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Oregon Town Hall: Pot In 2015

What will be the social and health consequences of pot on children?  We ban smoking cigarettes in public spaces. what about pot?  

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Sign petition to stop Keystone XL Pipeline

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Trust in government is 'dead, Jim'

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“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

FDR, 2nd Inaugural Address, Jan 20, 1937

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A Just Peace

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SIP contract online

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Oreaviationwatch

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Middle East friendship chart

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Corporations enriching shareholders

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- Intel tax abatements

- INTEL, come clean!

- Leashing INTEL  

- Free to Be Hungry

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Facts not fiction on universal gun background checks

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"Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere"

Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963

Martin Luther King, Jr.


The GOP - Not One of US.

Wall Street, our new criminal class...       

   Business in the USA is sitting on $2 trillion dollars refusing to invest their own funds in expanding and hiring workers.  

   When one adds to this the reserves that banks, equity firms and hedge funds have - the picture is clear - "capitalism in the USA is on strike." 

   The engine of our economy - the spirit of entrepreneurship is not in evidence today.  So much for business being dynamic and risk taking. 

   They hire K- Street lobbyists and their ilk at the state level because they are averse to risk taking - pleading for tax breaks, tax credits and endless loopholes. 

   The "business of business" in America today is not about job creation, it's about wealth hoarding and redistribution from the middle class to the top 1%. 

   So for those who claim government doesn't create jobs, my response is that business doesn't either until given "corporate welfare" by government.  The fact is that the private and public sector are highly integrated, something the anti-tax, anti-government Tea Party types don't understand. 

   Job creation requires public/private partnerships but the benefits of such collaboration should go to the 99% not just the 1%.  

 

RAD'S

WEBSITE PICKS: 


 

  • An Independent View

Oregon Outpost

  • A Middle East View      

Rami G. Khouri

  • RealClearPolitics:

Realclearpolitics

  • Jim Hightower:   

Jimhightower.com

  • Robert Reich:

Robert Reich

  • Thomas Friedman: 

Friedman Column

  • Nicholas Kristof: 

Kristof Column


Oregon's Motto: 

She flies with her own wings! 



Hard Times in Oregon: 

Hardtimes

The Oregon story - the rich get richer, the poor and middle class lose ground.  Check this front page Oregonian article out. 

Oregon wage gap widens

Homelessness in Oregon - a call to action

Chuck Currie The crisis of homelessness


  

      Oregon's coming 34th out of 41 states in the Obama "Race to the Top" illustrates the failure of leadership from Governor Kitzhaber and his predecessors as they have built an educational bridge to nowhere called high stakes testing.

   Instead of being in a race to the top we seem to be dumpster diving to the bottom despite doing education reform since 1991.  Insanity is termed doing the same thing over and over again.  When can we put a fork in this stupidity? 

   To confuse matters more the Oregonian's editorial board has pontificated that this was a lost opportunity to get federal funding for innovation.  How firing principals and teachers equals innovation is a mystery to me.   

   The way to reform schools is to reduce class sizes, to encourage teacher collaboration and to support their continued education.  High stakes testing and performance based assessment of teachers are NOT the answer!    

   If you want students to succeed you first have to resolve the issues they confront before they come to school.  Children who face poverty, hunger, homelessness, health care issues and family instability require wrap around services for them and their families, 24/7.   

   Every child needs a safe home of their own and parents who know how to be good parents.   

There is only one way to address this impending crisis.  Schools must have a stable source of funding. Until that happens - we will limp from crisis to crisis.   

 

 

    

    Why does the richest nation in the world have the moral blight of homeless people?

Invisible People

http://www.npr.org


 Homelessness

    Connecting the dots between homelessness, hunger & health care disparities in Oregon and Washington County: 

Homelessness:  

•    The faces of the homeless are families with children, single men and women, vets, and many who are impaired. It is estimated that in Washington County up to 56% of homelessness occurs to families.

Hunger:

•    Hunger is highest among single mother households (10%) and poor families (15%) as well as renters, unemployed workers and minority households. 

Heath Care Disparities: 

•    Adults in Oregon without insurance represent 22.3% of the state’s population compared to 19.7% of the nation.  In Washington County approximately 


A RAD rhetorical question - Were Madison & Marx "Marxists"?  

 

"History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments."   

- James Madison

 

"Philosophers have only interpreted the world in different ways. The point is, however, to change it. 

- Karl Marx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RAD Lines

Obamacare another good week

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 Explore Intel emissions

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#1445: Tommy, Riposa in Pace

requiescat in pace

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"There are men who believe that democracy... is limited or measured by a kind of mystical and artificial fate [and that] tyranny and slavery have become the surging wave of the future..." 

FDR, 3rd Inaugural Address, Jan 20, 1941

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Obamacare is working in Oregon!

Oregon's uninsurance rate cut more than half following federal health reforms

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Mourning for a Judaism Being Murdered by Israel

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Taking on the Pro-Israel Lobby 

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Sign the petition ►

Walgreens - pay your fair share of taxes!

"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws." - Mayer Amschel Rothschild

Miguel de Cervantes, from The Duke - "I accuse you of being an idealist, a bad poet and an honest man."  Cervantes' response - "Guilty as charged, I have never had the courage to believe in nothing."   from Man of La Mancha  

Intel failed to report fluoride emissions for almost 30 years   

     Why do Intel employees who are house hunting in Hillsboro, Aloha or Beaverton refer to an area within a 5 mile radius of Intel plants as "the dead zone?"  

      Do they know something we don't?  QuestionIntel.com  We couldn't trust banks "too big to fail," so why should we trust Intel?

Professor Kingfield, from the Paper Chase

   "I'm not a teacher: only a fellow traveler of whom you asked the way. I pointed ahead – ahead of myself as well as you." 

- George Bernard Shaw

 

BLOGS:

From the Left Wing:

Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman - The New York Times

Democracy Now
democracynow.org

The Daily Kos

dailykos.com

Blue Oregon

blueoregon.com

 

"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." 

- Emilie Buchwald 

 


    "Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year’s Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation’s confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law." 

- Justice John Paul Stevens, Bush v. Gore, 2001


    The state of our union - check out the map, it's a reality check for those who can't figure out why people are so ticked off... 

americanobserver

    Here's Garrison Keillor's rap on the rightwingnuts:   

GarrisonKeillor

 

     Garrison Keillor - "...The Founding Fathers intended the Senate to be a fount of wisdom... but when you consider...  moon-faced Mitch McConnell, your faith in democracy is challenged severely. Any legislative body in which 41 senators from rural states that together represent 10 percent of the population can filibuster you to death is going to be flat-footed, on the verge of paralysis, no matter what. Any time 10 percent of the people can stop 90 percent, it's like driving a bus with a brake pedal for each passenger. That's why Congress has a public approval rating of [11] percent...." 


"Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war"

- John Adams

 

"Loyalty to country always.  Loyalty to government when it deserves it."  

- Mark Twain  

 

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”  

- George Santayana 

 

"The love of one's country is a natural thing.  But why should love stop at the border?" 

- Pablo Casals

 

"Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned; the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." 

- William Butler Yeats  

 

"You see things; and you say, 'Why?'

But I dream things that never were; and I say, "Why not?" 

- George Bernard Shaw, "Back to Methuselah" (1921)

 

"...the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society...  The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government..."

- James Madison, Federalist Papers #11


"Why … should we have government? Why not each individual take to himself the whole fruit of his labor, without having any of it taxed away?”  

The legitimate object of government, is to do for the people whatever they need to have done, but which they can not do, at all, or can not do, so well, for themselves – in their separate and individual capacities … There are many such things … roads, bridges and the like; providing for the helpless young and afflicted; common schools … the criminal and civil [justice] departments."

- Abraham Lincoln

 

Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society

- Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

 

"Parliament is not a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests, which interests each must maintain, as an agent and advocate, against other agents and advocates, but Parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole..."

- Edmund Burke 

 

“It is a maxim among these lawyers that whatever hath been done before may legally be done again, and therefore they take special care to record all the decisions formerly made against common justice and the general reason of mankind.  These, under the name of precedents, they produce as authorities, to justify the most iniquitous opinions.”

- Jonathan Swift

 

" Every satirist who drew breath has flung pots of ink at this parade of tooting lummoxes and here it is come round again, marching down Main Street, rallying to the cause of William McKinley, hail, hail, the gang’s all here, ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay."

- Garrison Keillor


 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

  

 


  

 

Wednesday
Dec172014

IN THE NEWS...  

     President Obama announced "normalization" with Cuba.  It's about time after 50 years of failure!  It shows what a "lameduck" Potus can do.  Thanks, Barack for moving the needle...  

     But the dominant news was the killings of 132 Pakistani school children and 16 of their teachers by Taliban terrorists.  Will this be the game changing event in Pakistan that get's their government to do the right thing?  Hitting a soft target like a school illustrates the ideological mendacity of the Taliban and its medieval mind set.

School children in mourning....

Grieving parents...   

Other news: 

Tuesday
Dec162014

TORTURE - THE BACK STORY

EDITOR’S NOTE: 

     It is “boiler plate political science” that one of the major weaknesses in American government is that the “oversight” function within the executive and legislative branches is haphazard at best. 

     When a law is passed Congress seldom keeps track of how it’s being implemented unless a scandal of some sort occurs often trip wired by press inquiries.

     The executive branch is similarly slow in tracking the bureaucracy largely because day to day events and politics shapes the actions of the folks in the West Wing not long term attention to detail.  

     Events like Watergate or Iran/Contra and now the use of torture only get public attention of the “electeds” when some outside source “outs” the issue or the inside the beltway narrative changes. 

     The commentary below by Washington Post columnist David Ignatius examines the “story behind the story” showing that Congress itself all too often kicks the can…   

     As Ignatius points out “…this is a way of life on Capitol Hill…” His commentary reinforces my take on the Senate report in my blog post last week: 

US SENATE "TORTURE" REPORT

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The torture report’s one glaring weakness

By David Ignatius December 10

     Senate investigators have delivered an indictment of CIA interrogation practices after the 9/11 attacks, accusing the agency of inflicting pain and suffering on prisoners with tactics that went well beyond legal limits. (AP)

     The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s use of torture was immensely valuable. But it should have addressed Congress’s own failure to oversee these activities more effectively. By giving lawmakers a pass, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) weakened the very process of accountability her report was meant to enhance.

     Feinstein was brave in resisting pressure to squelch her report, and she did the country a service. But with its thousands of pages, her investigation had one glaring weakness: Self-examination.

     A more honest report would have squarely faced the arguments made by former CIA officials that key members of Congress were informed about interrogation practices and, far from objecting, condoned the very CIA activities we now judge to have been wrong.

     RAD:  The question for Feinstein et al is regarding EIT aka torture is the old Nixon Watergate Era question – “what and when did the Congress know it?   

     “There’s great hypocrisy in politicians’ criticism of the CIA’s interrogation program,” wrote Jose Rodriguez, the CIA deputy director who oversaw it, in last weekend’s Washington Post. That allegation deserves a serious response, rather than the stonewall it got from Feinstein.

     “The CIA briefed Congress approximately 30 times” on interrogation, according to six former CIA directors or deputy directors in an article Tuesday in the Wall Street Journal. “The briefings were detailed and graphic and drew reactions that ranged from approval to no objection.”

     RAD:  “Approval to no objections” – the silence of the lambs?

     Are the former directors right? Not according to the Senate report, which claims: “The CIA has actively avoided or impeded congressional oversight of the program.”

     For example, the report notes that the leadership of the Senate Intelligence Committee wasn’t briefed about the brutal interrogation techniques until September 2002, a month after they were first used against Al Qaeda member Abu Zubaydah.

     Let’s look at the 2002 complaint. A CIA review of “contemporaneous records” shows that this initial briefing to Sens. Bob Graham and Richard Shelby and Reps. Porter Goss and Nancy Pelosi included “a history of the Zubaydah interrogation, an overview of the material acquired, the resistance techniques Zubaydah had employed, and the reason for deciding to use the enhanced measures,” along with a description of “the enhanced techniques that had been employed.”

     RAD:  If these select leaders of Congress knew – it belies that other members of Congress, especially those serving on the Intelligence Committees of both House and Senate didn’t know either! 

     Did the members of Congress push back hard, as we now realize they should have? Did they demand more information and set stricter limits? Did they question details about the interrogation techniques that were being used?  It appears that, with rare exceptions, they did not.

     Like the CIA contractors and officers who devised the program, the Justice Department officials who endorsed the legality of the harsh techniques, and the Bush administration that authorized their use, members of Congress made mistakes. They were silently complicit. They just don’t own up to that fact.

     RAD:  Keep in mind in 2002 we were well into the occupation of Afghanistan and planning to invade Iraq.  So the mood in the country and on the Hill was to be “tough.”  EIT fit the mood at the time. 

     The Senate report doesn’t hold members accountable. Instead, it blames others.

     DI:  This culture of blame-shifting and hypocrisy matters because it undermines oversight of intelligence activities: History (including the latest dark chapter on interrogation) suggests that members are for questionable activities when they’re politically popular, and against them when public opinion shifts.

     I wish the interrogation program were the only issue where Congress fails to hold itself to the same standards it uses for others. But this is a way of life on Capitol Hill.

     Take the recommendations of the Sept. 11 Commission. In addition to proposing a Director of National Intelligence to “connect the dots” in the executive branch, the panel urged reform of congressional oversight. 

     Among the recommendations was consolidating authorization and appropriation authority in the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. Needless to say, the turf-protecting appropriations committees blocked the proposed reform.

     RAD:  When oversight invades the “space” or “turf” of governmental agencies or committees “turf protection” is the name of the game.  This is also aggravated by the highly decentralized nature of congressional committees where committee chairs operate their fiefdoms like medieval war-lords. 

     “Congressional oversight for intelligence—and counterterrorism—is now dysfunctional,” the Sept. 11 Commission warned in 2004. The record has improved, as the Feinstein report shows. Hopefully, this marks a new era of oversight and accountability. But when it comes to self-criticism on intelligence matters, Congress has once again dropped the ball.

     RAD:  In a highly partisan and gridlocked political system the chief operating principle is to “cover thine ass” not to “investigate thy errors.”  Only an aggressive press can enhance transparency and all too often the media has its own agenda. 

     But in a convoluted way the Founders never anticipated the “checks and balances” system operates better here than in other “democracies” as noted in this article my CC sent me about Canada.   My oh my!  

     "...One thing you could say about the United States: No other country’s government is able to self-critically document its own abuses and excesses with such regular alacrity, transparency and totality...  This sort of exposure, even with executive approval, would be almost unimaginable in, say, Canada..." 

     RAD:    I recall during the Watergate era and Monikagate Euros had a hard time comprehendi ng our penchant for public self-flagellation.  Perhaps it's our Puritan heritage which makes us "exceptional" - first deny, then admit after the "cover-up" fails?  Contradictions are US...   

 

Saturday
Dec132014

FROM FERGUSON TO DC - OUR SANCTIMONY/CIVILITY GAP

     The debate in the US over the Ferguson tragedy has led to a polarized debate over how and why Michael Brown was shot by a white cop, Darren Wilson.  This debate has also morphed into a national debate over the role of police in minority communities across the nation.    

     On a parallel path of national discordance, the vote on the omnibus tax bill to prevent a government shutdown has caused legislators to chose up sides as if they were in a shootout in the Wild Wild West with President Obama caught in the middle as if he were the sheriff in the movie High Noon. 

     In both cases, partisans on both sides of these debates are deluging e-mail, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter with alarmist missives as if the world was coming to an end if "their side" doesn't win this battle for the heart and minds of America.  There is no middle ground here.  

     As a Garrison Keillor fan I have a large collection of his tapes and CDs from Lake Wobegon.  In one I listened to last night there is a passage that ends a hilarious scene at a memorial service on the Lake which illustrates how silly humans are, so why not cut ourselves some slack is the takeaway question?  

     This was reinforced by an interview by PBS's Tavis Smiley of actor Rene Russo (Tin Cup fame) about her newest movie Nightcrawler which deals with the story behind the story of the local TV new's mantra - "it's got to bleed to lead."   Russo said to play her role required her to tap into her dark side...  

     In the interview Smiley discussing how an actor taps into the dark side noted that Martin Luther King, Jr. said that in the best person there is evil, in the worst is there is good.  They then went on to agree that it's our questions not the answers that are the key to our humanity.  

     As one looks at the current political landscape in the US from Ferguson, to enhanced interrogation and to the battle over the budget - we are exposed to a lot of ideological sound and fury which marginalizes us all and reduces the conversation to talking points where we talk past each other not with each other.  

     The state of our union is in disarray.  Each party plays a game much like we did in Vietnam - "we had to burn the village to save the people."  The goal is to seize the moment  as if politics was a sprint not a marathon.  Principles are important but politics is the art of the possible.  And the possible changes with every election.  

     Being very opinionated, a blogger, a pundit and citizen activist, I'm easily sucked into this vortex whether it is the politics of the Puzzle Palace in Salem, race relations in America or debates over the Middle East.  But sometimes I just want to get off the treadmill of clashing e-mails or blogs and retreat to the train room or golf.  Enough! 

     Social media accentuates this diving into the dumpster of "I'm right and you're wrong" pseudo conversation.  A check of online "comments" of any media source reinforces for me how infantile we become when we're not talking face to face, we say things in e-mail or online we'd never say to each other in person!  

     The same is true of protest marches and political rallies - they are not occasions for rational thought processes but emotional discharge - what the Car Guys term "comments unencumbered by the thought process."  And sadly, more and more of what goes for discussion of politics in the USA and beyond is like this - discourse reduced to junk mail.    

     Now back to Ferguson.  What began this tragedy?  A young man stealing a cigararello from a convenience store.  Why did Michael Brown do this?  I've never read anything which explains his actions.  Similarly, why did officer Wilson confront two young black men for simply walking in the middle of a street? 

     But I have more questions - why do African-Americans end up in jail disproportionately to their percentage of the population?  Where are the parents of these kids, usually sons?  Why aren't they raising their "sons" to help them make good choices instead of life threatening ones?  Even a college prof/parent has had sleepless nights on this issue....  

     I have a similar set of questions for local police departments - why don't you recruit more minority cops?  Is there something in your training methods that requires a "shoot to kill" mentality?  Why aren't you held to standards of accountability that a local DA would hold anyone alleged to have killed somebody?  

     Now to Congress:  Why are the two parties engaging in the politics of playing chicken when the risk to the public if there is a governmental shut down will do harm to many - especially the poor, kids and the middle class.  Why do you privilege big business lobbyists from Wall Street?  

     For Senator Elizabeth Warren is your last minute alarm simply self promotion, a prelude to positioning yourself for a 2016 presidential bid or are you serious about being a US Senator?  I'm not happy with giving Wall Street more loopholes but this move has been in play for years - why go to the matt now? 

     News alert - the budget billl passed with all its goodies and warts.  The next act in the theater of the absurd starts in January - a prelude to 2016. 

     For President Obama, Majority Leader Reed, Minority Leader Mitchell and Speaker Boehner you have the power to end this nightmare.  Why does one get the feeling each of you is playing a game here?  You all do speeches but you never seem to sit down with each other out of the limelight to talk "with" instead of talk "past" each other!  

     At the local level here in Washington County I've documented how duplicitous County leaders aka the TROIKA are but their defenders and detractors can reduce the discussion to the level of school yard catcalls.  And the contentious battle in public schools over testing get's downright nasty as the article below illustrates: 

     Like Tavis Smiley and Renee Russo - I have more questions than answers and I haven't even gotten to the Senate "Intelligence" Committee report,  Let me add this question - why did it take so long to get this report out and why were no CIA officers interviewed - just e-mails scanned? 

     For those who want to indict Dick Cheney for crimes against humanity why stop there - why not go after every CIA officer complicit in EIT?  Back in the day, I wanted Nixon in jail for Watergate, then Reagan for Iran/Contra.  But the politics of recrimination would poison the well by creating a constitutional crisis? 

     The politics of vengeance as opposed to reconciliation makes discourse impossible.  What is needed is communication not score settling.

     It begins with we the citizens as voters.  We are the deciders at election time.  So look in the mirror - "you've seen the enemy, it's not them, it's us."  You can blame the media, the politicians, the lobby, the PACs - as long as Americans are divided into Red and Blue voters ideological gridlock will be the name of the game!  

     We've ceded the political process to our worst angels not our best angels.  Shame on us!   

      When engaged in face to face negotiations one is less likely to default to a zero sum game if you want a successful result where everyone feels they were heard.  The "grand bargain" on urban/rural reserves was like this.  I hope that our "good neighbor agreement" negotiations with Intel "can" have a similar result.    

     But right now I feel we too often are like trains passing in the night. 

 

 

Friday
Dec122014

US SENATE "TORTURE" REPORT

     A friend of mine, a fellow progressive, after the Senate released its report on Tuesday of torture, rendition et al in the Bush II era had misgivings – which I also share:  

 

1.  It seems very politically motivated, Democrats getting even with Bush, Cheney and the boys before the Republicans take over and hide the report.  I think the motivations are more political than truth-telling.  A bit of hypocrisy in the committee’s justifications for release.

2.  There’s a strong self-righteous whiff to it—look at what democratic America is doing, unlike bad states like North Korea, Russia and China! It’s a little like Catholics going to confession, getting absolution, and then going about their business unchanged in any fundamental way.

3.   It gives more fuel to the anti-American forces around the world, unnecessarily endangering innocent (and guilty) people. Why give our enemies more reason to attack Americans whatever their views, many likely not supporting the torture the government participated in?

4.  What good will come from the release?  I see a lot of patting ourselves on the back that we can admit our faults to the world but will the world see it that way?

     I can see a lot of bad but little good. The whole world knows that we’ve tortured, do we need to give it a detailed examination? Why isn’t a brief admission of that fact enough? We could say that it was a response to the 9/11 attacks, followed by the recognition that torture resulted in no actionable evidence and then acknowledging that we stopped the practice—why isn’t that enough?

     It just seems that admission is enough to satisfy the demands of truth; the details are not necessary and endanger too many people. 

     After time for more thought my friend is conflicted.

     After reading some of the details, I think it's important that the American people know what was done in our name. That should ensure that the appropriate watchdogs of our system will be more vigilant and responsive if these conditions should happen again.

     But giving this information to the world (which will happen sooner or later anyway) creates more danger for our citizens and also the opportunity for others to self-righteously condemn us for what they've been doing themselves for years.  So maybe we can hope for a bit of humility from us as we condemn others for their barbarisms. Condemning ISIS now would be hypocrisy at its finest.

     In a better world, those responsible for the torture would be tried and punished (well, in a better world it wouldn't have happened), but we don't live in that world. We live in a world where the strong and the victors make the rules and don't have to follow them. If we'd lost a war or were weak, the perpetrators wouldn't get off. Maybe we'll have to be satisfied with the verbal condemnation of those nations we admire, assume some humility and less self-righteousness, and try to do better in the future. 

     It's impossible for only us to know what happened, so I guess I'm saying that what's happening is about the best we can hope for. The world knows what we did and condemns us for it, and we admit it and try to do better in the future. It's a messy world we live in and we're a big part of that mess; that doesn't mean we're North Korea or or China or ISIS, but it does mean we should do our best not to make it messier.

     We've failed on this issue, but we do have better ideals and can do better.  Let's be on with it.

     RAD: I agree with my friend.     

     There is nothing much new here but recycled news which gives a pretext for a media feeding frenzy over old news. And any new details will put Americans at risk not just CIA types but business people, tourists and students from the USA who are in the Middle East. 

     Watching CNN’s coverage Tuesday the examples of “enhanced interrogation” or torture used in the Bush II administration were clearly morally repulsive, nauseating and disgusting.  It reminds me of Hannah Arendt’s phrase “the banality of evil.” 

     But this ended in 2009 when Obama became president and possibly earlier as the Bush II era ended.  Nobody can justify it.  Senator John McClain, a Vietnam POW said it best:  torture "stained our national honor" and did "much harm and little practical good." 

     Opening this wound again on the conscience of America (and her allies) just numbs us even more to the callous regard for human beings reinforcing so much in American popular culture that glorifies outlaw violence and our siege mentality. 

     Enough of pulling this scab off – well maybe… 

     It certainly gives ISIS more reasons to take hostages to use for ransom or for beheadings on social media.  I suspect the next news alert from the State Department will be a warning for Americans not to travel to the hot spots in the Middle East.

     Such a warning is out…  no surprise!        

     The spin by the ACLU on NPR that Obama might want to give the people who engaged in this stuff a pre-emptive "pardon" in lieu of a trial is absurd...  Unless the pardon included Bush I and Cheney et al it is more posturing and would create a backlash among the GOP as they return to power!  

     As a partisan, I’d love to see George W. Bush and Dick Cheney face prosecution for war crimes and crimes against humanity for approving “enhanced interrogation.”  But they can claim plausible deniability, the old Reagan Iran/Contra mantra otherwise we’re just looking for a sacrificial lamb. 

      The CIA says they didn’t tell Bush II what they were up to in the Dubya era. One suspects it was the classic wink and a nod. The national security state what Oliver North during the Iran/Contra hearings called the “enterprise” – a stand lone entity free from scrutiny is alive if not well. 

      The nation has known about torture and rendition since early on in the Bush II era.  Cheney acknowledged it publically on TV then and this week again! Why revisit this now?  One reason, people like Oregon’s Ron Wyden and California’s Diane Feinstein are burnishing their “tough love” credentials. 

     As members of the oxymoronic named “Intelligence” committee, they have been briefed for decades on this “stuff” as Joe Biden would call it.  If they didn’t ask the right questions in public hearings or in executive sessions, they were derelict in exercising their oversight duties as members of Congress.  

     Feinstein got pissed off because she found out the CIA monitored her computer. Well, the data-mining folks at the CIA, NSA et al have been engaged in spying on us since the early ‘60s as any civil rights or peace activist from that era knows!  Golly gee Diane!    

     Granted most Americans were clueless about this torture “stuff” for good reason. Since 9/11 Americans have been in economic “shock and awe” dealing with the Great Recession and too busy making ends meet to pay attention. That’s where the media and Congress comes in. 

     After 9/11 the public supported this “stuff” trading freedom for security.  Only until the war on terrorism became unpopular as we got bogged down in another increasingly problematic quagmire did public opinion change - though a majority still supports EIT!     

     Any NPR regular knew what was going on and our collective wake up call was Bagram, Guantanamo Bay, and Abu Ghraib. Nobody can claim to be ignorant – if they were it was willful ignorance.  And as before the law but also before higher law (natural law) ignorance is no defense.  

     So spare us the gnashing of teeth and walling in the halls of Congress.  We have turned the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan over to the locals and their allies in the region (if they will step up).  Our attacks on ISIS et al are a matter of public record. One hopes the era of torture and rendition is really over.  

     Sadly the time for US legal action against the Dubya era Grand Inquisitors is over. 

     But that shouldn’t stop foreign governments from charging Bush II era officials with “crimes against humanity” and war crimes. Bush II is not at risk but VP Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, CIA Diector George Tenet, National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and John Yoo (author of the “torture” memos) should all be on the list. 

     Will they be tried before the World Court?  Not a chance in hell.  Why not?  Because when you start picking at the US side of the scab foreign leaders such as Tony Brown and MI5 et al will be implicated…  Where would this end?  But it will limit these “cretins” travel itineraries!

------------------------

     Wikipedia has updated the Bush era EIT policies and given it historical context:  

     For those who want to know more and have strong stomachs here’s the report: 

      The American media has not been unscathed…  not even NPR –

     “In the summer of 2009 NPR decided to ban using the word torture in what was a controversial act. Its Ombudsman Alicia Shepard's defense of the policy was that "calling waterboarding torture is tantamount to taking sides." But UCal-Berkeley Professor of Linguistics Geoffrey Nunberg, pointed out that virtually all media around the world, other than what he called the "spineless U.S. media", call these techniques torture.    

 

 

Monday
Dec082014

THE FERGUSON/TERRORISM CONNECTION? 

     EDITOR'S NOTE:  Andrew O’Hehir is a senior writer and the lead film critic for Salon.com.  He has a BA/MA in Humanities from John Hopkins U in Baltimore, Maryland, 1980-84. 

     I know this will be a challenge for those who prefer short and sweet - like USA Today...   Or the usual Tweets on Twitter...  The Red Tory's style is "massive intellectual retaliation" as does Mr. O'Hehir...   

Picture from Salon.com

Killer cops, drone wars and the crisis of democracy

- by Andrew O'Hehir

- rebuttal by Russ Dondero

     AO:  This will long be remembered as the week when another grand jury declined to prosecute another white police officer in the death of another unarmed African-American man, this time in the nation’s largest and most diverse city, a supposed bastion of liberalism.

     For many black people, and indeed for many people of all races, this seemed like a disturbing lesson on race and state power in America. For all the apparent progress we have made, and all the enormous social change of the last half-century, it seems evident that those who wield state power on the most direct and intimate level – the police – still have the right to exercise lethal violence against ordinary citizens with impunity. At any rate, they have that right when it comes to some citizens.

     RAD:  What Mr. O’Hehir misses is that cop violence is directed at people of color who “act out” in some way provoking an overreaction by cops.  But the victims are not the Bill Cosby’s, upper middle class African-Americans, but marginalized Black “men”. 

     Don’t get me wrong – college educated male Blacks are profiled by the cops but usually the interaction is not incendiary because members of the Black bourgeoisie have internalized the experience and don’t act out since they know how the game is played. 

     As any parent knows youths live in the present not the future where yelling expletives at “the man” are more likely.  

     If Mr. O’Hehir thinks this is bad he needs to replay the Jim Crow era, an era in the South of lynchings, cross-burnings and police violence against non-violent civil rights protesters.  The issue is that police violence has moved “north” which disturbs our mythical narrative of how the north is “different” from the Old South. 

     De jure segregation in the South has proved to be an easier evil to challenge while de facto segregation in the North is much more intractable. The courts and public opinion have eroded but not ended the former, while the latter is implanted in practices like red lining and gentrification. 

     So when a white cop enters the urban ghetto or the suburban version of it like Ferguson, Missouri which was created by “White flight” they are an alien in a foreign land viewed as an occupying force by the locals not like your friendly local stereotypical Irish cop on the beat.    

     AO:  It was also a week when another news nugget flashed by in my Twitter feed, noticed by hardly anyone and unlikely to be much remembered. But there were disturbing lessons to be found there also.

     A British legal nonprofit called Reprieve reported this week that, on average, every United States drone strike in the Middle East kills 28 unidentified people for every intended target. In America’s fruitless quest to kill al-Qaida head Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Reprieve report alleges, your tax dollars and mine have paid for the deaths of 105 individuals, 76 of them children.

     RAD:  Since when did Twitter become a reliable news source?  But let’s give this a pass.  So what?  And how do we go from 105 killed to over 1000 (see below)?  Let’s give this another pass for now...

    How many thousands of innocent people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria have been "intentionally" killed at the hands of the jihadists - al Qaida, the Taliban and ISIS from 9/11 to now?     

     If one targets jihadists, their families and those who live near them are tragically likely unwitting victims of such retaliation against the perpetrators of massive violence and ethnic cleansing. 

     Perhaps the question should be why do people follow and live with terrorists knowing the risks? Well Mr. O’Hehir answers the question when he rather uncharitably refers to the “slaveish morality” of the average American? 

     Could it be that “slavishness” as noted by Sinclair Lewis in Main Street, Aldus Huxley in Brave New World or George Orwell in 1984 may be more generic than specific to any group?

     AO:  In its attempts to kill 41 specific people deemed “high-value targets” in the war on terror, the U.S. has apparently killed more than 1,000 people as unintended collateral damage. Incidentally, al-Zawahiri and at least five other of those celebrity villains remain alive. No one has taken to the streets to mourn those deaths and cry out for justice, largely because they took place far away in a murky war we are told nothing about. (Finding any media coverage of the Reprieve report proved to be a challenge.)

     RAD: "...a murky war we are told nothing about..."  The author's article belies the implication here.  We've known about the war on terrorism since 9/11...   Are we all in agreement - no?  How about the enemy and their enablers on the other side of the war on terror, jihadists, their families, Saudi money men...?   And any cover-up is impossible in the 24/7 media age!  

     Jihadists like al Qaida and ISIS are very sophisticated in accessing social media for their propaganda purposes.  Maybe they don’t want people to know of the collateral damage or the locals don’t take to the streets because like Mafia families, most Arabs or Muslims find these groups scarier than allied drones or air power.  

     But let’s look at this from an historical perspective, the collateral damage in the war on terrorism is small by comparison to WWII - the good war - with the fire bombings of Dresden or Tokyo let alone the A-bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki or lives lost in the German siege of Moscow.  

     AO:  As the daughter of Eric Garner, the man choked to death by cops on Staten Island, said on Friday, this is a moment of national crisis, and one that is long overdue.

     But the true crisis is not limited to the relationship between African-Americans and the police, as urgent as that issue appears at the moment. Indeed, that is only one aspect of the crisis, which is not something that can be fixed with cop-cams or by sending a few rogue officers to prison.

     On a larger scale, the crisis is about the corruption and perversion of democracy, and in many cases the willing surrender of democracy by those who live in fear of terrorists from distant lands and criminals from the inner city.

     To borrow an explosive concept from Nietzsche and turn it to new purposes, it’s about the “slave morality” that characterizes so much of American life, meaning the desire to be dominated and ruled, to give up control over one’s own life and allow others to make the decisions.

     RAD:  Only an effete snob art critic from Salon could make such an outrageous generalization.  By doing so he minimizes the legitimate fear of the terrorist burned into the American mind by 9/11 and the viciousness of jihadist beheadings and ethnic cleaning they self-report on social media. 

     I would argue that ISIS et al are slaves to their own perverted interpretation of Islam and their bloodthirsty tactics which unlike allied strategy deliberately target the innocent not just military targets.  Terrorist by definition target the innocent...  

      The author lives in his own ideological comfort zone where he can define the world in black and white terms with moral impunity.  He’s an example of the arrogance of unbridled pseudo-journalistic power.  This is what happens when commentary becomes “artistic’ license. 

      AO:  Since the word “slave” carries special meaning in American history, let me be clear that I’m not talking here about the legacy of 19th-century human slavery (although that too is still a factor in our national life). I’m talking about the plurality or majority of contemporary Americans who have enslaved themselves – in moral and psychological terms — to the rule of a tiny economic oligarchy, and to a state that serves its interests, in exchange for the promise of order, safety and comfort.

     RAD:  It’s so easy and breathtaking for the author to engage in generalizations about the American people. The problem is that the facts suggest otherwise. 

     The Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street, protests against cop violence, the election of Barack Obama and the cycle of contradictory elections where in off years the GOP wins, while in presidential years the Dems win suggest Americans are not “slavish” quite the opposite! 

     The American people are not an unthinking blob but clearly very conflicted between Red, Blue and Purple voters while the author engages in an elitist and snobbish tirade against the average American, as if there was such an American!   

     AO:  That order, safety and comfort then become the absolute values, the only values; they become coterminous with “freedom,” which must be defended by the most exaggerated means.

     If the leaders hint that those values are under attack from sinister forces, or might someday be, the timorous, self-enslaved majority consents to whatever is said to be necessary, whether that means NSA data sweeps, indefinite detention camps, mass murder by remote control or yet another ground war in the Middle East. Compared to all that, letting a few killer cops go free is small potatoes.

     RAD:  Americans – “timorous, self-enslaved” really?  We believe in “data sweeps, indefinite detention” – really?  We’ve had a vigorous debate over these actions at all levels from libertarians like Rand Paul to geeks like Eric Snowden.    

     The author must only watch FOX news…   And then he lowers the boom – “mass murder by remote control.”  Really?   He makes no mention of the real mass murderers – ISIS, al Qaida…  What's their body count?  

     AO:  Racism and its close cousin xenophobia are ingredients baked into the slave morality that afflicts so many white Americans, feeding a persecution complex and a sense of permanent aggrievement among the most historically privileged demographic group on the planet. (Yes, there are millions of poor whites, and they have good reason to lament their marginal, forgotten status. They also have a strong tendency to look for enemies in the wrong places.)

     RAD:  The sense of “permanent aggrievement” I'm concerned about is among  the 1% like Phil Knight and Bill Gates who think taxing their empires is an act envy and “class warfare.”  And to lump all whites together shows the author’s own class, racial biases and self-loathing as a person of white privilege.  .  

     AO:  Crime is at or near all-time lows, employment is high, many consumer goods are cheaper than ever before and the United States has not experienced a major attack by foreign terrorists in 13 years.

     RAD:  And why has the US not been successfully attacked since 9/11? 

     AO:  Given all that, it is crucial to conceal the real source of middle-class and working-class America’s worsening anomie: the vast gulf of inequality between the super-rich and the rest of us, along with the stagnant wages, declining benefits and longer work weeks confronted by ordinary people.

     RAD:  Finally the author gets to the real malaise in the land not trotting out his “witless victims” sideshow scenario. 

     AO:  As the black radical philosopher Frantz Fanon observed in the early 1960s, racism becomes a tool in the hands of the masters, used to pit different sectors of the oppressed against each other.

     He was talking about the European working class and its reluctance to join forces with the anti-colonial struggle in Africa, but we face a version of the same problem today.

     RAD:  Actually Fanon focused on the false consciousness, Black souls/White faces, of the emerging Black bourgeoisie in Africa as nations there gained independence from European colonialism. Fanon’s critique has been validated by corrupt regimes in sub-Saharan Africa up to the present.     

     The divide and conquer strategy was used by the Brits in India to keep the Raj in tact pitting Hindu against Muslim et al.  Ironically, now it’s used by jihadists to pit Sunni and Shiite.  The oppressed become the oppressor of their own thanks to the tutelage of the colonizers.       

     AO:  This week I watched an eerie and powerful new collage film from Swedish documentarian Göran Hugo Olsson called “Concerning Violence,” which is inspired by Fanon’s revolutionary classic “The Wretched of the Earth” (a book not as far away from Nietzsche as you might suppose).

     The film is an essayistic and aphoristic assemblage of archival footage from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s, opening a window onto various episodes from that little-understood and profoundly important period of post-colonial and anti-colonial history in Africa.

     RAD:  As a child of the ‘60s I was well aware of this period from the fall of Dien Bien Phu to JFK’s misadventure first in the Congo, then in Vietnam. I even took college classes on the subject being a political science major. 

     As an activist Fanon’s wisdom has informed my view for decades as has Marx, Marcuse et al.  Unless one has been sitting under a rock, if one went to college in the ‘60s you couldn’t be ignorant of such traumas…  

     But the author was "schooled" in the early '80s - the quiet years of Reagan's "friendly fascism."  

     AO:  But it also struck me as a distorted mirror reflecting our own situation, which has elements of internal colonialism (with respect to the poorest elements of our population), and an external neo-colonialism, although held at a great distance and largely invisible.

     As you watch guerrilla fighters attack Portuguese colonial troops in Mozambique, or white Rhodesians insult the servants and prepare to flee their homeland, Lauryn Hill reads oracular passages from Fanon, which sometimes also appear on-screen as overlays.

     Colonialism, he says, shows us “a world cut in two; its borders and frontiers are shown by barracks and police stations.” While a police officer, who may well be a “native” drawn from the oppressed class, is positioned as a neutral intermediary or a keeper of the peace, he is in fact “the bringer of violence into the mind and the home of the native.”

     RAD:  There is nothing new here.  One wonders if the author ever read Richard Wright’s Native Son, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin...  I could go on…  but will restrain myself from providing a reading list or syllabus on neo-colonialism here or abroad. 

     AQ:  It is through the instrument of policing, Fanon says, that the colonist teaches the colonized that violence is the only effective strategy, and the only language the colonist can understand.

     “The zone where the natives live,” Fanon writes, “is not complementary to the zone inhabited by the settlers. The two zones are opposed, but not in the service of a higher unity.”

     While the white settlers live in “a strongly built town all made of stone and steel,” with bright lights and smoothly paved streets, the natives live somewhere quite different. “The town belonging to the colonized people – the shantytown, the Negro village, the medina, the reservation – is a place of ill fame, peopled by men of evil repute.

     They are born there, it matters little where or how; they die there, it matters not where or how.”  

    Perhaps the contrast between, say, Ferguson and the most desirable St. Louis suburbs, or between the housing projects of Staten Island and the Upper West Side, is not quite so dramatic, nor the segregation so ironclad.

     But Fanon’s almost mathematical formula – the two zones of American life are opposed, but not in the service of any higher unity – feels distressingly accurate.

     RAD:  Fanon captures the “two worlds” well, the metropolis vs. the periphery.  Any viewer of the recent World Cup Games in Brazil had to be delusional not to see the dichotomy between Rio's beaches where the Girl from Ipanema reclines and the hillside slums, the infamous favelas.  

     And again, ghettos and red lining have replicated the same in the USA along with gated communities like I remember as a young piano student staying at Washington University in Clayton Missouri in 1959 next door to Ferguson...  Living in rural Oregon at the time, I never saw gated communities until that summer!  

     AO:  If we have no literal division between natives and settlers in this country – the continent’s native population having been driven to the outermost margins of society – multiple overlapping forms of bigotry and prejudice have served the purpose well.

     A litany of threats must be concocted or inflated, and then suppressed, by means the morally enslaved majority embraces, tolerates or ignores.

     RAD:  The author seems to be reaching here.  He can't be excused, he was a "Humanities" major at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, a predominantly Black city surrounded by White suburbs...   How ironic.  Did the author ever notice this while as a student?  

     His America has gated communities, condo communities with de facto class covenants, red lining and gentrification.  In Oregon this is codified by a state law passed in '95 supported by the home building lobby pre-empting inclusionary zoning!  Such practices create the"new" reservations for the great unwashed....   

     The colonialization process in Oregon has three faces:  

     They are 1) the great divide between Portlandia’s metro area vs. the “other” rural Oregon; 2) the outsourced economy thanks to Intel and Nike et al. who rely on off-shore factories; and 3) the shipping of farm and timber resources outside of the USA.  

     AO:  Ebola-infected terrorists must be wiped out in Yemen before they can come here; invading brown hordes from Mexico must be thwarted by an impregnable border fence; African-American men, understood to be “violent” and “angry” whether or not they behave that way, must be cut down in the streets, or incarcerated en masse, before they can invade the suburbs.

     RAD:  The author has a way with words!  Again he’s spent too much time watching the spin zone of FOX News…  Americans are not of one mind on any of these issues…  How dare he lump us all into the same ideological dumpster aka the GOP spin zone.   We haven’t all been “Dubyaized.”      

     AO:  One could argue that Mike Brown and Eric Garner died because they expressed insufficiently avid slave morality, or did not do so rapidly enough. Reasonable-sounding people on TV and the Internet have repeatedly assured us, over the last few weeks, that those who submit to authority and trust the system (despite the manifest and obvious failures of the system) need not fear being killed in the street.

     There is logic here, but it is the logic of military occupation that Fanon would have recognized in the colonial context, not the logic of democracy: Capitulate entirely and without hesitation, do not insist on your so-called rights, and you will be permitted to live.

    RAD:  Neither the author nor moi were in Ferguson...  so we don’t know what really happened – only that the reaction of the cops given the evidence appears clearly an over-reaction and resulted in a tragic killing…

     The best rule in such circumstances is common sense.  Cops have to exercise discretion.  But when a cop pulls me over, I don’t show attitude, I say yes sir and show my license.  I then go to court to beat the rap or to get the fine lowered. 

     AO:  When a police officer kills an unarmed black man and goes unpunished, we see two interdependent problems at once: the problem of racism, and the problem of state power exercised in its most brutal and overt fashion, violence legitimized by the cloak of authority and exercised with only the barest pretense of accountability.

     RAD:  Agreed but the lesson here is to know how to play the game to deflect the confrontation.  Had Michael Brown just moved to the sidewalk as requested, the risk would have been lowered. The match that lit the gunfire avoided, maybe?  The impetuousness of youth is risky. 

     AO:  That kind of violence is self-evidently not compatible with the principles of democracy, and we can see that contradiction embodied in someone like Bob McCulloch, the St. Louis prosecutor who nominally serves as an elected representative of the people but whose true role was revealed to be that of servant and protector of state power.

     RAD:  DA McCulloch was playing a type of Kabuki theater all DA’s play…  The question going forward in Ferguson is will he be re-elected in a city which is 70% Black?  A Black DA would make a difference along with an African-American police chief.  This is a necessary but not sufficient condition of changing Ferguson’s plantation mentality…  

     AO:  At first glance, the ongoing drone war in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia – and perhaps other places we don’t know about – seems entirely disconnected from the Brown and Garner killings and the subsequent legal whitewashing. The latter reflects a domestic social issue of long standing, bound up with America’s convoluted system of state, regional and local jurisdictions and law enforcement agencies.

     RAD:  Yes a galaxy far far away but hey the author is on a roll, why stop there? 

     AO:  The former is a matter of “foreign policy” and executive power, an artifact of the technological age and the officially endless war on terror. The drone war is conducted in secret, with the government almost never acknowledging whom it has killed or why. Police killings of civilians generally happen in public, and generally require at least the semblance of a public response.

     RAD:  What is “secret” never stays secret…   ask Richard Nixon, Oliver North… or Eric Snowden…     

     AO:  But the two phenomena are more closely connected than they appear. As we have seen in Ferguson and elsewhere, the military-industrial complex is now heavily invested in American policing, and local law enforcements now resemble poorly trained regional armies.

     RAD:  Moth balled weapons were offered to local agencies in Nixon’s revenue sharing policy.  It coincided with Nixon’s “law and order” rhetoric and his policy towards the Black community termed “benign neglect” coined by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Nixon’s urban policy guru.  

     AO:  Furthermore, both invoke the well-established principle that the state holds a monopoly on legitimate violence, and then extend it in insidious fashion:

     All state violence is now deemed legitimate by definition, and the state itself is the sole judge and guarantor of that legitimacy. As the state holds out to us its open hand, seeking to reassure us that all has been handled according to law and in the interests of order, it keeps the other hand clenched in a fist behind its back.

     RAD:  To the author this is “state violence,” to others its “law and order.”  The most common definition from Hobbes on is that the nation-state is defined by its “legitimate monopoly of the tools of violence.”  If not you have anarchy.  In today's America that would be the anarchy of white supremacists et al.  

     AO:  I have no doubt that Barack Obama, like many other people in and around the Democratic Party, feels profoundly troubled by the Brown and Garner deaths and the resulting grand jury decisions, with their distinctive taint of Jim Crow justice.

     RAD:  Well thank you very much…  damning with faint praise? 

     AO:  While the president is certainly not responsible for the persistence of racism, he might well ask himself about his uses of state power, and about how police violence inflicted on random citizens in America’s streets relates to the violence inflicted by America on random citizens of faraway places.

     RAD:  Violence inflicted on random “citizens” of faraway places…  As far as I know we target jihadists not random “citizens” and terrorists are considered by themselves and the world as “stateless” actors so they aren’t citizens except from whence they came…  The author’s furtive imagination is in high gear!    

     AO:  Obama has expanded executive power beyond Richard Nixon’s wildest dreams, and has claimed the right – without quite coming out and saying so — to conduct extrajudicial executions of American citizens and foreign nationals alike without even the pretense of due process.

     RAD:  Remember the line “Mr. Quayle, I knew John Kennedy and you are no John Kennedy”?  This is my reaction – I was a civil rights and peace activist in Nixon’s America and it bears no relationship to Barack Obama’s America! 

     What extrajudicial executions?  You mean American and other nationals who have joined the ranks of the jihadists?  Well glory be – does the author want us to bring them home for a ticker tape parade?  Give me a break…  

     AO:  No future president is likely to relinquish that right voluntarily.

     When state violence happens in secret and for undisclosed reasons – death from above, raining down on some village in the desert – we currently don’t even have the right to know about it, and still less to question it.

     RAD:  If such events aren't reported, how does the author know such is happening?  The greatest perpetrator of “state violence” – Israel – crows about it regularly in its press.  In our modern global 24/7 multi-media news cycle, there are NO secrets! 

     Ironically, today's release of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on "Bush era" rendition and torture policy has opened this wound again.  Not that we didn't know this before thanks to an aggresive media.  So what state secrets is the author talking about?  

     AO:  When the violence happens out in the open, with the world’s cellphones watching, the convention that the dead person had certain rights, and the rest of us still have them, must be maintained. Those rights look more tenuous all the time, and rights not claimed or exercised have a tendency to wither away.

     RAD:  I don’t see people hiding, I see, read and hear about protests from Ferguson to Paris, from Portland to London. What tenuous rights?  It reinforces the aphorism that all politics is local!   

     As Lenin once said, "all power to the Soviets" - too bad Stalin didn't get the message!   Neither did Putin...  

     What is needed is for the protesters to move from the streets to city hall while keeping their calls for justice alive and actionable. They have to keep the pressure on by combining street action and conventional politics.  

     What makes this nascent movement different from the ‘60s is that the issue of “police brutality” is a local issue.  It has to be challenged city by city, county by county.  It lends itself to a highly decentralized movement not easily quelled.  

     The Civil Rights movement had Birmingham, Selma et al. this movement has Ferguson, Cleveland et al.  We don’t need new laws, we need community based and accountable police watched by an engaged citizenry.  

     AO:  Still, even the spectral semblance of theoretical rights is important. In the wake of the Brown and Garner decisions we have seen a series of spontaneous street protests unparalleled in recent American history, by people of all races determined to reclaim those rights for everyone.

     RAD:  Protests are the beginning not the end! 

     So the system is working isn’t it?  As Malcolm X pointed out in the ‘60s our choice is the “ballot or the bullet.”  Malcolm came to realize that the ballot was the better choice but he was assassinated to silence his change of mind…   not by local cops in NYNY but his Black Muslim brothers…  

     Malcolm and Martin political trajectories were converging – realizing that the greatest racial issue was economic injustice which could have united the 99% across racial and class lines.  Sadly, we’ve been off message ever since…  People of color, progressives and Tea Partites have more in common than they realize.  

     AO:  Where will those protests lead, and what kind of social change can they accomplish? If we really want democracy – a proposition that is by no means clear — we will have to take it or make it, by whatever means necessary.

     RAD:  The author never explains what “he” means by democracy.  And then he uses the old and tired Black Panther line familiar to any of us who lived in the ‘60s “by whatever means necessary.”  Being no limousine Liberal the author embraces the role of an “arm chair revolutionary.” 

     As a white dude that's real gall and the arrogance of a true believer who is profoundly ignorant about his native land.  The people of Ferguson and America have the tools of change before them "organizing not agonizing" via non-violent protests, the right to assemble and the ballot, consent of the governed.   

     But as Ben Franklin warned us back in the day – the Founders created “a Republic if you can keep it…”  Every generation has its chance to pay on that promissory note.  As the following comments indicates, the author seems clueless in his ideological bunker...        

     AO:  Nietzsche would no doubt tell us it was a sham and a fraud, an empty ideal of universal mediocrity not worth pursuing. Frantz Fanon would insist that nonviolent civil disobedience will not be enough, and that we will need “a process of complete disorder” in which the state’s monopoly on violence is confronted and overthrown.

     Only a cynic would suggest they might both be right.

     RAD:  I have no idea what a “process of complete disorder means” in America in 2014…  I do remember what it looked like in the long hot summers of ‘67/68 and the election of Tricky Dick Nixon and with it his false promise to end the Vietnam War followed by Watergate. 

     Does the author want to replay those times?  Unfortunately, he doesn’t have the honesty to say…  He’s playing with us – well this reader is not playing…   Nietzsche is considered the intellectual godfather of the Third Reich.  Has the art critic aka cynic become in effect a “neo-fascist?”

     Frankly, Mr. O'Hehir - "I don't give a dam."  I'm too busy being an engaged citizen instead of sitting on my butt whining for the effete literati snobs of Salon.com.