Post Tagged with: "President"

The Revolt of the Comic Books

The Revolt of the Comic Books

revolt of the comic books

Excellent article on the attempts of superhero comics to deal to critique American politics, and how they fail:

The Superhero Registration Act is a straightforward analogue of the USA PATRIOT Act; the rhetoric of its opponents could have been cribbed from an ACLU brief. But under scrutiny, their civil libertarian arguments turn out to hold very little water in the fictional context. The “liberty” the act infringes is the right of well-meaning masked vigilantes, many wielding incredible destructive power, to operate unaccountably, outside the law — a right no sane society recognizes. In one uneasy scene, an anti-registration hero points out that the law would subject heroes to lawsuits filed by those they apprehend. In another, registered hero Wonder Man is forced to wait several whole minutes for approval before barging into a warehouse full of armed spies from Atlantis. Protests about the law’s threat to privacy ring a bit hollow coming from heroes accustomed to breaking into buildings, reading minds, or peering through walls without bothering to obtain search warrants. Captain America bristles at the thought of “Washington … telling us who the supervillains are,” but his insistence that heroes must be “above” politics amounts to the claim that messy democratic deliberation can only hamper the good guys’ efforts to protect America. The putative dissident suddenly sounds suspiciously like Director of National Intelligence Mitch McConnell defending warrantless spying.

I haven’t read Ellis’s Black Summer yet (I have issue 0, just need to find the time), but I suspect it falls into the same trap: Horus’s murder of the president is little different from the US’s invasion of Iraq.

Full Story: American Prospect).

(via American Samizdat).

November 14, 2007 5 comments
The US as Police State, part 2

The US as Police State, part 2

Read Part 1 of The US as Police State.

In part 1, I took a very brief look at the history of the United States from 1787 to around 1980 and found a history of government repression of citizens at varying levels of government: restrictions on voting, vote fraud, and slavery. Not to mention the genocide of the Native Americans at the hands of the US military.

So now I turn my attention to Ronald Reagan and the point where the “War on Drugs” actually became a war, and not mere prohibition. The drug war is meant to stamp out the “drug problem” in America. A problem that the government helped engineer in t he first place. As detailed in Gary Webb’s series of “Dark Alliance” articles for the San Jose Mercury News, and later a book by the same name, the C.I.A, with the explicit knowledge of the Reagan administration, supported Nicaraguan contras in their sale of cocaine to drug dealers in Los Angles starting around 1981. For more information, see Webb’s 1998 article for the Orange County Weekly, The Crack-Up.”

In his article “The CIA, Contras, Gangs, and Crack” William Blum quotes Webb saying the CIA’s drug network “opened the first pipeline between Colombia’s cocaine cartels and the black neighborhoods of Los Angeles, a city now known as the ‘crack’ capital of the world” and notes that “the huge influx of cocaine happened to come at just the time that street-level drug dealers were figuring out how to make cocaine affordable by changing it into crack.” Blum goes on to write “The foregoing discussion should not be regarded as any kind of historical aberration inasmuch as the CIA has had a long and virtually continuous involvement with drug trafficking since the end of World War II.” Blum then outlines this history. The article provides a quick overview, and I presume he goes into more detail in his book Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II.

“In my 30?year history in the Drug Enforcement Administration and related agencies, the major targets of my investigations almost invariably turned out to be working for the CIA.”

So the government, having spurred the “crack epidemic” and having trafficked drugs since at least WWII, instead of scaling back its own drug running operations expands it military empire to a new front: the homes of US citizens.

Radley Balko chronicles the increase in the use of paramilitary force for servicing drag warrants in his paper Overkill: the Rise of Paramilitary Raids in America. Balko writes:

The use of paramilitary police units began in Los Angeles in the 1960s. Through the 1970s, the idea slowly spilled out across the country. But at least until the 1980s, SWAT teams and other paramilitary units were used sparingly, only in volatile, high-risk situations such as bank robberies or hostage situations. Likewise, ‘no-knock’ raids were generally used only in situations where innocent lives were determined to be at imminent risk. America’s War on Drugs has spurred a significant rise in the number of such raids, to the point where in some jurisdictions drug warrants are only
served by SWAT teams or similar paramilitary units, and the overwhelming number of SWAT deployments are to execute drug warrants.

The Posse Comitatus Act, according to Wikipedia, “was intended to prohibit Federal troops from supervising elections in former Confederate states. It generally prohibits Federal military personnel and units of the United States National Guard under Federal authority from acting in a law enforcement capacity within the United States, except where expressly authorized by the Constitution or Congress. The Posse Comitatus Act and the Insurrection Act substantially limit the powers of the Federal government to use the military for law enforcement.”

In her 1999 paper “Warrior Cops: The Ominous Growth of Paramilitarism in American Police Departments” Diane Cecilia Weber notes a massive blow to the Posse Comitatus Act:

In 1981 Congress passed the Military Cooperation with Law Enforcement Officials Act. That law amended the Posse Comitatus Act insofar as it authorized the military to “assist” civilian police in the enforcement of drug laws. The act encouraged the military to (a) make available equipment, military bases, and research facilities to federal, state, and local police; (b) train and advise civilian police on the use of the equipment; and (c) assist law enforcement personnel in keeping drugs from entering the country. The act also authorized the military to share information acquired during military operations with civilian law enforcement agencies.

She goes on to list further erosion or violations of the act:

In 1986, President Reagan issued a National Security Decision Directive, which declared drugs a threat to U.S.
‘national security.’ The directive allowed for yet more cooperation between local, state, and federal law enforcement and
the military. ”

In 1988, Congress ordered the National Guard to assist state drug enforcement efforts. Because of this order, National
Guard troops today patrol for marijuana plants and assist in large-scale anti-drug operations in every state in the country.

In 1989, President Bush created a series of regional task forces within the Department of Defense, charged with facilitating
cooperation between the military and domestic police forces.

In 1994, the Department of Defense issued a memorandum authorizing the transfer of equipment and technology to
state and local police. The same year, Congress created a “reutilization program” to facilitate handing military gear
over to civilian police agencies.

She also notes: “In 1996 President Bill Clinton appointed a military commander, Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, to oversee enforcement of the federal drug laws as the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.”

By the time George W. Bush nullified the Posse Comitatus Act 2006 (see Wikipedia), it was as good as dead.

Balko goes on to detail how the movement of military equipment to local law enforcement agencies and federal funding incentives for drug enforcement encouraged expansion and deployment of SWAT team units.

In 1972, there were just a few hundred paramilitary drug raids per year in the United States. According to Kraska, by the early 1980s there were 3,000 annual SWAT deployments, by 1996 there were 30,000, and by 2001 there were 40,000.70 The average city police department deployed its paramilitary police unit about once a month in the early 1980s. By 1995, that number had risen to seven.

Balko explores the problems that the militarization of the police force has created at length in the rest of the paper. Overkill is excellent and illustrates just how far the War on Drugs has really gone.

According to Wikipedia: “Martial law is the system of rules that takes effect when the military takes control of the normal administration of justice. Usually martial law reduces some of the personal rights ordinarily granted to the citizen, limits the length of the trial processes, and prescribes more severe penalties than ordinary law.” The current system stops just short of trying drug offenders in military tribunals, but the mandatory sentencing laws (first signed into law by Reagan in 1986) implemented under the The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 constituted a significant change in the severity of sentencing and seized the power to sentence criminals from the judicial branch.

In conclusion: the US government helped create a social problem, and gradually implemented martial law to solve it. The need to formally declare martial law wasn’t necessary – in fact it would have been a hindrance.

Perhaps worst of all the utter failure the War on Drugs has actually been on solving the problem. Detailing why it’s been a failure and all the different ways it’s been a catastrophe for civil liberties is far beyond the scope of this article, but here are some further resources:

Drug Policy Alliance.

Families Against Mandatory Minimums.

The Cato Institute’s Drug War section.

This Foreign Policy magazine’s article on the drug war.

Radley Balko’s blog.

End part 2.

October 15, 2007 3 comments
Jonathon “The Impaler” Sharkey: the first Satanist vampire presidential candidate

Jonathon “The Impaler” Sharkey: the first Satanist vampire presidential candidate

impaler for president

LISTEN UP, AMERICANS! Soon, you will shoulder the responsibility of voting for the next president of the United States. Will it be the Mormon guy, the actor guy, the hair guy, the girl guy, the Satanist vampire guy … what?

Oh, yes.

Jonathon “The Impaler” Sharkey is the first Satanist vampire presidential candidate in American history, and if you think you’re fascinated, meet W. Tray White, who grabbed a camera, scraped up a crew and made “Impaler,” a strange, funny and moving documentary about the Democrat from Minnesota with a taste for blood.

Full Story: Express.

More info: Wikipedia.

(Thanks TiamatsVision!).

September 28, 2007 5 comments
A call for a new independent investigation of 9/11

A call for a new independent investigation of 9/11

Today was the 9/11 Truthers general strike for a new 9/11 investigation (and immediate impeachment of President Bush). Since I didn’t have to work or go to school, I did not have to make a decision as to whether I would participate. Generally, I find the Truth Movement to be too certain, too religious in their positions to take completely seriously. At this point, I make no speculation about who was behind the attacks, or what precisely happened that day. That approximately 3,000 people died that day is enough.

But I believe there are enough unanswered questions to justify an extensive, independent investigation into 9/11. And regardless of whether Bush had a role in planning or executing 9/11 (or just let it happen, or whatever), he deserves to be impeached.

So while today was just another day for me, I do want to register in some way my support for a new investigation. I think it is the best way to honor those who lost their lives. We should know what happened, who was responsible, and, most importantly, what we can do to prevent something like this from happening again.

September 11, 2007 1 comment
Case study in police/government corruption

Case study in police/government corruption

Then, yesterday evening, I spoke with the owner and manager of a bar in Manassas Park, Virginia. In 2004, their business was raided by 90 — yes ninety — police in paramilitary gear. The police raided under the guise of — are you ready for this? — an Alcohol Beverage Control inspection. The advantage of raiding under an ABC warrant is that its a regualtory inspection not a criminal investigation, which means that the police didn’t need to get a warrant before going in. The owners have video of the raid captured by their security cameras. I’ll be posting it here once they condense it and send it to me.

For the last three hours, I sat with the two men while they went over detail after excruciating detail of the Manassas Park police departments endless efforts to entrap them, bait them, and run them out of business. The manager has no criminal record. Neither does the owner, his father, who’s a business owner and a practicing lawyer for 40 years. The manager’s brother is the income president of the Fairfax Bar Association.

Before 2004, the bar had a spotless ABC record. Not a single violation.

That’s just the beginning… what follows is a stranger-than-fiction story about local police and city counsel corruption complete with cocaine, strippers, child pornography, gambling, and shady redevelopment schemes.

Full Story: The Agitator.

Start at the bottom and work your way up.

See also:

Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America. (There’s a link to download the PDF towards the bottom of the page).

September 11, 2007 1 comment
George Bush I (1796?1859)

George Bush I (1796?1859)

Found this article yesterday while reading the print edition of The New York Times Magazine (link to article). Fortunately, it’s online (for the time being), but I’ll copy n paste it in its entirety for your reading pleasure:-

By TED WIDMER
Published: July 22, 2007

None of us can control our ancestors. Like our children, they have minds of their own and invariably refuse to do our bidding. Presidential ancestors are especially unruly – they are numerous and easily discovered, and they often act in ways unbecoming to the high station of their descendants.

Take George Bush. By whom I mean George Bush (1796-1859), first cousin of the president’s great-great-great-grandfather. It would be hard to find a more unlikely forebear. G.B. No. 1 was not exactly the black sheep of the family, to use a phrase the president likes to apply to himself. In fact, he was extremely distinguished, just not in ways that you might expect. Prof. George Bush was a bona fide New York intellectual: a dabbler in esoteric religions whose opinions were described as, yes, ‘liberal’; a journalist and an academic who was deeply conversant with the traditions of the Middle East.

There was a time when the W-less George Bush was the most prominent member of the family (he is the only Bush who made it into the mid-20th-century Dictionary of American Biography). A bookish child, he read so much that he frightened his parents. Later he entered the ministry, but his taste for arcane controversy shortened his career, and no church could really contain him. Ultimately, he became a specialist at predicting the Second Coming, an unrewarding profession for most, but he thrived on it.

In 1831 he drifted to New York City, just beginning to earn its reputation as a sinkhole of iniquity, and found a job as professor of Hebrew and Oriental languages at what is now New York University. That same year, he published his first book, ‘The Life of Mohammed.’ It was the first American biography of Islam’s founder.

For that reason alone, the book would be noteworthy. But the work is also full of passionate opinions about the prophet and his times. Many of these opinions are negative – as are his comments on all religions. Bush often calls Muhammad ‘the impostor’ and likens him to a successful charlatan who has foisted an ‘arch delusion’ on his fellow believers. But he is no less critical of the ‘disastrous’ state of Christianity in Muhammad’s day. And throughout the book, Bush reveals a passionate knowledge of the Middle East: its geography, its people and its theological intensity, which fit him like a glove. For all his criticism of Muhammad, he returns with fascination to the story of ‘this remarkable man,’ who was ‘irresistibly attractive,’ and the power of his vision.

‘The Life of Mohammed’ went out of print a century ago, and there it was expected to remain, in perpetuity. But in the early 21st century, it was reissued by a tiny publisher simply because of the historical rhyme that a man with the same name occupied the White House. The first George Bush never witnessed the Second Coming, but now his book was enjoying an unexpected afterlife.

Predictably, it enraged some readers in the Middle East, where rage is an abundant commodity. In 2004, Egyptian censors at Cairo’s Al-Azhar Islamic Research Academy denounced the book by President Bush’s ‘grandfather’ as a slander on the prophet, and the State Department was forced to issue a document clarifying the family relationship. That document may have unintentionally fanned the flames when it pointed out that ‘The Life of Mohammed’ never compares Muslims to insects, rats or snakes, though it does, on occasion, liken them to locusts.

The stage was set for conspiracy theories to spread across the Middle East like sandstorms. But then something really strange happened. The same censors read carefully through the book and in 2005 issued an edict that reversed their earlier ruling, admitting that it was O.K. Bush’s theological intensity might kill him with an American audience, but in the Middle East it seems to have allowed him to pass muster. Clearly this passionate religious scholar was no enemy of Islam. You could almost say that he was part of the family.

Perhaps the Egyptians could sense something honorable about this distant life, which dedicated itself to the search for knowledge. After George Bush died, a friend remembered the feeling of walking into his apartment, a third-story walk-up on Nassau Street, ‘a kind of literary Gibraltar,’ where he would find the professor surrounded by his piles of rare and ancient volumes.

It all seems so improbable. George Bush? A bookworm? In a crummy apartment? A mystic might look at this history and find evidence that God is indeed inscrutable. But as the first George Bush knew, religions, like families, contain plentiful contradictions. As the current George Bush has discovered, no place can tease them out like the Holy Land.

July 25, 2007 2 comments
Desert Autonomous Zone

Desert Autonomous Zone

In 15 square miles of abandoned land, about 400 misfits-aging hippies, disillusioned veterans, teenage runaways-have built a community where no one cares if you smoke pot, fire your rifle all day, let your kids drive your car, or walk around naked in the desert heat. It’s a landscape of beat-up old trailers, shacks jerry-rigged from recycled materials, solar panels, little farms, greenhouses, and at least one tipi. “Where I live is the last remaining land of America that is left,” says Dreadie Jeff, another Mesa resident. “You can do what you fucking want there.”

The local culture defies easy stereotypes. “Going into this community with this traditional mainstream liberal ideology,” Jeremy says, “we realized all our preconceived notions were bullshit. These people were extremely into their Second Amendment rights, and they were also into marijuana legalization. They don’t fit into these molds.” There’s a touch of madness to the place as well. Mama Phyllis, a Mesa woman who used to be a psychiatric nurse (“I couldn’t do that anymore,” she says, and leaves it at that), calls it “the largest outdoor insane asylum.” The governing philosophy is a mix of anarchism, patriotism, New Age stoner wisdom, and a militia-style distrust of the state. Early in the film Dreadie Jeff, a veteran of the first Gulf War, exclaims that his military oath was not “to defend this land, it’s not to defend the people, it’s not to defend the motherfucking asshole president of the United States. My military oath goes, ‘I solemnly swear to defend the Constitution of the United States of America from all enemies, foreign and domestic.’” The Constitution’s “biggest enemy,” he adds, is “this fucking government that is in place right now.”

Full Story: Reason Magazine.

June 4, 2007 1 comment
Podcast round-up

Podcast round-up

Sorry, I’ve been slacking on these…

The Viking Youth Power Hour:

Summer Blockbusters!.

Chicago Police Torture.

Greening The Man!.

R.U. Sirius Show:

Not the Prime Time Josh Wolf Interview.

Why Big War is Becoming Obsolete.

Justin from Justin.tv Brings It.

Can a Pacifist be President or Should we Just Stop Breeding?.

Gonzo: Hunter S. Thompson is Evoked.

Punishment & Prison.

Keith Henson’s Space Elevator.

Animals & Guns.

From The Zodiac Killer to Cho.

Snort the Dead?.

NeoFiles:

Chaos in Theory & Practice.

Everything Is Everything.

Immortality or Oblivion?.

Save Net Radio!.

Within John Gilmore & Without Him.

May 24, 2007 0 comments
Now classic Grant Morrison interview in Arthur Magazine

Now classic Grant Morrison interview in Arthur Magazine

grant morrison arthur magazine cover

Arthur Magazine has posted their now classic interview with Grant Morrison on their web site:

And The Filth came out of that, trying to understand that every cherished thought and belief had an equally valid counterpoint. Once I realized I had to think about this stuff and I had to deal with it, I decided to treat it as an Abyss experience, based on the ideas of kabbalistic magic. Because that at least gave me a context to deal with the experience. According to Kabbalah, or to Enochian magic, the Abyss is a kind of Ring-Pass-Not for consciousness, which means that beyond that, the typical self-aware 11-bit consciousness you use to get through the day, doesn’t operate. The kabbalistic idea of the Abyss is manifold. There’s a kind of crack in Being and the crack is the moment of the Breath before the Big Bang. It’s also the crack of dead time where we do nothing when we’d like to do something, the crack between the thought of doing and actually doing. That gulf can become immense and daunting. We might decide to be President and do nothing, leading to a life of reproach and regret. [chuckle] Then you’re in the Abyss. So I felt this confrontation with difficult material coming, and I chose to frame it as a trip into the Abyss, I took the Oath of the Abyss, from the Thelemic version of Kabbalah, the Aleister Crowley version, and…again all this stuff really is to me ways of contextualizing states of consciousness. Crowley also talks about the demon Choronzon who’s the guardian of the Abyss, and Choronzon is a demon who takes any thought and amplifies until it becomes a completely disorienting storm of disconnected gibberish.

Full Story: Arthur Magazine.

February 23, 2007 3 comments
Religion and Secrecy in the Bush Administration: The Gentleman, the Prince, and the Simulacrum

Religion and Secrecy in the Bush Administration: The Gentleman, the Prince, and the Simulacrum

I will suggest that we look at the Bush administration through the lenses of three controversial theorists who have had much to say about secrecy in both its religious and political dimensions: the German-born political philosopher, Leo Strauss, the Florentine philosopher, Niccol? Machiavelli, and the French postmodern theorist, Jean Baudrillard. I have chosen these three, seemingly disparate, theorists because they correspond to and help make sense of three of the most important forces at work in the Bush administration, namely: 1) the Neoconservative movement, which is heavily indebted to Strauss’ thought and has a powerful presence in the Bush administration through figures like Paul Wolfowitz (a student of Strauss) and the Project for a New American Century;[15] 2) the manipulations of Bush’s pious public image by advisors like Karl Rove (a reader of Machiavelli) and Vice-President Dick Cheney (often compared to Machiavelli), who have used the President’s connections with the Christian Right for political advantage; [16] and 3) an astonishingly uncritical mainstream media, whose celebration of Bush’s image as a virtuous man of faith and general silence about his less admirable activities is truly “hyperreal,” in Baudrillard’s sense of the term.

Full Story: Esoterica.

(thanks Jay!)

December 20, 2006 0 comments