Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Burlington, VT Po-Po Training Exercise July 29, 2012

Burlington Fucking Vermont fercripesake.

According to Common Dreams:

The protest was at the annual meeting of Northeast State Governors and Canadian Provincial Premiers against a pipeline from the tar-sands ecological disaster area that would extend across northern New England. The Po-Po got antsy when the crowd would not let the bus depart to take the High and the Mighty to their Din-Din.

Mickey's Military Police Engage in Training Exercises

This was going on during after an Anti-Police Brutality March in Anaheim, as marchers were headed to the Manny Diaz Memorial on Sunday, July 29, 2012.

It's an obvious training exercise. Training for what? What are Our Betters and Mickey's Owners expecting?

Chilling description of these events from OC Weekly
Side note: the various law enforcement agencies in the East Bay conducted joint training in... crowd management, let's call it... on the campus of UC Berkeley last summer before the advent of Occupy and the Incident at UC Berkeley November 9, 2011 at which students and faculty were bludgeoned and arrested.

The Stimulator Explains It All For You -- Again

In this episode, Frank Lopez ("The Stimulator") touches on the sudden death of Rodney King and the extreme levels of police repression that are being seen all over the so-called Free World in these latter days.

[Oh, did I leave out the "Warning: NSFW"? That Lopez guy has a mouth on him, his typical interview greeting being: "How the fuck are you?"  ;-0]

This is the movie, "All Cops Are Bastards" -- in Italian with Spanish subtitles.

Your Police State In Action


While Anaheim has been a focus of mine since the police shooting of Manny Diaz,  and certainly the theatrical display of suppressive men and materiel in Anaheim is impressive, the National Security State has been on something of a rampage against various domestic dissidents, specifically suspected anarchists or anybody who might give aid and comfort to peace or environmental activists.

This is part of what I was getting at when I lambasted Chris Hedges for his demonization of the "Black Clad Anarchists" -- aka "The Black Bloc" -- of his imagination. As many recognized at the time of his mad fulminations, his sort of demonization and scapegoating has severe consequences, and one of them is what we're seeing in the Pacific Northwest, Chicago, Minneapolis, Vermont and elsewhere: The State utilizes its instincts and ambitions to target and go after "anarchists" and "activists."  It doesn't matter whether they wear black or not, nor does it matter what they do. It does not even matter if they ARE anarchists or political activists. What matters is that they can be placed in a category, one that has been demonized in both the popular and the official mind, and thus, like the infamous "gang-bangers" of Anaheim (an equivalently demonized subclass), be subject to whatever legal scrutiny and official punishment The State chooses to impose when and how they choose to do it.

What's been happening are coordinated attacks by militarized local and federal law enforcement teams against designated domestic targets, almost all of which have been characterized as "anarchists" and "activists."

It is a form of pre-emptive low-level domestic war.

Think about this for a minute, and think about it in the context of the Occupy Movement and how The State has coordinated attacks to disrupt and disperse the Occupiers all over the country. Think about it in the context of people who are trying to make the world a better place versus those who are intent on destroying it  or at the very least making the world worse for those least able to defend themselves.

Think about it in contrast to the general official disinterest in the heavily armed and rhetorically violent (and sometimes physically violent) rightist militias and would-be professional patriots and their fellow travelers in this country. The last time there was a raid and a round up of rightists was.... ???

In the latest wave of militarized actions against supposed "anarchists," reported by Kevin Gosztola over at FDL last week (but I'm just getting around to it), we see an expansion of the methods which have been employed against "domestic terrorists" for some years now. ("Domestic terrorists" in the lexicon of officialdom are almost all Muslims, anarchists, environmental activists, and peace activists for some reason.)

It's easy to get away with this sort of thing because the demonization of all these groups through relentless propaganda has been successful.

Some of the so-called "left" is just as happy it is so. After all, when the Authorities are concentrating on demonized Others, they can't very well be rounding up good "liberals." Self-preservation matters.

Note: targeting of the "left" and "anarchists" for persecution and prosecution has a long and ignoble history in the United States. The Palmer Raids were by no means the beginning. And for whatever reason, once Our Government got it into its collective head that its "real" enemy was (largely) unarmed anarchists and commies, not the rightists armed insurrectionists, they've never been able to shake the notion.

"Green Is The New Red" has much, much more.

Ché say, "Check it out." You could be next.


What rights? We have no rights our rulers are bound to respect even under court order.

 I think I'll have to re-read Barbara Tuchman's "A Distant Mirror" to cheer me up.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Po-Po Troopers Out and About in Anaheim

Scarfed from CNN TwitPics
The Anaheim Po-Po were bound and determined to Protect They White Women from the hordes of Messicans that have inundated their fine city. Now known as the (Un)Happiest Place on Earth™.

Yes, it was a big day in Anaheim yesterday as there was a regular Sunday protest at the Police Department Headquarters (The Robo-troopers above are in the parking lot behind the building and a brick wall and so they and their Machines are cut off from most people's view out in front of the Police Headquarters.) There was also a memorial for Manny Diaz.

I saw a bit of both via the Ustreamers and Global Rev's coverage on the Livestream (we still have these competing formats, but it appears that Ustream is far and away the more popular for streamers, with Global Revolution on Livestream often streaming Ustream coverage of Revolutionary doings hither and yon.)

I did not watch any teevee coverage -- if there was any, and I haven't checked so far this morning.

The Po-Po Troopers were Out and About, and they wanted everybody to see, oh my yes, Mister Gittes. (It's a reference from Chinatown. If you haven't seen it or haven't seen it lately, I recommend that you sit yourself down and watch that puppy till your eyes bleed if you want to know what makes the LA and the Southland tick. It's a nasty business...)

Tim Pool captured one arrest on video at the Police Headquarters, but not whatever "started" it -- assuming anything did. Tim was peering over the wall as Other Troopers (Orange County Sheriff's Deputies, I think he said) were marching about in the Parking Lot of Doom when a squadron of Po-Po in their everyday riot get ups took off after some poor sod (or...?) running across the front entrance drive of the building.

It was a somewhat disconcerting scene. Tim took off after them, recording what seemed at the time a Typical Arrest of a Random Demonstrator -- demonstrator thrown to the ground, big-butted police wrangling arms and legs, handcuffs applied, victim hoisted up by arms, paraded away -- but there was more than a little odd about it. As if it had been... what's the word... staged. I don't know that it was, but still it seemed distinctly odd for the context of the day's events and the protest involved, and it took place in the most obvious possible location. You can see the arrest and its immediate aftermath here:

You will note that the police are chasing one black-clad individual who is revealed to be a rather sturdy-looking (white) man who appears to be clean-cut and in his mid-thirties when fully trussed up, unmasked, and paraded away by his guards under orders of the horse police. He does not respond when members of the crowd shout "What's your name?!" -- which has become almost a routine ritual during protest arrests so as to be able to identify and find the arrestee in the labyrinth of the local penal systems.

But I watched and said, "Now wait just a darned minute."

Black Blocs have not been part of the Anaheim protests over police murders and police brutality, and one black clad individual does not a Black Bloc make by any means. OC and LA Occupies have provided logistical support for the protests and a few rather easily identifiable protestors (blue hair is sort of a give away), but that's about all. The protests are organized and conducted by members of the community, those who are being most directly affected in Anaheim and the surrounding communities, and the Sunday protests have been going on for years.

There were dozens of cameras on scene, and many of them surrounded the arrest-scene, which quickly turned ugly -- or was it "ugly?" The horse police -- who had been on the other side of the street I thought -- moved in rather quickly to block off the arrest from view from one side, and other officers including sheriff's deputies, formed a cordon sanitaire  on the other sides, pointing their weapons at the crowd and the media and ordering them to "Get back!" A horse police officer orders the arresting officers to parade the suspect toward the police headquarters building, but what happens to the arrestee from that point is "not entirely clear" -- to use one of Tim's favorite phrases -- as the police cordon forms a protective line in front of the barricades that are blocking off the entrance to the police building. There is no paddy wagon on scene. So far as Tim can determine, nobody knows why Dude in Black was chased and arrested, and nobody knows what happened to him. Nor, apparently, does anybody know who he is.

Alrighty then.

 Was this a classic "Wild West show"?

When I was a kid in LA, I would go to Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm, which had been there forever, rather often, and one of the highlights of these adventures was the "wild west shoot-em-up show" -- which was highly perfected at Knott's Berry Farm, cleansed and sanitized at Disneyland. There were also times when stars of the Movie and TeeVee Westerns would put on shows of their own, sometimes in the streets in Downtown Los Angeles, or at shopping center openings or what have you. I actually had a dream about Knott's Berry Farm overnight, and that's part of why I'm making the connection this morning.

Would they actually do something like this, stage an arrest of one of their own for the purpose of a) entertaining the media, b) intimidating the crowd of protestors? Of course they would! Youbetcha on stilts.

So I'm going out on a limb and suggesting that the dramatic arrest and the display of weapons that Tim caught on video yesterday in Anaheim was quite likely staged for the cameras and for the purpose of intimidating the crowd. I could, of course, be wrong, but it wouldn't surprise me.

Yesterday was a memorial day for Manny Diaz, and it was a day of protest of his killing and of the other killings by Anaheim police and of police repression and brutality in the Anaheim community that has been going on for many a long year.

The Po-Po saw it as another opportunity to display their weapons and their determination to suppress any protest that they didn't control, and to prevent the emergence of any protest movement in Anaheim that would threaten The Powers That Be in any way.

What's been going on in Anaheim since the police shooting and killing of Manny Diaz -- including the additional shootings since then -- has been a very dramatic (and unfortunately deadly) demonstration of what this ongoing struggle in America is about.

The other day, I pointed out that Manny Diaz's mother has essentially all the moral authority in Anaheim these days; the police and the civic officials have none. That's a very, very fraughtful situation.

American officials don't really know how to deal with it. The officials in Anaheim have chosen to further threaten, brutalize and intimidate protestors against their stupid and counterproductive policies, and they've decided to shoot -- and sometimes to kill -- more in the face of these protests. Every time they do that, they diminish their own authority, but they can't seem to help themselves.

The image of the police in Anaheim is almost surreal at this point. The armaments and transport and uniforms and weapons they got out yesterday for the weekly protest against police brutality, and the panoply of it all in a display against a few hundred protesters at most was literally ridiculous. It was laughed at by the crowds. "What are you so afraid of, pendejo?" They had all these horse police, all these weaponized and militarized forces with their APCs and their camo-suits, all these riot cops, all these "mutual aid forces," all these deputies in riot helmets with their sticks out, and there was a relatively small crowd of protestors, laughing at them, taunting them, telling them to "go away."

Eventually, they did. They sort of evaporated into Nowhere from whence they came.

And it got to me. They can kill all the Mexicans they want -- and there is no way around the fact that all this armament is on display, and the shootings are continuing because the Mexicans in Anaheim are "agitated" and it's highly racially charged -- but in the end, The Man is still going to take their pensions away. All their service to The Man is going to amount to nothing, and all the killing and brutality they engage in will ultimately win them nothing.

They -- the Po-Po -- are nothing, just as you and I are nothing, in the eyes of their Betters. It's all been on display in very stark terms in Anaheim this past week and more, and people who see it are revolted and disgusted.

In the end, once civic authority is shattered, who is left? What is left?

"Let's go to Disneyland!"

And then on Anna Street, the very moving memorial for Manny Diaz took place right next to the site where he was shot and killed. Hundreds of people formed a circle and celebrated their lives and his life, in a characteristically Mexican/Native American ceremonial for the dead that doesn't quite comport with Anglo custom, but so what?

At this point, who cares what Anglos think or Anglos want in Anaheim?

Let them go to Disneyland.

They no longer matter.

More coverage:




Friday, July 27, 2012


I'm watching the opening ceremonies of the London Olympics.

It's a celebration of Hell.


I imagine the audience is appalled.

I am.

Of course dropping the Queen out of the Royal Helicopter was inspired, so there was that.

On the Transfer of Moral Authority

Police take aim in Anaheim

Maybe I'm coming to this realization late, but it seems to me that after the incidents in Aurora and Anaheim, the institutions that once held moral authority in this country -- be they governmental or private sector -- have finally lost any moral authority they may once have been able to claim.

The Aurora Incident showed how essentially inert the police forces are in the face of mass slaughter by our very own and very exceptional "crazed gunmen." According to reports, police responded "within seconds" to 911 calls from the scene of the carnage at the movie theater as their police station was only two blocks away. But by the time they got there, the gunfire had stopped and the shooter was calmly sitting in his car awaiting arrest. More than 70 people were dead or wounded, however, so some sort of triage set up was necessary. What the police had to do with that though, no one has quite said.

Other institutional failures included that of the University of Colorado, which apparently had just turned the shooter loose for not doing well on his midterms. Clearly, despite the fact that the young man in question was trying to communicate with them through letters (that went 'unprocessed'), the University in its Majesty had neither time nor interest in this poor fellow whose academic decline, perhaps emotional and psychological decline as well, simply hadn't been noticed in the Press of Events all Great Universities prioritize.

It's similar in its own way to the administrative disinterest in the emotional/psychological decline of the boys who shot up Columbine High back in the day. That Incident was said to have been precipitated by intense and prolonged bullying that the school administrators tolerated or even encouraged as a means to keep the students in line. It was revealed after the Columbine Incident that many schools actively recruited student bullies to act as capos over the rest of the student body and rewarded them with a)impunity for their actions; b)various perks and privileges that other students did not have. Their role was to terrorize the rest of the student body into compliance with administrative demands.


Sounds like Anaheim police on the rampage.

Now I should point out that when I write about police misconduct and police brutality I am not condemning all police (however, there is a caveat, and I'll get to that.)  In fact, I've known plenty of officers, I've had to call on police in various instances of burglary and so forth, and I recently had a brief encounter in Kingman, AZ, when a police cruiser raced up to me while I was pumping gas, an officer jumped out with his hand on his gun (or was it his Taser, not sure right now) and started demanding this and that, including knowing whether I had anyone else in the van... (he later explained they'd just received a report of someone being held at gunpoint by someone in an "orange-ish van," and mine was close enough to the description they had that he felt it best to check it out, guns at the ready...)

Almost every police officer I've encountered (except one, who was clearly out of his league, but that's another story) has behaved in a professional and dignified manner. But I'm white, and now that I'm also old enough to sport a Santa beard, I'm hardly perceived as a "threat" by the Law Enforcement Community. Even when I was younger and more radical appearing, police encounters were not particularly difficult for me. And, too, they were rare.

For people of color, particularly brown and black men and adolescent boys, it's long been a different story. Not only do they encounter the police far more frequently than white folk, they are "suspect" simply because of their age, race and appearance. In other words, the entire category of black and brown men is considered by police to be a priori suspect of something.

That seems to have been the police modus operandi in Anaheim that led to the shooting death of Manny Diaz, and the next day to the shooting death of Joel Matthew Acevedo. And the same attitude seem to have led to the repeated indiscriminate firing of "less lethal" munitions into crowds protesting the police homicides of young men in their neighborhoods.

If you are black or brown, particularly if you are male, you are suspected of a crime. Period. And as a suspect you have no rights the police are obliged to respect, not even a right to life, let alone liberty or the pursuit of happiness.

According to witnesses, Manny Diaz was shot twice by police, both times in the back, once in the butt, and once in the back of the head. It was almost a classic "double tap." In other words, he was executed on the spot. The reason? He ran. The police say he was with a "suspicious" group standing by a car on the street when a police patrol car approached and officers demanded... well, we don't know, as the young men being approached all ran in various directions. According to police, Manny Diaz was seen "throwing objects" onto roofs of nearby apartment buildings as he ran. (That's quite a physical feat, but we'll leave it at that for the moment.) The police officer pursuing him finally trapped him in a fenced side yard of an apartment complex; the iron bar fence was high and essentially unscalable. What then transpired is unknown. The police union claims that The Suspect turned toward the officer and "reached for something in his waistband," and I will lay good money, that is the exact language that will appear in the report that will be issued in due time on the Incident. Of course anyone who has followed these Incidents for any length of time knows that in the routines surrounding these police shootings of Suspects, the justification is frequently "reaching for something in his waistband."

Further "justification" is garnered by the claim that the Suspect was a "gang member." In Anaheim, this has been elaborated with the claim that Manny Diaz was a "documented gang member." As was  -- it is claimed -- Joel Matthew Acevedo. So far, they haven't pointed to the prison record of either man or their drug use, but they will. It almost always goes this way in the case of police shootings. No matter what actually happened, the reports will always focus on reaching for something in waistbands, gangs, drugs and previous prison time. As if this justifies what amounts to summary execution in the streets.

While I don't condemn all police for the actions of these killer cops, the entire force loses moral authority through consistent actions to rationalize or cover up the killings and beatings and harassment of people primarily of color who become the victims of the police, and to dismiss the concerns of the communities that are so profoundly affected by these actions.

In Anaheim, the police, like their dog, were simply out of control. They went on a rampage -- a police riot if you will -- killing two and injuring many (one count I saw was over a hundred), many of whom were women and children. This went on for days as community members continued to protest and denounce police actions in the streets of Anaheim.

And then it stopped.

Manny Diaz's mother appeared at the courthouse after filing a civil rights and wrongful death lawsuit, and she appealed for an end to the violence -- by police and by the crowd of protesters. The police chief and the mayor had been threatening the community with continued police violence, much as a warden might, if they continued protesting. But the protests continued, indeed had increased over the days since the first killing.

Manny Diaz's mother appealed to the better angels of the community -- including those of the police if they had any -- and the protests stopped. From appearances, the police did not stop harassing the community, but they stopped killing for now and they stopped firing their "less lethal" rounds, stopped roaming the streets with dogs as well.

Manny Diaz's mother had far more moral authority in this situation than any Anaheim institution.

Indeed, that's what's been happening all over as the pervasive institutional failure has been revealed, from the failure of the Catholic Church -- my how they flail these days! -- to the extraordinary moral collapse of police forces all over the country following their violent destruction of dozens of Occupy encampments, and their continued violence against Occupy and other protests.

Clearly, there's an existential issue involved for "authority" as a concept in the abstract and in the real world. If the only way our civic and private institutions can hold on to authority is through force and suppression/control of protest -- which is what's been happening -- then there is no moral grounding for any respect for authority. Without moral grounding, authority loses power, and the more suppression and violence there is in trying to enforce its authority, the more completely its moral authority evaporates.

In Aurora, the police and other authority were essentially bystanders as the horrible drama unfolded at the movie theater.

In Anaheim, the police and the civic policies they were carrying out were the precipitating cause of the collapse of their own moral authority. That collapse mirrored similar collapses of police and civic/administrative authority at UC Berkeley, UC Davis, and spectacularly in the city of Oakland. To a somewhat lesser degree, it has also happened in the cities of Los Angeles, Chicago and New York. It's happening right now in San Francisco through grotesque spectacles involving the mayor, the board of supervisors, the sheriff, his wife and so forth that we needn't deal with here.

I asked in a previous post, "What are we coming to?" And this is it. As the moral authority of civil society collapses along with its institutions including the police, we are left outraged and bewildered, but also we are left on our own to figure out some sort of path forward.

In previous times, this collapse of moral authority would have been considered the prelude to revolution -- think ancien regime leading up to the storming of the Bastille and the March of the Fishwives. But we have our own examples leading up to 1776 as well, not to mention what the collapse of moral authority in Russia that actually began the day of Nicolas II's coronation when hundreds were killed at the public festivities arranged in his honor.

But now, I suspect we're well past the prelude phase and fully into the Revolutionary phase. In other words, the Revolution is taking place, and we are in the midst of it, but it is not like any Revolution of the past, so what's happening doesn't fully register as a Revolution-in-Progress. We see it instead as "difficulty." Yes, it is that, certainly. But the key to understanding the Revolutionary context is the continuing -- I would say accelerating -- collapse of moral authority that we could say began with Congress when it chose to impeach the President in 1996, continued with the judicial coup of 2000 that installed Bush the Lesser in the presidency in 2001 -- which led to disasters on an unprecedented and monumental scale, from the attack on the World Trade Center to the incredibly ill-advised wars of aggression to the drowning of New Orleans to the economic collapse of 2007/8.

The election of Obama was supposed to be something of a Redemption after all that misery, but it has turned out to be anything but that,or perhaps a "Lesser Redemption" than was called for.

And so we see the collapse all around us of the moral authority of institutions and especially of the moral authority of the police. I'm convinced that Obama was put on the Presidential Throne for the specific purpose of "managing the masses" as the predators and plunderers go after every shred of public  good and public wealth there is, and so far, he has performed up to expectations if not beyond. But he's performing to the expectations of the Ruling Class, not the expectations of the People, and that has consequences that our blind, deaf and dumb rulers seem incapable of knowing.

Yesterday, there was a pretty insightful story of how our government really operates over at dKos. Some of us have long been aware of how much government, particularly in Washington, has become an insular palace culture (I've been writing about it for years, and have some experience at the local, state and federal levels myself), but this is perhaps the clearest description I've seen of it in years. It is a palace culture, and it is cut off from the plaints of the People, and it is deteriorating from a moral perspective.

I've long advocated paying close attention to what is really going on and strategizing from that basis rather than pretending that some formula is going to be satisfactory as we muddle through this increasingly difficult period.

Understanding how the government actually functions at every level is part of it.

Understanding that there has been a fundamental shift of moral authority is an increasingly important part as well.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What Are We Coming To?




I've been following the situation in Anaheim triggered by the police slaying -- some say it was a summary execution -- of Manny "Stomper" Diaz  and the shooting death the following night of Matthew Acevedo that has led to extensive community protest of police racism and misbehavior Anaheim. It's all too common throughout the Southland.

Police in most of the region do not have a reputation to be proud of. Instead they are known for harassing communities of color, planting drugs and weapons on targets, and getting away with murder. This is true all over the Southland, but particularly in the Los Angeles area, thanks to decades of traditionally brutal and racist policing strategies. Once established as the norm, these strategies and policies are very hard to change.

With the killing of Manny Diaz on Saturday, the people of the neighborhood where he was slain rose up in protest, protest which has continued intermittently ever since. The police initially responded with "less lethal" weapons and loosed a dog on the crowd on Saturday, injuring several and threatening many. They claim that the dog release was an inexplicable "accident" and have apologized for the attack on a woman, her baby, and a man who tried to protect them. They have said they will pay for any medical costs involved with treating the injuries caused by the dog, not for injuries caused by projectiles fired at the protesters. Those injuries were apparently justified because the police claim that people in the crowd were throwing "bottles and possibly rocks" at the police. "Thrown objects" -- including bottles and rocks as well as feces and urine -- have become the standard excuse of police forces everywhere in the country for the firing of munitions against crowds; the evidence of such object throwing is scanty at best, and at least sometimes in the case of Occupy, such object throwing (which has been very rare when it has happened at all, though to hear the police complaining, it is a constant barrage of objects) is not uncommonly thought to be the work of provocateurs masquerading as "black bloc." It is widely assumed that the police themselves are inciting their own riots, in other words.

On the other hand, people are justifiably angry at the continuing oppression and slaughter by police in their community, slaughter that occurs without any accountability. This is part of the reason why police are so often so disrespected in our society. You simply cannot have a civil society with a police force that behaves so much like corrupt gangsters running wild, murdering and assaulting with impunity. There have been so many incidents over the last few years, in so many different places, of police behaving badly, that it is hard to attribute it to anything but policy from the top.

Demands from the people of civil authorities that this behavior stop are heard constantly, and yet in most cases, nothing substantive is done beyond the hearing. The absence of police accountability and any substantive correction of police misbehavior tends to reinforce the belief that police actions are being directed from the top and are not somehow aberrational.

Anaheim officials, perhaps to their credit, have asked for independent investigations of the recent shootings. They have simultaneously promised a fierce crackdown on the continued protests as well as "full transparency" of the investigations of the shootings.

The community isn't buying it, and it wouldn't surprise me if the protests continue and increase in size over the next few days and weeks.

Manny Diaz wasn't armed; he was essentially trapped in a side yard when he was shot. According to witnesses, he was shot first in the buttocks and he fell to his knees. When he didn't immediately put his hands behind his back -- which was likely difficult if not impossible for him to do -- he was shot in the head. His back was to the police.

Matthew Acevedo was also shot in the back while running away. The police claim he fired at officers, and a picture of a gun between the legs of the dead man was shown by police to prove that Acevedo fired first. But it's hard to take such a picture at face value. The placement of the gun itself is suspicious as hell. It looks planted.

Tim Pool was on scene in Anaheim last night, documenting some of what went on. He tended to stay behind the police lines so very little of the crowd is shown in his videos. His uplink connection was pretty bad much of the time too, so a good deal of what he shows from behind the lines is choppy and pixelated as heck.

Nevertheless, even though he was showing his press pass, he and a colleague were fired upon repeatedly by police last night as were a number of other media people.

At one point, however, he did show the wounds that one woman had sustained: three nasty looking round red marks, one of which was bleeding. One of the wounds was to her knee, one to the back of her upper thigh, and the bleeding one was on her upper calf. According to witnesses, all of the wounds that they saw last night were sustained to the backs of people running away.

He documents the fact that he saw rocks being thrown and saw one rock hit a cameraman near him. He said he heard glass smashing on the pavement and saw broken glass he assumed was from a glass bottle thrown from the crowd. He said he saw a bottle full of water thrown from the crowd as well. So far as I could tell from his videos, however, these thrown objects did not land on or particularly near the police -- but I could only tell that because they didn't seem to react to any of the thrown objects. I did not see anyone in Tim's videos throwing things.

The police issued repeated dispersal orders which were lustily booed by the crowd -- I would estimate it at a few hundred. The police started firing their "less-lethal" munitions when the crowd was chanting loudly for justice. The crowd scattered but did not disperse immediately. The police kept firing and advancing on the crowd, but the people were quite a distance from the police after the first volley and it isn't clear that the police actually hit anyone with their munitions after the first few shots.

Tim documented fires in dumpsters and in alleys, as well as broken windows and arrests. The two young men he saw arrested at a shopping center were, he said, skateboarders he'd seen earlier. He had no idea why they were being arrested, and one of them said to the police that he had been shopping for groceries at the Von's market.

Other reports had it that skateboarders had broken windows at a Starbucks and another business in the center, but there was no confirmation.

From Tim's reports, it sounded like the police were literally hunting down anyone on the street and firing their weapons at them. And Tim repeatedly said that the police were firing indiscriminately into the crowds.

What's been happening in Anaheim has been characterized as a "riot" but from Tim's videos at any rate, it is anything but that. It has been a loud and militant protest that has included a certain amount of vandalism and rock-throwing. For the most part, however, the crowds have been large, angry, loud and mostly non-violent. The police on the other hand have been far more numerous than warranted, aggravating and instigating.

The people are fed up. Too many people have been harassed, too many people have been killed, too many concerns have gone unaddressed and ignored. The people need more -- much more -- than a hearing; they need to see demonstrable change in the behavior of police in Anaheim and throughout the Southland -- especially toward the Hispanic community, now a majority in Anaheim, and young people.

This is a very difficult matter for civic authorities to deal with. When they are confronted with the fury of people who have been wronged, they nearly always try to find ways to justify and perpetuate the wrong-doing rather than fix it. More often than not -- at least until recently -- they have been successful. How much longer they can be successful at stamping out community militance and protest is subject to doubt.

There is a spirit of revolt in the land that I don't think is going away any time soon. Incidents like the killings in Anaheim can easily trigger even greater levels of revolt and rebellion.

When people are pushed to the limit, there is little Authority can do about the results.


 Last night LA news media was camping out around Anaheim to bring us live real time coverage of the "riots." Police in riot gear were "everywhere."

There was no "riot," not even any significant protest.

Manny Diaz's mother filed a $50,000,000 lawsuit against the city of Anaheim and the Anaheim Police Department, and she requested that protesters cease any sort of violence in respect for her son's memory. It would appear she has a great deal more moral authority in Anaheim than all the officials and their police combined.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Your Police State In Action

It's been a busy summer so far.

There was the Art Walk police riot in Los Angeles on the 12th of July.




There was the police attack on pool users in Brooklyn on the 17th of July



There was the police riot in Anaheim on the 21st.



The OC Register actually has a fairly decently reported story on what happened -- and is happening -- in Anaheim wrt the incident on Saturday. This is in stark contrast to the LA Times which I will not link to because its story is appallingly badly reported. Worse is the CBS News story that Digby links to.

There was the police assault on anti-capitalist marchers in Rochester, NY, on July 20.
[The police assault is at the end of the video.]

Video streaming by Ustream


That leaves a lot out, but it gives an idea of how common police brutality and police riots really are in this country. Until recently, of course, these sorts of things were pretty much confined to communities of color where police brutality and murder of citizens has been commonplace for generations. But Occupy brought the issue into the spotlight by helping the po-po to demonstrate over and over again that the use of force is now routine practice in any circumstance they choose, particularly when obedience isn't instantly forthcoming.

We haven't even reached high summer yet. The political conventions are yet to come.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


US poverty on track to rise to highest since 1960s

Some of us have been saying this for years, pointing out that it is the POLICY of Our Government (and governments around the world) to force into poverty increasing numbers of people in order to satisfy the unending financial demands of the international banksters.

There are no circumstances by which banksters are held to account for their own gambling losses. In all cases, banksters are to be made whole on the backs of the long-suffering People.

This has been the POLICY of the United States and almost all other governments on the face of the Earth since the financial meltdown of 2007 (or 08, depending).

This POLICY has led to massive unemployment throughout the developed economies, higher and ever higher prices for subsistence commodities in the underdeveloped world, leading to more and more desperate conditions for more and more millions of people each and every year.

Our Policy Makers insist that nothing can be done about it. As if this POLICY were somehow a Force of Nature, like an earthquake or tsunami or something, that has to be ridden out, and -- oh well, some people just won't make it. Too bad for them.

Nonsense on stilts.

Even worse are the numerous "studies" by various think tanks which seek to prove that no matter how many people are forced into poverty year by year, it's not all that bad because the poor in America still have refrigerators, glass windows, and many even have automobiles and heated apartments.

Obviously, Poverty isn't what it used to be.

And so long as the poor in America have any modern conveniences and/or a roof over their heads, they aren't really poor even if they go hungry from time to time and their electricity is cut off and there's no heat in their home.

That they have a home of some sort, and there is glass in most of the windows and they have a television -- even if it doesn't work -- should be enough for most people in poverty.

According to the shocking statistics, however, the poverty rate in the United States -- which keeps climbing every year -- is the highest it's been since the advent of the War On Poverty in 1965. More than one in 6 children are now living in poverty, and the number is climbing. Many millions of Americans have been forced out of the labor market, and many of them have never qualified for unemployment insurance benefits. Millions will never work for wages again. Hunger stalks the land as more and more people cannot scratch up enough money for basic food supplies and eligibility for food assistance is tightened. In fact, subsidies that benefit the People are being successively terminated or more and more strictly limited. All of this has had the effect of increasing the poverty rates in America.

All of it is a matter of POLICY. It is not an accident. It is happening by design.

Simultaneously, public education is being destroyed and civil infrastructure is falling to pieces. Again, it is happening as a matter of POLICY, it's not an accident or natural occurrence.

As we have seen over and over again, the government's POLICIES are attuned to the needs and the interests of the rich and their corporations, they have little or nothing to do with the public interest and the needs of the People. Voting does not change this simple fact.

Our government is so divorced from the People and so determined is it to govern contrary to the interests of the People it will seemingly bend over backwards to ensure that POLICIES which directly benefit the People are not enacted, and that POLICIES which benefited the People in the past are reversed.

This post at Filip Spagnoli's blog gives a better statistical picture of what's been going on than I can deliver in narrative form.

On the other hand:


The trouble is, Mr. Obama's POLICIES have had the effect of increasing poverty, hunger and homelessness (among other things) in America every year of his term.

And as a reminder:

Capitalism is the Crisis.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

And Then I Woke Up

Another American gun massacre. Another American gun massacre in Colorado. Another American gun massacre in Colorado featuring costumed characters, assault weapons, some kind of odd vengeance.

"But he was such a nice boy...."

Yes, well... they all are, aren't they?

Americans have a touching and romantic faith in the gun culture that's been sold to them for ages.

I'm sure everybody is familiar with the Sand Creek Massacre. It took place in 1864 in Colorado Territory when a contingent of the Colorado Militia went on a rampage and exterminated an encampment of Cheynne and Arapaho along the Sand Creek in eastern Colorado. Even for its time, what happened was shocking, though not unprecedented. An unprovoked attack by militia on an encampment housing mostly women and children resulted in perhaps 135 dead and many wounded Indians, and it had the effect of triggering a brutal retaliation by Plains Indians against American settlers that really didn't conclude till the Wounded Knee Massacre in South Dakota in 1890. Thus was the West... tamed.

Oh, but there were many other massacres before those, dating back almost to the very beginning of European settlement in North America -- regardless of the welcome or the resistance they received from the Native inhabitants. It didn't matter. From time to time there would be massacres.

On the other hand, and perhaps more germane to the Incident in Aurora at hand is that from time to time European-American settlers would go on murderous rampages or would simply murder Indians one by one, and almost always they would be allowed to get away with it. The murder of Indians was not "murder" in the law of the West. It couldn't be. The attitude may not have universally been that the only good Indian was a dead Indian, but there was little or no sense at all that killing Indians for real or imagined crimes against the settlers was in any way unjustified, or that any white killer of Indians could be or would be held to account for their deeds. In fact, many were celebrated. Some still are today.

The notion that it was somehow "wrong" to go about with guns blazing, blasting every living thing in sight, simply didn't occur to a substantial chunk of the American population, and to some extent, it hasn't occurred to enough Americans yet.

Certainly in the American conquest of Mesopotamia -- well, attempted conquest -- the notion that the Valiant Troops were engaged in "Indian Wars" was well understood by many, and massacres were simply part of the process of dealing with the Natives. It was what was done. And there was no accountability, often enough, not even reports of this or that many civilians slaughtered in this or that locale. Who cared? They were "just Iraqis" or Arabs or Muslims, people who were so different from our own sweet selves that they were, well... hardly human.

Of course when you demonize The Other that way, the slaughter of innocents is inevitable, and when such demonization is routinized and almost required throughout the culture, not only in War Zones (which we have learned is the Whole Wide World), then we are going to have killing, gun violence, on a massive scale whether or not there are alien "Natives" to massacre.

This is one reason why I cannot simply let Chris Hedges' demonization and scapegoating of the Black Bloc be a "difference of opinion." No, he crossed over a bright line, into the realms of propaganda and demonization that lead inevitably to slaughter, something he should know better than anyone since as he never tires of telling us, he "covered the wars in the Balkans."

He learned the wrong lesson.

Americans suffered nearly 10,000 deaths last year due to gun violence, not all of them in the form of mass murders, but still way too many dead and wounded via easily accessible and useable firearms. Restricting routine access to firearms would help lower those numbers, presuming Americans really wanted to lower those numbers. But what would help even more is changing the social norms so that gun violence against various Others would no longer be routinized and romanticized.

Starting, perhaps, with entertainment.

I stopped going to movies years ago and I rarely watch television -- even television news any more -- because so much of what is shown in the movie theaters and on television is absolutely drenched in blood; it is a non-stop blood fest of murder and mayhem, and guns firing constantly. Not in any sort of defensive situation, mind you, but in offensive battles or just madness, often of a lone individual "taking matters into his own hands."

Changing the culture of the shoot-em-ups in entertainment won't by itself curb the gun violence. Much more needs to be done. Restricting access to firearms and requiring that they not be deployed at all under most conditions is something else that needs to be done. It's common sense.

The police are far too eager to shoot and kill suspects, especially if they show signs of mental illness, and they always get away with it. This should no longer be tolerated.

Reminding Americans that what's happened in the past -- the almost endless list of massacres and genocides -- is not an example to be emulated now and in the future; nor is the murderous warrior culture that our Valiant Troops practice elsewhere one to be emulated at home.

Some have suggested that powerful psychotropic drugs play a role in the continuing series of gun massacres in this country and that overprescription of mind and mood altering pharmacological substances must stop.

But I'm not at all convinced that Americans by and large want the gun violence to stop. It's part of the American  psyche and American Exceptionalism. It may be outrageous and shocking -- each time it happens -- but like lightning strikes, it's dramatic and energizing.

And of course there are the gun ravers who, if anything, want more, more, more!

Yes, and they may get it, too.

San Francisco (2)


That was interesting.

I managed to injure my left hand Thursday evening around 7:00. It was surprisingly bloody and whatnot necessitating more than a little attention. There would be no show with some Brit geezer at the Fillmore for me.

But that's all right. I got to thinking about the City and my ambivalence toward it. I have to say that I felt surprisingly comfortable there this last time, even with an injury -- or perhaps because of it.

We spent some time at Ghirardelli and Aquatic Park, having lunch at McCormick and Kuleto, walking a bit, checking out the artisans' stalls rather than the galleries, musing over the sour faces worn by so many of the tourists on the top decks of the innumerable tour buses. The Segwayers, on the other hand, all wore silly grins as they roamed and glided the North Beach and Fisherman's Wharf areas in packs.

The line for the cable car turnaround at Hyde and Beach was as long as it usually is, but the passengers were patient as they usually are, and their clanging journey over hill and dale was no doubt the thrill of a lifetime.

At $6 a ride, no transfers, the cable car is only for tourists now, but back in My Day, cable cars were actually public transit means for getting from Market Street or Union Square or wherever you happened to be Downtown over those hills to where you wanted to be by the bay. They were crowded, yes, but that was part of the charm. They got you where you wanted to go. At $.50, it cost more to ride one than a bus or trolley, but if I recall correctly, you could get an all day pass for a dollar or something, ride as often as you wanted, and I believe the pass was good on Muni, too. Those were the days.

The fog was coming in already in the early afternoon and the Golden Gate Bridge was almost completely obscured, but the Marin hillsides stood out proud and golden on the northern rim of the Bay. Then they too disappeared into the enveloping fog. This fog never seemed to come into Fisherman's Wharf and the Marina district, though we could see its tendrils coming over the tops of the western hills. For some reason, the northern end of San Fransisco stayed in sunshine the rest of the day. It was still sunny and even a bit warm when I bashed my hand.

There was an Urgent Care down the street, but I decided not to go that route and toughed it out with some Walgreen's first aid as it was even closer. The staff there was wonderful. You take your chances at Walgreen's (I've had very good and very awful experiences at Walgreen's over the years, and I will not recommend their pharmacy any time soon given atrocious service and screwed up prescriptions in the past.) But this particular Walgreen's had excellent, cheerful and very helpful staff; I got what I needed in short order and proceeded to tend my wounds myself.

After the blood was staunched and I'd calmed down a bit, I went for a walk along Lombard St; it hasn't changed a great deal since I made it my in town overnight destination when I had work assignments in San Francisco -- and I could get a room. Some places hadn't changed at all which is always one of the comforting things about San Francisco. You can rely on at least some of the City to stay the same -- or at least similar -- no matter how long you are away.

The video up top is kind of striking to me because it is so evocative of the City as I first recall it. The home movies the video is taken from were shot in 1941, well before I was born, and even longer before I first visited San Francisco (which would have been about 1957 or 1958.)   I've seen film of San Francisco taken in the 1950's, and the city views don't have the powerful evocative effect this earlier film does (there are others in the series that are just as evocative for me.)  The only things I can recall that appear in later films that aren't in the earlier ones are the Cliff House and Playland At The Beach, but they weren't really "in the City" so much as out at the beach.

I loved going to the beach when I was young; not so much now, though. An exception is Aquatic Park in San Francisco, which isn't actually the beach --s though there is sand so it will do. Aquatic Park is a protected area on the Bay rather than on the ocean, so it's generally not as windy and not as cold as things typically get along the Pacific. When I was younger, the wind and the cold at the ocean didn't bother me at all. Now it does. The perils of age. Things that you once enjoyed no longer seem so fine. Things you never appreciated before take on new importance.

Had a nice chat with Mr. Patel at the place where we were staying. The A/C in our room stopped functioning and I let him know. He said he'd come up to check on it, but there was probably nothing he could do, it being after 5:00pm and "nobody would come out after 5, you know." Yes, well...

He did come up, and by golly got the machine to function, and we laughed over it, and I asked him his name ("Patel," of course!) and we got to talking for a bit. He asked my age, and I told him. He said, "Well, I'm seventy-five, you know." He didn't look it and I told him as much. "Oh yes! Indeed, I was born in India in 1937! I worked in hotels in India for 35 years." I asked him when he came to the United States. "Oh, it must have been about 12 years ago. My sons were already here."

He said he missed India sometimes, "But India can be such a cruel place." I said, "That's true of almost any place, isn't it?" He said that in his opinion, America was much gentler most of the time. "It's so much newer, you know."

He said his family had bought the place where we were staying a few years ago, and they bought the building next door, too for additional lodging space. The buildings were pretty run down at the time, but they fixed them up. They put the fancy suites in the neighboring building. Did I think the room was nice?  It was, actually. Not fancy at all, but quite large, with all the requisite amenities and a few more. It had been fairly recently renovated, obviously, but it was done well. The bed was comfortable. Just needed to make sure that pesky A/C kept working. It was not that hot outside, but the room faced west, and the sun was hitting the room directly. Solar heating! Bonus! He said, "You know the suites don't have the air conditioning at all. They have to open windows and turn on the ceiling fans. So you're lucky!"


It helps to keep that in mind.
Segwayers along Bay St at Polk

Aquatic Park, Marin hills in the distance
Ghirardelli Square from Aquatic Park

Fog obscures the Golden Gate

Thursday, July 19, 2012

San Francisco

Coit Tower Mural, c. 1936

The last time I was in San Francisco, only a year or so ago, to see Asleep At The Wheel at the Herbst, I thought that it would be the last time, for sure. I hadn't been there in quite a while, there being no earthly reason to go any more than I typically go to downtown Sacramento unless on duty. But I'm in San Francisco today and will be spending the night because it turns out that Ray Davies of the Kinks is playing the Fillmore, and well... there's a story.

There's a whole novel, if you want to get into it.

Yes, I was at the Fillmore for the Kinks/Taj Mahal, Sha-na-na concert on one of those dates November 27-30, 1969; it was quite something, and I can almost remember it. Well, you know how the old saying goes, "If you can remember the '60's, you weren't really there." I wonder if I would remember as much as I do (in bits and pieces to be sure) if it weren't for the movies and television programs that from time to time provide documentation of the era.

I came across a box the other day as I was packing stuff up for the move to New Mexico. It was full of surprising stuff: letters I'd written, a hotel brochure from San Francisco, some projects I'd done in college, etc; all from the 1960's, some of it as early as 1966 or possibly even before that. I barely recognized my own handwriting (it was much neater then!), I had no idea exactly when I'd picked up the hotel brochure and stationery but I found a San Francisco travel brochure dated 1973, and a letter written on hotel stationery dated "Saturday" -- referring to the Kinks at Winterland. I sort of remember that concert as well; it was where I was introduced to Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks. Oh. Of course. Who could forget.

There's a story about them, too; not quite a novel though, say a novella.

At any rate.

So off we go to visit Baghdad by the Bay at least one more time.

Like many others, I have mixed feelings about San Francisco. From a tourist perspective, there's practically no city better, but I'd rather not live there. It's foggy and cold and damp and windy. All. The. Time. The hills are monstrous if you're on foot; they can be more than a challenge if you're driving, too. Traffic is often horrendous. I remember a time when it took me over five hours just to get on the Bay Bridge to leave town one Friday evening after I'd conducted a training at the Civic Center. There wasn't a wreck. It was just extremely heavy traffic. This was during the dot.com bubble, and Bay Area traffic in general was nearly impossible practically  everywhere nearly all the time. One reason I was leaving town rather than spending the night was that it was almost impossible to get a hotel room anywhere in the Bay Area as well. (Grouse, grouse, complain, complain. But the Money!) There are earthquakes, too, you know! Sometimes bad ones.

Ah but! The galleries, the museums, the parks -- Golden Gate Park remains my all-time favorite urban park -- the beaches (brrrr!), the views from practically anywhere; gasp inducing. The Marina, the Palace of Fine Arts, the Presidio, the Bridges; Marin. The flowers... there used to be a lot more flowers. There were flower stands everywhere, flowers seemed to be blooming everywhere too. Now there are not so many, nor are they "everywhere."

The City (we always capitalize it) used to be very dirty; trash in the streets and on the sidewalks was almost as common as flowers. It was like no one ever cleaned up, and those who tried found themselves defeated in short order. I found some pictures of San Francisco street scenes taken in the 1850's, and it was like that then, too. So I figured all the trash in the streets was a historic/cultural thing, but then there was a big campaign to clean up when Willie Brown was mayor, and by and bye, it worked. I wouldn't say San Francisco is as clean as Seattle (Seattle is really too clean for an American city), but it is much, much cleaner than, for example, when I lived there in the mid-70's.

I don't care for Muni, and I still won't ride the 38 Geary bus, but the cable cars are fun and they can get you where you need to go. A variety of old fashioned street cars now run on Market Street, and that's a good thing. I'm old enough to remember when they still had streetcars in downtown Los Angeles, and while I can only remember riding them once or maybe twice, I was very fond of streetcars when I was little. So it's nice to see the old ones on Market Street in San Francisco rattling and careening along.

We had a one bedroom apartment on Geary St. between Leavenworth and Hyde. Neighbors called it "Lower Nob Hill," we called it "The Tenderloin." It was an urban neighborhood, not that rough, but certainly not deluxe and very convenient to my work and practically everything we needed. We paid $225 a month rent, which we thought was outrageous, and we had to park the car at a garage over on O'Farrell St. for an additional $45 or $50 a month. Well. I saw a listing last year for a one bedroom apartment in the building where we lived in the mid-'70's. It actually looked just like our apartment -- it was in the back of the building with a view of a beautiful garden where we could sit on nice days somewhat protected from the wind. The kitchen and bath had been upgraded, so there was that. The rent was $2450, if I recall correctly. Parking at the garage on O'Farrell is running about $300 a month these days.

We didn't like paying as much as we did to live in San Francisco back in the day, but we could afford it.  I wasn't making a lot of money by any means, but it was enough to get by -- on one salary.

It would take two "median American" salaries to approximate our living standards in San Francisco in the 1970's -- standards we could maintain on what was then considered one relatively low single salary. This gives an idea of how far workers' compensation has fallen since then and how much costs have increased.

As the number of employed Americans went up from the 1970's onward -- thanks in part to the pressure of a lot of liberation movements -- the value of their labor, strangely -- or maybe not so strangely -- went down. Workers today, if they can stay employed at all, are earning about half on average what they should be making based on productivity and comparable living standards. Of course there are tens of millions of unemployed -- forcing down wages and benefits for those who remain employed. Millions more Americans are forced into poverty every year which further erodes the living standards of everyone else -- except the 1%.

For their part, they've been happy to help themselves to all the profits of the last few decades. How much longer they'll be able to ride on the backs of everyone else is a question, though, isn't it?

Meanwhile... there's some geezer performing at the Fillmore...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The AntiFascist Rebels of Asturias and Leon

Ordinarily, I wouldn't put up anything from the AP because they have behaved like complete dicks for many years and are reactionary tools serving the corporatists who own them.

But this is pretty good.

The miners of Asturias and Leon in Spain have been fighting back against the imposition of greater and greater levels of suffering and suppression sent against them from Madrid for some time. This video essay gives some idea of what is at stake and what the miners are doing.

Just as in 1938, the Spanish are some of the only people to physically fight back against the Neo-Fascists.

¡Viva! los mineros!

[Note: picked up the link to the video over at Naked Capitalism in a post by Matt Stoller.] 


I'd also like to know more about those rockets and rocket launchers they're using. They appear to be homemade bazooka-like launchers, made out of welded and painted pipe. The rockets appear to be fireworks. The miners seem to have figured out how to manage aim and range pretty well, and the rockets do explode when they reach their intended destination (or before, or afterwards.)

Of course, if any rebels tried such stunts in the USofA they'd be droned to oblivion in a twinkling.

Monday, July 16, 2012

From the AntiFa Trenches, c. 1938 (contd)

Spanish Anti-fascist poster, c. 1938

This is likely to be the last installment of excerpts from "The Peril of Fascism" by A. B. Magil and Henry Stevens published in 1938 by International Publishers of New York.

I'm not a historian, but history fascinates me, and I have learned quite a bit from this volume. If you can find a copy of it, I highly recommend it as something of a prism through which to view -- and possibly understand -- the march of Neo-Fascism today.

Among the things I've learned from reading this book is that the same sorts of people and in some cases the descendants of the same people, the same corporations or their successors, and the same kind of financial chicanery (called "free markets" and "capitalism") are involved in today's economic catastrophe and the modern rise of fascism as were involved in the economic catastrophe and the rise of fascism in the 1920's and '30s. Today's forces are the same, but there is no ideological counter to them now while there was one then.

The final chapter of the book, written in 1938, remember, deals with the prelude to war, another world war, which at the time seemed inevitable due to the constant aggression of the Italian, German, and Japanese fascists in their openly declared march to world domination. The fact is, at the time the whole world was falling under fascist domination (except for the Soviet Union) with or without wars of aggression. Fascism was fashionable -- for one reason because it was successful, or at least it appeared to be.  Much of Europe was already fascist-ruled, same with Latin America, same with large swathes of Asia. Fascism was well-established, though not completely ruling, in most of the English-speaking world as well. Yet it wasn't enough for Hitler and Mussolini and Hirohito; they would not be satisfied until they had shattered the Soviet Union, destroyed Communism and ruled the entire world either directly or through their puppets.

Surely we don't face anything like that today... or do we?

There is no Soviet Union, for one thing; and "Communist" China is perhaps the most successful and dynamic managed capitalist nation in history.  What is being battled by the neo-fascists of our own time are the pitiful remnants of the social democracies in the West and rival sort-of fascists in the Muslim
East. It doesn't take a global war, nor even more than a handful of aggressive invasions for the Western Neo-Fascist forces to impose their will (if not outright conquer) on targeted nations.

Magil and Stevens argue that fascism -- as they knew it and presumably as it is currently conceived by the modern heirs to the fascist legacy -- is the natural consequence of unbridled capitalism especially when facing an existential crisis as it once again is today. Fascism is the necessary consequence, for it is the means by which otherwise rebellious peoples are to be kept in check.

Today's conditions differ in many ways from those of the 1930's, however. In those days, global war was less than a generation in the past, and part of the consequence of that war was the global financial collapse that began 10 years after the Armistice. It's been almost 70 years since the end of World War II, and it is not likely (at least in my view) that there will be another global war similar to either of the World Wars in the near -- or even distant -- future. Such rivals as there are to the rule of finance capital and neo-fascism are politically and economically weak and rather easily compelled to yield. Governments, by and large, find the fascist operating system to their liking. Iran is not a rival state, no matter the propaganda out of Jerusalem about it. China could one day become a rival, yet on the other hand, it is looking more and more like the Chinese will ultimately be the ones in charge, and China will once again be the Middle Kingdom of lore and legend. There is no need to fight China; China is showing the way forward.

None of this was even imaginable in the 1930's. So we've come a long way. Or have we?

Today's excerpt:

Those isolationists who fear lest sanctions provoke Japan to a military attack against the United States are panicky indeed. It is hardly likely that Japan, either alone or in combination with Germany and Italy, would dare challenge a coalition of the nature described. [The authors proposed that the United States, France, Britain and the Soviet Union could through their united and collective efforts essentially quarantine the fascist aggressor nations of Germany, Italy and Japan by imposing economic and other sanctions against them. This proposal was based on a speech regarding collective security and quarantining the fascist aggressor nations made by President Roosevelt in Chicago on October 5, 1937.]

The United States, the Soviet Union, Britain, and France are far stronger in men, military equipment, industry, resources, and financial reserves than the fascist alliance. Not even the megalomaniacs who rule Germany, Italy and Japan would dare to challenge the democracies if they are firm and united. The real danger of today lies in disunity of the democratic nations and in their capitulations to fascism. It is on this disunity and weakness that fascism thrives, and by piecemeal conquests may reach the point where it will be sufficiently strong to wage successful war against the strongest democratic states.

Foreign Commissar Litvinov of the Soviet Union put the matter succinctly in a speech before the League of Nations Assembly in 1936. He warned:

The aggressor who is basing all his policy on superiority in brute material force with only threatening demands, bluffs, and menaces and the tactics of the fait accomplis in the arsenal of his diplomacy is accessible only to a voice no less firm than his own, and to a cold calculation of the relative strength of forces. Any exhortations and entreaties and still more concessions to his illegal and senseless demands and economic bribes offered to him merely produce on him an impression of weakness, confirming his consciousness of his own power and encourage him to further intransigence and illegalities.

Yet the aggregate power of the peace-loving countries, both in the economic and in the military sense, their total resources in manpower and in the war industries, considerably surpass the strength of any possible combination of countries which the aggressor might rally around him. I am deeply convinced that it would be sufficient for these forces in some way to combine, to display merely the possibility of joint action,  for the peril of war to be averted and for the aggressor to be obliged to ask, sooner or later, to be admitted himself to the common system of collective security.

The alternative to collective security is continued chaos and ever more destructive wars. No nation is safe from the fascist firebrands; no one is certain where the war-mad dictatorships will next strike. Hitler seeks to lure his starving people into a crusade against the Soviet Union by promising them that Germany "will swim in prosperity" if he can seize the Urals and the Ukraine; but at the same time Hitler attacks Spain and builds up his military and propaganda machines for possible action against Czechoslovakia, France, and even Britain. Japan threatens to strike northward against the Soviet Union and then swiftly moves into the Yangtse valley, where British and American holdings are concentrated. The fascist threat is in all directions; everywhere where there is territory to be conquered, booty seized and people to be enslaved. And in this lies the logic of collective security, of common action against a common danger.

The obstacles to such a change v[from traditional American isolationism] are great, but by no means insuperable. Open fascists like Hearst and Coughlin, Trotskyist allies of fascism who conceal their reactionary program under pseudo-left jargon, blind and vociferous pacifists of the isolationist school are actively at work perpetuating the illusion that the United States is unaffected by the fascist offensive. But there are signs that increasing numbers of Americans are becoming aware of the reactionary character of "neutrality" and turning towards collective security as a means of strengthening American peace and democracy.

The Crisis of American Democracy

American democracy is threatened in as real and as compelling a sense as was German democracy in 1930-32. Whether the United States will succumb, as did Germany, to the black legions of fascism or move ahead toward a broader democracy is the question at stake. The one certain thing is that it cannot stand still. In the life-and-death struggle between the forces of democracy and fascism, the one or the other must advance. Secretary Ickes indicated the issue in his radio address of December 30, 1937:

Underneath the unchanging words of the Constitution, underneath the unchanging appearance of our public institutions, there is happening here, as truly as in Europe and Asia, a struggle for power, for the control of lives, labor and possessions of whole peoples -- a struggle between the many and the few, a struggle between those who would live and let live and those who want the thrill of the power of ruling others.

Here in America it is the old struggle between the power of money and the power of the democratic instinct. In the last few months this irreconcilable conflict, long growing in our history, has come into the open as never before, has taken on a form and an intensity which makes it clear that it must be fought through to a finish -- until plutocracy or democracy -- until America's 60 families or America's 120,000,000 people win.

This is the nature of the American crisis. It is a crisis which permits of no neutrality, and which increasingly divides the American people into two huge warring camps, progressive and reactionary.

The 1936 elections marked the first large-scale battle between the gathering hosts of progress and reaction. Since then, the struggle has grown in scope and intensity.

For a brief moment after the 1936 elections there was a lull in the struggle. Reactionary organizations momentarily withheld their savage attacks against the Roosevelt administration and suggested that the wounds of the election battle be healed and an "era of good feeling" inaugurated -- suggestions based on the hope that Roosevelt, having won re-election, would abandon his reform policies and veer sharply to the right.

... If reaction is victorious it will move along the fascist path already indicated by the pronunciamentos of the employers' associations and in the writings of big business spokesmen like Walter Lippmann and Dorothy Thompson, who learnedly prove by the inverted logic of reaction that "majority rule" means tyranny and that true liberty lies in the unrestricted right of the monopolists to exploit and plunder as they please. It will annul the right of collective bargaining, slash unemployment and farm relief, reduce wages and living standards, and extend on a national scale the system of corporate overlordship which it long exercised in the company towns. It will further whittle down the scope of democracy until nothing remains but the open terrorist dictatorship of big business. [My emphasis.]

Already the army of incipient fascism has attained enormous proportions.

At its head of course are the economic royalists, the small handful of financial oligarchs who control the means of production upon which depends the livelihood of the American people. Statistics of the Bureau of Internal Revenue reveal that in 1935 less than five percent of the corporations owned 87 percent of all corporate assets in the United States; and this group of giant corporations was controlled in turn by a small clique of financiers. As President Roosevelt clearly recognized in his monopoly message to Congress on April 29, 1938, the monopolists and the oligarchs of finance, maintaining a stranglehold on the American economy, constitute the source of the fascist danger. They have used their vast powers to build up black legions of reaction which penetrate deeply into every sphere of American life.

... The progressive movement, although still largely inchoate and unformed, has been described with considerable reason by Thomas Woodlock of the Wall Street Journal and other discerning reactionaries as an embryonic People's Front movement. The nature of this trend has not been widely understood, however, because it assumes forms completely different from those of the People's Front movements in Europe. These distinct political forms are determined by the peculiarities of party politics in the United States, by the weight of American tradition, and by the size and complexity of the country.

...Here we have no large workers and farmers or other middle-class parties. The Republican and Democratic Parties, both equally dominated in the post-war years by big capital, and both embracing within their ranks the vast majority of the oppressed and exploited, have hitherto practically monopolized American politics. The growing democratic movement cannot, therefore, assume the form of a clear-cut alliance of class parties, but instead develops in the complex form of progressive movements within the old parties and to a lesser degree, in the form or regional independent labor, farmer-labor and progressive parties. A national farmer-labor party, representing an alliance of all progressive strata, appears to be the most likely American form of the People's Front. But this stage of development has not yet been reached. At the moment, the democratic movement consists of scattered progressive groups and tendencies, developing toward greater cohesion and unity. It represents the embryo of a People's Front, but is not yet the People's Front. The coalescence of the scattered progressive groups and currents is, therefore, better described by the term democratic front.

And there we'll leave it for now, because, to all appearances, "progressives" are still scattered, inchoate, and "embryonic."

Isn't that something....