Chaining Democracy

The United Police States of America:
Chaining Democracy

While the leaders of the Eurozone governments continue to force austerity and privatization on its member states at the direction of the IMF and Washington, and while protesters are being gunned down in the streets of the Middle East, it is evident that a war is being waged against democracy across the globe.  Whether it is Greece and Italy, whose governments are

Protests against austerity in Greece, have resulted in a police crackdown and political turmoil in Greece.

ruled by unelected economists and bankers, or it is Egypt, whose military refuses to release its grip on control, democracy is being denied.  As we have so clearly learned in the past few months, the United States is no different.  The 1% has no interest in our freedoms and no plans to relinquish control of our government.  As has been evidenced repeatedly, the government of this country is practicing what it has preached in other countries throughout our tarnished, shameful history of supporting oppression.  The United States has a well documented history of installing illegitimate regimes that allow for the complete transformation economies into disastrous ‘free market’ beasts that socialize debt to the people via taxation and austerity measures while reaping gluttonous profits from the privatization of everything, from education to the post office to the mines and oil fields to the labor force.  This has been the means of conquest since the late 1960’s, as it became

Protests in Chile against their broken education system. Education was privatized in the 1970's by the decisions of US economists who advised Pinochet's government after the bloody coup which left the duly elected government dead and a dictator in power. Chile has yet to recover.

necessary during the Cold War to develop more subtle methods of warfare.  Our government mastered these techniques and with them, have brought most of the world under the combination of the debt weapon and the police state.

Here in the United States, we have seen a slow erosion of our rights and liberties.  It has come in ways that have been largely unnoticed through the legislative process.  Passing laws that require permits for protests is unconstitutional, as I’m pretty sure Jefferson, Franklin, Washington and the rest didn’t intend for me to have to seek permission to speak my mind.  Yet it is with these Gossamer threads that they first begin to restrict democracy, instilling in the population the idea that they ‘must’ have a permit.

The Patriot Act has ushered in a decade of unequaled attacks on the freedoms and liberties of American citizens. Recently, there has been a wave of legislation designed to narrow and restrict the rights of Americans. This includes everything from harsh anti-immigration legislation to a campaign to disenfranchise millions of Americans by restricting who can vote.

Other attacks on our liberties have been less subtle.  The Patriot Act dropped like a lead curtain in the early days after September 11.  It came down with such chilling speed, one cannot help but wonder how long it had been waiting in the wings for the right opportunity to enact it.  With it, the government broadly expanded the use of domestic spying while shrinking our rights to and expectations of, privacy.  The result is a government who can, simply by declaring you a threat, have a private ‘security contractor’ go into your email and web history to see everything you’ve been doing.  They can listen in on your conversations, read your personal texts and track your movements.  The Patriot Act seems to have been developed not to keep us safe from an over-hyped enemy, but to be used as a tool with which to monitor and crackdown on dissent.  If you doubt that, take a look on top of the stoplights next time you drive through Osage Beach or Camdenton.  Look at the cameras there.  They aren’t ‘red light’ cameras, those were found unconstitutional by the Missouri Supreme Court.  Tell me why they are there.

Tear gas and a more potent chemical that appears to attack the nervous and respiratory systems, have been unleashed in five days of bloody crackdowns against peaceful protesters that have seen dozens killed and thousands injured by police using weapons provided by the United States.

The coordinated efforts to silence the press has also been tried in the regimes we have supported abroad and, as Egypt and Yemen and the rest of the Arab Spring has shown us, it is having the opposite of the desired effect.  The police here are making obvious their intent to restrict members of our media from covering their handling of protesters.  While we see Egypt, Syria, Bahrain and Yemen in the news, it is hard to make an argument for allowing the police to hide their actions against protesters in this country.  It is unconstitutional, it is being directed by our government, and it is traditionally followed with increasing brutality, if the people do not resist this behavior and decry its use.

Currently, Congress who have failed the 99% so spectacularly, seem to have figured out how to pass a law that will allow them to shut down social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and for that matter, ANY internet site it deems to be infringing on ‘intellectual property’ rights (yes, it’s intentionally vague).  That’s right, shut down.  As in, turn off.  Can you imagine how handy that will be when, say, the NYPD are ordered to evict Zuccotti Park again?  Turn off social media sites temporarily under the

Officers of the NYPD show an enthusiasm for dealing violently with peaceful protesters and reporters during the Occupy movement.

guise of files being illegally shared or some other violation of ‘piracy’ laws they could invent as a reason to throw the switch.  China’s police state has total control over its internet, for example.  See how handy that tool is?  Remember, the San Francisco Bart Transit Police already shut off cell phone access during a protest in order to disrupt communication and transmission of video earlier this year.  They are working to pass the SOPA act through the House and its partner the IP Act in the Senate.  This will then give the government complete control over what we see, read, who we talk to and how we talk to them.

As we are witnessing increasing hostility on the side of the police toward protesters, we cannot ignore the chains that appear to have been slipped around our own democracy.  We are seeing a coordinated effort by the 1% who control our government to silence the voices of the rest of us.  They are threatened by what it is we have to say.  We are beginning to rise from our slumber as we see our brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, pepper sprayed on a college campus and we feel the

Dorli Rainey, 84, victim of pepper spraying at the hands of Seattle Police during a series of crackdowns across the country orchestrated by the Federal Government.

tug of the chains they have given us and hear the lies they tell us to make it ok.  We hear them say somehow the kids deserved it.  Just like the old lady, I suppose.  The pregnant woman too, and all the rest.

We are waking from our lethargy as we see Egypt back on the news, their citizens victims of a massacre, shot dead in the streets by the military rule our government supports.  We feel again the strain of their chains on our democracy as a cold certainty begins to dawn in us.  If they support it there…

One link at a time, one lie at a time, their chains are giving way.

The United Police States of America: The Media

The United Police States of America:
The Media

The United States government has begun a campaign against the media

nashville reporter arrested

Nashville reporter Jonathan Meador was arrested while trying to cover Occupy protests. He joins a significant list of members of the media to have been arrested during Occupy coverage.

and its members.  This campaign has been designed and executed at the direction of the federal government of the United States and is being run against our free press in an effort to hide coverage of police attacking Occupy protesters.  This ‘media blackout’, which has on numerous occasions during raids, evictions and police actions, been invoked to create a perimeter that restricts members of the press from covering these events for their own ‘safety’.
Last week, amidst increasing pressure in Oakland and two resignations of her staff in support of the protesters, Mayor Jean Quan admitted to taking part in a conference call with mayors of eighteen different cities.  This call, and the uniformity of action by police around the country, was directed by the US government against its own people and the media.  An unnamed Justice Dept official has come forward to say Justice, the FBI and Homeland Security were all involved in the coordination of police actions against protesters and the media.

Scott Olsen, injured in clash with Oakland police. This, along with repeated violent actions against protesters by police, caused two of Mayor Quan's staff to resign in protest and have led to human rights groups beginning to question US tactics toward protesters and the press.

During Thursday’s International Day of Action that celebrated the two month anniversary of the Occupy movement, twenty-six members of the press were arrested.  Some were beaten by police. Others had credentials and equipment ripped away while they were wrestled into zip cuffs and thrown into vans along with the protesters they were there to cover.  The arrests and violence suffered by these and other journalists and protesters have caused some human rights groups to begin to caution against the path the US government appears to be taking in handling the press.
If arresting the press to prevent them from covering a state crackdown on demonstrators sound a little too much like Egypt or Syria to you, there is a reason.  You can’t have an effective police state without exercising control over the media.  Whether it is through money, influence and corruption that guides an editor’s hand or the crack of a baton over a reporter’s head on the street, control must be in place and it must be guided by an iron fist.  If they cannot control and intimidate the media, the police state cannot exist.  People, when able to express their own ideas and have their own voices heard through the media, dictate that the compass that navigates coverage points to True North.  It is those enemies of the truth, those who profit and reap benefit from obscuring the facts, that will go to great lengths to maintain their fragile hold on control over our media.  Without it, the illusion they present us, already nearly impossible to maintain, will fall completely away.
As the unconstitutional ‘super committee’ admits defeat and American Austerity comes via a wave of cuts to our social safety nets due to ‘automatic triggers’, one thing is absolutely clear.  The Occupy movement is not going anywhere.  It will only grow as with each passing day, it becomes harder and harder to hide the truth.
In this nation’s earliest days, when small communities of people rose together and began to organize against those powers that be, when the value of a free press was fully realized, understood and cherished for what it is and the role it serves.  The free press is a shield against oppression and a sword against injustice. It is the ‘people’s mic’ through which all viewpoints should be explored and expressed without fear or shame of consequences.  It is our armor against tyranny, even if, especially if, it rears its ugly head here in our home.
Makes me think of a little joke:
‘How do you know when you are in a police state?’
‘I dunno, how?’
‘When they show people getting beaten on the nightly news and anchors smile while they dismiss it.’
It doesn’t take long to surmise, when you start seeing them resort to physical violence and arrests against reporters and media blackouts with government oversight and coordination, what comes next.  Just turn on the news, while we still have it, and look.  Or better yet, crack a history book.  Our closet is full of skeletons of oppressive regimes, installed by, trained by, and funded by the United States government.  Most were installed in order to serve the needs of corporate America, in one fashion or another.  You can see the familiar path they are taking us down.
If they are able to do this to our media without resistance, they will not stop.  They will continue until the media loses the will to do their duty.  It is our responsibility as citizens to stand along side those unafraid to speak truth to power.  Our free media must and will be, defended.  They cannot take these rights, no matter how urgent their rush to do so.  These are our heritage, our birthrights.  We shall not forsake them, nor those who practice their rights peacefully.  We shall not forsake those who serve us in giving us reports of the world, so we might have a better, broader understanding of it.
We must unite and protect one another.  The press must protect the people

Occupiers showing solidarity with the free press in the face of increasing brutality.

while we in turn, protect the press.  As Egypt has shown, we must be in this for the long haul.

The United Police States of America

The United Police States of America

Over the weekend, Egyptians took to Tahrir Square once again in an effort to end the oppressive rule of their military leaders, so that the people can elect and install their own government.  As they have begun their renewed non-violent, peaceful protest in the Square, it is impossible not to look at our own protests, and our own police, and draw parallels.

Police once again bear down on protesters

Police once again bear down on protesters, as the military refuses to cede control to the citizens.

Protests that began during the weekend saw Egyptians being subject to horrific, violent attacks that are becoming commonplace on the citizens here.  They were shot at, with rubberized bullets.  Reports of the police shooting at the heads of victims with these ‘non-lethal’ rounds are the norm and several protesters have lost eyes.  They were beaten with batons.  Vehicles carried the stormtroopers into the protesters.  Tear gas canisters were fired on crowds, bearing the familiar marking ‘Made in the U.S.A.’.  It is difficult to decide which is more sobering, the numbers (three dead and between 600-700 injured, some quite seriously) coming out of Egypt or the fact that the scene looks so much like Oakland, Seattle, UC Davis and New York.

Oakland Police move in

Oakland Police, preparing to confront protesters. Later that night, they would viciously injure a young war Veteran.

Consider the sheer numbers in the first two months of the Occupy movements.  There have been 4619 arrests, as of early Sunday morning, with the numbers climbing as this sees print.  Occupy Oakland’s new camp is being raided as I’m sipping my coffee and Occupy Minnesota, who has engaged in a campaign along with other Occupations around the country in an action called #occupyhomes to protect families from being evicted by bank foreclosures, is seeing arrests as police move into one of those homes.  At the rate of 4619 arrests for dissent every two months, the United States is well ahead of the pace set by Egypt’s police state, which has seen more than 12,000 arrests since Mubarak was forced out of office nine months ago.

What is happening is impossible to hide, though they are trying mightily to keep this oppression stifled, to beat and spray the movement into submission, to ignore it and wish it away.  These tactics, obviously can not and will not, work any better here than in Egypt.  In this country, we have fought the overlords of tyranny before and our forefathers saw to it to arm us with rights that leave us well prepared to rise up in liberty’s defense.

The past decades have seen a slow erosion of our liberties and a legislative plan initiated to restrict where and when we can practice them.  This infringement on the Constitutional rights of American citizens has spawned an immense new profit center for the military industrial complex as they turn to surveillance technology and outfitting the para-military police force.  They have a vested, bottom line interest in ensuring the machinery of the police state remain intact in all countries sponsored by the United States.  If you don’t believe me, grab a map.

Saudi Arabia is a brutally oppressive country.  It’s notorious reputation is well known and it was no surprise that most of those involved in the September 11 plot were from the kingdom.

Bahrain, home of the United States Navy’s Fifth Fleet is no different.  Because of the obvious and extensive ties between the US and Bahrain, there has been precious little coverage of the brutal crackdown its citizens are facing in their fight for democracy.  Doctors have been sent to prison there by the government for treating the wounds of protesters.

Yemen is another example, this one different in that the US has continued drone raids inside the country’s borders, assassinating American citizens, including a 16 year-old boy born in Denver, while protests have swelled in the streets.  The United States is curiously silent on the regime’s refusal to cede power there, as violence against the citizens has increased.  The army is openly firing live ammunition on the citizens, even after a recent visit from this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner, Yemeni activist Tawakkul Karman to the floor of the UN.

Italy used tear gas on protesters last month outside their parliament while voting austerity measures onto the population.  Crackdowns occurred in Greece and Spain throughout the year, as their citizens are being forced into austerity.  It is happening in the UK, where police crushed demonstrations earlier this year with an overwhelming show of force, flooding the streets with some 16,000 police, leading with their riot shields and billy clubs.

Here at home, it is becoming increasingly apparent that those in the Federal

bloody arrest

Victim of the police during Thursday's nonviolent International Day of Action in New York.

Government are orchestrating brutal police crackdowns, media blackouts and usurping our rights in order to silence the 99%.  They have repeatedly and violently attacked protesters, sending two young veterans to the hospital, one for a fractured skull, the other due to a ruptured spleen.  They have repeatedly created ‘media perimeters’ with which to keep unwanted cameras away, going so far as to close airspace to news choppers.  They have violated due process with members of the media and with elected officials.  After 26 arrests of journalists during Thursday’s International Day of Action, human rights organizations began speaking out against the United States arrests and treatment of journalists during their coverage of events, some of whom were beaten by police.
One look at the video that has emerged of the UC Davis protest, of the

Protesters sprayed by police

Seated protesters at Occupy UC Davis are cruelly pepper sprayed without justification. Public outcry for the Chancellor to resign continues to swell amidst controversy.

peaceful protesters sitting on the ground while being deliberately and cruelly sprayed with a powerful blast of pepper spray tells one what they need to know:   America looks a lot more like Egypt today than we want to admit.

This week, in a series of examinations, we are going to look at the police state in America.  From the cameras mounted on our stoplights to the debate over SOPA and the Protect IP Act, we will look at the various threats to the First Amendment and our basic privacy as citizens.  We will look at the escalation in violence by police at home and find answers what to expect by looking at what the US government supports around the world.  We will look at the money generated by this Orwellian industry and the ties of the corporations behind the profits.  We will look at the vested interest the United States appears to have with maintaining policies that call for oppression both home and abroad and the consequences of them.