Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hurricane Gustav, Shock Doctrine and "Election" Events

Hurricane Gustav bearing down on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, expected to hit Monday, has already affected the presidential candidates' campaign calculus, and completely altered the media's telling of the campaign narrative. The NY Times reports the Republican convention scheduled to start tomorrow will be held in a very scaled back form and that the storm has also deflected media attention from both Obama's Thursday night acceptance speech (YouTube) and McCain's Friday veep announcement (YouTube).

If there is destruction and chaos on the Gulf Coast, this could easily become the pretext for triggering federal martial law, as reportedly occurred locally in some places following Katrina. Only now the National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive has modified succession of powers, enabling any event to trigger consolidation of all government under the executive. See Naomi Wolf's "End of America" for various historical precursors to this "echo," a repeating pattern in which the rise to absolute power comes through a series of superficially legal maneuvers, including funking up elections.

Because November's "election" event, if it is even conducted, cannot produce a conclusive and verifiable outcome, the People's huge preference must be undeniably evidenced prior to that. 84,000 were in attendance for Obama's outdoor stadium acceptance speech, which saw all tickets accounted for in a one day application process. On Friday, McCain announced the relatively unknown yet scandal-plagued Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate at a rally that couldn't fill a 10,000 seat venue. Lost in the equation are compelling visual examples of Obama's clear and commanding lead. Instead, the media perpetuate the false narrative of a close race.

Let me be clear that I endorse no candidate. I'm a fair election supporter. Though I don't think he'll be a revolutionary agent of change, if Obama has the votes to win then he should win. But first he should become outspoken about the process. Part of addressing the process, from my view, in this case, is something Obama supporters could do. I'm not usually in the position of offering advice to this seemingly massive and growing majority, but this is what I can see as the most likely way to ensure the outcome of the "election" event reflects the will of the People.

As with the juxtaposition of the numbers above, there must be constant and overwhelming collective displays of public Obama preference beyond individual expressions such as buttons, bumper stickers and lawn signs. There must be aggressive efforts to ensure the media depiction, including reporting on opinion polls, shows comparisons of candidate support are unequivocal. In this way, just having the "election" event becomes a formality. The inherent uncertainty of the unverifiable results may be neutralized without the suspense and doubt of a seemingly close race, a facade created for the power play necessary to funk up the results.

In addition, these pre-"election" displays need to directly address what will be done should the outcome be funked up. For that matter, such demonstrations of People power also ought to address rejecting the final dictatorial power grab looming over us, threatening the prospect of even having an "election" event. Velvet Revolution has launched a campaign to encourage and support candidates who raise challenges to election results. They also have a prosecute Karl Rove campaign.

Lest anyone think my suggestions or perspective are partisan, I reiterate my view that this is all simulated competition and Obama is in many ways a false alternative. That is not to say Obama and McCain are identical, but rather that Obama's talk of change is woefully inadequate at busting the myths of democracy, capitalism, free speech, free press, free markets and the rest of The Big Lie. However, while McCain appears ready to use the storm backdrop for political theater, Obama is pledging to wait and see, then organize, inspire and motivate citizen volunteers to assist in the aftermath.

And what can we expect this to look like? There is already a heavily armed military and law enforcement presence, while the war criminal enterprise Blackwater seeks to hire more mercenaries for the scene. The Department of Homeland Security (sic), FEMA (sic), and the Department of Defense (sic) will of course interfere with the command of state governors. And in a recurring theme here at WDNC lately, Naomi Klein's "Shock Doctrine" illustrates the pattern of exploitative security and privatization responses to disasters.

Pulling that thread just a little further, the North Coast Journal recently published Shane C. Brinton's book review of "Shock Doctrine," followed by my letter to the editor based on the review (the letter was given the great title of "Fascists!"). This week's Journal includes another wonderfully titled letter "Mas Fascismo" based on my letter.

The Journal is a free weekly paper with a focus on local Humboldt County, CA events. I always enjoy seeing them publish letters from readers outside our area, and in this case from an H.M Johnson coincidentally located in Redwood Falls, Minnesota, just under 100 miles from the partly aborted Republican convention, where some blatantly fascist police tactics have been used on protesters. See Uptake.org for lots of video, and also Twin Cities Daily Planet for some additional reporting.

Between Gustav and two potential flash points to create excuses for declaring martial law, this is shaping up to be a dangerous week.

* * *
Bush jokes of staying in power
October 17, 2007
Official White House Transcript

Q Mr. President, following up on Vladimir Putin for a moment. He said recently that next year when he has to step down, according to the constitution, as President, he may become Prime Minister, in effect keeping power and dashing any hopes for a genuine democratic transition there. Senator McCain --

THE PRESIDENT: I've been planning that myself. (Laughter.)

* * *

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