be so easy to arm yourself for a mini personal war. And selling guns to drug cartels? Seriously?!? You do realize they abduct Americans for ransom too right? They don’t just harm other Mexicans. For fuck’s sake what the hell are these people thinking.
Our neighbors affect us and Mexico is our neighbor. That means we affect Mexico too. It won’t hurt us one bit to change our gun policies to something less reckless. And while it won’t stop or solve the problem as a whole, it makes no sense to keep doing something wrong when doing something right is harmless.
|—||Benjamin Franklin (via ageofreason)|