Oh Fa Chrissake... - Archives
The flag-draped casket bearing the remains of Lance Cpl. Tyler O. Griffin, of Voluntown, Connecticut, arrives at Dover Air Force Base on April 4, 2010. (Photo: Luke Sharret / The New York Times).
The Final Indignity, the Last Insult, the Real America
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed
Friday 09 December 2011
Let's start here.
The Air Force dumped the incinerated partial remains of at least 274 American troops in a Virginia landfill, far more than the military had acknowledged, before halting the secretive practice three years ago, records show. The landfill dumping was concealed from families who had authorized the military to dispose of the remains in a dignified and respectful manner, Air Force officials said. There are no plans, they said, to alert those families now.
Think about that for a long moment.
This is a nation with a big, fat, fancy, shiny, appealing opinion of itself. The mythology of American Exceptionalism perseveres, even unto this dark and dilapidated day. We are not as others are. We are different. We are better. We honor and fete our soldiers, our veterans, our war heroes. We make movies about their bravery and their deeds, we throw parades for them annually, and when it suits us politically, we attack our political rivals for "not supporting" those who carry our banner in the field of combat.
We take care of our own, right? That's who we are, as Americans, right?
No, that is not who we are. We have not been thus for many, many years. We, like so many allegedly "lesser" powers throughout history, also hurl our children into the meat grinder of meaningless warfare on the word of the powerful ones who control the day...and when it suits, the broken bodies of those spent children - each of whom is nothing more than the chink of another gold coin into the coffers of those "leaders" - are anonymously and dishonorably cast into a convenient ditch, to be plowed under and forgotten, because it is easier that way, and far less expensive.
For the record, this program of indecent disposal of dead American service members began, and concluded, during the administration of George W. Bush. It is no accident, for that administration - despite perhaps the slickest PR campaign about America and patriotism and "Supporting The Troops" ever undertaken in our history - had no more regard or concern for the troops they consigned to death and dismemberment than a dog has for the snowbank it pisses on. They consigned thousands of US service members to death, tens of thousands of US service members to gruesome injury and the permanent aftermath of PTSD, and hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians to the same fates, for two reasons: to win elections, and to make money.
The soldiers themselves? The ones who have borne the battle? They are turned away from VA hospitals for lack of funds or insurance coverage, foreclosed upon by predatory lenders, left to shrift for themselves if alive, buried in the cold ground of a soldier's grave if not, or simply tossed into a landfill like a bag of household garbage. If anyone ever needed to see and fully encompass the true sum and substance of the administration of George W. Bush, and of all that has gone wrong in America, this despicable scandal tells you all you need to know.
That, for the record, is why I support "Occupy Wall Street." That is why you should, too. It is all of a piece - the wars, the profiteering, the looting of our most essential social protections, the evisceration of the most basic promises afforded by what was once a civil society. Even as so many of us in America have suffered from the aftermath of that greed, it is the soldier who has bled for it, died for it, suffered for it in ways most of us cannot fathom, and has done so over and over and over again - as well as that soldier's family, now seemingly bereft of even the token comfort of a proper, honorable burial for the one they hoped would someday come home, but never did.
I have, since these wars began, spent countless hours at countless bars with countless service members from every branch, with their arms slung around my shoulder, well-met in their ever-temporary homecoming, in that fragile and fleeting slice of time between their return from their last tour and their government stop-gap-mandated departure for their next tour to either Iraq or Afghanistan, or both. They were all unutterably grateful to be home, to have the simple privilege of tipping a beer on their native soil, an act those who cheered them into combat and slaughter take absolutely for granted even unto this very day, though they cheer the dead and maimed and shattered for "protecting our freedoms."
These troops and I would get nice and drunk, more often than not, and they would spend the later hours of the evening leaning into me to whisper the horrors they had seen and done into my ear. I kept in touch with many of them, and some of those I stayed in touch with never came home, except in silence by way of Dover Air Force Base. The idea, the remote possibility, that those fine people could have been discarded in such a heartless, soulless, despicable, un-American fashion is a towering insult to everything I hold dear...and a horrible thing to encompass. Those troops I have known who gave that last full measure of devotion deserve better, in whole and in part, than a burial beside garbage in an anonymous landfill.
When you don the uniform of the United States, when you pledge to spend your life in defense of the Constitution, you are making a sacred oath. That is only half the truth of it, however. The nation you have sworn your life to, and the government which represents it as it accepts that oath, is making a promise, as well. It is the oath pledged by Abraham Lincoln in his second Inaugural Address, when he spoke the words that became the sworn duty of the Veterans Administration, written in tall letters at their door: "Let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."
That we have not done so, that they swore an oath, died, and were thrown away like garbage - both the living and the dead - after fulfilling that oath, is a mortal stain of indelible shame.
...it makes the DU2/DU3/Hosts/Juries stuff we've been fighting about here seem pretty petty and small.
(/reminder that DU is not the fucking world)
Javier Del Bosque waits with his family at the Toys "R" Us in Times Square, in time for its 9 p.m. opening, in New York, November 24, 2011. (Photos: Marcus Yam / The New York Times)
It's Beginning to Sound a Lot Like Christmas
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed
Friday 02 December 2011
People who buy what Fox News peddles will love this, but I'm going to say it anyway: I have come, over the course of many years, to loathe and despise the Christmas season. Before I am accused of being some "War On Christmas" jihadist, allow me to explain: I like wreathes, and houses festooned with Christmas lights (the gaudier the better, in my opinion), and the way a house smells when there's a Christmas tree in the living room. I love gathering with family, exchanging gifts, and sitting down to a big meal even as my belt strains against the gastrointestinal aftermath of the big meal enjoyed four weeks before. I love snow in the evenings, kisses under the mistletoe, and there is nothing on Earth wrong with a day or two off from work.
I like Christmas. I cannot, however, abide the Christmas season, and I will tell you why. It began in earnest during my sophomore year of high school. I had, at the time, two jobs: a year-round job at an ice cream store, and a Spring-to-Fall job mowing lawns and raking sand traps at a local public golf course. Winter had come early that year, and the golf course job wound up buried under several feet of snow, so I found myself with light pockets as the Christmas-present-buying season approached. Being the go-getter that I was, I went in search of a short-term gig to supplement my ice cream income, just enough to be able to buy Christmas presents for friends and family that were not fashioned out of pocket lint and popsicle sticks...and after a diligent search, I found myself in late November of that year working as a men's underwear salesman for the Filene's department store.
You heard me.
Now, I had been working retail to a degree for a few years at this point - slinging ice cream, and working the snack bar at the golf course - but nothing in my experience to this point had prepared me to be a men's underwear salesman in an upscale suburban department store at Christmastime. Filene's was the kind of place where rich people go to take out their frustrations on whatever hapless register monkey they can bracket, and let me tell you, I never knew people could get so worked up about the purchase of boxer briefs. My first day on the job was an exercise in awe.
While this explains my hatred for working retail (which I wound up doing for many years after in one capacity or another), it does not explain my hatred for the Christmas season...but it was there, amidst the thongs and boxers and unimaginably obnoxious customers, that the seeds of my Christmas season hatred were sown, took root, and bloomed in all their thorny magnificence. You see, I was required by my employer to stand stock still behind the register, unless summoned by a customer seeking assistance in the Fruit -O-The-Loom aisle. Above my station, embedded in the ceiling, was a small, white, circular speaker, and from this speaker came a soul-annihilating, hope-devouring, mind-razing, teeth-gnashing, rage-inducing litany of ceaselessly repetitive agonizing wretchedness.
You guessed it: Christmas music.
But not just any Christmas music. We're talking Anne Murray. "Feliz Navidad." This joint didn't even have the common decency to go with old standards like "The Little Drummer Boy," but went instead with a saccharine selection of uber-soft-rock Christmas songs that were played on a 45-minute loop. My shifts were either eight or ten hours long, so you do the math. Trapped directly under that little white speaker, I would hear the same craptacular songs at least nine or ten times in a row before being allowed to flee the building. After my first week of this, I was ready to eat my own teeth.
But wait. There's more.
If you've been to a Walgreens, a CVS, or most any kind of big-box department store over the last several years, you've seen these things. The best example I can think of is the Singing Fish that was popular a while back, but there are many permutations. Essentially, it is an item with a button that, when pushed, makes the item sing and/or dance to a cute little tune. These things are always big at Christmas. If, in the course of time, you have wandered through a store, come across one of these items, hit the button, said to yourself, "Hee! That's cute," and walked away, I can tell you something from personal experience: the retail worker trapped behind the register ten feet from you was stabbing you in the brain in their mind as you walked away.
I know this for a mortal truth, because I was working at Filene's the year those types of things were first rolled out. They were rudimentary compared to their modern cousins, but the effect was still the same. Maybe five feet away from my register was a display station, and upon that display station was the foot of a mannequin on a stand. Upon that foot was a sock, a Christmas sock in fact, white, with Santas and sleighs and elves all around. At the top of that sock was a button, and hovering over it was a large yellow sign in the shape of an arrow that read "PUSH!" Push the button, and a tiny microchip attached to a tiny speaker embedded in the top of the sock would belt out "Jingle Bells" with exactly as much musical nuance and beauty as an alarm clock in a hotel room.
DEE-DEE-DEE. DEE-DEE-DEE. DEE-DEE-DEE-DEE-DEE. DEE-DEE-DEE-DEE-DEE-DEE-DEE, DEE-DEE-DEE-DEE-DEE-DEE.
All day long, people would wander through my embarrassing little corner of the store, come across the sock, push the button and say, "Hee! That's cute," and then move on...leaving me to seethe through the sock's nerve-shattering rendition of the twenty-eight lost verses of "Jingle Bells," before finally stopping. The blessed silence, of course, was filled by the sixth "Feliz Navidad" I had heard that shift, until more people came along, pushed the button with a "Hee! That's cute," only to leave me bereft of anything other than the mental image of stabbing them in the brain as they walked away.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
In the fullness of time, I managed to earn enough money to buy decent presents for friends and family, and at the first opportunity dropped that job like a bad prom date. The savage battery I endured at the hands of Filene's Christmas music, however, has lingered over all the intervening years, grown, expanded, and finally established itself as a permanent state of affairs. In those intervening years, of course, the "Christmas season" has gone from being a fairly quaint time of family celebration to an orgy of unbridled commercialism that, quite literally, kills people. There is not much to like about the Christmas season anymore, and the relentless barrage of Christmas music has gone from being the main agitator in my mind to the last turn of a long, sharp screw.
Don't tell my wife that, however. She works retail, and has been getting blasted with Christmas music every second of her days since Black Friday. As I was writing these last few paragraphs, she came through the door after a day on the job with one simple request: "Please, for the love of God, can we put some music on that isn't Christmas music? It's still stuck in my head from work." I obliged her with Band of Gypsies, and she sighed with pleasure. "Thank you," she said. "Today was bad, but you know what's worse? When I hear the Christmas music in my head when I'm showering in the morning."
We are not alone, my wife and I. During a pre-Thanksgiving food-shopping foray, we stopped at a coffee shop before hitting the supermarket, and had a very nice conversation with the barista about how he copes with the ever-present Christmas music he is forced to contend with. "I fantasize," he said in a conspiratorial whisper, "about burning the place down." Later, we had a similar conversation with the lady at the register in the supermarket, who rolled her eyes and shuddered when we asked how she coped with the music. "I don't," she said simply, with a look on her face that said all you need to know about working retail during the holiday season.
Does this make us nothing more than anti-Christmas curmudgeons, hateful and full of spite? Probably, but we have a damned good reason to be so. What starts with Black Friday - a day where millions of Americans are expected to ram themselves into crowded malls to buy crap they don't need at risk of life and limb, for no other reason than to save the economy from the disastrous mismanagement of the Know-Betters who ran the whole show into the ground - grinds on through an interminable month of shrieking commercialism that, last I checked, has nothing whatsoever to do with the guy who was supposedly born on a way-back Christmas to save us from sins exactly like this.
All over the country, people got trampled by other people looking for deals, people got pepper-sprayed by other people looking for deals, someone got stabbed over a flat-screen TV at the Best Buy next to where my wife works...and is that Christmas to you? To anyone? Would Jesus punch you in the face to be first in line for a door-buster?
People pitched tents outside Wal-Mart to be first in line for the sales. People pitched tents outside Wall Street to be first in line for social and economic equality. Where do you think Jesus would pitch his tent?
So, yeah, I love Christmas and hate the Christmas season, and you can keep the music.
I guess I have two points I'm trying to make:
1. Take it easy on the retail employees you come across as you do your shopping this season. You have absolutely no conception of what they endure in the month of December, and a friendly smile from you will do wonders for them.
2. We seem to be letting this Christmas season thing spin wildly out of control. Average people with little disposable income should not be expected to save the economic day on one single Friday, so we should all work towards a better system. WWJB: What Would Jesus Buy? A little bread, a little wine, and a little quiet time to contemplate what is most important in life.
Being first in line at Wal-Mart at midnight ain't it.
President Barack Obama during a news conference in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, on November 28, 2011. (Photo: Doug Mills / The New York Times)
A Gut-Check Moment for Mr. Obama
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed
Wednesday 30 November 2011
When George W. Bush left office, and John McCain went down to defeat, there was a sense among a great many Americans that a tremendously dangerous nightmare was over, that years of wildly violent, constitutionally questionable, unbelievably expensive and morally appalling over-reaction to 9/11 were behind us, that an America which didn't use the NSA to spy on virtually anyone, an America that didn't indefinitely detain people without due process of law, that didn't torture, that didn't consign millions to death and maiming by way of wars based on lies and the desire to make money while winning elections...a lot of people thought that America might show its face again.
But that was Hope and Change and all that stuff. The dreary fact of the matter is that the slash-and-burn attitude taken towards the US Constitution by the Bush administration did such tremendous damage to the most basic underpinnings of this society that it was widely feared there would be no going back. After all, any politician who has gotten to the point where the office of the President is even a possibility is a politician absolutely drenched in hubris, ego, and a desire for personal power. It cannot be any other way; there are no angels flying in that rarefied atmosphere of American politics, and my rule of thumb for many years now has been that a politician most people have heard of is, to one degree or another, an utter and complete bastard, for only utter and complete bastards have the will and ruthlessness to achieve such heights...and when it comes to presidents and serious presidential contenders, multiply that by a factor of ten. I've met a great many of them on too many campaign trails, and trust me, almost none of them are people you'd like to be stuck in an elevator with, much less allow them to run the country.
The point is, there are not many politicians at that level of political power who have the kind of personal integrity that would allow them to walk away from the extraordinary powers the Bush administration laid claim to by Executive fiat. Those powers were still intact, just waiting for the next president, and it was to be hoped that Mr. Obama would turn out to be one who would actually lay aside the contra-constitutional "Unitary Executive" powers left for him by Mr. Bush, the kind of swell guy his campaign pitched to the country during the seemingly-endless 2008 presidential race. After all, Mr. Obama repudiated Guantanamo Bay, lamented America's ravaged international reputation, and swore not only to restore the rule of law to America, but that his administration would be the most transparent in American political history.
It hasn't quite worked out that way. There is honor, there is integrity, and there is this administration, the very living definition of "half a loaf." They haven't been so bad, but they've been very far from good. Sure, Mr. Obama hasn't lied us into wars that got hundreds of thousands of people killed, but he and his people have fallen far short of fulfilling the promises made to make right what had gone so wildly and conspicuously wrong with the manner in which American government goes about its business. Pressing questions have been raised regarding exactly what kind of man the president is, where his integrity lies, and why he has spent so much of his first term either in retreat, or fully embracing the very policies he campaigned against so eloquently.
Well, I'm not going to go so far as to say that one stroke of his pen can undo all that disappointment, but I am damned sure of one thing: this president has before him a gut-check moment of great significance. If he gets it right this time, a portion of faith will be restored. If he blows it, well...as Shakespeare reminds us, one may indeed smile, and smile, and be a villain.
The gut-check moment has been set in motion by Senators Levin, McCain, and the Senate Armed Services Committee...
The rest: http://www.truth-out.org/gut-check-moment-...
Credited to Jim Truther on Facebook...and no, I don't know if that last name is real or not.
Great line, though.
“I will neither be a lobbyist nor a historian,” he said, a jab at Gingrich’s self-proclaimed $1.6 million “historian” gig for Freddie Mac. “My intention is to do some combination of writing, teaching, and lectures.”
He got in some more one-liners at Gingrich as he waded into the GOP presidential primary. “I do not think I have lived a good enough life to be rewarded by Newt Gingrich being the nominee,” he joked, calling his potential nomination “the best thing to happen to the Democratic party since Barry Goldwater.”
He held nothing back in his criticism of the state of the House under Republican rule.
“It consists half of people who think like Michele Bachmann and half of people who are afraid of losing a primary to people who think like Michele Bachmann,” he said, “and that leaves very little room to work things out.”
Should be fun to have unfiltered Barney running out his term...but he's always had a talent for dropping the devastating brick.
In the Shadow of the Mountain
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed
Thursday 24 November 2011
Very soon now, I am going to slide my chair back from my desk and turn off this infernal machine. I am going to do the dishes, take out the trash, give my insane cat three days worth of food, and watch out the window for my wife to come home from work. When she gets here, I am going to throw our bags in the trunk, get behind the wheel, and aim the car north towards New Hampshire, where my mother lives.
It's fantastic drive, one of my all-time favorites, second only in my mind to the Pacific Coast Highway in northern California. While that road is everything that is the West Coast, the road to my mother's house is everything that is the East Coast. Once you get out of the city, which doesn't take long, the way is all small, winding country back roads that seem made for filming BMW commercials on. I don't have a BMW - I have, in fact, a rather battered ten-year-old Toyota - but it's fun to pretend. There are miles of ancient stone walls that run alongside the road, a testament to the pitiless, obdurate New England work ethic that defines this little corner of the world.
We will pass farms and fields, a couple of large lakes, and finally come to a left turn just outside a town so small that it has exactly three buildings to its name, one of which is, of course, a soaring white-board church that is every New England white-board church that was or ever will be. After the turn, the road goes to dirt almost immediately, and for a few miles we are back two centuries in time, with nothing but the wind in the woods and the crunch of the tires to fill our ears. Sometimes there are deer, sometimes there are moose or the occasional lone coyote, and the locals will tell you there are six brown bears in the neighborhood. I've never seen one of those, which is probably for the best.
After a fashion, we will come to my mother's driveway. We will pull up to the house to the sound of her two dogs going berserk. They will charge out the back door and fly to the car, heedless of any notions of personal safety, jumping all around until we finally slide to a slow stop and get out to accept their inevitable slobber-flecked mauling. My mother will be at the door to greet us, and in the distance behind her, as ever, will be the silent sentinel that is Mt. Monadnock.
No one has been able to adequately explain to me what a mountain is doing there to begin with. The White Mountains don't get going in earnest for many miles to the north, the land around Monadnock is almost uniformly flat, but there it is all the same, this bald knob of stone looking down on my mother's house. Someone once told me the reason why the top of Monadnock is bald is that, more than a hundred years ago, sheep farmers whose stock had been getting plundered by wolves herded those wolves up to the top of the mountain, and then set the whole thing on fire. I don't know if that's true or not, but it is one hell of an image to contemplate. Imagine, a century before electric lights stole the mystery of country darkness, looking up to see the top of that mountain wreathed in flames. It would have lit the land for miles around. Like I said, it may be nothing more than local Apocrypha, but there aren't any wolves in those woods anymore, so who knows.
I will be three days in the shadow of the mountain, eating and drinking and playing with dogs, with my wife and mother at my side. I intend to think very few deep thoughts in that time, other than to count and contemplate the blessings in my life. My wife's MS is very much under control - burn in Hell, you bastard disease, you don't scare us - and my mother is in her glory. I have a new nephew named Connor who is all the cute things in the world rolled into one little ball of awesome. I enjoy my work, am surrounded by friends, and have the great privilege of being able to avoid any aforementioned deep thoughts for this little expanse of time.
When we return after the holiday, I will get back to the business of chronicling the Occupy movement, of writing the obituary for the not-so-supercommittee, and begin preparing myself for the year-long horror comedy of the Republican primary season. There is plenty of bad news to go around, but it can all wait until Monday. I know how lucky I am to have what I have, and I intend to steep in it like a contented little tea bag until I am forced to stop.
May all blessings and good fortune be upon you and yours. It is a hard world right now, and luck seems difficult to come by. Cherish what you have, and hold on to the hope that more and greater blessings are just over the horizon, waiting like the dawn to come shine down upon you.
12:30 p.m. today, 1963.
What kind of peace do I mean? What kind of peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children--not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women--not merely peace in our time but peace for all time.
So, let us not be blind to our differences--but let us also direct attention to our common interests and to the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal.
The finest, strongest, most no-bullshit liberal speech ever delivered by any President, ever.
Police pepper spray students at a UC Davis demonstration on Friday, November 18. (Screengrab: OperationLeakS - Click here for video)
The People's Surveillance State
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed
Tuesday 22 November 2011
All tyrannies rule through fraud and force, but once the fraud is exposed they must rely exclusively on force.
- George Orwell
In the aftermath of September 11, there was a big push to create a national surveillance system in the name of national security. Cameras were installed at traffic lights, ostensibly to catch people running red lights and stop signs, but those cameras came with a nifty side benefit: they recorded everyone within reach of the lens in their comings and goings. Cameras were installed at street corners, ostensibly to provide security against crime, but again, you were recorded wherever you went. Bank machines all come with security cameras, and those added to the ever-broadening web of national surveillance. Finally, almost every cell phone now comes with software that, so long as the thing is turned on, can track your every step by triangulating your position via GPS and the cell towers your phone signal bounces off of.
Those with a fealty to the quaint ideals of American civil liberties had, to no great surprise, a big problem with putting this system in place. Combine the concern over having millions of innocent people on camera with the fact that the Bush administration decided to spy on pretty much everyone by way of the NSA because no one had the guts to stop them, and what you had - and have to this day - is a pretty damned paranoid situation where everyone is being watched by The Man. Today, it is almost impossible to be anywhere in America without something tracking you. After this technology had been in place for a few years, it even became fodder for cop shows; half the episodes of "Law & Order: SVU" after 2008 involve catching criminals using this web of eyes and ears. As you can imagine, the bad guys almost never got away.
The basic idea behind setting up this incredibly invasive system, if you listen to its advocates, is that security is paramount in the aftermath of 9/11. There were plenty of people, after the Towers came down, who were very happy to surrender their liberties in the name of security, despite Benjamin Franklin's warning about deserving neither and losing both. Nowadays, the existence of such a system is established fact, leading to yet another bout of cognitive dissonance: those in favor of such a system a few years ago, because it meant the state was looking out for their safety, are now in all likelihood the same people railing against the state with guns on their hips at Tea Party rallies...but that's a brain cramp to be dealt with another day.
The advent of the Occupy movement, the length of time that movement has been able to hang fire, and the vast number of cities in which it is taking place, has led to an astonishingly violent reaction from the very state we are supposedly trusting to watch over our every move. There have been a dozen incidents of gruesome official violence against peaceful, non-violent protesters, including the near-murder of an Iraq war veteran by police in Oakland...violence the likes of which has not been seen in America since the dogs and firehoses days of Birmingham, Alabama.
Last Friday, students at UC Davis in California were subjected to an attack by police that beggars likeness. Here's the thing, though: this time, it's all on film.
If you haven't seen it yet, what you're looking at is a dozen or so protesters seated with their heads down, arms linked, in peaceful non-violent resistance. An armored UC Davis police officer calmly pulls out a can of pepper spray the size of a fire extinguisher, shakes it up, and hoses these seated students down from one side to the other and then back again. Several of the students subjected to this attack required hospitalization, and there is an unconfirmed report that one of the protesters had a UC Davis cop shove the nozzle of his pepper spray canister into her mouth and then pulled the trigger.
It is all on film.
It is all on film.
It is all on film.
The chancellor of UC Davis is under intense pressure to resign her post. The officers involved in this unprovoked attack have been suspended, and an official investigation is underway.
None of which would be true if the incident was not all on film. The video of the attack on YouTube, at the time of this writing, has almost 1,400,000 views, and similar attacks by police have been captured on film from one side of the country to the other.
Memo to the police and the surveillance state you represent: you are not working in the dark anymore. You may have your own system of surveillance, but We The People are watching you just as closely, and we have our own system of surveillance. It's called exposing your vicious, anti-American and thoroughly unnecessary strong-arm tactics for all to see. It is really very easy, takes no time, and we will make you famous in all the wrong ways before you take your shoes off at bedtime. The name, telephone number and email address of the cop who attacked those UC Davis protesters is now common knowledge on the internet, and while I will not publish it here, that cop should know down to his cowardly little bones that he is right out there under the bright lights, thanks to the People's Surveillance State.
You may be watching us, but by God and sonny Jesus, we are watching you.
Video shows office pepper-spraying protesters at UC Davis
Watch the video if you haven't seen it already.
Protesters with the Occupy Wall Street movement in Zuccotti Park in New York, November 15, 2011. After being evicted by the police Tuesday morning, several hundred Occupy Wall Street demonstrators returned to the park the same night, but a judge’s ruling now bans tents, tarps and staying overnight. (Photo: Marcus Yam / The New York Times)
This Is What America Looks Like
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed
Thursday 17 November 2011
They say it's hard to speak
They feel so strong to say we are weak
But through the eyes the love of our people
They've got to repay.
We come from Trench Town
We come from Trench Town
Trench - Trench Town
They say, "Can anything good
Come out of Trench Town?"
- Bob Marley
Let's get a few things straight right from the jump.
First of all, despite all the gleeful obituaries that have been appearing across the scabrous landscape of the "mainstream" news media, the Occupy movement is not, in fact, over. Mayor Michael Bloomberg may have sent in cops like thieves in the night to dispossess peaceful protesters and destroy books in New York City, but there are hundreds of Occupy camps still standing from one side of this nation to the other. As for the seedcorn New York protest, well...if you're one who opposes what they've been doing, you can cross your fingers and toes to your heart's delight in the hope that matters are settled in the Big Apple, but you best be prepared for disappointment, because those people have set their caps to accomplish what they endeavored to do back in September, and they are far, far more organized and determined than people like you seem capable of apprehending.
A setback like this only adds fuel to the fire. We're talking about people who are so committed to the ideals of the Occupy movement that they abandoned the soft conveniences of modern existence - walls, a roof, a bed, plumbing, locks on the doors and the soothing babble of cable TV - to sleep in a park surrounded by strangers for almost two months. Raise your hand if you've ever gone camping for two full months, anywhere. It has been hot, it has been cold, it has rained, it has snowed, and, oh yeah, there was the ever-present threat of catching a billy club over the head or a face full of NYPD mace for their trouble. You think they're going away after enduring all that?
Second, I'm going to slap the next person who comes out with the pat line, "They don't have a message! They need a message! They're nothing without a message!" Um, cluebag, they are the message. The Occupy movement has created modern-day Hoovervilles from sea to shining sea to point out the simple fact that things have gone badly wrong in these United States, that the American Dream of even minimal upward mobility and the promise for a better future for our children were sold for pennies on the dollar to the bastards and whores who have perverted this democracy past the point of recognition. It's a fantastic bit of irony, a towering example of cognitive dissonance, that the same people who attack the Occupy movement are also the ones packing guns to Tea Party protests because they think the country is headed in the wrong direction. What in the name of Jesus H. Christ do they think the right direction is? 99% of us are getting screwed, and the Occupy movement has been the most eloquent firebreak against that heedless, moneygrubbing trend.
I'll make it simple: Wall Street has occupied American politics and stolen America's bright future in an orgy of graft and theft, so America has occupied Wall Street - along with every Main Street in every city and town you can think of - in order to try and set things right. Got it? It is pretty simple, folks. Two plus two does, in fact, equal four. The only reasons people refuse to see this thing, simply, for what it is come down to willful stupidity, stubborn partisanship, money, or a combination of the three.
Third, anyone who claims that the Occupy movement has not accomplished anything can kiss my whole entire ass. The upward mobility of our hard-earned money into the coffers of the rich and powerful has been going on since the disaster known as the "Reagan Revolution." The politicians bought by the cash-fat elite have appointed judges to every level of the state and federal judicial systems, and the serial corporate-favoring rulings handed down by these robed criminals have given this grand theft the imprimatur of legality, but it ain't legal, and it ain't right. One look at the Supreme Court's Citizen's United decision, and the after-affects of same, can tell you that. Hell, Mitt Romney actually got up with his bare face hanging out the other day to make the very modern American argument that corporations are, in fact, people...non-existent multi-billionaire people protected from even the most minimal legal oversight or scrutiny, to be sure, but people all the same.
Is that the country you want to live in? I don't, and neither do the Occupy protesters, and what they have accomplished over these last two months is to finally, finally, finally draw major national attention to the deranged way we go about things here in America. In the immortal words of a fantastic Occupy protest sign, "I'll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one." For the first time in modern memory, people in America, along with their elected representatives and the "mainstream" media that covers it all, have had their noses rubbed in the awful yawning gap between the Haves and the Have Nots, and the manner in which this doomed system of thievery-as-governance actually operates. Those who try to tell you the Occupy movement has no message are the very people who see the message with perfect clarity, and it scares the tar out of them, so they have made a point of saying black is white in order to muddy the waters. Don't believe it. In your gut, you know better.
No one, but no one, has explained it all better than Chris Hedges:
The banks and Wall Street, which have erected the corporate state to serve their interests at our expense, caused the financial crisis. The bankers and their lobbyists crafted tax havens that account for up to $1 trillion in tax revenue lost every decade. They rewrote tax laws so the nation's most profitable corporations, including Bank of America, could avoid paying any federal taxes. They engaged in massive fraud and deception that wiped out an estimated $40 trillion in global wealth. The banks are the ones that should be made to pay for the financial collapse.
The big banks and corporations are parasites. They greedily devour the entrails of the nation in a quest for profit, thrusting us all into serfdom and polluting and poisoning the ecosystem that sustains the human species. They have gobbled up more than a trillion dollars from the Department of Treasury and the Federal Reserve and created tiny enclaves of wealth and privilege where corporate managers replicate the decadence of the Forbidden City and Versailles. Those outside the gates, however, struggle to find work and watch helplessly as food and commodity prices rocket upward...And no one in the Congress, the Obama White House, the courts or the press, all beholden to corporate money, will step in to stop or denounce the assault on families. Our ruling elite, including Barack Obama, are courtiers, shameless hedonists of power, who kneel before Wall Street and daily sell us out. The top corporate plutocrats are pulling down $900,000 an hour while one in four children depends on food stamps to eat.
Finally, any and all who say the Occupy movement is meaningless in comparison to the civil rights struggle or the fight against the war in Vietnam are, quite simply, flat wrong. Worse than that, you know you're wrong. This is not to discredit or discount those great, noble and entirely just efforts in any way, shape or form. But to claim the Occupy movement is beneath those efforts not only misses the point by miles, but viciously undercuts the very fabric of those efforts. This fight is about race, and class, and justice, and what happens to a nation when it becomes addicted to war and the profits earned for a few by the delivery of death. The Occupy movement is the culmination of every great struggle, in this century and the last, against a powerful few who would have us return to the days of aristocracy and penury. Like Rosa Parks, the Occupy movement sat down where it supposedly didn't belong and said, "I'm not moving," until what is wrong is set right once and for all.
Just so we're clear.
I asked him what he thought of the riots at PSU. This was his reply.
I think the people participating in these riots are making themselves and the PSU look terrible. No amount of rioting or complaining is going to bring JoePa back. All they are doing is giving people ammunition to trash PSU. Act like adults. PSU fucked up immensely, and now it is time to control the damage and move forward. These idiots are not helping anything.
The actions of one person (Sandusky) forced everyone else into a very difficult and delicate situation. Obviously they didn't handle this properly. I have no idea why they handled it the way they did.
Maybe more information will come out as time goes on. Maybe Joe figured that his superiors would do the right thing. Maybe they specifically told him not to go to the police. Maybe this is 100 times worse than we even know right now. We just don't know the whole story right now, and maybe we never will.
The fact is that he's gone, his reputation is probably destroyed, and no amount of rioting or violence is going to change anything. The students at PSU can do incredible things when they work together in a positive way (the annual THON charity is one example). This could be an opportunity for the student body to get together, do something positive (I'm not quite sure what that would be right now), and show the world that PSU is better than what they have seen over the past five days.
That's my two cents.
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