Police at the Republican Convention: Best sources

Glen Greenwald and FDL have the best coverage:
Greenwald 2; Greenwald 1
FDL 11; FDL 10; FDL 9; FDL 8; FDL 7; FDL 6; FDL 5; FDL 4; FDL 3; FDL 2; FDL 1; FDL 0.
Players:
DNC – RNC – Troops Out Now (an activist group).
Legal Team.
Legal team’s twitter update.
Minnesota Indymedia.
Indymedia live radio, I think
Indymedia videos
Local Sources:
The Uptake Live video, recommended.
Uptake twitter feed.
The Stimulator
Twin Cities Daily Planet
Minnesota Independent
Minnesota Blue (a liberal Democratic site).
Minneapolis Star Tribune Convention page.

Police at Republican National Convention

This post was getting too junked up so I split it three ways. The best sources are here; miscellaneous stories are here. On this page I’ll leave the story in sequence as I wrote it, from the bottom up. Tomorrow I’ll probably clean it up.


FDL 11 There have been mass arrests, but many have been released almost immediately. Some of the Uptake video people have been arrested.
UPDATE: (5:20 CDT) Apparently there will mass arrests now, and a large part of St. Paul has been closed off to traffic.
UPDATE: (5:00 CDT)
FDL 10. Video of “violence breaking out”. Someone has speculated that the police raids before Monday frightened off most of the peaceful demonstrators, producing a smaller but more militant demonstration.
Ellen Goodman of Democracy Now! has been arrested.
(4:00 CDT): FDL 9. One group of protestors is blocking traffic and doing vandalism, and tear gas gas definitely been used. The Jail and hospital where protesters have been taken are locked down — no one can have any contact with them. I haven’t even seen a ball park estimate of how many arrests, but it seems to be in the dozens [over a hundred now I would guess, but I haven’t seen an informed estimate].
UPDATE: (3:30 CDT) It looks as though the National Guard has come in. In any case the Uptake video shows camo rather than police uniforms. (3:54 CDT): It seems that there has been considerable disruption of traffic, and also that the police / Guard are preparing some sort of assault. Pepper spray has been used and reportedly tear gas also.
UPDATE (2:24 CDT): Quite a number of people have been pepper sprayed and/or arrested, including at least two reporters/ photographers from the mainstream media.
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The police at the Republican Convention have been beefed up with federal money, and they’ve already made preemptive arrests of protest leaders. I have no special sources or independent information, but I’ve gathered some links so I can keep on top of what’s happening, and I thought I’d share them.
Ramsey County Sheriff Fletcher seems to be the local heavy. Fletcher is under investigation himself for corruption, and it’s quite possible that he’s now cooperating with Federal law enforcement in order to set up a plea bargain. Federal law enforcement is definitely involved. (Ramsey county includes St. Paul, but city police would normally handle this kind of thing and if I am correct, Fletcher was not called in by the city. In many American cities the police are almost autonomous, and not really under the control of civilian officials, and that may be the case at the moment).
I don’t have a link, but I read somewhere that informants are only paid if there are actual arrests, so the potential for provocation is very high.
UPDATE (Mon. a.m.): There’s still almost no national coverage, either of the demonstrations or of the raids. I’d post something if I could find it. Send me links if you see them.
So far intimidation and harassment seems to be the police strategy, with relatively few actual arrests.( In one case a houseful of unarmed college-age potential protesters was raided by about 25 heavily-armed, armored police. The Police have infiltrated the groups and their intelligence is very good, and they knew that they had nothing to fear.) The goal seems to be to cripple the groups by confiscating cell phones, cameras, video equipment, computers, and various other things. It may be that media and lawyers are especially being targeted.

Firedoglake 6. The police presence in the Twin Cities has been federalized and is being orchestrated by Homeland Security, the FBI, et al (with the help of $50,000,000 authorized by a Democratic Congress). This has been a real cash cow for the various police departments. As I understand, jurisdictional boundaries are being completely ignored — Ramsey County police have made arrests in Hennepin County.
A lot of good video here
Latest from Firedoglake (Lindsay Beyerstein): 2 a.m. raid (Update: apparently the house was not entered, but a car was impounded. This is consistent with the harassment and intimidation theory).

Obama’s at the country club looking for the real killers

“Obama’s the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by” (Karl Rove).
The key to the statement is that in the image he is with ‘a beautiful date.’ Not Michelle Obama …. When you think of a “beautiful date” specifically at a country club, do you picture an African-American woman? Would Rove’s target audience? Or do you picture him there, a black man, smoking a cigarette indoors at a country club, with a white woman on his arm?” (HW at Talking Points Memo).
What you picture is O.J. Simpson at the country club with Nicole — or, more recently, O.J. with a different white woman at the country club where he’s looking for “the real killers”, the way Obama will be using ineffectual police measures to find the terrorists.
Fortunately, the other black man in America’s country clubs is Tiger Woods. But for that, Rove’s meme would have won the election. Give him points for virtuosity and effort.

Money people unclear on the concept

Apparently Obama is talking to Hillary’s money people, and they’re not too happy with him. First of all, they want him to pay Hillary’s campaign debts. Second, they want him to make some concessions on the issues.
WTF? Money people are asking Obama for money? It’s like going in to a bank and having the banker ask for a small loan. Those guys seem to think they’re playing hardball, but I’m trying to figure out what it is that they’re threatening Obama with. Are they going to refuse to ask him for money in the future?

Invade Iraq!

I’m a moderate now and I would like to suggest a compromise answer to the question “Should we invade Iran?”
As it happens, the present government of Iraq is getting uppity, talking about “sovereignty”, making deals with Iran, and refusing to accept our plans for a permanent occupation. What we need to do, obviously, is invade Iraq again, and liberate the Iraqis for real this time.
That will be easier than starting a new war in a new country, because all of our troops are already there. The new liberation government we set up can hang Maliki and Sadr and a bunch of the rest of them, we’ll be welcomed as liberators, and Iraq will become peaceful.

It comes from the top

From Glenn Greenwald:

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think the press corps dropped the ball at the beginning. When the lead-up to the war began, the press corps was under enormous pressure from corporate executives, frankly, to make sure that this was a war that was presented in a way that was consistent with the patriotic fever in the nation and the president’s high approval ratings.

And my own experience at the White House was that, the higher the president’s approval ratings, the more pressure I had from news executives — and I was not at this network at the time — but the more pressure I had from news executives to put on positive stories about the president.

I am a big fan of the media critics Atrios, Brad DeLong, Eric Alterman, and above all Bob Somerby. For years (in the case of Alterman and Somerby’, for at least ten years) they’ve been documenting the shallowness, inaccuracy, dishonesty and ultimate Republican slant of the media — especially TV and radio, but also including such highly respected publications as the New York Times and the Washington Post.
However, they tend to be too willing to slip into the “Heathers” or “Villagers” explanation. Supposedly the media are staffed by a bunch of silly, shallow, people who only talk to each other and who, for example, did what they did to sabotage Al Gore’s Presidential run because he annoyed their silly high school sensibilities.
I’ve always believed that it was a management problem, and I think that Greenwald’s post confirms that I’ve been right. This does not mean that the Heathers are not silly people, and it doesn’t mean that they’re not culpable. But the people whose names we see are quite literally hirelings and lackeys (albeit very well paid hirelings and lackeys). They give management what it wants.
Greenwald gives several more examples, and over the years there have been dozens of reporters whose newspaper careers ended (or dead-ended) because of excessively accurate reporting — Seymour Hersh is only the most eminent of them. (To Greenwald’s list of recent suppressions, I’d like to add the case of Lara Logan, who tried to start an email campaign to keep her bosses at CBS from suppressing a story).
Every time that I make the claim that responsibility should be assigned to management rather than to individual reporters, the reflex “conspiracy theorist” accusation shoots back at me so quickly that I have to ask whether my statement even reached the cerebral cortex at all. All I claim is that management manages and that reporters can be hired, fired, promoted, and demoted, but people respond with abstruse theories proving that management does not, and can not, manage. And claim that I’m the crazy one, not them.
As for management’s motives, I have no way of knowing them. My present guess is that the owners and managers of the big media are pro-war, are responsive to the favors that the federal government hands out, and want low taxes (and an end to the estate tax, which is a major factor for the few family-owned publications: see here). They are not right wing on most other issues, but the Bush administration really isn’t either — by now they’ve double-crossed most of their conservative ideological constituencies. (That is to say, the nativists, the cultural conservatives, the fiscal conservatives, and above all the little-government conservatives.)
I’m sure that organized winger pressure is a factor too, but the public opinion isn’t the reason: the big media have always been more hawkish and more anti-tax than public opinion has been. A much bigger factor is advertiser pressure, since advertising pays all the bills for TV and radio and most of the bills for newspapers. Advertisers all have their own political agendas and have never been shy about pushing them; furthermore, a substantial proportion of high-end advertising is institutional advertising — e.g., for oil companies — which is intended to promote a company, rather than to sell any specific product.
Of course, Chomsky and company said all this twenty years ago. Maybe we shouldn’t have been tuning those guys out all that time.

The Voters are Smarter than the Media

In a Mississippi special election the Democratic Congressional candidate won by 8% in a district which had gone for Bush by 20%+. Granted that white Southern Democratic Congressmen are usually more conservative than Democratic Presidential candidates (and Northern Democratic Congressmen), that’s a tremendous swing.
What strikes me here is that the voters, including the fabled “heartland voters”, are rejecting the Republicans even though the media still is not. To my knowledge, on national commercial TV and radio only Keith Olberman is reliably anti-Republican. There are a lot of weaselly centrists like Matthews and Stephanopolous, but mostly it’s Limbaugh / O’Reilly / Savage types.
This definitely goes against the idea that the voters are slaves to the media. Even in conservative districts in Mississippi, the average ignorant voter is wise to the Republicans in a way that the media are not.
On the other hand, it confirms the idea that the media are in the tank for the Republicans. Maybe they’re just sucking up to whoever’s in power and actually have no principles of any kind, but they’ve been far behind the curve in admitting that Bush’s semi-criminal gang has harmed the country.
And while this shows us the media don’t control public opinion entirely, certainly the media’s willingness to stovepipe Bush propaganda and their failure to confront the Republican slime machine have been very helpful to the Republicans, at the expense of the American people and democracy.
Next time someone tells you that America’s problem is stupid voters, don’t believe them. The American elite is stupider than the American mass.
David Broder, for example…..

Why does anyone ever listen to Fred Kagan at all any more?

Why does anyone ever listen to Fred Kagan at all any more? On March 24th, only a day before the fighting broke out in Basra, he was telling us this:

The first thing I want to say is that: The Civil War in Iraq is over. And until the American domestic political debate catches up with that fact, we are going to have a very hard time discussing Iraq on the basis of reality.

Thirteen days later he was on On Sunday he was on NPR, putting the McCain spin on the Basra fight:

And it’s not the way — as Senator McCain rightly said, the side that’s winning a conflict like this doesn’t generally call a timeout and say, “Hey, you know, we’ve had enough. Thank you very much.” And it’s not the way it’s playing on the Iraqi street.

On NPR, no one bothered to ask him about his condescending, insulting, and completely wrong statement of only thirteen days earlier, and apparently no one confronted him about the falsehood of his new statement either.
I don’t claim to have a perfect understanding of Iraqi politics, but it’s pretty clear that Kagan not only is ignorant, but also is a shameless liar. His career should be over by now, but he keeps getting TV and radio time because he has muscle behind him. And the ones who actually do know something (e.g. Juan Cole) do not have muscle behind them.
After five years of lies and failure, with Bush’s approval rating now at about 30%, the big media are almost unshaken. They’re still pumping out the Republican Pravda disinformation, and their memory apparently doesn’t go back even two weeks. The Republican monopoly isn’t complete, and you will sometimes see accurate information mixed in with the lies, but that was true of Pravda too.
Many are scornful of conspiracy theories, but when Kagan appears again immediately after completely disgracing himself (and not for the first time), what non-paranoid explanation is there?

If we only had a two party system!

I shouldn’t be, but I’m astonished at the failure of Americans (especially the media and the Democrats) to ask some basic questions and draw some basic conclusions about the Basra attack.
1. Did Cheney approve the Basra attack? Almost certainly. Was it his idea all along? The timing of his visit to Iraq suggests that it might have been. No one’s asking.
2. What about Fred Kagan’s confident statement a couple of days before the attack: The Civil War Is Over. Why isn’t everyone ridiculing Kagan now, the way he very recently ridiculed those who believed ago that the civil war was going to continue? Why didn’t Kagan’s career as a talking head and policy adviser come to an end the day the attack began? He obviously knows nothing about anything.
3. What about Bush’s statement that the Basra attack was “a defining moment for a free Iraq”? What got defined in Basra was the extreme weakness of the central government and its lack of authority even over its own troops. Shouldn’t someone be asking Bush about this? The Iraqis are clearly unable to “stand up”.
4. What really happened? As more detail comes out, it seems that the failure of the offensive was even greater than the first reports had it. The mere fact that Maliki failed at what he tried to do, after having made grand proclamations about his intentions, should have left him crippled from then on out. But there’s also evidence that the battle was much worse than just a standoff, and would have ended more disastrously than it was except for a last minute rescue by the Americans, the British, and the Iranians.
It’s at times like this I wish that the U.S. had a two-party system. For example, just hypothetically: if we were in the middle of a Presidential campaign right now, one of the candidates from the opposing party would probably be saying something about the emptiness and falseness of what Our President has been saying about Iraq, and about the incompetence and destructiveness of Cheney’s most recent intervention in Iraqi policy-making.
But just as there are no magic ponies in Iraq, there are none in the U.S. either.

What kind of defining moment?

Both Bush and Maliki have put all their chips on the attack on Basra:

Bush called the operation “a defining moment in the history of a free Iraq,” saying the government is fighting criminals there. “It was just a matter of time before the government was going to have to deal with it,” he said.

The president also hailed the operation as a sign of progress, emphasizing that the decision to mount the offensive was al-Maliki’s.

“It was his military planning; it was his causing the troops to go from point A to point B,” Bush said. “And it’s exactly what a lot of folks here in America were wondering whether or not Iraq would even be able to do it in the first place. And it’s happening.”

It’s tempting to say that Cheney ordered the attack when he was in Iraq a week or so ago, but that’s not certain. Some speculate that it was Maliki’s initiative and was intended partly in order to put the Bush administration on the spot.
If the attack had been immediately successful, that would have proved that the Iraqis are indeed independent now, and capable of standing on their own two feet. It wasn’t successful, however, and is requiring increasing amounts of American and British support. Bush’s statement that it was Maliki’s initiative would also make it possible to disavow the attack and blame Maliki, but that would destroy the Bush team’s overriding message — that the Iraqis are ready.
So does Bush try to walk back his claim that this was a defining moment? Or does he stick with it, and redefine the defining moment? Bush never walks anything back, so we must expect the latter. (I am assuming that Maliki’s military situation will not suddenly improve — that remains possible, though it doesn’t seem likely.)
So how will he redefine it? First, he can demonize Sadr and the Mehdi Army and use them as an excuse to devastate Basra — a scorched-earth policy. Second, he can use the new violence as proof that we need to attack Iran. Both Bush’s friends and his enemies are speculating about the latter (though the two courses are not mutually exclusive at all).
At times like this it would be nice if the U.S. had a two-party system. It would be even nicer if the Bush policy had collapsed during a hotly-contested Presidential campaign, because in that case the candidates of the opposing party could loudly point out that the “defining moment”, like the rest of Bush’s Iraq policy, has been a disaster. But if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

Will Hillary be the new Nader?

Hillary’s meeting with Richard Scaife, perhaps the slimiest of the Republican media lords (and the one who most enthusiastically promoted fact-free smears of Bill Clinton) makes one suspect that the rumors are true, and that she has decided that, while she can’t win the Democratic nomination, at least she can hurt Obama badly enough that he can’t win, leaving Clinton a clear shot in 2012.
You know — “The worse, the better”. (Though based on what she and her beloved husband have been saying, it’s by no means certain that she is bothered by the prospect of a McCain Presidency.)
Someone has to convince that Clintons that it’s now or never for her. If neither she nor Obama is elected President this year, it will be time for us to look for someone new. If a broad range of Democrats tell her that she’ll cut her own throat if she sabotages Obama, maybe she’ll decide to retire with a little dignity left. And one doubts that Bill Clinton wants the destruction of Barack Obama and the election of John McCain to be his legacy.
If Clinton plays scorched earth politics against Obama now, she should know that the rest of us will play it against her four years from now.
James Carville should have his mouth washed out with soap.

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