Tuesday, September 23

Bush White House a "Partner" in Federal, Commerical Predatory Lending Scams

Would someone check on those precious Demo chickens hiding out in the congressional chicken coop up on Capitol Hill to see if they again plan to shirk their oversight of America's impending financial crisis compared to the 1928 Great Depression?
Last December, U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson told Fox News--the cable network a Florida court ruled could legally lie--said he opposed bailing out floundering banks and mortgage companies for their raft of subprime loans to American homeowners.
"I don't think what we need is a big government bailout right now," Paulson said in an interview on Fox Business News. "I think what we need is to help the markets work the way they're intended to work and avoid those foreclosures that are preventable."
Well, Washington's federal fiscal brain trust has moved well beyond that initial view.

This past weekend, the Bush, who just a month ago was touting US financial institutions' stability (as did McCain earlier this month) floated a $700 billion trial balloon asking taxpayers to bailout the "distressed" men and women who made those dangerous home loans.
“This is a big package, because it was ["was"?] a big problem,” President Bush said Saturday at a White House news conference....“I will tell our citizens and continue to remind them that the risk of doing nothing far outweighs the risk of the package, and that, over time, we’re [his cronies] going to get a lot of the money back.”
Whether any of the estimated 2.5 million American homeowners in jeopardy of loosing their homes to forecloure will see any of the bailout relief is uncertain.

While mainstream media are lapping up this bile as readily as the White House's "al-Qaeda-WMDs-in-Iraq--booooo" bedtime story, online news sources are calling the con by its proper name. For example: "larceny," "a historic swindle,"

As the mounting home foreclosures was spiking the number of homeless and increased number of tent cities around the US., Michael Hudson, an economics professor from Kansas City, articulated the scam dimension hidden in the Bush bailout plan:
These billions of dollars [are to be] devoted to keeping a dream alive - the accounting fictions written down by companies that had entered an unreal world based on false accounting that nearly everyone in the financial sector knew to be fake. But they played along with buying and selling packaged mortgage junk because that was where the money was. As Charles Prince of Citibank put it, "As long as they're playing music, you have to get up and dance." Even after markets collapsed, fund managers who steered clear were blamed for not playing the game while it was going. I have friends on Wall Street who were fired for not matching the returns that their compatriots were making. And the biggest returns were to be made in trading in the economy's largest financial asset - mortgage debt. The mortgages packaged, owned or guaranteed by Fannie and Freddie alone exceeded the entire U.S. national debt - the cumulative deficits run up by the American Government since the nation won the Revolutionary War!
Last Friday (19 September), subprime mortgage lender Richard Bitner told the London Guardian that while friends and neighbors view him as a subprime mortgage loan "baron," his work inclined him to view "himself as little better than a mid-rank drug dealer."
"I almost look at the mortgage industry kind of like the drug trade. Wall Street and the investment banks are the Bolivian drug lords," he says. "You look at this and you go: What were we doing? Who doesn't want the feeling of euphoria? Who doesn't like to get money?"

He continues: "Wall Street, the drug lords, were creating this product. Lenders and brokers are the street dealers who were largely making it available based on a consumer desire; a want for it."

In pitching a new book titled Confessions of a Subprime Lender, Bitner, co-founder and president of Kellner Mortgage Investments of Dallas that specialized in "high risk loans," hopes to continue supporting his addiction of separating hayseed rubes from their money by third-person distancing from the scene of the crime, i.e., as if all the "dope dealing" centered on Wall Street.
Dishonesty became endemic in loan applications. By the end, Bitner reckons that 70% of submissions to the company from brokers were deceptive. Properties, supposedly objectively appraised, were spectacularly overvalued. He estimates that half of loans were on homes over-egged by up to 10%, a quarter had prices exaggerated by 11% to 20% and the rest were "so overvalued they defied all logic".
This past winter, New York Governor Eliot Spitzer was nailed for an honesty about America's criminal mortgage industry that Bitner may never manage without some years behind bars, bent over his bunk by a very gay southern redneck Guido.

His 14 February 2008 Washington Post op-ed piece, buried in the paper's front section, said the Bush White House was predatory mortgage lenders' "partner in crime," and offered evidence supporting his case.
Even though predatory lending was becoming a national problem, the Bush administration looked the other way and did nothing to protect American homeowners. In fact, the government chose instead to align itself with the banks that were victimizing consumers.

Predatory lending was widely understood to present a looming national crisis. This threat was so clear that as New York attorney general, I joined with colleagues in the other 49 states in attempting to fill the void left by the federal government. Individually, and together, state attorneys general of both parties brought litigation or entered into settlements with many subprime lenders that were engaged in predatory lending practices. Several state legislatures, including New York's, enacted laws aimed at curbing such practices.

What did the Bush administration do in response? Did it reverse course and decide to take action to halt this burgeoning scourge? As Americans are now painfully aware, with hundreds of thousands of homeowners facing foreclosure and our markets reeling, the answer is a resounding no.

Not only did the Bush administration do nothing to protect consumers, it embarked on an aggressive and unprecedented campaign to prevent states from protecting their residents from the very problems to which the federal government was turning a blind eye.

But machinations of at least one federal agency, Spitzer argues, in providing the predatory mortgage industry with protection from state government oversight that suggests the depth of the scam, including Bush's proposed $700 billion "bailout."
The administration accomplished [circumventing intervention by state governments] through an obscure federal agency called the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). The OCC has been in existence since the Civil War. Its mission is to ensure the fiscal soundness of national banks. For 140 years, the OCC examined the books of national banks to make sure they were balanced, an important but uncontroversial function. But a few years ago, for the first time in its history, the OCC was used as a tool against consumers.

In 2003, during the height of the predatory lending crisis, the OCC invoked a clause from the 1863 National Bank Act to issue formal opinions preempting all state predatory lending laws, thereby rendering them inoperative. The OCC also promulgated new rules that prevented states from enforcing any of their own consumer protection laws against national banks. The federal government's actions were so egregious and so unprecedented that all 50 state attorneys general, and all 50 state banking superintendents, actively fought the new rules.

But the unanimous opposition of the 50 states did not deter, or even slow, the Bush administration in its goal of protecting the banks. In fact, when my office opened an investigation of possible discrimination in mortgage lending by a number of banks, the OCC filed a federal lawsuit to stop the investigation.

Spitzer concludes by saying the Bush White House would not be "judged favorably" when history takes a sober, honest look at what the looming disaster for Middle America.

But in the adolescent culture of moral illiteracy that is America, Spitzer instead of Bush, at least in the short term, found his head skewered on a political pike.

As he later characterizes American mortgage consumers of predatory lending practices, Spitzer, too, was victimized by "the power of the federal government in an unprecedented assault on state [legislators], as well as on state attorneys general and anyone else on the side of consumers."

The day after Sitzer's allegations appeared in the Post, he was charged as "Client 9" via a federal wiretap for soliciting the services of Emperor Club VIP's "Kristen" (photo), the "high-priced prostitute who met with Spitzer at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington on February 13." Two days later, Spitzer resigned as New York's governor; "Kristen" was not charged in the sordid affair.

Why were DoJ Ass't Attorneys wiretaping a DC prostitution solicitation case of a New York state official? Why was he charged in NYC instead of DC? (I would hope enough DC federal judges laughed so hard at the charge that the case had to be prosecuted in NYC.)

If Spitzer had succeeded in having his allegations heard outside the Beltway, perhaps we taxpayers could have saved our children $10-$20 billion of Bush's proposed bailout of his partners in crime.

The DoJ's smack-down of Spitzer is yet another case illustrating how the federal bureaucracy under Bush's eight-year nonwatch is officially an enemy of the American people, pursuing all strategies within its considerable power to discourage whistleblowers like the former governor who put himself between the rapacious pigs and their feeding frenzy.

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Sunday, September 21

Most Credible Whistle Blower Revives Her Message on Official Lies

The French film Kill the Messenger, a documentary that reveals why Sibel Edmonds, a FBI linguist fired for questioning internal criminality, earned the unflattering characterization as "America's most gagged woman."

The reason is simple, really: She threatens some Americans she has linked to terrorist friends of Bin Laden. Her translations of pre-9/11 FBI wiretaps were found threatening to "national security," i.e., to twenty American businessmen and politicos--among them former GOP House Speaker Dennis Hastert (and archived here)-- who Edmonds claims knew of the impending the terrorist attacks on America.
Sibel Edmonds, a 32-year-old Turkish-American, was hired as a translator by the FBI shortly after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 because of her knowledge of Middle Eastern languages. She was fired less than a year later in March 2002 for reporting shoddy work and security breaches to her supervisors that could have prevented those attacks.
In May, Canadian newspaper The Vancouver Sun rated Kill the Messenger as one of six "best bet" films premiered at that city's 2008 DOXA documentary film festival, noting "the cold, crass efforts by officials in the U.S. to bring down Sibel Edmonds" who "is interrogated, fired, and subjected to a relentless campaign of intimidation."

Watch the 52-minute documentary below before Google removes it--again--from its website. (Around the 23:30 minute mark, hear two ACLU lawyers effectively tell viewers, in light of what later happens to Sibel in the courtroom, that the U.S. is no longer a democracy.)

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Saturday, September 20

Raging Against Elite Amerika's Police State

Those who have put out the peoples eyes, reproach them of their blindness.--John Milton, 1642

This is not the country in which I was born.

At the end of the Reagan presidency in the late 1980s, Noam Chomsky articulated some of the "necessary illusions" seeded throughout the US media by a small but financially and politically powerful elite--those parters centered in New York and London--for "manufacturing consent" among the masses of their social and economic inferiors.

But George W. Bush and Dick Cheney prefer that their variety of fascist thought control operates less covertly, more in the open. Their most recent expression of their more overt social control: The police violence in St. Paul during the GOP national convention.

But how about a little cultural context? Below is a trailer posted at LiveLeak.com for the disturbing homegrown documentary Brutal Reality: Rise of the Police State, released July 2008.

So? You ask, White Middle America, "What's the point?" Well, there is one.

After many of white Minnesotan's children experienced preemptive police violence, i.e, violence without provocation*, (and here but especially here) at the Republican National Convention the first of this month, they now are better positioned to appreciate black males' gale-force resentment of American law enforcement.

Angry Black Man representative Ice Cube lights it up.

And the fabulous Marylin Mason has updated the song "Sweet Dreams" by Annie Lennox and the Euryhmics for evolving post-9/11 American sensibilities.

In closing, I have this election note for my fellow Amerikans come November: Vote early and often--and get out of the country.
*In 2007, Canadian law enforcement demonstrated how they've refined the process of arresting peaceful demonstrations by having disguised officers infiltrate their numbers and, biblically speaking, "cast the first stone."

Related: And for the more articulate among us, click here for a white rocker (of but a handful, black or white) whose creative vision helps me appreciate more fully the 2st-century Amerikan Dream.

And this music video by RATM (Rage Against the Machine) will help us sleep in the fire that consumes us.

Thursday, September 18

Fascism Break: The Devine Miss M

Some features of the Continental Bathhouse included a warning system that tipped off patrons when police arrived. There were also a STD clinic, a supply of A200 (a lice-killing shampoo) in the showers and K-Y Jelly in the sweets dispensing machine. --New York City's Ansonia Hotel, home to the Continental Bathhouse, where Bette Midler made her commercial breakthrough performing for gay men adorned in bath towels.

From Bette Midler's website:
At the age of 20, she moved to New York City and landed her first professional onstage role in a couple of off-off-Broadway plays. She went on to play Tzeitel in Fiddler on the Roof on Broadway from 1966 to 1969. In 1970, Bette started singing the Continental Baths, a gay bathhouse, where she was accompanied by pianist, Barry Manilow. Manilow subsequently produced Midler’s first album entitled “The Divine Miss M” in 1973, for which she won a Grammy for Best New Artist.
Bette sat with PBS's Charlie Rose for an hour of intimate revelations, including her Manilow-accompanied appearances at the NYC bathhouses and her performance for NBC's Tonight Show host Johnny Carson.

Her website cites these details for Miss M's 2008 agenda:
Bette is slated to headline at Caesars Palace in early 2008, replacing Celine Dion. She also has a movie, Then She Found Me, releasing in mid 2008 with Helen Hunt, Colin Firth, and Matthew Broderick. In late 2008, The Women, will release in which Bette Midler stars along with Meg Ryan, Eva Mendes, and Carrie Fisher.

Monday, September 15

Warning: "Consult Your Physician" Before Voting GOP in November

The GOP's official campaign slogan this year--"The Change You Deserve" (see vid clip below)--was lifted from, appropriately, a commercial from an anti-depressant. (Those Repubs love to rub the salt in the wounds they inflicted, no?) Voting the McCain-Palin ticket in six weeks won't lift our spirits, nor will it offer the "change" we deserve--unless, of course, you're famously wealthy and the status quo warms the cockels of your minuscule greedy, hate-pocked heart.

Personally, the hysterical medical caveat issued to November's voters in the vid clip applies with equal alarum to Democrats, that "liberal" segment of the business party running America.

As Ohio Democrat and 2008 presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich of Ohio informed us on 6 December 2006--a month after the November midterm elections--his party's House leadership executed a classical "bait-and-switch" on voters regarding the Iraq War; it was, Kucinich says, the campaign issue Democrats carried to voters to encourage them to sweep Republicans from the congressional majority. But Pelosi, Reyes et al. effectively betrayed rank-and-file Democrat candidates and their constiuents who wanted to change the course of American participation in Operation Iraqi Liberation (O.I.L.)

Meanwhile in DC, the poorest 80-90% of America have no political recourse for their needs to addressed, beyond empty banter and posturing of interminable dog-and-pony congressional hearings aired at 2AM on C-SPAN.

As Ralph Nader for years has tried to tell us, a third party is imperative before needs of average Americans with families are honestly entertained in Washington.

Though with little more than a snowball's chance in hell, former Georgia Democrat congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, the Green Party presidential candidate, and her VP candidate Rosa Clemente offer that option.

While voters finally may be ready to elect a black man, Middle-Class White America certainly isn't ready yet for a couple of strong, intelligent black women who apparently don't remember their "place" in the USA.

Still, if it's important to be able to look yourself in the mirror the morning after the polls close, the McKinney-Clemente ticket is the cure for what ails you.

See more Adam "Ghost Panther" McKay videos at Funny or Die

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Sunday, September 14

American Thirdworldization: Mayor Palin Promoted Library Censorship

While Bush's FBI each year averages 50,000 "national security letters" to secretly see what "suspicious" Americans are reading at local public libraries, GOP VP candidate Sarah Palin goes neo-con Bush one better by seeking to remove "offensive" books from the shelves.

So the best America's electoral vetting process can do for us is present us with more candidates who are PR'ed into putting on their friendly face for fascism.

Sam Smith, editor of The Progressive Review ("Washington's most unofficial source") served up this article on Palin's library exploits as an Alaskan mayor in his 11 September 2008 installment of his "Undernews" section, archived here.
Anchorage Daily News - Back in 1996, when she first became mayor, Sarah Palin asked the city librarian if she would be all right with censoring library books should she be asked to do so.

According to news coverage at the time, the librarian said she would definitely not be all right with it. A few months later, the librarian, Mary Ellen Emmons, got a letter from Palin telling her she was going to be fired. The censorship issue was not mentioned as a reason for the firing. The letter just said the new mayor felt Emmons didn't fully support her and had to go.

Emmons had been city librarian for seven years and was well liked. After a wave of public support for her, Palin relented and let Emmons keep her job.

It all happened 12 years ago and the controversy long ago disappeared into musty files. Until this week. Under intense national scrutiny, the issue has returned to dog her. . .

Did Palin actually ban books at the Wasilla Public Library?

In December 1996, Emmons told her hometown newspaper, the Frontiersman, that Palin three times asked her -- starting before she was sworn in -- about possibly removing objectionable books from the library if the need arose.

Emmons told the Frontiersman she flatly refused to consider any kind of censorship. Emmons, now Mary Ellen Baker, is on vacation from her current job in Fairbanks and did not return e-mail or telephone messages left for her.

When the matter came up for the second time in October 1996, during a City Council meeting, Anne Kilkenny, a Wasilla housewife who often attends council meetings, was there.

Like many Alaskans, Kilkenny calls the governor by her first name.

"Sarah said to Mary Ellen, 'What would your response be if I asked you to remove some books from the collection?" Kilkenny said.

"I was shocked. Mary Ellen sat up straight and said something along the line of, 'The books in the Wasilla Library collection were selected on the basis of national selection criteria for libraries of this size, and I would absolutely resist all efforts to ban books.'"

Palin didn't mention specific books at that meeting, Kilkenny said.

Palin herself, questioned at the time, called her inquiries rhetorical and simply part of a policy discussion with a department head "about understanding and following administration agendas," according to the Frontiersman article.

Were any books censored banned? June Pinell-Stephens, chairwoman of the Alaska Library Association's Intellectual Freedom Committee since 1984, checked her files and came up empty-handed. . .
Combine this disclosure on Palin's notion of appropriate reading materials for children at their local library with the disclousure that her unmarried 17-year-old daughter is pregnant and you begin to appreciate the nature of agenda that DC politicos are promoting for 21st-century Middle American family life.

Sunday, September 7

Siemens: New Night of Soul Killing

Siemens, one of Nazi Germany's primier companies that pioneered "forced labor" i.e., slavery, during World War II is updating its enslavement strategies to the 21st century.

We simply can't keep pace with Corporate America's Post-9/11 onslaught on life, liberty, democracy and human dignity.--editor


You've heard of the FBI's "Quantico Circuit" and were outraged by illegal warrantless wiretapping by Bushist minions. To no avail, you flooded Congress with emails and phone calls, angered by the bipartisan "FISA Amendments Act of 2008" and the swell party thrown by AT&T for "Blue Dog" Democrats in Denver this week for the convention.

But just in time for a new administration (and the bundles of cash always at the ready for the expanding homeland security market), comes a complete "surveillance in a box" system called the Intelligence Platform!

According to New Scientist, German electronics giant Siemens has developed software allegedly capable of integrating
...tasks typically done by separate surveillance teams or machines, pooling data from sources such as telephone calls, email and internet activity, bank transactions and insurance records. It then sorts through this mountain of information using software that Siemens dubs "intelligence modules". (Laura Margottini, "Surveillance Made Easy," New Scientist, 23 August 2008)
New Scientist reports that the firm has sold the system to some 60 countries in Europe and Asia. Which countries? Well, Siemens won't say.

However, privacy and human rights advocates say the system bears a remarkable resemblance to China's "Golden Shield," a massive surveillance network that integrates huge information databases, internet and email monitoring, speech and facial recognition platforms in combination with CCTV monitoring.

Designed specifically for "fusion centers" or their European/Asian equivalents, the Intelligence Platform promises to provide "real-time" high-tech tools to foil terrorist plots before they're hatched (or keep tabs on antiwar/antiglobalization activists).

The latest item in the emerging "intelligent" software niche market, Intelligence Platform has been "trained" on a large number of sample documents to zero in on names, phone numbers or places from generic text. "This means it can spot names or numbers that crop up alongside anyone already of interest to the authorities, and then catalogue any documents that contain such associates," New Scientist avers....read more

Monday, September 1

Elite "Dictatorship" Sought Via 2000 Bush-Cheney Ticket a Fiat Accompli at 2008 GOP Convention in Minnesota

"The two greatest obstacles to democracy in the United States are, first, the widespread delusion among the poor that we have a democracy, and second, the chronic terror among the rich, lest we get it." -- Edward Dowling, Editor and Priest, Chicago Daily News, 28 July, 1941

2 September update: A "preemptive" police raid(translation: "no crime committed") Monday afternoon on St. Paul house of video collective I-Witness Video nets Democracy Now! staffer. Earlier in the day, DN! hot Amy Goodman and two show producers were released after their "illegal" arrests by police, according to the DN! website.

Goodman's arrest is now up at YouTube (49 seconds).

3 September update: A New York City-based video collective, I-Witness Video is offering their version of running commentary on preemptive police raids in targeted houses in St. Paul and Minneapolis.

According to one independent media source on the scene, members of the Sheriff Department participating in the preemptive house raids are into some very kinky hobbies:

"Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher later issued a press release which labeled... those detained [as] “criminal anarchists” and suggested that "materials for bombs" and "hazardous materials" had been found in the building, including “assorted edged weapons”, “wrist rockets”, “large amounts of urine” and many others."

The Uptake, a video upload cite, is obsessively deploying videographers to bring readers the unfolding story at the RNC in Minneapolis, to include footage and commentary on the half-hour featuring protesters and convention participants alike.

This video (10 minutes) shot by two roving Uptake "citizen journalists" demonstrates the police's intent to intimidate and punish legal protesters with loudly exploding tear gas cannisters and cops' insistence the two journalists expose their lungs to the searing, smothering impact of the tear gas. Too many middle-aged Americans who are furious with the Bush White House and its Big Money GOP sugar daddies permit these young people--18 to 22-year- olds--to carry the burden of constitutional-mandated protest. I feel ashamed as I see these young people shoulder my lack of responsibility in not standing on the barricades with them in solidarity. Shame on me and the rest of us who made it too easy to pick on the too few in number dissenting in the name of democracy.

Salon.com columnist Glenn Greenwald show just how incensed he is--in ink, conveniently far afield from the battle lines where braver American constitutionalists are exercising our right to peaceful dissent from eight years of official thuggery, courtesy of White House oil cowboys (and cowgirl Condi). Videos on this Greenwald webpage warrant close scrutiny by any American not yet convinced that fascism has sweep away their rights to assemble and peaceful protest.

Washington chief of AP photographer swept up in mass arrests suggests Matt Rourke's detention unconstitutional, noting
"Covering news is a constitutionally protected activity, and covering a riot is part of that coverage.... Photographers should not be detained for covering breaking news."

7 September update: I overlooked this 3 September jewel nugget posted by Workers Independent News'Doug Cunningham following Amy Goodman's arrest:

"Anticipating that, a special deal was cut that required the Republican Party’s host committee to buy insurance covering police liability up to $10 million. Michelle Gross of Communities United Against Police Brutality says this special insurance agreement means there’s nothing to hold police back from using excessive force, since they won’t be liable."

If Gross's observation has any merit and Minnesota law enforcement officials new about this insurance wrinkle, then the 2008 RNC convention could have been the most violent US police action of the Bush administration. Did anyone see evidence supporting that view?

Below appear some incendiary news from activists in Minneapolis who appeared early on the constitutional barricades.--The editor


Here's a question you won't hear asked--but should--this week by the legions of lemming "TV journalists" dispatched to Minneapolis for the GOP National Convention:

Will the Department of Homeland Security and its brigades of riot-geared law enforcement officers the super-agency is coordinating find cause to bludgeon or arrest Colleen Rowley, a former FBI general counsel and moderate Republican whose 9/11 whistle blowing garnered her a cover photo on the 22 December 2002 issue of Time magazine as Person of the Year?

Many similar-minded protesters now encircling the St. Paul-Minneapolis twin cities area to oppose eight years of GOP-fascist policies are suffering such fates.

Rowley's former employer George W. Bush decided it wasn't in his best interest to be in town when the sun goes down Labor Day evening to make a scheduled appearance with so many anti-fascism dissidents about.

Or perhaps Bush opted out after being told this year's GOP McCain-Palin White House ticket each were on record saying they believed American troops to be in Iraq to capture the country's oil.

In a front page Labor Day story, the Washington Post reported that "Republican officials" were paring downing an originally scheduled seven-hour opening-evening program to a "bare-bones session" of two hours, which includes axing speeches by Bush and Cheney.

(Just how "bare-bones" can the Greedy Old Party restrict their convention yahooing as Hurricane Gustav shows early signs of reprising Katrina's wreckage on New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast?)

According to the Post, it was the White House--and not McCain campaign staffers, as suggested higher up in the column--who made the last-minute changes in the convention's opening-night agenda.

The White House canceled Monday night's convention speeches by Bush and Vice President Cheney and said the president would be flying to Texas to meet with evacuees and first responders. Bush, who was widely criticized for his initial response to Katrina, visited the Federal Emergency Management Agency's operations center to receive his own hurricane briefing even before Gustav made landfall.

And even further down the first page, Bush suggests it was his idea to nix his appearance at the convention. Why? "... because I do not want my visit to impede in any way the response of our emergency personnel." He said he spoke with governors and New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin (D) over the weekend "to make sure that they're getting everything they need from the federal government to prepare for what all anticipate will be a difficult situation."

Right, George. Do rest very assured that America's buregoning poor believe this lame explanation, even though your administration has gutted all institutionalized recources for them to challenge anything you say or do.

If only we realized during your 2000 presidential run you were serious about becoming "dicatator."

Dissident Reports from Minneapolisis

Earlier today, a UC-Berkeley grad who now makes music in Southern Appalachia's Blue Ridge Mountains emailed me a preliminary ground report from some frontline dissidents taking it on the chin from police in Minneapolisis.

There's contact information for KFAI Civic Radio below, should you care to update this information. Collen Rowley's involvement is red-highlighted.

I've done only minor editing to the following reports:

I have NEVER done this before, but it makes me so incredibly sad. Be careful out there.

Just a note with a few links to illustrate the state of affairs in our beautiful cities this weekend, after being invaded by an onslaught of police and military from miles away. Even in south minneapolis, 10 miles from the green zone that has been prepared for the republican party's convention in St. Paul, there are helicopters overhead and police cars and vans from other cities slowly circling our blocks. Houses have been raided, their owners handcuffed in their own back yards, their computers confiscated.

This afternoon, Liz witnessed a swat team of heavily armed police/ soldiers pull over a van full of young people, on Lake Street in Minneapolis, near the Global Market, apparently for committing the crime of being young and driving through St. Paul with Texas license plates. The swat team approached the van with assault weapons pointed at the terrified passengers, who were ordered to come out with their hands up and to walk backwards on the street while being herded into a group and hancuffed. A woman who was with Liz began taking pictures, which prompted one of the policemen to point his assault weapon at her, and tell her she was too close. Here is a version of the story from twin cities indymedia:

"A van full of activists from Texas was pulled over on Lake st. and 11th ave. in Minneapolis by police with drawn shotguns on Saturday afternoon. Police ordered them out of the van at gunpoint, where they were handcuffed and searched on the busy sidewalk across the street from a dollar store, said Estaban, one of the detained activists. They didn't search the van. They were released after between 15 to 20 minutes, an observer said. The activists had been followed all the way from St. Paul by two unmarked cars, allegedly from the Ramsey County Sheriffs Department, they were also assisted by Minneapolis police, Esteban said. Also present were transit police and K9 units. Esteban said the police didn't give a reason for the stop, or for their tactics of drawn guns. A policeman at the scene said the detainment was due to "bad information."

Later this afternoon, our friend Mike Whalen was handcuffed in his own back yard for a few hours, for the crime of offering his home to a Democracy Now journalist who was covering the convention and needed accommodation.

Here's a few links about that:


And the convention hasn't even started yet! I'm sure any of you currently in St. Paul or Minneapolis have your own stories, I thought it would be helpful to circulate these, as a small attempt to help publicize how these gobscheits have been behaving this weekend. And it is all just a glimpse into what many folks around this country and around the world have to deal with 24/7 from the neanderthals and their lethal toys.

Two questions that have plagued me for years:

Is there no end to the numbers of people who take great pleasure in beating the shit out of other people?

Why does it take 4 years, billions and billions of dollars, and two pointless, grotesque coronations guarded by jackbooted armies to elect a f**king president?

{A]s Andy Irvine sings (Marcus Turner's words):

"You may well prefer abstention but I feel compelled to mention

You'd do well to pay attention when the Boys are on Parade."

The Boys are definitely on Parade…


Minneapololis Frontline Activism...from the Radio Newsroom

Here's a forwarded letter from Andy Driscoll of KFAI radio with some further info:

------ Forwarded Message
From: Andy Driscoll
Date: Sat, 30 Aug 2008 19:09:42 -0500
Hauling away protesters in advance.

I've just returned from taping an RNC Welcoming Committee news conference outside the same old West Side St. Paul building Fletcher's boys raided last night, kicking in doors, weapons drawn, forcing everyone - including children – facedown to the floor where they were handcuffed with large, sharp-edged, plastic straps,searched, then released, one-by-one. Officers confiscated several computers, maps, programs and some money according to Lisa Fithian, who conducted the news conference. More on the news conference itself later, but...

Several teams of sheriff's deputies and other police have raided three or four private residences in Minneapolis and stopped several bicycle riders at gunpoint around both towns, arresting and jailing several of them on "conspiracy" charges, mostly young men and women connected to the protest community.

Defense attorneys say these cross-jurisdictional raids are authorized and coordinated by Homeland Security and encompass all police and sheriffs' departments, the FBI and the Secret Service. The St. Paul Police were supposed to be "in charge" of any security outside the Secret Service "red zone" around the Xcel Center, but it's quite clear every police department in the Metro is under the coordination and direction of a larger entity.

Gena Berglund, a National Lawyers Guild (NLG) attorney coordinating legal observers and recorders calls this Homeland Security operation the Fusion Center, a likely name for granting law enforcement powers across all jurisdictions.

Fithian insisted that, in her 35 years of working in dozens of local and regional venues "for radical change in this country," she had never seen anything the likes of which is occurring this weekend across the Cities.

Apparently, twelve to fifteen people have been detained without charges filed and they can be held for up to 36 hours - not counting weekends and holidays - meaning that they could be held through Tuesday unless their release is forced by a court, according to NLG lawyer Jordan Kushner, who spoke at the news conference.

Among the other speakers were:

Michael McPhearson of US Veterans for Peace, which is holding its annual convention in a Bloomington hotel/motel. Police officers from several jurisdictions appeared at that gathering as well, claiming to be scouting the facility for a their own use when, in fact, the VFP group had reserved the entire space for the same period of time.

McPhearson was certain this was little more than police intimidation in much the same manner as he and his fellow soldiers used their uniforms and weaponry as intimidation of Iraq and Kuwaiti civilians during the Gulf War I and the current Iraq War.

Dave Bicking, Green Party activist and father of one of the arrested people in this morning's Minneapolis raids, Monica Bicking.

Coleen Rowley, former FBI agent and whistleblower and organizer of next Thursday's Peace Island Picnic.

Ann Wright, former US Army colonel who said she has served in nearly every US-led military theater from Grenada to Iraq and has never seen such an operation as this weekend's preemptory police actions.

All the speakers spoke of the profound curtailment of civil, human and Constitutional rights the police raids represent, and that every citizen's right to dissent and petition their government is being illegally quashed.

What came quite clear to me is that law enforcement must knowingly be provoking the violence they warned city officials about in advance of the protest marches to come Monday and Tuesday mornings by the anti-war and anti-poverty group sponsors. What may be aimed at preconvention intimidation and preemptory arrests of protest leaders to quell protesters' announced intentions to disrupt the convention has only fired up the very people police expected to put down.

A cynic might wonder if this is all leading up to justification for a brutal confrontation between well-armed and armored police officers and unarmed and generally harmless marchers and dissenters.

Where the two major city mayors, the city councils and county boards are throughout this extraordinary breach of Constitutional rights is a matter for citizens to challenge - and the disgrace this is bringing to the otherwise reasonable Twin Cities and Minnesota cultural heritage is beyond understanding.

It would seem that, with little resistance, the elected officials of our cities have given governance over to a police state, however temporary, and to the paranoia that accompanies such an inbred culture as law enforcement, itself undeterred by the rule of law in keeping the peace and protecting the Constitution.

The ripple effect in this community will last for years beyond the coming week - and the political and personal lives of citizens and our representatives will have taken a severe turn for the worse. Was it worth all of this grief for the money you all insisted was coming to our fair city's and business coffers to sully the very climate that made us so attractive in the first place?

I think not.

Andy Driscoll, Producer/Host Lynnell Mickelsen, Co-host Truth to Tell & CivicMedia/ Minnesota KFAI Radio, 90.3 Minneapolis/106.7 St. Paul/ Streamed@ KFAI.org; 651- 293-9039 / Fax: (same, call ahead) / Cell: 651-492-2221 email: andy@driscollgroup.com



TRUTH TO TELL meets the Republicans coming to St. Paul’s Xcel, talks with the groups protesting them, and watching the cops confronting everyone. Listen as TTT and KFAI present special coverage of the events inside and outside the convention arena. Our “reporters” from all walks will provide stories and interviews from marches, counter-conferences, rallies and insiders throughout the week.


* MONDAY, Sept 1- PM Hourly: News and field reports on the anti-war March Against the RNC and others

* TUESDAY, Sept 2 – PM Hourly: News and field reports on the Poor People’s march, Peace Island conference

* WEDNESDAY, Sept 3 – 11AM: TRUTH TO TELL – Live from the Convention Center. GUESTS: TBD; News

* THURSDAY: Sept 4 – 6-10PM: LIVE COVERAGE – Discussion and Analysis from KFAI and Xcel

KFAI Radio, 90.3 Minneapolis /106.7 St. Paul / Streamed@KFAI.org A CivicMedia/Minnesota production Podcasts are available for all Truth to Tell shows:

From: Pam Ellison Date: Sat, 30 Aug 2008 14:36:07 -0500

Andy et al:

We are now living in "Minority Report" the movie Tom Cruise made a few years ago where they arrest people on suspicion they will commit a crime.
I agree wholeheartedly with you Andy, this IS OUTRAGEOUS!! What REAL proof do we have that these people were a threat? Why is the Sheriff of Ramsey County acting in this way in the City of St. Paul? Did Chief Harrington the Sheriff's assistance? Where is the line between City and County law enforcement? Who do we know that does not have paint in their home or gasoline for their lawnmower, or a jar of pickles? Does this mean we are all potential threats? So if we protest do we need to dispose of all potential tools, containers, paint, fertilizer, rags, ........?

More and more people tell me of instances where law enforcement is out of control, this proves it in black and white. Our country and specifically Minnesota in this case is out of control when these supposed criminal searches are sanctioned by those in power.

State Fair goers that I talked with at the Minnesota Independence Party booth had several chilling tales from all over the state of Minnesota of so-called sanctioned, over-zealous actions enacted with chilling effects by law enforcement, no doubt sanctioned and enshrined in the Patriot Act. Many more people contact me on a regular basis and state stories that are similar.

I personally am one of those "crazy people" that would rather take the risk of dying at the hands of an unknown terrorist than lose my freedom and be detained, molested and tortured by my own country's legal system that can heavy-handedly arrest, detain, molest and trample me and my just and thoughtful constitutional rights. I will take Freedom over Terror of the political kind any day of the week.

What you read in today's paper is just the tip of the iceberg.

SEND A STRONG MESSAGE to elected officials NOW by exercising your VOTE accordingly. We need Criminal Justice and Judicial Reform now! How much power does the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office have? The question begs an answer, and certainly after the actions of last night and today, the question probably is even more poignant.

Lets wake up people!!!! At some point we will all find ourselves at the mercy of Sheriff Fletcher or someone else like him if we don't stand on the constitutional standards that built this great nation. Your rights and mine of freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and right to privacy are trampled on every time an action of this nature is taken. These tenets of the constitutional supercede partisan issues, they supercede ethnic issues, the SHOULD supercede ALL issues where justice is concerned.

I would hereby call that all the fine citizens of Ramsey County petition the Ramsey County Commission to change the office of Sheriff to an appointed position, rather than an elected one. We need the office of Sheriff to respect the freedom of speech and rights of our citizens to protest within reasons. If the position were appointed, those acting as Sheriff can be fired rather than waiting for an asleep electorate to wake up to these types of actions chronicled in the morning paper, in time to elect the person out!

These detainments and arrests were clearly out of line when those detained and arrested were freed within two hours of their detainments.

This is not the direction we need to go in our state or nation.

I would encourage the media to track anyone who has made a dissenting opinions about this matter, to make certain they are not arrested or disappear for their dissent, and widely report it if they are!!!

Because quite frankly, we ARE at that point in Minnesota and across the nation. Amnesty International stated in a recent mailing to me that they have identified over 50,000 people in American jails that remain imprisoned and tortured without cause. This is our America!!!!! Are you willing to take a stand against these actions or will you ignore it until you are in prison?

Pamela I. Ellison

"The two greatest obstacles to democracy in the United States are, first, the widespread delusion among the poor that we have a democracy, and second, the chronic terror among the rich, lest we get it." -- Edward Dowling, Editor and Priest, Chicago Daily News, 28 July, 1941

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