Howard Zinn: US ‘In Need of Rebellion’

Dandelion Salad

ICH
09/09/08 “Al Jazeera”

Al Jazeera speaks to Howard Zinn, the author, American historian, social critic and activist, about how the Iraq war damaged attitudes towards the US and why the US “empire” is close to collapse

HZ: America has been heading – for some time, and is heading right now – toward less and less world power, less and less influence.

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The Voice of War and Oil By Rand Clifford

Dandelion Salad

Sent to me by Jason Miller from Thomas Paine’s Corner. Thanks, Jason.

By Rand Clifford
9/9/08

Albert Einstein defined insanity as:

“…doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” And he said, “The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who didn’t do anything about it.”

Control of America by wealthy elite enmeshes Americans in a veritable web of insanity. Presidential elections are a prime example, herding people through the same old motions and emotions, lies and battle cries, in the slog toward an outcome predetermined by the elite. After the long and intense grind of voter manipulation, agents of the elite manipulate the vote count—a process fully embedded with no real change since 2000, when against their will the people were condemned to at least 8 years of Neocon nightmare via Cheney and Bush (as Karl Rove says, the next election is problematic…subject to “events.”)

Will Cheney and Bush simply walk away from powers they have usurped? If so, and the rotten cash-‘n-carry election pageant culminates, the same old thing over again…another puppet of the elite will perpetuate the status quo. Police-state environments of the Democratic and Republican national conventions, including preemptive arrests for simple suspicion of protest says it all—shut up and conform, or else. Preemption. Criminalizing dissent. Thought crime. Orwellian nightmare in your face.

The vast scope of elite control over the American system has made “what can we do?” the dominant refrain of American people who still think for themselves. “WHAT CAN WE DO!?” Though our realistic options are so choked, a meaningful method of influence endures: Turn Off mainstream corporate media (CorpoMedia). Ignore it, avoid it, wither it. The elite and their government still cannot force CorpoMedia on an individual. The programmed brain drain is still optional. The insanity of continuing to believe the lies and propaganda can end with the flick of a switch.

Five enormous corporations control virtually all of CorpoMedia, their “news” dictated by corporate government (CorpoGov). If working class Americans can rally the wisdom and will to hit CorpoMedia in the profits by squeezing their advertising revenue—as we are already doing with newspapers—at least the chances of something positive happening are no longer zero. Information is power. Ignorance, misinformation, and dogma about utter American eminence feeds helplessness. A solid niche created for truth in news beyond what already flourishes on the Internet could help empower the people by combating the helplessness pushed by the elite. CorpoMedia virtually never delivers unbiased information when it comes to anything related in any way to corporate profits—there’s always an agenda, always “spin.” CorpoMedia simply manipulates viewers toward “proper” thinking…toward what the elite want the people to think, which is rarely in the peoples’ best interests. Corporations siphoning wealth from the working class that in a healthy nation, creates the wealth, is reaching proportions lethal for any nation, and they have the whole world in their sights.

Increasing corporate profits, that’s CorpoMedia’s ultimate concern, so two foundational issues dominate all the rest: war, and oil—king and queen of corporate profit generation. CorpoMedia’s standard motif involves reducing a complicated and dynamic world down to the simplicity of good versus evil, something in full play regarding the recent conflict in Georgia.

Despite the usual camouflage of florid rhetoric about freedom and democracy—and in this case, “…naked aggression” of the Russian Bear—America’s involvement orbits fossil energy (oil and gas; for convenience here, simply oil).

Back in the early 1990s, the world’s most promising new source of oil was the Caspian Sea basin. Big Oil rushed in and had little trouble coaxing former Soviet Republics in the region to sign contracts. (MAP) The big trouble was logistical—how to move all the billions of barrels of proven reserves from the landlocked Caspian to Western markets, without involving Russia, which all existing pipelines passed through.

By the mid 1990s, the Clinton administration devised a plan to convert newly-independent Georgia into an “energy corridor.” America poured military aid and training into Georgia, and built a first pipeline to move oil from Azerbaijan to a Georgian port on the Black Sea. Then, in 2006, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline was completed, running 1000 miles from Azerbaijan, through Georgia, and on to a Mediterranean port in Turkey. (MAP)

Russia had been weakened, and was obviously alarmed by such surging American presence in their backyard. But since then, Vladimir Putin has helped drive the resurgence of Russia as a world power. Russia is now asserting itself more like America always does. In fact, many have noted that Russia’s reaction in Georgia signaled the end of an era where America has maintained a virtual monopoly on the use of military force….

After years of America recruiting former Soviet Republics as client states, raking in vast profits from their militarization, and profiting on oil considerations, Russia has finally drawn the line. Russia still dominates Eurasia and its vast fossil fuel deposits. America intends to control the region—but Russia is powerful and can’t be intimidated like the others. America is in a dangerous game to provoke Russia and pad the profits of our industrial-military-congressional complex…without pushing the Bear too far, too soon. Russia basically prefers diplomacy to conflict; America is bent on conquest. After partly surrounding Russia with military bases in former Soviet Republics…the next step of installing missiles on Russia’s borders is too much. Russia has said simply that they will not allow deployment of American missiles along their borders—missiles supposedly for defense—but clearly intended to neutralize Russia’s nuclear arsenal, if not for simple attack. How might America react to Russia installing missiles along our borders with Canada and Mexico?

Escalation over the question of controlling Caspian basin oil was sparked by America’s orchestrated aggression of Georgia toward South Ossetia. The swift and decisive response by Russia—the complete rout of American backed and trained Georgian fighters has our Neocon war party at the top of Washington’s food chain in a lather. CorpoMedia is of course portraying the aggressor, America’s little cats-paw Georgia, as the victim, with Russia the villain—a classic example of their lack of truth in reporting.

While nuance shades certain precursor events, the Bush administration “doesn’t do nuance,” and CorpoMedia is their mouthpiece, so this whole event is essentially framed simply as a clash between good and evil. Hypocrisy gushing from CorpoGov is led by Bush’s: “Bullying and intimidation are not acceptable ways to conduct foreign policy in the 21st century.” Could it be that with his sights so firmly set on bullying and intimidating Iran, our “Decider” has already forgotten our invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan?

Other gems of hypocrisy include Secretary Rice’s huffing about Russia “Attacking a sovereign nation!” before insisting that “Russia is a state that is unfortunately using the one tool it has always used whenever it wishes to deliver a message and that’s its military power. That’s not the way to deal in the 21st century.” Then she flew to Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi, and ordered Russian troops to withdraw from Georgia immediately.

Meanwhile, back in Washington, Democrats and Republicans united in their demand that Russia “be taught a lesson.” Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham declared that “Russia’s aggression is a challenge to the World Order.”

In Barak Obama’s convention speech was the threat to “curb Russian aggression.”

Not to be underdone, John McCain muttered that “The impact of Russian actions goes beyond their threat to democratic Georgia.” And he told Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili that “I know I speak for every American when I say to you today, we are all Georgians.” Mr. Senator, perhaps that’s a good hint at much you “know?”

Despite such an awesome supporting cast in Washington, it seems Saakashvili was the starring thug in all this. America essentially “installed” Saakashvili as president of Georgia in the bloodless coup of 2003 known as the Rose Revolution. The instability of Saakashvili is well known, his erratic behavior with sometimes dangerous emotional swings. And while he has been an effective guardian of the pipelines, his intentions of taking back the former Georgian territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia—even punishing the people for their independence—has been clear.

The dynamics of Washington’s role are somewhat muddied, but perhaps it is safe to say simply that President Saakashvili was overexposed to Neocons. War crimes ensued, with the Georgian army attacking Tskhinvali, capital of South Ossetia. It was a massacre of unarmed civilians. Georgians intentionally destroyed the town’s only hospital. And though most of the townspeople had already fled into Russia, by the time Russians arrived a day later, more than 2,000 civilians had been slaughtered.

Georgian troops fled in panic, assuming the Russians would stop at the Georgian border. Russian armor stayed in hot pursuit, into Georgia, driving Saakashvili into hiding—and idiotically declaring war on Russia! Russians ended up not only occupying South Ossetia and Abkhazia, they pursued Georgian forces deep into Georgia, flushing out thousands of American and Israeli military and intelligence, as well as diplomatic personnel. Saakashvili screamed that he was being abandoned….

Was Saakashvili under assignment to provoke Russia into overreacting militarily, thereby showing America’s European allies the major threat to their national security posed by Russia? Apparently so. And did Washington’s attempt at a relatively safe confrontation-by-proxy with the Russians backfire into demonstrating instead the ultimate vulnerability of pipelines through Georgia, spooking investors? While that also appears so, one thing that’s certain: a huge boost in profits for the military-industrial-congressional complex from a revival of the Cold War. Upping the stakes this time around, Russia has flatly stated that American domination of world affairs is unacceptable. While apparently few Americans have actually read what is perhaps the most important documentation regarding their future, the Neocons Project For The New American Century, many people around the world are very keen on it—none more so than the Russians.

Meanwhile, CorpoMedia, the voice of war and oil, good and evil, will strive to keep the American people as ignorant and misinformed as ever, their hallmark. People…help prove that we deserve better. Turn them off. Start learning what our Neocon CorpoGov plans for the world by reading their play book for world domination that transparently calls for “a new Pearl Harbor” to jump start their designs. That was 9/11, and the rest is so far proceeding somewhat according to plans. Be sure and pay special attention to the document, “Rebuilding America’s Defenses“.

When it comes to realizing it takes dedication and effort to maintain one’s country in a healthy state free of elitist diseases, and realizing that without their country they have nothing, Americans probably come in near the bottom of the world’s people. The taking for granted of ones country, the ignorance and helplessness regarding what it takes to counter the ever-threatening manipulations of the elite, mass denial of being well down the road to police-state tyranny, and slavery…it’s all no more of an accident than CorpoMedia, the perpetuator. Or is that terminator?

Rand Clifford is a writer living in Spokane, Washington, with his wife Mary Ann, and their Chesapeake Bay retriever, Mink. Rand’s novels CASTLING, TIMING, VOICES OF VIRES, and PRIEST LAKE CATHEDRAL are published by StarChief Press: http://www.starchiefpress.

see

US to establish naval base in Georgia

Nader: Russia/Georgia Conflict + Impeachment/Prosecution

The U.S. 2008 Presidential Election: An Evaluation by Rodrigue Tremblay

10 Reasons Why We Need a New (Cold?) War (satire)

Is it the 1930s all over again? By William Bowles

Georgia

RoboCops: Professional Policing of Political Protest – An Insider’s Viewpoint

Dandelion Salad

Sent to me by the author, thanks William.

by William Cox
http://www.thevoters.org
Sept. 9, 2008

The following text is an Insider’s Viewpoint based on forty years experience as a Los Angeles Attorney and law enforcement officer. William Cox provides an analysis of  the increasing militarization of local police forces in response to protest activities.


RNC cops

http://stpaulrnc.shutterfly.com/132

photo by Japhlet Bire Attias @ www.myspace.com/japhletba used with permission

In early September, hundreds of protesters in St. Paul were arrested outside the Republican National Convention by helmeted police officers wearing black uniforms and full body armor reminiscent of scenes from the 1987 movie, RoboCop featuring: “Part man. Part machine. All Cop. The future of law enforcement.”

In an operation supervised by federal agents, informants were recruited and paid to infiltrate media and protest groups. Preemptive search warrants were served on their gathering places by masked officers in riot gear armed with assault rifles, and video cameras, computers, journals and political pamphlets were seized.

Officers marching in formations and shouting military chants used pepper spray, rubber bullets, concussion grenades, smoke bombs and excessive force against predominately peaceful demonstrators. Specifically targeted, independent and credentialed journalists covering the protests were arrested, violently detained and charged with felony rioting.

The present encroachment by the federal government into matters of local law enforcement results in part from powers seized by President Bush following 9-11. He recently reaffirmed: “Consistent with … the National Emergencies Act …, I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency I declared on September 14, 2001, … with respect to … the continuing and immediate threat of further attacks on the United States. Because the terrorist threat continues, the national emergency … and the powers and authorities adopted to deal with that emergency, must continue in effect beyond September 14, 2008.”

President Bush has appointed himself to ensure our “continuity of government”; however, the actual limits on his “powers and authorities” remain secret, even from Congress. Any “Enduring Constitutional Government” will be run by the president alone, and any “cooperative” role played by Congress or the Supreme Court will be at his pleasure as a “matter of comity.”

Watching these events unfold, and reflecting back upon the experiences and observations of a 45-year career in America’s justice system, I have concluded that while law enforcement may have improved as a profession, police officers have become less conscious of who it is they are sworn to protect and to serve.

FLASHBACK

In the summer of 1968, I transferred to the Los Angeles Police Department after having worked for five years as a police officer at a small department in San Diego County. Many of us at the time considered ourselves to be a “new breed” of police officers dedicated to developing law enforcement into a true profession.

I had served as president of the San Diego County Chapter of the statewide police organization responsible for the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics and for California becoming the first state to adopt a Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) program. The 1967 President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice had just recommended that all states establish POST Commissions.

Race-related riots were exploding in many cities throughout the Sixties, with major conflicts occurring in New York City, Rochester, Jersey City, Paterson, Elizabeth, Chicago and Philadelphia in 1964, the Watts Riot in 1965, Cleveland, San Francisco, and Atlanta in 1966, and Boston, Tampa, Buffalo, Memphis, Newark, Plainfield, Detroit and Milwaukee in 1967.

Although there had been no riots in San Diego County, it was a time of widespread discontent about the Vietnam War, and there had been a violent clash in June 1967 between LAPD officers and 10,000 antiwar protestors outside the Century Plaza Hotel where President Johnson was attending a fund-raising dinner.

With a large military presence in the County, our administrators thought it prudent to get prepared. Many of us received training provided by the FBI in which we were issued long batons and taught to maintain wedge formations and skirmish lines to force protestors and rioters to disburse.

Other than for helmets, we received no protective gear and our faces were uncovered. We were in gabardine uniforms, with ties, badges and name plates. Being one of the taller officers, I often found myself at the point, as in this newspaper photograph.

Following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968, riots immediately erupted all over the country. At least 125 cities suffered violence and destruction and more than 56,000 federal and National Guard troops were mobilized in 18 states and 36 cities. The worst riots were in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Chicago, Boston, Detroit, Kansas City and Newark. In Chicago, Mayor Daley ordered the police, who had received no civil disorder training, to shoot to kill. More than 700 fires raged in Washington, D.C. and the White House was turned into a “fortress.”

After graduating from the Los Angeles Police Academy and completing my one-year probation, I commenced evening law school. During the day and for the next two years, I researched and wrote the Department’s Policy Manual establishing the principles and philosophy governing policing in the city, including the meaning of “To Protect and To Serve.” Policies were established for the use of force, including firearms, and the Department’s response to riots.

During “unusual occurrences,” I was also assigned to temporarily staff the Emergency Control Center where I served as the Situation Report Officer compiling all information and intelligence into hourly and daily reports for commanding officers and political leaders. Major events included the all-day shootout on December 8, 1969 between the LAPD and barricaded Black Panthers on South Central Avenue and the East LA riots in August and September 1970, during which Times columnist Rubén Salazar was killed by sheriff deputies and a bomb was exploded in the federal building next door to the LA police headquarters.

There were many other less publicized acts of violence in LA during the late Sixties and early Seventies: In 1968, the employment office at Cal State Northridge was firebombed because of defense contracts; a shrapnel bomb exploded at the Hollywood Selective Service office; five heavy-duty Army trucks were dynamited in Van Nuys; and students occupied the administration building at Cal State Northridge and held the president and other administrators at knife point for four hours. The following year, a pipe bomb exploded at a Navy and Marine Corps Training Center in Compton and an airplane dropped an incendiary device outside a military installation. In 1970, two Selective Service offices sustained heavy damage during bombings; two men were arrested as they attempted to firebomb the National Guard armory in San Pedro; and an explosion and fire caused $10,000 damage at UCLA’s ROTC facility.

Los Angeles was not alone in experiencing public disorder and violence during this era as rage against the war and racial discrimination resulted in riots and civil disorder across the country. In addition to the widespread riots following the murder of Dr. King and in Chicago during the Democratic National Convention, riots in 1968 also occurred in New York City, Orangeburg, South Carolina, Baltimore, Kansas City, Salisbury, Maryland, and Louisville.

New York City was again stuck by rioting in 1969 followed by a riot in York, Pennsylvania. During the “Days of Rage,” the Weathermen, a militant offshoot of the Students for a Democratic Society, violently confronted the police in response to the trial of the “Chicago Eight.”

In March 1970, three Weathermen died during a failed attempt to construct a bomb in Greenwich Village, and four students were shot by National Guardsmen during a demonstration at Kent State in May. Several days later, construction workers wearing hard hats attacked a student antiwar demonstration in Wall Street injuring 70 and stormed City Hall to demand raising the flag which had been lowered in mourning for the Kent State students.

Continuing in 1970, there were riots in Augusta and Asbury Park. Bombs exploded at: the Army Mathematics Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; a courtroom in San Rafael, California; an armory in Santa Barbara; the ROTC building at the University of Washington, the University of California, Berkeley in October; and a replica of the Liberty Bell in Portland.

Violence continued in 1971 when the “Weather Underground” exploded a bomb causing $300,000 damage at the U.S. Capitol building to protest the invasion of Laos; there were prison riots at Attica and San Quentin; a Black Muslim riot in Baton Rouge; May Day protests in Washington, D.C. and a riot in Camden, New Jersey.

As a result of the widespread violence sweeping the country and coincident with his presidential campaign, President Nixon appointed a National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals in 1972. Although I was still attending law school and employed by the LAPD, I was placed on loan to the Commission to work on the staff of the Police Task Force. My assignment over the next year was to write the introductory chapters defining the role of police officers in America and their relationship with the communities they serve.

The Commission published its initial reports in 1973, including specific recommendations to upgrade the quality of police personnel by improved recruitment and selection processes and for mandatory and extensive basic and in-service training requirements. Most basically, the Commission recommended continuance of primary local and state – versus federal – responsibility for domestic law enforcement. To the greatest extent possible, policing was to be community based.

Having completed law school, I was employed by the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) in 1973 to work on the implementation of national standards and goals. After a year in Washington, D.C., I was appointed as a Deputy District Attorney in Los Angeles and prosecuted criminal cases for the next three years. I then opened a public interest law practice in the City of Long Beach in which I primarily represented juveniles accused of serious crimes and undertook a variety of pro bono cases that attracted my interest.

Some of the last battles in America’s urban war were fought by the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) formed in 1973 to engage in guerrilla warfare against “the fascist insect that preys upon the life of the people.” Following the murder of the Oakland Schools superintendent for requiring students to carry identification, the SLA kidnapped newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst and committed a bank robbery in which a customer was killed. The LAPD closed in on the SLA in May 1974 and six heavily armed members died in a shootout and fire. In August of the next year, surviving SLA members attempted to bomb several LAPD patrol cars.

The National Advisory Commission released its final report by the Task Force on Disorders and Terrorism in 1976. The report differentiated civil disorders from terrorism in finding that civil disorders are “manifestations of exuberance, discontent, or disapproval on the part of a substantial segment of the community.” Terrorism was defined as “the deliberately planned work of a small number of malcontents or dissidents who threaten the security of the entire community.”

The Task Force observed that “very little American violence has been insurrectionary. Mass protest in this country has been directed at modifying our system of government, not overthrowing it. Terrorism in this country has been limited, unpopular, and disorganized.”

The Task Force concluded that “the nature of American society enables it to absorb a considerable amount of violence without damaging its political structure.” Finally, the Task Force predicted that “terrorist activities will increase and intensify. In contrast, civil disturbances appear to be cyclical and are the products of local, social and political conditions.”

A MELLOWING OF DISCONTENT

Passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Food Stamp Act of 1964, the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, the Higher Education Act of 1965, the Social Security Act of 1965, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968 brought an end to many of the institutionalized causes of racial segregation and discrimination in America. Combined with a generalized increase in the standard of living for most people, many of the root causes for violent protests by minorities were removed.

The antiwar movement sputtered out following American’s withdrawal from Vietnam, and the country experienced a significant reduction in violent political protests during the Eighties and Nineties.

Law enforcement continued to improve as a profession with all states adopting POST programs and a significant portion of police officers obtained college degrees. After peaking in 1991, the crime rate began to dramatically drop. While some of the reduction can be traced to the aging of the baby boomers, improved police administration and practices certainly made a substantial contribution.

As a part of the continuing professionalization of law enforcement, I was recruited by two former LAPD commanding officers in 1984 to serve as general counsel and operations officer for a high-level private security consulting and investigation company they had established. Primarily deploying operatives with law enforcement backgrounds, our clients included a number of major Fortune 500 corporations, including several that operated nuclear weapons sites for the U.S. Department of Energy. When my principals sold their business in 1988, I reopened my law practice in Long Beach and concentrated on investigative law.

BACK TO THE FUTURE

The bombings of the World Trade Center in February 1993 and the Oklahoma City federal building in April 1995 were pure mass-casualty terrorist attacks and were unrelated to any domestic protest movement.

There were only two major urban riots during the Eighties and Nineties and both shared similar causation. The Miami riot in 1980 resulted from the acquittal of five white police officers accused of beating an African-American insurance salesman to death after he attempted to surrender. The Liberty City area erupted in two days of rioting in which 150 fires were set, 17 people died, 1,300 were arrested and there was $50 million in property damage.

Twelve years later, in April 1992, four white Los Angeles police officers were acquitted by a jury of charges they had used excessive force while arresting an African-American driver after a high-speed chase. The beating was videotaped by a bystander and the film was widely shown on television. Following the verdict, a white truck driver was dragged from his truck and was beaten by African-American youths as the assault was broadcast live from a television station news helicopter.

Rioting immediately spread throughout Los Angeles and adjoining cities violence and destruction prevailed for three days, until the National Guard was able to restore order. Fifty-two people died during the rioting, 2,499 were injured and 6,559 were arrested for riot-related crimes; 1,120 buildings suffered more than $446 in damage and 377 were totally destroyed.

The primary difference between the 1992 riot and all other previous urban riots was that it spread throughout the metropolitan area and rioters represented all socioeconomic and racial groups.

THE EMERGENCE OF ROBOCOPS

One of the more unsettling trends in recent years has been the increasing militarization of local police forces in response to protest activities unrelated to terrorism. While we have become accustomed to seeing specialized units, such as SWAT teams outfitted in black coveralls and other combat gear, police officers are now appearing as “RoboCops” with military weapons at political demonstrations, such as the anti-globalization protests in 1999 in Seattle against the World Trade Organization.

The Department of Homeland Security was created in November 2002 to supervise, fund and coordinate “local first responders.” Since then, billions have been spent to equip and train police, fire and medical personnel to respond to high consequence-low probability terrorist events.

Homeland Security has provided local law enforcement agencies with almost unlimited funds to purchase militaristic equipment to fight the war against terrorism. Once agencies equip every officer with black tactical suits, full body armor, dark-visored helmets and assault weapons and train them to respond to highly unlikely terrorist events, police administrators are much more likely to deploy overwhelming force against political protesters, who usually constitute a pain in the ass rather than a real threat to public order.

Acting under the aegis of the Department of Homeland Security, as many as 40 different law enforcement agencies blanketed Miami in November 2003 during meetings relating to the Free Trade Area of the Americas. Protest groups were infiltrated by the police, and the corporate media was “embedded” with law enforcement.

In what has become known as the “Miami Model,” an aggressive police deployment is characterized by mass preventive arrests, a violent police response to nonviolent demonstrators, and the arrest and harassment of independent journalists working among the protestors. In addition, Miami deployed unidentifiable police “extraction teams” wearing full body armor and ski masks in unmarked vans to haul away protestors.

Adopting a “zero tolerance” of protest, the New York City police department used “Miami” tactics in 2004 at the Republican National Convention. Hundreds of peaceful demonstrators and innocent bystanders were illegally arrested, fingerprinted, photographed, and subjected to prolonged detention in wire cages before being released without prosecution.

Repressive tactics were also used the same year as a counter-terrorism measure at the Democratic National Convention, where Boston police established a designated fenced enclosure topped by razor wire as the “free speech zone.” Protestors could only demonstrate in the “zone,” which was well away from the convention and beyond the view of participants and the news media.

Another full-court press against protest occurred in 2004 at the G8 Summit on Sea Island just off the coast from Brunswick, Georgia. The governor declared a month-long state of emergency along the coast and more than 25,000 local, state and federal police officers and military units in armored assault vehicles were deployed in or near the small coastal town, which only has a population of 15,000 residents. Local businesses closed up for the week and boarded up their windows, and the federal government spent more than $25 million to protect the summit against terrorism; however, less than 250 activists showed up to demonstrate, including three who protested that the local pigeons had more freedom than they did.

THE 2008 NATIONAL POLITICAL CONVENTIONS

Approximately 150 demonstrators were arrested by law enforcement officers in Denver during the 2008 Democratic National Convention; however, many were released without charges and the others were primarily charged with offenses including obstruction, throwing stones, assault, illegal dumping and possession of drugs and illegal weapons. Most pled guilty and were fined $100 plus court costs and given a five-day suspended sentence.

RNC cops

http://stpaulrnc.shutterfly.com/92

photo by Japhlet Bire Attias @ www.myspace.com/japhletba used with permission

Other than for authorized marches, protesters were required to remain in a “Freedom Cage” separated from the Denver convention center by metal fences on top of concrete barricades. Although some officers turned out in riot gear, they all had badges and identification numbers displayed on their chests and the use of force was mainly restricted to the defensive use of pepper spray. It appears that both protesters and the police considered the gathering to be a political protest, rather than a terrorist activity, and there was a determined effort by both sides to avoid violent confrontations.

It was a different story during the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. Early on, the police department promised protest organizers that the entire city of St. Paul would be a “free speech zone,” police officers would not infiltrate protest organizations, officers would wear uniforms rather than tactical gear, and the local police would be in charge of policing rather than federal authorities. None of these promises were kept. Instead, the police relied upon the classic Miami Model to control and oppress political dissent.

Prior to the Republican Convention, the FBI-directed Minneapolis Joint Terrorist Task force recruited paid “moles” to infiltrate protest groups and to report on their plans and activities. In the week before the convention, local authorities supervised by the FBI and aided by informants conducted a series of preemptive raids leading to seizures of video cameras, computers, journals and political materials.

Teams of 25-30 RoboCops waving assault rifles and shotguns entered homes of protesters forcing everyone present to the floor and to be handcuffed and photographed. Even attorneys on the scene to represent detainees were handcuffed.

More than 10,000 protesters gathered to demonstrate during the convention. Officers responded wearing helmets with face shields and full body armor without badges or any form of personal identification. They marched about in formation shouting military chants. Officers used pepper spray, rubber bullets, smoke bombs, concussion grenades and excessive force to arrest more than 800 protesters, including a 78-year-old Catholic nun. Many of those arrested were overcharged with felony rioting making it more difficult for them to be released from custody.

Journalists were specifically targeted for harassment and arrest. Two independent photojournalist groups were subjected to preemptive searches, and journalists who were present were detained at gunpoint. Video equipment and computers were seized from “I-Witness Video,” a media watchdog group that monitors law enforcement to protect civil liberties, and the “Glass Bead Collective,” another video documentary group.

Associated Press photographer Matt Rourke was arrested while on assignment after police encircled the demonstrators he was photographing. Even though he displayed convention credentials, Rourke was kicked to the ground, arrested, and his camera was seized. Subsequently several other members of the media, including AP reporters Amy Forliti and Jon Krawczynski were trapped with protesters on a bridge. They were forced to sit with their hands over their heads until being led away for processing. They were cited for unlawful assembly and were released. Two student photographers and their faculty advisor were also held without charges for 36 hours.

At least 19 journalists were detained during the convention; however, the most sensational arrest was of prominent broadcast journalist Amy Goodman of “Democracy Now!”, who was arrested for attempting to speak to a police commanding officer about the arrest of two accredited coworkers. Within seconds, she was grabbed and pulled behind the police line. Her arms were forcibly twisted behind her back and her wrists were tightly bound with rigid plastic cuffs. When she repeated that she was an accredited journalist, an unidentified Secret Service agent walked up and said, “Oh really?” and ripped her convention credential from her neck.

Goodman’s producers, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar, had been arrested after being forced into a parking lot along with protesters and surrounded by police officers. Salazar was trapped between parked cars and thrown to the ground; her face was smashed into the pavement and she was bleeding from the nose. One officer had a boot or knee on her back and another officer was pulling on her leg. Sharif was thrown against a wall and kicked in the chest. He was bleeding from his arm.

Both “Democracy Now!” producers were charged with suspicion of felony rioting, and Amy Goodman was charged with obstruction of a police officer. She said, “There’s a reason our profession is explicitly protected by the Constitution – because we’re the check and balance on power, the eyes and ears. And when the eyes and ears are closed, it’s very dangerous for democratic society.”

St. Paul Police Chief John Harrington says his officers “did not overreact” and that they “responded appropriately” in dealing with demonstrators: “If a reporter is committing crimes while they’re under their credentials, I think they become regular citizens.”

Although the era of Internet journalism makes it more difficult for law enforcement officers to identify legitimate media representatives, the Constitution makes no distinction between those who are “accredited” and those who are not. The First Amendment protects the rights of all journalists to do their jobs, especially at political events and public protests. Reporters not only have a right to be present at such events, but they have a duty to mix with participants and to inform the public of their observations, especially how they are treated by those who have taken an oath to protect and to serve the public.

WHAT NOW?

I ended the last phase of my career in the justice system last year as a prosecutor for the State Bar of California, essentially policing the legal profession. I have now retired and have dedicated my remaining years to writing in an attempt to bring about a more peaceful and representative government; however, I fear for the future of the American people.

There are two things for certain: First, if the violent protest events of the Sixties and Seventies were to occur today, the Constitution would be suspended and all of us would be living under martial law. Second, things will get worse before they get better! Not only are we in a severe recession in which hundreds of thousands of us are losing our jobs, homes, health and our way of life, but the absolute risk of mass-casualty terrorism has not been diminished by the “War on Terrorism” – indeed it has been made much more likely by the manner in which it has been conducted.

The thing I fear most is the class war being waged on the working and middle class by the political and economic elites of America. They have seized most of the wealth, income and political power and they control the corporate media and the ability to shape our opinions, beliefs and attitudes. At some point we have to fight back and we will not win unless those who enforce the laws do so on our behalf.

Today, there is little difference between the two main political parties and irrespective of who will be president during the next four years of turmoil, I fear his or her use of the extraordinary and secret powers that have been aggrandized to the presidency, as we begin to increasingly protest our loss of freedoms, rights, and livelihoods.

I continue to respect and to identify with those professional police officers who wear the badges we issue them and who form the thin blue line between peaceful political protest and the violence of terrorism, but my faith in our ability to survive the difficulties we confront together is fading fast.

Just as police officers must recognize that our political protests are not acts of terrorism, we must be able to see their faces, to know who they are, to trust that they are on our side, and that they will act as professionals.

Contrary to the propaganda of those who seek unlimited power over us, the law enforcement model has worked well for more than 200 years to protect the security and freedoms of Americans. We must resist with all of our might the use and deployment of the military and federal agents within this country to enforce our local laws. We must trust our local police to protect us and our right to dissent.

Years ago as a brash young man I attempted to define the meaning of the motto, “To Protect and To Serve,” painted on the side of LAPD patrol cars. Today, as a much older and hopefully wiser man, I believe the motto should be, “The People and Their Police – Peers for Peace.” It speaks for itself.

William John Cox is a retired supervising prosecutor for the State Bar of California. Acting as a public interest, pro bono, attorney, he filed a class action lawsuit in 1979 on behalf of every citizen of the United States petitioning the Supreme Court to order the other two branches of the federal government to conduct a National Policy Referendum; he investigated and successfully sued a group of radical right-wing organizations in 1981 that denied the Holocaust; and he arranged in 1991 for publication of the suppressed Dead Sea Scrolls. His 2004 book, You’re Not Stupid! Get the Truth: A Brief on the Bush Presidency is reviewed at http://www.yourenotstupid.com, and he is currently working on a fact-based fictional political philosophy. His writings are collected at http://www.thevoters.org, and he can be contacted at u2cox@msn.com.

***

See also:

Criminalizing of Dissent: Defend the RNC 8! by Coleen Rowley

Criminalizing of Dissent: What Would Thomas Jefferson Do? by Coleen Rowley

see

Truth, Justice and the 4th Estate-journalists charged with unlawful assembly

RNC in Twin Cities: Eight protesters charged with terrorism under Patriot Act

RNC Un-Arrest: the most important event from the McCain Riots

Anti-war marchers try, try again; 300 arrested on Marion St. bridge

8 Members of RNC Activist Group Lodged with Terrorism Charges

Why We Were Falsely Arrested By Amy Goodman

RNC – St Paul-Minneapolis MN

Bailing Out Fannie and Freddie by Ralph Nader

Dandelion Salad

by Ralph Nader
Sept 9, 2008

When Members of Congress or the Administration or the corporate CEOs or the empirically starved right-wing ideologues start whining about regulation the right-wing echo chamber goes wild. When the absence of adequate regulation lets an industry wreak havoc, Congress and the Administration meekly admit a bit of regulation might have averted disaster. The corporate CEOs, expelled with their lucrative golden parachutes, have “no comment.”

The taxpayers, who are too often the guarantors of last resort and who are stuck with the tab, are asking each other why their public watchdogs were asleep at the switch. The Washington merry-go-round is something to behold.

As the recent headlines note, the Federal Government has taken over the giant companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) is using the legal process of a “conservatorship” to “stabilize” Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Talk about regulation!

On Sunday, September 7, 2008, U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said, “Since this difficult period for the GSEs began, I have clearly stated three critical objectives: providing stability to financial markets, supporting the availability of mortgage finance, and protecting taxpayers – both by minimizing the near term costs to the taxpayer and by setting policymakers on a course to resolve the systemic risk created by the inherent conflict in the GSE structure.”

Nice words – but they will provide little comfort to the many common shareholders who have seen the value of their Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac stock collapse to pennies per share. And more than a few taxpayers are wondering what the Fannie/Freddie debacle will end up costing them.

We and others have been telling members of Congress, government regulators and members of the media about the structural and operational problems of Fannie and Freddie for years. I have written many columns about the lack of proper regulation of Fannie and Freddie. I testified before Congress about the need to focus Fannie and Freddie and my long-time associates Jonathan Brown and Jake Lewis have spent countless hours advocating that federal regulators push Fannie and Freddie to meet housing goals that would benefit under-served populations.

In 1991, lawyer Tom Stanton, a former colleague, warned about the risks and non-regulation of Fannie and Freddie in his prophetic book—A State of Risk (Harper Business).

In May of 1998, we even held a conference dedicated to Fannie and Freddie. In my welcoming statement to the conference participants, I noted that we would be discussing the adequacy of capital required of Fannie and Freddie and the efficacy of regulation of the two GSEs. I noted that both corporations had been enjoying good times. And, I cautioned that one of the unintended consequences of fat profits over a long period is the tendency of governments and private corporations to start believing in fantasies about living happily ever after in the glory of ever-rising profits.

My statement asserted that, “Taxpayers have learned that contingent liabilities such as those inherent in the GSE structure do, at times, become quite costly. It wasn’t long ago–in the high interest rate period in the late 1970s and early 1980s – that Fannie Mae was having serious financial troubles. And the Farm Credit System, another GSE, required a bail out of approximately $5 billion in the 1980s when the agricultural industry had a severe downturn.”

In July of this year I lamented the fact that Fannie and Freddie have been deeply unregulated for decades which allowed their capital ratios to be lower—far lower—than they should have been, adding:

Over at the multi-trillion dollar companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the shareholders have lost about 75 percent of their stock value in one year. Farcically regulated by the Department of Housing and Urban Affairs, Fannie and Freddie were run into the ground by taking on very shaky mortgages under the command of CEOs and their top executives who paid themselves enormous sums.

These two institutions were set up many years ago to provide liquidity in the housing and loan markets and thereby expand home ownership especially among lower income families. Instead, they turned themselves into casinos, taking advantage of an implied U.S. government guarantee.

The Fannie and Freddie bosses created another guarantee. They hired top appointees from both Republican and Democratic Administrations (such as Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick) and lathered them with tens of millions of dollars in executive compensation. In this way, they kept federal supervision at a minimum and held off efforts in Congress to toughen regulation.

So here we are. On Monday September 8, 2008, the value of common Fannie and Freddie stock dropped to under one dollar – just one day after Secretary of the Treasury announced the government takeover. White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said, “[F]or years we have encouraged Congress to put in place a strong, independent regulator to oversee the institutions. We believe the actions will help to improve conditions in the housing market.”

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher J. Dodd , D-Conn has questions for the Administration, so there is more to be revealed. And, reporters are spilling buckets of ink talking about the takeover of Fannie and Freddie and the lack of proper oversight by regulators and Congress which brought us to this day of appreciation for regulation. Too bad it is all a little late for the small shareholders, and pensioners and taxpayers who pay the bill for speculators and executives, many of whom seem to escape with lots of money.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

see

Comrades Bush, Paulson and Bernanke Welcome You to the USSRA (United Socialist State Republic of America)

Jim Rogers: Socialism for the Rich

US government takes over mortgage giants to stave off financial meltdown

Take A Load Off Fannie: Bailout Or Nationalization For The Mortgage Giants?

The Economy Sucks and or Collapse

Comrades Bush, Paulson and Bernanke Welcome You to the USSRA (United Socialist State Republic of America)

Dandelion Salad

By Nouriel Roubini
ICH
09/09/08 “Roubini Global Economics”

The now inevitable nationalization of Fannie and Freddie is the most radical regime change in global economic and financial affairs in decades. For the last twenty years after the collapse of the USSR, the fall of the Iron Curtain and the economic reforms in China and other emerging market economies the world economy has moved away from state ownership of the economy and towards privatization of previously stated owned enterprises. This trends was aggressively supported the United States that preached right and left the benefits of free markets and free private enterprise.

Today instead the US has performed the greatest nationalization in the history of humanity. By nationalizing Fannie and Freddie the US has increased its public assets by almost $6 trillion and has increased its public debt/liabilities by another $6 trillion. The US has also turned itself into the largest government-owned hedge fund in the world: by injecting a likely $200 billion of capital into Fannie and Freddie and taking on almost $6 trillion of liabilities of such GSEs the US has also undertaken the biggest and most levered LBO (“leveraged buy-out”) in human history that has a debt to equity ratio of 30 ($6,000 billion of debt against $200 billion of equity).

Comrades Bush, Paulson and Bernanke Welcome You to the USSRA (United Socialist State Republic of America) – ICH.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

see

Bailing Out Fannie and Freddie by Ralph Nader

Jim Rogers: Socialism for the Rich

US government takes over mortgage giants to stave off financial meltdown

Take A Load Off Fannie: Bailout Or Nationalization For The Mortgage Giants?

The Economy Sucks and or Collapse

US Is “More Communist than China”: Jim Rogers

Mosaic News – 9/8/08: World News from the Middle East

Dandelion Salad

Warning

.

This video may contain images depicting the reality and horror of war/violence and should only be viewed by a mature audience.

linktv

Headlines coming soon!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Deception and Delusion: Dummies for Democracy by Joel S. Hirschhorn

by Joel S. Hirschhorn
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
www.foavc.org
Sept 9, 2008

I confess.  I believe there is a ruling class that sustains the two-party plutocracy running the nation for the benefit of the rich and corporate class.  Their broad strategy is deception and delusion.  Tactically, they use government, the mainstream media, the financial services sector, funding of politicians and the two major parties, and many other parts of the culture and economy to maintain their power and control.

Elections do not threaten elites.  To the contrary, political debate and elections are important to maintain the illusion and delusion of a real democracy.  They are key to prevent outright revolution, marginalize dissidents and political reform efforts, and suppress third parties.  Would power plutocrats allow election of a president that threatened their control?  Of course not.  And no Democratic or Republican presidential candidate ever poses a real threat despite cloaking themselves with labels like maverick, reformer or change agent.

If you accept my worldview, then you know that the ruling class would prefer John McCain over Barack Obama, though they can live with Obama, which is why many, many wealthy people and corporations have poured money into the Obama’s campaign and the recent Democratic convention.  The chief disadvantage of Obama and Sarah Palin, from the rulers’ perspective, is their relative brief stints as politicians.  It takes time to corrupt politicians and cement their dependency on and membership in the ruling class.  In contrast, McCain and Joe Biden clearly have shown themselves reliable in protecting the status quo two-party plutocracy.

The best way to view most current events is through the prism of the ruling class.  Take lower gas prices and the federal takeover of the two mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Both occurred relatively soon before the general election, as has far better information about the Iraq war.  Manipulation and engineering of national and even world events are designed to serve the interests of the ruling class.

Why does deception and delusion work so effectively?  When it comes to politics, current events and history, the vast majority of citizens are uninformed, stupid and dumb, regardless of their educational level.  As distracted and compulsive consumers, they fall head over hills for political lies and slick campaign rhetoric.

First, consider younger voters.  So much talk is about the increased interest in this presidential campaign by younger people, especially evident in the Ron Paul and Obama campaigns.  But consider these facts: For those age 18 to 29 just 20 percent read newspapers and just 11 percent regularly surf the Internet for news.  Most of what people know about candidates’ positions on the issues comes from what they learn from unreliable and all too often misleading 30-second commercials.  Despite far more widespread and extensive schooling, people today possess no more political knowledge than their parents and grandparents.  And don’t think that those addicted to The Daily Show and its irreverent view of politics are a lot smarter than those favoring The conservative O’Reilly Factor show.  In both groups, only about 54 percent of the shows’ politicized viewers scored in the high knowledge category.

Propaganda and misinformation really work.  Just prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq some 60 percent of Americans believed that Iraq was behind the 9/11 attack.  But here is the kicker: A year later there was a wealth of information, including the 9/11 Commission report, saying that Iraq had nothing to do with the 9/11 attack.  Yet an amazing 50 percent of Americans still believed that Iraq was to blame, and may still think so.  As Rick Shenkman, author of Just How Stupid Are We? Facing the Truth About the American Voter, concluded: “By every measure social scientists have devised, voters are spectacularly uninformed.”  Guess who takes advantage of the stupidity of voters, especially younger ones.

If people can believe Obama when he says that the election is not about him but about them, then they also can believe McCain when he says he is a proven change agent and reformer.

The only real difference between Obama and McCain is exactly how they will screw the public and benefit the rich and powerful if elected, not whether they will.  If the electorate was really intelligent, they would understand and focus on the similarity between the two, rather than their professed differences.  It is what they share – obedience and loyalty to the two-party plutocracy – that matters the most.  As long as voters do not understand this, the oppression and destruction of the middle class will continue, despite people thinking they are free and live in a democracy.

Mostly, Americans are free to remain vulnerable to deception and delusion.

Democracy for dummies is what we have and what the majority deserve.  For the rest of us the difficult challenge is to find ways to fight the political system that are not marginalized and only satisfy our egos.  As long as you are an enthusiastic supporter of any Democrat or Republican you are a willing participant in our fake democracy.  Most voters persist in believing in the myth that some Democrat or Republican can and will reform the political system, fix the economy, and restore American democracy.  They refuse to face the painful truth that this is simply not true.  They rather keep embracing the delusional myth.

Consider these wise words of John F. Kennedy:  “The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived, and dishonest, but the myth – persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic.  Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.”

And so millions of Americans suffering from habitual stupidity will cast their votes confident that they have discovered the truth.  Like the march of the penguins diving into icy water without thinking they have any other choice, they succumb to the big myth that this year cost about $1 billion to keep alive.  These voters are dummies for democracy.  The rest of us will vote for Ralph Nader or some other third party candidate, or refuse to vote at all, and seek ways to ignite the Second American Revolution.

Politicians and media people often praise the smart public and smart voters as if they inevitably make the best, most intelligent and informed electoral decisions.  This is sheer hype designed to maintain the political status quo.  There is only one smart fact: Every single Democrat and Republican candidate lies.  Why do they keep lying?  It works.

[Contact Joel S. Hirschhorn through www.delusionaldemocracy.com.]

see

US Election Campaign: National Security and Permanent Wars. Vying to Be Toughest

Country Last By David Michael Green

Neo-Progressives Sell Out To Democrats, by Joel S. Hirschhorn

The Invisible Man: The Least Worst isn’t Good Enough Anymore

Big Think: Interview with Amy Goodman on Election 2008

Dandelion Salad

Sent to me from http://www.bigthink.com/

Note there is a commercial at the end.

http://www.bigthink.com/policy-politics/2008-elections/12613

Amy Goodman encourages citizen empowerment as the best route for getting the candidates’ true stories.

In her conversation with us Amy focused on the necessity of pressuring politicians in order to hold them accountable to the needs of the citizens. She explained that “politicians change their positions when pressure is exerted upon them: that’s what politics is.”

How poignantly ironic then, that she was arrested while carrying out her duty as as a journalist and a citizen to hold politicians responsible to the needs of the people.

Continue reading

Climate Change — World War III by Another Name? By William Bowles

By William Bowles
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
williambowles.info

Sept 9, 2008

“A shadowy scientific elite codenamed Jason warned the US about global warming 30 years ago but was sidelined for political convenience” — ‘Jason and the secret climate change war’ Times Online

The quote above has it wrong on one major point, the findings of Jason weren’t sidelined for “political convenience” but for the more fundamental reason that catastrophic climate change is basically WWIII on the cheap, a ‘solution’ moreover that lets imperialism off the hook, after all if climate change is unavoidable without dumping capitalism and, as it appears that the populations of the G-7 aren’t prepared (yet) to do this, then what the hell, we’ll survive (well most of us anyway). Continue reading

Conflict between the U.S. and Russia is increasing

Dandelion Salad

RussiaToday

The U.S. regards Russia’s plans for naval exercises with Venezuela in the Caribbean as a response to America locating it’s ships in the Black Sea, says Charles Kupchan, Professor of International Relations at Georgetown University in Washington DC.

more about “Conflict between the U.S. and Russia …“, posted with vodpod

Countdown: Barack Obama + Sarah Palin? She Lies & Lies & Lies Some More!

Dandelion Salad

VOTERSTHINKdotORG

http://cspanjunkie.org/
http://votersthink.org
September 08, 2008 MSNBC Keith Olbermann

more about “Countdown: Barack Obama“, posted with vodpod

Sarah Palin? She Lies & Lies & Lies Some More!

see

Republicans on Fantasy Island – You Just Can’t Make This Sh*t Up!

Rachel Maddow: And That’s Why Democrats Are Worried!

US Election Campaign: National Security and Permanent Wars. Vying to Be Toughest

Country Last By David Michael Green

“Modern Debt Peonage”? Economic Democracy Is Turning Into a Financial Oligarchy

Neo-Progressives Sell Out To Democrats, by Joel S. Hirschhorn

MSNBC Takes Incendiary Hosts From Anchor Seat

Empire and Imperialism and the USA by Prof. James Petras

Dandelion Salad

by Prof. James Petras
Global Research, September 8, 2008

Modern empires and therefore imperialism which constructs them are ubiquitous: Whether through large-scale multinational corporations or through technologically advanced massive military power, the peoples and nations of the worlds confront the problem of great concentration of corporate and state power on an unprecedented scale. This stark reality and the evidence of US prolonged wars of conquest and occupation has forced a general recognition of the relevance of the concept of imperialism to understanding global power relations. Only a decade ago writers, intellectuals and academics discarded imperialism and empire in favor of ‘globalization’ – to describe the world configuration of power. But globalization with its limited focus on the movement of multinational corporations could not explain the centrality of the state in establishing and imposing favorable conditions for the ‘movement’ or expansion of multinationals. Corporate globalization could not explain wars of conquest, like the first Gulf War, or wars of occupation or colonization, such as the US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Nor could globalization explain the large-scale, long-term expansion of Chinese public corporations throughout Africa and the vast extraction of raw materials and sale of finished goods. By the new millennium, the language of empire even entered the vocabulary of the Right, the practitioners and ideologues of imperialist power. Contemporary imperial conflicts had their effects: Imperialism and empire once again became common language on the Left, but in many cases poorly understood, at least in all of its complexities and structures.

This essay clarifies some of the basic theoretical and practical features of contemporary imperialism, which are poorly understood. There are at least five major aspects of the political economy of imperialism that focus our attention in this book:

(1) Imperialism is a political and economic phenomenon. The multinational corporations (MNC) operate in many countries, but they receive their political support, economic subsidies and military insurance from the imperial state (IS) concerned with the MNC. The IS negotiates or imposes trade and investment agreements favorable to the MNC. At the same time the IS uses the MNC to influence overseas regimes to concede military bases and submit to its sphere of influence. Imperialism is the combined forceful overseas expansion of state and corporations.

(2) There are multiple forms of empire building. While all imperial states possess military and economic apparatuses, the political and economic driving force behind the construction of a global empire vary according to the nature of the governing class of the imperial state. In the contemporary world there are essentially two types of empire building – the US military-driven empire building and the Chinese economic empire. The US governing class today is made up of a powerful militarist-Zionist ideological elite, which prioritizes war and military force as a way of extending its domination and constructing client/colonial regimes. China and other newly aspiring economic empire builders expand overseas via large-scale, long-term overseas investments, loans, trade, technical aid and market shares. Obviously the US militarist approach to empire building is bloodier, more destructive and more reprehensible than market-driven empire building. However the structure of power and exploitation, which result from both types of empire, is a political-economic system, which oppresses and exploits subject peoples and nations.

(3) Imperialism has multiple interacting facets, which mutually reinforce each other: The mass media and culture in general are weapons for securing consent and/or acquiescence of the masses in pursuit of empire building which prejudices their material and spiritual existence. Imperialism cannot be isolated and reduced to simple economic reductionism. Economic exploitation is only possible under conditions of subjective subordination and that refers to education, entertainment, literature and art as terrains of class relations and class struggle linked to the empire.

(4) The social, ideological and political loyalties of the political elite, which direct the imperial state, determines the tactics and strategy which will be pursued in empire building. One cannot automatically assume that the political leadership will prioritize the interests of the MNCs in every region of the world at all times. When imperial leadership has divided loyalties with another state imperial policies may not coincide with the interests of the MNCs. Under these special circumstances of rulers with divided imperial loyalties, the ‘normal’ operations of the imperial state are suspended. The case of Zionist power in the US imperial state is a case in point. Through powerful and wealthy socio-political organizations, representation on powerful Congressional committees and strong presence in senior Executive offices (Pentagon, State Department, National Security Council, Homeland Security, Justice, Treasury) and the mass media, the Zionist elite dictates US Middle East policy. The US military serves Israeli colonial-expansionist interests even at the expense of the major US oil companies which are prevented from signing billion-dollar oil contracts with Iran and other oil-rich countries at odds with Israel .

(5) The world of competing imperial countries has created complex international organizations, which conflict, compete and collaborate. They operate on all levels, from the global to the cities and villages of the Third World . Imperialist powers enter and exploit through a chain of collaborator classes from the imperial center through international organizations to local ruling, economic and political classes. The imperial system is only as strong as its local collaborators. Popular uprisings, national anti-colonial struggles and radical mass movements, which oust local collaborators, undermine the empire. Anti imperialists attempt to establish diverse ties among imperial competitors and among the newly emerging powers to isolate the US military-centered empire.

© Copyright James Petras, Global Research, 2008

The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=10121

Republicans on Fantasy Island – You Just Can’t Make This Sh*t Up!

Dandelion Salad

UnclassifiedProducer

more about “Back-Talk #5 Republicans on Fantasy I…“, posted with vodpod

see

Country Last By David Michael Green

US Election Campaign: National Security and Permanent Wars. Vying to Be Toughest

The U.S. 2008 Presidential Election: An Evaluation by Rodrigue Tremblay

McCain-John

Palin-Sarah

God Does Love the Republicans By Steven Jonas + Bible Thumper

The Daily Show: Sarah Palin Gender Card