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Monthly Archives: November 2011


A few days ago all but one of the comments I sent in to the New York Times “response” section in the Op-Ed pages were not printed.  There wasn’t any of the customary notice “this has been deleted because…,” rather they were just ignored.  As usual I was early and the one they did print was #11 in line, meaning early enough.   So one surmises it is just censorship, plain and simple.  Then yesterday here at Cinemaelectronica, some one sent the following note:

“Quiver, quake and die, or resist.”

You’re getting censored because this kind of language is deemed “incendiary” by the Times. Avoid profanity and personal attacks on the writer, and adopt an academic tone, and you can say just about anything. Really! It’s your tone which is the trouble, not the actual content.

Now I know this is more or less the case, though I would object that being forced to adopt an “academic tone” is itself a kind of death.   An academic tone is a method of neutralizing content, making it Dead On Delivery – DOD.  It is a way of leeching passion out of something, and when something calls for passion – as do the things I write about below, to strip it of emotional force is to effectually censor it.  Which is exactly what the New York Times does.   Though it does so very inconsistently as there are often comments far harsher in tone than my own.  But, being a “regular” I note that of late some of the other regulars, often with sharp and intelligent commentary, are seen less often, and often down in the response 100 and something instead of their usual #1 to 10 place.  Now it may be they have tired of this, or have other things to do, or missed a week for this reason or that.  But given the treatment I seem to have been getting, my guess is they too are falling under the censor’s chopping block.

Here’s what I posted a few days ago:

In response to a David Brooks column called The Two Moons:

Wrong wrong wrong. Both Democrats and Republicans are diminishing because both are utterly corrupted, and corrupted by the same forces which constitute the new presumptive Sun: Wall Street and corporatism (Mussolini called it fascism).
And in its embryonic form OWS is entering to offer a totally other view, not in thrall to money and the bankers and the system (rotten crony capitalism) which they represent. We need a totally new paradigm, and OWS is struggling to find it. Meanwhile the black-boot militarized “police” (comes from Greek polis, to say, of the community) pepper spray anyone who dissents from the Wall Street line. Next will come the bullets.
Support OWS

And then this in response to an item by Roger Cohen dancing around cuisine and Europe.

It may be that Mario Batallie’s customers like hot pepper and that explains why their Gestapo troopers like to spray it on kids who are sitting quiet and unthreatening on a sidewalk in a display of good old American civil disobedience as part of the Constitutional rights they supposedly hold and those police thugs supposedly are to uphold.
OWS and all its off-shoots offer something for which to be thankful.

And then in response to an Editor’s Page commentary on the Collapse of the (inane) Supercommittee:

Face it: the American government no longer works, period. It is a go-between fixer for the military-industrial complex and its many corporate friends. It is totally corrupted. The solution is in the Declaration of Independence, wherein it states that when a government no longer represents the people it is their right and DUTY to overthrow it and establish a government which does represent the people. That’s what it says.

And lastly, in reply to an article on Lt JohnPike’s new starring role as pepper-sprayer supreme, this:

As an activist in the 60’s (imprisoned 2+ years for refusal to serve in Uncle Sam’s military) I have to say the police were the same back then, though their costumes were not so hi-tech and sci-fi looking. But the men behind the badges were the same, and they did the same things. Though with the advent of the DHS the militarization of the police forces across the country was amplified, and they are ready now to “serve and protect” the interests of Wall Street and the corporate state which has executed a coup d’etat in front of our very noses.

If Lt. Pike is not indicted for criminal assault with a chemical weapon, as cited in already extent criminal law in California with regard to the use of these materials, and in violation of police regulations for their use, then you will know for certain we have slid well the realm of a police state.  For those who didn’t already know.  I trust the ACLU and others are preparing a lawsuit against him, the UC Davis administration and whomever else is responsible.

Throughout this recent episode of attacks on Occupiers around the country, there has been a conspicuous silence from  Obama and those political figures who might in normal times be expected to criticize the heavy-handed actions of the police, and what constitutes an attack on the civil rights of those attacked.   This silence implies consent to the behavior of the police.  Just as has the failure to bring prosecution against those police who have violated both the law and the civil rights of those they have abused.   Not so long ago, when the tin patriots of the Tea Party, dressed in corporate paid-for costumes, demonstrated, often with arms not linked, but at their sides in the form of weapons, the press lavished attention upon them in about as equal manner as the police made themselves scarce.   Again, the implications are dark.

Here is the response that the New York Times deigned to print on the same day as those above were censored:

“The reason they are doing so is obvious: the science notwithstanding, no company wants to be cast as so heartless that it would deprive a seriously ill cancer patient of a drug that might offer hope, however slim.” And no company wants to be cast as so economically foolish that it would let a 90K a year drug be yanked off the market.

The drug operative here is money, as exemplified in the 9 “doctors” who are corrupt and sit on the panel which oversees the regulation of a drug whose manufacturer they are invested in. Conflict of interest? What a quaint notion in today’s morally and ethically derelict America.

Pepper spray, anyone?

Support OWS !

Zuccotti Park, the day after the NYPD 1 a.m. eviction

Indicating that the ruling elite of the United States is little different than that of the ruling elite of Egypt’s Mubarak, or Libya’s Gadaffi, or  Syria’s Assad, New York City’s billionaire mayor Bloomberg, having failed to resolve the matter of Zuccotti Park’s occupation by willfully ignoring of it, then by ridicule and the complicity of mainstream media’s attempts to trivialize it, and by numerous tactics intended to bring it into disrepute and dissolution, finally ordered “New York’s finest” to do what they are trained to do: bash heads.

In the days which followed the NYPD eviction of OWS from Liberty Park, similar police assaults were mounted on encampments throughout the country.   That these seemed more or less simultaneous promptly raised the suspicion that there was some kind of national coordination, and sure as heck, Oakland’s Mayor Quan, whose police forces had severely injured an Iraq war vet a few weeks ago (and did so to another shortly afterward), blurted out in a BBC interview that she had been in on a teleconference with 17 other mayors about what to do with the burgeoning Occupiers.   Subsequent information suggests the FBI, DHS, and other Federal “law enforcement” agencies were involved.  Among the tactics used were the release of prisoners who were told that if they went to the Occupy encampments they would not be arrested, and that there was free food, etc.  Likewise were people with mental disorders told to go.   As sure as the sun rises, not long afterward Occupy people were dealing with homeless and criminal people, and promptly the press began to discredit the encampments, saying they were really gatherings of the homeless and junkies, and, well, they really were a public dangers, dirty, etc.    This of course is standard psy-ops stuff, and doubtless our authorities, on seeking advice, got an earful of “good ideas” to use.  That they happened nationally points to a coordination.  For more on this see this.

Plain clothes cops in NYC

To serve and protect

Dressed in black Darth Vader costumes, with bullet-proof hi-tech fabrics, our current police no longer even pretend to be the friendly guy in blue, the cop on the beat.  Instead they are militarized forces, the purpose and function of which is to protect the ruling elite and their “property,”  and as has clearly been shown in the last years, to suppress dissent.  From the Bush administration’s “free speech zones” to the present, the area for exercising one’s supposed Constitutional rights of free assembly, and free speech have been steadily encroached upon by the government. The corporate forces which have purchased Washington and local governments, have long since seized control of the mass media, turning it into a 24/7 propaganda machine which works exactly like Pravda in the old USSR.  Where possible, as was the case in the first days of OWS, they simply ignore and do not report.   When circumstances make this tactic fail, they then do what they can to marginalize and dismiss – as the early reports that it was merely a bunch of latter-day hippies, bongo players and spoiled I-pad toting college kids.   The New York Times did this in spades.    When that failed to collapse the movement, and instead – thanks to the internet and social networking tools – it expanded and took root in many more cities.   At this juncture our authorities seem to have realized that their own propaganda was not true, and that Occupy posed some kind of serious threat to their “system” and the serious police harassment began, with the usual parade of plain clothes cops, provocateurs, and the criminal and drug elements arrived, directed by the police to do so.  Promptly came Bloomberg’s eviction notice on the grounds of hygiene and the need to clean up the place.   Later came the complaints of criminality.   And step by fumbling step, as if carefully planned, Bloomberg and authorities in other cities misread and mis-stepped their way – just like Mubarak – into taking measures which expanded Occupy exponentially.  The round-up on Brooklyn Bridge, a transparent trap, boomeranged and the next day OWS got much bigger.   And last week’s eviction served the same purpose, and several days later by police estimates (nearly always low) 32,500 people were out on the streets to close down Wall Street.   Not seeming to understand the dynamic in play, the authorities let loose their dogs of war:

Davis, California

Seattle Black-shirts in action

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
Mohandas Gandhi


“In response to a flood of Facebook and YouTube videos that depict police abuse, a new trend in law enforcement is gaining popularity. In at least three states (Illinois, Massachusetts, and Maryland), it is now illegal to record an on-duty police officer even if the encounter involves you and may be necessary to your defense, and even if the recording is on a public street where no expectation of privacy exists.”

The police state is coming.  No, it is already here.

And, back to an old story, once again, surprisingly on the Krugman column, I was censored by the dear old New York Times, once again.  Actually a handful of days ago they censored everything I sent.  Here’s what I wrote that was not deemed “fit to print:”

The Republican Party of today is totally against the national welfare while it is completely for the national warfare welfare system. It will cut anything that serves the community at large and feed the military-industrial complex (99% composed of Republicans in the corporations that manufacture our glamorous weaponry). That is it, plain and simple.

OWS is serving notice that this gaming of the system is over, while the corporate push-back to OWS is serving notice that a police-state is A-OK with them.

Watch it happen on a street near you. Quiver, quake and die, or resist.

For 3 decades America’s right-wing “conservatives” have successfully played their flim-flam game of shifting income and all wealth to a tiny percentage while directing the “lower-classes” to fight among themselves over matters of race, sexuality, religion, and dividing up the crumbs falling off the table.   As usual among such people, they have blinded themselves to the consequences of impoverishing the many while enriching the very few.  Though owning the media and the government, though vastly advantaged in the powers which govern most of society’s actions, they have done as nearly all plutocrats do and turned themselves into their own worst enemy.   Mayor Bloomberg, who quite literally bought his office, is a billionaire estimated to have assets and wealth equal to 17 billion dollars.  He is the second richest man in New York.  The first is David Koch, oil-man and right-wing ideologue who funded the Astroturf Tea Party (which we note has shrunk into near invisibility.)   In sending in the black-shirts of the NYPD Bloomberg has tipped his hand, and that of the oligarchy which presumes to rule the country.

These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power. Our allegiance to American institutions requires the overthrow of this kind of power. In vain they seek to hide behind the Flag and the Constitution. In their blindness they forget what the Flag and the Constitution stand for. Now, as always, they stand for democracy, not tyranny; for freedom, not subjection; and against a dictatorship by mob rule and the over-privileged alike.

Franklin D Roosevelt, June 27, 1936

‘I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson, 2nd President of the United States

“We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”

-Louis D. Brandeis

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

From the American Declaration of Independence


I read rather too much in the newspapers, trying to keep my fingers on the pulse of the present.  In the last few weeks or so, as the Occupy movement has been battered by the kinds of psy-war tactics described above, but as well by police-state actions such as those pictured – of cops dressed-to-kill as it were, acting out orders which need only another step before the “non-lethal” weapons are replaced by the other ones – I have noted increasingly items from across the political spectrum which are like the one I print below (taken from a NY Times reader-response section).   The references to the events in the Middle-East, the use of the words “police-state” – once reserved for those of us on the” far out hysterical fringe” – and the recognition that something is wildly amiss are now commonplace, as is the suggestion, not long ago considered unthinkable, that America is politically and socially disintegrating.   This would suggest that Occupy has served well as a trigger for the underlying social ferment of which major shifts are distilled.  The police, and those in the hierarchy which uses them, are doing their job well to help focus public consciousness on what is really happening.

I’d always believed that the United States of America was different from all other countries in the world because of our respect for and willingness to accommodate political protest, and that when that tolerance broke down, it was a rare aberration in a nation where the police were trained to deal with political speech and action with calm, patience, and understanding of the rights of the people to protest.Clearly, however, the response of the last 2 months to the “Occupy” protesters indicates that my former belief was a myth. The incidents of official over-reaction have been widespread, fueling a movement that probably would have died out, had the official response not clearly proven that the protesters have a valid point.Had these been meaningless protests by a few malcontents, they would have been dismissed with a few insincere platitudes. But Occupy has clearly struck a nerve and the wounded beast is responding with violence.

Despite claims that they were threatened, it is clear that the Davis Police created a violent situation as did the police in Berkeley, Seattle, Denver, New York…

Until today, this lifelong Republican viewed the occupy protesters with ambivalence, if not disdain. But today and going forward, I am with them.

Silvio, ImperatoreSilvio’s note to himself about 8 traitors and resigning

Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s richest man, owner of a dominant sector of its mass media, bunga bunga aficionado, multiple indictee for charges from sex with a minor to corrupting bankers and lawyers, famed lothario, clown at numerous great international summits, and, last but not least, Premier of Italy for most of the last 13 years, has finally been forced from office.  No, not by the politicians of Italy, who tend to match Mr Berlusconi only in their capacity for folly, if not on such a gradiose scale.  Nor by the voters of Italy, who despite Silvio’s odious reputation magically secured the votes of a majority, or at least of a coalition’s majority, time and again.   Silvio is a classic embodiment of a certain Italian tendency to love to place heroes on a high pedestal – higher the better – so they can have a longer time to enjoy themselves as the feet turn to clay and at the end the baying crowd can have at the corpse.

Crowds outside the Premier’s palazzo in RomeMussolini and friends at the end

That Mr Berlusconi, who began life as a crooner on cruise ships, and moved mysteriously to the pinnacle of his country, fits the mold of Italian politicians cannot be doubted, nor can his wily capacity as a businessman.   He had, as is customary, friends in high places.  And low.

Silvio and his friends near the beginningSilvio and Bettino Craxi, former PM, sent to exile in  TunisiaSilvio and ex-wife Veronica Lario who dumped him for playing around with girlsSilvio, modeling for Rodin or perhaps thinking of NoemiBillboard of Noemi Letizia, friend of Silvio

Silvio is not alone in the current crisis.  A skip away, in another Mediterranean country, Greece, another Premier has been shoved aside, and by the same forces as that which pushed Mr Berlusconi out.  Yes, the Magical Mystery Market, was the gravitational black-matter force that took control and in a swift little shell game replaced the head of Greece’s government with a banker, and while the Premier designate for Italy is not directly a banker, he’s awfully close to one.

Goldman Sachs, back a while, worked with the at-the-time right-wing conservative of government of Greece to cook-the-national-books so that Greece would qualify to enter the EU and the Euro zone.   Much of the subsequent problems of the country derive from this bit of chicanery – off of which, of course, Goldman Sachs profited.   Another kind of “derivative.”

And now, as the so-called PIIGS are put through the economic hoops drawn up by “the market” and imposed by its front institutions of the IMF and World Bank, we find the rickety edifice of “democracy” subject to a little pin-striped flim-flam job, just as happened in the USA in 2008 when the bankers shrieked “the sky is falling” and the Fed (a private bank that prints up greenbacks at the behest of…. itself, though it usually requires some political cover to do so), and Uncle Sam ordered up 16 trillion pieces of digitalized money, much of which went via Wall Street into the supposed safety of “sovereign bonds” – to say loans to actual countries instead of businesses.    Along the way, to celebrate this heist, the barons of Wall Street gave themselves nice fat bonuses: they’d made amazing bad bets, and then they, the uber-capitalists of the world, had conned the public (in the form of President Bush and his friends), to crank out a mere 16 trillion, no questions asked, at then Treasury Secretary Paulson’s request, so as to “socialise” their massive losses.   Mr Paulson, of course, was previously the CEO of… ta ta… Goldman Sachs.  Cosy little company.   And then they went and invested a ton of this in the supposed “safe” place of European sovereign bonds.  And lost again.   And so now, as the Euro totters and they stand to take yet another massive loss they have turned the tables, and it is not the Greeks who are offering lovely Trojan Horses, but our dear friends the bankers.

Why is this man smiling?

Soon we will doubtless be told that “the sky is falling” once again, and that Germany and France and the Euro Zone must move rapidly to shore up their crumbling currency (of which American banks hold massive amounts), and that the path to do so is to sell off public properties, to slash social welfare programs, and….. and to give it all to the bankers.

Mussolini and his mistressSic transit gloria, hanging out in the cool catacombs of Palermo

David “The Suit” Brooks

Following suit with the censoring nature of his colleagues in rightist arms, Ross Douthat and Thomas Friedman, New York Times columnist David Brooks yesterday saw fit to whip out the censor’s stamp for my reply to his Op-Ed item on the virtues of fracking and the lack of virtue in democracy as exampled by people actually learning about and stopping it in their front or back yard.

“but rogue companies have screwed up…”    Rogue companies like, oh, BP. Like Massey Coal. There’s a long list of major corporations which appear to be rogue companies. There was even a US Executive administration that was “rogue”.

If our corporations acted in good faith, if they could be trusted for one honest word, if they did not litter the globe with their messes, then perhaps the conversation could be more civil. But they do lie, they do leave wreckage where ever they go, and they do so in pursuit of profit and as to the rest, devil take the hindmost.

Most of these corporations are firmly Republican in political inclinations. They have bought the government, the judiciary and the press. And Mr Brooks.

The extraction methods of “fracking” leaves ample room for doubts. But that never bothered an American capitalist before as the litter of industrial waste and destruction around our country testifies.

Fracking in the country

For an interesting insight into the nature of “fracking” see this piece, an interview with activist and theater and film director Josh Fox, on his work in making Gasland.

Fracking well, PennsylvaniaToxic fracking slurry pond, Photo: Copyright J Henry Fair (thanks for OK)

One imagines that Mr Brooks, in whatever privileged enclave he lives in, would promptly become a NIMBY were it proposed to start fracking in his neighborhood.  But for those redneck crackers “out there” it’s a bit of money (and a whole lot of money for his friends in the energy business which is the rip-roaring Republican capitalist business) , so what the hell?

How fracking “works”

Like most extractive industries, fracking is a dirty business.  You have to make roads to get where you’re going to drill (often, if not always, paid for with public “socialist” money); you have to get permits from those whose land, public and private, you are going to drill – often done by paying or bribing.  In the case of fracking you must truck in chemicals, water and build a small industrialized base at which you drill, inject your chemical/water/sand compound, blast, and then begin to pump out the gas you have freed up.  Along with the gas comes a slurry of toxics which you must then either store on site, or ship out to dump some other lucky place.   And once you’re done, you can pack up and leave the clean up to the government, or just let those who live around it suffer the consequences.  The good old All-American Way!

Berkeley Pit, Butte Montana.  The lake is highly toxic, and no longer pumped, it seeps into the earth, with houses below it having leakage come into their basements. Butte has a long history of industrial poisoning, quite visible on the streets  in its population.

West Virgina.  Not only is mountain top coal strip mining unsightly, it destroys the adjacent water shed with erosion and tailings being dumped into the local water supply.  Fish and animals disappear.  Humans and towns as well.  But money talks and Massey Energy, famed for its numerous violations of mining regulations and its periodic appearance in headlines over mining “accidents” owns the West Virginia government, as well as the Washington regulatory agency.

Along with many of his fellow 1% pundits, Mr Brooks has been blind-sided and puzzled by the Occupy movement.  Like the others he essentially ignored it until it became too obvious a Pravda tactic, and then like the others – the Time’s Bill Keller, former editor of the rag, being an exemplary of the I-don’t-get-it crew – who, like Mr Brooks, look more and more ridiculous each time they attempt to catch up, they began their diatribes about “class war”.  Living in the cocoon of their wealth, surrounded by like minded souls, they never see the America right before them.  Instead they exchange wisdoms on the golf course or in the board room or in the cozy confines of their gated community or penthouse.  In between they travel in dark glassed limos, surely avoiding an unpleasant neighborhoods, urban or rural.  Naturally, they just don’t get it.  It’s hard to “get it” from a private jet.

Coast to coast