Monthly Archives: January 2012

Enthusiasm renewed

Yesterday I attended a great rally and march protesting corporate personhood and a business meeting of the Eugene Mutual Aid Society, and both events restored my enthusiasm to keep on working for needed changes. My friend Judi and I were among 100 people who came to the rally, some from as far away as Corvallis. There were Raging Grannies with cool, crazy hats, who sang protest songs written for the occasion, and protestors dressed in judges’ robes labeled with Supreme Court justices’ names. A totally energetic and enthusiastic guy with a megaphone rapped and mic-checked and got us chanting and raising our hands and fists — all on themes of working together (the 99% and the 1%), persistently, for radical change. One of our chants was “Money is not free speech! This is free speech!” One young woman held a cardboard sign that said, “If you don’t poop, you’re not a person.”

When we marched on the new federal building, I realized how expressive its architecture is: massive, gray, and cold, with no visible doors or windows, an impregnable fortress defending the “Just Us” system of the 1%. Another marcher told me that if you want to visit Representative de Fazio’s office there, you have to be approved and can only go in two at a time. Our supposed “representatives” don’t want to face or hear from us; they just want our votes and tax dollars. When the chants “Whose courts? Our courts!” and “Whose government? Our government!” flew through the air, I was silent. I don’t want these courts or this government. I want something completely new (old): localized, non-hierarchical self-government, in which everyone’s voice is equal.

Judi had a  letter printed in yesterday’s Register Guard expressing her passion for change, and spelling out the kind of change she thinks is needed. (See Eugene RG letters for 1-20-12.) I was excited that this kind of revolutionary talk would make it into our relatively conservative local paper. The word is spreading.

There was lots of passion, enthusiasm, warmth, humor, and solidarity at our EMAS meeting, held in public (at Cozmic Pizza) for the first time. Some excellent ideas, too. Come to our next meeting next Friday (5-7 PM), same place, and gather round our “fire.”


Occupy enthusiasm overshadowed by new worries

As the Occupy movement shifts into a new stage, its effectiveness yet to be determined, I find myself losing a bit of my “Occupy high,” and succumbing to some of the same negative emotions about the current system that I’ve had in the past. I believe current nation-states and their governments are irrelevant to what needs to happen, and that in the long run they won’t withstand the tides of mass protest and economic stagnation caused by energy descent. But they can cause a lot of unnecessary damage and suffering in the short run.

Two things in the news have evoked the old anger and worry in me: provocative US and Israeli policies toward Iran and the legislation just signed by President Obama that allows the military to detain US citizens indefinitely for aiding the country’s “enemies.” The aggressive posture of the former and the totalitarian nature of the latter should be mind-boggling (parallels with Nazi Germany anyone?), but, for now anyway, it seems that people are just accepting both and going on with business as usual.

I hesitate to even mention the word “Israel,” because, supported by the US, it does so many awful things (particularly against the Palestinians) that I could go on all day. But for now, I’ll just address its apparent efforts to provoke a war with Iran. The good news, according to an Inter Press article by Gareth Porter and Jim Lobe posted on the Asia Times website yesterday, is that a “massive joint United States-Israeli military exercise” that looked like preparation for war with Iran has been postponed. Apparently, Israel’s actions and possible actions in the future on this score are or would be so egregious that, for once, the US feels the need to disassociate itself from them. “The exercise, called Austere Challenge 12, originally scheduled for April, was to have been a simulation of a joint US-Israeli effort to identify, track, and intercept incoming missiles by integrating sophisticated US radar systems with Israeli anti-missile defense systems. US participation in such an exercise, obviously geared to a scenario involving Iranian retaliation against an Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities, would have made the US Israel’s partner in any war following an Israeli attack on Iran. Obama and US military leaders apparently decided that the US couldn’t participate in such an exercise unless Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu assured the administration that he wouldn’t attack Iran without prior approval from Washington.”

The article shows that Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey pulled Obama back from all this after the president whined to him that he had “no say” in Israel’s policy.”  In November and December, US neo-conservatives aligned with Netanyahu’s Likud Party and what is sometimes called the Israel lobby engineered legislation that forced [??] on the Obama administration a unilateral sanctions law aimed at dramatically reducing Iranian crude oil exports and ‘collapsing’ its economy. The administration’s reluctant embrace of sanctions against the oil sector and Iran’s central bank led to an Iranian threat to retaliate by closing off the Strait of Hormuz, and the risk of a naval incident exploding into actual military conflict loomed large. Netanyahu and his defense minister, Ehud Barak are widely believed to have hoped to provoke such conflict with a combination of aggressive sanctions, sabotaging Iranian missile and nuclear facilities, and assassinations against Iranian scientists associated with the nuclear program. Amid tensions already reaching dangerous heights, Iranian nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan was assassinated in Tehran in a bombing on January 11th. Both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor immediately condemned the assassination and vehemently denied any US involvement in that or any other violence inside Iran.”

Israel’s Mossad (the equivalent of our CIA) has apparently assassinated other Iranian nuclear scientists prior to this, often just as negotiations on Iran’s alleged nuclear program look like they might bear peaceful fruit. The latest assassination was apparently inspired by the fact that there have been diplomatic efforts to lay the groundwork for another meeting between the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany and Iran.

What else is Israel doing to provoke war? “A major investigative story published on Friday on the website quoted former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officials as saying that Mossad operatives had been impersonating CIA personnel for several years in recruiting for and providing support to the Sunni terrorist organization Jundallah, which operated inside Iran.” That Israeli policy,” Porter and Lobe say, “also suggests a desire to provoke Iranian retaliation against the United States.”

In his signing of the Defense Authorization bill that includes the further elimination of our civil rights, Obama also appears to be weak and spineless, saying in his signing statements that he didn’t really wanna do it. In a recent article on Common Dreams political columnist and author Chris Hedges says he’s suing the administration over the legislation, which authorizes the military to carry out domestic policing for the first time in 200 years. Under this bill, Hedges says, “once a group is deemed to be a terrorist organization, whether it’s a Palestinian charity or an element of the Uighur independence movement, the military can pick up a U.S. citizen who supported charities associated with the group or unwittingly sent money or medical supplies to front groups” and either send them to Guantanamo or have them ‘extraordinarily renditioned’ to a country that tortures political prisoners.

Hedges says he suspects “the real purpose of the bill is to thwart internal, domestic movements [like Occupy] that threaten the corporate state. Dissent is increasingly equated with treason in this country.

The threat and reach of al-Qaeda are marginal, despite the attacks of 9/11. The terrorist group has been so disrupted and broken that it can barely function. So why, a decade after the start of the so-called war on terror, do these draconian measures need to be implemented? Why do U.S. citizens now need to be specifically singled out for military detention and denial of due process when under the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force the president can apparently find the legal cover to serve as judge, jury and executioner to assassinate U.S. citizens, as he did in the killing of the cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen? This law is a a huge leap forward for the corporate oligarchs who plan to continue to plunder the nation and use state and military security to cow the population into submission.”

According to Hedges, “the FBI, the CIA, the director of national intelligence, the Pentagon, and the attorney general didn’t support it. FBI Director Robert Mueller said he feared the bill would impede the bureau’s ability to investigate terrorism by making it harder to win cooperation from detainees. But it passed anyway, because the corporations, seeing the unrest in the streets, knowing that things are about to get much worse, worrying that the Occupy movement will expand, don’t trust the police to protect them. They want to be able to call in the army. And now they can.”