The words, "hypocrisy has its own elegant symmetry," appear in this short, but powerful documentary posted on October 10, long prior to last night's shocking scenes from Occupy Oakland.
The video contrasts the positions of our political elites in response to democratic uprisings in other countries against our government's response to the genuine democratic uprising we are now beginning to finally see in the U.S.A...
Once again, late last night, as is becoming a too-regular nightly ritual, after the 11p news was over, police moved in again to violate the Constitutional First Amendment right "of the people peaceably to assemble." And, for the second night in a row, late last night in Oakland, CA, it resembled a war zone as police in riot gear unleashed a punishing onslaught of "non-lethal" flash-bang grenades, rubber (and or bean-bag) bullets and tear gas --- hour after hour, round after round --- injuring demonstrators, including women, the disabled, and even Iraq War veterans...
The results were horrific, according to video, photos, and eye-witness reports as it all happened and was reported on Twitter, including this scene appearing to show a member of Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War knocked out by either a concussive grenade or a tear gas canister or another projectile, and being carried away...
[Update]: The veteran seen above was shot in the head and the UK Guardian is now confirming his name is Scott Olsen and that he is in "critical condition" with a "skull fracture and swelling of the brain" at Highland hospital.
"It's terrible to go over to Iraq twice and come back injured, and then get injured by the police that are supposed to be protecting us," his roommate, Keith Shannon, also 24, who served alongside Olsen as a Marine in Iraq, told the Guardian in a late follow-up today.
Other scenes were similarly gruesome and, yes, shameful...
Occupy Albany protesters in New York’s capital city received an unexpected ally over the week: The state and local authorities.
According to the Albany Times Union, New York state troopers and Albany police did not adhere to a curfew crackdown on protesters urged by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and Albany mayor Gerald Jennings.
Mass arrests seemed to be in the cards once Jennings directed officers to enforce the curfew on roughly 700 protesters occupying the city owned park.
With protesters acting peacefully, local and state police agreed that low level arrests could cause a riot, so they decided instead to defy Cuomo and Jennings.
What part of the Constitutional First Amendment "right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances," do so many of the other cops across the nation not yet understand?
* * *
By the way, with Cuomo's attempted crackdown and Obama's former Chief of Staff, now Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel's approval of the arrests of 175 peaceful Occupiers in Chicago over the weekend, can we stop with the "Occupiers are just fronts for Democrats!" bullshit yet?
As registered nurses --- a number of whom were held in jail for some 23 hours after being arrested Saturday night, early Sunday morning while offering medical services to demonstrators in Grant Park --- protested the arrests outside Emanuel's office this morning, he was quoted by the Chicago Trib as saying: "I have to enforce the law as well as respect peoples’ 1st Amendment rights."
And when those two things come in to conflict, which one do you suppose Emanuel decided took precedence over the other?
* * *
Also...not from Albany, though somewhat related to the above. From from New York City, via ThinkProgress, a couple of weeks ago...
Apparently, disgraced former HBGary Federal CEO Aaron Barr just can't help himself.
The guy who lost his job and was publicly humiliated after promising to reveal the identities of the supposed leadership of hacktivist group Anonymous and getting caught devising a plan to illegally discredit, defraud and spy on perceived opponents of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Bank of America is now palling around with a self-appointed NYPD/FBI "snitch" at the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations and beyond, according to --- ironically enough --- emails accidentally released on the Internet by the "snitch" himself, Thomas Ryan.
These two are the government corporate welfare queens and "cyber security" clowns that can't shoot straight, it seems. But at least they have each other --- and your tax-payer dollars --- as they both work for highly remunerated, government contracted security firms. And while they each claim to represent different sides of the partisan aisle, strangely enough, as an investigation by The BRAD BLOG reveals, they've found common ground in representing government and corporations in their fight against We, the People.
Barr had been CEO of the U.S. government contracted firm HBGary Federal until earlier this year, after the firm was embarrassed when their hard drives were scrubbed, their websites hacked, Barr's Twitter account defaced, his iPad remotely wiped and some 70,000 of the "cyber security" company's emails were stolen and posted on the Internet by Anonymous in retaliation against Barr who, the hacktivist group claimed, was poised to release inaccurate information about the group's supposed "leadership".
Found among the treasure trove of Barr's HBGary emails was a $12 million plot being hatched on behalf of the criminal thugs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation's largest and most powerful Rightwing lobbying outfit. The scheme was being secretly devised, according to the emails, by the Chamber's high-powered D.C. law firm Hunton & Williams along with HBGary and two other U.S. cyber security contractors, Palantir Technologies and Berico Technologies. Their plans were to smear, defraud, plant fake documents and spy --- even hack --- perceived political opponents of the Chamber.
The plot was accidentally discovered via Anonymous' hack of HBGary just days before it was to be put into action. The scheme was to take tools developed by the three companies with public money for use in the "War on Terror" and turn them against U.S. Citizens like myself and my family who were discovered to have been named as targets in the emails, along with photos and personal details about us. A number of progressive advocates and organizations, including other journalistic outlets, were also to have been targets of the Chamber's plot.
Also discovered among the emails was a parallel scheme being coordinated by the same D.C. law firm and the same three U.S. government-funded cyber security firms --- who had banded together to call themselves "Team Themis" --- to target perceived proponents of WikiLeaks, including Salon journalist Glenn Greenwald, on behalf of the corporate giant Bank of America. In both plots, HBGary's Aaron Barr was seen as the lead developer of the various extra-legal schemes.
Barr, who has claimed on a number of occasions to be a Democrat, became a public laughing stock and was forced to resign in shame last February on the heels of the revelations. But his proclivity for scheming against law-abiding U.S. citizens and his vendetta against members of Anonymous has yet to be assuaged, as evidenced by both his recent bizarre, blue-haired appearance at the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in Manhattan, and his various collaborative appearances in recently released emails and several Twitter exchanges with the Rightwing Ryan...
That'll teach 'em to mess with the Military-Industrial Complex.
As the Washington Post reported earlier this month, Maryland's "Montgomery County Council resolution asking Congress to spend less on wars and redirect the funds to social programs has drawn the scrutiny of one of the county’s largest employers and other lawmakers."
Despite the non-binding resolution's [PDF] 5 to 4 majority support on the Council, it was withdrawn from consideration after "Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin," a giant manufacturer of sophisticated military weapons, "which employs more than 5,000 workers in Montgomery, urged county officials against the resolution."
The Lockheed lobbyists were joined in their efforts to derail the County Council's resolution --- supported by Democratic members of the council --- by Democratic state and county officials concerned about implications of insulting the weapons contractor giant, while officials in neighboring Virginia "gleefully watch[ed] from afar" as the two states are in frequent competition for billions of Pentagon dollars and the jobs that portend to go with them.
But Pentagon dollars are among the least efficient ways to increase jobs and wealth in any given community, as explained by John Feffer, a co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies and Jean Athey, a coordinator of Montgomery County Peace Action, a supporter of the now-withdrawn Montgomery resolution:
Spend a billion dollars on the military, economists Robert Pollin and Hedi Garrett-Peltier estimate, and you get about 11,000 jobs (just a little more than what Lockheed Martin employs in all of Maryland). Spend that same billion dollars on clean energy projects and you generate about 17,000 jobs. The same money invested in education produces nearly 30,000 jobs.
Nonetheless, Lockheed and other longtime members of the Military-Industrial Complex continue to work with public officials in exploiting the "jobs scam" in order to pit state against state, county against county and town against town to bilk tax-payers out of billions under the cynical rubrik of "job creation."
And when that doesn't work, there are other, darker methods that can be used to send the "right" message to those members of the public who might have the temerity to oppose their corporate interests...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: EPA, 'green' energy under attack at the GOP Presidential debates; Whitehouse blasts climate change denial industry (Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, that is...); Australia forges ahead with carbon tax; International Energy Agency issues dire warnings of higher food & fuel prices to come; PLUS: Surprise! Scientists got it wrong: The Arctic is melting faster --- much faster --- than predictions ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: EPA, 'green' energy under attack at the GOP Presidential debates; Whitehouse blasts climate change denial industry (Senator Sheldon, that is...); Australia forges ahead with carbon tax; IEA: Dire warnings of higher food & fuel prices to come; PLUS: Surprise! Scientists got it wrong: The Arctic is melting faster --- much faster --- than predictions ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): US solar firms file trade complaint against China; FDA cites dirty equipment in cantaloupe outbreak; Sen. Rand Paul lifts hold on pipeline bill; Regulators impose limits on oil speculation; EPA plans new water standards for 'fracking'; Natural gas drilling causing conflicts with mortgages; U.S. can only monitor offshore drilling in Cuban waters; Drama-filled 2011 World Solar Racing Challenge; Herman Cain's extensive ties to billionaire Koch Brothers; Climate change is shrinking species, research suggests; David Suzuki on the Occupy Wall Street Movement; Fox News FAIL: reports fake solar scandal; Fracking: you don’t miss your water ‘til your well explodes; Climate change could trap 100s of millions in disaster areas ...PLUS: Solar Leaf breakthrough: while Tea Party slimes clean energy progress, innovators build the future ...
...the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Isn't that quaint?
Josh Holland takes a look at what happened to that apparently antiquated notion from the document which used to carry some weight in the way this country was governed, as he notes that some 1,500 American citizens have now been arrested while peaceably assembling to petition the Government for a redress of grievances over the past month since Occupy Wall Street began.
Last night, while the GOP debated Casino Capitalism (in an actual casino!), Give Me Liberty author and reporter Naomi Wolfe became one of the latest to have had her Constitutional right to peaceably assemble for redress of grievances taken away from her, as seen in the following video (in which that "Democrat Party-sponsored""mob" was attempting to petition Democratic NY state Governor Andrew Cuomo for a redress of grievances)...
Wolf wrote about her arrest seen above, "for standing lawfully on the sidewalk in an evening gown" at the UK's Guardian today, noting that she explained to the NYPD before she was cuffed that she was both a "NYC citizen and a reporter".
As her article's sub-header notes, "Arresting a middle-aged writer in an evening gown for peaceable conduct is a far cry from when America was a free republic."
"I became exhibit A in a process that I have been warning Americans about since 2007," Wolfe writes. "First they come for the 'other' – the 'terrorist', the brown person, the Muslim, the outsider; then they come for you – while you are standing on a sidewalk in evening dress, obeying the law."
So, where are all the outraged "Tea Partiers" who used to decry supposed abuses of the U.S. Constitution under our authoritarian regime? Oh, right, they were just pretending to give a damn about any of it...like good little scammed Fox "News" soldiers.
* * *
P.S. Here's hoping Wolf makes out as well following her inappropriate arrest as Democracy Now!'s Amy Goodman did after hers.
* * *
UPDATE 10/19/11: In her Guardian piece, Wolf explained that the NYPD had told her the permit for the event she was attending (an annual Huffington Post event which Gov. Cuomo was also scheduled to attend, thus the protesters) when she came across the #OWS folks, forbade protesters from using the public sidewalks outside the building. Suspecting the claim from the police was bullshit, she says she requested to see a copy of that permit prior to her arrest, but was not allowed to.
Since posting the article above, Wolf contacted me to note that she has finally tracked down a copy of the type of permit HuffPo had last night and --- surprise, surprise --- the claim by cops appears to, in fact, be bullshit...
This is just shameful. As a Jew (if not a particularly practicing one), watching how the American-Israel lobby gives a horrible name to Israel (and Jews for that matter) becomes more embarrassing every day. And since Republicans have decided to make believe that Obama is "vulnerable on Israel" --- they will say anything for perceived political gain, no matter whether it's actually true or not --- I suspect this sort of thing is only going to get shamefully worse as the 2012 election nears.
Two recent examples, both detailed below, demonstrate the desperation and willingness of these folks to use the State of Israel as little more than a propaganda bludgeon for Republican political causes.
The first example includes blatantly misleading --- and easily debunked --- lies to claim "anti-Semitism" at the heart of the Occupy Wall Street protests. Who is behind the video ad smear? Top Republican neo-cons, naturally.
The second is revealing in that it actually puts the lie to the claim that the American-Israel Lobby gives a damn about the supposed Iranian Menace, since new documents reveal they have blatantly decided to give two particular businessmen a Get Out of Jail Free Card, despite recent revelations that the two have spent years profiting by illegally trading with Iran, Israeli's supposedly mortal enemy. Those two businessmen and traitor traders? Charles and David Koch, naturally...
I'm still largely off the grid for another day or so (as I have been for the last 24 hours+), but delighted to check in to see so much great conversation on D.C. Douglas' #OccupyWallStreet video we posted in the previous item. Also delighted to check in to see that the worldwide #OWS movement is today's top story across all the major corporate media outlets!
Incredibly, I'm here in Las Vegas (for a conference) and find huge signs advertising CNN's next GOP debate here on Tuesday being held at The Venetian. The embarrassing perfection and irony of the next Presidential debate being held at a CASINO is something I don't have time enough or perhaps even skills enough, to adequately elucidate upon at the moment.
All as some 20 #OccupyWallStreet protesters were reported arrested just minutes ago attempting to close their accounts at Citibank near Washington Sq. Park in Manhattan! More irony there than you can shake a GOP debate in a casino at.
In the meantime, cursorily related --- on both the irony scale and several others --- I was interviewed by Bob Jimenez on LA Business Today, about two weeks ago on our local LA Cityview 35 channel as the uprising was just begin to force its way onto the national corporate mediascape.
The segment, seen below, aired earlier this week. We discussed blogging, journalism, capitalism, the "occupation," e-voting and more in the very quick 12-minute segment...
The video is brilliant. Please crank up your speakers and watch it. You won't be sorry. But just to highlight the four items Douglas, no enemy of capitalism, calls for changing --- each of which would make very worthy demands for Occupy Wall Street and the 99% Movement, should they decide to create specific ones...
Reinstate Glass-Steagall: Restore the firewall, created during the depression to avoid a similar mess in the future, then abolished in 1999, which kept banks out of the business of risky investment and speculation schemes.
Audit The Fed: Force transparency for the trillions of tax-payer dollars given away in corporate bailouts and/or manipulated by the currently unaccountable public/private "national bank".
Reverse Citizens United via Constitutional Amendment: End the absurdity of corporate "personhood" and unlimited (and secret) corporate money in politics, as established by the U.S. Supreme Court last year.
Overhaul the Tax Code for Corporations & Top 1%: They often pay less of their income than you do. Sucker. That is simply obsene.
While both phenomena --- Occupy Wall Street and the "Tea Party" --- have emerged at a time of acute economic distress and a sense of alienation, disenchantment and betrayal brought on by an increasingly authoritarian corporate capitalism, they are as different as night is to day.
Occupy Wall Street is a genuine, organic, knowledge-driven democratic uprising. Its source, as perceptively described by Ben Manski, Executive Director of the Liberty Tree Foundation, is to be found in a profound "contradiction." "The promise of the Unites States is democracy," he writes, yet "The reality is that corporate elites rule."
The American "promise" is embodied in the lofty, egalitarian principles of the Declaration of Independence, in the recognition provided by the U.S. Constitution that the purpose of government is to "promote the general welfare," and in the concept inscribed above the portico of the U.S. Supreme Court --- "EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER LAW." The "reality," as noted by former New York Times reporter, Chris Hedges, is that political power in the U.S. has been seized by a "criminal class" of rapacious oligarchs, whose radical goal is not merely the ability to carry out their criminal pillage of the economy and the environment with impunity, but the decimation of "all impediments to the creation of a neo-feudalistic corporate state."
The goal of Occupy Wall Street, Manski observes, is "to make the promise the new reality." It is, in that sense, a broader movement than both the civil rights and anti-war movements of the 1960s, for it is not limited to a rejection of Jim Crow and imperial conquest, but a total rejection of the authoritarian corporate security state that the rapacious oligarchs have erected.
Like the occupiers, the indoctrinated followers of the "Tea Party" are experiencing a profound sense of fear, alienation and betrayal. But what the latter do not realize is that theirs is a misdirected anger --- the product of an Orwellian manipulation by the same reactionary billionaires (aka "economic royalists" per FDR) who, in reality, are the source of their economic insecurity and political oppression.
But, before exploring the Orwellian manipulations of billionaire sociopaths, let's examine the underlying political and economic conditions that have given rise to Occupy Wall Street...