Monday, November 21, 2011

Colorado Springs Raid, and a Statement of Principle

Well, the city government dragged its collective feet about extending the Occupy permit in Colorado Springs for another 30 days, but they sure didn't waste any time calling the cops to tear down the encampment at 1 a.m. on the morning of Nov. 21, once they decided not to extend the permit. This is the pattern that has been followed around the country, thankfully without arrests and violence in Colorado Springs, but always with intimidation and subterfuge. What we can be sure of, as I wrote in my last post, is that the hand of the federal government in the form of Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security is obvious. What we should mourn is that city, county, and state officials are ready at all times to use government-sanctioned violence - and that multiethnic liberal Democrats are just as ready to use that violence as conservative white-male Republicans.

Will the model for the United States be Egypt, where violence escalates on all sides, or Greece, where the government tries to pretend the shuffling of parties for an "acceptable" government for the EU actually matters, even as the street explodes and Greece becomes ungovernable? In either event, the bickering between Republicans and Democrats matters as little as the ruminations of the "supercommittee" on the deficit. Maybe if Repubs and Dems could both be on a Supercommittee, members of Occupy and Tea Party could both be on a SuperLynchMob, with pitchforks and torches at the ready. Because it sure looks like there is little worth saving in government as we know it.

Let's make a simple statement here: Now that Forbes magazine itself (the Voice of Capitalism in its most conservative form) has come out against the use of heavy-handed tactics nationwide, I think it's safe to say that if you believe in the methods used for Occupy takedown, you are simply wrong. It's nice to live in a country of freedoms where you have the right to be wrong, but never doubt that you are flat-assed wrong. And speaking of never doubting....

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

Monday, November 14, 2011

Defending the Ancien Regime

I'm glad that hyper-tweeter 'blogdiva' (Liza Sabater) made the point early on the morning of Nov. 14, as Oakland was cleared out by a multi-city police force, that the raid was as much a product of President Obama and DHS head Janet Napolitano, as of the multicultural, ostensibly liberal government of Oakland. Whenever multiple jurisdictions are involved, you can be sure that DHS law enforcement funds are involved, and likely the regional Joint Terrorism Task Forces are involved as well.
When you come right down to it, the federal government perceives the continued presence of semi-permanent encampments in multiple cities as a threat to the public order - and there are always enough "Black Bloc" provocateurs in many cities to give that perception some validity. I won't go so far as Liza to say that DHS considers Occupy as "low-level terrorism", but the feds certainly give cities plenty of tactical riot funds to make park-clearance a major goal.

What is to be done? A phalanx of judges in Nashville, including some rather conservative ones, have slapped down the governor of Tennessee and the state police for clearing public squares, saying that political encampments are themselves a protected form of free speech. Why not extend that argument to multiple cities with a class action lawsuit against those municipalities who are quick to ban protests? I'm thinking Albany, Atlanta, Austin, Berkeley, Chapel Hill, Denver, Nashville, Oakland, Portland, St. Louis, Salt Lake City... hmm, the list is getting long. Notice how many cities with "liberal" governments are listed? Arguments for public safety appeal to conservatives and liberals alike. Maybe it's time to initiate an economic boycott against these cities and others.

On Thursday night, I'm on a panel at Colorado College called "What if there were no Bill of Rights?" I'll argue that most Americans shy away from the Bill of Rights if it interferes with their entertainment bubble. And those in political office at municipal, county, or state level, even if they are liberal Democrats, are quick to eradicate free expression when a special event comes to town, like a G20 meeting or political party convention -- raiding organizing spaces, banning the wearing of bandanas within city limits, etc. Judges in locales like St. Paul, Minn. have fined city governments for suspending Constitutional rights on "emergency" grounds, when they know full well their temporary laws will not pass Constitutional muster. Maybe it's time to get serious on the punitive fines for such cities.

(On another topic, I spoke on a panel about the changing role of automated warfare and what it meant for the veteran. Here 'tis.)