September 11, 2012 : Of Anniversaries, Elections, and Extraditions
RNC and DNC are done, their impassioned but security-muted protests
now a memory. Occupy wants to make a statement, of sorts, in NYC with
a week of actions beginning September 15th and leading up
to the one year anniversary on September 17th. Crowds are
expected but no one can venture a guess as to how many, what kind, or
how loud they'll be. Occupiers say the whole system is
broken. To what extent they back the Prez is an
Allison Kilkenny previews the upcoming activities and reveals dissent, or disagreement at least, among the organizers of the week's activities Thenation
Internal debates revolve around the usual – concern over tactics, the role of civil disobedience, the practice of non-violence. To previous generations who remember similar discussions, it sounds familiar (see below). Still, burning Presidential Oaths of Office – to make the satirical point that neither candidate respects the office – is unlikely to garner much sympathy beyond a narrow enclave of activists dailycaller
“It’s been a learning experience,” says John Murdock of New York, OWS member. “Are we effective at this point? No, we’re outnumbered and easily mocked.” NY Times
Columbia School of Social Work professor Paul Gestos describes the challenge for Occupy and those who cheered its early inception :
“Does the movement want to engage the 99 percent in a deep and meaningful way?” asked Getsos. “Or does it want to engage the most radical and most committed?” sfgate.com
It will be interesting to see who shows up for the anniversary party. Expect Live streamer Tim Pool - the de facto documentarian of the movement's highs and lows, to broadcast the anniversary over his live stream.
Emblematic of new media, Pool rolls his sleeves up and wades into the crowds getting comment and commentary from all sides. Critically, he preserves his independence, while remaining respectful and non-antagonistic. Which is why people talk to him. Tim Pool livestream
File Under : Yeah, that's sort of what they're talking about While some one percenters such as Russell Simmons have flocked to OWS, other high achievers with similar backgrounds aren't so sure. Jay-Z is content to sell the movements t-shirts, but says he doesn’t know what they stand for amidst the profusion of messages. He also doesn't like the demonizing of the rich.
“Yeah, the 1 percent that’s robbing people, and deceiving people, these fixed mortgages and all these things, and then taking their home away from them, that’s criminal, that’s bad. Not being an entrepreneur. This is free enterprise. This is what America is built on.” Guardian UK
'Tis the season of electoral politics. Occupy confronts the heavy weight of tradition– which dies hard – as the usual constituencies – most of whom could be termed the 99 percent - line up behind the Prez. Scrupulously avoiding any electoral strategy effectively relegates Occupy to the sidelines, even while there may be candidates who espouse its positions, ranging from sympathetic Dems to other, third party options. The reality is that the 99 percent vote, since they can't buy the election, as the one percent do.
As the World Turns : September Anniversaries and Extraditions
September, as Americans well know, is a month of anniversaries. Concerned citizens and activists remember not only the infamous terrorist attack on the United States on September 11th, but also what is known in Latin America as “the other 9-11” : the overthrow of the elected Chilean government of Salvador Allende, done with US complicity if not outright orchestration and co-ordination. Interested readers are welcome to review the ample documentation on the subject.The coup leads to the installation of Chilean General Augusto Pinochet, head of a regime deemed responsible for the deaths of 3,000 Chileans, likely more. Pinochet, as noted, is eventually shielded from extradition by Great Britain in spite of a request made by Spanish judge (and now Assange lead attorney Baltasar Garzon) under the principle of universal jurisdiction.
Former US Secretary Henry Kissinger, chief orchestrator of the September 11, 1973 coup, remains wanted for questioning for his role in the Chilean coup. A recent letter by ten historians to the New York Historical Society urges that the group not honor him and summarizes his list of crimes. The recently departed Christopher Hitchens, who acted mostly as a cheerleader for US intervention through-out the last decade, presented more documentation, as have many others. Slate
Kissinger's globe-trotting has also been occasionally curtailed as countries, including several US allies, have issued warrants to question him for the murders of their own citizens, such as France and Spain. As of yet, not one has been able to detain the near nonagenarian. In 2011, a prominent Swiss politician called for his arrest in Switzerland should he attend a regular global power broker convention there. However, in all lawsuits filed against Kissinger in the United States, the US has dismissed the claims, granting diplomatic immunity for actions committed while in power.
Historical analogies abound as word comes the US denies an extradition request from Bolivia for its former leader, Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada. Long a loyal US client, Lozada had hired prestigious Democratic party operative and Clinton pollster Stanley Greenberg to advise on his last election campaign in Bolivia, which he won in 2002.
Problem is, he's now wanted in his home country, for – surprise! - questioning on crimes against humanity, as Bolivia wants him put on trial for the deaths of 67 Bolivian rural protesters in 2003, including women and children.
At the same time, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is wanted for extradition to Sweden for questioning on murky charges of sexual misconduct. Still with us? Said questioning is a pretext to bring Assange to Sweden, where it will become an instant non-issue, so that he may be quickly extradited to the United States and “tried” or at least treated, a la Bradley Manning, as the US will seek to invoke a variety of anti-terrorist laws. Which could very well lead to the death penalty for the Australian born Assange.
Hence Assange's recent refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy.
Call it as the world turns. Super sleuth and investigative reporter extraordinaire Glenn Greenwald documents the various twists and turns and how the cases relate to each other. Guardian.uk
On the same day, in a Connecticut courtroom, ten survivors of a
1997 massacre in Chiapas, Mexico - under the rule of then President
Ernesto Zedillo - are told their civil suit is toast.
Normally, in such
a scenario, Zedillo would need to answer the charges. But the US
intervenes, granting him immunity at the request of the Mexican
Perpetrators of the massacre were vigilantes attached to Zedillo's ruling party who escaped prosecution for the charges in Mexico in 2009 NY Times
Election Choices : Vote Your Heart or Your Head?
Activists and Occupiers fed up with such crap face a familiar choice : voting “their conscience,” i.e. those who agree with them up and down the line - Candidates like Jill Stein, Roseann Barr, and Cindy Sheehan - or a reluctant vote for the Prez, who Occupy feels puts up little or no resistance to Wall Street and an obstructionist GOP, in addition to flouting constitutionality by consolidating and expanding Bush era policies.
It's a phenomenon covered by Bill Moyers, who interviews psychologist Jonathan Haidt and asks Is it Better to Vote With Your Heart or Your Head? Moyers
Disenchanted voters who helped make up the Prez' 2008 grassroots base point to the continued, unending surveillance authorized by the Patriot Act and the more restrictive, newer NDAA, for which he is currently being sued in Federal Court by Chris Hedges, and the “Freedom 7.”
The plaintiffs include long-time dissident and activists Noam Chomsky and Daniel Ellsberg. The group procures a temporary injunction against the Prez' detaining of US citizens indefinitely without trial, essentially doing away with the writ of haebeus corpus .Kelly Vlahos has a detailed summary of the case at Original.antiwar.com
John Cusack interviews constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley and dissects the issue further. To vote out of expedience or principle? Turley sides with principle and explains why, providing details.
“There's a great desire of many people to relieve themselves of the obligation to vote on principle. It's a classic rationalization that liberals have been known to use recently, but not just liberals,” says Turley truth-out
Controversy over playing the role of “spoiler” in key battleground states. It's an argument that's never quite been decided in the wake of Ralph Nader's 2000 third party candidacy. Always easier to fly the third party flag when the outcome is not in doubt in your state.
Stein and her actual running mate, anti-poverty advocate Cheri Honkola sit down with Bill Moyers to discuss their party's candidacy and platform billmoyers.com
Still, impossible to know how any President - or citizen - will react during that fateful first national security briefing when the joint chiefs of staff sit down with the intelligence agencies and explain the threats. It's your watch and you're responsible, Mr. or Mrs. President, if anything happens. Would Stein still favor the drastic military cut-back she advocates? Such situations have occurred before.
Seeming to squarely advocate voting with your head is Port Huron statement founder and SDS founder Tom Hayden, who causes a near blogoshpere riot by playing the race card and telling “white left-liberals” to get a grip, grow up, and support Obama, adding there is nothing to be gained by “confronting a Romney presidency.” Hayden makes the case that the Prez' first-term achievements are under-appreciated while acknowledging his foreign policy is not to his liking.
Comments from the more radicalized audience are harsh and unforgiving. Still, the man who cut his activist teeth as a freedom rider deserves street cred as this was not always the safest line of work. And his point about progressives expanding beyond heavily populated centers to include the long neglected middle of the country is a serious one. Truth-out
Hayden's riff on the election is conflicted by long-time Republican operative Mike Lofgren who offers a similar assessment to OWS based on what he learned on the inside: the system is broken and there's no fixing it. His new book is The Party Is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless and the Middle Class Got Shafted Moyers and Company
Hayden's comments underline, perhaps, the generation gap alleged to exist between some occupiers. It's an interesting point of reflection for any movement that always contains its own group dynamics.
Each generation wants a different world; one of its own making. No offense to the previous ones, but upon reaching adulthood, they quickly discover how the current one is not to their liking. And the older folks who created it - through much hard work and sacrifice - now get to hear how lousy it all is. A beautiful, dynamic tension.
Still, one harkens back to the early days at Zuccotti, a multi-generational experience - and a place where all views were heard and decisions reached by consensus. A process made harder by the absence of such a space.
Occupy's initial, striking success was its ability to unify the mish-mash of society's discontented – which very nearly added up to 99%. Then they drew the attention of mainstream media and the interest of authorities, intent on criminalizing the group. Party over. Democracynow.org
Writer Bart Gluzaski takes the opposite position of Hayden, wanting to set aside what he calls “red herring politics,” the issues that separate and returning to the spirit of Zuccotti by appraising the prez candidacy using the measuring stick of the “ basic issues that unite us: our economy and a vibrant democracy”Counterpunch
“They’re organized. They’re strategic,” says Baby Boomer Donna Dewitt, an Orangeburg, S.C. resident and leader in the labor-rights movement. “They have such good ideas, they just need this older generation to listen.”
File Under : Given how much fun they all look like they're having - why the f—k not? Or as writer Caroline McMillan says, most of the dissatisfied 40- 50- and 60-somethings “can’t sacrifice their full-time jobs, mortgages and car payments to live in a tent, clash with police, and buck the government.” Thenewstribune.com
Certainly there are commonalities. Debt transcends generations. Student Debt in particular is a game the whole family can play. NY Times
Can Occupy be a Party and a party? Pedantry alienates, nobody likes a bore. Have too much fun, well then it's only youth sub-culture. The We Want the World and We Want it Now philosophy leads to cynicism when the new world doesn't come quickly. Which leads to reluctance and disengagement. Or throwing things through the window of Starbucks.. .Or worse.