August 27, 2012 : RNC and Everyone Else : A Tale of Two Americas

Tampa and the nation brace for the laissez-faire lovefest that will be the RNC : 3 days of mind-numbingly simplistic rhetoric and catch-phrases sure to grate on the most dispassionate observers. Citizen Romney/ Veep Pick and financial backers will congregate fortress-style, walled off from their fellow citizens by the most elaborate security apparatus in human history. Writer David Corn says the only suspense lies in seeing “how low they'll go” motherjones .

Fully capable, armed predator drones are said to patrol the skies over Tampa, while a phalanx of armed forces – barely resembling “the police” as most know them – will secure the perimeter, a virtual blocks long “no-mans land,” surrounding Tropicana Dome on all sides. (Shortly after the story on the drones is released, FAA conflicts the report according to

The city’s police department receives $50 million from Congress ahead of the convention, purchasing armored vehicles and high-tech surveillance cameras equipped with “behavioral recognition software”

Spooksters Anonymous are purported to release an 8 minute long video, urging RNC protesters to try to overwhelm the massive security force, though as noted, nearly anyone may mask themselves as “

For companies that manufacture the unmanned drones, the possibilities are endless.

RNC has armored vehicles and drones on their side. Community activists, students, and grannies have their own terrifying, awe-inspiring arsenal, including dyed hair, fanny packs, and motorized wheelchairs. huffpost

RNC and its security force boast a well-deserved rep for roughing up protesters.In 2008, Reporter Amy Goodman leaves the convention floor to intervene in the arrest of her staff. She asks to speak to a commanding officer and is immediately kettled and tossed in the paddy wagon. The resulting legal suit filed results in a $100,000 settlement and a promise of police “media sensitivity training.” Will there be a repeat performance? (Video, above)

Massive security is a non-partisan affair.The Democratic shindig in Charlotte promises to be every bit of the same, sequestered gathering. .

Tropical Storm Isaac packs a punch as it heads North, grazing the Keys and veering past Tampa. Delegates and other attendees breathe audible sighs of relief as the storm dampen protests, literally. New Orleans residents stare down the storm now, the memory of Katrina's vast destruction still vivid. reuters

It's a vision of two Americas; the self-congratulatory one percent celebrating inside a climate controlled (publicly-funded) dome while the citizenry gather outside, barely exercising free speech and assembly rights  -  from within their off-site "protester pens." Hard to tell if it's 1972 or 2012. The dichotomy underscores the isolation and detachment of RNC, who, if they wished to display an ounce of PR sense, or genuine concern, would simply walk outside and engage the protesters. Not gonna happen.

RNC will echo, incessantly, the notion that “you too can be a millionaire... some day” - and ask Americans to ante up another round of tax benefits for the super-wealthy, whose $225/hr accountants employ a vast array of tactics and tricks to shift wealth to the same spot they sent middle class jobs : offshore. The grand difference being the funds return to the account holder, in spades.

Having traversed over 4 decades since the US political leadership declared a “War on Poverty,” America thus comes full circle. It's a story largely untold. Except for long-time media mensches like Bill Moyers and Michael Winship who, the week of Citizen Romney's coronation in Tampa, chastise both parties for pushing the plight of the poor off the agenda. truthout

Former NY Times reporter Chris Hedges and writing partner Joe Sacco do their part as well, conducting an “American journey across expendable communities and people,” for their latest work Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt. truthout

The  topic covered in scorching detail here, by Robert Borsage in huffpost

Occupy frequently takes it on the chin in the establishment media. Coverage focuses on cop dust-ups, dwindling encampments, arrests, and the like. Huffpost

The real action happens in the various “working groups,” where citizens focus on projects and people. Fred Allen's sentiment that “Everywhere Outside of New York City, is Bridgeport (CT)” contains a hidden truth : the solutions lie in America's urban areas.

Cities like Bridgeport have lived  the nightmare, filing for federal bankruptcy in 1991. Then, the impoverished city faced the twin demons of a declining, eroding tax base, coupled with the loss of a once thriving manufacturing sector. No political party stepped to the fore with a solution then and none will now. It's up to the citizenry.

A complex picture with no easy solution but some try. In Bridgeport– many simply wrote the city off. Romneyites will carry between 10-20% of the vote there, generous, given what Citizen Romney and Veep Pick have in store for them. To writ : blame the unions and slash the budget. But Bridgeport as of late stages a comeback, attracting several high profile businesses and investing in infrastructure improvements. Additionally, neighborhood leaders show resolve and take on tough, stubborn societal problems like crime and contaminated air

Other community leaders focus on similar solutions. In Brooklyn, Rev. Al Sharpton and Brookyln DA Charles Hynes team up for a second weekend to “Occupy Corners” an initiative spurred to stem rising gun violence in the city and inspired by the latest tragic shooting death, that of 13 year old, murdered during a “dispute between two groups of people.” "We're not going to stand by and allow people to overwhelm our streets and kill our children," Hynes said. "It's just not going to happen."

Occupy Detroit also has the
ball rolling in the right direction. The group long ago graduated from the initial encampment structure to their own digs on Michigan Avenue. Hosting other occupies from around the Midwest, their weekend conference shuns political protest in favor addressing the situation on the ground.

Called "Occupy the Midwest: Another World is Possible," the conference draws approximately 300 Occupy protesters from Midwest states, and even London, England. In Detroit, there's an "opportunity to make significant changes because things are so desperate," Diara Lo said. Niraj Warikoo provides the details with succinct, on the spot reporting.

Lo says the group is solution based and is moving forward by “addressing, on a local level, issues of workshops include sessions on urban farming, solar panels, housing, political protests, and banks. It represents the next phase in the evolution form encampments to empowerment.”
Detroit Free Press

Historical analogs are all the rage. As such, it's trendy to compare and contrast the current age of Financial Lords with the last century's Gilded Age, with its massive income disparities and horrendous working conditions. Writer and Columbia University PH D candidate Eric Herschthal reviews one such work, Dennis Drabelle's the Great American Railroad War, which he ultimately pans, saying Drabelle overestimates the role of the press in impacting the wealth and agenda of the era's great lords, who much like today's, built their fortunes on the backs of the public.

Press Action Editor Mark Hand sits down with Mickey Z to discuss Assange, Manning, and Occupy and how each have impacted the other.

As mentioned previously, 10 Downing fell over itself a little more than a decade ago to offer asylum to Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, wanted for questioning on considerably more serious charges - brought against him by then Spanish Judge and now Assange attorney Baltasar Garzon. The charges against Pinochet were brought under the international law claim of “universal jurisdiction.

The principle is advocated by human rights groups such as Amnesty International. It is best exemplified in the modern age by Nuremberg Prosecutor and US Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, who forcefully articulated the principle that, while certain acts may be technically “legal” in the states they are carried out in, they cannot be exempted from prosecution and “universally accepted principles of right and wrong.” Groups like Amnesty seek to enforce the principle to this day as atrocities against civilian, non-combatant populations are committed around the globe.

File under : Agreed. Now can you write that on Wolf Blitzer's forehead? “
Wikileaks is about more than Assange. Occupy is about more than Wall Street. The task ahead of us is about more than single issues and litmus tests.” says Mickey Z

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