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CA Gubernatorial Candidate Arrested at Debate: So Much for Open, Free and Fair Elections

8:09 am in Uncategorized by Kevin Gosztola


Candidate for CA Governor, Laura Wells, is arrested Tuesday night after trying to attend a debate she was excluded from. by Polidoc Productions

* Babette Hogan of Polidoc Productions contributed to this report.

A candidate for governor gets arrested for disorderly conduct for disrupting a debate from which he had been excluded. Candidates for the Senate organize a protest outside an event organized by a taxpayer funded organization that refused to allow them to participate. Candidates for the House aiming to pressure an incumbent to agree to debate them face to face go on a hunger strike. And, paid operatives go throughout the country filing lawsuits to intentionally bankrupt candidates’ campaigns and keep them off the ballot. Sound like stories from a Third World country America is trying to teach democracy?

These are all incidents, which have taken place during election cycles in the past decade, and they all happened in America. These incidents involved candidates, who in a democracy should have had the right to run in an open, free and fair election, but certain players conspired to keep these candidates from participating freely.

Despite a recent Gallup poll indicating that fifty-eight percent of Americans think a "third party is needed in this country," a Midterm Election Poll done by the The Hill this month that indicated fifty-four percent would like "an alternative to the Democrats and Republicans" and a CNN poll conducted in February that showed sixty-four percent of all Americans "like the idea of a third party that would run against the Democrats and Republicans," incidents against candidates running in the 2010 midterm election continue to persist. One of the most recent incidents is the arrest of California gubernatorial candidate Laura Wells.

CA Gubernatorial Debate Protest Ends in Arrest of Green Party Candidate | A Report from Polidoc Productions on Vimeo.

Running for election on the Green Party ticket, Wells was excluded from a gubernatorial debate, which only Democratic candidate Jerry Brown and Republican candidate Meg Whitman were allowed to participate in. Libertarian Party candidate Dale Ogden, American Independent Party candidate Chelene Nightingale, and Carlos Alvarez of the Peace and Freedom Party were also excluded.

Debate organizers asserted, as most organizers of private debates tend to do, that Wells was excluded because she was not polling 10% or more. This would be an acceptable standard to set if it weren’t for the fact that other states, as Green Party Watch points out, have allowed Greens to debate without double-digit percentages in push polls. Arizona has allowed Green candidate for the Senate Jerry Joslyn to debate John McCain, Massachusetts has let Green gubernatorial candidate Jill Stein and two other candidates debate Governor Deval Patrick, and New York has chosen to include Green candidate Howie Hawkins in an upcoming gubernatorial debate that will take place on October 18th.

The San Jose Mercury News reported that Wells "attempted to enter Dominican University’s Angelico Hall at 5:20 p.m. when she presented a ticket that police said was not issued to her." They reported, "Wells refused to cooperate with campus security when they requested she surrender [her] ticket" and "became argumentative and refused to leave the area"even after she was warned that if she persisted she would be subject to a citizen’s arrest because she was on private property." Wells was placed under "citizen’s arrest" by private security until San Rafael police officers arrived to escort her away from the scene.

Contrary to what private security and police said, spokesman for Wells, Marnie Glickman, told the San Francisco Chronicle, "the two had tickets to the debate and were entering Angelico Hall, when they were pulled aside by authorities" and "were told that they could not enter because" Wells was a candidate running for governor in California.

Wells was contacted and said she believes she was excluded because she would talk about how "the richest of the rich mega-corporations and individuals are not paying taxes while the rest of [Californians] are" and because she supports the creation of a State Bank in California "to reduce the influence of Wall Street." And, she also said the debate organizers "know the public is disgusted with the two Titanic Parties" so they have chosen to keep the doors shut as tightly as they can.

A statement from Wells posted on her campaign site Tuesday night after her arrest asserted:

"…The polls are a fraud against the voters. I received a letter that congratulated me on my primary win and invited me to the debate, if I received 10% support among California likely voters. They didn’t tell me what the survey question was. If it were, "Do you want debates with only the Republican and Democratic candidates?" a huge majority of voters, especially this year, would say, "No!" But a couple of my supporters were surveyed and they told me the survey question: they were asked whether they preferred Jerry Brown or Meg Whitman. Not even other. And then when the pollsters report the results, they still didn’t say other, they say undecided. As if the only choices were Pepsi and Coke, not something we might like that’s healthy, like crystal clear water, or juice, smoothies or red wine!…" [emphasis not added]

When contacted and asked about how the government and other organizations make it harder for candidates to run who are not Democrats or Republicans, Wells explained that a " media subsidy of free media is given to the Titanics, as well as the Tea Partiers, and not to the independent political parties like the Green Party." She singled this out as a "key ingredient" for why candidates are kept out and how people continue to be disempowered and discouraged.

Charged with "trespassing," Wells must now appear in court on November 2nd, Election Day, which makes the bipartisan sham being perpetrated on California voters seem even more deliberate.

Standard operating procedure for Democrats and Republicans usually involves doing everything to make sure independents or candidates from other parties do not turn into a non-factor. As Independent Political Report has covered:

• In April an Independent candidate for governor of Vermont was arrested for disorderly conduct for disrupting a debate from which he had been excluded.

• In June, Libertarian candidate for US Senate in Florida, Alex Snitker, crashed an event from which he had been excluded by the Florida Press Association.

• Earlier this month, supporters of Arkansas Senate candidates John Gray of the Green Party and Independent Trevor Drown protested outside an event organized by a taxpayer funded organization which refused to allow them to participate.

• This week, the Socialist and Constitution Party candidates for US Senate in Ohio launched a petition drive to ensure that debates and forums will be open and inclusive.

• Finally, the Democratic and Libertarian candidates for US House in CA-52 recently ended a hunger strike aiming to pressure the incumbent Republican to agree to debate his rivals face to face.

And, Rich Whitney, a Green Party candidate for governor in Illinois, is not only battling exclusion from an ABC-TV televised debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters and the Illinois Broadcasters Association, but also the painful reality that his name is misspelled "Rich Whitey" on electronic-voting machines in "nearly two dozen wards–about half in predominantly African-American areas." There is no indication that this misspelling is some dirty trick, but what makes it worse is the fact that the Chicago Board of Elections contends the problem is something that cannot be corrected by Election Day.

In spite of attempts to handicap candidates from campaigning as easily as Democrats and Republicans, there remain signs of hope for third party or Independent candidates hoping to do well in this election.

Arkansas Green candidate John Gray, running for the U.S. Senate, appeared in the first televised debate for a statewide office in Arkansas that includes a Green nominee on October 13th. Jill Stein, Green-Rainbow Party candidate was included in a gubernatorial debate in Massachusetts. And, the Chicago Tribune, a well-established newspaper, endorsed Jeremy Karpen, a Green Party candidate for state representative in Illinois.

Jesse Johnson, a Mountain Party candidate for governor in West Virginia who has been endorsed by veteran Democrat Ken Hechler, is doing so well that he might end up preventing Democratic Governor Joe Manchin from winning a seat in the U.S. Senate, which he hopes to snag so he can take on Obama and fire holes with his rifle through climate change legislation

LeAlan Jones, a Green Party candidate in an increasingly toxic race between Democratic candidate Alexi Giannoulias and Republican candidate Mark Kirk, may end up earning enough votes to give Kirk a win. Independent candidate for governor in Massachusetts, Tim Cahill, a former Democrat, may end up tipping the election negatively for incumbent Governor Deval Patrick. And, perhaps best of all, Green Party candidate for the Senate in South Carolina, Tom Clements, is polling better than deadbeat and possible GOP-plant Democrat Alvin Greene in a race against incumbent Republican Senator Jim Demint.

Of course, no candidate is entitled to votes. Every candidate has to win votes in order to win elections. Spoiling only happens if the two most prominent parties fail to capture the interest of one hundred percent of the electorate, which given recent polls demonstrating public interest in third party candidates is highly unlikely.

If any candidate "spoils" an election, it will not be because he or she recklessly chose to run in an election but rather because America is plagued by winner-take-all elections, which make it precarious and impractical for Americans to truly support more choice and more voices in elections.

More and more Americans are sympathetic to remarks like this one made by former Independent Governor of Minnesota Jesse Ventura recently:

"…I don’t distinguish between the two [parties] because [politics is] very much like pro wrestling. You [give] interviews on TV like you hate each other, to draw crowds and attention and make money. But behind closed doors, you’ll go out to dinner with each other. Well, the Democrats and Republicans are the same way. They’re not adversaries; they just make believe they are to the American public."

The differences get smaller. Cynicism among voters escalates. The people’s tolerance for political shenanigans, which limit democracy, decrease.

As one user commented in response to Wells’ arrest, "I guess I will play spoiler and vote for Laura Wells for Governor. If she cannot debate or even attend the debate the whole concept of this being a democracy is a farce."

*Additional Note: Independent Political Report reports the problem with Rich Whitney’s misspelled name will be corrected after all. Please note, had this been an issue with a Democratic or Republican candidate there would have been zero hesitation on the part of the Board of Elections. But, since Whitney is a Green Party candidate, the Board thought it could get away with having voters see his name appear as "Rich Whitey" on Election Day.

O’Donnell’s Victory Renews Her Fight Against the Scourge of Sex in America

1:20 pm in Uncategorized by Kevin Gosztola

 

Tea Party candidate Christine O’Donnell’s victory over nine-term Rep. Mike Castle in Delaware’s Republican Senate primary Tuesday night may have been a signal that a significant number of Delaware citizens are willing to support candidates who like to preach to Americans on what they should and should not do sexually.

Prior to her primary victory, there had been much talk about O’Donnell’s history as an advocate for abstinence and a crusader against masturbation. But, if O’Donnell is so anti-masturbation, she shouldn’t be running for office. Doesn’t she know her campaign is stimulating a bunch of dicks and assholes?

Last night MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow played a video of her appearance on MTV’s “Sex in the ‘90s,” which shows exactly what O’Donnell means when she talks about being opposed to rubbing one out every now and then:

O`DONNELL: My name is Christine O`Donnell. I am the president and founder of the SALT. The SALT stands for the Saviors Alliance for Lifting the Truth.

We choose sexual purity in our lives. We have God-given sexual desires. And we need to understand them and preserve them to be used in God`s appropriate context.

We need to address sexuality with young people. And masturbation is part of sexuality. But it is important to discuss this from a moral point of view.

CHRISTINE GEDGAUDAS, MARKETING MANAGER, THE SALT: Masturbation is a selfish act, and it`s a lustful one. And we are to walk with pure hearts, not adulterous lusting hearts.

TODD HITCHCOCK, YOUTH PASTOR: The Bible is clear in the fact that it says that any sexual act outside of the realm of marriage is wrong.

O`DONNELL: The Bible says that lust in your heart is committing adultery. So, you can`t masturbate without lust.

The reason that you don`t tell them that masturbation is the answer to AIDS and all these other problems that come with sex outside of marriage is because, again, it is not addressing the issue. You`re going to be pleasing each other. And if he already knows what pleases him and he can please himself, then why am in the picture?”

I can’t speak for any man in O’Donnell’s life, but I can say if he does masturbate, he will still want you. Just because the bumper cars are a good time doesn’t mean you won’t want to ride the roller coaster later. And, I wouldn’t worry: God will enjoy every minute that he gets to watch you and your man unleash the sexual desires he gave O’Donnell and her man.

Even more straitlaced, Justin Elliott has put up a post on Salon.com that indicates O’Donnell believed, while in college, coedization of colleges could lead to "orgy rooms":

Dorm life has evolved into a blending of the sexes, from coed buildings to coed floors, coed bathrooms and now even coed rooms.

"What’s next? Orgy rooms? Menage a trois rooms?" asked Christine O’Donnell, spokeswoman for the Intercollegiate Studies Institute in Wilmington, Del., which publishes a college guide.

All this coedness is outside normal life, said Miss O’Donnell. "Most average American adults don’t use coed bathrooms – if they had the option of a coed bathroom at a public restaurant, they wouldn’t choose it." Coedness "is like a radical agenda forced on college students," she said.

O’Donnell’s commitment to surrendering her life to the will of a Father and her belief that a married person who uses pornography “compromises not just his (or her) purity, but also compromises the spouse’s purity” is just the type of Puritanism that has made sex education in America an utter wreck.

Evangelical Christians like O’Donnell have in recent years promoted the idea teenagers should take “virginity pledges” as a way of purifying American society and fighting moral decay. But, studies have shown that teenagers who take “pledges” are just as likely to have sex. They also were most likely to engage in sex without protection because the faith-based ideologues that defend abstinence-only education programs oppose reality-based sex education that includes education on contraception. [See this latest article on sex-ed posted on Salon.com.]

O’Donnell’s opposition to beating the bishop or, in her case, strumming the banjo may seem like a convenient distraction, but RHRealityCheck has noted how her view has translated into policy. For example, did you know she opposed President Bush’s restrictions on stem-cell research and contended they were not “restrictive enough”?  And, did you know she once argued sex education “would cause [society] to become blasé about sexual predators”?

RHRealityCheck points out

“This last argument is a particularly helpful illumination of the conservative position on sexuality: this aspect of being a human is dirty and shameful and deserving of punishment. Healthy sex or even just sex education is not distinguished from sexual molestation.

This kind of repression and denial is, of course, what gets people into trouble: we’re not really having sex so let’s not use a condom; we weren’t supposed to have sex so let’s abandon the baby in a trash can.”

O’Donnell’s position on spanking the monkey or pearl fishing is not only an attempt to shame people who have no problem with this human activity but also a part of the values voter agenda, the agenda which advocates a ban on same-sex marriage (sometimes even suggesting the criminalization of homosexuality), seeks to prevent women from having a right to choose abortion, and endorses policies that make it difficult to get birth control and/or emergency contraception.

Back in the 1990s, O’Donnell served as a spokesperson for Concerned Women for America, an organization founded by Armageddon fantasist Timothy LaHaye’s wife, Beverly LaHaye. The organization’s mission is to “protect and promote Biblical values among all citizens – first through prayer, then education, then finally by influencing [American] society – thereby reversing the decline in moral values in [America].” They are an organization of literalists who believe the Bible to be the “inerrant Word of God,” and they believe it is their “duty to serve God” to the best of their ability and to “pray for a moral and spiritual revival that will return [America] to the traditional values upon which it was founded.”

Sarah Posner of ReligionDispatches reported this morning, in 1995, O’Donnell claimed integrating women into military institutions crippled “the readiness” of America’s defenses. O’Donnell said, “It’s an honor to be a lady. That’s a beautiful part of womanhood is to be ladylike," and West Point "has had to lower their standards” so that men and women can compete, which has, “reduced the effectiveness of [America’s] military." And, in response to criticism she said, “When you remove the role of the mother, the family is left to crumble,” and blamed declining SAT scores on giving women a role in the military they should not have.

Exactly, how far might this go? What might she tell women about the importance of submission to husbands as a necessary part of maintaining a good family? What would she do if a man she was with didn’t approve of her Christian-feminist advocacy? Would she tell her man God has commanded her to help men find salvation through personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and so she has God’s permission to be more than a housewife?

Sociologists Margaret Power and Paolo Baccheta wrote a book, Right-Wing Women: From Conservatives to Extremists, which was an analysis of conservative women and their conduct around the world. In the book they claimed, “One striking feature of a great many right-wing women leaders and full-time activists is their system of double standards. There is a huge gap between how right-wing women…live out their lives as individuals on the one hand, and the subjectivities they propose for other women on the other.”

In other words, she may not go hiking on the Appalachian Trail, but it is unlikely O’Donnell has never gone hitchhiking on the Southern Trail.

Max Blumenthal wrote in his book, Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement That Shattered the Party,  “Redemption from a life of sexual sin is the right-wing woman’s business card; it is all the expertise she needs.” This is the “feminism” that emanates from people like O’Donnell and Sarah Palin, who campaign on how they have done right by God and avoided Satanic acts of pure pleasure that godless liberals would have no problem with. Women who have been trained by religious right groups with wives married to bullheaded loons that encourage people to be more aroused by prospects of Armageddon instead of the bodies of women are driven by this fixation on redemption and purity.

There is no evidence that O’Donnell became a fighter against choking the chicken or toggling the bit because she wanted to redeem herself from a teenage life of sexual sin. But, if history is any sort of guide, it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that Americans find out before November O’Donnell has posed nude for photos while in the company of an ex-boyfriend or had a homosexual experience with a fellow Concerned Woman of America.

Finally, O’Donnell has been talking about how she won’t give out the location of her house because someone broke in and vandalized it during her 2008 campaign. A paranoid O’Donnell told the conservative Weekly Standard that she believes people are following her and that she has to have a team inspect cars and the bushes. And, she believes these people following her “knock on doors at all hours of the night” and hide in the bushes when she’s at candidate forums.

Honey, nobody is hiding in bushes. The only person or thing during this campaign that is hiding behind any bush is your vagina. Now, take a finger out, shove it into the Victoria’s Secret underwear you don’t want your supporters to know you wear because it would clash with the values you preach, and give the donut a rub. That’s right. Buff the muffin, douse the digits, and do the very thing conservatives love to chant about at conventions: Drill, baby, drill.

Perhaps after engaging in an act that most humans engage in and usually find comforting and relaxing, you will be less stressed and paranoid. And less toxic to America.

The Difference Between Opposing Mosques and Burning Korans

3:12 pm in Uncategorized by Kevin Gosztola

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Dove Outreach World Center Pastor Terry Jones’ and his followers’ decision to burn Korans on September 11th has proven there are those in this country who will stoop to such a level and burn sacred texts to express their beliefs. It also indicates there is a line, for now, that those who subscribe to anti-Islam industry propaganda will not cross. Few who oppose the construction of the Park51 project (the "Ground Zero Mosque," as they affectionately term the proposed center) are flocking to support this crackpot pastor’s eagerness to burn Korans.

The Coalition to Honor Ground Zero [and Stop the 9/11 Mosque] put out a statement that the coalition finds the idea to be "irresponsible and wrong." The coalition upholds the "Minister’s freedom of speech and assembly" but contend, "with rights come responsibilities" and urge him not to go ahead with the burning. This is the same coalition that endorses and supports a major rally against the Park51 Project that will be held on 9/11.

What is the difference between obstructing and seeking to prevent the construction of a place of worship and the burning of a sacred text that those who are found to be dangerous derive much of their religious beliefs from?

Conservative talk radio host Mark Levin, who opposes the construction of the Park51 Project, said, "We don’t burn books. The Left does that." Continuing on without citing examples or even bothering to explain how burning Harry Potter books was the work of leftists in America, he said, "And, we certainly don’t do it if it’s going to put our armed forces in danger."

Levin asserted, "It is clear that there are individuals all over the world who will use this as an additional excuse to harm people. There is a fundamentalism-Islamic fundamentalism-that is out to destroy parts of the world and which has frankly murdered more of their fellow Muslims than the Western world or other religions could ever even try to destroy. So, why give a propaganda opportunity to people who are looking for all the propaganda opportunities they can get?"

To those who have been following the hullabaloo around the Park51 Project, this argument is one that supporters have used to undercut opposition to the "Ground Zero mosque." Supporters have argued opposition to the project could help write the recruiting script for Islamic extremists and even justify future acts of terror.

Yet, it does not appear that the opposition to the Park51 Project has had that effect. Director of Arab language television station Al-Arabiya Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashid, wrote recently that he does not think opposition has "provoked" Muslims in the way that a "2006 publication of a cartoon ‘mocking the Islamic prophet in a Danish newspaper,’" which set off violent protests in the Muslim world, did. He added there have been no "demonstrations related to the mosque in Arab countries, that imams have not addressed the controversy during their sermons and that the issue has not been taken up by Islamic religious and intellectual institutions."

The director argued this is because the center could be turned into a "symbol of hatred for Muslims." Such a notion speaks to the power opposition has had in influencing conversation on the project in the media. Certainly, it makes sense that Muslims would not want to erect "an arena for the promoters of hatred, and a monument to those who committed the crime," as Al-Rashid contended.

Muqteder Khan, director of Islamic Studies at the University of Delaware, in a column published by the Washington Post, offers a bit more insight on why desecrating the Koran may provoke more demonstrations and violence in the Muslim World than opposition to the Park51 Project has:

…On September 11, 2010, some misguided Americans plan to burn the Holy Quran, the only book in the entire heritage of humanity that claims to be solely the word of God. This dastardly act is the brainchild of Terry Jones, a Christian Pastor from Florida. This act is not just some symbolic gesture of defiance. It is an act of egregious violence against the beliefs and the sacred symbols of one fourth of humanity. The act will scorch Muslim hearts everywhere. The searing pain will never be forgotten.

Along with the idea of God and prophets, the Quran is the thing that Muslims hold the dearest. My children have been listening to it since even before they were born. I use to recite it to them while they were still in the womb. Their children will be reciting it to them when they will be lowered in to their tomb. Believe me, there is nothing more precious to Muslims than the Quran, and watching people toss it into fire, will be horrifying. I would rather burn in fire myself, than watch a Quran burn…

Let’s be clear about Levin’s remarks–he did not condemn the content of Jones’ opposition to Islam but rather opposed the tactic Jones would be using to voice his discontent. For the purposes of further understanding how conservatives might be grappling with the planned burning of Korans:

"When our government funds so-called art–art that uses urine and feces and this so-called artist stuck a cross into the urine and feces, we were told that this is free speech and any effort to cut the funding for that department or to control what kind of grants are issued is an abomination, would be anti-American.

So, if we the taxpayers against our will fund the desecration of a cross with Jesus on it, there’s something wrong with us. If we object to a provocateur, a radical Imam, trying to locate a mosque at Ground Zero, there’s something wrong with us. But, if this Pastor Jones burns some Korans–which again I object and think is dangerous particularly to our soldiers–then what? Do you hear the liberals saying he has a constitutional right to do this? No."

Actually, a man who Levin and his listeners consider to be a "bleeding-heart liberal" has stated Jones has a constitutional right to burn the Korans. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has been a stalwart defender of the Park51 Project developers right to build, said yesterday:

"In a strange way, I’m here to defend his right to do that. I happen to think that it is distasteful"The First Amendment protects everybody, and you can’t say that we’re going to apply the First Amendment to only those cases where we are in agreement"If you want to be able to say what you want to say when the time comes that you want to say it, you have to defend others, no matter how, how much you disagree with them."

Jones appears to have underestimated how anti-Islam proponents’ dedication to supporting the troops would deter them from supporting his action. General David Petraeus’, the State Department’s and others’ contention that this would put America’s troops in harm’s way has resonated with Americans who likely agree with part if not all of Jones’ arguments on how Islam is "of the Devil."

What those who have spent time organizing against the so-called march of Islam toward instituting Sharia in the United States should understand is that it is they who lay the foundation for whackjobs like Jones to carry out such book burnings. Arguments based solely on a fear of a Third World religion dominating this country’s society at some point in the future give Jones the climate he needs to make his book-burning seem like something indicative of attitudes toward Islam in America. Without their activism, this could be disregarded in the same manner cross burnings by white supremacists are now routinely disregarded.

Anti-Islam activism, which has been warning of "Islamo-fascism" through work by David Horowitz and others since 9/11, has created a climate for hate crimes and vandalism of mosques. The number of protests against mosques has escalated, rallies have harassed people who support their cause but look like Muslims, and have promoted the idea that mosques are "clubhouses for terrorists." In Temecula, California, dogs were deployed to intimidate those attending prayer services and, in Florida, a man attempted to firebomb an Islamic center.

What difference is there between people like Mike Gallagher, Pam Geller, Robert Spencer, or North Carolina congressional candidate Ilario Pantano and Pastor Terry Jones other than the fact that they disagree on the tactics that should be used to oppose Islam? How many think it likely that individuals like Franklin Graham, John Hagee, or Pat Robertson sympathize with the action Terry Jones intends to take? And, how sure can one be that Jones’ ideology isn’t part of what fueled foreign policy thinkers like the now deceased Samuel Huntington, who proposed the "Clash of Civilizations" thesis, or isn’t what fuel people like Frank Gaffney or Charles Krauthammer?

The city of Gainesville, Florida denied the Dove World Outreach Center a burn permit. (Do cities ever give out burn permits for the burning of books?) RBC Bank has called in the mortgage on Pastor Jones’ center and Cottons All-Lines has apparently canceled the center’s insurance. This and the calls from U.S. military men will not dissuade Jones and his few followers who are dedicated to making a statement.

Gen. Petraeus has said these words about troops being put in harm’s way before. This was the justification for not being transparent and preventing the release of photos that likely showed Americans torturing and abusing Muslim detainees. The ACLU almost succeeded in getting the photos released but President Obama and Congress took measures to prevent the photos from being released.

Will the world see the Obama Administration and Congress take this kind of action to protect America’s troops? Will there be state intervention? More importantly, can this be considered an act in furtherance of terrorism? Could the FBI and local police show up and handcuff Jones and others for proceeding with this act even if there is an argument to be made the act is protected by the Constitution? Will homeland security trump the First Amendment Rights of these loons who are people who not only find Islam to be "of the Devil" but also people who likely consider Obama to be the Antichrist?

Perhaps, it doesn’t matter. Jones can burn the Korans or the government can arrest him and his followers. Either way, the anti-Islamic fervor will continue because Americans harbor strong beliefs about Islam and, for many, the last thing they want is some Third World religion becoming dominant in America and transforming America’s national identity to one that, in their mind, runs counter to Judeo-Christian or Protestant values.

You Won’t Find Nonbelievers Claiming Obama’s Muslim

9:19 am in Uncategorized by Kevin Gosztola

The above is an image that has been circulated by Americans as "proof" Obama may be Muslim. Those circulating the image fear what Obama is doing to this nation’s identity and would like to also remind the world he is Black. by SS&SS

 

Religion & America

The uproar by Americans as a result of the proposed construction of an Islamic community center near Ground Zero along with Glenn Beck’s "Restoring Honor" rally in Washington, D.C. have pulled into focus the intense zeal that Americans have for religion. Undoubtedly, the characteristic of Americans that has been affirmed is the characteristic that Americans are dedicated to getting religion right.

A number of people consistently have been giving explanations of religion and defending misunderstandings of religion. Possibily thousands have written about the reality that religion can be practiced in "moderation" and not all religious people are extremists.

Recent discussions indicate individuals find an utmost value in defending one’s religion, promoting religion, and ensuring all Americans can practice religion so long as that religion does not cut into their religion’s ability to live free and prosper. Yet, what do they say to the idea that’s why the world sees people like Terry Jones who are driven to organize days of actions where Korans are burned, like Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who suggest "all nasty people who hate Israel" should be struck down "with the plague," or like members of the Muslim Brotherhood, who will always assert (although they might have justification) peace talks will not favor Palestinians and should be resisted.

Religious people like Jones, Rabbi Yosef, and those in the Muslim Brotherhood fear another religion could eat into the world their religion occupies. They’re why the idea of coexistence of religions is naïve. Believing in another religion essentially means you do not believe in another religion. And, implicit in belief, whether you interpret the language of your religion’s text literally, is the idea that other religions–nonbelievers–are to be destroyed. To a certain extent, Glenn Beck, James Dobson, Newt Gingrich, Franklin Graham, Sarah Palin, Rand Paul, Tony Perkins, and many employed by Fox News entertain this implicit belief.

Also, if one wishes to be objective, those who point out passages in the Koran and argue Muslims are committed to Sharia are right. It’s true that, theoretically, in order to be a true Muslim or true believer you have to follow all aspects of the Koran or the religion. But, couldn’t we say that for any religion? 

To me, the majority asking people to fear the march of Islam have a conflict of interest because many of them are God-fearing Christians who worry they will lose the race against Islam to control the world and don’t want to give an inch to that which they believe to be from the pit of Hell.

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Photo by Bonnie Woodson

 

I was briefly religious. I did not belong to a religion, but I believed in Jesus Christ. I believed in God. I prayed. I would get down on my hands and knees on the bedside and I would ask God to do me favors because that was the understanding I had of God. I thought he could give you the strength to complete your homework and, perhaps, even confront your friends in high school who maybe needed help from you. That was, quite frankly, bullshit. Unequivocal bullshit.

A friend invited me to what, for all intents and purposes, was a Jesus Camp. While the average age was much higher than the camp in the documentary film Jesus Camp, the camp required all gizmos and gadgets to be surrendered upon entry into the camp, there was very little they wanted you to begin, and, while I had gone there to have fun at camp with some friends, I was confronted with a situation where I had no choice but to get closer to Christ.

From the camp, I recall an obstacle course that you could argue attendees were completing to prove they could be soldiers for Christ. The camp also appropriated secular rock songs like Tom Petty’s "Free Fallin’" and Oasis’ "Wonderwall" making it seem like they had been written for God. The camp Christianized these songs, which was okay because Christian music is the most artistically bankrupt music on the market.

The final day of camp was intense. That was the day the counselors had all attendees revved up and ready to get closer to God. The attendees split off into areas of the camp to sit by themselves and get in touch with God. So, I went off and wrote something. Given the climate the evangelical counselors had created, I was pretty sure I was connected to God and I think everyone else was too. I think, in retrospect, God probably was only with one or two people and he put on a smokescreen so we could believe he was with us all.

As it became time to leave, a friend pulled me and another friend aside and he asked us if we could pray. I think it was then I was sure I was entering some kind of a cult if I didn’t watch it because we had never prayed. We had never wrapped our arms around each other and discussed how we could share a common bond of religion. That was uncomfortable for me. Call me irrational, but I didn’t want to embrace other boys to get closer to Christ. No, sir. If you want to get closer to Christ that way, you go right ahead.

Following that experience, my understanding of religion became intertwined with my opinion of President George W. Bush and the work of his administration. I started blogging in 2004 (my first political activity online was on MoveOn.org’s message board discussing the 2004 Election).

I wrote posts on faith and separation of church and state. Nobody told me to think like this, I just developed the following understanding (and I read a book on Bush called The Faith of George W. Bush):

"[Bush's] principles, prayer, and personal life are intertwined and are basically in my opinion inseparable. He said God wants everyone to be free and stated that he imposed this idea on Afghanistan. I think this endangers America. I believe Bush and Osama are leaders of a Holy War. What [it] comes down to is this is a stand off of religious principles. Muslim principles have conflicted with Bush’s faith. I adamantly feel that Bush has not separated church from state and this has led us down the wrong path. It doesn’t matter if separation of church and state is right or wrong. What matters is whether or not our president will follow accepted rules while in power. Separating church and state in my opinion is an accepted rule."

I possessed a clear understanding of separation of church and state, whether it was accurate or not. And, I took issue with Bush’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives finding them, after conducting my own research, to be constitutional. I specifically singled out an organization known as Teen Challenge in one of my blog postings and suggested the organization’s leader, Reverend John D. Castellani, admitted to a House subcommittee the program made people involved become "complete Jews" or "Jews for Jesus." The nature of the program–replacing drug addiction with an addiction to Jesus–made the program unconstitutional no matter how benign Rev. Castellani’s program might be.

Five years later, I now monitor America with alarm at the interconnectedness of religion and nationalism that has only increased since my days in high school. The way Christianity in this country is often believed by many to be synonymous with patriotism or love of country confounds me. When I listen to people like Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin discuss religion and politics, I worry about the future of this country and how religion could have the effect of making society more close-minded instead of enriching and enlightening society.

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Photo by Graham Buffton

President Obama’s agenda has been impeded greatly by religious forces in America. He currently has to affirm his faith in Jesus Christ to appease those who believe he is Muslim and might be inviting Islamists into the country to impose Sharia Law on us all. Personally, I would tell them to go join a survivalist commune, arm themselves, and spread a communicable disease that would kill them all off and bring them in contact with the Kingdom of Heaven sooner than later

Such forces have used religion to mask their deep-seated hatred for how Obama indicates this country is further embracing multiculturalism. I witnessed these people firsthand when filming a documentary at the University of Notre Dame when Obama was invited to deliver the commencement speech. They are militant in their organization for the preservation of America’s national identity and they will not back down unless confronted head on.

In the 21st Century, religion is the eight hundred pound gorilla in the room. Countless people of the world assert it gives humans purpose, it’s a force for good, it allows us to confront mortality and believe in the afterlife, it makes us moral and forces us to confront sin, it teaches us the beauty of creation and life, etc. But, anymore (and especially in America), it seems like a cheap way to unite a nation of disgruntled and angry people and distract those experiencing economic despair from channeling their anger and organizing against government for economic emancipation from joblessness and poverty.

Many religious people arrogantly, offensively, and thoughtlessly eat mankind’s future and advance the belief that their religious text does not show global warming bringing the end of the world. So, like those who believed the Earth is flat (which some still believe) and the sun revolved around the Earth (which some still believe too), they expect humanity to let them forsake reality so they can maintain their collective delusions.

Non-belief carries this stigma that it leaves people deprived, deficient or excluded. That’s correct–nonbelievers have excluded themselves from believing certain lessons, parables, proverbs or fairy tales in religious texts are truth and have embraced ideas that can be unmistakably proven to be truth in the physical world that humans occupy (like, for example, the theory of evolution).

They’ve adopted an understanding that religion is politically irrelevant and cannot solve the problems of war and peace, poverty and sickness, corporate power and corporate control, privatization and loss of public space, and/or environmental destruction and global warming.

I suppose many believe just because traditionally their family, their ancestors and much of humanity have believed. They may not believe a word or think God exists at all, but they continue certain rituals because these traditions have a monopoly over how we conduct life especially how we respond to key points like birth, childhood, the transition from youth to manhood, marriage, death, etc).

Believers suggest those who do not believe simply need to take a leap of faith. I think the proper response to that is to suggest believers take a leap of fact. Courageously test the scientific hypothesis that there is some supernatural or mystical being who has designed the world, a being that can connect to you and hopefully guide you and answer your prayers. Consider what type of band-aid religion is in your life.

Whatever the problems are that manifest themselves as you invite skepticism into your thought processes, I posit you have two choices: you can return to your church on Sunday (or Friday or Saturday or whatever day you attend church) and pray your problems away and you can use an archaic text for guidance or you can trust in your emotions, instincts, and develop a motivation to be the actor in your world that organizes your life to be the life you want it to be.

Because in addition to the fact that religious people will always struggle amongst other religious people over mankind’s past, present and future and go to war over what other people think mankind’s past was and what other people think mankind’s future will be, there’s the reality that the time spent pondering an afterlife–and thinking life is bad now but God will let me into some Kingdom or Paradise and "make things new" for me one day–is time that you could have spent enjoying the little time you have on this Earth.

Responding to the Toxic Anti-Islamic Fervor Growing in This Nation

6:03 pm in Uncategorized by Kevin Gosztola

The above is a video message I put together for YouTube. With the growing anti-Islam fervor that has been ratcheting up as a result of people trying to stop a "Ground Zero Mosque" from being built, I wanted to address the people who are trying to confront those who are making this country more dangerous and who are endangering this country’s national security by writing a recruiting script for right wing Muslims or Islamists.

The video is around five minutes long and below is an addendum and something to read if you do not have time for a video.

—————————————————————————


Protest of Cordoba House in NYC. Protesters carry signs reading things like "No Clubhouse for Jihadists."

So, you’ve found yourself wondering lately why people are so upset about what is the equivalent of a YMCA center being built near Ground Zero. You wonder how shuffleboard, tennis, swimming, weightlifting, and workouts in a fitness center in some interfaith community center administered by some guy named Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf could lead to stealth jihad and the imposition of Sharia Law on all Americans.

 

If you’re a person who–I don’t know–thinks, in the past week you may have chosen to jump start conversation, perhaps through a blog post or weigh into a conversation in the comments thread of an article that already had a vibrant or polarizing conversation going on. You’ve genuinely tried to get to find some truth about this "controversy" and perhaps reconcile with people’s views on the impending "Islamization of America."

 

By now, you’ve likely found it’s hard to talk to those who are opposed to the "Ground Zero Mosque," as they affectionately term it (and they probably have become fed up with you as well). The problem with reasoning with the opposition is that they are not thinking about this in terms of reality. You can explain to them that the Constitution gives Americans who have Islamic beliefs the right to build all you want, but as a Newsweek slideshow recently posted affirms, they will not think of your argument as something that applies to Muslims in America.

 

The slideshow, "Dumb Things Americans Believe," explains,
"one in three Americans," according to a 2008 First Amendment Center poll believe "the constitutional right to freedom of religion was never meant to apply to groups most folks think are extreme or fringe–a 10 percent increase from 2000."

 

Since those leading the charge against the construction of the "mosque" consider Islam to be a political system and not a true religion, since they treat it more like a cult than a religion, the legal argument–the free market property rights argument that they should be receptive to (because let’s be honest these people opposed are the same people who clamor into city plazas for Tea Party rallies to protest the socialist takeover of America)–rolls right off them like confetti at a Sarah Palin/Mama Grizzlies celebration.

 

Newsweek’s slideshow comes on the heels of a poll where around one fifth polled suggested it was possible President Obama was a Muslim. Or, as Glenn Beck hints at, he hasn’t professed his Christian faith in a manner that would lead one to channel Sinclair Lewis and say, "It can happen here," so he likely is a Muslim a Muslim who has brought change Americans will be forced to submit to and who will make it possible for Islamists to hijack local and state governments with their agenda for Sharia Law and work their way up until they eventually have Cabinet seats and have turned America into a nation for Caliphate advancement.

 

Other things people believe, which Newsweek details includes: sixty-one percent doubt the theory of evolution, twenty-one percent in witches, forty percent believe in death panels, forty-one percent believed Saddam was linked to 9/11, forty-one percent not sure Judaism older than Christianity, and twenty percent not sure Earth revolves around the Sun.

 

Recently, those who populate the wiki, Conservapedia, were found to be arguing that the theory of relativity could be proven wrong. The site provided counterexamples, one of the best being: "In Genesis 1:6-8, we are told that one of God’s first creations was a firmament in the heavens. This likely refers to the creation of the luminiferous aether." (Rachel Maddow covered this in a segment called the "War on Brains.")

 

These phantasmagoric beliefs are being spouted by people who believe in God. Does that mean religion needs to be abolished? I don’t know, but we have people like this guy who are railing on about a "climate change scam," who likely believe that climate change isn’t true because it isn’t detailed in the Bible.

 

Americans, we have an incredible dilemma. Part of our heritage has always involved confronting delusions, and now we have a pressing obligation to find a way to confront this.

 

A drunk man walked into a mosque in Queens on Wednesday evening and urinated on the prayer rugs. With a beer bottle in his hand, he proceeded to shout anti-Muslim epithets and called worshippers "terrorists."

 

That’s not some creative variation of some "A Guy Walks Into a Bar" joke. Even worse, a Muslim cab driver was stabbed Tuesday and a California mosque was recently desecrated.

 

 

 

And, Terry Jones, a pastor for the Dove World Outreach Center in Florida, plans to send "a warning" to Muslims by holding a Koran-Burning Day. Just what kind of warning does Jones expect to send? Won’t this just incite violence? Why not just take moveable letters on a church sign and make it read, "Homegrown Terrorists Welcome Here"?

 

If you’re Muslim, it isn’t news that there are a number of people in this country that fear Muslims like Nazis fear Jew bankers; they’ve been confronting this behavior and violence since 9/11 (And you thought you’d get through this without a Nazi reference?). They are the most vocal and their fundamentalist leaders’ goals are driving them to campaign to rid this country of any Muslims looking to practice their freedom of religion.

 

Americans who contend this is a distraction from the pressing economic problems–and a result of the upcoming 2010 midterm elections—minimize the way that leaders behind the creation of this anti-Islamic fury will twist and manipulate the frenzied atmosphere to continue to advance their theocratic agenda.

 

I don’t fully know what we should do now, but I do have a beginning suggestion: Our side needs its own cheesy 80s rock anthem to cheer on reason, tolerance and acceptance of all people just like the nuts who are spreading hate and fear of Muslims now have their own anthem to cheer on religious persecution of Americans.

 

As Wall Street Support Shifts from Left to Right, Liberal Pundits Respond to Gibbs’ Attack

6:29 pm in Uncategorized by Kevin Gosztola

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Robert Gibbs in studio interview by studio08denver

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs became the spokesperson for Obama Administration contempt toward the left on Tuesday. The display of contempt came in the midst of a nearly 70 percent shift in Wall Street executive donations from Democratic candidates to Republican candidates ahead of the November mid-term elections.

On Tuesday, The Hill published an interview with Gibbs, who said what Obama has done and is doing would never be "good enough" for the "professional left." Gibbs attacked the left for comparing Obama to George W. Bush, suggested, "these people ought to be drug tested" and said they "wouldn’t be satisfied if Dennis Kucinich was president." He also said they would only "be satisfied when [America has] Canadian healthcare and [America has] eliminated the Pentagon."

Gibbs’ remark revealed a lot about what members of the Obama Administration think of the role of debate and citizen participation in government. And, the implicit apology Gibbs made in the aftermath of his "inartful" comments revealed even more about an administration that believes progressives should take marching orders from this administration or else.

"So we should all, me included, stop fighting each other and arguing about our differences on certain policies," he said, and work together "because we’ve come too far to turn back now," Gibbs said after mentioning he watches a lot of cable television, as if to excuse his remark.

While circumstantial, the best evidence for why Gibbs would feel like uttering the aforementioned remarks is the shift of money from Wall Street to Republicans ahead of the election. Obama was the candidate of Wall Street in the 2008 Election garnering nearly $8 million in campaign contributions from securities and investment industries (nearly double what Republican presidential candidate John McCain garnered). The Democrats earned 57 percent of campaign contributions from securities and investment industries.

The situation compels the Obama Administration especially White House press secretary Gibbs to whip the left and the sections that are most listened to by voters into line not only because money from business interests needs to swing back the other way but because disappointed and disillusioned voters will likely stay home, not donate to Democratic Party campaigns, not make phone calls, and refuse to go door-to-door canvassing prior to Election Day if they do not fall in line.  . . . Read the rest of this entry →

The Danger of the Wikileaks’ Leak: You Might Stop Thinking Like an American

7:51 am in Uncategorized by Kevin Gosztola


Wikileaks leaks Afghanistan War Logs to press by Kevin Gosztola

 

Days after the release of tens of thousands of documents that were once classified information and are now known as the "Afghanistan War Logs," the focus on the documents has shifted from the contents of the incident reports to what the effect or impact of the leak by Wikileaks will be on the war in Afghanistan.

 

The leak of more than 70,000 incident reports (and the news that 15,000 more incident reports are to be released after undergoing what Wikileaks founder Julian Assange calls "a harm minimization process" to protect Afghani civilians) created two direct challenges to what can be considered as two branches of government in the United States: the White House and Pentagon (Executive Branch) and the press (often regarded as the "Fourth Branch" of government).

 

This is part of the official statement released by the White House on Sunday, July 25th:

"We strongly condemn the disclosure of classified information by individuals and organisations, which puts the lives of the US and partner service members at risk and threatens our national security. Wikileaks made no effort to contact the US government about these documents, which may contain information that endanger the lives of Americans, our partners, and local populations who co-operate with us."

 

In a press conference on Monday, July 26th, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs showed their was a small evolution in the White House response to the leak. Similar to the official statement, he said the White House’s reaction to this "breach of federal law" is that it has the "potential to be very harmful to those that are in our military, those that are cooperating with our military, and those that are working to keep us safe."

 

Gibbs also said, "I don’t think that what is being reported hasn’t in many ways been publicly discussed, either by you all or by representatives of the U.S. government, for quite some time," and went on to discuss how the press was fully aware of how Pakistan may have "safe havens" that were aiding the Taliban and the White House had been making progress in addressing this problem.

 

Those who remember the Obama Administration’s blocking the release of photos allegedly showing troops abusing detainees at prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan have likely heard this argument about risks to troops before. In a video posted by The Guardian, Assange responded to the argument and said, "Militaries keep information secret to prosecute their side of a war but also to hide abuse." He noted there is a military argument for information on "where troops are about to deploy" from, but, since the information is all from 2004-2009, none of the information is particularly sensitive.

 

Gibbs’ remarks that there’s nothing new here with Pakistan shows part of the evolution from the initial response released to the press and public. The Obama Administration appears to have made a calculation that the nature of Wikileaks is too remarkable to wholly dismiss solely with an argument that they have used to argue for the protection of government information.

 

Admiral Mike Mullen’s tweet and other remarks show that the Obama Administration has chosen to attempt to curb enthusiasm for the leak and forewarn those who are interested that if they take interest in them they will likely find no new information. If the public thinks there is nothing to be gained from the leak, then it’s possible to push the public to question Wikileaks and possibly convince them that what was done was a kind of publicity stunt.

 

The initial response also demonstrated the White House believed Wikileaks should have consulted them before leaking the classified information to the press. That’s interesting given the fact that the U.S. government has been hunting Julian Assange and displayed a zealous thirst to halt the operations of Wikileaks. Even more interesting is the fact that there was some back and forth prior to the publishing of the documents thanks to two reporters with the New York Times who consulted the White House and asked the White House for permission and guidance on what to publish and what not to publish. The meeting gave the White House time to prepare for the oncoming document dump by Wikileaks.

 

A file circulated to press, which features many of the president’s and the administration’s leaders’ remarks on the role of Pakistan in the Afghanistan War, indicates there was likely a development of a media or public relations strategy between the White House and the New York Times before the "war logs" went public July 25th. This file provided a way for journalists uncomfortable with the ethics of Wikileaks to cover the contents of the documents leaked. It seems like this .PDF file became the basic talking points for critical conversation among the press on the Monday after the leak.

 

The effect was that possibility of war crimes committed was, for the most part, conveniently omitted or glossed over; illumination of the US-assassination squad Task Force 373 was virtually absent from the publication’s analysis of the logs on Sunday. Examine Der Spiegel and The Guardian and compare what is central to the editorials and reports with what is central to the editorials and reports posted by the New York Times. You will likely find media spin that focuses on Pakistan and the Taliban.

 

The New York Times’ decision to take this to the White House and to not further explore possible war crimes committed or even the alarming number of civilian casualties detailed in the logs could have something to do with what Illinois State University Professor Anthony DiMaggio wrote in his book When Media Goes to War on the media’s role in foreign wars:

 

"American journalists see their role in foreign conflicts as dutifully reflecting the range of opinions expressed in Washington. In the case of Afghanistan, both Democrats and Republicans lent their support to escalating war as of early to mid 2009. "Responsible" criticisms were limited to questions of whether the war is unwinnable or too costly. The Obama administration paternalistically denigrated the Afghan government for complicity in corruption, ballot-tampering, collusion with warlords, narcotics dealing, and a lack of democratic responsiveness. These criticisms were echoed in news stories and editorials."

 

 

DiMaggio notes the New York Times has supported this war even when the American and Afghan publics have demonstrated widespread opposition. Reporters supported Obama’s escalation writing, "extra [U.S.] forces" are "vital in defeating Taliban forces and "securing the region.’"

 

The issue of the Taliban and Pakistan provides opportunity for pragmatic criticisms and creates a range of debate germane to the interests of the White House. Such debate does not threaten the geopolitical interests of America or challenge the basic idea that the war must go on.

 

Media critic Jay Rosen concluded, "In media history up to now, the press is free to report on what the powerful wish to keep secret because the laws of a given nation protect it. But Wikileaks is able to report on what the powerful wish to keep secret because the logic of the Internet permits it. This is new."

 

Rosen’s conclusion illuminates why Wikileaks is such a direct challenge to the White House and the press. Wikileaks does not care to protect the integrity of the security industrial-complex, which works to keep information properly or, in a number of cases, improperly classified. Wikileaks’ "information activism" is in tune with the core philosophies that have been born from the existence of the Internet and, with the Internet, what does it matter if certain reporters find what Wikileaks did to be unethical or not?

 

The press in America is largely uncomfortable with the practice and ideology of Wikileaks, the credo that information organizations have spent economic effort on to keep secret should be public. No doubt, the press think if such a credo was supported by members of the US press media access to the White House and other institutions would be threatened. The socialization process that the press engages in with government officials in order to form ties so that news stories featuring top-ranked officials would also be inhibited.

 

For example, consider the digital journalism project published last week: "Top Secret America." The Washington Post worked closely with the White House and other agencies. Had it attempted to do this under the radar with help from whistleblowers or anonymous sources, the White House would have condemned the Post. The reporters would likely have been fired from the newspaper and would likely be facing prosecution like James Risen, who wrote a story on NSA wiretapping under the Bush Administration and used anonymous sources.

  

Wikileaks’ commitment to transparency is an affront to the press’ role as an estate that manufactures consent and the federal government’s role as an entity that must protect state interests by crafting an official narrative for why the war must go on in Afghanistan, a narrative that Wikileaks pollutes with information from the government that indicates the official narrative is a constructed reality.

 

Historically, the US does not want the American people involved in deciding what the US does in its foreign policy. Julian Assange and Wikileaks display a belief in the value of citizen participation and interest in the business of governments worldwide. As Assange said of the leak, "People who are around the world who are reading this are able to comment on it and put it in context and understand the full situation."

 

The "bewildered herd" is supposed to be "spectators" and support the troops and trust the motives and actions of government. When the public becomes concerned, things happen like public opposition loud enough to dilute support for a war in Vietnam or civil disobedience against the use of nuclear weapons, etc.

 

The real danger to government here is that Americans might listen to Emmanuel Goldstein, a well-known hacker and editor of the magazine 2600: The Hacker Quarterly, and promote values which support "getting to the truth of the matter, uncovering cover-ups." The real danger is that citizens may become too enchanted by Wikileaks and no longer believe in the "power imaginary" (as Sheldon Wolin might characterize it) that we are in an endless war for our lives with terrorists who hate America for its freedom and Afghanistan is an essential conflict in that battle.

 

The real danger is that the population abandons docility and no longer adheres to a civic culture that has been pushed by generations of political classes in America throughout the past century.

 

Consider the following passage from NSC 68: United States Objectives and Programs for National Security, published in April 1950 and possibly a kind-of "bible" for national security. This excerpt explains how "the democratic way" requires citizens to be less naive, more discriminating (ruling elite speak for politically ignorant and apathetic):

 

[In] the search for truth [the individual] knows when he should commit an act of faith; that he distinguish between the necessity for tolerance and the necessity for just suppression. A free society is vulnerable in that it is easy for people to lapse into excesses–the excesses of a permanently open mind wishfully waiting for evidence that evil design may become noble purpose, the excess of faith becoming prejudice, the excess of tolerance degenerating into indulgence of conspiracy and the excess of suppression when moderate measures are not only more appropriate but more effective.

  

The leak of the Afghanistan war logs creates a risk that an American public may lapse into excesses — may start to challenge the idea that the U.S. troops must stay in Afghanistan and do battle with the Taliban, may start to dispute the arguments against withdrawal of US/coalition forces from Afghanistan, may start to doubt the motives and intentions of American superpower in Afghanistan more openly than before the leak. The danger is the leak might erode a sense of shared purpose in the country.

 

The threat this leak poses is not that it may require an immense overhaul of security apparatuses being utilized by members of the U.S. military on the 800-plus bases America has throughout the world. The Obama Administration can easily dole out another contract to some entity in the security industrial-complex to fine tune the system to prevent future leaks. The threat is that more and more will now grow disenchanted with American foreign policy and challenge the agendas of both neoconservatives and neoliberals who write the policies, craft the theories, and design the power imaginaries that Americans are made to understand in terms of "us vs. them."

 

The Afghanistan war logs challenge the world to do what the information activists at Wikileaks believe people should do. They should desire information and not, as people are trained to think in America, espouse concern about the illegality of the leak. They should read over the documents and make their own conclusions and not let media organizations disembowel the totality of the leak and tell them this is insignificant because much of the incidents detailed were already known. And, they should actively respond to the contents and more openly ask why it’s so essential to continue the Afghanistan War.

 

Hotel Workers Stage Sit-Ins as Part of Nationwide Action Against Hyatt Hotels

7:17 am in Uncategorized by Kevin Gosztola

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Hotel workers from Chicago supported and participated in a nonviolent civil disobedience action aimed at calling attention to the Hyatt Hotel chain’s working conditions on Thursday evening. The action was part of a nationally organized plan to target Hyatt and call attention to its lack of fairness and respect toward workers.

 

Fifteen cities including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Indianapolis, and Honolulu, participated in the planned actions and, in total, hundreds of workers from these cities were arrested for disrupting business as usual in the cities.

 

Chicago Breaking Business reported on the workers’ struggle:

 

"…Labor contracts affecting 6,000 downtown hotel workers expired 11 months ago, and labor negotiations so far have been unsuccessful. While the contracts affect workers at several hotel chains in Chicago, Unite Here has focused its efforts on Chicago-based Hyatt, controlled by the Pritzker family, holding it up as an example of a hotel chain that is using the economy as an excuse to take advantage of workers…"

 

People began to gather for the Chicago action, organized by UNITEHERE Local 1, around 4:30 pm CT and the sit-in began around 5 pm CT. The workers marched down the sidewalk on Stetson Avenue and on to Wacker Drive.

 

About fifty to seventy-five workers sat down in single-file horizontal lines during rush hour. With about ten to fifteen people in each line, they chanted, "We are human beings. Enough is enough." And, all of the workers were wearing T-shirts signifying that they were with UNITEHERE Local 1 or they had a piece of felt pinned on their back to show what hotel they worked for in Chicago.

 

As they sat blocking the street, hundreds stood in solidarity with the workers on the sidewalks watching the action develop. The Chicago media were present. And, the police had the area heavily controlled.

 

Minutes into the sit-in, an officer gave the first warning to get off the street because the workers did not have a permit. A second warning game minutes after that. The officer cited, again, the lack of permit and their violation of a city ordinance as reason why they would be arrested if they did not move.

 

Gradually, the workers in the back of the group stood and marched off of the street. For those who understood what was to take place, this was not planned. Around two hundred workers were going to be arrested, but out of respect for a killed police officer, whose wake was tonight and whose funeral was tomorrow, the workers chose to scale back their action and show respect toward Chicago police who wanted to go pay their respects to the officer and his family.

 

The third warning came as the last lines left the street. The officer warned those still in the street sitting down that they would be arrested now if they did not leave. Seconds later, they were stood up by police. They put their hands behind their back and were escorted over to the side of a building down the street away from the front of the Hyatt.

 

The action ended about 5:30 pm CT and around thirty people were arrested.

 

Reports on the event highlighted the fact that this is an ongoing struggle. In June of this year, workers protested at "Hyatt’s first shareholders’ meeting as a newly public company" and their labor practices were compared to the "Pharaoh’s enslavement of the Israelites" by religious leaders who were present.

 

And, in September 2009, around 200 workers were arrested when they demonstrated in support for "ongoing labor negotiations and for fired hotel workers in boston. At that action, the workers engaged in a sit-in in the middle of Chicago Avenue.

 

The Washington Post pointed out, in an article published before the action, that this union was "targeting one of President Obama’s biggest financial backers." But, at the protest, there were no noticeable signs of "friction," as suggested by this article.

 

However, workers were singling out Penny Pritzker, who serves on the board of the Hyatt Hotels Corporation. Pritzker has donated a combined total of $56,240 to DNC Services Corp and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

 

The workers pledged to return and, given the history of the struggle against hotels in Chicago so far, it’s likely there will be another civil disobedience action in Chicago in the not-so-distant future.