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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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Fascists! (NC Journal Prints My LTTE re Shock Doctrine Book Review)

Friday night I posted a brief comment about a review of Naomi Klein's book, "Shock Doctrine," published in the North Coast Journal. I mentioned that the post was a variation on a letter to the editor I was about to submit, which the Journal published this week, at newsstands now but not yet online (though I predict this link will work tomorrow, and if not I'll post an update). Dig the title, including punctuation!

North Coast Journal
Mailbox
August 14, 2008

Fascists!

Editor:

Thank you for publishing Shane C. Brinton's review of Naomi Klein's "Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism" (Aug. 7). The most important point Brinton makes is at the very end: "Klein hasn't discovered something new so much as she has explained how a very old strategy is manifesting itself in even more atrocious ways."

I had a similar thought reading Naomi Wolf's "End of America" (see Journal book review, Oct. 25, 2007), and John Perkins' "Confessions of An Economic Hitman." Historical patterns, or echoes, are revealed through myriad examples in each of these books, which all lay bare what we seem to be collectively trying to deny.

But what's that old saying about if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck? Around the world and throughout time, this is what has been called fascism. I'm not discovering anything new either - just reminding my good American neighbors that it can happen here and it is.

Dave Berman
Eureka, CA
# # #
The only thing edited from how I submitted that letter is the un-capitalized G in good Americans. The expression Good Americans has been used increasingly in the past few years, serving as another historical echo to the fabled Good Germans who failed to stop Hitler's rise. Actually, after browsing some links, I see that the phrase is not always capitalized, so perhaps I needed to put it in quotes. At any rate, good on the Journal for publishing the book review, and now the letter in response.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Distributed Power

An article posted at Forbes.com last Thursday describes Denmark's decentralized and decoupled energy system, billing it as "The Answer To The Energy Problem."

Denmark has done what other countries only dream of doing: achieved energy independence. While Europe's overall energy imports rose 2.4% in 2006, Denmark's energy imports fell to -8%. In fact, the European Union as a whole scores 54% on the scale of energy dependency. Denmark scores -37%.

"Denmark is the model that the United States should be following," said Steve Pullins, executive director of the U.S. Department of Energy's Modern Grid Initiative.

How'd they do it? Distributed energy.

Unlike traditional "centralized" systems, distributed energy relies on small power-generating technologies like solar panels or ultra-efficient natural-gas turbines built near the point of energy consumption to supplement or displace grid-distributed electricity.

Consumers can not only draw power from the grid, but can feed power into it as well. For instance, homes equipped with solar-power panels could feed unused electricity back into the grid, adding to the total available supply.
Somehow this arrangement seems so obvious. We all need energy and can have it clean and renewably if we treat it as the commons rather than a commodity. Forbes continues:
The change has taken Denmark nearly two decades to implement, but the most critical step was the introduction of smart- or net-metering, which required utilities to buy back electricity from consumers at 85% of the price. Denmark's success has convinced a growing number of policymakers and energy executives to follow suit.

In the U.S., the movement faces constraints from a familiar place: power companies. Distributed energy aims to decouple profits and consumption so that power companies have a greater incentive to invest in energy-efficiency technologies that drive distributed-energy networks. Changing that relationship is even more critical than technological innovation.

"Very little can happen without having the utilities involved in the process," said Ron Pernick, a founder of clean-technology consulting firm Clean Edge. "Regulators need to give utilities the tools they need to get involved, which basically means decoupling."
It is no accident America has the opposite of distributed power. Corporate control of the government/military/media juggernaut, the fascist backbone, subjugates the population, in part through manipulation of the type, amount and cost of available energy. On top of that is the sabotage of the environment (pollution for profit).

Paul Krugman, in last Thursday's NY Times, glibly wrote about "Know-Nothing Politics," inventing a de-facto slogan for the Republican party: "Real men don't think things through." This followed Obama's Tuesday remark that McCain is "proud to be ignorant," when it comes to energy and the environment.

The truth is we are generations late in realizing the virtues of clean and renewable energy. This isn't a debate to even be had in the present. Perhaps in a parallel universe the Industrial Revolution occurred with full observance of the triple bottom line, balancing profit with environmental and societal impact. Instead of disaster capitalism, is conscious capitalism even conceivable or just a paradoxical slogan?

I always thought one of the all-time greatest things to make you say "huh" was Reagan removing Carter's solar panels from the White House roof. The Forbes article above ends with another along these lines:
Last year, the U.S Army Corps of Engineers installed more than 1,000 solar-powered street lights in Fallujah, a predominantly Sunni city in central Iraq that was the scene of a brutal battle between insurgents and U.S. soldiers in 2004.

During the day, the lamps store energy from the intense desert sunlight in batteries large enough to keep them lit from dusk to dawn. Now, the streets are lit every night--in a country which, in the last five years, has probably spent more hours without electricity than with it.
* * *
A phrase came to mind the other day and I thought for sure it would turn up more than four Google hits: We need the Earth more than the Earth needs us.

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Adventure Therapy For Veterans Coming to Incopah

Another great project I've learned about through Vets For Peace is called Incopah, a rural retreat for veterans transitioning back to life at home. This is something in the making, that isn't yet launched, at least not this chapter of a burgeoning nationwide network at VeteransVillage.org. Other similar campuses have opened across the country, no two exactly alike but all offering adventure therapy for vets.

Adventure therapy, via Wikipedia (excerpt): "Adventure therapy approaches psychological treatment through experience and action within cooperative games, Trust activities, Problem Solving Initiatives, High adventure, outdoor pursuits, and wilderness expeditions."

Google adventure therapy and you can find various counselors offering to facilitate such a process, as well as research and books on the topic.

I have been hearing about this over the past year or so as efforts have picked up here in Humboldt County, CA, where Incopah is planned near Willow Creek. My friend Marc Knipper is spearheading this local effort and has started getting some press for it. On Friday evening, KMUD radio aired an almost 8 minute interview (listen .mp3) that I excerpted for the GuvWurld news archive.

And this is from the July 21 Eureka Times-Standard (archive):

The program, a 22-acre retreat in the hills near Willow Creek, called "Incopah," would help transition vets using adventure therapy, non-denominational spiritual ceremonies and meditative work with the land, Knipper said.

Drug- and alcohol-free, the veterans would make pottery, raise bees, garden and do other therapeutic, tactile work, while participating in ceremonies based on indigenous philosophies.

"One day they're in Iraq killing people, and the next day they're home. One day you're a warrior and the next day you're not -- native people know you have to bring your warriors home, nurture them and prepare them," Knipper said.

Knipper said he envisions the veteran-built retreat offering veterans a place to reflect and recover, off the grid and solitary in the forest "to bring our warriors back into the tribe."

Incopah could house between 20 and 30 veterans at any given time, and would be open to the public for guided adventure tourism -- like rock climbing or white water rafting -- six months out of the year.

Knipper said by opening the resort to tourism, the program could be financially self-sustaining, and would teach the veterans skill sets that could benefit them in the job market after they leave.
This is such a great project and I'll be looking for ways to provide support. Fundraising is underway with sights set on January to begin clearing the 22 acres. The T-S article concludes:
Donations can be made to Incopah, or Veterans Village, through Knipper: Mknipper@VeteransVillage.org or phone 707-498-6937 for more information.
Here is a link to the Incopah page on the Veterans Village website. The umbrella group was created by Nadia McCaffery whose son Sgt Patrick R. McCaffrey was killed in Iraq on June 22, 2004.
Because a commercial airliner brought Patrick's flagged-draped coffin to Sacramento and hundreds of waiting friends, media captured one of those rare administration censored visuals of fallen heroes. Since that day, an apolitical mother has publicly questioned the war and searched for a "totally new, better way to involve ourselves in the world."
The names of both mother and son are quite well known now, and each returns thousands of Google hits. Like the family of Pat Tillman, Nadia McCaffrey has been tenacious at compelling exposure of a full accounting of her son's death at the hands of Iraqis he was training. I can't help wondering if that is its own form of adventure therapy for the grieving?

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Friday, August 08, 2008

North Coast Journal Reviews "Shock Doctrine"

Shane C. Brinton reviews Naomi Klein's "Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism" in this week's North Coast Journal. I've mentioned this book a few times here at We Do Not Consent, but since I never got around to writing a review, I'm glad to see the Journal run this. I will be sending a letter to the editor thanking them, and making a variation on just the one point I want to make here now. Brinton's review concludes:

If this book has a weakness it is, perhaps, Klein's apparent belief that the "shock doctrine" is something new and that she has cracked the case. While Milton Friedman's cold, calculating brand of capitalism is especially disgusting, the use of collective trauma for political and economic gains was around long before he was. Klein hasn't discovered something new so much as she has explained how a very old strategy is manifesting itself in even more atrocious ways. Still, this is an extremely well written, enlightening book, one of the best by a left-wing author in the last decade.
Brinton is totally right on about Klein not discovering something, but rather showing us more repeating patterns, or "historical echoes," to use Naomi Wolf's term from "End of America." I think this is a very effective way to create context and aids us in re-framing the way we discuss many of America's myths, such as so-called "free markets," "free press," and "free speech." Brinton didn't go there, unfortunately, and perhaps even lazily reinforced the shallow and unnecessary paradigm of Klein as "left-wing." I wish instead he had pointed out that the current echoes playing out have always defined what has been called fascism.

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Vets For Peace Anti-Recruitment Guide, The Golden Ticket For The Arcata, Eureka Youth Protection Act

Late last year I posted about the terrific anti-recruitment guide published by Veterans For Peace Humboldt Bay Chapter 56. They have now printed a second edition (with a third in the works) so I want to offer the link again to the updated version:

CLICK TO DOWNLOAD THE .PDF

While the guide was developed independent of the Stop Recruiting Kids campaign, now that the Youth Protection Act (full text below) has qualified for the November ballot in both Arcata and Eureka, I dare say the effort to keep military recruiters away from those under 18 has pretty much the best campaign literature ever.

* * *

YOUTH PROTECTION ACT

AN ORDINANCE TO PROHIBIT THE MILITARY RECRUITMENT OF ANY PERSON UNDER THE AGE OF EIGHTEEN

To protect the welfare of our youth, the People of Arcata Ordain as Follows:

No person who is employed by or an agent of the United States government shall, within the City of Arcata, in the execution of his or her job duties, recruit, initiate contact with for the purpose of recruiting, or promote the future enlistment of any person under the age of eighteen into any branch of the United States Armed Forces.

Authority:

This Ordinance is adopted and enacted pursuant to the authority guaranteed to the people of Arcata by the California Constitution (Article 2, Section1) and the U.S. Constitution (Amendments IX and X) which guarantee political power to the people and recognize the right to exercise that power through initiative and referendum (California Constitution Article 4, Section I).

Findings

1) Military Recruiters Target Teens.

Military recruiters target teens through ad campaigns, mailings, telephone calls, email, and direct personal contact. They promote enlistment by glorifying military service and exaggerating the educational and career benefits, while ignoring the dangers. Recruiters are rewarded for meeting enlistment quotas and risk reassignment if quotas are not met. College and business recruiters lack equivalent resources and incentives to promote non-military careers to teens.

2) People under the age of eighteen are not permitted to vote.

As a society, we believe that people under eighteen lack the life experience to make informed choices; they cannot vote, sign contracts, or make medical and other legal decisions. Although people under eighteen cannot enlist in the military without parental consent, sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds in our community are routinely urged by recruiters to commit themselves to future enlistment after their eighteenth birthdays. Those who do enlist in the military may be ordered to participate in actions that violate Constitutional and International Law including bombings of civilian targets, invasions and occupations of sovereign nations, or illegal detention and mistreatment of suspected terrorists. Young soldiers risk their lives and sanity without a developed ability to comprehend the consequences of their actions. Unlike civilian employees, military enlistees may be prosecuted and imprisoned if they refuse to obey an order, or if they change their minds and want to quit their jobs in the military. If we believe that people under the age of eighteen lack the experience and maturity necessary for voting, then they should not be subjected to the highly sophisticated and well-funded efforts of military recruiters to enlist them in the armed forces.

3) The First Amendment protects the free speech of people, not the government.

While some may argue that recruiting is "speech" protected by the First Amendment, the Bill of Rights protects the rights of people from the excesses of government.

4) This Ordinance does not violate provisions of No Child Left Behind.

The No Child Left Behind Act (PL 117-110, Section 9528.3) mandates that: "Each local educational agency receiving assistance under this Act shall provide military recruiters the same access to secondary school students as is provided generally to post secondary educational institutions or to prospective employers of those students." This Ordinance is to be approved by the voters, not by any local educational agency. Under the Ordinance, schools may still provide access to military recruiters, but recruiters are prohibited from recruiting or promoting the future enlistment of any person under the age of eighteen.

Specific Purpose:

The specific purpose of this Ordinance is to protect youth under the age of eighteen from military recruiting.

Statement of Law:

No person who is employed by or an agent of the United States government shall, within the City of Arcata, in the execution of his or her job duties, recruit, initiate contact with for the purpose of recruiting, or promote the future enlistment of any person under the age of eighteen into any branch of the United States Armed Forces.

Nothing in this Ordinance shall prevent any person from voluntarily visiting a military recruitment office or specifically initiating a request to meet with a recruiter.

Nothing in this Ordinance shall prevent individuals who are not employed by or agents of the U.S. government from encouraging people under the age of eighteen to join the military.

Enforcement

The City of Arcata shall inform all local military recruiters and their commanding officers of this Ordinance, which prohibits military recruiting of any person under the age of eighteen within the City of Arcata. Any military recruiter who violates this Ordinance, as well as his or her commanding officer, shall be held responsible for said violation. Both shall be deemed guilty of an infraction and shall be subject to the penalties stated in the Arcata Municipal Code. (A.M.C. I-3-1200) A citizen complaint of any unsolicited military recruiting activity involving people under the age of eighteen shall initiate investigation and possible citation by the Arcata Police Department for violation of this Ordinance. If recruiters violate this Ordinance five or more times within one month, military recruiting of persons under the age of eighteen shall be deemed a public nuisance and shall be summarily abated.

(A.M.C. I-3-1201)

Severability

The provisions of this Ordinance are severable. If any section or provision of this Ordinance is determined to be illegal, invalid or unconstitutional by a court of competent jurisdiction, such decision of the court shall not affect or invalidate any of the remaining sections or provisions of this Ordinance. It is the express intent of the people of Arcata, California that this Ordinance would have been adopted if such illegal, invalid, or unconstitutional section or provision had not been included.

Effective Date

This Ordinance shall take effect thirty (30) days after adoption by the voters.

Interpretation

In the event this Ordinance requires interpretation (by courts, county officials, or anyone else), it is the express intent of the people of Arcata that this Ordinance be construed in such a manner to carry out the original intent of this Initiative, which is to prohibit military recruitment of any person under the age of eighteen within the City of Arcata.

* * *

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Prosecute Bush For Murder

If there is a single hallmark of my writing it has been the pursuit of strategies for Americans to adopt on an individual or group basis on the local level in order to cause large scale change. It is from this point of view that I take an interest in legendary prosecutor and best selling author Vincent Bugliosi's new book "The Prosecution of George W. Bush For Murder." I'll come back to that hook after some context.

While I just ordered the book from Amazon and have not yet read it, the title conveys the simple premise, the basic details are amply explored online, and the book is already a best-seller despite a near media blackout. On this last point it is interesting to see the NY Times interview Bugliosi, as well a CNN video clip focusing on the media's disinterest posted at Raw Story.

The shortage of coverage is primarily on the TV talk show circuit, which has previously featured Bugliosi promoting his earlier books. It has also been reported that ads for the book have been rejected, including by ABC Radio for the Don Imus show. The book's exposure has come mainly through radio interviews, online ads, and significant word of mouth. Here is a transcript from Democracy Now! and a brief interview with The Nation.

On July 25, Bugliosi was also one of the witnesses who testified before the House Judiciary Committee (C-SPAN video via YouTube below). The Committee's business that day was instigated by the single article of impeachment against Bush introduced July 10 by OH Congressman Dennis Kucinich (not part of his previous 35 articles against Bush or his three articles against Cheney from April 2007). In typical false alternative fashion the hearing into the "Imperial Presidency" had some limited parameters mentioned here and in the opening of Bugliosi's statement below:


Bugliosi has been adamant that his proposed prosecution of Bush is not hypothetical or rhetorical. He claims the book establishes jurisdiction for hundreds of state and federal prosecutors as well as thousands of district attorneys throughout the US in any community that has seen a military member die in Iraq. Copies of the book have been sent to many such prosecutors, and really, all it takes is one.

So here's the thing. As justified as impeachment is, I'm not the only one to offer an explanation for why it hasn't and won't happen. But even if somehow all the reasons were rendered moot, it is still a strategy that depends on convincing a large number of people to do something. On the other hand, at least to get the ball rolling behind Bugliosi's idea, all it takes is one. That makes it much more appealing from the standpoint of transformational strategy, lower hanging fruit that can be pursued not only by individuals and small groups, but both independently and in tandem simultaneously across the land.

I would think that the way to start in any community is first finding family members of fallen soldiers who are willing to encourage their local district attorney. This surely requires a high level of tact and sensitivity, though perhaps Gold Star Families For Peace may represent a head start in any given location. I welcome referrals to or direct contact with any such people.

Yes, this is still a long shot and I'm not anticipating dropping everything to focus on it. However, as I said here at WDNC as recently as two night ago, all pretenses of progress will be mere illusions (and slogans of hope and change unfortunate delusions) unless and until we restore justice and the rule of law.

It has to start somewhere
It has to start sometime
What better place than here
What better time than now

--Rage Against The Machine, "Guerrilla Radio"

* * *

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Bush In Prison - Wish You Were Here

More than six years ago I had the idea for the image below. It actually came to me as a flash animation, but I've neither acquired those skills nor been able to persuade anyone to complete the project. Finally a few weeks ago I found this stock photo and used my rudimentary PhotoShop skills to add the caption. Below the image is the original (2002) storyboard for the full concept.


* * *

What I'd like to see in Flash or some other computer animation:

1. opening frames have heartbeat sound effects from the outro to Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon

2. the beating coincides with an image coming in and out of focus, near to viewer, then further away

3. image turns out to be "US" and a sideways Enron "E", in the form of a flag on the lapel of a headless torso dressed in a traditional blue suit (note: that was the original idea; the lapel pin could say something else, such as "anti-fascist" or "war criminal" or...?)

4. with the buttoned down torso clearly in focus, the sound effects segueway via a scream from another Pink Floyd song (a few to choose from)

5. this scream coincides with prison bars coming into focus, from near viewer perspective to further, pinning the torso in a prison cell

6. music switches again, quoting the line "exchange a walk on part in a war for a lead role in a cage"

7. this line plays while the head of George W. Bush comes bouncing into view from the right, landing on the headless torso

8. the full body now appears with Bush's arms raised slightly above his head, hands gripping the bars, shaking them

9. music segueways again, still within the same song, now mentioning the title "oh, how I Wish You Were Here"

* * *

I put this out there openly for anyone willing to take the next steps. Contact me to collaborate, or just have at it!

Here are the full lyrics to Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" (listen .mp3):

So, so you think you can tell heaven from hell, blue skies from pain
Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail? A smile from a veil,
Do you think you can tell?

And did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts? Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze? Cold comfort for change?
And did you exchange a walk on part in the war for a lead-role in a cage?

How I wish, How I wish you were here.
We're just two lost souls, swimming in a fish bowl, year after year
Running over the same old ground. What have you found? The same old fears
Wish you were here

(Waters, Gilmour)

* * *

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Monday, August 04, 2008

Naomi Wolf: Dear world, please confront America

I've blogged about author Naomi Wolf several times before. On Friday, Daily News Egypt (archive) published her op-ed called "Dear world, please confront America." Yet again she has struck a chord I can't ignore:

But, while grassroots pressure has not worked, money still talks. We need targeted government-led sanctions against the US by civilized countries, including international divestment of capital. Many studies have shown that tying investment to democracy and human rights reform is effective in the developing world. There is no reason why it can't be effective against the world's superpower.

We also need an internationally coordinated strategy for prosecuting war criminals at the top and further down the chain of command - individual countries pressing charges, as Italy and France have done. Although the United States is not a signatory to the statute that established the International Criminal Court, violations of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions are war crimes for which anyone - potentially even the US president - may be tried in any of the other 193 countries that are parties to the conventions. The whole world can hunt these criminals down.

An outlaw America is a global problem that threatens the rest of the international community. If this regime gets away with flouting international law, what is to prevent the next administration - or this administration, continuing under its secret succession plan in the event of an emergency - from going further and targeting its political opponents at home and abroad?

We Americans are either too incapable, or too dysfunctional, to help ourselves right now. Like drug addicts or the mentally ill who refuse treatment, we need our friends to intervene. So remember us as we were in our better moments, and take action to save us - and the world - from ourselves.
Sad but true, and once again reminding me of an old essay of mine I've oft quoted here at the We Do Not Consent blog. I wrote these words during the indeterminate period following the 2000 "election":
If any world leaders are indeed scrupulous, shouldn't *they* contest the legitimacy of the recent U.S. Presidential election? Could you imagine if impartial voices of reason from around the world helped us to hold up the mirror displaying our own ridiculous image?

In the final analysis, either foreign powers will choose not to recognize our next government or the entire world will be complicit in our illegitimacy. Either way, it would not only serve us right, it will be what we deserve.
Of course when I wrote that it was not inevitable that Americans would roll over (and over and over) for the march to fascism. I don't claim prescience either, though I'll also quote not for the first time Rage Against the Machine, from their 1992 song "Settle For Nothing":
"If we don't take action now, we settle for nothing later. We'll settle for nothing now, and we'll settle for nothing later."
Americans have been doing that repeatedly despite one egregious injustice after another. We're past realizing they don't represent us; we're past plainly calling them liars; we're past even revealing enough to prove war crimes. Maybe we Americans have more in common with average Iraqis than we realize - both our peoples have become subjects of the same occupiers, another point I've made previously.

I'm struck now by the thought it is no wonder I've been posting so infrequently. When I do I'm barely more than repeating myself. Then I'm reminded of my friend Paul Lehto, who is fond of reminding us that early American pamphleteer Thomas Paine noted that not all people will simultaneously conclude revolution has become necessary. Those of us who figure it out earlier on bear the responsibility of bringing others on board, serving as teachers to repeat our message as often as needed. And so, at least right now, I'm back at it, dear WDNC readers:
Peaceful revolution is necessary, NOW!
And kudos to Naomi Wolf for indefatigably reiterating and updating her lesson (see her book "End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot; and my North Coast Journal book review). We need to expand the ways we consider transformational strategy.

And one more thing. Another part of what's been keeping me quiet is the maxed out noise factor of being a news follower - and I don't even own a television! Just from online reading, some radio, and an occasional youtube video, I can't escape the sense that Americans are trapped within the parameters of a public dialog that goes nowhere near the relevant issues necessary to deliver us out of fascism. As I said in So-ing The Seeds of Change, all pretenses of progress will be mere illusions (and slogans of hope and change unfortunate delusions) unless and until we restore justice and the rule of law. Let's not be too proud or stubborn about how we help ourselves.

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Posted by Dave Berman - 10:35 PM | Permalink
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Dave's new blog,
Manifest Positivity

We Do Not Consent, Volume 1 (left) and Volume 2 (right), feature essays from Dave Berman's previous blogs, GuvWurld and We Do Not Consent, respectively. Click the covers for FREE e-book versions (.pdf). As of April 2010, paperbacks are temporarily out of print. Click here for the author's bio.

Back Page Quotes

"Give a damn about the world you live in? Give a damn about what you and I both know is one of the most shameful and destructive periods in American history? If so, do something about it. You can start by reading We Do Not Consent."

— Brad Friedman, Creator/Editor, BradBlog.com; Co-Founder, VelvetRevolution.us


"If in the future we have vital elections, the "no basis for confidence" formulation that GuvWurld is popularizing will have been a historically important development. This is true because by implicitly insisting on verification and checks and balances instead of faith or trust in elections officials or machines as a basis for legitimacy, it encourages healthy transparent elections. It’s also rare that a political formulation approaches scientific certainty, but this formulation is backed up by scientific principles that teach that if you can’t repeat something (such as an election) and verify it by independent means, it doesn’t exist within the realm of what science will accept as established or proven truth."

— Paul Lehto, Attorney at Law, Everett, WA


"Dave Berman has been candid and confrontational in challenging all of us to be "ruthlessly honest" in answering his question, "What would be better?" He encourages us to build consensus definitions of "better," and to match our words with actions every day, even if we do only "the least we can do." Cumulatively and collectively, our actions will bring truth to light."

— Nezzie Wade, Sociology Professor, Humboldt State University and College of the Redwoods


"Dave Berman's work is quietly brilliant and powerfully utilitarian. His Voter Confidence Resolution provides a fine, flexible tool whereby any community can reclaim and affirm a right relation to its franchise as a community of voters."

— Elizabeth Ferrari, San Francisco, Green Party of California


"This is an important collection of essays with a strong unitary theme: if you can't prove that you were elected, we can't take you seriously as elected officials. Simple, logical, comprehensive. 'Management' (aka, the 'powers that be') needs to get the message. 'The machines' are not legitimizers, they're an artful dodge and a path to deception. We've had enough...and we most certainly DO NOT consent."

— Michael Collins covers the election fraud beat for "Scoop" Independent Media


"What's special about this book (and it fits because there's nothing more fundamental to Democracy than our vote) is the raising of consciousness. Someone recognizing they have no basis for trusting elections may well ask what else is being taken for granted."

— Eddie Ajamian, Los Angeles, CA


"I urge everyone to read "We Do Not Consent", and distribute it as widely as possible."

— B Robert Franza MD, author of We the People ... Have No Clothes: A Pamphlet for every American