Category : protest

The fact that no group of disaffected Washington insiders have even attempted to form a centrist third party is, in itself, a pretty strong argument that all the insiders already know the game is rigged. There’s no chance of a moderate third party gaining significant support anymore. The time was ripe, even just a few years ago, but as this article about the decline of the Blue Dog Democrats — the conservative wing of the Democratic party — points out, voters are voting out moderates.

There is an element of irony to this; the Blue Dog’s centrism was directly responsible for the toning down of some of the most progressive aspects of the original House version of the Affordable Care Act (AKA healthcare reform) and the elimination of the “public option.” Republican and moderate voters rewarded their centrism by voting them out. Despite some of these members’ popularity, the Democratic brand in their districts had been too tainted.

As the first commenter on the above article mentions, the same is true of moderate Republicans. Moderates on both sides of the aisle are being ostracized by their parties and shunned by voters (partially as the result of decreased financial support from the party apparatus, which means less TV ads).

Cast out of their jobs and their respective parties these wandering politicians and their staff would no doubt commiserate at the bar and start unifying into a cohesive new political force, right?

Wrong. There has been no serious attempt at centrist third party and it’s really suspicious that there has not been one. The idea is so obvious that you have to wonder if the insiders are afraid of something. Instead of the natural fractioning and reassembly of a multi-party system we are watching the two parties get more extreme and less able to agree on anything (except their mutual preference for a two-party system), so it leaves us with a completely deadlocked Congress. Voters on both sides thought the solution to the financial crisis was to swing the ship of state to their side, but in the end we just kept going straight. The so-called “super-committee” set up to shave trillions off our debt failed, just as it was designed to do. The rocky shoreline is now dead-ahead.

Who can turn this ship? Obama? No, he has no real power. With a completely deadlocked Congress the president is rather impotent. Any radical solutions on Obama’s part will be crushed with fervor by the right and with meekness by the paid-for left. The number of uncorrupt, intelligent and generally decent congress-critters probably numbers less than 100. The other 435+ will simply outvote the patriots and the zombie system will continue on its merry way towards the threatening shoals.

I wrote earlier that the chance of forming a third party to rebut the extremism of both parties is now zero. That’s for two reasons: First, the jagged shores are too close and second, the Occupy Wall Street has already claimed the political center and simultaneously radicalized it.

I must admit, I’m delighted by the movement’s acceptance by the mainstream population. Around 70% approve of or don’t mind the protesters nationally and 87% of New Yorkers are okay with their branch of Occupy Together. That’s a fantastic number for a protest group, and the weasel-faced party apparatchiks in Washington have surely taken notice by now. There must be a barely-controlled sense of panic in their hearts as they notice that OWS is out-polling Obama, either party, Congress (which recently came in at a laughable 9% approval rate) or basically any other institution like journalism, banks or the Supreme Court.

Despite the general perception that Occupy Wall Street is a leftist group, most of the people actually camping out are political independents. That means they either don’t vote because they think it’s rigged or they vote mostly third party and for the occasional mainstream politician who has won their support. Barack Obama was that candidate in 2008; can he be the one again in 2012? Things look doubtful, but Obama has wisely positioned himself near the group that is, essentially, more popular than he is. Will that lead to a more radical campaign platform, even one featuring bold, but practical solutions to the problems we face?

Anything is possible, but the conventional wisdom says … what? What does the conventional wisdom say we should do in a time like this?

There isn’t any “conventional” wisdom for these unconventional times. And any attempt at forming a moderate coalition will be crushed by the two-party apparatus — the only time they work in unison is when the two party system is threatened.

Humanity is facing a triple crisis: The most powerful nation is politically deadlocked and fading fast, the world’s economy is deeply sick and appears to be close to slipping into a coma from which it can never fully return, and the planet’s environment is calling out in pain and metamorphosing at an alarming rate. We are changing, but into what?

Maybe we should take a look at the birth-place of civilization as we contemplate its demise. In Egypt, there is hope.

First Egypt united to overthrew their rancid dictator in-all-but-name Hosni Mubarak, and now they have wisely and quickly sniffed out Field Marshal Tantawi’s attempts to subvert the transition to democracy by grabbing more power for the military. The people are back in Tahrir Square, protesting and dying for their freedom. It is heartening to see such a brave stand for democracy in Egypt, something we haven’t seen in America in a long, long time. But the Occupy Wall Street movement is borrowing the energy and idealism of the people of Egypt — and Syria and Tunisia and Yemen and even Israel! There are tent cities springing up all over the tiny state as its economy is squeezed by the global crunch.

We are in global revolution territory, folks.

The Occupy Together website shows just how global the movement really is. There are activities happening on every continent. There’s even an Occupy Antactica. Seriously.

As usual, the politicians are way behind the people. I’m not sure how much time is left before the 3 major crises’ Rubicons are reached, but somebody needs to do something before it’s too late. I don’t expect the current economic system to survive 2012. It might not even survive 2011 with the way things look in Europe. Every major economy is running on fumes, even China’s. We now stare down the precipice of complete and total collapse.

The powerlessness of Obama’s office notwithstanding, it is still an important center of symbolism in America. If he can find a way to tap into the Occupy Wall Street anger to effect real change in Washington it could be the trigger that’s needed to unleash the new world. The old economic system has to die, and politics-as-usual has to find a new normal. Then we can clean up this planet, unleash the hidden technologies suppressed by the oily elite and begin our journey into a Star Trek-esque future instead of a Terminator-esque future. Until the kidney-stone that is the global elite is removed from its obstructive position there will be little to no positive change on this world. To that end we must unify, occupy and reclaim the sword of liberty.

So rejoice, for the spirit of democracy still flows through the people. That is enough for me to sleep a little sounder at night, even as Late-Stage American Capitalism approaches the End-Stage. I hope there is a solution waiting in the wings (and I think there is), because this was is teetering on the edge. When it falls, Occupy Wall Street will only get more powerful. So you might as well occupy the future now.

Perhaps it’s obvious to say that there are political undercurrents at work in the Iranian Revolution 2009 we’re witnessing, but it goes well beyond the streets of Tehran. This is a global phenomenon and it bodes ill for the Old Ways.

If you’re reading this blog you’re probably a little more savvy than most, but for those who are new to social media this coup attempt is shining a light on something certain elements within our political structure have tried to keep hidden: Iranians are just like us.

That might not seem like such a radical statement, but when you’re in the business of demonizing people it’s an earth-shattering revelation. Here in America, our government and our media have been in the business of demonizing Iran for the last 30 years. If the revolution succeeds and Ahmadinejad is thrown into the dustbin of history then our government will not have a despotic Iran to kick around any more. Early indications are that the people of Iran and Mousavi’s hypothetical government will favor normalizing relations with America, or at least responding favorably to Obama’s overtures.

You might think this would make the neocons very happy, but that is not the case. Blogger Andrew Sullivan has been on top of the revolution from the get-go and he says: “Even I am a little taken aback by the neocons’ desire for an Ahmadinejad victory.”

The sad truth is that a lot of people are scared of change and they don’t like it when their favorite whipping-horse suddenly grabs the reins with his teeth.

Given the incredible impact that social media has had in this election/coup it should not be surprising if hardline forces –not just in Iran — take a dim view of social media in the future.

The first thing the illegitimate Iranian government did when it saw trouble brewing was to block Facebook and Twitter. Cell phone service was taken down in many areas. Mousavi’s website was taken out by government forces.

It’s obvious why: Social media is an inherently democratizing force.

Allowing people to connect outside of traditional, controlled channels is dangerous for any repressive regime. People can share news instantly, they can plan, they can support each other and they can warn each other of danger. This used to be the province of the authorities with their rigid hierarchies, their walkie-talkies and their chains of command.

Now anybody with a cellphone can change the world with a hashtag.

I say again: Iranians are just like us. They love Facebook and have a Mousavi fan page with 50,000 supporters. They have been using Twitter (and Twitpic) extensively. (Check out this page for a list of English language Iranian twitterers). And videos depicting the mostly-peaceful marches today are already showing up on YouTube:

As night falls things are getting more violent. It’s too early to declare victory, but I think the world is starting to see that the divisions our mainstream media has helped our government create are largely an artifice of ignorance and omission. We are all the same on Facebook. We are one on Twitter.

Social media is the bane of dictators everywhere, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But we have to be ready for the backlash against social media by those hardline forces stuck in the past. They may start to attack social media out of fear. We can’t let those repressive forces have their say anymore. If Iran can stand up for democracy, we can too.

There’s something thrilling going on in Iran.

You wouldn’t know it from the coverage on many mainstream media news outlets this weekend (Fox, CNN and ABC, I’m looking in your direction), but there’s a revolution going on in Iran!

It’s a good kind of revolution; pro-freedom, pro-democracy and mostly peaceful (though many protestors are being beaten by police and Hezbollah thugs). The people of Iran are standing up for truth and justice and they are not being intimidated by theocratic thugs and government lies.

It makes me wonder why our U.S. media isn’t really standing with the people of Iran. Maybe it’s because I’m getting cynical in my (heh) old age, but I think it has something to do with the loss of their favorite boogey-man. It’s getting harder and harder to portray Iranians as fanatical terrorists bent on the destruction of the West:

Perhaps the most moving scene involved a group of young demonstrators, displaying the green colours of Mir-Hossein Mousavi, the defeated challenger, breaking into English and chanting: “We want freedom.”In an instant, these television pictures from Tehran delivered a stark reminder that Iran is not a backward country of medieval fanatics, but a modern nation with 70 million people, two thirds of whom are under 30 and have the same interests and aspirations as their Western counterparts.

These are my peers. My fellow-Twitterers. My friends. My brothers and sisters.

This is the real Iran:

No more distortions. No more hate. No more fear-mongering, Fox News! No more! We are the same, the Iranian People and those of us in the United States who still value and cherish freedom.

There is no difference between us beyond geography. Many of the Iranians even speak English and they are young and internet-savvy: they have been using Twitter to organize on the fly and there was a collective moan when Facebook was blocked. This is a youth movement that is cracking the edifice of lies that have served the hardliners on both sides for far too long.

Just don’t watch television if you want the real scoop:

Today, as global geopolitics is shaken to its core by events in Iran, I turned on cable news this morning, and saw endless ads for a Larry King Jonas Brothers “interview”, Morning Joe yukking it up discussing Kuwaiti massage therapists, a video of a tomato throwing contest on CNN, talk radio blowhard Bill Bennett…and occasionally a phone call from Christiane Amanpour in Tehran. I can’t even bring myself to turn on the network morning programs, I might vomit.

The mainstream media is rapidly smothering itself into a coma of irrelevance. Do they think we’re too stupid to get the news from somewhere else? Heck, I don’t even need the media at this point; I can get info directly from the participants in the struggle via Twitter.

Bloggers like Andrew Sullivan are covering the protests virtually nonstop. With the Huffington Post on the case, who needs the MSM?

At this point, Big Media is just playing catch-up. They were asleep at the switch for several days, but now seem to be paying attention again… but they are definitely not leading; they are following.

I should note that I’m taking it for granted that the election was stolen. They apparently did not even do a good job of it. From the numbers I’ve seen, Ahmadinejad didn’t even finish second! He finished 3rd, behind another reform candidate! Mousavi, the challenger and probable winner, was actually told by the Interior Ministry that he had won and to prepare his victory speech (which they insisted must be gracious and not boastful) before turning around and declaring Ahmadinejad the winner by a landslide. The numbers belie this laughable claim. The official results have Mousavi losing his home turf (preposterous) and big urban areas where he has polled higher than Ahmadinejad.

Let’s face it: This election was straight-up rigged. The Iranians know it and they’re not standing for it, which is more than I can say for Americans (*cough-2000-cough*). Now is our chance to repent for our laziness and apathy and support the democracy-loving Iranians with all our hearts!

I stand with the Iranian People in solidarity. We stand for Democracy, Freedom and Justice! May the winds of change bring peace and prosperity to Iran. Peace be upon you!

I don’t hate the police for arresting me without probable cause or any concern for my civil liberties. The problem is institutional and systemic. The police merely carry out orders. The leaders in government and business are the ones who have erected this steel-barricaded oligarchy, and they are ultimately to blame for the sad state of civil liberties in this country, which in turn has lead to a serious downturn in the quality of our political system. Politicians are merely corporate whores; they spend 90% of their time schmoozing for cash in order to afford re-election, which incumbents manage to do over 90% of the time.

People are pissed about this. I am one of them. The cops are no different than barbed wire and steel barricades. They’re just an obstacle to freedom set up by the ruling class in order to protect them from us, no matter how peacefully we approach them with our greivances. They don’t want to hear about it because it’s a zero sum game — their power depends on the abdication of our liberties. They are not inclined to hear or obey the people because they are not of the people. They are the Oligarchs; the Ruling Elite. They rule by force and manipulation. They are not a government by and for the people, they are a fascist oligarchy run by megalomaniacs for their own twisted gain.

Never take your eye off the ball. The cops are pawns in this just like the rest of us. To see who’s playing the game, look to the Superclass.

I went downtown to St. Paul in order to get some pictures and observe the situation (I already protested on Monday), but John Ireland Bridge was blocked by the police with dump trucks when I got there. The cops said there was a bomb threat to the Minnesota Historical Society, but that was quite clearly a lie since they were standing so close to it and they’d already closed the other bridges as I found out later.

cops in front of historical

So I went over to the capitol on foot using the Marion Street Bridge instead. I saw more cops than protesters.

protester at John Ireland Blvd bridge

The cops had the city in a headlock. All the other bridges were closed by the police; cops, BCA agents and national guardsman were everywhere. St. Paul was on fucking lockdown.

A shitload of cops

By the time I found out how totally heavy-handed the police presence was I was getting tired and decided to split. I was trying to get back to my car on the other side of the Marion street bridge when I saw a group about 200 protesters approaching the bridge. That’s why I’m walking against the flow at the beginning of the video. Unfortunately I was too busy trying to get good footage and didn’t notice the cops had surrounded us on all sides.

Soon the police started firing flash grenades, smoke bombs and generally scaring the shit out of me and all these peaceful protesters. We were corraled onto the bridge where they told us we were all under arrest, but not before all of us were shellshocked by the overwhelming police response. Watch the video, but beware that it’s intense, chaotic and there’s swearing and explosions.

Notice how none of the protesters resisted or attacked the cops in any way. This is ironic because we were charged with “resisting a lawful order” along with the 1st amendment-killing crime of “presence at an unlawful assembly.” Whatever happened to the right of people to peaceably assemble?

We are not free; The Bill of Rights is no longer operative.

If you aren’t reading this from jail that simply means the cops haven’t bothered to arrest you on trumped up charges yet. They can clearly do exactly that whenever they want, with no repercussions. I wasn’t even part of the protest and I was charged with being part of an “unlawful assembly.”

The whole arrest process took hours. We were told to sit and put our hands on our heads, which many people had to do for several hours (your arms get sore). I was cuffed after an hour or so and stood around for another hour waiting to get my mug shot (on the bridge; this was all very ad hoc). Since we were on the bridge for so long they eventually hauled at least 3 porta-potties onto the bridge itself, for both police and protester usage (under heavy guard, of course).

Eventually I was led onto a city bus with 40 other arrestees and brought to the Ramsey County jail for booking. They searched me about 5 times, confiscated all my stuff, and gave me a paper bag with a peanutbutter and jelly sandwitch and two apples. See, even oppressive police tactics have a Minnesota Nice aspect. Of course we didn’t get knives so we had to spread the jelly and PB with our fingers.

Hours dragged by as we waded our way through the bureaucracy and were eventually cited and loaded onto a paddywagon and driven out of the jail. They let us out just outside the fences and we were free and on our own far from where we were arrested, but at least the incredibly awesome Coldsnap Legal Collective were there to offer us hugs and access to free legal advice.

outside the jailhouse

People without rides or places to go were able to sleep on the grass outside the jailhouse thanks to sleeping bags the Coldsnap folks brought. Somebody sent the angels last night; they’re doing great work and need your support!

The problem with good things is that the police like to infiltrate and ruin them from the inside. That might’ve been the case with the protest last night. I heard several people talking about police plants agent provocateurs pretending to be protesters, inciting violence and keeping their superiors informed about where they are headed.

Unfortunately, this is standard practice for police departments these days, including Denver during the DNC. How many acts of vandalism and violence that you read about in the mainstream media were actually committed by undercover cops in order to incite and defame activists?

Imagine the embarrassment of the police and governments if they held a convention with massive protests and no one was arrested! They’d have spent millions upon millions of dollars for nothing! They’ve got to earn their outrageous security budgets, which is why they were so keen to arrest anybody who happened to be near Marion St. Bridge last night, including media folks and medics (at least 5 were arrested, along with a dozen credentialed photographers).

Of course they also wanted to show who’s boss. Clearly they are, and clearly they are not going to allow us to change the system peacefully or otherwise. We are not free. We are only permitted to do what they let us; truly free expression is verboten. Believe it or not, America used to be a pretty anything-goes society as long as it wasn’t overtly violent (think of the Old West). Nowadays we cling to our police state as if that makes us safer. But what have we lost in the process?

This is the BEST video I’ve found of the Rage Against The Machine free show that didn’t really happen. The cops refused to let Rage take the stage. After arguing with the police for awhile Rage decided to bust out an a capella version of a few of their songs. This video captures that moment (props to PP for finding):

Then the band urged the crowd to join the Poor Peoples’ March. The police didn’t like that much and things started to get a little tense. Here’s an account from Matt Snyders on what happened next:

There is currently a buffer zone between the corner of Wabasha and 7th and the corner of St. Peter and 7th St. near Mickey’s Diner. In that buffer zone, there are two ambulances, an SUV and a white van. Police are also blocking 10th St. in both directions.

At about 7:55, advancing police began creating the buffer zone. Police told demonstrators, media and onlookers to move back. At 8:15, they started blocking off the way south. At 8:25, there were a few small explosions, and plumes of smoke began to rise. Some bombs went off, and we got the hint of tear gas on the air.

Demonstrators were chanting “We want peace, we want peace,” before the gas went off.

I was on Wabasha and 7th Street when this happened.

The cops received orders to begin advancing at us in order to close off the intersection.

I started capturing video of this and it’s some scary shit. About 80 seconds into the video a series of explosions go off. I can only assume these were the smoke bombs and/or tear gas cannisters being launched. The cops were chanting as they marched towards us in lockstep. It was some freaky shit:

At the end of the video the teargas starts blowing our way so we got the heck out of there.

I wasn’t even with the main protest group. There was a much larger group (the Poor Peoples March and the Rage Against the Machine crowd) that was being broken by the cops. I met up with fragments of this larger protest after they had been tear-gassed and pepper-sprayed.

This guy was getting some assistance from a friend after being doused in the face with pepper spray. It looked more than a little bit painful.

The cops continued clamping down and pushing the protesters back across the Cedar bridge. They didn’t seem to be encountering any resistance, but they were intent on smashing the protest. They set up perimeters and used the barricades to corral the marchers back across the Wabasha bridge:

The protesters made a last stand of sorts at the (heheheh) Peace Officers Memorial.

bike cops form a line


They used cops on bikes to quickly block off streets and other avenues of escape and then sent in the baton-weilding foot soldiers to disperse us completely.

peace officers memorial at the peace officers memorial


I can say with 100% accuracy that the police stormed the Peace Officers Memorial. Apparently the irony was lost on them.

Check out my earlier post about the more peaceful Anti-War protest the previous day. And there are more photos to view in my photostream.

The Republicans are coming to town!!

No more running away. It’s time to stand up and fight back the only way we know how — peaceful protest. So that’s what we did.

The protest drew over 40,000 people to St. Paul according to organizers. Being one of the 40,000 that’s a very believable number — in fact it could be much higher. I’ve rarely seen so many people all in one place, but everybody was really peaceful in our march. There were so many good vibes and peaceful cops that I was almost bored! It’s great that the cops were restrained for our march. Many anarchist groups were not so lucky. Here’s a story told in photos:

Police form a line as anarchists try to march away

Police form a line against the anarchist group trying to take an authorized route.

Fred Phelps, cops and protesters

Fred Phelps (of the supposed Westboro Baptist Church) thinks god hates fags…and you and me and everyone else. What an asshole. He sent his family out to protest…everybody. They managed to piss people off pretty rapidly. In fact there may have been some sort of confrontation…

Injured guy after confrontation with Fred Phelps' family

This guy may have been injured after a confrontation with Fred Phelps’ family. He was being helped away by his friends.

Cheney, Bush, Condi, and Rummy face capture

Luckily Bush, Cheney, Condi and Rumsfeld were captured before they could do any more damage. … Wait, are those puppets? Dammit, they’ve eluded us again!

Young boy looks at puppet Bush in jail for war crimes

Hopefully Bush will be in jail before this kid grows up.

Rude Mechanical Orchestra 1

These guys were pretty cool. Apparently they are called The Rude Mechanical Orchestra.

crowd massing  at capitol

The crowd masses before the march begins.

crowd marches away from capitol

The crowd begins marching away from the capitol.

a river of protesters going towards the Xcel

Meanwhile the river of people flowing towards the Xcel Center appeared endless. I think the first people reached the Xcel before the end of the march managed to leave the Capitol. That’s how many people there were.

"No You Can't!" Lobbyists for McCain

Lobbyists For McCain! These guys have a message for Obama supporters — “No You Can’t!” These guys were hilarious. Yes, they were kidding.

Counter-protesters

These guys weren’t kidding. They were part of a small group of counter-protesters who were there to support the war while implying the troops would rather achieve victory than come home now. Umm… maybe you should ask them why they donate so much money to Obama and Ron Paul then, dudes.

There were approximately 30 to 40 of these hardcore pro-war Republicans there to greet the 40,000 of us who respectfully disagree. The 1,000 to 1 ratio makes me wonder if the few war supporters left are able to openly support the war only because of the Media’s cheerleading. If they knew they were so outnumbered they might start to question some of their assumptions.

cops on horseback block road

The police mostly stayed out of the way. Many of them were just there to block off roads and keep the marchers on track. By staying out of the way they made sure tensions stayed low and nobody felt threatened.

cop looking concerned

Some of them looked at bit concerned at times. The crowd could’ve easily torn these guys limb from limb if we were so inclined. We weren’t.

cop looking really hot and sweaty

The biggest worry the cops had was keeping cool. This guy looks like he’d rather not be wearing his dark, hot, heavy uniform. Can’t say I blame him.

cops marching away

Every now and then the cops would interrupt the protesters so they could march through and do…. what? I dunno. Seemed like they just liked making sure they were still in charge.

Freedom Cage

They herded us into the Freedom Cage, as we called it. It was a corridor of steel fences designed to give us the impression we were near the Xcel Center when were in fact a long distance away, especially considering how many obstacles you’d have to scale in order to get there.

Freedom Cage outside Xcel

This is as close as we ever got to the Xcel Center. Close enough to shake our fists but not much else. Not like they give a damn what we think anyway.

Freedom Cage 2

The Freedom Cage steered us back towards the state capitol. Boy did we ever feel safe and secure inside that Freedom Cage.

Free Speech Pen

This guy was his own personal free speech zone. He was the safest guy at the whole protest. The wires protect him from excessive liberty and independent thought.

Cheney and Bush drag Lady Liberty

Here Bush and Cheney have tied up, Lady Liberty, ripped her shirt off while strangling her and then proceeded to drag her through the street. I’d say this protest was pretty sick except that it’s a dead-on metaphor for what Bush/Cheney has done to our country and our civil liberties. This last 8 years has been like a slow-motion snuff film.

Red, White & Blue Puppy 2

Puppy abuse? Maybe, but he seemed pretty happy to be there. This red, white and blue pup was one of many patriotic ensembles. The protesters were not ready to cede patriotism to the Republicans; that’s for sure.

We The People

The Constitution of the United States of America: Rememeber this thing? We need to bring it back online.

crowd with a lot of signs 1

There were a lot of people there! I was never able to get the majority in one shot. I guess we’ll never know how many people were there, but I bet there could’ve been more. I’m guessing only 1 person showed up for every 10 people who hate the Bush regime and the idea of 4 more years of this crap. What can we do to change things?

Peace Begins with a Smile

“Peace Begins with a Smile”. Man, I hope she’s right.

Well, that’s it!. Have any other good pictures? Post them in the comments below. I have a couple more; you can check them out on my photostream on Flickr. Peace!

Police welcome protestors to St. Paul for the RNC

The St. Paul Police Department has unveiled a new poster designed to make protestors of the upcoming Republican National Convention here in the Twin Cities feel welcome as Republicans start coming to town en masse.


I feel safer already, don’t you?

So yeah, I know this isn’t a big shocker to anybody with a functioning brain stem, but the Bush administration systematically lied its way into the Iraq War. A new study by the Center For Public Integrity has analyzed the public statements of administration officials in the run-up to the war and come up with 935 lies in a two-year span.

The study counted 935 false statements in the two-year period. It found that in speeches, briefings, interviews and other venues, Bush and administration officials stated unequivocally on at least 532 occasions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or was trying to produce or obtain them or had links to al-Qaida or both.

Everybody makes mistakes. Accidents happen and people do stupid things… but 935 mistakes? No fucking way.

So Many Lies, So Little Time
This was an organized campaign of deception. It was a fraud perpetrated on the American people and, most especially, on the people of Iraq.

935 LIES! That’s 1.28 lies per day for 24 months straight by my calculations.

Take a look at the chart below (click for a larger version). You can see that the lies are concentrated around the pre-war and immediate post-invasion period. The peak lying period was the February before the invasion (which began on March 19, 2003). This was no accident.

This is not just a bunch of anonymous interns leaking statements to the press. The study concentrated on just 8 top officials:

President Bush, for example, made 232 false statements about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and another 28 false statements about Iraq’s links to Al Qaeda. Secretary of State Powell had the second-highest total in the two-year period, with 244 false statements about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and 10 about Iraq’s links to Al Qaeda. Rumsfeld and Fleischer each made 109 false statements, followed by Wolfowitz (with 85), Rice (with 56), Cheney (with 48), and McClellan (with 14).

The study can only look at public statements, so we have no way of counting the many lies whispered into the ears of journalists. It’s interesting that Karl Rove was not included in this study, but he’s more of a behind-the-scenes operator. Also missing are gobs of military men, mid-level staffers, the whole pundit class on TV and many more folks who are not directly connected to the administration. These 935 lies are just a drop in the bucket, but they all originate from very high-ranking officials.

The Impeachment Fantasy
So now that we’ve got a study in the mainstream press clearly delineating the fact that George W. Bush made at least 260 false statements in just 24 months, that means the impeachment hearings are just around the corner, right?

Wrong.

The Democrats will wag their fingers and cluck their tongues and do…. nothing. The Republicans have long since sold their souls, but it’s the Democrats’ betrayal that really hurts America. We need a true opposition party more than ever, but we don’t have one.

If you’ve been reading this blog you probably know by now how Washington really works. Democracy, hearings, investigations, intelligence estimates, blah, blah, blah. It’s all just for show. The real power resides behind the scenes. The oligarchy, the establishment, the powers that be — whatever you want to call them — have decided that there will be no impeachment hearings. So there won’t be.

I don’t know what else to tell you. “Write your congressperson”? Fat lotta good that will do, but it doesn’t hurt to keep the pressure on.

The Oligarchs’ Dilemma
Just try not get too depressed. Yes, American “democracy” makes Pakistan look like an oasis of liberty, but it’s not all bad. I’ve got a feeling that there are some people in the establishment who want to change things. No doubt they’re biding their time, waiting for things to fall into place. But we don’t have much time. I don’t think the Bush team plans to leave office, ’cause if they do they’ll have to leave the country, too. Even the oligarchy can’t stop a limited investigation into the Bush regime by any successive Democratic administration. They have to continue the illusion of democracy, even if it hurts them in the short term. And that could mean a war crimes tribunal for Bush and crew.

Cheney knows this so it’s more likely that there will be another terrorist attack before or shortly after the elections (before inaugeration). Bush will declare martial law, lock down the nation, suspend the constitution and retain power “temporarily” until the emergency has passed. Of course, just like in Musharraf’s Pakistan, the emergency will never pass.

If there are any oligarchs still loyal to the constitution, they will have to move quickly. There’s a very small window (less than a year now) to execute their counter-coup. Bush will move to arrest the constitutional loyalists on trumped-up charges. Impeachment is the only remedy. We’ll need to take to the streets and camp out in every single senator’s office and demand justice.

If and when it does happen we’ll have to be ready. We need to stand up for democracy, no matter what the cost. The future of America hangs in the balance.

Corporation – n. “An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility”

Ambrose Bierce

The Radium Girls.

Sounds like an all-girl punk rock band, right? Well, unfortunately, it describes the murderous actions of an American corporation; the willful disregard of the disposable human beings working for the company: US Radium.

In 1922, a bank teller named Grace Fryer became concerned when her teeth began to loosen and fall out for no discernible reason. Her troubles were compounded when her jaw became swollen and inflamed, so she sought the assistance of a doctor in diagnosing the inexplicable symptoms. Using a primitive X-ray machine, the physician discovered serious bone decay, the likes of which he had never seen. Her jawbone was honeycombed with small holes, in a random pattern reminiscent of moth-eaten fabric.As a series of doctors attempted to solve Grace’s mysterious ailment, similar cases began to appear throughout her hometown of New Jersey. One dentist in particular took notice of the unusually high number of deteriorated jawbones among local women, and it took very little investigation to discover a common thread; all of the women had been employed by the same watch-painting factory at one time or another.

Check out the whole agonizing story.

In 1925, three years after Grace’s health problems began, a doctor suggested that her jaw problems may have had something to do with her former job at US Radium. As she began to explore the possibility, a specialist from Columbia University named Frederick Flynn asked to examine her. Flynn declared her to be in fine health. It would be some time before anyone discovered that Flynn was not a doctor, nor was he licensed to practice medicine, rather he was a toxicologist on the US Radium payroll. A “colleague” who had been present during the examination– and who had confirmed the healthy diagnosis– turned out to be one of the vice-presidents of US Radium. Many of the Undark painters had been developing serious bone-related problems, particularly in the jaw, and the company had begun a concerted effort to conceal the cause of the disease. The mysterious deaths were often blamed on syphilis to undermine the womens’ reputations, and many doctors and dentists inexplicably cooperated with the powerful company’s disinformation campaign.

What sane VP would masquerade as a doctor to befuddle some poor, ill women? What else could make a man act like this?

The organizational structure of the corporation allowed and even encouraged these individuals to act in a criminal conspiracy to protect profits for the shareholders.

Certainly, the individuals involved are responsible for their actions, but look the role of the corporation in this. They were all acting for the benefit of the corporation. Why do we set up amoral, profit-driven corporations and then act surprised when their employees do awful things in the name of greed?

But here’s another question for you: What penalties did the VP and the toxicologist face for their subterfuge? My guess is: NONE.

These ladies died because of the coordinated action of a group of people. If we accept that one person engaged in such behavior is immoral, what do we call a group of immoral people acting the same way? A corporation.

Corporations concentrate power in the hands of a few (management and shareholders) so that the average joe (or jane in this case) has very little leverage.

Corporations have unique powers which enable them to escape prosecution for repeated lawbreakings. Nobody goes to jail because you can’t put a corporation in jail, only people. In that way, a corporation is superior to a mere human. It is a master of humans, not subject to laws that normal humans must endure.

Only individual officers and henchmen (management & staff) can be prosecuted for individual crimes that the corporation conceived and covered up. A corporation lives forever and can replace the personnel lost to jail in little time. Corporations are made of humans, but humans are abundant. Humans are irrelevent.

Those humans within the super-human corporate personhood are excempt from the law, and can’t help but feel a bit superior. Hiding behind a squadron of lawyers and a phalanx of security guards is easy for the VP of US Radium, but that’s not the case if he’s just some unemployed guy. Corporations grant humans power, not the other way around. Because they 0wn.

The special powers granted to the corporation make it damn near impossible for the individual human to stand against the mighty corporation in court or even in the public sphere, like the halls of Congress. Corporations rule the roost there, too. Everywhere there’s power or leverage, the corporations are already there. Their power and reach is such that corporations are superior to mere mortals under the code of law. They can’t vote but they can do pretty much anything else.

The conclusion is awful, but unavoidable.

Corporate Man is Super-Sapien.

]] art by Zbigniew Libera [[

If corporations decide that we “normal”, non-corporate-officer humans are too plentiful (oversupply lowers demand), they will simply draw up plans to wipe us out, buy the necessary politicans and carry out the fiendish plot.

We live in the corporations’ world. We who are not of the corporate body (“blessed be the name of our CEO”) are infidels in this land.

It’s a Corporate Holocaust©®™!!!

The intellectual cowards over at the head office of the St. Thomas University adminstration should be ashamed. They have shown themselves to be contemptible weaklings without the guts or the will to hear viewpoints they may disagree with. And this institution is supposed to be a vanguard of academic freedom? For shame.

What am I talking about? I’m referring to St. Thomas’ recent decision to withhold an invitation to Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

St. Thomas never invited Tutu to speak, but declined to approve an invitation as part of the PeaceJam, an event the school has hosted for the past four years. PeaceJam officials have now arranged to have the South African archbishop and activist speak at its April event, which will be held at Metropolitan State University.

St. Thomas officials said that local Jewish leaders they consulted felt that Tutu had made remarks offensive to the Jewish people in a 2002 speech about Israeli policy toward the Palestinians.

Columbia University just made St. Thomas look like a bunch of backwater bush-league pussies. Nobody likes Ahmadinejad; that’s not the point. The point is the free exchange of ideas. If you don’t like what somebody says you don’t try to censor them, you use your freedom of speech to elucidate your opposition to said ideas. The president of Columbia, Lee Bollinger, may have been a dick to Ahmadinejad, but at least he let the motherfucker speak. St. Thomas’ president, the Rev. Dennis Dease, won’t even let a fellow man of the cloth on campus. What a fucking pussy.

His lame-ass excuse “Teh Joos don’t like one speech he made dis one time!” is full of shit. What he means is “Some extreme-rightwing Zionist oppressor Jews don’t want nobody talking shit about the way they fuck over A-rabs in Palestine.” There, fixed it for you, Dease. (You can suck dees nuts)

In fact, Dease has been getting a lot of mail from Jewish groups saying, “Let this guy speak! We’re not anti-free speech! Why’d you listen to those assholes?!” [[ I'm paraphrasing in case you haven't noticed ]]

So, you might be wondering what crazy-ass shit this Tutu guy was spewing that pissed off the hard-right fascist/zionist types. Well, he said the most offensive thing you can possibly say to a warmonger: “Peace is possible.”

Israeli Jew, Palestinian Arab can live amicably side by side in a secure peace. And, as Cannon Ateek kept underscoring, a secure peace built on justice and equity. These two peoples are God’s chosen and beloved, looking in their face back to a common ancestor Abraham and confessing belief in the one creator God of salaam and shalom.

Oh man, that is some whack shit! Who let this guy in here?

Then he reveals his true hatred for teh Joos:

I give thanks for all that I have received as a Christian from the teachings of God’s people the Jews. When we were opposing the vicious system of apartheid, which claimed that what invested people with worth was a biological irrelevance – skin color – we turned to the Jewish Torah, which asserted that what gave people their infinite worth was the fact that they were created in the image of God.

He calls teh Joos “God’s people.” We’re clearly dealing with a loose cannon here, folks.

Seriously, that’s what the whole speech is like. He criticizes the occupation of Palestinian lands, but he clearly has problems with the Israeli government, not the Jewish people.

I with many other Nobel Peace Laureates. I, after taking counsel with the then Bishop of Jerusalem, am a member of the Board of the Shimon Peres peace center in Tel Aviv. I am a patron of the Holocaust center in Capetown. I believe that Israel has a right to secure borders, internationally recognized, in a land assured of territorial integrity and with acknowledged sovereignty as an independent country. That the Arab nations made a bad mistake in refusing to recognize the existence of sovereign and in pledging to work for her destruction. It was a short sighted policy that led to Israel’s nervousness, her high state of alert and military preparedness to guarantee her continued existence. This was understandable. What was no so understandable, what was not justifiable was what Israel did to another people to guarantee her existence. I have been very deeply distressed in all my visits to the Holy Land, how so much of what was taking place there reminded me so much of what used to happen to us Blacks in Apartheid South Africa.

This guy sees echoes of Apartheid in Israel. He was there. He expresses viewpoints not too far from middle-of-the-road Democrats in America. When did expressing disagreement with a foreign government become a censorable offense? Oh that’s right; when you’re a boot-licking fascist who wants to kiss the ass of future dictator George Bush. I guess Dease thinks he can become the Tsar of Education under a future King George. (Or whatever. Maybe he’s just a fucking idiot, I don’t know.)

The scary thing here is not the shoddy treatment of a Nobel laureate. He’ll speak on another campus, one not controlled by Nazis. He’ll be fine. No, the scary thing here is how incredibly fucking normal, sane and mainstream his ideas are. If this is how a Nobel laureate is treated by The Powers That Be, how are the rest of the us going to be treated when the other jackboot falls and we’re under martial law? Tutu’s beliefs are almost exactly in line with mainstream Democrats, Independents and even many Republicans. The main difference is that he’s an archbishop, an Apatheid survivor and a international icon.

Where the fuck does that leave the rest of us?

The recent spate of police brutality is no accident. It’s not a freak coincidence, it’s the way it’s always been. Would I sound like a paranoid conspiracy theorist if I said that the increasing militarization of the police is a carefully shepherded phenomena designed to slowly ensnare us in a web of oppression and fear? Well, I don’t care, because them’s the facts, man!

Four Recent Outrages
You’ve probably heard about the recent tasering of a U of Florida student who tried to ask John Kerry a few questions (but didn’t seem interested in hearing an answer). The kid, Andrew Meyer, was being kind of a dick and he overreacted and basically caused that situation by freaking out (notice how the cops lept into action when he mentioned Skull and Bones). He is now famous for pleading “Don’t Taze me, Bro!” shortly before he had 50,000 volts applied to his nuts.

This kid’s annoying dorkiness doesn’t absolve the police/security folks of responsibility. The fact that they tasered a guy who was subdued and on the ground is reprehensible. If you have six cops surrounding a suspect (who should’ve been escourted out, not arrested) there is absolutely no need to taser him.

Then there’s an older video that just made it on Digg showing a police officer shooting an Air Force security officer at point blank range for no apparent reason. There was an investigation and a trial and — (surprise!) Officer Ivory Webb was cleared on all counts.

Next we have the case of the delinquent granny who was finally brought to justice. Her crime? Not watering her lawn:

Betty Perry is charged with resisting arrest and failing to maintain her landscaping, both misdemeanors.

She was arrested July 6 after failing to give her name to a police officer who visited her home.

During a struggle, Perry fell and injured her nose. She spent more than an hour in a holding cell before police released her.

I bet we all feel safer with Ms. Perry behind bars.

If you think the police can’t top that, think again. Next is the case of the wheelchair-bound schizophrenic:

Officers said they arrived to find Delafield in a wheelchair, armed with two knives and a hammer. Police said the woman was swinging the weapons at family members and police.

Within an hour of her call to 911, Delafield, a wheelchair-bound woman documented to have mental illness, was dead.

Family attorney Rick Alexander said Delafield’s death could have been prevented and that there are four things that jump out at him about the case. “One, she’s in a wheelchair. Two, she’s schizophrenic. Three, they’re using a Taser on a person that’s in a wheelchair, and then four is that they tasered her 10 times for a period of like two minutes,” Alexander said.

According to a police report, one of the officers used her Taser gun nine times for a total of 160 seconds and the other officer discharged his Taser gun once for a total of no more than five seconds.

Now, I’m sure that was a difficult situation, but I fail to see why it was necessary to taser an old woman in a wheelchair. Surely a person who can’t walk can be restrained fairly easily. In fact, we know she was not a threat because the lady cop managed to shock her for a total of 160 seconds — almost 3 minutes. And now she’s dead.

A Fluke Spurt of Stupidity?
So where did I find all of these stories? Did I go to a site dedicated to monitoring police brutality like CopWatch?

No. I found them all on Digg. All on the same page!

Now, this is no doubt more than normal, but it points to a larger problem in our society: The police are out of control.

And that’s exactly the way certain people want it.

The Real Role of Cops
You see, there’s a common misconception about police. Some people (mostly white, middle class folks) think that the police are here to “protect and serve” everybody. But notice that their motto doesn’t say anything about protecting everybody, or even treating everybody equally. It’s conspicuous by its absence, in fact.

The truth is that the police are paid to protect and serve the ruling class and the ruling class mostly needs protection from the underclass.

America is a classist society, just like the U.K. or India. The rich and poor divide is sometimes as stark as the difference between slums and condos. Poor people naturally get angry and even violent when they realize that their situation is completely hopeless. No amount of hard work will get you rich when your only job skills are burger-flipping and bathroom-scrubbing. So sometimes the poor take matters into their own hands and try to steal something from the rich. That’s where the police come in. If you rob a house or steal a car you will be arrested; simple as that.

But what happens when the rich steal from the poor?

For the most part: Nothing. The elite can literally write our laws with a few well-placed campaign contributions. They can make their left illegal while they continually try to box the underclass in with obscene violations of the first amendment like free speech zones. The elite ghettoize our inner cities, offshore our jobs, make helpful drugs illegal, send our children to die in pointless wars, kill all those who stand in their way and terrorize the rest of us with servile propaganda and there’s not a goddamn thing anyone of us can do about it.

Asside from high-profile cases like Enron, the elite are completely free to run wild and reshape society to their liking. And the way they seem to like it is: The rich can do whatever they want, the poor and middle class must be monitored constantly and arrested instantly if they step out line.

The police subconsciously know this. They know that becoming a cop grants them power over others, but they seem to know not to abuse this power when it comes to rich people.

You don’t see a bunch of people in Lexuses getting pulled over on Cops. That’s not because they’re not speeding and not doing anything illegal. I bet there’s a lot of cocaine in a lot of glove compartments in a lot of Lexuses (would that be “Lexi”?). But the cops know better than to fuck with the rich. The rich have lawyers, they have friends in the force, they have resources and most important, they know politicians who can put the squeeze on the captain and get you reassigned to guarding the Taco Bell.

Poor people have none of these connections or resources.

It’s fine with the rich if you want to oppress poor folk; in fact it’s pretty much encouraged. The rich know that by giving the cops special privileges they can secure the fealty of the police. So the police are permitted to act like they own the place as long as they don’t step on the toes of the elite — the only people who outrank the cops in our society.

So the real role of cops in society is to protect the elite from the underclass, which includes the middle class, but the middle class is mostly pacified by TV, material goods and beer. The police are free to get their jollies off by knocking a few heads together as long as they don’t beat up the son of somebody powerful. The elite like how the cops are hated and feared by the poor and respected and feared by the middle class. This gives the elite free reign since the cops fear and respect the upper class, the only group of people more powerful that themselves.

The Militarization of the Police
Gang members know the police as just another gang; a more powerful one, but a gang nonetheless. But the people who control the police (the elite, if you haven’t been paying attention) are increasingly arming the police as if they were a standing army. The militarization of the police has occurred mostly over the last 50 years and is spurred by two bullshit ideological wars: The War on Drugs and the War on Terror.

The police in most major now have enough armament to invade and occupy a small country. Hell, we could’ve sent our cops to Iraq and they probably would have done a better job at containing the populace since they’re more thoroughly trained for that sort of thing than the army. That’s no accident. The cops are an army; an army of the elite. Their enemy, let there be no doubt, is you.

The plan is to make America into a fascist state: Amerika. They started slowly and carefully, and as they’ve gained strength the police have gradually been let off their leash, but the end result is inevitable: a police state.

It’s not like this hasn’t happened before. In the late 1800s and early 1900s this country was consumed by labor strife. The Socialist Party was founded to look after worker’s right and communism was gaining strength because the Robber Barons’ form of capitalism was so completely corrupt that there was no difference between the Government and Big Business (sound familiar?).

Hand of the Oligarchy
The Rockefellers basically controlled this country like it was theirs. When they had labor troubles they simply called in the police. The police busted heads and smashed the ranks of the striking workers and forced them to return to work for pitiful wages. The idea that the police can act as an arm of the Oligarchy is unfortunately not a new one. Things got better for awhile, but now we seem to headed right back to where we were a hundred years ago.

If anything the propaganda is a hundred times better now; many people think the police are there to protect everyone, but that simply isn’t the case. In many poor neighborhoods, if you call the cops they might show up four hours later. The nicer your neighborhood, the quicker the response. Many poor folks don’t even bother calling the cops. This, again, is not a new phenomenon: in fact, that’s how the Mafia got its start. The Italian and Irish Mobs began because a person of Italian or Irish descent could not expect to be treated fairly under the law. They knew that they had to take care of each other or nobody would; certainly the cops were more likely to beat you over the head with a baton than listen to your tale of woe. Like our current gang troubles the Irish Mafia was made possible by Prohibition. When a popular product is made illegal it can be extremely lucrative for those on the wrong side of the law; so much so that they can buy influence on the other side of the law and corrupt the entire system in the process.

Now the blacks are the new Irish and they have no pull with the cops, even though many black people are on the force (just like with the Irish). The difference is that the cops look after each other first, regardless of ethnicity. Once you are a cop you belong to a special club which is virtually above the law. As long as you don’t violate the Blue Code of Silence you can expect to reap the rewards of being superior to the underclass.

Tale of the Tasers
The weapons a cop receives are a totem to his power over others. Normal people are not allowed to openly carry dangerous weapons around, especially as the second amendment has been eroded. An officer’s gun identifies him as a member of a powerful group and symbolizes his social superiority and separateness from the masses.

Tasers are the new nightsticks. Cops will use a taser at the drop of a hat because it makes compliance push-button easy. It should be noted that taser are not nonlethal; they are “less lethal” which is how I would describe a knife versus a gun. In no way are tasers harmless; they’ve been responsible for hundreds of deaths in the last few years.

Between tasers, pepper spray, nightsticks and ray guns the police have all sorts of “less lethal” devices to ensure submission. Add in handguns, shotguns and the heavy artillery used by SWAT teams and you have enough firepower to conquer a major rebellion… which seems to be the plan.

The Oligarchy seems to be expecting trouble from us, the unruly populace. I can only wonder why, but perhaps they know how foul and oppressive their policies are. If so, they can’t plead ignorance to our plight; they are in fact responsible for it. The Oligarchy has no love for democracy; they clearly prefer fascism; it’s so much more convenient. Sadly, many Americans agree.

But you know, “oligarchy”, “fascism”, “democracy” and “freedom” are just big, abstract concepts. At the end of the day it all comes down to what we experience in the world. This video is but a small example of the arrogance and violent entitlement that many cops feel:

Cops see their badge as a license to take the law into their own hands. Don’t like the customer service you’ve received? Pepper-spray’em and arrest’em. If any of us did the same thing we would be in jail for a long time, but this cop got off scot free. There’s justice for you; Amerikan-style.