Category Archives: Justice

Ground-Truthing in a Time of Continuing Criminal Enterprises

First, the reality on the ground –

I am still working, losing billable hours weekly as my contract with an “anti-poverty/social capital” organization winds down. This is with a non-profit that is pushing over $100 million (“donated” by millionaires, billionaires, philanthropies and in some cases state and city programs)  that came down the pike just in the past six months for so-called Covid-19 relief money for, right now, the 110,000 folk already, from Oakland to Detroit to Chicago and Austin and Seattle, who have applied for funds varying from $500 a person in King County, WA, from the Starbucks Mafia for out-of-work restaurant folk (that was $6 million of Schulz Foundation blood coffee profits), to home owners in Chicago who can apply for eviction relief.

I’ll do a piece on the outfit as my time with them ends soon, but for now, any Google search for my name, well, that’s a killer. For instance, again, I need the work, and for two jobs for which I interviewed via Zoom, I got the thanks but no thanks — a permancey worker for foster children, and then a worker for folks with developmental disabilities. In each case (and I have written about both this and reverse sexism, and anti-socialist crap before) five women (a state job and then a country job) interviewing me. All these teams are stacked with women, and in the illogic of neoliberalism and this bizarre mentality, why not keep a man off the team. As if young foster youth and youth who might need to be reunited with biological families, and those with developmental disabilities NEVER EVER need to see or hear from a male case worker. You think it is true these HR folk do a Google on me? Yep.

So, now, limping along, imagine, I am working as a contractor – on the 1099 IRS form– and there is little broad connection to the organization I work for in terms of my own benefit and contribution for the organization. There is a lot of fakery, a lot of on-the-screen fake comradeship.  These people are siloed, as they work remotely (before lockdown Covid-19 Zoom Gulag). There is a lot of cliqueness, and the entire concept of remote work and conference calls/training/management is dead from the navel up.

But it is the thing of the future, thanks to the thousands upon thousands of outfits pushing on-line banking, on-line education, on-line med, on-line psychiatry, on-line family reunions, on-line weddings/divorces/funerals/ anniversaries/birthdays/dating/sex. The world is the app developers’ and the tech monsters’ virtual oyster.

But the working with the devil noise is now much more pronounced with this outfit I ended up working with starting a year ago July. We are talking about a non-profit that is now working hand in hand with the Koch Brothers (Stand Together) and Charles Schwab and all that lovely stuff that is part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Koch Network Reorganizes as ‘Stand Together’ May 22, 2019.  The Seminar Network , a network of nonprofits funded by Charles Koch and like-minded conservatives and libertarians who donate at least $100,000 annually to “help people improve their lives,” has announced that going forward it will be known as Stand Together .[ Source ! ]

So, this non-profit is over 18 years old, and used to have sites where household members met monthly, shared stories, shared resources, and did journals to receive some cash assistance. It was always the “data in the monthly journals was aggregated, not connected to one specific person or household.” And the non-profit got seed money and in-kind app development and AI support from, well, you guessed it, Google.

Connecting to the Koch Brothers is a dance with the devil. That started in Februart, 2020. Talk about cognitive dissonance —

Koch-Backed “Libre Initiative” Purports To “Empower Hispanics,” But Pushes Policies That Would Disproportionately Hurt Poor Hispanics. Libre Initiative, backed by more than $10 million in Koch funding, purports to “empower Hispanics,” but experts say the organization supports policies that “disenfranchise Hispanic voters” and opposes programs that would help millions of Hispanics living in poverty. Libre opposes the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and minimum wage increases, both of which would disproportionately benefit the Hispanic community, especially those living in poverty, and supports voter ID laws that would “disenfranchise Hispanic voters, other minorities, and the poor.” — Media Matters. 

So, this Stand Together is supported by the billionaires who hate teachers, hate unions, hate raising the minimum wage, hate the science around global heating/warming, hate universities, hate hate hate. And, the non-profit I work with is mostly made up of BIPOC, and many are 20-somethings and 30-somethings. Many came from poverty. Some are originally from places like Puerto Rico and Columbia.

Track these billionaire misanthropes here — Koch Docs. 

Read about the Koch Brothers in “Kochland: The Secret History of Koch Industries and Corporate Power in America,” by the Christopher Leonard.

As a 1099 contractor on the outs — who goes to bat for the few hundred Oregonians in the project I am/was heading up, money from Department of Human Services, to the tune of $720,000 total (most of which has not been distributed) — I am way left-left of field, the most radical person these young and youngish people will ever meet. I am not a capitalist, and I know what capitalism does. The proof is in the pudding — and if I sent this over to any of the people I work with, nah, I’d expect more than just push back. I’d expect narcing in the true sense of that term.

Read, Wrench in the Gears:

One of the biggest things we’re up against, and something few people are talking about, is social impact investing and pay for success finance. Within the hollowed out shell of the welfare state, which admittedly was always inadequate and used for purposes of racialized social control, global finance has built a new machine that will use predictive analytics, artificial intelligence, and wearable and screen-based technologies to monitor the global poor and profit from their misery.

This effort is being carried out in partnership with the non-profit sector, higher education, think tanks, and global foundations. Many involved identify as liberal, even progressive. Successful resistance will require stopping Trump, the Koch brothers, and ALEC, as well as a corporate, militarized Blue Wave that has every intention of stabilizing late-stage capitalism with technocratic “evidence-based” solutions. Make no mistake; this is a fully bipartisan enterprise.

Outcomes-based contracts are this machine’s operating system. Contracts employ pay-for-performance agreements that reimburse service providers IF they produce specified success metrics. These metrics are narrowly defined and chosen for their ability to be gamed. Contrived solutions offer up fake “success” to enrich investors at the expense of vulnerable populations. Think standardized test scores as success metrics for education or fit-bit step counts for preventative health.

This machine requires a steady supply of people labeled deficient by those in power. Like batteries in the Matrix, the poor are meant to be the fuel. The machine does not care for their actual wellbeing; its sole purpose is to maximize profit. In that it is similar to the capitalist Western medical model where Big Pharma opts for chronic disease management over research leading to cures. Pay for success will not empower the poor, but instead manage them and harvest their data, indefinitely. — Pay for Success Finance Preys Upon The Poor: Presentation at Left Forum 

You can read more about the reality of capitalism NEVER dying because it is, a., running through the BlackRock filter ($100 trillion that for-profit scheme has on its ledgers as handlers of money), b., part of a huge effort to colonize most people on earth to abide by the Dashboard overlord. That is, people in dire straits will abide to almost anything to get paid, to get food, rent money, something, whether an at-home-paycheck, or some UBI – universal buffoon income.

It’s not just the vaccine passport that will be on the Dashboard, monetized, collected, used against you (if you don’t get one of those shots), or in your favor (if you get the shot, let the shot people put more data about you on the Dashboard, and let the AI and tech fascists decide what is or is not a viable human being on planet earth). Everything you do or say or believe or put on Facebook, that all will be collected, parsed, judged (AI) and then used to determine your worth, whether you are near the value of Soylent Green or some cubicle worker developing code.

Education is already dead in the water.  So the concept of a smart, educated, critically thinking, independent, demanding, critical of government/ corporations/media student, well, that has been gone-gone-gone. Now, look at the Pre-K plans for the future below:

Look, they will be collecting BMI’s and all those details of all our chronic illnesses, all reports from the cops, all prescriptions taken, all notes from the social worker/psychologist/psychiatrist. They will collect all movements in your work history, all movements in your credit history, all moving and non-moving violations.

Capitalism is not dying, but rather, it is a Philip K. Dick nightmare, making Minority Report and Gattaca and Blade-Runner look like a bicycle ride around Mister Rogers neighborhood.

The Good Club

Make no bones about it – capitalism is in its 4.0 iteration of surveillance punishment. Capitalism is never just that – a form of economic relationships, that is supposed to be fair, balanced and with that free hand helping the community of businesses come together and practice fair market sharing, and using that all boats rise kind of communitarian logic. Nine sheep farmers on the island working out how much bite the flocks can make, which fields stay off limits during certain seasons, how to share the streams, the fields, the pathways, the roads and access to markets. Even a collective of shearers and ways to store the wool and how to enhance all their lives. Sure? But then that 10th farmer comes on board, moves to the island and well, a true capitalist maximizes profits, finds ways to cut corners (expenses), and has ways to not share the water  and share the commons. Alas, yep, tragedy of the commons, and without communism and participatory democracy, then the common good is thrown out with the blood and guts and shit, put in a pond, collected out back, where the poor workers live. The common good has been replaced by the corporate good, the good of the stockholders, the good of the few at the expense of the many. Children understand this. Good things are not bad things done to good people. Duh. But capitalism is all about bad and mean and horrors done to good people.

But children can’t be taught this anymore, and alas, what passes as education today, moreover, for the past 30/40 years, has been a mix of indoctrination and pacification.

‘Traditional education can be seen as sculptural in nature, individual destiny is written somewhere within the human being, awaiting dross to be removed before a true image shines forth. Schooling, on the other hand, seeks a way to make mind and character blank, so others may chisel the destiny thereon,’ John  Gatto, The Underground History of American Education

Much of Gatto’s writing is focused on the basic yet often overlooked distinction between schooling and education. At the heart of his work is the simple yet radical suggestion that mass schooling, a 19th-century European import to the U.S., is not the modern manifestation of the ancient concept of education but, rather, its diametric opposite.  See: Truthout Vincent Kelley, October 25, 2019

I have written about my own decades teaching, from community colleges, to universities to prison programs, and K12. It is an absolute mess under capitalism, patriotism and commercialism. A society that believes in the red-white-and-blue and the power of the sword, well, you need willing participants and fools in that game. Start them off young. And no matter how radical and true to education one teacher or a million might be, the American will is to have outsiders and outside-the-box participants break.

Rockefeller’s General Education Board summed up in a 1906 document on scientific schooling:

In our dreams … people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. The present educational conventions [intellectual and character education] fade from our minds, and unhampered by tradition we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive folk…. The task we set before ourselves is very simple…. We will organize children … and teach them to do in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way.

It is only worse a hundred and 14 years later.

Capitalism has always been a stacked deck, and always has been based on penury, parasitic, predatory financial exchanges; and socialism for the corporations. Every aspect of capitalism has been set forth as a system of dog-eat-dog, and survival of the fittest. In fact, it is a form of Organized Crime, a unique Mafia … and those externalities and economies of scale that have set about mass murders of people – either softly, through economic violence, or, deliberately, through the myriad of toxins and poisons and slow/moderate/fast death by a thousand carcinogens.

Then it makes sense that self-driving cars, Internet of Things, vaccine markers and RFIDs, mass surveillance and real time data collecting, from saliva to ulcers, from keyboard clicks to Netflix picks, the entire system is set up to use  regular humans as sources of data. Like big lakes of human blood to be harvested.

Neuroweb

Forget about the mass media and mass indoctrination. Forget about Madison Avenue and the applied psychology and behaviorism of perceived or planned obsolescence. Forget about the dopamine hits from gambling, lotteries, shopping, eating, vegging out. Forget about the manipulation through the dark arts of subliminal advertising. Forget about the colonization of the mind through malls, box stores, and now the on-line tyranny of the Walmart/Target/Amazon kind.

Forget about the blood and guts and shit and cancerous tumors chopped up and mixed in with the All American hotdogs, or the shit and fetuses and unusable offal of the birds-swine-cattle used to feed The Jungle on Steroids. Imagine, a system – capitalism – that has the dark arts of lobbying, prostituting politicians, and the economic hitmen/snake oil salesmen/grifters/outright thieves/destroyers/takers all allowing mercury in baby formula, lead in water, microplastics in everything, untested nanoparticles pulverized and mixed in with the pancake batter, all the gas-fuel additives that cause future mommy to have ovarian cancer at 25 and future daddy to have a sperm count one-half that of a guy like Willy Loman.

Imagine that system, man, of zero precautionary principle which, in fact, has already been reversed as the cost of doing business. Forced arbitration, death of class action lawsuits, $2000 an hour lawyers to bankrupt any plaintiff, and this great system, called Capitalism, moves like a rabid pack of dogs ten million strong across the land, the globe.

The conversations with both left and right of that manure pile called American national politics, well, vapid, and hinging on insanity all the time.

Read more on social impact bonds — man, capitalists make money on every single bad move, bad decision, bad health care outcome, bad driving record, bad physiology, bad mental health performance, bad check, bad report card, bad loan, bad divorce, bad habit, bad addiction, bad sin, bad purchase, bad trip, bad death.

Rikers Island SIB

Whew.

Now back to the ground-level stuff – I am working as a journalist (one paid gig, others free), editing Cirque Journal as guest editor (a $100 honorarium). I have a new book out and three more to get ready, and alas, where is that publishing money? Right:  in the hands of the overlords and their mutants. From Mary Trump to Michael Cohen to Joe Rogan, well, the list of undeserving “authors” and complete trash products of nothingness is very very long. A hundred blog pages long. And that’s just a start!

Yet, I live in an area of the world (Central Oregon Coast) where many people are either really hurting with small fixed incomes or those that have gotten some form of the brass ring and are holding steady in their fairly middle class retirement. Plus, the service economy, and their families and their struggles are to the tenth power.

Many of the people I communicate with on social media, well, I wonder about them – they seem to also have some form of semi-secure stream of income. And yet, boy, do we hear a lot from those left-of-Al Gore types writing for blogs, Facebook posts, and on-line magazines. A LOT.

They have in most cases no concept of what homelessness is, or how housing insecurity destroys all hope. They are all raring to go with the “masks don’t work” thesis, or, “Biden is worse than Trump hands down” yammering. It is a bizarre time. They know nothing of two or let alone ten opposing ideas that all need parsing and critical discussion.

Many of my more secure friends think I am all 401-k-ed up. “Man, books, years as a journalist, decades as a college instructor, social worker . . . blah-blah-blah.” They just are as out of touch as those who believe Biden and Trump are two peas in a pod, or that the democrats hands down across the board are as bad or worse than republicans across the board.

Man, it is a shit show. Look, I have worked to lobby for part-time faculty rights, to lobby for stricter river rights, lobbied to increase minimum wage, lobbied to do a lot of progressive things. The conversations and the level of intelligence those two-bit senators and representatives who deem themselves blue compared to the level of intelligence, depth, humanity of those two-bit senators and representatives who deem themselves red are absolutely night and day, hands down.

We are not talking Karl Rover or Bill Clinton or James Carville or Cheney or Pence or Biden or Trump and all their lackeys and money-grubbing pukes. I am talking about small-town politics, about small districts, about large state districts.

Yep, few are going to be able to talk about Zapatistas, anarchism, ecosocialism, any of the progressive issues, but many conversations with democrats I have had over 4.5 decades, from Idaho to Seattle, from Las Cruces to Houston, from Portland to New York City, well, it doesn’t take some Off-Guardian winner to give the world the daily news – I can attest to the complete retrograde, misanthropic, mean-as-cuss, dog-eat-dog mentality of EVERY GOP or republican I have talked to in those 4.5 decades. Inherently, they are pro-cop, pro-war, pro-unfettered capitalism; they are anti-union; anti-collective bargaining; anti-environmentalism; anti-Medicare-for-all. They are fucking misanthropes, making neoliberals seem like saints. And we know what neoliberalism is!

For anyone to talk differently, well, that is one big fat lie. Delusion. Game. Devil’s Advocacy. Or just inherent love of some of  Trump’s melodies of hate, from his anti 1619 Project, to his hate of critical race theory, to his complete ignorance, man, complete. Something about the white whore Trump that some of these lefties sort of like. Ask them.

Try it, really, with two-bit GOP v. two-bit democrat. Mayoral candidate? County supervisor? Try it. REALLY. Talk to both of them about those progressive issues, those radical ideas, those socialistic ideals. You will have ears with democrats, and rants and closed minds of the GOP.

Yep, you have to have the gift of gab, and you have to pull them into their subterfuge. In most cases, you have to be a white male talking to these fellows and women. It doesn’t take a Gore Vidal level of debate skills to flush them out of their racist, anti-raising-the-minimum-wage-to-a-living-wage mentality.

Yet, oh, yet – how broken the American soul is, and I can’t lump all the lower middle-class folk who go for the Elephant in the big state races, etc. Many can and do have intelligent conversations, and can understand  false balance, invented dichotomies and do know how to process counterintuitive thinking.

I dare anyone to talk to a GOP or MAGA or military industrial complex whore about peace, getting USA out of any place, but let’s just say Venezuela. Try it. Try and discuss how corporations who lie-cheat-pollute-steal-murder must not only be prosecuted and fined, but community-wide reparations must be exacted from them as restorative justice. Try that one out with the neighbor posting the “Trump is a Sign from Out God” sign on their front yard.

Is it expected that liberals (democrats) might say and believe and understand stupid things? Sure, a bunch came out recently with “Romney is the only ethical guy” when it was first known of Ruth Bader’s demise (and like the human stain he is, Mister Bain Capital, reversed that statement about holding off on a SCOTUS vote until after the “election”). Or, how Cynthia McCain is great, and so was John McCain. This sort of bizarre rah-rah is definitely part of America’s Amnesia, and the country’s general collective Stockholm Syndrome. We are (and have been for a very long time) living in a country with two piss-ass bad national parties that have blood on their hands.

And part of the blood is on us all, as we pay for goods and services with those greenbacks – In God We Trust. Every tax filing, yep, money to-for-because of the military industrial complex, which we should know by now is everything from toilet paper to sunscreen, from pickles to window frames, from blue plastic tarps to armor-piercing ammunition, from drones to Hellfire missiles, from endless replacement parts to the tenth power each for every Hummer and Stryker parked on planet earth, to the B-1 bomber, the DARPA and Plume Island and Fort Detrick bioweapons lap dance. Every single person in academia who gets a grant from Rockefeller, Ford Foundation, any of the 2,700 billionaire-smeared non-profits and foundations and think tanks, well, they too are part of the Structural Violence and Military-Chemical-Drug-Oil-Med-Banking-Insurance-Prison-Ag-Law-Real Estate-Patent-AI-IT-Engineering-Space-Mining-Surveillance Complex.

Capitalism is about selling out and the Faustian Bargain. It is a cancer, a colonization of the mind-body-spirit-history-cultures-futures. You can strip away one layer after another layer, opt out of one thing after another thing, advance a socialist agenda in this or that arena, but in the end, Capitalism not only has us all by the short hairs, the future will be dictated by Criminal Capitalism. Every single thing coming out of Hollywood or Madison Avenue or Publishing has the stench of Sulphur, so to read all those Off-Guardian writers who just go full force on the Democratic Party, full force on the Democratic governors pushing lockdowns, full force on the Democrats who want to curtail individual and community rights, they fail the litmus test when it comes to the history of what a Republican/Conservative perverse racist and supremacist Trump or Pence or Nixon or Reagan or you-name-the-piece-of-human-stain Republican believes and wants for the world. Ask them about anything Native American, anything about the history of colonialism, manifest destiny, any of it. Question them about reparations, about genocide, about community rights, about the people’s right to push out bad businesses, bad industries, bad companies from their communities/towns/cities/states. Ask them, man, about private property, about the right to own a bazooka, about any of it, and you will hands down get the same answer through and through – from a republican, and it is, a fact, every GOP is a racist, corporatist, anti-intellectualist cult member. Do the democratic administrations have blood on their hands? Are they hypocrites? Are they in bed with Wall Street?

Yep.

But have that conversation with a mayor or county supervisor or district representative. Flush them out, and see which GOP is open to any sort of liberal thinking. Good luck on that one.

But now, down to brass tacks: the unemployment, underemployment, bad-employment (Shit Jobs, David Graeber, may you rest in peace) rates in the USA, the real buying power, the real economy, all of that has been the shits since 1970. Before. There was never a real middle class, and most Americans are part of the debtor class. New car, second car, house, boat, new roof, college education, a trip, new fridge, you name it, including surgeries and dental work, all of that is on CREDIT. For most Americans.

You might have a better time framing these realities with naïve Democrats, but try it, brothers and sisters, with GOP and MAGA and Reaganites and Nixonites. Try those talks with them, your neighbors, anyone you know or suspect of being a cult-infused Trump-loving Christian-bowing Republican.

I’ve been having those conversations since I was 13, so mark that:  one-half a century debating military, debating republicans, debating capitalists, debating the idea of America being anything other than North America, Canada, colonized and trashed, and then this USA colonized and trashed, and alas, Mesoamerica and Central America and South America, colonized and trashed before the United States ended up sending millions to their deaths through capitalism, structural economic warfare, propping up despots and dictators, and, here we are, then:

So many of my friends who vote blue are freaked out about Trump, about the Proud boys, about the anti-BLM movement, about the homeless problem, the climate heating problem, the entire shooting match – capitalism on steroids.

They are depressed and can’t even come to talk about the ways many of us who have been battling capitalism and faux democracy and this White Western Civilization’s rapacious and warring ways fight off that cynicism. They believe the world is cooked and ruined, and they in one fell swoop – in their naïve and shallow democratic party leaning ways – consign young and old to the dust bins of history even before the entire ranch has been sold down the river.

I enjoy one gig:  focusing on people and their narratives and struggles. It’s for Street Roots, a paper that has won a lot of awards, but is a street newspaper, in Portland. Again, small potatoes, compared to the vaunted stuff over at Off-Guardian or Truthout or even now the Grayzone or Mintpress. But what I am finding is the stories in this newspaper are so more relevant than anything coming out of Glen Greenwald’s mouth, out of the celebrity culture that is either in overdrive, tied to MSM, or then those like  Thom Hartmann (small potatoes) and now the $100 million deal given to Joe Rogan from Spotify.

I’m now interviewing Portland artists and the art community with the proposition around this — What is Art in a Time of Lockdown. Where Does Art Go Now that Artists Are Dropping to the Wayside like Flies. Is There No Exceptional and Out-of-the-Bourgeoise Box Art Anymore. Along those lines, but really, just talking to people who were already challenging the Art Biz mentality of American (Western Art) popular art that has permeated the art world for decades but now supercharged.

I just finished this older book: The Art Biz: The Covert World of Collectors, Dealers, Auction Houses, Museums, and Critics Hardcover,  June 1, 1991 by Alice Goldfarb Marquis

And I watched again, this documentary, which lifts a lot from Alice Goldfarb Marquis’ book.

From acclaimed director Barry Avrich and executive producer Jonas Prince, BLURRED LINES: INSIDE THE ART WORLD lifts the curtain on the provocative contemporary art scene, a glamorous and cutthroat game of genius versus commerce. Featuring insider accounts from the most influential and powerful players in the industry, audiences will hear from renowned artists such as Julian Schnabel and Marina Abramovic, experts from prominent museums like MoMA and art fairs like Art Basel, insiders at Sotheby’s and Christie’s, and leading gallerists.

Imagine the degradation of thinking, discourse and debate over at the Rogan Show. And, Americans love their red-faced yelling heroes, their MC’s who do Mixed Martial Arts play-by-play, then a podcast, and now this big ass deal. Americans legitimize only those who are, a., high up on the You Tube platform, and, b., make news about themselves, and, c, have wads of money and wads of followers.

This is what we have gotten to – Entertaining/Amusing/YouTubing/Reality TV-ing/Art of Dealing Ourselves to Death.

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.” In 1984, Orwell added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we desire will ruin us.

This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right.”

― Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

Of course, Huxley didn’t quite describe the New World as a cultist crew of One Percenters and their Five Percent Eichmann’s and the other 15 Percenters who are the managers and bosses pushing this capitalism for the rich, trickle down, voodoo economics, what have you, for the POOR. But it is a cult, really, from celebrity to academic to overpaid idiots, and on and on, until we have perversions of humanity, whether Trump and his narcissism on steroids and Adderall, or Biden or Harris or Clinton, well, what fools we are for having new overlords in the administrations and the supreme courts, and even judgeships and DAs, inside the entire mess of America, run by people who get the mic, control the medium, get the print and copy and air time. All with big bucks thrown in.

Celebrity — turned into the cult of the self, a la Chris Hedges:

We have a right, in the cult of the self, to get whatever we desire. We can do anything, even belittle and destroy those around us, including our friends, to make money, to be happy and to become famous. Once fame and wealth are achieved, they become their own justification, their own morality. How one gets there is irrelevant. It is this perverted ethic that gave us Wall Street banks and investment houses that willfully trashed the nation’s economy, stole money from tens of millions of small shareholders who had bought stocks to finance their retirement or the college expenses of their children. The heads of these corporations, like the winners on a reality television program who lied and manipulated others to succeed, walked away with hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation and bonuses. The ethic of Wall Street is the ethic of celebrity.    The Man in the Mirror, Chris Hedges 

The post Ground-Truthing in a Time of Continuing Criminal Enterprises first appeared on Dissident Voice.

“What I’ve told you won’t be reported on the BBC”

“It’s impossible to sit through every day of the hearing and believe this is a fair and impartial process — because it isn’t.”

Former diplomat Craig Murray discusses Assange’s extradition hearing and new disputes over the publisher putting people in danger with his leaks.

The post "What I've told you won't be reported on the BBC" first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Empire’s Mask Slips at Julian Assange Trial

A billboard van calling for an end to extradition proceedings against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange waits at traffic lights in Parliament Square in London, England, on September 14, 2020. (Photo by David Cliff/NurPhoto)

The concept of “History in the making” has been pushed to extremes when it comes to the extraordinary public service being performed by historian, former UK diplomat and human rights activist Craig Murray.

Murray – literally, and on a global level – is now positioned as our man in the public gallery, as he painstakingly documents in vivid detail what could be defined as the trial of the century as far as the practice of journalism is concerned: the kangaroo court judging Julian Assange in Old Bailey, London.

Let’s focus on three of Murray’s reports this week – with an emphasis on two intertwined themes: what the US is really prosecuting, and how Western corporate media is ignoring the court proceedings.

Here, Murray reports the exact moment when the mask of Empire fell, not with a bang, but a whimper:

The gloves were off on Tuesday as the US Government explicitly argued that all journalists are liable to prosecution under the Espionage Act (1917) for publishing classified information. (italics mine).

“All journalists” means every legitimate journalist, from every nationality, operating in any jurisdiction.

Interpreting the argument, Murray added, “the US government is now saying, completely explicitly, in court, those reporters could and should have gone to jail and that is how we will act in future. The Washington Post, the New York Times, and all the “great liberal media” of the US are not in court to hear it and do not report it (italics mine), because of their active complicity in the “othering” of Julian Assange as something sub-human whose fate can be ignored. Are they really so stupid as not to understand that they are next?

Err, yes.”

The point is not that self-described paladins of “great liberal media” are stupid. They are not covering the charade in Old Bailey because they are cowards. They must keep their fabled “access” to the bowels of Empire – the kind of “access” that allowed Judith Miller to “sell” the illegal war on Iraq in countless front pages, and allows CIA asset and uber-opportunist Bob Woodward to write his “insider” books.

Nothing to see here

Previously, Murray had already detailed how “the mainstream media are turning a blind eye. There were three reporters in the press gallery, one of them an intern and one representing the NUJ. Public access continues to be restricted and major NGOs, including Amnesty, PEN and Reporters Without Borders, continue to be excluded both physically and from watching online.”

Murray also detailed how “the six of us allowed in the public gallery, incidentally, have to climb 132 steps to get there, several times a day. As you know, I have a very dodgy ticker; I am with Julian’s dad John who is 78; and another of us has a pacemaker.”

So why is he “the man in the public gallery”?

I do not in the least discount the gallant efforts of others when I explain that I feel obliged to write this up, and in this detail, because otherwise the vital basic facts of the most important trial this century, and how it is being conducted, would pass almost completely unknown to the public. If it were a genuine process, they would want people to see it, not completely minimize attendance both physically and online.

Unless people around the world are reading Murray’s reports – and very few others with much less detail – they will ignore immensely important aspects plus the overall appalling context of what’s really happening in the heart of London. The main fact, as far as journalism is concerned, is that Western corporate media is completely ignoring it.

Let’s check the UK coverage on Day 9, for instance.

There was no article in the Guardian – which cannot possibly cover the trial because the paper, for years, was deep into no holds barred smearing and total demonization of Julian Assange.

There was nothing on The Telegraph – very close to MI6 – and only a brief AP story on the Daily Mail.

There was a brief article in The Independent only because one of the witnesses, Eric Lewis, is one of the directors of the Independent Digital News and Media Ltd which publishes the paper.

For years, the process of degrading Julian Assange to sub-human level was based on repeating a bunch of lies so often they become truth. Now, the conspiracy of silence about the trial does wonders to expose the true face of Western liberal “values” and liberal “democracy”.

Daniel Ellsberg speaks

Murray provided absolutely essential context for what Daniel “Pentagon Papers” Ellsberg made it very clear in the witness stand.

The Afghan War logs published by WikiLeaks were quite similar to low-level reports Ellsberg himself had written about Vietnam. The geopolitical framework is the same: invasion and occupation, against the interests of the absolute majority of the invaded and occupied.

Murray, illustrating Ellsberg, writes that “the war logs had exposed a pattern of war crimes: torture, assassination and death squads. The one thing that had changed since Vietnam was that these things were now so normalized they were classified below Top Secret.”

This is a very important point. All the Pentagon Papers were in fact Top Secret. But crucially, the WikiLeaks papers were not Top Secret: in fact they were below Top Secret, not subject to restricted distribution. So they were not really sensitive – as the United States government now alleges.

On the by now legendary Collateral Murder video, Murray details Ellsberg’s argument:

Ellsberg stated that it definitely showed murder, including the deliberate machine gunning of a wounded and unarmed civilian. That it was murder was undoubted. The dubious word was “collateral”, which implies accidental. What was truly shocking about it was the Pentagon reaction that these war crimes were within the Rules of Engagement. Which permitted murder.

The prosecution cannot explain why Julian Assange withheld no less than 15,000 files; how he took a lot of time to redact the ones that were published; and why both the Pentagon and the State Dept. refused to collaborate with WikiLeaks. Murray:

Ten years later, the US Government has still not been able to name one single individual who was actually harmed by the WikiLeaks releases.


Prometheus Bound 2.0

President Trump has made two notorious references to WikiLeaks on the record: “I love WikiLeaks” and “I know nothing about WikiLeaks”. That may reveal nothing on how a hypothetical Trump 2.0 administration would act if Julian Assange was extradited to the US. What we do now is that the most powerful Deep State factions want him “neutralized”. Forever.

I felt compelled to portray Julian Assange’s plight as Prometheus Bound 2.0. In this poignant post-modern tragedy, the key subplot centers on a deadly blow to true journalism, in the sense of speaking truth to power.

Julian Assange continues to be treated as an extremely dangerous criminal, as his partner Stella Moris describes it in a tweet.

Craig Murray will arguably enter History as the central character in a very small chorus warning us all about the tragedy’s ramifications.

It’s also quite fitting that the tragedy is also a commentary on a previous era that featured, unlike Blake’s poem, a Marriage of Hell and Hell: GWOT and OCO (Global War on Terror, under George W. Bush, and Overseas Contingency Operations under Barack Obama).

Julian Assange is being condemned for revealing imperial war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet in the end all that post-9/11 sound and fury signified nothing.

It actually metastasized into the worst imperial nightmare: the emergence of a prime, compounded peer competitor, the Russia-China strategic partnership.

“Not here the darkness, in this twittering world” (T.S. Eliot, Burnt Norton).

An army of future Assanges awaits.

The post Empire’s Mask Slips at Julian Assange Trial first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Our Courts: The Sci-Fi Horror Show

These days, when I walk into the courthouse, after the intense security screening that includes forbidding public access, I am reminded of a Sci Fi horror show. I don’t recognize my home ground, my territory, my place of worship of Lady Justice. It is all gone. I cannot see faces because everyone wears a mask. I cannot smell, voices are muffled, and people are not talking to one another, but sitting on masking tape in the shape of a large X, six feet apart.

In less than four months, between March 23rd and mid-July of the cursed year 2020, criminal trials have become non-public—the public is not allowed in the courthouse unless you are a party on calendar or lawyer—in violation of the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.

All jurors wear masks and all witnesses wear masks—almost all, with some courts offering witnesses behind glass, their voices muffled and bouncing off the glass which reflects light obscuring their image, and the jurors do not sit in the jury box, but in the public section, six feet apart, all the way to the back of the courtroom, the farthest from the witness stand. In one courthouse in my county, jury trials are in a courtroom that has no jury box.

Do you remember the cowboy movies where the guys who robbed the stagecoaches always wore bandannas over their faces so no one would know who they were? Imagine being on trial and never seeing the faces of your accusers and those who will ultimately judge you.

The right to a speedy and public trial by a jury of one’s peers has disappeared in less than four months. All these changes to our justice system that has been the greatest criminal justice system in the world for 244 years were carefully crafted while we were living in isolated fear of the corona virus, or was that part of the pandemic plan? It seems somewhat like the PATRIOT Act, already written and waiting for the right time.

Someone told me this was “the new normal.”

“Never,” I replied.

Then, a few days ago, it got worse. It was 8:05 a.m. I went to the entry to the courthouse and was stopped by a uniformed deputy. Extending his arm as though blocking me, he said with great authority and force: “Wait!” Looking away from me, he continued speaking with a civilian who was obviously confused by the table with the two women who were trying to find her on calendar and taking her temperature. If she were not on calendar, she would be forbidden entry.

My client had already been to that table, and now stood behind me. He held a slip of paper that read: Department __, 10:30. That was two and a half hours away. I am always early, and the wait did not work for me. I got assertive and told the deputy and the ladies at the table that I was going in with my client, we were on calendar. The ladies said okay, and the deputy tensed, but did not speak. I felt his desire to engage me, but also his uncertainty. I’ve been around, and I was in no mood to have some rookie tell me what to do in a courthouse. I’m an Officer of the Court, for God’s sake—or so I think.

I wonder about the plan, and how it unfolded in such a short time. 244 years disappeared in less than four months. How did they do it? My dear friend and tattoo artist asked me:

“Do you think anyone imagined they could do it so quickly?”

Yesterday I told the Judge that I was waiting for a jury trial: “You know, like the ones we’ve done for two hundred and forty-four years.”

He wore a sad smile and said: “Good luck with that.”

I like that man, but I saw he meant it, and felt a deep sadness was residing in his soul, maybe even fear for what he knew, and that I obviously had not accepted. He was a relatively new Judge, previously a defense lawyer. He knew that I was facing something I did not understand, not if I expected to return to real jury trials.

The horror show is just beginning, and I’m too deeply involved in the ideas of the past, those short months ago that seem gone forever, and I cannot make the change, the transition from what has always been, to this thing they created and are daily changing for the worse.

Most of my clients waiting for trial are in custody. A basic right guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment is the right to a “speedy and public” trial. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of California has already issued orders that have extended their speedy trial rights a couple of times. Worse, there is absolutely no recognition that the right to a public trial is being denied. Who cares if the public cannot come in and let their presence be known in a court of law? The Founders knew that we needed to be able to be seen and felt in the courtroom, our eyes upon the judges and prosecutors and other lawyers, gauging whether they are performing honorably, knowing that dishonorable conduct is, sadly, a part of human nature that must be monitored. We all know the truth of this concept and see it in the division of powers—the checks and balances—in our Constitution. We cannot trust people with power and therefore demand that we be able to watch our governing process, including the courts. Some have suggested that they will set up YouTube viewing of court proceedings. None have acknowledged that all the witnesses will be allowed to view the proceeding prior to their testimony, another basic rule gone.

I asked one particularly stern deputy: “What is the most important thing in a criminal court?”

With a great and furious voice, he bellowed: “Public safety!”

I paused before I returned his answer with even greater force:

“No! It is to provide the Defendant with a fair trial!”

His face changed, and in his eyes I saw a hesitant glimmer of a memory no longer connected to the main frame, but somehow momentarily retrieved for a glimpse of that which was—then the light faded and died. He looked away, sullen, like a child who had been told, but would never submit to the truth of old. It was a new world, and he had his orders. I was no longer relevant.

Waiting for this madness to end became closer to hopeless yesterday when the Judge as much as told me, with his sad eyes and demeanor, that I was a dinosaur if I had expectations of a return to the world I have known, which I intimately shared and helped perpetuate, one where I knew what to do and how to do it, usually with tremendous success, but has become a relic, the quickly forgotten past that would likely never return.

I cannot be a voice crying in the wilderness, yet I cannot succumb to this thing they call a trial today. My clients are entitled to the real deal, not the horror show.

The post Our Courts: The Sci-Fi Horror Show first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Your Right to Your Opinion Ends with My Right to Might

No ruling class could survive if it wasn’t attentive to its own interest consciously trying to anticipate control/ initiate events at home & abroad both overtly & secretly.

The dirty truth is that many people find fascism to be not particularly horrible.

Michael Parenti, 1 POLITICS AND ISSUES, Fascism In a Pinstriped Suit, p. 32 – Dirty truths (1996), first edition

As a trauma-informed social worker (no, it’s not some buzzword or new age trend) who has worked in prisons, in closed homeless facilities, in memory care day programs, for teenager foster youth and adults living with developmental disabilities, as well as worked with veterans who are homeless (in a clean and sober facility) and with the basic human beings who find him or herself homeless in Portland on the streets in a tent, I understand the deep well of historical and familial baggage people have.

I understand we can either “make it” through childhood traumas with a modicum of sobriety when it comes to self-esteem, self-care, self-enlightenment or we just are in a constant stage or healing and rehealing (that’s true for most people I know, and myself, as well).

As I repeated many times to my daughter when she was growing up in El Paso and then Spokane (and she visited me in Seattle and Portland where I worked with the so-called down and out), when you see that toothless smile, the grime, the shaky hands holding up that sign, “Anything helps . . .  Please Help a Vietnam Veteran . . .  My Family Needs Money to Feed Themselves,” remember that that adult once was loved, coddled, and even cared for (even for a few moments in the hospital). That adult did not wake up one day in elementary school, when the teachers asked, “what do you want to be or do when you grow up?” and then responded: “I want to be addicted to pot and alcohol by age 12, meth by 17, heroin by 23 and then homeless at 25. I want to be put into the criminal justice system, have a long rap sheet, have my veins collapsed by age 36, my heart out of whack by age 40, constant headaches the rest of my life, shakes and delusions, and be carted off every month or two by an ambulance passed out with urine-soaked and shit-smeared pants.”

I recommended to her to be smart, to protect herself, to know her surroundings, but to treat these people – even the ones in the street yelling at voices and demons with their pants half down or completely naked from the waist down – as people who once, maybe for a short span of time, were honored/loved as children, as  babies, as gifts of the world, with people galvanizing so much hope and future and potential into the thin vulnerable surface of a baby.

Story after story, case after case, and you end up age 63, still writing, still teaching, still working in social services, and now, on the Oregon Coast, in an amazing ecosystem, but also held in a kind of captivity during this time of police killings, BLM protests, lockdowns, spiraling and spiraling numbers of people on the edge, with each new day producing another 500 people ready to be entered onto that statistical category – “One Pay Check Away from Eviction or Foreclosure” and “One Mental Health Crisis from Suicide.”

If it were just that simple. Eviction, or foreclosure, well, not good on the old credit record, but if the person has safety nets, people they call friends and family and compatriots, then a soft-landing might be in store with an eviction or loss of a job or foreclosure or mental health crisis.

Unfortunately, we have  a tendency to not want to admit failure after failure, our precarity after precarity and certainly we do not want to see that life in the USA is one thin ice episode after another. Fine one day, the next month bankrupt because of a cancer or chronic disease.  We want to have this thin gossamer of hope that tells us (deludes us) that there is a chance things will not only turn around, but that we will have learned from the hardships and will have benefitted from the all and that we will be better people after all those hardships and that we will not only survive but thrive after all those bad bad things happening to us.

Somehow people believe there are agencies and people and armies of volunteers in the ready to help. That is the big lie of dog-eat-dog capitalism. Odd.

George Lakoff used to harp on narrative framing, discussing why, say, a house painter or truck driver or warehouse forklift driver would even have any mental or logical reason to identify with someone like, say, George W. Bush. Yale, silver spoon, East Coast background, millions upon millions in the family coffer way before 1960, and now, in that era, just a regular kind of guy.

Nope – I knew many military men and women who did not suck Southern Comfort, sniff coke, womanize/manize, do no-shows (AWOL) in their Guard unit, and alas, attack every American left of his right wing mentality.

Really, I am not pulling this stuff out of thin air. I was a military dependent – Azores, Maryland, Albuquerque, Paris, France, Munich, Germany, Scotland, and then Arizona – who had a great life traveling throughout Europe and the UK and USA before I was 14. I knew hundreds upon hundreds of military men and women. War veterans (my old man, shot in Korea, shot in Vietnam, 31 years total Army and Air Force combined). I worked with a few World War I vets as a journalist in Arizona. Plenty of WWII vets, and of course, Vietnam vets.

I taught college-level writing and literature classes to military on an Air Force fire-fighting line, on a military post, and in an NCO Academy. Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Washington.

I ended up years later in Vietnam working as a journalist/biodiversity team member. I have met and been deeply connected with ex-military in Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Honduras.

Radical teacher, writer, activists, social services guy, and here I was, in 2018, working with down and out veterans who not only face homelessness, but PTSD, disabilities, trauma after trauma. Hands down, most of the thousands of military I worked with, then, supported my journalism, my writing, my teacher, albeit many were taken aback at my history with the military and my own familial history – grandfather who flew tri-planes for the German Navy in WWI, German uncles and relatives who were on the Russian front, Scottish and English uncles and relatives who were in submarines, on ships and as grunts in WWII.

Here’s an article I wrote for my column in Portland, for Street Roots, on that former Army medic, 75, pepper sprayed in Portland as a photographer. Story: Feds sprayed chemicals into the eyes of a retired ER nurse and veteran

There was a nanosecond or two where I considered attending West Point, and having a few ins there, I might have had a chance to get accepted. I understand the military, and that it is a blunt instrument, and that General Smedley Butler, who not only wrote War is a Racket, but broke up a business-influenced military coup attempt against FDR.

I’ve reported on cops as reporter on the so-called police beat for several daily newspapers. I have worked with Central American refugees, with prisoners and ex-prisoners, with seniors in a continuing education program, all with some sort of trauma and multiple traumas, including survivors of death squads in Guatemala, horrific injustices and rapes inside the wire, and a few Nazi death camp survivors.

Hands down, the idea for me is expression, self expression, working through (mostly not to the end of it) multiple adverse childhood traumas, and then those trauma inflicted through into adulthood. Perfectly fine 17 year old high school heavyweight wrestling champ, goes into the Marines, and comes back to Spokane, my student, completely obliterated emotionally as a man.

Battle of Fallujah, 18 years old, and three major areas of trauma – orders to flash lights twice, honk once, and if the person (civilian) is in the road, just mow over him or her. For my student, Jacob, that was a woman who looked like his grandmother, under the chassis of the Stryker vehicle, and as a private, he was ordered to “go find her fucking head and put it next to the body after we drag her worthless ass out from under the vehicle.” Imagine, taking a head, one that was just alive minutes before, to this headless body. A head that was more ways than one resembling his grandmother on his mom’s side, a Mexican granny.

Next, the battle field, Fallujah, and house to house, step-by-step combat, and again, Jacob and his cohorts (thousands and thousands over the years) told to shoot anyone left standing, sitting squatting. “If they fucking lift their hands and wave a white flag, better for you to get a clear shot . . . no worries about an AK-47 or hidden grenade.”

The last one of many traumas for Jacob happened on “Thanksgiving,” and he was on a mission to retrieve three dead buddies. They brought the cadavers back to base camp, and Jacob wanted to just crash in his cot – read, listen to music, sleep. “No way, soldier. This is Thanksgiving, and I want your ass in the mess pronto. We got President Bush coming in a live feed, and you will sit down and eat all this food shipped in and cooked by your fellow grunts.”

Oh, that, and the fact Jacob was amped up on amphetamines fed to the soldiers for long-duration battles, and the steroids they administered (ordered to take) as part of the battlefield triage – enough anabolic steroids in the body will allow for healing, no more bruised muscles, no more fagging out because of torn ligaments, bruised bones, bone spurs (how ironic, with Orange Menace Cadet Bone Spurs laughing all the way to his deferments).

And other some such stuff, like forced vaccinations and some odd duties in Afghanistan and UAE.

You can take the boy/young man away from the Middle East, but you can’t take the Battle of Fallujah out of the man. That sort of thing. Stuck in a community college class, five years later, and Jacob was up shit creek – how to relate to students, to faculty, to the assignments. I was one of his healers. I even got him in on a conference in Seattle – a first, really – as an undergraduate student talking about trauma and social justice as it dealt with his military trauma and indoctrination. He met David Zirin, the head speaker of the event.

Aho!

In reality, after working so long and hard at all these avocations and these gig jobs and part-time appointments and non-permanent full-time assignments – while still writing, still reporting, still organizing – I have a few lifetimes under my belt when it comes to trauma, people, war, injustice and the will to live.

In the end, though, the concept of expression and debate and 1st amendment principles goes North/South/East/West. No matter how much the idea of free speech is aspirational it certainly is not a reality in a society that forces people to be conscripted in K12, forces people to pee in a cup before employment (guilty/suspect first until proven innocent) and to undergo credit-real estate-background checks, to be hirable only after references are contacted and  work history verifiable. Think about how much free speech we have when we want to tell a cop he or she is part of a killer force. Try it, to their face. Try telling a DA or judge they are engaging in criminal injustice and arbitrary punishment. Try telling the supervisor that there is something wrong-dangerous-unethical about something in the company-corporation-factory. Try telling a governor that “to mask or not to mask” is not the way to tackle the pandemic, the SARS-CoV2, etc. and tens of millions out of work, near destitute.  Try going to work NOT wearing a mask. Try giving the thumbs down (or middle finger up) to a bunch of neo-Nazi’s or Proud Boys while the cops are protecting them. Free speech in universities? Come on, there are millions of incidents of faculty, students and others who were shunted away from any free speech or so-called academic freedom. Try telling the so-called progressive union you are working for the Jill Stein campaign when the union(s) endorsed Barack Obama in May before the election.

Having my free speech taken away or questioned is a sort of trauma I relive over and over and over.

We understand the censoring of free speech on social media. We understand the algorithms that wipe clean Google searches for many many topics. We know how we are just data fields for the masters of the universe, and that if we dare kick and scream or try and buck the system, we are then cobbled or kettled away from the so-called mainstream. Our money and land and minds will be seized. Free speech my ass.

Try not standing for the National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance (I have not stood since age 13, with all sorts of hell to pay). I’ve had sodas thrown at me and hotdogs tossed at my back in college stadiums. I have been yelled at in high school events. I was screamed at as a wrestler when I stayed on the mat. I was pulled from wrestling matches when I stayed on the mat during the bloody National Anthem.

No hat off during a star-spangled banner rendition. That gets people pissed off.

As a follower of many revolutionaries and thinkers outside the box, I can certainly get tied up in some contradictory thinking, and, alas, it is highly probable that we all need to embrace oppositional ideas (not just black v. white, but many views and slants and POV’s) to understand our own narrative contexts and how the world really works. Of course, the concept of thinking outside the box is almost impossible in a supra-colonized society like the USA, an oligarchy, and a war and imperial nation tied to the notion of Capital Trumping All. Free speech may have a lot of grounding in what are community standards of what is acceptable speech and what the culture may or may not tolerate (my belief is close to the ACLU’s in terms of protect hate speech – for), but in this predatory and parasitic capitalism, the boss and the bank and the brigadier general the blue line trump all.

Attempting to define one’s perspective outside the lines of corporate-financial-surveillence-taxation-penalizing-fining-tolling-penury constraints is more dangerous than yelling, All Black Lives Matter or ACAB – All Cops Are Bad/Bums/Bastards/Brutes/ETC.

I have been told as a college adjunct to not force (what is that?) students to read the Fight Club and to see a few clips from the movie as a discussion point about male identity and Dystopian thinking.  The idea is to give students in a state college alternatives  if they have a PG13 rule at home and if they deem anything offensive, anti-American, profane, violent. Or anti-Christian.

I have been told to not bring up so many political issues in my writing classes, that too many students are writing about climate change, GMOs, collapse of civilization, social justice/injustice, USA’s role in genocide, etc., etc. “Why don’t you just keep the reading list to things like The Shipping News or The House on Mango Street, if you want to deal with multiculturalism?”

Yep, free speech gives many many Americans headaches. Fine. But, to have to deal with a neighbor’s adult son, age 41 and, and a friend of his in his 30s, on a Saturday night while I am watching a film at 10:40 pm stripes away the very definition of not just what free speech denotates, but what trespassing and home invasion does to shunt free speech, or expression (as in putting up a sign on our property).

Here I am, in a small house, with a glass screen to shunt the Pacific winds, leading up to a two-step stoop to the front door. On the window, about six feet up, the above sign — around 12 by 18 inches. Notice it is an American flag as the background. Notice it is something many of you have seen, I am sure, posted in your own neighborhood. Not my pro-Antifa sign, my upside down American flag sign, or other such radical things. Simple and easy for a semi-liberal to understand.

So, two strapping fellows yank it off while the movie sound is not that high. Thinking there is some other noise-producing thing going on outside, like a raccoon in the garden or a cat on the car roof, I open the door and the sign is ripped down and the two lurking men are dashing away, less than 20 yards across the street, with the sign. I yell at them, sort of flabbergasted that they didn’t just drop the sign when I called them “you pieces of shit … what did you do?” Then, the one gentleman yells – “Call the fucking cops then . . . . hahaha.”

We are talking almost 11 pm, and my spouse was sleeping, and, well, I went outside, with the lights on, and had a flashlight, but the two bums slinked in this guy’s retired parents’ big ass two story home with all the lights off. I was willing to talk, really, as in mediate – “You two fucked up, so now return the sign.”

You see, in America, Free Speech is trumped by the Second Amendment. What do you do knocking on a door at 11 pm when the house has no lights on? In a real world, well, you knock on the door. In America, you know that a 9mm or shotgun could very easily greet you at the door, or just go through the door.

Trauma. Now, two stupid men with nothing else to do but to take this property down and steal it can’t fathom the world as it really is. Sure, they were probably drunk, inebriated. That’s what a lot of white guys, young and old, do down on the coast. Saturday night. A big moon. No wind. Drunk.

But again, the trauma that my wife had at age 21 really plays into this scenario. I would have had no problem on my own knocking on the door. I know I would have pointed my car’s headlights over at the doorway so there would be proof they could see me. I would have asked for the sign back. I would have stepped back off their stoop because in America, a man’s stoop is his castle.

You see, coming onto our fenced property (small yard) and then physically ripping down a sign is both invasion and theft. I heard the ripping sound twice, 20 minutes apart, and alas, so, it took them two attempts to pull OUR sign down, and that is also a form of stalking.

What about the trauma of people shits like this are triggering? What about the lack of values stealing a sign? I have told many a person that the Reagan hat or Bush hat or Clinton hat or Trump hat were insults to my intelligence. However, I said it calmly, and I knew they had a right to the stupid hats on their heads. Same with yard signs –Blue Lives Matter (bizarre and racist). If the gal or guy is out watering their weeds, I have told them that the sign is illogical and out of place. And then, if there is a discussion, great. If there is a “fuck you . . . fuck off” (which is usually the case), then I laugh and walk off, keeping an eye out for my back because the United Snakes of America has a history of back-shooting Native Americans, Blacks, Asians, Latinx, poor white people, women, Middle Eastern-looking humans.

A country imbued in “might makes right” will indeed incubate all manner of idiots, whether that be a college provost or president, or some Joe the Plumber making more than the college president putting in toilets and unclogging sewer lines.

So, the Lincoln County sheriff deputy is called Sunday morning. He takes down information. He makes a notation of the trauma this incident inflicted on my wife. We talk more before he goes over to the offenders’ house. It turns out the deputy had 14 years in US Army, and the last 5 years he was in the Seattle area working on a special task force and investigative unit on sexual crimes (rape) in the military.

He understands fear, trauma, and what some people might sense as an invasion of their home, their sense of safety and future engagement with these nutty neighbors. That’s how my spouse feels. And the deputy gets the “man thing,” that I am still not afraid of authority, or mock authority, or big man rules the roost authority. He knows I would be out there talking to them now, but the trauma on my spouse trumps all.

This family is an across-the-street neighbor.

So, now, ugly No Trespassing signs I’ve put up on the chain-link fence. I had to purchase and install an extra light for the front porch. That sort of crap. The deputy suggested a no stalking order requested by my spouse from a judge. In the end, the conversation with the dipshits across the way was not cooperative, the deputy said. The tall guy, one of the perps, said, “I have nothing to say.” The father hemmed and hawed, but they never admitted to it. The deputy said he told them in no uncertain terms there was no reason for any of them to be in our yard, let alone messing with our property, the sign.

While the deputy was cooperative with us and empathetic (I told him about my military experiences, my dad’s and such), the bottom line was that I did not have photographic or closed-circuit evidence, and alas, that’s the new normal. “I can’t make him cooperate, but I made it clear that there should be no trespassing onto your property.”

This is America – small town or big town. Some of the other neighbors talked to me about “the sheriff’s vehicle in your driveway . . . what’s up.” And, here in the USA, sometimes the information spigot is forceful – lots of information about the California son who did the rip-off with his male friend. “He has been there for two months and he just stays inside and drinks all day.” You know, trauma after trauma/after addiction after addiction. Another neighbor said the other son, this guy’s 39-year-old brother, well, they both look alike, and that guy has “been on and off the wagon for a year.”

Then, itchy fingers, and my spouse finds the old parents on line, on Facebook, and then one of the son’s as well, with amazingly hateful posts – “With all these logging trucks, they should go to Portland and just run over those scumbag protestors.” And then tons of likes and hearts on that post.

I am grounded, and always have been. Capitalism under the USA, NATO, most of Europe and Canada, well, these societies are war societies and war organizations with continuing criminal enterprises called banks. No matter how hard a small minority of folk tries to shed the war complex and the MIC, no matter how hard they attempt to be anti-war, anti-racist, anti-corporatist, the majority in this country (Not just MAGA) are flag wavers, believers in exceptionalism for the white race/culture and in this country, believers in the adage “the man/woman with the most things/money/power when they die are the best people on earth (or wins)”.

Know your enemy and know your debater. Know how people frame things, and know motivations, and understand/study the epigenetics of their lives, what agnotology is, and why someone like Gore Vidal might write a book titled, The United States of Amnesia.

I go to Christian Parenti for some framing and dicing of the system that is the world’s most horrific and terroristic —

Here, some riffs on free speech (does it really exist in the USA?) by the ACLU!

Finally, in 1969, in Brandenberg v. Ohio, the Supreme Court struck down the conviction of a Ku Klux Klan member, and established a new standard: Speech can be suppressed only if it is intended, and likely to produce, “imminent lawless action.” Otherwise, even speech that advocates violence is protected. The Brandenberg standard prevails today.

First Amendment protection is not limited to “pure speech” — books, newspapers, leaflets, and rallies. It also protects “symbolic speech” — nonverbal expression whose purpose is to communicate ideas. In its 1969 decision in Tinker v. Des Moines, the Court recognized the right of public school students to wear black armbands in protest of the Vietnam War. In 1989 (Texas v. Johnson) and again in 1990 (U.S. v. Eichman), the Court struck down government bans on “flag desecration.” Other examples of protected symbolic speech include works of art, T-shirt slogans, political buttons, music lyrics and theatrical performances.

In 1971, the publication of the “Pentagon Papers” by the New York Times brought the conflicting claims of free speech and national security to a head. The Pentagon Papers, a voluminous secret history and analysis of the country’s involvement in Vietnam, was leaked to the press. When the Times ignored the government’s demand that it cease publication, the stage was set for a Supreme Court decision. In the landmark U.S. v. New York Times case, the Court ruled that the government could not, through “prior restraint,” block publication of any material unless it could prove that it would “surely” result in “direct, immediate, and irreparable” harm to the nation. This the government failed to prove, and the public was given access to vital information about an issue of enormous importance.

It took nearly 200 years to establish firm constitutional limits on the government’s power to punish “seditious” and “subversive” speech. Many people suffered along the way, such as labor leader Eugene V. Debs, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison under the Espionage Act just for telling a rally of peaceful workers to realize they were “fit for something better than slavery and cannon fodder.” Or Sidney Street, jailed in 1969 for burning an American flag on a Harlem street corner to protest the shooting of civil rights figure James Meredith.

This is a propaganda poster of a Native American man claiming that 100 million of his people were slaughtered on their homeland by European colonizers. This picture reminds us that the Native Americans were almost completely killed off on their own land. I chose this pin because the same thing is happening to my people in Palestine and Gaza right now. It is important for us to remember events like this so that we do not make the same mistake again.

The post Your Right to Your Opinion Ends with My Right to Might first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Sentencing of Brenton Tarrant: Jailing the Man, not the Great Replacement

Brenton Tarrant was sentenced last week.  The Australian national who butchered, with relish, 51 individuals in Christchurch at Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre, found himself facing something unique in New Zealand: jail for life without parole.  He pleaded guilty to 51 charges of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder and one of terrorism.  He also faced a tsunami of victim impact statements – over 200 in all.

The High Court Justice Cameron Mander was not too willing to delve into the substance of Tarrant’s ideas that saw noxious fruition on March 15, 2019.  They constituted merely a “warped and malignant ideology” with moorings “in religious and ethnic antipathy and intolerance.”  What concerned him most was the method. “You slaughtered unarmed and defenceless people.”  Tarrant “maimed and wounded and crippled many others, your victims included the young, and the old, men, women and children.”

It is true enough.  Tarrant was unsparing, pitiless and relentless.  He had hoped to kill more worshippers, intending to strike a note of fear among “non-Europeans.”  He had also prepared for the slaughter well in advance, having undertaken a reconnaissance mission to Al Noor Mosque two months before, sending a drone to identify points of entry and exit.  Such readiness went back as far as 2017, when the Australian had settled in New Zealand with nefarious purpose.  “You came to this country to murder.”

The sentencing of Tarrant served a sequestering purpose.  According to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, “he deserves to be a lifetime of complete and utter silence.”  Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison echoed the sentiment.  “It is right that we will never see or hear from him ever again.”  New Zealand authorities are not merely content on keeping him in permanent incarceration on home soil.  They insist that he be returned to Australia.

No one got to receive a full airing of the mindset of Tarrant the ideologue, his own views about the inundation, expunging and racial deletion of white Christians at the hands of the followers of Allah.  There has, in fact, been a concerted effort across social media platforms and publications to expurgate and limit discussion on Tarrant’s cock-eyed view of the world, scribbled out in the rambling manifesto The Great Replacement.  The intention is to avoid the dissemination of hate and incitement; the consequence is its concealment, bowdlerising the views of a mass murderer and limiting its dangerously broader appeal.

The plagiarised title of Tarrant’s tract is itself loosely based on Renaud Camus’s self-published book of the same title from 2012, though Camus himself had little time for the methods of Tarrant, the efforts of “someone who had failed to understand my work.”  But had he?  Both Camus and Tarrant are, at first blush, striking juxtapositions: the former, an ardent, confessional homosexual aesthete and laureate of the Académie Française; the latter, a personal trainer from Grafton, New South Wales who had travelled to Europe on his father’s inheritance money to bear personal witness to immigrant “invasion”.

While not having the cast iron stomach for Tarrant’s bloodiness, Camus was delighted by the notoriety his ideas were getting.  As to whether he resented “the fact that people take notice of ethnic substitution that is in progress in my country?” he posed rhetorically to James McAuley writing for The Washington Post, he was unequivocal.  “No.  To the contrary.”

Tarrant’s language, as expressed in the manifesto, clings to the raft of European identity.  “The origins of my language is European, my culture is European, my political beliefs are European, my philosophical beliefs are European, my identity is European and, most importantly, my blood is European.”  He sees himself, incoherently and ramblingly, as “an Ethno-nationalist Eco-fascist.  Ethnic autonomy for all peoples with a focus on preservation of nature, and the natural order”.  He sees enemies everywhere: German chancellor Angela Merkel as “mother of all things anti-white and anti-Germanic”; Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as “the leader of one of the oldest enemies of our people, and the leader of the largest Islamic group within Europe.”

This streakily misguided, not to mention linguistically and culturally deluded reading, is something that finds voice across the White Supremacist family.  It made an appearance in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017 with chants of “Jews will not replace us.”  Ditto in October, 2018 at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, were 11 were slain by Robert Bowers claiming to be targeting those who “bring invaders in that kill our people.”  But Tarrant’s preferred target of hatred was not some fabled international Jewish conspiracy but Islam.

These are not the isolated mutterings of a noisy fringe.  They are also entertained by certain political leaders not averse to teasing out the race, culture and even religious card, if it advances a cause.  In Europe, Geert Wilders of the Netherlands’ far-right Freedom Party rallies with the cry that, “Our population is being replaced.  No more.”

The notion of a great replacement has found freight in the views of Hungary’s Viktor Orbán.  Orbán’s fear is demographic inundation by swarthy, non-Christian outsiders.  Christianity, he explained last September at the Third Demographic Summit in Budapest, needed to “regain its strength in Europe.”  Population decline was “a general European phenomenon” that arose from the First and Second World Wars, both of which he regards as “brutal civil wars”. To arrest such population decline by accepting non-Europeans would be “effectively … consenting to population replacement: to a process in which the European population is replaced.”

Such views are heartily shared by former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who wrote adoringly of Orbán last year as “the first European leader to cry ‘stop’ to the peaceful invasion of 2015 and is now trying to boost Hungary’s flagging birth rate.”  At the centre, then, of this cultural and racial cosmos lie a set of ideas that share a threat with Tarrant’s own form of murderous retribution.  They are all concerned with existential replacement.

The trial, however, left those watching it with a sense of simplicity: wickedness confined to the dock; victims seeking spiritual and emotional compensation through various forms of anger, sadness, forgiveness or lack of.  It was procedural, formulaic and decidedly clear: Tarrant had butchered and must pay the bill.  But there was little stomach for confronting his central contention, less than his method, which has found an audience not merely in the White Supremacist fold, but in public offices from Washington to Budapest.

Britain’s War on Truth and Dissent

A man is confined for seven years of his life to a diplomatic compound, fearing arrest for exposing some of the worst war crimes and financial misdoings of the past two decades, only to be stripped of his asylum status in a blatant mockery of international law before being locked away in a high security prison to await extradition and a possible life sentence. The press has obediently mounted a campaign to discredit the man, accusing him of every imaginable cardinal sin, and everyone who speaks out is accused of treachery.

To most of us, this sounds like a horror story from behind the Iron Curtain, some cartoonish portrayal of the Evil Empire whose citizens live a lie and where dissidents disappear without trace.

But this isn’t the Evil Empire, not according to Reagan at least. This is twenty-first century Britain, whose ancient democratic institutions lie at the heart of her national identity.

The man, needless to say, is Julian Assange who today pays the price for defying the institutional rot at the heart of Western governments; a rot we pretend does not exist.

Documents showing the medieval depravity that is Guantanamo Bay, details of a dirty multi-million dollar scheme to snatch up mining rights in the Central African Republic and, of course, Collateral Murder, the haunting video which shows Iraqi civilians being shot from an American helicopter while the pilots maniacally laugh at ‘these dead bastards’. Assange and Wikileaks revealed this and much more.

Those embarrassed by the revelations have chosen to defame him. They claim that Ecuador’s decision to revoke Assange’s asylum status had something to do with how he behaved in the embassy. They would have us believe that the British police spent £12.6 million to bring him to justice for – extremely dubious and now dismissed – allegations of rape in a country where sexual assault claims are routinely ignored by the authorities. They would accuse him of serving Russian interests, of being a spy and conspiring to hack into a government computer, even though Assange did nothing that would not have been done by any other investigative journalist.

His trial was inherently unfair from the outset with Assange deprived of vital legal documents and communications with his legal team apparently spied on by Spanish contractors for the CIA. The judge, Emma Arbuthnot, had a clear conflict of interest as her husband has previously been exposed by Wikileaks.

Since his incarceration at HM Prison Belmarsh he has reportedly lost 15 kilograms and shown signs of ‘full-fledged psychological torture’. His family fears that he will die in jail.

Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture who visited Assange at Belmarsh, went as far as saying, ‘In 20 years of work with victims of war, violence and political persecution I have never seen a group of democratic States ganging up to deliberately isolate, demonise and abuse a single individual for such a long time and with so little regard for human dignity and the rule of law.’ Yet even esteemed jurists like Melzer have faced torrents of abuse and intimidation for merely stating the obvious: speaking the truth to power – that is Assange’s crime.

If the extradition goes ahead it will violate current provisions that exempt political prisoners from being extradited. It will also create fundamental legal obstacles to investigative journalism, silencing those who expose the most abhorrent acts of government cruelty and greed.

Two years ago, the British Government narcissistically took the high ground over the apparent involvement of the Russian state in the attempted poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. It bears restating that Skripal was an ex-GRU agent who turned to work for the MI6 and blew the cover of 300 former comrades-in-arms. He was no dissident and no hero. And he certainly did serve foreign interests.

The event triggered among the largest expulsions of foreign diplomats in history and became a symbol of Russian authoritarianism and intolerance of dissent. The Russian government denied involvement and responded by expelling Western diplomats.

Yet today Britain conducts a show trial designed to crush a man who exposed atrocities and corrupt financial dealings, and to set an example for others. It does not even need to resort to covert measures – the public and the press don’t care.

Assange will be locked away and silenced for the rest of his life, while our governments continue to sow chaos and suffering across the world in our name.

88 Days of Hell for the Family Jewell

By the late-90s we must have sensed that the shit was hitting the fan. The fire at Waco. The Unabomber envelopes. The downing of Flight 800. The World Trade Center bombing. Blowjobs in the White House. Oklahoma City. Tokyo’s subway sarin attack. The Khobar Towers bombing blamed on bin Laden. The ascent of Atlanta’s radio jockstrap Sean Hannity to national status on Roger Ailes’ newly established Fox News Network. OJ taking off the gloves. Rodney King wondering if we could all just get along. Cruise missiles on Bosnia on the eve of Clinton’s impeachment for blowjobs. Distracted from distraction by distraction, as T.S. Eliot famously put it, years before Karl Rove’s prosaic promise to fuck with reality-based thinking in the wake of 9/11.

As if America didn’t have enough problems, a foot soldier in the Army of God was afoot in the wee hours of July 27, 1996 at Centennial Park in Atlanta, where the Olympics were winding up for the night. Eric Rudolph, formerly of the Army of Exceptionalism — he’d been a special ops soldier in the Airborne 101 — was strolling near some benches behind the park, wearing a green backpack. There were dozens of people milling about. Rudolph sat on a bench and surreptitiously opened his backpack and set a timer on a huge bomb and placed the pack under the bench, then walked away hurriedly. No one saw him.

Rudolph rushed to a phone bank outside a Days Inn a couple of blocks away from the park and called in the bomb threat to 911. He used a plastic device to disguise his voice, and then, according to Kent Alexander’s account in the recently released book, The Suspect, the following took place: Rudolph said, “‘We defy the order of the militia …’ Click. The line went dead. The 911 operator had disconnected him.” Disconcerted at not being taken seriously, Rudolph called back, disguising his voice by pinching his nose, and said: “‘There is a bomb in Centennial Park. You have thirty minutes.’ He hung up. The call lasted thirteen seconds.” Confusion followed, with the 911 operator unable to find the Olympic Park address. Transcripts show insufficient urgency followed:

Dispatcher:  Zone 5.

911 Operator:  You know the address to Centennial Park?

Dispatcher:  Girl, don’t ask me to lie to you.

911 Operator:  I tried to call ACC, but ain’t nobody answering the phone … but I just got this man called talking about there’s a bomb set to go off in thirty minutes in Centennial Park.

Dispatcher:  Oh Lord, child. Uh, OK, wait a minute. Centennial Park, you put it in and it won’t go in?

911 Operator:  No, unless I’m spelling Centennial wrong. How are we spelling Centennial?

Dispatcher:  C-E-N-T-E-N-N-I—how do you spell Centennial?

911 Operator:  I’m spelling it right, it ain’t taking.

Valuable time expired, and the bomb squad, when they were finally called to the scene, had insufficient time to properly clear the area before the bomb went off.

At the start of Clint Eastwood’s latest film, Richard Jewell, the title character is followed by the director as he makes his rounds as an AT&T security guard outside a busy Centennial Park. Goofy and overstuffed, he is immediately seen as an oddball. Offering water to a pregnant woman in such a way that, though thanking him for it, she eyeballs him suspiciously. He confronts a group of drinking teens who diss him. On his way to get help, he sees the bomb under the bench. He asks passersby if the pack belongs to them. Alarmed, he alerts the assigned police crew, urging them to take action immediately, seemingly certain the pack is loaded. Bystanders are pushed to safety by Jewell, and others, when the bomb booms.

Paul Walter Hauser plays the complex character of Jewell, who’s not as dumb as he looks (or sometimes acts), and who gets caught up in a media frenzy that is fuelled by the wild speculation of a misinformed newspaper reporter, played by Olivia Wilde, and the entrapping tactics of the FBI — John Hamm playing the principle scofflaw fed. As the world comes at Jewell like a viral contagion, annihilating his privacy and reputation, he is buoyed up by his mother, played by Kathy Bates (in an Oscar-nominated supporting role) and Sam Rockwell as Watson Bryant, his lawyer and friend.

There’s been considerable controversy over the film’s depiction of the newspaper reporter from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC), Kathy Scruggs, played by Olivia Wilde. Eastwood has taken heat for her depiction, but he didn’t write the screenplay. The script is based upon Marie Brenner’s Vanity Fair article, “American Nightmare: The Ballad of Richard Jewell,” and The Suspect, Alexander and Selwen’s account of the bombing and its aftermath — including police investigations and news reporting.  Only the latter sets up the scene where Scruggs allegedly received the confirmation from police that Richard Jewell was the primary suspect.

In The Suspect, Scruggs meets up with her source (unrevealed) at a bar — “someone she had known over the years. The source was about as plugged in as it got. She got down to business.” She was seated across from her source, and there was no hanky-panky:

The meeting was strictly off the record—that was understood. They ordered drinks, made small talk. After a few minutes, Scruggs asked the question. Are there any new suspects? Yes, the reply came back. One. “It’s Richard Jewell.” Scruggs’s heart pounded. Bingo. Jewell, the hero. Until now.”

To this day, this source is unknown, although Alexander and Selwen drop a couple of insinuating names in a couple of places.

Compare the Suspect scene above with the screenplay version (45-6) written by Billy Ray.  In Ray’s account, Scruggs comes across as an eager beaver, who’ll do anything to get the scoop. Here’s how she’s depicted in the film:

Kathy:

I wouldn’t run it unless I had independent corroboration from a second source. That would put us in a different zone, as you know. (her hand drifting) Tom. You’re about to burst.

She leans in — that open blouse. He’s hard as an anvil.

Shaw:

First time in my life I ever wished I was gay.

Kathy smiles… then Shaw gives it up:

Shaw:

The Bureau’s looking at the security guard. Jewell.

WHOA. Kathy freezes. Did I hear that wrong? Nope.  Trying to calm herself, she takes out her notepad.

The scene’s sexual banter is significantly longer in the film. There’s no question that it makes Scruggs look sleazy.  But it’s also a condensed, slightly spiced up sum of all parts which Alexander and Selwel suggest throughout The Suspect. Is it Eastwood’s role to change a script for fairness to perceived reality?  While Richard Jewell is based on actual events, Eastwood never pretends that his movie is “journalistic,” the way Katherine Bigelow did for Zero Dark Thirty. Did Scruggs sleep with cops to get information? The film says Yes, and The Suspect says Maybe (with a wink).

But Marie Brenner, in her Vanity Fair piece, “American Nightmare: The Ballad of Richard Jewell,” draws attention to a far more damaging assault on Scruggs’ reputation — the question of attribution in her story on Jewell and her reliance on ‘Voice of God’ journalism.  Her lede reads:

The security guard who first alerted police to the pipe bomb that exploded in Centennial Olympic Park is the focus of the federal investigation into the incident that resulted in two deaths and injured more than 100.

Well, says who? Further defamatory sentences follow (here is the article) — without any attribution at all. It’s the Voice of God at work. Ironically, VOG was AJC’s rule: they’d “essentially banned” the expression “sources said” because readers might believe a quote was “fabricated.”

Brenner opens up the possibility that there was no source, per se, at all. And this line is taken further by Alexander and Selwen when they allude to the 1984 LA Olympics Turkish Bus bomb — planted by the ‘heroic’ officer who found the bomb. It may be, The Suspect suggests, that Scruggs had been given the hero-bomb anecdote and ran with it, in her passion to be the one who broke the story. Alexander and Selwen cite previous admonishments: “She was so eager to run with what trusted sources disclosed to her that editors often had to slow her down until she got more corroborating details.” Maybe there was no secondary corroboration.

The worst thing of all is that Jewell didn’t find out that he was a suspect until the AJC piece broke and went wild across the local and national airwaves. Overnight he went from a profile in courage to the profile of a loser — and, if he was imitating the LA ‘bomb hero, not particularly original either. None of it makes Scruggs look good as a reporter. But the AJC, believes the film has gone too far in portraying her as a quid pro quo “floozy,” and in “The Ballad of Kathy Scruggs,” Jennifer Brett complains that the harsh appraisal of Scruggs’ journalism is not balanced. She cites Scruggs’s brother, Lewis, who recalls, “… She was proud the FBI called her about Jewell. She was proud of the way she reported it to begin with.” But she shouldn’t have been proud.

The FBI did a disgraceful job handling the bombing, starting with director Louis Freeh, who micromanaged the investigation, and may have pushed the notion that Jewell be regarded as the prime suspect to his underlings in Atlanta — suspicions drawn from false profiling. It continued with the leak to Scruggs. But the most despicable thing they did was their attempt to entrap Jewell in a fake interview during which they hoped to extract information that ‘only the bomber could know.’ Jewell caught on, called a lawyer, and sought solace and protection behind his forceful and articulate mother, Bobi (played by Kathy Bates). Eventually the FBI conducted an internal investigation of their handling of Jewell, although the FBI later admitted, “We never went after the leak.”

Ultimately, it may be that it was FBI director Louis Freeh’s actions that were under-scrutinized in the half-assed investigation that followed. In The Suspect, Alexander and Selwen make clear that Freeh was calling the shots from Washington, and that he may have pushed the ‘bomb hero’ scenario on the Behavioral Science Unit (BSU) of the agency, forcing them to push out a false profile — without independently gathered evidence. Scruggs used their “lone bomber” profile, even though she should have known that Jewell couldn’t have been at the scene and making phone calls up the road — at the same time. He would have needed an accomplice, negating the “lone bomber” theory.

Richard Jewell might have perished emotionally or even have ended up imprisoned for the bombing, if not for his mother’s courage and ability to sway the media, as well as Watson Bryant, his lawyer, who is there when Jewell needs him, yanking back the naive and over-talkative suspect from FBI entrapment. Everyone seemed to be coming at him in his 88 day ordeal, before he was cleared. Not only was there the usual swarming rush to judgement, stoked by the sensationalist media, but he was viciously turned on, suddenly going from hero to goat. NBC Late Show host Jay Leno, was particularly horrid, referring to Jewell as “Una-doofus,” while he was a suspect, and calling him later, after he was cleared, “white trash.”

In the end, as we all know now, Eric Rudolph was arrested almost seven years later, for bombing a gay bar and two abortion clinics. In a plea bargain deal, he also copped to the Olympic Park bombing. Rudolph, an ex 101st Airborne special ops soldier, was a survivalist who went on the lam for five years after the Centennial bombing. He claimed that he was motivated in his bombings by hatred of gays, abortion, and general government over-reach. He fit the profile of a “lone bomber”.

Back in Jennifer Brett’s recent AJC piece, “The Ballad of Kathy Scruggs,” which seeks to correct the image presented of the reporter in the Clint Eastwood film, a friend, Tony Kiss, defends Scruggs, “She was never at peace or at rest with this story. It haunted her until her last breath,” Kiss said. “It crushed her like a junebug on the sidewalk.”

It’s ironic that both Jewell and Scruggs had a thing for cops — and in both cases they were let down, at great cost to their lives and reputations. The event produced a convergence of ill-will and evil rarely seen:  media manipulations, police corruption, political and social reactionaries, insensitive Late Show jokes, a Christian terrorist who likes to blow people to Kingdom Come, frenzy and sensationalism.

Neither ever recovered. Jewell died aged 44; Scruggs died at 43.

Police Violence: the Tip of an Iceberg

It could be that the ongoing gratuitous murders by police across America are not mistakes but part of a program of terror and fear to control, to maintain unjust apportionment of power, resources, money, in the hands of a few. As the need rises, more people of color are cut in to positions of power to control others. But as the presidency of Barrack Obama suggests, buying off minorities with models of success is not a solution. simply a broadening of the power base of unjust controls.

These are controls which have historically furthered white supremacy at the expense of non-whites. From the perspective of genocide prevention, at what point does the society’s service to white power slip into an attempt to eradicate non-white communities? At what point does life for non-whites become unbearable? At what point do random police murders of black people become a program indicating the risk of genocide?

One indication of when the majority group in a society crosses the line to subjugate, oppress, enslave, destroy a minority group is available in awareness of the society’s political prisoners. These reflect the system’s targeted groups. When any prisoner is imprisoned for political reasons on false charges, the prisoner becomes a political prisoner, and the system acts criminally. At what point will a country’s law betray itself in order to keep its power elite in power?

What happened to George Floyd and Eric Garner and Michael Brown, weren’t isolated cases but representative of thousands of people the country’s middle classes haven’t heard of but who form a norm of expectation for minorities throughout the country. Whatever color, the victims are usually poor people.

They often have disabilities. Law enforcement seems unable to cope with mental disabilities or people with medical conditions, appropriately.

Poor white people are not spared police violence unless they are part of the right wing, inevitably racist law enforcement infra-structure.

Any death caused by police is unnecessary. U.S. Police are not trained to wound rather than kill, if under threat. They are trained or programmed to kill as part of a psychological control of the people by fear.

This could be noted as state terrorism. Police violence simply acts out the controls of society. Their acts are metaphors for the functioning of society, for job markets, for chances of advancement at work, for the prevailing ethic in law enforcement or how the military is used. Police murders as an aspect of nation-wide training programs are simply naked assertions of injustice applied to people who have committed crimes or haven’t. The murdered represent the visible tip of an iceberg, raw facts, in policies of law enforcement. Question: if the man on the street is vulnerable to being murdered by rank and file police officers, what’s in store for community leaders protecting their people?

Under COINTELPRO of last century’s 50s through 70s, extremes of injustice were applied to Black community leaders in particular, who then became political prisoners. In 2020 some are still in prison. Due to state programs which targeted them for prosecution and disappearance, it would be hard to prove they are not innocent. The Black Panthers was a community support group. Panther leaders tried to protect their communities from ignorance, poverty and drugs. Protesting racist injustice they were the object of government warfare.

The murder of George Floyd is representative of the justice dealt even leaders of the U.S. Black community historically. These aren’t simply the murders of high profile people such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. or Malcom X, or the rank and file murders of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, but the “night and fog” operations against men and women who have been hidden away in the U.S. prison system for life.

Among these the case of Imam Jamil Al-Amin whom the reader might know as the former H. Rap Brown, has seemed the most hopeless, because it is so clearly a result of the system’s oppression, corrupt law enforcement, and the convenience of the FBI. Local law enforcement was collaborative, and the prosecution and judiciary assumed a stance of naivete with regards to Federal attempts to take Al-Amin out of commission. Al Amin’s targeting by the FBI’s COINTELPRO was very much part of the case but entirely ignored in court papers. It is likely he was under surveillance for most of his adult life. The multi-racial (and probably Christian) jury that convicted him was not introduced to the government crimes of COINTELPRO. In court It would repeatedly watch Al-Amin not rise, as required by his religion, when the judge entered. He was a Muslim. It was six months after the World Trade Center’s destruction. After conviction he was moved to a supermax prison far from home, visits and affect on his Georgia community, and he was placed in solitary. The extra-judicial punishment was applied why ? For being intellectually a revolutionary? An anti-drug community leader? A convert to Islam? For his strong faith and eloquence? For not being white?

I first noted Imam Jamil Al-Amin‘s conviction and imprisonment in 2004. He was convicted on March 9, 2002. Time has only made his innocence and the mechanism of his false conviction, more clear. Finally a video is available of Otis Jackson’s confession to the murder of one policeman and wounding of an other, the principle crimes Imam Jamil was convicted of: “The Confession – My Name Is James Santos aka Otis Jackson (We Demand A Retrial For Imam Jamil)” (May 1, 2020). The video must be viewed- Jackson’s description fits fairly closely the description of the killer provided by witnesses to the killing, Imam Al-Amin’s does not. Request for a re-trial was refused. Recently a mechanism to explore cases where there have been possible miscarriages of justice has commenced in Fulton County, and through it the Imam’s support group has renewed hope he’ll be freed. He is one of many U.S. political prisoners who has contracted cancer in prison. I recommend a short video of Al-Amin’s address to the International Islamic Unity Conference in 1996. “Stop the Violence – Imam Jamil el-Amin, Imam of Community Masjid of Atlanta,” which starts, I seek refuge in the law from misleading and from being misled, from betraying and from being betrayed into ignorance by others. I ask Allah to guide my heart and to guide my tongue…

They took his normal life away with his freedom. To extend our understanding of parallel murders by police we are faced with instance after instance of unjustifiable homicide against a U.S. racial minority: George Floyd, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Laquan McDonald, Matiana Jefferson, Aura Rosser, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, Jamar Clark, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Stephon Clark, Botham Jean, Breonna Taylor, Michelle Cusseaux, Janisha Fonville, Akai Gurley, Gabriella Nevarez, Tanisha Anderson, and others represent some of the Black victims. This is a specific listing of a practice by southern police which did not end with the 1964 Mississippi murders of Schwerner, Goodman and Chaney. Mapping Police Violence points out that from 2013 through 2019 police killed 7,666 people in the U.S.. 28% were ‘Black people,’ who were three times as likely to be victims of police murder.

However, a great many people killed by police were not Black people. I’ve found no statistical comparisons available to compare the number of police murders of Black people to police murders of poor whites, Asians or Hispanics, but at a terrible cost to the black community the essential point is now made.

Returning to a concern with the Convention on Genocide, the ongoing long standing risk to America’s Black community is multiplied by the risk to the Hispanic community, Asian community, Arab community, Muslim community, Jewish community, LGBT community, radical left community, in other words the risk to any discernible U.S. minority whether recognized by the Convention on Genocide or not. The Convention offers individual groups a tool to fight and prosecute State oppression, domestically but given the reluctance of North American lawyers to address the government under the Convention, internationally as well.

The poor are at risk, whatever ethnic racial or religious group they are part of. The enemy of the poor is much greater than the police who are simply telegraphing society’s intentions. As each group counters the system’s aggression in the future, the mutual support of each other group by all groups is necessary. The divisions by any prejudice or bias between groups can destroy humanity.