Saturday, September 27, 2008

Gone Zo But Not Forgotten

Former A.G. A. G. Back In The Headlines

It's been a long time since we've heard about former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The little worm probably thought he wriggled off the various hooks he'd impaled himself on in service to his idol Führer President George W. Bush. Think again. From The Atlantic (via Crooks and Liars):
In March 2004, White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales made a now-famous late-night visit to the hospital room of Attorney General John Ashcroft, seeking to get Ashcroft to sign a certification stating that the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program was legal. According to people familiar with statements recently made by Gonzales to federal investigators, Gonzales is now saying that George Bush personally directed him to make that hospital visit.
This incident is one of the worst examples of abuse of power in an administration rife with - indeed characterized by - abuse of power. I blogged about this dramatic story back in May of 2007 when the testimony of James Comey revealed the incident in front of a Senate Judiciary Committee. I lamented a day later that it had been virtually ignored by the Lamestream Media (abbreviated LaMe) - in stark defiance of the journalistic rule, "if it bleeds, it leads."

My opinion then, to which I still adhere, was that if the American public knew what went on in John Ashcroft's hospital room it would have led to Bush and Cheney's being lynched impeached. So I think one correction needs to be made to Murray Waas's otherwise excellent article about these new developments. The 'now-famous' visit to Ashcroft's hotel room is nothing of the sort. I would bet that it's only famous to the denizens of Greater Left BlogSylvania, because a) the LaMe have kept schtum about it, so 70% of the public have never heard the story and b) the complicit House and Senate chose not to make an issue of this political dynamite, that could well have put Bush, Cheney, and Gonzo in the dock defending against treason charges.

For a more thorough understanding of the issues surrounding this incident I urge you to read the entire Waas article and/or my own post from May of last year (links will open in new windows.) There are two new stories here, the first the revelation above, from Gonzo's own lips, that George Bush personally directed him to make that hospital visit. That's big. There's been speculation about this, Gonzo testified that he was acting 'on the authority of the White House' but until now that left the possibility open that he was under Cheney's direction. (TPM Muckraker has archive YouTube footage of Gonzo's testimony that goes to this issue.) This new revelation, if true, puts Dubya's skinny neck right on the chopping block. The deliberate and underhanded effort to subvert the Constitution and the rule of law in a naked grab for power is undeniable.

I just have to insert a reminder here. When this hospital room incident happened, Gonzales was still White House Counsel, John Ashcroft was the titular Attorney General but was not actively carrying out the duties of that office, and James Comey was the acting Attorney General. It's important to know that to understand the level of impropriety of Gone-Zo's actions.

The second aspect of the story that's new is the information "that in another instance the President asked [Gonzales] to fabricate fictitious notes." Parts of that story appear in the Murray Waas article linked above. Waas has a separate article here about the fabricated notes aspect of the story. This one puts Gone-z0's neck on the block, and I have to comment that it is simply shocking to see how compliant AGAG is with the most outrageous requests from his president.
President Bush reauthorized the surveillance program on March 11, 2004, one day after the hospitalized Attorney General John Ashcroft refused to sign a certification saying that the program was legal and could therefore continue.

In reauthorizing the surveillance program over the objections of his own Justice Department, President Bush later claimed to have relied on notes made by Gonzales about a meeting that had taken place the day before (March 10), in which Gonzales and Vice President Cheney had met with eight congressional leaders—also known as the “Gang of Eight”—who receive briefings about covert intelligence programs. According to Gonzales’s notes, the congressional leaders had said in the meeting that they wanted the surveillance program to continue despite the attorney general’s refusal to certify that it was legal.

But four of the congressional leaders present at the meeting say that’s not true; they never encouraged the White House to sidestep the objections of the attorney general and continue the program without his approval.

Investigators are skeptical of the notes because Gonzales did not write them until days after the meeting with the congressional leaders, and he wrote them after both Bush and Gonzales had together signed a reauthorization of the surveillance program.

Gonzales, who was White House counsel at the time he met with the congressional leaders, has told investigators working for the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General that President Bush personally directed him to write the notes so that he could “memorialize” what the legislators had told him, according to a report made public by the Inspector General’s Office on September 2 and sources close to the investigation.

The timing of when Bush directed Gonzales to write the notes is important: investigators say the fact that they were written after both the meeting and the reauthorization of the program might indicate that they were written in order to provide an after-the-fact justification for the signing of the reauthorization—and that that timing might have given Gonzales a motive to lie in the notes.
For the sake of clarity and brevity I'll try to sketch this out in bullet-point form.
  • The Bush/Cheney crime syndicate wanted desperately to be able to wiretap whomever that they wanted to, whenever they wanted to, without oversight.
  • They knew damn well that this was illegal, as the FISA statutes had made this particular insult on the Fourth Amendment a FELONY - specifically emphasizing that the President himself was not only not exempt from the law, but after Nixon's transgressions was the very target of the law
  • The Department of Justice seems to have initially certified the surveillance program on good faith, but significantly had done so without the White House really having disclosed what it was they were signing off on.
  • When the DoJ got details (probably not full details) of what Bush/Cheney were actually doing with the initial authorization, they declared the program to be illegal, and vehemently declared that the certification would not be renewed.
  • By the time the initial certification was to expire, Attorney General John Ashcroft lay in Intensive Care in the hospital, was recovering from surgery and under heavy sedation.
  • Alberto Gonzales and White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card were dispatched to Ashcroft's hospital room with a manila envelope containing the renewal of the DoJ certification that the surveillance program was legal.
  • James Comey had already refused to sign this document. Ashcroft, Comey and other chief officials at DoJ as well as Robert Mueller, director of the FBI had all threatened to resign if the illegal wiretapping program continued.
  • The President personally phoned ahead to advise Ashcroft's wife that Gonzales and Card were on their way. This led Ashcrofts Chief of Staff to call Comey and Mueller to advise them of what was about to go down.
  • Comey sped to the scene to prevent Ashcroft from being pressured while he was in no condition to defy a two-on-one play to subvert justice. Mueller called the FBI agents assigned to guard Ashcroft and order that under no circumstances was Comey to be removed from the room.
  • Ashcroft, to his credit, refused to be steamrolled, telling Gonzales and Card, "I'm not even the Attorney General right now, he (Comey) is." Thus the illegal attempt to obtain the illegal certification of an illegal program was thwarted.
  • Phase Two begins. Having failed to subvert the Justice Department, the White House turned their efforts to the Legislative Branch. Gonzales and Dick Cheney met later the same day (Mar. 10, 2004.) with the so-called Gang of Eight.
  • The next day President Bush re-authorized the surveillance program HIMSELF!! through an executive order - exerting a dictatorial power that he did NOT have under any interpretation of the Constitution of the United States of America.
  • At some point AFTER this bogus 'reauthorization' Gonzales cobbles up notes giving a false account of the meeting with the Gang of Eight - an account wherein the Gang of Eight said they wanted the surveillance program to continue.
  • The Congressmen who attended the meeting said that they did NOT express such desire.
In the shortest summation I can distill this to - the President of the United States committed fraud in order to usurp the powers of both the Judicial and Legislative branches, in order to commit a large number of serious felonies. More alarming, nobody tried to stop him in the face of these patent High Crimes and Misdemeanors.

Glenn Greenwald discussed these related stories with Murray Waas in Friday's Salon Radio segment. If this isn't Shock and Awe directed against the very foundations of the country I don't know what would be.

Geez Louise. Could it get any worse for the beleaguered Gonzales? It appears so. TPM Muckraker reports that the DoJ is going to release a report on Monday about the Prosecutors' Purge scandal. In that short report TPM recalls a predicition made by David Iglesias, who was one of the US Attorney's dismissed under questionable circumstances:
I expect them to conclude that there is sufficient evidence to show that former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and former Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty committed perjury in their statements before Congressional committees and investigators.
Seems like Alberto's got a whole lot of 'splainin' to do.

Cross-posted from Les Enragé

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Plum Ridiculous

My next door neighbor, The Lesbian, has some fabulous plums.

Not those! Sheesh. These.

Never fails. Since her tree is on the other side of her house, I never see it very much and I always forget about the damn plums until the tree is ready to burst. Anyways, we send the Resident Tree Climber From Across The Street (also known as "shwimbo"; She Who Must Be Obeyed) up on her mission: Pick!

The haul? Damn near 80 pounds. What to do with them? Give bunches away. The Lesbian took almost 50 pounds to Denver General, and the staff and patients did much damage, demolishing the haul. The rest? Half in fresh fruit amongst 6 of us neighbors, the rest in JAM. Belch and I set up the Outdoor Jam Processing And Stuff To Can Other Goodies Unit.

You get a Big Ass Pot and cook down 15 pounds of those suckers. Add way too much sugar and pectin.


You end up with this:

While we had the Outfit up and running, it dawned on me, "Hey, I have all the stuff to make a shitload of Chutney Hot Enough To Make A Hindu Scream. Let's make some!"

Green tomatoes, Cayennes, Thai Hots, Jalapenos, Loads Of Mint all were just laying around in the garden, and miraculously there just happened to be some apples onions and raisins in the pantry.

Observing me on my rampage, Mr. B was not about to be left out of the game. He's all "Hey, aren't you gonna pick those goddamn cukes? They look ready to me."

You pick 'em Mr. Smarty Pants.
He did.

And a armload of dill too.
At the end of the day, much propane, much produce, and about 100 beers later, we ended up with this collection:

10 quarts of dill pickles, 12 pint and 12 half pints of Plum jam, 3 and a half pints of Death Chutney.
Not a bad haul for a Sunday.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Villainous Scumbags - Now With PROOF!

Well who could have possibly foreseen this bailout coming?

The Whitehouse, that's who. Because guess what? They wrote the bailout plan months ago:

Fratto insisted that the plan was not slapped together and had been drawn up
as a contingency over previous months and weeks by administration officials. He
acknowledged lawmakers were getting only days to peruse it, but he said this should be enough.

Amid growing criticism of the initiative from multiple quarters, Fratto
sought to defend its key principles and argue against changes.

Hmm mmm. And showing Sara Palin yet again, How Things R Dun When Ur Preznit:

But Bush himself continues to do little to explain his plan, and he has refused
to be questioned about it.

When it could have been cheaper, did the Administration do anything? - No.

When it would have had more time for scrutiny, and not play into the end game of Presidential Politics, did they do anything? - No.

Did they write this plan in private, when all along in public they were saying "The Economy Is Strong"? - Yes.

These villainous swine planned this trillion dollar transfer, and they're executing it brilliantly.

Pitchforks and Torches!

Friday, September 19, 2008

We're All Leningrad Cowboys Now

Let's just change out "loving" for "money" and we've got a FABOO Socialist Song For Today's Wall Street!

Товарищ, дайте мне все ваши деньги!
(Comrade, give me all your money!)

TAGS: , ,

Thursday, September 18, 2008

¿Pinche, o Estupido?

What is McCain possibly thinking?

Josh Marshall thinks of a few options to explain:

Option #1: McCain is so addled he not only doesn't know who Zapatero is but doesn't even know where Spain is located.

Option #2: McCain was not confused but actually meant his very belligerent comments about Spain and the Zapatero government (Scheunemann's line).

Option #3: Through some mixture of confusion and inability to understand the interviewer's accent, McCain was confused about who he was talking about and decided to wing it, assuming that the person he was being asked about was some other left-wing strong man from Latin America and answering with the standard boilerplate about standing up to America's enemies.

None of the above are suitable for a President of the US; particularly from a guy who claims his strong suit is foreign policy.

With apologies to George Bernard Shaw's My Fair Lady -

McCain, on Spain, is mainly quite inane. - (By George he's lost it!)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

221 Years Ago Today

221 years ago to the day, America’s founders gathered in Philadelphia to sign one of the most important documents in history. Our Constitution Of The United States.
It is Ours. It doesn't belong to Bush, Cheney, McCain or even Obama. It is unequivocally Ours.
It not only enumerates Our rights, it enshrines them. In my opinion, it is the most important document in my life, in your life in Our life.
My favorite part of the Constitution is the Bill of Rights, the first Ten Amendments to the Constitution. Interestingly, wikipedia says:
" It was thought by the Federalists during this time that there was no need for a bill of rights as they thought that the preamble spelled out the people's rights."
Those people were so used to the day-to-day struggle with the tyranny of kings that they all assumed everybody understood what was meant in the Preamble:
"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union,
establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence,
promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves
and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United
States of America."
Wisely, they decided to go ahead and spell out what Justice, Liberty and general Welfare meant.
There are far more astute and gifted observers regarding civil liberties than myself, so I'll let them do the talking from some of their current writings:

On this day in 1787, our founding fathers signed the Constitution, making us a nation of laws, not of men. The basic concepts of justice, liberty, and inherent human rights outlined in that founding document, are at the very foundation of our strength as a nation.

But 221 years later, the United States is facing one of the darkest chapters in its Constitutional history. The Bush administration has treated the Constitution and rule of law with disrespect unparalleled in our nation’s history. The list of this administration’s assaults on the Constitution is breathtaking: it includes the warrantless wiretapping program, its interrogation policy and justifications for the use of torture, its extreme positions on the legal status of detainees that have been repeatedly rejected by the Supreme Court, and its refusal to recognize and cooperate with Congress’ constitutional responsibility to conduct oversight. This is a shameful legacy that must be undone in the years to come.

Glenn Greenwald:

During the last several nominating conventions, the areas outside the convention hall have become increasingly subject to the same degree of micro-control as events on the inside. With each convention, the physical area of extreme control expands to a larger and larger perimeter. Justified by resort to the same rationale used to suppress liberties in general — vague invocations of “security” — both political parties are now able to relegate dissent, protests and disruptions to unseen and highly controlled environments, far removed from the conventions themselves and far out of sight from delegates, political figures, and the establishment media outlets which televises the convention.


But while Denver was sterilized, St. Paul was overtly militarized. Beginning the weekend before the GOP convention began, many private homes in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area were raided by machine-gun-wielding, inter-agency SWAT teams, who forced everyone in the targeted houses to lay on the floor in handcuffs while the homes were searched, with the agents carting off laptops, journals and political pamphlets. Lawyers and journalists who were already on the scene or sent there were handcuffed. Advocacy groups having nothing to do with any planned protests were plainly targeted for these pre-convention raids — most notably I-Witness, a group of videographers who had videotaped police action during the 2004 GOP Convention in New York and helped to compel the dismissal of many criminal charges against arrested protesters and had traveled to Minneapolis to do the same.

On the Sunday evening before the convention began, downtown St. Paul resembled the Green Zone in Baghdad far more than an American city. Brigades of law enforcement officers were, by design, extremely visible in the entire area near the GOP Convention, and were flamboyantly displaying their array of weapons, marching in military formation, and chanting. The tension and intimidation levels even before the Convention began were palpable, and the results — truly extraordinary even judging by the metrics of how militarized our police forces
have become — were predictable.

What I had called a "fascist shift" in the United States, projections I had warned about as worst-case scenarios, was now surpassing my imagination: in 2008, thousands of terrified, shackled illegal immigrants were rounded up in the mass arrests which always characterize a closing society; news emerged that the 9/11 report had been based on evidence derived from the testimonies of prisoners
who had been tortured -- and the tapes that documented their torture were
missing -- leading the commissioners of the report publicly to disavow their own
findings; the Associated Press reported that the torture of prisoners in U.S.-held facilities had not been the work of "a few bad apples" but had been directed out of the White House; the TSA "watch list," which had contained 45,000 names when I wrote my last book, ballooned to 755,000 names and 20,000 were being added every month; Scott McClellan confirmed that the drive to war in Iraq had been based on administration lies; HR 1955, legislation that would criminalize certain kinds of political thought and speech, passed the House and made it to the Senate; Blackwater, a violent paramilitary force not answerable to the people, established presences in Illinois and North Carolina and sought to get into border patrol activity in San Diego.

The White House has established, no matter who leads the nation in the future, U.S. government spying on the emails and phone calls of Americans -- a permanent violation of the Constitution's Fourth Amendment. The last step of the ten steps to a closed society is the subversion of the rule of law. That is happening now. What critics have called a "paper coup" has already taken place.
So there you go. This is what's happened to Our Constitution in the last eight years. It's proof that We The People can have it, only as long as we keep it. The first step in reclaiming it, and healing it as far as I'm concerned is to deny John McCain the presidency of the United States.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


My Unconventional Unemployment Nightmare is OVER!

A job I really wanted, in my field, and unbelievably, in today's climate, for way more money.

Now I can by me one of these here keyboards and play this song...

Monday, September 15, 2008

RIP Richard Wright (1943-2008)

Pink Floyd’s Richard Wright Dies at 65
at 1:41 p.m. ET

LONDON (AP) -- Richard Wright, a founding member of the rock group Pink
Floyd, died Monday. He was 65.

Pink Floyd's spokesman Doug Wright, who is not related to the artist, said
Wright died after a battle with cancer at his home in Britain. He says the band
member's family did not want to give more details about his death.

This one's for you, Rick.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Limerick Friday - Stupid Fucking Wingnut Edition

"The Great Sara P. Mooselini,
Ashamed that her weenie was teeny,
Threatened Nukular War
With Putin, that bore,
Who shrugged it off with some Vodka and Blini."

Russia, Bitches!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Not Only Is Dr. Monkey Right... his assessment that we're "Not Done Yet" :

"The news that the Iraqi government has cancelled all the no bid oil contracts with western oil companies means that we'll have to stay in Iraq a lot longer than we previously thought. Oil, after all, is what all this was about so we're not going to ever leave until we have control over it." [Emphasis added]

The lies of "Drill, Baby, Drill" are becoming apparent too. A press release from Sen. Ron Wyden's (D-OR) office:
Tuesday, September 9, 2008

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Citing projections that natural gas will cost Americans
an average of 22% more this winter
than last, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden asked
Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman to review and revoke the Department of Energy’s
recent order authorizing the export of 98.1 billion cubic feet of Alaskan
natural gas -- enough gas to meet the needs of 1.4 million American families -- to Japan
other Pacific Rim countries.

“The Administration is trying to have it both ways – arguing that we need to drill everywhere because we don’t have adequate energy supplies, while finding that we have so much energy that big oil companies can export it overseas and keep prices here at home higher than they would otherwise be,” wrote Wyden.
It's all about the Republicans in bed with energy monopolies. They're going to do what they want by abusing the American Political process. Liberals have known this for some time, but every Redneck in America would rise up and stone these bastards if they actually knew how they were being so badly screwed.

[Pssst - Yo, Dad, being the latest Republican convert, drop a comment after you read this little doozy.]

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Two Down, Several Million To Go

Hello, blogosphere. Sorry I've been away for a while. The end of the DNC and the whole of last week was consumed with various pursuits and much family goings-on, one of which is the subject of this post. My dear Dad was here from the Thursday of Obama's acceptance speech through this last Sunday.

When he arrived that Thursday, he intoned "Son, you know your step-mom and I do not have plans to vote for Obama." He also made some of the obligatory republican jokes (he listens to radio; he's not one of those "email" republicans) about "Obama's Temple" and so forth. This is all during cocktail hour, prior to the speech coming on. Poor thing. I wrecked his political world.

Behold the power of Teh Awesome Google! I showed him Bush's 2004 "temple" and he countered with the "fake presidential seal" which Teh Awesome Google revealed the same use of the device by McCain and Senate Republicans. Then all I did was ask The One Devastating Question:

Why is it different in Obama's or any Dem's case than for the Republicans?

And this question is ultimately what led to fucking up his previous political views. And that's the story that follows.
He was staying at my place to use as a base to run up and watch college football games as well as practice sessions in Laramie at Wyoming, his alma mater. So there were some breaks in time, he could get a little rest from my harangues and digest what I was showing and proving to him.

The Media Is Not What You Think It Is, Dad, And Neither Is Your Party.

Which was a very bitter pill for him to swallow. See, he's of an age and tradition of what people have called "Eisenhower Republicans." His parents were very patriotic during WWII (Grandpa Ernie had a very badly fused broken ankle, so they 4F'd him, but he drove uranium shipments around to various processing plants in and around Wyoming and in 2 cases to Illinois. One of those was with Marines on-board so I have always thought "Manhattan Project." Anyways...) and found Eisenhower to be a Great Man and a Great President and Dad was a teenager during the Ike years, so that's no surprise. Dad's thought process for his whole political life was, aside from low taxes, that Republicans were Fair, thought You Should Do Your Part, and government should Butt Out. OK, fair enough. But that was BEFORE NIXON! Evolve you dumb-ass! Thus his education began.


On Taxes: I just had to show him the graphic from WaPo to show how McCain was lying about Obama's plan.

On Budget and Fiscal Responsibility: I showed him this graph.

On Growth: I showed him this Dow Jones Graph. Plug in the Dem years yourself.

Since Dad was a VP at a Fortune 500 Finance Company prior to retirement, you can imagine his Consternation that the Facts Did Not Support His Viewpoint.

But then the GLORY kicked in! The Thugs picked PALIN! And their lying started fast and furious. That's what really got to Dear Dad. Because what he never ever realized, was that the MEDIA HELPS LIARS IF THEY'RE REPUBLICANS!

He thought the media actually functioned. Because, dear reader, it used to. You have to remember his dinosaur Eisenhower worldview also included the Cronkite concept of news and of reporters that, you know, a responsibility of telling the truth to your viewers was of Paramount Importance.

Immediately after Palin's speech, I used Teh Awesome Google about that thar gul-durned airplane and showed Dad, nope. It never sold on e-bay and look, it was less than what Alaska bought it for.

Well, we were watching CNN the next day and he saw that clip of McCain saying "the part I loved best about her speech was about that luxury plane, and she sold it on E-bay. For a profit!"

I looked right at Dad and I said "You watch, the media won't counter this at ALL!" True to form, they did not. (At least immediately, and it's still soft-pedaled.) I pierced him with my gaze and said "He's got willing dance partners huh? And knowing what we know, is McCain lying, not informed or out of touch? After all, he's supposed to have checked this candidate and her positions, statements, finances, you-name-it. And we KNOW FOR A FACT, that SHE KNOWS BETTER."

A wistful shake of the head, and a confused look in is eyes is what I got in response.
You'll notice that what gets these Ike-Dinosaur types goat are the concepts of "truth" and "fairness" - I believe because it's a character issue for them and other moderate Republican types. (Yes, there are moderate Republicans; they're not all fire and brimstone breathing fundies.) So aside from the fucked up media, the other thing that will get under their skin is Strong Arm Police Tactics.

I showed Dad several videos over time; the Code Pink protester getting clocked then snatched by the Blackshirts, the chick with the flower getting repeatedly pepper-sprayed in the face, and the arrest of Amy Goodman who was just wanting to check on her reporters. Showed him the resulting trumped up charges against Goodman. He was visibly angry at the Goodman incident when I got around to that one.

I broke the tension by camping "So, you still think I'm a commie-pinko-fag?" He just ROARED! "Nope, just a fag I guess!" Dad had achieved and accepted an entirely different worldview.
The night before he left I just blurted out "So who you going to vote for?" He is visibly torn, still. He started out dissembling "Well, I can't imagine myself not voting. I've always voted." So I pulled out the shame and worked it, hard.

"Well, Bush has already saddled me and you and your 6 grandkids with a ton of debt. If you'd like for us all to pay even more, vote McCain. And by the way, McCain doesn't have to die in office for that idiot Mooselini to be the President. A stroke will do the trick. And you've seen for yourself how they lie and lie and lie. How you can in all conscience vote for such a troop of thieves and liars just because you're uncomfortable voting Dem is beyond me."

We have joked for years that we cancel out each others vote. He looked at me and said "I don't think I'll be cancelling out your vote this time. Your step-mom either once I show her all this stuff you've showed me."

I called him last night to let him know I got a final interview scheduled for a position I really want, and we chatted a bit. The news was on at his house and there was a blurb of Palin going on about the "I told congress thanks but no thanks" spiel for the one millionth time and he says to me, all surprised "They're still doing it!" I told him they won't quit doing it, and don't be surprised. Some other lie will crop up, and they'll keep going on with that one too because they are thugs.

I could feel him sigh over the phone, and he said "What is this country coming to?"

"Welcome to my world Dad."

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The New Chicago Eight

..."The RNC Eight" Charged as Terrorists

A disturbing story from Information Clearing House explains why the RNC was held in Minnesota, and why the police there acted as if war had been declared on America's population.
In what appears to be the first use of criminal charges under the 2002 Minnesota version of the Federal Patriot Act, Ramsey County Prosecutors have formally charged 8 alleged leaders of the RNC Welcoming Committee with Conspiracy to Riot in Furtherance of Terrorism. Monica Bicking, Eryn Trimmer, Luce Guillen Givins, Erik Oseland, Nathanael Secor, Robert Czernik, Garrett Fitzgerald, and Max Spector, face up to 7 1/2 years in prison under the terrorism enhancement charge which allows for a 50% increase in the maximum penalty.

Affidavits released by law enforcement which were filed in support of the search warrants used in raids over the weekend, and used to support probable cause for the arrest warrants, are based on paid, confidential informants who infiltrated the RNCWC on behalf of law enforcement. They allege that members of the group sought to kidnap delegates to the RNC, assault police officers with firebombs and explosives, and sabotage airports in St. Paul. Evidence released to date does not corroborate these allegations with physical evidence or provide any other evidence for these allegations than the claims of the informants. Based on past abuses of such informants by law enforcement, the National Lawyers Guild is concerned that such police informants have incentives to lie and exaggerate threats of violence and to also act as provocateurs in raising and urging support for acts of violence.
WHAT?!? Minnesota has its own version of the constitutionally dubious USA PATRIOT Act? What folly is this? It does explain how and why the modern-day version of the 1968 'police riots' at the DNC in Chicago occurred in Minnesota. The sonsabitches want to establish a test case that equates protest, dissent, or simply thinking for yourself as TERRORISM.

They also want to send a message to legitimate political dissidents - STFU!! It's like Bill O'Reilly became the the head of DHS or something (shudder at the thought.) This is the government trying to cut off everyone's microphone at once.

I've already made my comparisons of the violence in 2008 with that in Chicago in 1968 in my recent post Police State 101 - but this development brings them into high relief. This is a nakedly aggressive crackdown designed to suppress people's constitutionally protected rights of assembly and expression. If you still want more background on the DNC riots of 1968, or the Chicago Eight (Later Chicago Seven) trials, consult Wikipedia. There's also a good article here at History and Education blog.

The evidence that the authorities are relying on in these cases seems to be paper-thin, and one wonders if they intend to use the dubious 'rules of evidence' established for the Guantanamo Bay military 'trials' as a precedent. None of this passes either the laugh test or the smell test.
The criminal complaints filed by the Ramsey County Attorney do not allege that any of the defendants personally have engaged in any act of violence or damage to property. The complaints list all of alleged violations of law during the last few days of the RNC — other than violations of human rights carried out by law enforcement — and seeks to hold the 8 defendants responsible for acts committed by other individuals. None of the defendants have any prior criminal history involving acts of violence. Searches conducted in connection with the raids failed to turn up any physical evidence to support the allegations of organized attacks on law enforcement. Although claiming probable cause to believe that gunpowder, acids, and assembled incendiary devices would be found, no such items were seized by police. As a result, police sought to claim that the seizure of common household items such as glass bottles, charcoal lighter, nails, a rusty machete, and two hatchets, supported the allegations of the confidential informants.
One has to assume that TPTB (the powers that be) really don't care about getting convictions in these cases. It will suffice for them if a pall of fear is cast over any act of political independence, and even if it doesn't they've got at least eight people who might question their 'patriotic' motives locked up at least until after the elections are over.

Anyone with two functioning synapses could have seen this coming from a long way off. The USA PATRIOT Act and its successors clearly were written in such a way that they sound like they are directed against foreign terrorists, but conveniently can be applied against domestic political opponents and critics of the government. "We'll try these draconian methods out on brown people for a while at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. If we get away with that we're clear to bring them home to Peoria, Bakersfield, Des Moines and St. Paul Minnesota." That's how I perceive their thinking.

What worries me the most about this is not what the government is doing, but what I fear the Lamestream Media won't do - report this as a major story, which it surely is. It's after all an indication of a fundamental shift in society, the breaking of a covenant between the government and the people that has endured since the American Revolution. And ultimately I fear that the American people themselves won't respond with the energy required to put a stop to this, and turn back the judicial clock to a time when fairness mattered.

A little voice in the corner of my mind asks, "is it fascism yet?" I don’t know, but as a rule I’d say that if you can actually smell the polish on the stormtrooper’s boot, it’s probably too close to your neck.
UPDATE: Firedoglake has this post, with the video below about how Americans were tortured Guantanamo style after being arrested in Minnesota.
The shocking thing is that it would be very unusual for any of these thugs cops to face discipline over these various crimes of assault and failure to recognize the rights of their fellow citizens.


Cross-posted from

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Palin's Speech Just Wrapped

I know that Sarah Palin's dog sled just got in from the great frontier and all, but there's been an election going on here for some time, and clearly she has not been paying attention to it. Palin jumped right on, mocking Barack Obama's foreign policy credentials as if he didn't convincingly prove himself in seven thousand televised debates against Hillary Clinton and the rest of the democratic field, exposing himself to every question in the book.

Her lies about Obama's tax plan were galling and further proof that whatever politics she learned in Alaska, they sound an awful lot like Bush-Rove tactics here in the lower 48.

Palin, and Rudy before her, openly laughed at Barack Obama's community service in Chicago. Excuse me? If America had more people willing to do, or capable of doing, that kind of service our cities wouldn't be in the shape they're in right now. But what would she know about cities?

Jesse Taylor at Pandagon summed it up nicely, "This is a speech to Michelle Malkin’s fucking comments section."

Monday, September 1, 2008

Police State 101

There's been lots of buzz in Greater Left Blogsylvania over the pre-emptive strikes that the cops have been making on potential protesters in Minnesota. It seems like they want the upcoming RNC to be held in an atmosphere of respectful shock and awe. From Glennzilla:

There is clearly an intent on the part of law enforcement authorities here to engage in extreme and highly intimidating raids against those who are planning to protest the Convention. The DNC in Denver was the site of several quite ugly incidents where law enforcement acted on behalf of Democratic Party officials and the corporate elite that funded the Convention to keep the media and protesters from doing anything remotely off-script. But the massive and plainly excessive preemptive police raids in Minnesota are of a different order altogether. Targeting people with automatic-weapons-carrying SWAT teams and mass raids in their homes, who are suspected of nothing more than planning dissident political protests at a political convention and who have engaged in no illegal activity whatsoever, is about as redolent of the worst tactics of a police state as can be imagined.
(Bold emphasis mine) Glenn has a follow-up post HERE, demonstrating that this is an effort by local police, but it is being directed by the feds. There's lots more at Firedoglake, Firedoglake, Firedoglake, Firedoglake, Firedoglake again, Crooks and Liars, and Raw Story. To name a few. But mostly Firedoglake, who have taken to this like a pitbull on a postman's ankle.

So what can this blogger add? In a word, history. We'll consider three major past events and how they relate to current events. If you were wondering why the current crop of thugs in uniform is so utterly blasé in their regards for the law - it's because they know damned well that there are never any consequences. And this is by no means a brand new phenomenon characteristic of the Bush administration.

Consider first the violence that occurred at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. The contradictions arising out of this fiasco are indicative of the times. From Wikipedia's article on the subsequent and infamous Chicago Seven trial:

The 1968 Democratic National Convention, held in late August – convened to select the party's candidates for the November 1968 Presidential election – was the scene of massive demonstrations protesting the Vietnam War, which was at its height. Thousands of people showed up with signs and banners, music, dancing and poetry. A pig, "Pigasus the Immortal", was brought into the city to be "nominated" for President. Initially, there was a carnival atmosphere. The police were edgy. Some people responded to a night-time curfew announcement with rock-throwing. Police used tear gas and struck people with batons, and arrests were made. In the aftermath of what was later characterized as a "police riot" by the U.S. National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence,[1] a grand jury indicted eight demonstrators and eight police officers
The NCCPV did indeed characterize this incident as a 'police riot.' That didn't prevent them from making the following bizarre statement:
"There is a criminal justice process through which each offender passes from the police, to the courts, and back unto the streets. The inefficiency, fall-out, and failure of purpose during this process is notorious."
Frickin' weird - it makes it sound like all the protesters were repeat offenders -hardened political criminals who could have been prevented from their opposition to the Vietnam War if only they'd been left behind bars.

But before I get sidetracked by some of the bizarre elements of this story (and there are many), back to my main point. Five of the Chicago Seven protesters were convicted of crossing state lines to start a riot (all convictions were reversed on appeal) despite the fact that this was OFFICIALLY described as a POLICE RIOT! Of the eight police officers indicted in the matter, seven were acquitted, and charges against the eighth were dismissed despite the fact that this was OFFICIALLY described as a POLICE RIOT!

For more background see 1968 Democratic National Convention Protests. For context consider that Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy were both assassinated earlier in 1968, on April 4th and June 5th respectively.

Fast forward to May 4th, 1970, the massacre of four students at Kent State University in Ohio. I've blogged before about this dark day in American history. Reading about this still makes me sick to my stomach, even almost 40 years later.
Four students were killed and nine others were wounded, one of whom suffered permanent paralysis.

Some of the students who were shot had been protesting against the American invasion of Cambodia, which President Richard Nixon announced in a television address on April 30. However, other students who were shot had merely been walking nearby or observing the protest from a distance.
Killed (and approximate distance from the National Guard):
Consider those distances relative to something familiar: a professional ballpark. 343 feet would be a home run in left or right field in many parks, 390 and 382 would clear the fence even in deep center. How does this threaten armed and helmeted National Guard troops? Even at 265 ft a professional outfielder is not going to throw a baseball directly to home plate for an out, but will relay it in. So the idea of 'rock-throwing radicals' just doesn't hold water.

Students had been bayoneted by troops on the two days before the shootings. That's right, BAYONETED! Fucking unbelievable. Barbaric.

Just like the Chicago 'police riots', a subsequent government investigation (this one was called the Scranton Commission) found the armed authority figures in uniform to be at fault.
The Commission issued its findings in a September 1970 report that concluded that the Ohio National Guard shootings on May 4, 1970 were unjustified. The report said:

Even if the guardsmen faced danger, it was not a danger that called for lethal force. The 61 shots by 28 guardsmen certainly cannot be justified. Apparently, no order to fire was given, and there was inadequate fire control discipline on Blanket Hill. The Kent State tragedy must mark the last time that, as a matter of course, loaded rifles are issued to guardsmen confronting student demonstrators.
Just like the Chicago 'police riots', the armed authority figures in uniform suffered no consequences for their actions, even though this time it descended to the level of cold-blooded murder.

Bottom Line:
Eight of the guardsmen were indicted by a grand jury. The guardsmen claimed to have fired in self-defense, which was generally accepted by the criminal justice system. In 1974 U.S. District Judge Frank Battisti dismissed charges against all eight on the basis that the prosecution's case was too weak to warrant a trial.

In May 2007, Alan Canfora, one of the injured protestors, demanded that the case be reopened, having found an audiotape in a Yale University government archive allegedly recording an order to fire ("Right here! Get Set! Point! Fire!") just before the 13 second volley of shots.
Flash forward again to the 2004 RNC in New York City. The NYPD are under investigation (since May 17, 2006) alleged to have systematically infringed on protesters' constitutional rights. Democracy Now! is the go-to place for this story, which has received far too little attention.
During the week of the 2004 convention, police arrested some 1800 protesters—more than at any previous political convention in the country’s history. It is unclear as to the extent of the Justice Department"s criminal investigation of the NYPD, but the FBI appears to be focusing on the arrest of Dennis Kyne, a Gulf War veteran turned anti-war activist. Kyne was arrested on the steps of the New York Public Library on multiple charges including inciting a riot. His case went to trial but it was dismissed after his legal team presented videotaped evidence that proved the police lied to the court. As part of the criminal investigation, the FBI is seeking to interview other protesters whose constitutional rights have been violated by the police.
The bottom line of this story is that the investigation into police wrongdoing didn't even begin until nearly two years after the events, so the memory of witnesses can be put in question and the prospect of getting any physical evidence is pretty much shot. It appears that the investigation would never have started at all if it hadn't been for the existence of the video tape proving that the NYPD were lying about this from the get-go.

Not that the effort has been without any fruits, as you can see by searching Democracy Now's archives. Here's two short samples and one longer one:

Mar. 23, 2006: NYPD Caught Lying About RNC Arrests in 2004
"For the first time a high-ranking police supervisor has admitted that police arrested about 400 people around Union Square even though the police never gave an order to disperse."
Mar. 26, 2007: Report: NYPD Conducted Widespread Spy Campaign Before RNC
"The New York Times has revealed that undercover New York City police officers traveled around the country, Canada and Europe to spy on protesters planning to attend the 2004 Republican National Convention. The city set up an “R.N.C. Intelligence Squad” and sent undercover officers to attend meetings of political groups, posing as sympathizers or fellow activists."
May 17, 2007: NYPD Forced to Release RNC Spy Files
A federal judge has ordered the New York City police to release about 600 pages of internal documents that detail the department’s wide-ranging surveillance of activists ahead of the 2004 Republican National Convention. The judge ordered the first batch of documents to be made public following a lawsuit by the New York Civil Liberties Union and the New York Times. Donna Lieberman of the NYCLU: “What’s shocking is the breadth of the surveillance activity. They were in lots of different cities across the nation and internationally. We have in here of people doing grafitti in Germany in Croatia,. We have reports from Berkeley, from Baltimore, from Syracuse, from Fresno. The police department was all over the country, all over the globe.” The city is still fighting to keep secret other documents related to the convention including the raw intelligence collected by the police department.
Not entirely without fruits, and yet completely devoid of the sweet ripe fruit that protects civil liberties going forward, into say the next Republican National convention following the one in NYC in 2004. No cop has been disciplined. Ray Kelly is still New York's Police Commissioner. All costs of the investigation and its result have so far been borne by the New York taxpayer. And unless some consequences are felt by those who conspire to deprive their fellow citizens of their liberty, the erosion of constitutional rights will continue.

Some Joni Mitchell lyrics came into my head while I was writing this. From Judgement of the Moon & Stars, they were written about Beethoven's deafness, but oddly could just as well been referring to the Bill of Rights. I take poetic license in my reinterpretation.
Revoked but not yet cancelled
The gift goes on/ In silence/ In a bell jar
Still a song ...
You've got to shake your fists at lightning now
You've got to roar like forest fire
You've got to spread your light like blazes
All across the sky
They're going to aim the hoses on you
Show 'em you won't expire
Not till you burn up every passion

Not even when you die
Come on now/ You've got to try
If you're feeling contempt/ Well then you tell it
If you're tired of the silent night
Jesus, well then you yell it
Condemned to wires and hammers
Strike every chord that you feel
That broken trees/ And elephant ivories/ Conceal