America Has Already Changed by William Cox

by William Cox
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
www.thevoters.org
November 9, 2008

Against all odds, American voters have elected a mixed-race, multi-cultural young man, who was born in modest circumstances, as their president to lead them through an economic and military crisis that threatens the future of their democracy.

Barack Obama campaigned on a platform of “Change”; however, the fact of his election proves that America has already changed.

I was born in my grandmother’s farmhouse in West Texas almost 68 years ago, and my father often said every American boy had a chance to be president, but I’m certain he never imagined the boy could be black. Continue reading

A Dream Ballot for 2008 by William Cox

by William Cox
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
www.thevoters.org
October 23, 2008

“Let [the Constitution] be taught in schools, seminaries and in colleges; let it be written in primers, in spelling books and in almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, enforced in courts of justice. In short, let it become the political religion of the nation.” — Abraham Lincoln

Tossing and turning, American voters are having nightmares about the 2008 election. Will it be stolen again as it was in 2000 and 2004? What will a President Obama do about the Global War on Terrorism and militarization? What will a President McCain do about the economy, jobs and health care? My God, will we end up with a President Biden or Palin, and what on Earth will he or she stumble into?

In spite of all their lofty promises, mealy-mouthed answers, and misleading advertisements, American voters still have no clue about what any of the candidates will really do if and when they get into office.

With $3 billion wasted on the Help America Vote Act and the unreliable electronic machines it has purchased, voters are losing sleep worrying about whether they will even be allowed to vote in November, much less if their votes will ever be accurately counted.

Wake up America! Your voting power under the current system has been reduced to electoral slavery, and you are seriously deluded if you think you have any real control over your government.

Can you even dream about a National Ballot that will establish your authority, one in which you, rather than politicians, create the policy guidelines for your government and you, rather than hacked computers, decide whom you want to implement your policy?

Imagine there is a two-day paid holiday set aside for the presidential election and that every citizen is encouraged to register and to reverently observe the most sacred sacrament of the nation’s political religion.

Think about walking into your neighborhood polling place and being handed a sheet of heavy paper with 12 policy questions for you to thoughtfully answer, yes or no, and a list of party candidates for you to consider before you carefully write in the name of your personal choice for president and vice president.

Continue reading

These Are the Times That Try Men’s Souls by William Cox

by William Cox
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
www.thevoters.org
October 10, 2008

” –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government,… organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” ~The Declaration of Independence

How many more lies must we listen to? How many more political scandals must we endure? How many more of our young people have to be grievously wounded or die in unnecessary and illegal wars, and how many more trillions of dollars in economic waste must we clean up before we are sickened enough to demand effective changes in our government?

Are we ready for a peaceful political “evolution” to safeguard our personal and economic freedoms in this country and to avoid committing war crimes against others?

In Washington’s Crossing, an excellent history of the near failure of the American Revolution in the winter of 1776, David Hackett Fischer concluded that neither Washington’s leadership nor the victories at Trenton and Princeton saved the revolution following his resounding defeat in New York City.

To the contrary, Washington’s victories resulted from the revival of spirit that arose among the ordinary people in the Delaware Valley as they began to read Thomas Paine’s American Crisis.

According to Fischer,

“This great revival grew from defeat, not from victory. The awakening was a response to a disaster. Doctor Benjamin Rush, who had a major role in the event, believed that this was the way a free public would always work, and the American republic in particular. He thought it was a national habit of the American people (maybe all free people) not to deal with a difficult problem until it was nearly impossible.”

Although we are calculating the cost in thousands of lives and billions of dollars, we cannot imagine the full extent of damage that will flow from our president’s having misled our nation into an illegal war with Iraq and our innocent troops into the commission of war crimes.

Continue reading

Betrayed by the Bailout: The Death of Democracy by William Cox

by William Cox
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
www.thevoters.org
October 3, 2008

On this date, October 3, 2008, the American people were betrayed by those whom they had elected to represent them. The members of Congress who voted for the Wall Street “bailout” violated their oath of office to “support and defend the Constitution” … “that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same” … “and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: …”

Without holding any meaningful hearings or public discussions and listening only to those most responsible for the economic disaster, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Congress abdicated its responsibility to the American people.

Locking out most members from all discussions, the congressional “leadership” emerged from their backrooms with legislation that grants Secretary Paulson the ability to spend at least $700 billion to “take such actions as [he] deems necessary” … ” to promote financial market stability.”

Entrusting tremendous political and financial power (and a ton of borrowed money that taxpayers will have to repay with interest) into Paulson’s sole discretion, members of Congress must have been aware that, prior to his cabinet appointment in 2006, Paulson worked for 32 years at Goldman Sacks, one of the Wall Street firms that stands to benefit greatly from his “actions.”

Paulson, who cashed out his Goldman stock valued at $575 million to become the Secretary of Treasury (without having to pay any taxes on the sale), earned more than $53 million in pocket change during just his last two years at Goldman Sacks for innovations such as a new line of “Mortgage Backed Securities.” Gambling more than a trillion dollars on risky subprime second mortgages, Paulson cleverly converted them into AAA-rated “secure” investments by purchasing guarantees from the American International Group.

AIG, coincidentally, was just “bailed out” two weeks ago by Secretary Paulson for $85 billion (of borrowed money that taxpayers will have to repay with interest), averting a devastating loss by Goldman Sacks, who was holding more than $20 billion in otherwise worthless second mortgages.

Is it surprising that Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman’s current CEO, was present with Paulson when the decision was made to bailout AIG?

The bailout’s $700 billion price tag is only an arbitrary guess by Paulson and is most likely just the first installment of many more to come. Other economists, with more successful track records, believe the total will be much greater, perhaps $5 trillion, as concealed losses are uncovered and foreign companies dump their toxic investment waste into their American offices.

In passing the “Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008,” Congress ignored the “great concern” expressed by almost two hundred of the nation’s leading economists who pleaded with Congress “not to rush, to hold appropriate hearings, and to carefully consider the right course of action,…” In addition to its ambiguity and long-term effects, the economists believed the bailout plan to be “a subsidy to investors at taxpayers’ expense” and to be “desperately short-sighted.” Ultimately, more than 400 top economists, including two Nobel Prize winners, voiced opposition to the bailout.

The economists were not alone in being ignored by the politicians. It is widely reported that calls and emails to Congress from constituents were running as high as 300 to one against the bailout. Mike Whitney reports one analyst saying that “the calls to Congress are 50 percent ‘No’ and 50 percent ‘Hell, No’.” The percentages adjusted as the stock market tumbled, but public opposition to the bailout remains strong.

An AP poll only identified 30 percent of the public in favor of the bailout, and a CNN Money opinion poll found 77 percent of the people believing the bailout would benefit those most responsible for the economic downturn.

Who Benefits?

The Latin adage, Cui bono, asks “to whose death are you going?” Law enforcement investigators quickly learn that the guilty party can usually be found among those who stand to gain from a murder or other crime.

There is no doubt the bailout will most benefit some of the richest and highest paid individuals in the American economy. But, why did the politicians betray the wishes of those who elected them in favor of the criminals who committed the fraud? Perhaps the answer can be found in another Latin phrase, quid pro quo, meaning “what for what; something for something.”

Individuals working for Wall Street finance, insurance and real estate companies and the companies’ political action committees have contributed more than $47 million to the campaigns of Senator Obama (three of top five sources) and Senator McCain (top five sources), both of whom voted for the bailout.

More to the point, Wall Street has contributed more than $1.1 billion dollars to congressional candidates since 2002. Nine of the top ten House recipients of Wall Street largesse, who each received an average of $1.5 million, are on the financial oversight and taxation committees.

Even more telling, the bipartisan Congressional “leaders” most responsible for pushing the bailout through Congress, Senators Dodd and Gregg and Representatives Frank and Blunt have taken almost $20 million from Wall Street sources during the last 20 years. Dodd recently received $6 million in contributions during his presidential primary campaign, and Frank has collected $720,000 this year.

Other key players also have been well compensated this year: Congressman Kanjorski received $755,000 and Congressman Bachus banked $704,000.

Who Loses?

The ordinary, hard-working voters, who were opposed to the bailout, and their children and grandchildren, will be the ones who will ultimately have to repay, with compound interest, the money that will have to be borrowed to give away to Wall Street bankers.

The bailout was “sweetened” in the Senate by another $110 billion in tax relief and renewable energy incentives to get enough House votes for passage; however, only the temporary one-year slowdown of the Alternative Minimum Tax offered any succor to the middle-class workers affected by it.

The bailout raises the debt ceiling to $11.3 trillion, or about $37,524 for each man, woman and child in the United States. How is this burden ever going to be repaid? Workers already know their wages are falling, their jobs are at risk, their health care, food and fuel costs are skyrocketing, and they are being kicked out of their apartments and homes because they can’t pay the rents and mortgages.

Didn’t each member of Congress have a sworn duty to rescue the millions of Americans suffering from the reckless gambling of Wall Street moguls, rather than to reward an obscene excess of greed?

Foreclosure Rescue. At least six million homeowners will probably default on their mortgages this year and next, and millions more will have their equity wiped out by declining property values. More than 770,000 homes have been seized by lenders since 2007, and 91,000 families were just kicked out of their homes in August.

These American homeowners were betrayed by their elected representatives!

The only provision in the bailout legislation to remotely “benefit” homeowners whose homes are being foreclosed upon only “encourages” mortgage service companies to modify mortgages. Paulson is required to “maximize assistance for homeowners … and minimize foreclosures”; however, he also has to ensure that the government doesn’t incur any additional costs. Thus, there’s little or no hope of any meaningful benefit to distressed homeowners resulting from the bailout.

The legislation could have required the government to directly purchase the defaulting mortgages and to adjust them to the reduced value of the property, as was done in the Great Depression. Instead, Paulson is authorized to purchase the complex derivatives (Wall Street’s gambling debts) piled on top of the original mortgages. The difference is whether homeowners or Wall Street receives the benefit of the bailout.

Bankruptcy Rescue. More than 4,476 Americans filed for bankruptcy every day during August, the highest number since changes in the law in 2005 made it much more difficult, and even impossible in many cases, to obtain debt relief. More than a million, increasingly elderly, people will petition for bankruptcy this year.

These destitute Americans were betrayed by their elected representatives!

Under the current law, bankruptcy judges do not have the power to modify mortgages of a petitioner’s primary residence, irrespective of how the mortgages have been sliced, diced and repackaged. The bailout could have provided judges with the authority, in appropriate cases, to adjust the amount secured by the mortgage to the value of the property and to adjust the interest rate to a reasonable percentage.

Unemployment Rescue. New claims for unemployment benefits rose to 493,000 last week, the highest level in seven years. The economy has already lost 605,000 jobs thus far this year, and it dumped 159,000 payroll jobs just during September, the greatest drop in five years.

These unemployed Americans were betrayed by their elected representatives!

Although the House of Representatives passed an economic stimulus bill that would fund job creation and extent jobless benefits for long-term unemployed workers on September 26th, the Senate failed to pass its own stimulus bill on the same day. President Bush has promised to veto the legislation if passed.

The bailout legislation could have provided for an extension of jobless benefits, but it didn’t.

Homeless Rescue. More than 750,000 and as many as a million Americans are homeless today, and the numbers are increasing dramatically. The National Coalition for the Homeless reports that homelessness is growing because of foreclosures, loss of jobs, and the rising price of fuel and food.

These homeless Americans were betrayed by their elected representatives!

Homeless sites are appearing all across the country as people with no place to stay are pitching tents and huddling together for support and protection. Their plight did not receive any consideration by the Congressional leadership that rammed the bailout through Congress.

Hunger Rescue. The most recent report by the Department of Agriculture found that in 2006, 35.5 million Americans lived in households with insecure food supplies and the numbers were increasing. At risk children numbered more than 12.6 million, and African Americans and Hispanic Americans suffered at higher rates than the national average.

In 2006, 9.6 million Americans had to frequently skip meals or eat too little, and often had to go without food for a whole day. Today, as members of Congress voted to reward the richest and most greedy members of our society, they ignored those without the most basic necessity for survival. This morning, they rewarded the most powerful and best-fed members of our society, and gave no thought to the helpless children who will go to bed hungry tonight.

Food banks who serve as the last resort for the hungry are running out of food. They are having to reduce rations and to dip into emergency supplies of staple items. There are reports of a 40 percent increase in requests for food assistance and a 30 percent drop in supplies.

These hungry Americans were betrayed by their elected representatives!

The bailout could have increased the amount of federal assistance for food banks in the Emergency Food Assistance Program, but it didn’t.

The Consequences

The real estate bubble that has been driving the United States economy has now popped, and there is no replacement engine to transport America’s consumer society down the highway to happiness. Americans are facing the mother of all depressions; it will be hard and it will last a long time. What are all of these homeless, hopeless, and hungry people going to do?

Many have already exercised their First Amendment right to petition their government for the redress of grievances. A majority of the members of Congress, the two presidential candidates, and the President paid no attention to the economic experts and the thousands and thousands of voters who protested the bailout and who begged them to rescue the people rather than the rich and powerful.

The people can always take to the streets in protest, and they probably will do so in growing numbers as the economic circumstances become more harsh.

The U.S. government is already planning for the eventuality – not with the helping hand of supplemental legislation to help with mortgages, jobs, shelter or food, but with the mailed fist of military suppression. The Army Times reports the current deployment within the United States “homeland” of an “on-call federal response force for natural or manmade emergencies or disasters, including terrorist attacks.” The Army acknowledges that the Northern Command may call upon the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team to help with “civil unrest and crowd control.”

With almost a trillion dollars picked from their pockets to reimburse reckless Wall Street gamblers, many Americans righteously feel betrayed tonight. A majority will elect a new president one month from tomorrow, and most will wait to see who it will be, and what if anything he can or will do to alleviate their suffering.

There are others, undoubtedly, who agree with the Supreme Court’s recent decision that the Second Amendment right to bear arms is individually held, and who believe that the use of their personal weapons is justified to overthrow a government that betrays them and which destroys their very means of existence. The right of legitimate self defense is recognized by every criminal law in America.

Perhaps democracy in the United States is not dead; if not, it’s on its deathbed. Resuscitation in the form of responsible representation is possible, but time is growing short.

Copyright © 2008 William John Cox

William John Cox is a retired supervising prosecutor for the State Bar of California. As a police officer he wrote the Policy Manual of the Los Angeles Police Department and the Role of the Police in America for a national advisory commission. 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 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 articles are collected at http://www.thevoters.org, and he can be contacted at u2cox@msn.com.

see

Will the Crisis Brings Down the Global Financial System? Go Get Your Dollars Out Now! FAST!!!

Bailout Bedlam: Robbing the Taxpayers to Save the Banks by Dr. Ellen Brown

US congressman: If we don’t pass this bill, we’re going to have martial law in the United States

The New American Century: Cut Short By 92 Years By Mike Whitney

Does the Bailout Bill Mark the End of America as We Know It? by Richard C. Cook

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Pre-election Militarization of the North American Homeland. US Combat Troops in Iraq repatriated to “help with civil unrest”

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The Gore Presidency: An Alternative History by William Cox

by William Cox
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
www.thevoters.org
Sept. 25, 2008

WASHINGTON, D.C. – With the first debate of the 2008 presidential campaign now set to take place on the campus of the University of Mississippi, it seems appropriate to reflect back upon the Supreme Court decision in Bush vs. Gore almost eight years ago and the subsequent history of the United States that has flowed from the swing vote of a single justice.

Writing for a 5-4 majority of the divided court, Justice Anthony Kennedy, a former Professor of Constitutional Law, upheld the Florida Supreme Court’s decision that a vote was legal if there was a “clear indication of the intent of the voter.” Following the recount of all “undervoted” and uncounted legal ballots, Florida’s 25 electoral votes were awarded to Al Gore giving him victories in both the popular vote and the Electoral College.

Justice Kennedy continued as the Court’s “swing” voter until 2005 when, following the death of William Rehnquist, President Gore appointed Senator Hillary Clinton as Chief Justice and his Attorney General, former Arizona governor Janet Napolitano, to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. With Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the three female justices have had a collaborative influence on the Court, causing even Justice Thomas to concur in several of their decisions.

In a clear reversal of its conservative drift, the Supreme Court has not only continued to uphold a woman’s reproductive choice as a matter of constitutional right, but it has also generally supported President Gore’s administrative regulations and the federal laws intended to protect the environment, workers, and the economy.

With the appointments of former Senator Sam Nunn as Secretary of Defense and retired Army General Colin Powell as Secretary of State, Gore’s first serious foreign policy and national security challenge was the threat posed by Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda terrorist organization.

2001

Heeding warnings by the CIA that bin Laden was determined to strike America, Gore brought intense pressure on Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to cut off all funding and support of al Qaeda. He secured an UN Security Council resolution supporting military action inside Afghanistan, if its Taliban government continued to provide aid and comfort to bin Laden and al Qaeda.

Under the “Powell Plan,” the United States dedicated $25 billion over a five-year period to stabilize Afghanistan and to reduce the threat of war in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. With the extradition of bin Laden in 2001 and his murder conviction for complicity in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, organized terrorist activities were substantially reduced worldwide.

Once President Gore reaffirmed the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia, terminated development of the ballistic missile defense system, implemented a detailed and shortened schedule to reduce and ultimately eliminate the nuclear stockpiles of both nations, and increased the funding and support of Secretary Nunn’s Nuclear Threat Initiative to safely dispose of Russia’s nuclear weapons, he and Secretary Powell focused their efforts on the elimination of nuclear weapons in the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

2002

Recognizing that the recession that struck the European Union in 2000 and 2001 could affect the United States, President Gore took immediate steps to deflate the “dot com” bubble and to secure the well-paying jobs of manufacturing and professional workers through high-tech initiatives. Although there was some economic contraction, it was far less severe than anticipated, and job creation quickly resumed.

The Republican Congressional majority had been narrowed in the 2000 election, and using Vice President Lieberman as his Congressional Whip, President Gore had been able to maintain the Clinton tax reforms and to push through indexing of the Alternative Minimum Tax, relieving pressure on middle-income taxpayers.

Although the Clinton budgetary surplus was reduced by the recession, Gore came very close to balancing his first two budgets.

The 2002 Congressional elections were a judgment on Gore’s leadership and his continuing application of President Clinton’s mantra, “It’s the economy stupid!” Overall, the economy was doing well and voters responded by electing Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress.

2003

Acting with public and Congressional support, President Gore commenced the series of the bold initiatives that have come to characterize his administration. Despite the initial opposition of Vice President Joseph Lieberman and the intense lobbying of AIPAC, Gore reasserted the principles of the 1993 Oslo Accords and brought extreme diplomatic and financial pressure on Israel to abide by the agreement and to publicly acknowledge its nuclear weapons program, which it did early in 2003.

Secretary Powell organized and chaired a roundtable conference at the United Nations exclusively focused on the nuclear weapons programs of Israel, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, India and North Korea. Threatening an international boycott, economic quarantine and diplomatic isolation, Powell applied unrelenting pressure until Israel, Pakistan, India and North Korea agreed to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and Iraq and Iran agreed to abide by its conditions.

The final agreement of the parties was to adhere to the same schedule as the United States and Russia for the elimination of their nuclear weapon stockpiles and for UN inspections.

Iraq’s agreement was a surprising development and represented another victory for Gore’s carrot and stick approach. Acting on inside information from Saddam Hussein’s foreign minister, Jaji Sabri, and Tahir Jali Hubbush al-Tikriti, the head of Saddam’s intelligence service (both of whom had become agents of the West), Gore authorized his ambassador to the United Nations, former president Jimmy Carter, to secure the removal of all economic sanctions against Iraq (and its people).

Gore then secretly informed Saddam that his resignation and exile would be the price for him to keep his foreign bank accounts containing funds he had diverted from the “oil for food” program. Otherwise, the funds would be judicially frozen by litigation resulting from his invasion of Kuwait.

After Saddam left on an “extended vacation” in Egypt, the Iraqi people elected a government more reflective of its Shiite and Kurdish populations. UN inspections continued to find that Iraq had abandoned all of its weapons of mass destruction programs.

Quickly rebounding from the mild recession of 2002, America’s business profits, job creation and the incomes of its workers began to steadily increase.

With a solid majority of progressive Democrats in Congress and a disorganized Republican opposition, President Gore convinced business and industrial leaders that national health care would be in their best interests.

His proposal went beyond the single-payer insurance concept, and Congress established the National Health Service to administer a program to provide medical care to all Americans, except those who opt out of the System in exchange for a tax deduction and private coverage.

Workers benefited from elimination of their Medicare payroll tax deductions, and once freed from the cost of providing medical insurance and most workers’ compensation insurance coverage, American businesses quickly gained equal footing with their competitors in other countries.

Exports soared and the balance of payments began to weigh on America’s side of the scale.

2004

The demoralized Republican Party nominated Senator John McCain as its candidate for the 2004 presidential election. McCain, who had lost the primary battle in 2000 to Texas Governor George W. Bush due to the nasty campaign conducted by Karl Rove, Bush’s political advisor, hired Rove to manage his 2004 campaign.

Rove’s attempts to go negative ricocheted when several investigative journalists independently reported McCain’s active complicity in concealing the fate of more than 600 American POWs who were left alive in Vietnam at the end of the war. McCain’s campaign imploded and he backed out of his agreement to debate President Gore.

President Gore refused to comment on McCain’s erratic behavior, and he conducted an entirely positive campaign based on his record and his plans for the future. The American public responded enthusiastically and handed McCain the greatest electoral defeat in the nation’s history, even worse than that suffered by George McGovern in 1972. McCain carried only one state, Arizona, for a total of six electoral votes.

The voters also handed President Gore a filibuster-proof majority of progressives in both houses of Congress

President Gore had obtained Senate ratification of the Kyoto Protocol during his first term, and he had been able to get legislation through Congress that substantially increased the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards and eliminated the “light truck” exemption that was allowing domestic manufacturers to turn out fuel-guzzling “sport utility vehicles.”

He then challenged American automobile manufacturers to take the lead in producing “hybrid” vehicles that combine battery power and small internal combustion engines to further reduce domestic fuel consumption.

To overcome the problem of incompatibility and to achieve economies of scale, Gore obtained Congressional legislation to fund research and development of a standardized and easily replaceable plug-in battery for all hybrids. Recharged batteries are now available at most automobile service stations across the country and easily allow for long-distance travel primarily using battery power.

Most American automobiles and small trucks are now hybrid powered and tens of thousands have been exported, along with interchangeable “American Hybrid” batteries, throughout the world.

Even though Americans continue to enjoy a service and consumer economy, the balance of payments deficit has declined steadily, as manufacturing and technological innovations have driven exports.

During the 2004 election, President Gore established a goal for the United States to produce “100 percent of its electricity from renewable energy and truly clean carbon-free sources within 10 years.”

Beginning with a concrete plan to establish a Unified National Grid, the Gore administration pushed through legislation giving tax credits for utility companies to upgrade their transmission lines and to connect to the Grid, requiring them to purchase electricity from private and public wind and solar installations at market rates, and establishing uniform building codes for the installation of solar roof collectors and water heaters, wherever feasible.

With the installation of hundreds of thousands of roof solar collectors, the price of specialized silicon used in solar cells continues to drop, and as small towns and farmers throughout the Midwest have established public and private wind farms, the generation of electrical power has soared.

2005

President Gore announced an even more ambitious environmental and energy goal in 2005. He proposed that the United States energize all of its national highways with free electrical power within 15 years using space solar energy transmitted by microwaves from outer space.

Just as Americans once placed an astronaut on the Moon within a decade, the first heavy lifters are already moving gigantic arrays into orbit for assembly, microwave collectors and transmission lines are being constructed in the Southwest deserts, and the Interstate highways are being prepared for the installation of mutual inductance interfaces to transmit energy to vehicles.

The project is currently on time and on budget, with a fully operational date set for 2020.

The combination of these initiatives not only set the United States on course to become fully energy independent, but they were a substantial boost for the economy. An abundance of well-paying, high-tech jobs was created for American workers; however, President Gore was displeased to see that some American businesses were shifting operations overseas to take advantage of low-cost labor.

President Gore pushed Congress to amend the tax codes to eliminate business deductions for salaries paid to workers outside the United States. The outsourcing of jobs was substantially reduced by this change and has contributed to the very low unemployment rate enjoyed during the last eight years.

As the economy soared and the value of the dollar strengthened, President Gore’s financial advisors became increasingly concerned about the effects of a 1999 law passed in the last days of the Clinton administration that effectively repealed a depression-era law which had prevented combinations of investment and deposit banks and insurance companies.

The Gore administration sought legislation to stop and reverse the “megamergers” taking place between banks and insurance and securities companies.

Testimony and staff investigations during the Congressional hearings on the legislation also revealed major potential problems with the unregulated trading of derivatives, the unrestricted making and reselling of mortgages and the out-of-control activities of hedge funds and their managers.

The Omnibus Financial Regulation Act of 2005 established reasonable regulations of these financial activities, and it imposed limits on executive compensation and certain lobbying activities.

The restriction on lobbying quickly resulted in litigation that brought the Omnibus Act to the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the doctrine of “corporate personhood.” Supreme Court decisions had provided corporations with the legal status and protections afforded to “persons” under the Constitution, including the First Amendment right to lobby Congress.

In reversing the line of decisions culminating in the 1980 case of Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation, a 6-3 majority of the Court found that there was no authority in the Constitution for providing “personhood” rights to corporations, whose power had grown over the years to the extent that it “threatened the very foundations of individual freedom and the survival of the United States’ democratic form of government.”

2006

One of the primary concerns of the Gore Administration about regulation of the financial sector was the preservation and stability of public and private retirement systems. Acting upon the recommendation of the Social Security Administration, Congress raised the annual cap on wages subject to social security taxes to be equal to the top salary paid by the federal government – that of the president. With that simple change, the solvency of the Social Security Trust Fund was ensured for at least 100 years.

A companion bill to the Social Security Solvency Act was the National Bond Fund Act in which Congress acted to provide a reliable source of inexpensive bond funds for state and local governments to use for the improvement and maintenance of their infrastructure.

Jump-started with a $10 billion federal contribution, the Bond Fund provides an alternative personal investment plan to workers as a supplement to basic Social Security. Employees can voluntarily make additional tax-free contributions to personal accounts in the Bond Fund, and employers can match employee contributions as a job benefit. All original deposits are guaranteed by the federal government.

Employees are allowed to take their accounts with them from job to job; workers can negotiate the level of each subsequent employer’s contribution; retirees can decide for themselves whether to invest their savings in a lifetime annuity at retirement; they can choose to spend their entire nest egg as they please, or they can leave their account to their heirs.

The 2006 Congressional elections revealed that the alignment of political parties had been substantially altered, perhaps forever. Although Republicans retained status as a national party, fully one third of all voters were registered as independents, and Green Party candidates were elected to congressional offices in a number of states. Overall, representatives and senators with progressive credentials were filling more than two-thirds of all seats.

2007

Early in 2007, President Gore decided to act upon continuing complaints about the North American Free Trade Agreement by inviting the foreign and finance ministers of all North, Central, South, and Caribbean American countries to discuss the possibility of creating a customs union and single currency for the Americas.

Hosted by Secretary Powell, the conference produced a framework for further discussion, which took place when all American heads of state gathered in Washington last year to meet with President Gore. The resulting treaty established the Federation of the Americas as a counterbalance to the European Union and the emerging power of the “Asian Tigers.”

When President Gore submitted the treaty to the Senate for ratification, he also proposed that Congress enact a constitutional amendment eliminating the definition of citizenship based on birth within the United States. The amendment defines citizenship as birth to a citizen parent or individual naturalization.

The amendment allows for the movement of the citizens of all countries throughout the American Federation for employment or other economic purposes, without providing the benefit of citizenship to children born to non-citizens, who happen to be in the United States for economic reasons.

The Senate ratified the American Federation Treaty last year, and the constitutional amendment has already been ratified by 15 states. It is expected to take effect by the time the Federation becomes fully operational in 2010.

The Present

With the aging of the Baby Boom population and President Gore’s continued strong support for local law enforcement, the crime rate has continued to decline every year during his administration.

Administration efforts to quell gun violence were primarily directed to the encouragement of local and state governments to tailor reasonable gun licensing and registration requirements to meet their local needs and concerns.

These efforts were upheld by the Supreme Court’s decision last year ruling that the Second Amendment right to bear arms relates only to the power of states to form militias and national guards, and that it is not an unrestrained individual right.

One of President Gore’s pet projects to curb gun violence was funded by Congress early in his administration to provide money to local governments to purchase guns from the public and to pay artists to create public sculptures using the weapons.

Today, all across America sculptures incorporating millions of firearms provide mute testimony to the injuries avoided, the lives saved, and the hearts that have not been broken.

Most remarkable, the U.S. military has not fired a single shot, dropped a bomb or launched a single missile in the eight years of the Gore administration.

One of President Gore’s first orders as Commander in Chief was for every sailor, soldier and marine to be trained as a medical first responder. As a Vietnam vet, he wanted to ensure that American troops injured or wounded in the line of duty will have the greatest chance of survival possible.

The military medical training has proven invaluable at a series of major natural disasters during the Gore administration, including the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and most recently when Hurricane Ike struck the Texas coast. Today, the American military is the most respected fighting and life saving force in the world.

Perhaps one of the greatest accomplishments of the Gore Administration was the United Nations agreement negotiated by Secretary Powell and UN Secretary Carter in 2005 that eliminated the international weapons trade. Today, a country can waste its treasure on the production of military weapons and small arms if it chooses, but it cannot export those weapons to another country, nor can it purchase them without violating international law.

The 2008 Election

With the impending retirement of President Gore, the Democratic Party’s 2008 primary campaign was hotly contested in the belief that its candidate would be a shoo-in because of public confidence in the Gore administration.

Vice President Lieberman ran on his record of having managed the administration’s legislative agenda in Congress, but it was his attention to the party faithful over the years of attending local campaign fund raisers and funerals on behalf of the President that provided him his small margin of victory.

The runner-up, Illinois junior Senator Barack Obama attracted attention and interest as the first African-American to be a serious contender for a presidential nomination; however, his policy positions require further development if he is to have a chance in 2012.

Once Secretary Powell announced he would not be a candidate, the Republican primary settled on the most moderate candidates who pledged to do the least to change the policies of the Gore administration and the nation’s status quo.

The nomination went to Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel, a decorated Vietnam War vet, who has been both logical and articulate in establishing positions of conscience over the years. He has sometimes voted with his party and at other times he has supported the administration.

With the emergence of the Green Party and the growing power of independents, the election of Joe Lieberman is far from certain. The strength of the Green Party is demonstrated by the invitation to its candidate, Cynthia McKinney, to participate in the University of Mississippi debate.

Depending upon McKinney’s performance in this and the following debates, she may draw enough votes from Lieberman to allow Senator Hagel to win in the Electoral College, even if he doesn’t receive a majority of the popular vote.

The Future

In some respects, the Gore administration has been unexciting – much like the President. There have been no wars, no financial recessions, no riots in the cities, and no major political scandals. His administration has been compared with Eisenhower’s, which may be apt in that it has restored the American Dream for millions of Americans and has provided hope for democracy throughout the world.

President Gore has been nominated several times for the Nobel Peace Prize and he will probably receive it this year. When asked about his future plans, President Gore, who is only 60 years old, talks about producing a film on the effects of global warming, and he is considering starting an independent television network aimed at young viewers, who will create much of its content.

It is hard to imagine American politics without President Gore, but it is more difficult to imagine what the United States and the world would be like today if Justice Kennedy had decided to cast his vote with his fellow members of the Federalist Society sitting on the Court in 2000.

Undoubtedly, it would be a different world, but would it be a better world, more prosperous, more at peace? Probably not, but we will never know for sure.

Copyright © 2008 William John Cox

William John Cox is a retired supervising prosecutor for the State Bar of California. As a police officer he wrote the Policy Manual of the Los Angeles Police Department and the Role of the Police in America for a national advisory commission. 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 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 articles are collected at http://www.thevoters.org, and he can be contacted at u2cox@msn.com.

The Triple Whammy of Bigotry in the 2008 Election by William Cox

by William Cox
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
www.thevoters.org
Sept. 22, 2008

It’s been awhile since a black man was lynched in America, but the Rove Gang’s getting the crowd ginned up for another one and the town’s on edge.

The last lynching took place 10 years ago in East Texas Bush Country when three young white racists chained James Byrd, a 49-year-old father of three, to the back of their pickup truck and dragged him down the highway until his body was dismembered.

If John McCain and his character assassins and vote riggers succeed, the next one will occur in November and it may tear apart America’s body politic.

The 2008 presidential election will make history.  Americans will elect either their first African American president, their oldest president, or their first woman vice president who, given the medical odds, will have a good chance of becoming the first woman president.

During this election, bigotry is the elephant in the room; everybody is tiptoeing around wearing blindfolds, but it and its spoor are too much to ignore.

As an expression for an evil influence or hex, a “whammy” was added to the vernacular in 1941 when a boxing manager said a “double whammy” was the only way African-American boxer Joe Lewis was ever to be knocked out.

We will soon know whether Barack Obama and the American people have suffered a single, double, or triple whammy and we will all suffer from the assault.

Single Whammy – Overt and Latent Racism

We Americans have traveled a great distance in the past 50 years overcoming cultural racism toward those of us who are descended from slaves.  We know we’re getting close to the destination when an African American, the child of a white mother and a Kenyan father born into modest circumstances, has had the educational, social and political opportunities to become a United States Senator and a leading candidate for president.

The scenery becomes more diverse as we look at the faces in the multi-cultural and multiracial crowd of 80,000 Americans who stood together in Denver to cheer as Barack Obama accepted his party’s nomination.

One week later, the scenery changed dramatically when we arrived in St. Paul and could easily discern the continuing effects of cultural racism reflected in the all-white faces of those who came together to nominate a rich old white man named John McCain, the son and grandson of class privilege, as their party’s candidate.

Eighty percent of Americans say they are “dissatisfied with the way things are going in the United States,” and their opinion about who is best qualified to do something about it changes from week to week.  Obama’s three-point lead going into the Democratic convention was increased by five points after his acceptance speech.

However, after McCain chose Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential running mate, the polls temporarily gave the Republican ticket a two-point lead, but they are now shifting back.  Obama currently has a 49 to 44 percent lead with those voters most likely to go to the polls in November.

It’s one thing to say you’re going to vote for a candidate while talking to another person on the telephone during a “scientific” opinion poll, but it’s quite another thing to actually cast one’s vote for that person in secret and as a matter of conscience in the voting booth.  That precise moment is when latent racism may allow some voters to conceal their shame and to express their hidden prejudice.

We all know that racism exists in America, but it’s difficult to measure its full extent and more particularly to predict whether it will be a deciding factor in the 2008 election.

To the extent we’re hiring a president when we vote, particularly one named Barack Hussein Obama, a study conducted by two professors (Bertrand & Mullaninathan) in 2001 and 2002 is very revealing.  Fictitious resumes were sent in response to 1,300 help-wanted advertisements for a broad range of jobs.  Resumes reflecting comparable education and experience were assigned names that sounded either very white or very African-American.

The study found that resumes with white names were 50 percent more likely to get called for an initial interview than blacks.  There was also a 30 percent increase in call-backs for white-sounding applicants with higher-quality backgrounds over less qualified whites, while high-quality resumes with black-sounding names were only called back 9 percent of the time.

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Valuable, Voluntary and Educational National Youth Service by William Cox

by William Cox
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
www.thevoters.org
Sept 18, 2008

Irrespective of who’s anointed at the presidential coronation in January, many more Americans will soon be performing national service, including compulsory military tours of duty in the never-ending War Against Terror and the soon-to-be-announced Wars Against Sedition, Starvation, Unemployment, and Internal Insurrection, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

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Deliver Us From Chaos: Ten Political Commandments by William Cox

Dandelion Salad

Sent to me by the author, thanks William.

by William Cox
http://www.thevoters.org
Sept. 13, 2008

When the CIA engineered the overthrow of the democratically elected prime minister of Iran in 1953 in favor of the more compliant Shah, who would have ever thought that 26 years later the nation’s youth would invade our embassy and take our diplomats as hostages?  When our president’s national security advisor instigated secret support for the Afghanistan Mujahideen the same year in their resistance against the Russian army, who would have imagined that 22 years later one of the Mujahideen leaders, Osama bin Laden, would direct the 9-11 attacks on America?  When the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003 without just cause, who could have foreseen that five years later as many as a million Iraqis have been killed, tens of thousands of American soldiers have been grievously wounded or died, more than a trillion tax dollars have been wasted, and our troops are still not welcomed as liberators?  When the CIA and the U.S. ambassador secretly engineered the “Rose Revolution” in Georgia in 2003 and after the U.S. encouraged the Israeli-trained Georgian army to invade the disputed enclave of South Ossetia five years later, who could have predicted Russian peacekeepers would be killed causing Russia to invade Georgia and overrun its lilliputian army provided by U.S. taxpayers?  The only thing for certain to result from all such Machiavellian maneuvers is chaos, pure chaos. Continue reading

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.

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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