Saturday, October 29, 2011
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Meanwhile, in an answer to a question: Yes.
And you really need to read Andre Damon's (WSWS) report:
US President Barack Obama unveiled a small expansion of the government’s mortgage modification program Monday that would help a handful of homeowners refinance their homes, while subsidizing banks behind the scenes. The program, unveiled after the Senate voted down Obama’s jobs bill, is one of a series of toothless economic proposals Obama is pushing in order to strike a populist posture in the 2012 election campaign.
Obama announced the program at a photo-op at a family home in Las Vegas, Nevada, after concluding a $1,000-per-plate fundraising luncheon with the city’s casino and hotel kingpins. The next day, Obama was off to Los Angeles to attend two additional fundraisers with Hollywood celebrities and media executives.
The White House claimed that up to one million people would benefit from the program, with an average benefit of only $2,500 a year, a drop in the bucket. If the Obama Administration’s previous foreclosure assistance programs are to be any guide, only a tiny fraction of this number will see any benefit. According to the Washington Post, “To date, administration programs have permanently reduced the debt of just one tenth of 1 percent of underwater borrowers.”
Wednesday, October 26, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, Nouri's rounding up opponents, Gareth Porter embarrasses himself in his rush to glorify Barack, Barack has a 'senior moment' on The Tonight Show, Gates gives Bush all the credit, Turkey continues assaulting Iraq, and more.
How stupid are they? That's the question for the day. We've got stupidity on Antiwar Radio, we've got stupidity on NBC's The Tonight Show.
Let's start with late night. For the record, I didn't support Ronald Reagan, I didn't vote for him, I campaigned against him and generally refer to him as the Great Satan. So why am I noting that if Reagan had said what Barack Obama said on The Tonight Show last night, the media would be all over Reagan?
Chatting with Jay Leno like a braless starlet, The (brainless) One was asked of Hillary and yammered away about his cabinet.
Barack Obama: The entire national security team that we've had has been outstanding. And it's not just rivals within the Democratic Party. My Secretary of Defense, Bob Gates, is a Republican.
Jay Leno: Right.
Barack Obama: He was a carryover from the Bush Administration. He made an outstanding contribution.
Bob Gates is the US Secretary of Defense? If Reagan had prattled on like that, I wouldn't be the only one calling him senile. But it was Barack and no one's supposed to comment on this "senior moment," no one's supposed to note that the boy in the bubble is so out of it he forgets that Gates left that post at the start of July. (Leon Panetta has been in the post since then.) If you can't stomach gushing, click here for the Washington Post's transcript (also has video you can stream). While Barack was gushing about Gates last night, Gates wasn't giving Barack any credit last night.
We've noted Sig Christenson many times before and noted Christenson's a straight-forward reporter. I bring that up before someone says, "The reporter must have gotten it wrong!" Anyone can, but that's really not Christenson's style. Reporting for the San Antonio Express-News, Christinson notes Gates held a press conference at Trinity University yesterday: "Gates said the status of forces agreement negotiated under then-President George W. Bush included a timetable for U.S. troops leaving Iraqi cities, a drawdown to 50,000 troops and an end to combat operations."
No, it didn't. I'm not in the mood to spoon feed on this point -- a point we've made repeatedly excepting only when a friend got it wrong on NPR and I thought, "I've addressed this point enough." -- so you'll have to play One Of These Things Is Not Like the Other all by yourself but not all of that's the SOFA. Some of that's Barack. Gates should not only know what the SOFA says, he should know which was Barack. And I'd expect him to credit Barack for the part that was Barack Obama's. (Quickly, cities is Article 24, section two of SOFA; end to combat operations can be presumed to Gates referring to the SOFA expiration date, however, it most likely refers to the pulling of 'combat' forces by Barack Sept. 1, 2010 and that was Barack and not the SOFA; as for 50,000, there's no way to be generous, the SOFA doesn't say a damn word about dropping down to 50,000. Again that would be US President Barack Obama and you'd think Gates would know that and would credit him with it.)
Moving on. Can little boys keep their hands out of their pants in public? Where are their parents? Did no one tell them not to do that in public?
You have to wonder that as you listen to Gareth Porter make a fool out of himself (yet again). Speaking to Scott Horton (Antiwar.com) who hung on every word and possibly a better posture would be to question unless this is Fan Boi Radio?
Gareth Porter: Well I know that this marks the end of the fiction that the United States could actually have a longterm presence in Iraq in -in Iraq which was of course the, uh, the aspiration of the Bush administration and then, you know, despite the campaign promise by Barack Obama, the national security state again prevailed on Obama to try to maintain a significant US military presence. Uh, they put a lot of pressue on him to do that. Uh, and in the middle of last year, 2010, it appeared that they had gotten the White House to go along with the scheme [. . .]
We'll stop there. 'Poor little Barry O, under pressure from the national security state.' I cannot believe Scott Horton swallowed all that. That's very telling.
Gareth Porter: Well I know that this marks the end of the fiction that the United States could actually have a longterm presence in Iraq in -in Iraq [. . .]
First off, Gareth, the US does have a longterm presence in Iraq right now, it's called the US Embassy in Baghdad and all of its consulates throughout the country. Second, Special-Ops will remain in Iraq, that's known. Third, the CIA will remain, that's known. Fourth, about 160 US soldiers will be under the State Dept's command. Fifth, about 150 US soldiers will remain in Iraq for 'arms sales.' Sixth, the White House has revealed that Marines will be guarding the diplomatic outlets. How many is not known. Seventh, some members of the Air Force are remaining. Eighth, negotiations are ongoing. Ninth, Kuwait, Jordan and others are planned staging areas. In fact, Press TV reports today, "The US is negotiating with Kuwait about moving some equipment and troops to the Persian Gulf state. Washing is also holding talks with Turkey about deploying sensitive sensors, drone, and other equipment used in Iraq at the Incirlik airbase, promising to assist the Turkish government in fighting the Kurdistan Workers' Party."
It is unexpected to hear spin on Antiwar Radio. At a time when Antiwar.com has already noted negotiations are ongoing, has already noted the huge amount of contractors, this is really sad.
Instead of challenging Gareth's spin, Scott launches into a discussion about 2004. Scott Horton needs to be booking actual journalists like James Denselow or John Glaser to speak. Not people who really aren't allowed to speak honestly of Barack without threat of losing their pay check.
Maybe we should just be glad that a conviction finally kept pedophile Scott Ritter off the show? A conviction that's standing despite today's appeal for a retrial -- 'Not fair,' whined Pig Ritter, 'that my two other arrests for being a pedophile were brought in this case about my third pedolphile arrest!' Judge Jennifer Harlachar Sibum disagreed. Carol Demare (Albany Times Union) reports the 50-year-old pedophile has been sentenced "to up to 5 1/2 years behind bars in a Pennsylvania state prison" and that Judge Harlachar Sibum "also said Ritter met the criteria as a sexually violent predator and will have to register in Pennsylvania as a sex offender."
Yeah, these are the people who embraced the pedophile, remember? Yeah, they've got a great record.
As for Antiwar Radio? Corporate crap couldn't be worse than that broadcast with Gareth. In fact, NPR did a better job discussing Iraq yesterday on The Diane Rehm Show than Antiwar Radio. Ann picked this statement as her favorite exchange of that broadcast:
Phyllis Bennis: The agreement that was signed by President Bush and Prime Minister Maliki was very clear, as Nick Burns said earlier, about withdrawing all troops and all Pentagon-paid contractors. It left a huge loophole, big enough for tanks to drive through, about contractors who would be paid by another agency, for example, the State Department. And that's why we're seeing now this race by the State Department to sign off on contracts with, what we're hearing, up to 16,000 new contractors who will do the same things as the contractors have been doing throughout these eight years, which is very worrying. Because there have been so many crimes committed with no accountability, they are not legally provided with immunity by a U.S.-Iraqi agreement, but they have not been held accountable in the Iraqi system. And there have been these terrible incidents of killing civilians at checkpoints, et cetera. There's no particular indication to think that's going to end, nor is there any likelihood that the flood of money that has so corrupted the government -- so many government officials inside Iraq is going to end anytime soon. So I'm not persuaded that it's going to turn into Switzerland. I don't think anybody thinks that the case. But I think that this is a moment where, for the first time in more than 20 years, Iraq will have the chance to figure out how it wants to run its country, whether or not that includes the current government remaining in power.
Rafe Pilgrim (OpEdNews) notes how tempting it was to believe Barack's Friday announcement, especially if you didn't listen closely:
How many of his hopeful audience missed the "mention" that unspecified thousands of American "civilian contractors" would be "maintained" in Iraq? This is the side deal between him and Maliki to fool both of their peoples. Those "contractors" will not be filling potholes or doing horticulture. They will be weaponized and on ready alert status to do whatever soldiers and black-ops are commanded, at incidentally many times higher cost per trooper than an honestly declared American soldier.
I personally did not catch a statement on air-base privileges. Such will be there.
Now to our State Department's presence: The US will maintain three (or four?) major "diplomatic stations," including the embassy in Baghdad, the world's largest of any nation's, which accommodates 4500 personnel. Diplomats, clerks and chaplains? I would suppose not. And in the meantime, there is a boom of American construction in Iraq, and no one knows, or rather admits to knowing of what.
Pew Research Center's latest study finds that a number of Americans rank the Iraq statements by Barack as news . . . behind the death of Muammar Gaddafi . . . and behind the animals released from the zoo in Ohio . . . and behind news about the presidential election . . . and behind the news of the economy.
The way things are going, the Cult of St. Barack's going to be offering animal sacrifices before the year ends. In yet another blow to the White House spin, Al Mada is reporting that the US is planning to keep 5,000 troops in Kirkuk province. Alleged discussions on this proposal are said to have taken place last week in Parliament's building (but not with all blocs in Parliament).
Turning to the latest crackdown in Iraq, some estimates have 350 Iraqis arrested since Saturday for allegedly being "Ba'athists" (a once dominant political party in Iraq). Dar Addustour cites a security source who states the number is 400. The Great Iraqi Revolution notes, "1074 arrests were made over the past two weeks in Babylon on orders issued in Baghdad. . . . Is there a prison big enough for the whole of the Iraqi people?!" Aswat al-Iraq reports, "The Provincial Council of north-central Iraqi Province of Salah al-din has refused on Wednesday to hand over a number of detained former Iraqi Army officers and former ruling Baath Party members to the Baghdad security forces, considering the measure as 'illegal and not supported by legal arrest warrents,' the Council's Deputy Chairman, Sabhan Mulla Chiad, announced today."
Al Mada reports that the Interior Ministry is stating that they had credible evidence that these people were plotting a coup. Did they have that? Who vetted it? Because they don't have a head of the ministry. Nouri's never done his job. Nouri al-Maliki, to move from prime minister-designate to prime minister in December 2010 was supposed to, per the Constitution, form a Cabinet -- that means nominating ministers and having Parliament vote them in. But what does the country's Constitution matter when you have the US government running interference for you?
So Nouri was made prime minister despite not meeting the Constitutional requirements. (So the US government sent the message to the Iraqi people that votes and the Constitution both didn't matter. Good job!) And press flunkies assured us that Nouri would name ministers for Interior, National Security and Defense in a matter of weeks. Over ten months later, they've never been named. ("Acting" ministers are not real ministers. They have no protection, they serve at Nouri's whim and Parliament did not confirm them.) So when the Interior claims they had credible evidence, that's Nouri claiming they did. Nouri known to scream "Ba'athist" at the drop of a hat to discount his political rivals. The Great Iraqi Revolution adds, "Media sources confirm that Maliki is using his influence through his self appointed Acting Ministers of Interior and Defence to flex his muscles in concurrence with the American withdrawal in a pre emptive attack to isolate voices that refuse the new dictatorship in the New Iraq under the pretext of anti Baathism and anti Saddamisim!!"
Aswat al-Iraq reports, "Al-Iraqiya Coalition, led by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, has called on Iraq' Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to stop the current detention campaign and the sacking of university professors, according to its statement on Wednesday." The statement includes:
Al-Iraqiya has met at the office of Dr. Saleh al-Mutlaq to discuss the recent detentions campaign and the list of discharges against leading Iraqi professors by the Ministry of Higher Education. [. . .] We also call on the Iraqi Judiciary and the security bodies not to lean to the pressures of certain political forces and to safeguard its independence and specialization, assigned by the Constitution and current laws.
Violence and other news has distracted from Political Stalemate II. To end Political Stalemate I (the eight months plus of inaction and gridlock that followed the March 7, 2010 elections), the political blocs met up, in Erbil (in November 2010), (along with the US) and hammered out a deal. That deal is known as the Erbil Agreement. It promised to resolve the disputed Kirkuk (who will control it, Baghdad or the KRG) and to do as the Constitution outlines, it promised that a new, independent security council would be created and Ayad Allawi (whose political slate Iraqiya came in first in the elections) would head it and that Nouri would remain prime minister despite his political slate (State of Law) coming in second. There were other deals made in the agreement as well. All parties agreed and the press hailed it as a breakthrough moment.
Nouri used the Erbil Agreement to remain prime minister and then trashed it. The Kurds (minus the CIA-backed Goran) have objected to Nouri's attempt to rewrite the oil law and his failure to follow the Erbil Agreement. They are calling for it to be re-instated. (Also making that call about the Erbil Agreement: the National Alliance and Iraqiya.) After many meetings internally, the Kurds hammered out what they wanted to stress in a face to face. Al Rafidayn reports that face to face took place yesterday between Nouri and KRG President Barham Salih and Salih also met with Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi and stressed that the problem is not a Kurdsih one, it has to do with the political system and the way decisions are being made. In addition, Iraqiya's Saleh al-Mutlaq lodged a complaint over Nouri's arresting of college professors on the claim that they are Ba'athists. Al Mada refers to the complaint airing as an angry altercation, a quarrel of words. Nouri reportedly stormed off in anger. Back to the meeting between Nouri and the KRG president, Dar Addustour reports Salih and Nouri came to an agreement on the fact that the problems needed to be resolved.
Let's stay with Nouri and his 'justice' by providing an update. From yesterday's snapshot:
Dar Addustour has a breaking news report this evening that American journalist Daniel Smith has been arrested in Baghdad by Iraqi forces (the arrest was Friday). If the report is correct and the name is correct, this is most likely Daniel Wakefield Smith who in addition to text reporting is also a photojournalist (not to be confused with retired US Army Col Dan Smith who has offered commentary and analysis on the Iraq War). Dar Addustour is the only one reporting the story currently and they say that there is confusion regarding what he was arrested for with some saying it was for the Friday protests in Baghdad (covering it or participating in it? that's not explained) while others are saying he was arrested for spying on Iraqi officials.
This morning Aswat al-Iraq is reported:
The American Reporter, Daniel Smith, detained in Iraq since last Friday, has been released on Wednesday by Iraq's Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, who allowed him to continue his reporting from Baghdad, according to a statement by the Prime Minister's Press Freedoms Center's Director.
"Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki decided on Wednesday morning to release the American Journalist, Daniel Smith, and to allow him continue reporting from Iraq, in response to demands by our Center and other journalists," Ziyad al-Ujeily told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.
Last Friday, when he was arrested, Reporters Without Borders released the following statement of concern:
Reporters Without Borders continues to be concerned about the dangers for journalists in Iraq, where there have been series of attacks and acts of intimidation against media personnel this month.
In one of the latest cases, unidentified gunmen fired on Al-Iraqiya TV reporter Abd Al-Hasan Al-Rukaabi as he was driving between the southern city of Nasriyah and the nearby town of Al-Refai on 19 October. He was injured in the neck after abandoning his car to escape the shots but, after being treated in hospital, doctors said he was in no danger.
Aged 50 and the father of eight children, Rukaabi has worked for Al-Iraqiya since 2003. He said he did not know the motive for the murder attempt, which the police are investigating. Reporters Without Borders urges the authorities to ensure that those responsible are identified.
Soldiers raided the home of Al-Sharq reporter Khalil Al-Alwani in Fallujah (in the western province of Anbar) on 17 October. In a statement, Alwani said the raid was carried out illegally, without a court order, with the probable aim of arresting him in connection with articles about everyday problems in Anbar, where the rate of violent crime and murder has become alarming. The authorities denied having anything to do with the raid.
Journalists and activists staged a peaceful demonstration in Fallujah the next day to demand an investigation into the circumstances of the illegal raid. Reporters Without Borders urges the authorities to begin the investigation at once in order to shed light on what happened and to guarantee Alwani's safety.
TV executive Hoshyar Abdallah was arrested by a court in the Kurdish city of Sulaymaniyah, in northern Iraq, on 1 October on a charge of defaming former Kurdish water resources minister Abdul Latif Muhammad Jamal for accusing him of corruption. He was released two days later on bail of 145,000 dinars (90 euros). Abdallah heads KNN, a Sulaymaniyah-based TV station affiliated to the Kurdish opposition movement Change.
Reporters Without Borders urges the Iraqi authorities to put a stop to the abuses against media personnel and to guarantee their safety under the law for the protection of journalists that was adopted last August. Iraq continues to be a dangerous country for journalists.
Journalists have been targeted in Iraq throughout the illegal war -- and often they've been targeted by the US so Iraqi government officials can always assert that their own attacks were nothing but learned behavior. Violence continues in Iraq today. Reuters notes a Mosul car bombing claimed 2 lives and left sixteen injured, a Mosul roadside bombing left two people injured, a Baghdad roadside bombing left four people injured, a Jurf al-Sakhar roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 Sahwa and left two more injured, an Iskandariya bombing claimed 2 lives and, dropping back to last night, that a Jurf al-Sakhar military checkpoint was attacked resulting in the deaths of 2 Iraqi soldiers with another injured, 1 person was shot dead outside his Mussayayb home and Sheikh Safa Jasim's Hilla home was bombed resulting in the death of his wife and son with three other sons and Sheikh Jasim left injured. Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) reports the Mosul car bombing was actually 2 car bombings and that 9 people were killed. The Tehran Times adds that a bombing on the border of Iraq injured nine Iranian pilgrims traveling by bus. In addition, the Turkish military's assault continues on northern Iraq. Peter Kenyon reports on it today for NPR's Morning Edition.
KENYON: Ibrahim Dogus, editor of a London-based Kurdish newspaper, told Al-Jazeera's English Channel that it's only natural for the PKK to try to exploit the diplomatic rift between Ankara and Damascus.
IBRAHIM DOGUS: It will be plausible for PKK to take advantage of deteriorating relations between Syria and Turkey, between Iran and Turkey. But the best thing that the Turkish government could come up with is a resolution to the Kurdish question within Turkey. Turkey tries to deal with Palestine. Turkey tries to deal with Somalia. Turkey tries to deal with all over the world now. But when it comes to Kurdish politics, they always look for other international forces or countries to blame for.
Alsumaria TV reports, "Hundreds of Turkish soldiers sieged a village in Al Imadiya District, northern Dahuk, eye witnesses reported on Tuesday. Citizens called upon authorities to intervene in fear of turning the village into a battlefield." They quote resident Fawzi Ibrahim stating, "These forces have caused a state of panic among villagers." Grasp how this plays in Iraq because, despite a lot of silence from Nouri and his Cabinet, it doesn't play well. The Great Iraqi Revolution observes, "Turkish armored vehicles cross the border into Iraq heading towards PKK camp inside the Kurdistan territory and combs the area for rebels before it withdraws back to Turkish soil. Not the first time this happens. Violation of the integrity of the Iraqi sovereignty amidst silence of the Iraqi government and sometimes its blessing." And that's not a minor sentiment. Who ever you are, in whatever nation-state you lived, you would take kindly to another country sending its military in. (Even more so if, like Iraq, you have been attacked and occupied for the last 8 years.) And that's before you consider Iraq's complicated relationship with Turkey. Rachael Cloughton (Independent) notes one issue:
A crisis awaits Iraq following Turkey's extensive dam building project, claims Azzam Alwash, the director of one of the country's largest non-governmental environmental organisations, Nature Iraq. Yet little attention is being give to his proposed methods to avert catastrophe.
By 2050, Iraq is predicted to receive only 25% of its former water supply due to the ambitious Anatolia project being embarked on by Turkey. This project includes the building of 22 dams and 19 power plants in the southeast. Historically, Iraq once received between 60 billion to 90 billion cubic meters of water from the Tigris and Euphrates. This is expected to drop to less than 25 billion cubic meters in less than 40 years' time.
Rivers flowing from Iran contain too much saline, rivers that should be flowing from Turkey are often circumvented via dams. Meanwhile Murat Yetkin (Hurriyet Daily News) reports that the Turkish military's General Necdet Ozel gave a written interview: "First, with the latest wave of attacks the PKK is aiming to destroy government authority in towns near the Iraqi border to establish a power of its own; second, Turkey had no joint security operations with Iran against the PKK but has intelligence and legal cooperation with it; and third, Turkey was happy with the intelligence it is sharing with the United States on PKK presence in Iraq but wants more." Serkan Demirtas (Hurriyet Daily News) reports that Turkey is pleased with surveillance data from the US that it will continue to receive* but that they still expect to be provided with their own drones (provided by the US) and that Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoglu and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meet in Istanbul November 2nd to discuss issues. How is the US guaranteeing Turkey that it will continue to provide it with intel? Oh, that's right, the CIA's not leaving Iraq. Meanwhile, if you wonder why the Turkish press is so one-sided on the issue, it goes beyond what you might expect and includes governmental retaliation. Reporters Without Borders notes today:
As well as a spate of trials and cases of prolonged detention, journalists are now the target of government directives. Journalists who cover Kurdish issues critically continue to be accused of supporting the separatists by officials who cite the war on terror as their overriding imperative. And concern is growing that the government is trying to control coverage of its offensive.
Jailed for an interview?
The Turkish judicial system continues to treat the publication of interviews with PKK members as terrorist propaganda, even if they are accompanied by commentary that stops far short of praising the PKK.
Nese Düzel, a journalist with the liberal daily Taraf, and his editor, Adnan Demir, for example, are being prosecuted for two April 2010 reports containing interviews with former PKK leaders Zübeyir Aydar and Remzi Kartal. A prosecutor asked an Istanbul court on 14 October to sentence them to seven and a half years in prison. The next hearing in their trial is to be held on 9 December.
Click here to read their alert in full. Turning to the US, Kimberly Wilder (On The Wilder Side) sends out this SOS:
If you live anywhere near Oakland, California, or have friends or relatives who do please tell them that they need to take action today. Their democracy has been threatened. American democracy has been threatened due to their police and their government.
Yesterday morning, police wrongfully raided and destroyed two, peaceful, Occupy Oakland encampments. That was the first big problem. People went to make their voices heard at the library at 4pm, and police were oppressive and wrong. All through the night, police followed, hovered, struggled, tear gassed, shot with bean bags, and otherwise abused a whole crowd of peaceful folks, in the effort to suppress a message, and keep people from expressing their belief in the right to assemble.
Wait, today's passed! You can show up at 14th and Broadway for as long as Occupy Oakland continues (barring the activists moving to another site). You can show your support tomorrow. In fact, if people are really trying to send a message, what would send the strongest message would be each day's turnout being larger. What happened last night? Adam Gabbatt (Guardian) reports Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen was taken to Highland hospital with "a fractured skull and brain swelling" -- apparently from a projectile launched on the activists by the police. Gabbatt quotes photographer Jay Finneburgh stating, "This poor guy was right behind me when he was hit in the head with a police projectile. He went down hard and did not get up." You can click here for Adam Gabbatt's live blogging of Occupy Oakland. Occupy Wall Street issued a statement today which includes:
Today at Occupy Wall Street we are looking across the country to the city of Oakland, where last night our fellow Americans were subjected to violence at the hands of their own government for exercising the constitutional freedoms their government is sworn to protect. Last night police forces violently raided Occupy Oakland, arresting 85 people and brutalizing many peaceful participants, using excessive physical force, tear gas, and dangerous projectile rounds.
Peaceful Protest is An American Birthright, Not a Crime
Among those injured is Scott Olson, a Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq. Olsen is in the hospital with a fractured skull.
"Scott is in stable but serious condition as the neurologists decide whether to take him into surgery or the ICU," said Joshua Shepherd, a friend of Olsen's. "Oakland Police Department fired a tear gas canister at his head, fracturing his skull."
Video of the incident with Scott Olsen: http://tinyurl.com/3vqlsv3
It is unconscionable that American government officials would sanction the use of such extreme force against peaceful citizens.
Occupy Oakland has been a public forum, set up on public land, concerned with critical public issues about the nation's financial crisis, consolidation of wealth and power, and the ability of citizens to meaningfully participate in the democratic process. This brutality carried out on the orders of city government, sends a chilling message to those who want to engage in civic processes to work for social change.
Over a month ago, we went to the doorstep of Wall Street to say "enough!" That message has resonated across the country and around the world. Occupy Wall Street continues to build, and a national movement of peaceful occupations and civic engagement has sprung up in every corner.
Public officials must listen to the grievances of this popular movement. It is absolutely unacceptable to attempt to dissuade civic engagement through the use of brutality, repression and retaliation against movement participants. This is America. All Americans have the freedom to peacefully protest our government. That right defines who we are as a country and a people, and when it is denied, all of America is the poorer for it.
The Mayor of Oakland -- and mayors and city governments across the country -- should get on the right side of history and honor all Americans' freedom to peacefully assemble and to civically engage.
Justin Raimondo has an interesting take (at Antiwar.com) on governments:
The retention and expansion of political power is the central task of every ruling class throughout history, no matter what their ostensible ideological orientation. Dictatorships, democracies, and everything in between all share this common trait: it is the organizing principle at the core of the policymaking machine, the brain behind the brawn. The various ideological explanations offered by these elites for their actions are invariably self-serving and ultimately irrelevant rationalizations: for example, the old Communist elites pretended to be working toward the establishment of the communist system worldwide, but in fact were devoted to the creation of "socialism in one country," i.e. feathering their own nest. In the West, political leaders insist their goal is the spread of liberal democracy and its alleged economic benefits, but the reality is that they're more concerned with their campaign treasuries and their poll numbers: the old mottoes of the Anglo-Saxon ruling class, which upheld the principle of "noblesse oblige," are so timeworn and tattered that no one even bothers to invoke them any longer.
The politicians, in short, are in it to stay in it: they are in the business of acquiring and keeping power, and that is what motivates them in all matters foreign and domestic. The "national interest," the "world revolution," the peculiar destiny afforded us as sainted beneficiaries of "American exceptionalism" -- all these disparate brands of ideological snake-oil, boiled down to their essence, are just naked self-interest colored with various shades of rhetorical mumbo-jumbo.