Archive for June, 2012

A Typical Crime with an Atypical Victim

One of the leading indicators of the diseased nature of our political system is the dramatic militarization of and the increasingly brazen acts of inhumanity carried out by those calling themselves “law enforcement.” We’ve moved into another era of popular resistance to the existing power structures unseen since the late 1960s. Police are transitioning from the task of the last 40 years–satisfying the racist demands of the power structure by locking-up non-whites for non-crimes–back to the job of cracking down on political dissent and disobedience.

One thing authoritarian thugs will absolutely not countenance is being called out for their thuggery. It’s a rare, brave, and disciplined soul who would even dare to challenge a uniformed police officer–a state agent with the power to do literally anything to any “normal” without repercussions.

One such hero is Austin’s own Antonio Buehler, who attempted to intervene–not physically, apparently he wasn’t suicidal–while cops assaulted a 100 pound woman (pictured) at a gas station early on New Year’s day.

I leave it to you to review the facts of the case, should you be disinclined to accept my opinion. As far as I can tell, Antonio, who was probably the only sober person in Austin at that point in time, did nothing illegal and certainly nothing wrong (and yes, those are largely unrelated categories). His ongoing entanglement with the “justice” system since that night is entirely due to his failure to submit and obey. It’s also a highlight reel for modern american “police work.”

Antonio is facing 10 years in prison for “felony harassment of a public servant.” You see, one officer took a couple minutes off from abusing the young woman to shove Antonio around. When Antonio put his hands in the air and backed away, refusing to engage the officer physically, the cop dragged him to the ground and arrested him. He was accused him of 1. charging the “officer” and 2. spitting in this face.

Historically, Anthony Buehler would be at the whim of the “justice” system and would join the legion of other previously free people about whom some bullshit charge was ginned up for the purpose of putting them in cages for large parts of their lives.

Unfortunately for brazen, legalized thuggery, the 21st century has seen a proliferation of recording devices, and there was somebody across the street videoing the entire encounter. Also unfortunately for those who would lock up a stranger for 10 years just because they want to: Antonio is a pretty industrious fellow. Beside finding the person who recorded the event, he also found other witnesses who were willing to testify to his innocence.

Additionally, he’s actively pursued getting the dashboard camera footage released. As per usual, when they contain evidence of officer misconduct–which is most of the time--the footage is sequestered
while “under review” by some internal investigatory arm
with a 100% track record of clearing officers of their crimes. I’m surprised they even admit the cameras were on and functioning and that no one “lost” the recording media.

Despite all this (and 2000+ signatures on a petition to investigate his assailants , and 6000+ members of the related facebook page), the state is moving forward with its attempt to put Antonio in a cage. It’s reasonably likely, despite being clearly in the right at every point in the encounter, he’ll go to prison. It’s almost certainly the case that, despite committing a series of crimes–and being awful, cretinous human beings to boot–the police involved will continue to roam the streets, abusing people and putting them in cages.

It’s important to focus the mind on the reality that this style of injustice happens to dozens or hundreds of people every single day. Anyone who faces law enforcement without witnesses is entirely at their mercy. Anybody who has already been a victim of the “justice” system (i.e, with a record), or who can’t martial the tremendous amount of mental and material resources to defend oneself against the state is going to prison.

Antonio Buehler happens to be very capable, courageous and motivated, and he had witnesses with recording devices–even he might go to prison.

Along those lines, another important point: do not fuck with Antonio Buehler. Since being attacked, he has started an organization, The Peaceful Streets Project that is distributing video devices to activists in an attempt to provide evidentiary protection to other victims of the police. The group is collecting stories from victims of Austin police, is holding “know your rights” trainings, and is organizing a Police Accountability Summit on July 14.

I’m hoping that his case is high-profile enough that they can’t cage him. As I noted at the start of the post, the state’s “justice” system is transitioning from caging undeclared political prisoners to overt and active dissidents. If the process can be stopped or slowed, it will be through efforts like Peaceful Streets Project and people of honor like Antonio Buehler.

Everything’s Cool in Libya Though, Right Steve?

My opinion, that NPR is a particularly insidious source of propaganda, is not new. As psychologists continue to demonstrate (behind paywalls, for the most part, the bastards), smarter people don’t hold a world view more in line with reality, rather they are better able to rationalize whatever worldview they happen to hold. Arguments with religious scholars about the tenets of their respective faiths demonstrate this amply.

Given the time pressures and competing political agendas, most smart people want to believe that things are going, at least passably well in some part of our sprawling empire. An ongoing series, “The Revolutionary Roadtrip,” by Steve Inskeep gives a 5 minute daily balm to any concerns the NPR audience might have.

I should interject, now that you’re three paragraphs in, that this isn’t some outstanding specimen of NPR state-narrative reinforcement. It’s pretty pedestrian actually. I just happened to hear it right before I read this counter-punch article which covered similar topics. I thought the comparison was fairly striking. To wit, Steve Inskeep:

Orwell came to mind for me as we traveled through Libya, because it was Orwell who said, “He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future.”

For forty-two years, Moammar Gadhafi controlled the present, rewrote the past to suit his ends, and seemed likely to hold on into the interminable future.

Now Gadhafi is gone, killed by rebels in his home city last October, and Libyans are still finding fresh and original ways to display the bloody images of his final moments on Facebook.

His death finally released Gadhafi’s grip on Libya’s recent history, and his people are just beginning to revise the record.

He goes on to talk about visiting the national museum, where all of the Gadhafi related installations have been removed.

And now, Counterpunch’s treatment of narrative-control in Libya:

It was decided long ago that no supporters of Gaddafi would be allowed to stand in the upcoming elections, but recent changes have gone even further. Law 37, passed by the new NATO-imposed government last month, has created a new crime of ‘glorifying’ the former government or its leader – subject to a maximum sentence of life imprisonment . . . Even more indicative of the contempt for the rule of law amongst the new government . . . whose only power base remains the colonial armed forces – is Law 38. This law has now guaranteed immunity from prosecution for anyone who committed crimes aimed at “promoting or protecting the revolution”. Those responsible for the ethnic cleansing of Tawergha – such as Misrata’s self-proclaimed “brigade for the purging of black skins” – can continue their hunting down of that cities’ refugees in the full knowledge that they have the new ‘law’ on their side.

Counterpunch also highlights the 50,000 killed by NATO forces, the necessity of removing Gadhafi before the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) could operate freely on the continent–until now AFRICOM was headquartered in Germany; and the US combat troops now engaged in South Sudan, Congo and Central African Republic. Counterpunch addresses the topic of Libya repeatedly and in depth, the archives are a phenomenal resource.

The rest of “the Revolutionary Roadtrip,” thus far, has highlighted North Africa’s favorite hot-sauce, camel meat as food, and a scare story about the danger of radical Islam derailing NATO’s “democratic reforms.”

It’s indicative that the very tippy-tip of the left-leaning mass media can’t even so much as hint at the return of brutal colonialism on an already tortured continent. It’s disinformation at it’s worst to highlight the brutality of the previous regime without mentioning that the current one has retroactively and in perpituity legalized death squads It’s the height of dark irony to allege Orwellian control by a very weak dictator from the gobal platform of the state radio of the most powerful and narrative dominating empire the world has ever seen.

It’s an illustration of the power of the human intellect. Such a flimsy and transparent touchstone will suffice to shield the public conscious from the blatant, deep evil of our rulers.

Excerpted David Brooks Describes A True Civilization

I don’t think I’ve ever been able to agree with a higher percentage of physical content in a David Brooks article than today. With just a few minutes of editing, his words describe the conditions under which all of humanity could live and thrive in a state of cooperation and peace.

We live in a culture that finds it easier to assign moral status to victims of power than to those who wield power.

Then there is our fervent devotion to equality, to the notion that all people are equal.

Those “Question Authority” bumper stickers no longer symbolize an attempt to distinguish just and unjust authority. They symbolize an attitude of opposing authority.

The common assumption is that elites are always hiding something. Those people at the top are [not] smart or as wonderful [or] pure.

The World War II memorial is a nullity. It tells you nothing about the war or why American power was mobilized to fight it.

The Vietnam memorial is about tragedy.

You end up with movements like Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Parties that try to dispense with authority altogether. They reject hierarchies and leaders because they don’t believe in the concepts. The whole world should be like the Internet — a disbursed semianarchy in which authority is suspect and each individual is king.

[It's understood that] power is built on a series of paradoxes . . . Democratic followership is also built on a series of paradoxes

Vast majorities of Americans don’t trust their institutions.

Not bad, eh?

I recommend against reading the original (and yet I link to it. Yeah go read it, and understand he wrote it at the behest of power). It’s literally the worst, over the top, lick-spittle toadying I’ve ever read from an adult. Or a child for that matter, unless they’re talking about their favorite comic book characters.

Austin Cops Add “Preserve Life” to Official To-Do List

From the Onion-or-Real-Life dept, Austin Police Department has “altered its guiding set of policies by adding a ‘preservation of life standard’ that tells officers that their main responsibility is to preserve human life.”

Thanks, local activists, for getting “not killing people” on the APD todo list. I’m guess dogs are not included in the radical new life preservation policy. It’s too bad, APD is missing out on an opportunity to drastically reduce its munitions budget.

Another new addition says, “We must realize our main responsibility is the protection of the community, and the preservation of human life and dignity.”
Mannix [ Assistant Police Chief ] said police officials have discussed adding the standard for about three years.

I wonder if the implementation phase will take as long the discussion phase. It doesn’t go into effect until July 1st, so keep any people or animals you love away from the police for a few more weeks.

Mannix said that the spirit of the policy has always been followed in the department’s culture, code of conduct and training procedures. He said the department’s goal in adding the standard is to help residents understand that this is the case.

I’m no public relations expert, but I’m pretty sure the best way to help residents understand that the police intend to preserve life would be to have the police stop shooting people, animals, and other living things.

You’ll want to void your bladder before you read this next part:

Mannix said preservation of life goes beyond shootings. He said he feels a good example of the policy in action came in April, when 35-year-old Ahmede Jabbar Bradley was fatally shot during a confrontation with an officer . . . after Bradley was shot, police attempted to revive him with CPR, Mannix said.
“The concept of preservation of life is not just about use of force,” Mannix said. “It’s about everything our officers do, like pulling a kid from a burning car or performing CPR on someone.”

You read that correctly: Mannix feels a “good example” of preserving life is a case where police fatally shot someone and then performed CPR. I wonder if the kid-from-a-burning-car example occurred after the police shoved the kid into the car and set it on fire.

On second reading: you’ll probably want to continue to avoid the police at all reasonable costs even past the July 1st implementation of life preservation, “he [Mannix] said he doesn’t think it will affect the way officers perform their duties”. Yeah, I bet it won’t.

Intentional Killing of Strangers Called “Murder” by Rogue Media Person

Jeremy Scahill will surely reap a Chris Hayes style whirlwind of condemnation for his Chris Hayes style stating of the obvious (on Chris Hayes’ show, oddly enough).

Of course ordering the death of strangers on the other side of the world is murder. Intentionally killing people who can’t possibly harm you is what murder *is*. Scahill is willing to cut the administration some slack and keep the strangers that have been secretly “kill listed” out of the murder tally. He’s only counting up the thousands of women and children–the administration considers all males to be combatants–vaporized by presidentially authorized attacks.

President Obama and all those that follow his homicidal orders are murderers. It’s not a wild claim. The declaration requires only a cursory review of the facts and an objective viewpoint.

One might retort that by my definition (not necessarily Scahill’s), every war president–which is all of them, I believe–is a murderer. That’s true, and they are. I understand that most historical narratives carve out special exceptions for rulers because they are working on behalf of God or the motherland or democracy or something. If the mystical bullshit is put aside and we observe the facts of history, 44 American men have taken successive turns sending armed men and machines around the world butchering millions–rivals for power and innocents alike. That, again, is what murder is.

Someone incapable of abandoning the political process can make the claim that a particular murderer is better or worse than another. Perhaps one president murdered more reluctantly than another or helped more or fewer people with his murders and threats of murder. I respect the realistic favoring of a particular murderer on the basis of the perceived alternatives. Though I will continue to advocate for alternatives to murder as a central organizing principle of society; I understand, in many cases, the reasons for pleading one’s case the to the current ruler or trying to replace him with another.

It’s contrary to reality, however, to claim they aren’t murderers. It negates the humanity of their victims, and, frankly, indicates a lack of humanity–or ability to observe the glaringly obvious–on the part of the claimant. If we can’t start the conversation with the understanding presiding over the killing of innocent human beings is murder, we’re not operating in the same moral universe.