Tagpolicestate

The Totalitarian Buddhist Who Beat Sim City

Vincent Ocasla claims to have “beaten” SimCity by creating an amazing city with population of 6 million and no roads (only subways) that lasts for 50,000 years.

I’ve a quote from one of your Facebook status updates here: “The economic slave never realizes he is kept in a cage going round and round basically nowhere with millions of others.” Do you not feel that sums up the lives of the citizens of Magnasanti? (And you might want to set your Facebook to private by the way.)

Precisely that. Technically, no one is leaving or coming into the city. Population growth is stagnant. Sims don’t need to travel long distances, because their workplace is just within walking distance. In fact they do not even need to leave their own block. Wherever they go it’s like going to the same place.

Heavy.

There are a lot of other problems in the city hidden under the illusion of order and greatness: Suffocating air pollution, high unemployment, no fire stations, schools, or hospitals, a regimented lifestyle – this is the price that these sims pay for living in the city with the highest population. It’s a sick and twisted goal to strive towards. The ironic thing about it is the sims in Magnasanti tolerate it. They don’t rebel, or cause revolutions and social chaos. No one considers challenging the system by physical means since a hyper-efficient police state keeps them in line. They have all been successfully dumbed down, sickened with poor health, enslaved and mind-controlled just enough to keep this system going for thousands of years. 50,000 years to be exact. They are all imprisoned in space and time.

Viceland Games: The Totalitarian Buddhist Who Beat Sim City

Vincent Ocasla’s site

Ocasla was inspired in part by the Kowloon Walled City

School used student laptop webcams to spy on them at school and home

Panopticon

Horrifying:

According to the filings in Blake J Robbins v Lower Merion School District (PA) et al, the laptops issued to high-school students in the well-heeled Philly suburb have webcams that can be covertly activated by the schools’ administrators, who have used this facility to spy on students and even their families. The issue came to light when the Robbins’s child was disciplined for “improper behavior in his home” and the Vice Principal used a photo taken by the webcam as evidence. The suit is a class action, brought on behalf of all students issued with these machines.

Boing Boing: School used student laptop webcams to spy on them at school and home

Despite Obama admin’s promise, DEA continues raids on medical marijuana growers

Chris Bartkowicz

On Thursday, a Denver news station interviewed Chris Bartkowicz about his medical-marijuana operation in the basement of his home. Bartkowicz, confident of his compliance with state laws, boasted of its size and profitability.

“I’m definitely living the dream now,” he told 9News.

The following day, the dream was over.

Drug-enforcement agents raided his home, placed him under arrest, and carried off dozens of black bags of marijuana plants and growing lights.

The Obama administration promised in October that the federal government would respect state laws allowing the growing and selling of marijuana for medicinal use, but the Drug Enforcement Agency sent a loud message with the arrest of Bartkowicz.

Read More – Raw Story: Despite Obama admin’s promise, DEA continues raids on medical marijuana growers

(via Disinfo)

Good riddance to day care sexual abuse prosecutor

Radley Balko writes:

In October, Jagels told the Bakersfield Californian that after 26 years in office, he won’t be running for reelection in 2010. Good riddance to him. […] If history dispenses justice more honorably than Ed Jagels ever did, the boyish-looking D.A. will be most remembered for his role ruining countless lives in perhaps the most shameful of the Reagan-era “tough on crime” debacles: the coast-to-coast sex abuse panic of the 1980s. […]

Relying on suggestive police and social worker interrogations of children, Jagels’ office put 26 people behind bars on felony child sex abuse charges in the 1980s and ‘90s. Of those 26 convictions, 25 have since been overturned.

The details were lurid, and bore striking similarity to the fantastical stories that were springing from similar cases all over the country, from Florida to Massachusetts to Washington State. Parents were accused of having sex with their own children, of forcing young siblings to have sex with each other, of inviting neighbors over for adult-child orgies. When the national panic began to include stories of cult activity and Satan worship, Jagels’ and the Kern County Sheriff’s Department managed to locate that sordid activity in Bakersfield, too. Now children began telling investigators they had been forced to drink blood; they were hung from ceilings naked and beaten; infants were sodomized, murdered, and cannibalized. There was never any physical evidence to back the accusations. The photos the children alleged the accused to have taken during the acts never surfaced. The bodies of the murdered babies were never found. In one case a child alleged to have been murdered was found alive and healthy, living with her parents.

Many of Jagels’ victims are profiled in the moving 2008 documentary Witch Hunt. They aren’t limited to the people he put in prison. Particularly wrenching are the interviews with children who made the false accusations. They’re now adults, and have carried unfathomable guilt and remorse. Some of these children put their parents in prison for a decade or more. In one scene, a man who falsely accused his neighbor of molesting him as a child breaks down in tears as he explains how due to fear and guilt, he’s never been able to bathe his own son. […]

Perhaps the most troubling thing about Ed Jagels’ career is that not only have the legal and political systems in California never sanctioned him for his monstrous behavior, he’s been regularly rewarded for it. He has served as both president and director of the powerful California District Attorneys Association (CDAA), and on a number of blue ribbon panels charged with advising state officials on crime policy. Upon Jagels’ retirement announcement, Scott Thorpe, the current head of the CDAA, told the Associated Press that Jagels is a “prosecutor’s prosecutor,” a remarkable and revealing statement of that organization’s commitment to justice. Jagels is also listed as a crime policy advisor to Meg Whitman, a leading candidate for the California GOP’s 2010 gubernatorial nomination.

Reason: Kern County’s Monstrous D.A.

(Thanks OVO)

US Supreme Court: No More Due Process, Torture is OK

While we were all out doing our Christmas shopping, the highest court in the land quietly put the kibosh on a few more of the remaining shards of human liberty.

It happened earlier this week, in a discreet ruling that attracted almost no notice and took little time. In fact, our most august defenders of the Constitution did not have to exert themselves in the slightest to eviscerate not merely 220 years of Constitutional jurisprudence but also centuries of agonizing effort to lift civilization a few inches out of the blood-soaked mire that is our common human legacy. They just had to write a single sentence.

Here’s how the bad deal went down. After hearing passionate arguments from the Obama Administration, the Supreme Court acquiesced to the president’s fervent request and, in a one-line ruling, let stand a lower court decision that declared torture an ordinary, expected consequence of military detention, while introducing a shocking new precedent for all future courts to follow: anyone who is arbitrarily declared a “suspected enemy combatant” by the president or his designated minions is no longer a “person.” They will simply cease to exist as a legal entity. They will have no inherent rights, no human rights, no legal standing whatsoever — save whatever modicum of process the government arbitrarily deigns to grant them from time to time, with its ever-shifting tribunals and show trials.

This extraordinary ruling occasioned none of those deep-delving “process stories” that glut the pages of the New York Times, where the minutiae of policy-making or political gaming is examined in highly-spun, microscopic detail doled out by self-interested insiders. Obviously, giving government the power to render whole classes of people “unpersons” was not an interesting subject for our media arbiters. It was news that wasn’t fit to print. Likewise, the ruling provoked no thundering editorials in the Washington Post, no savvy analysis from the high commentariat — and needless to say, no outrage whatsoever from all our fierce defenders of individual liberty on the Right.

Dred Scot Redux: Dred Scott Redux: Obama and the Supremes Stand Up for Slavery

Telephone Company Is Arm of Government, Feds Admit in Spy Suit

The Department of Justice has finally admitted it in court papers: The nation’s telecom companies are an arm of the government — at least when it comes to secret spying.

Fortunately, a judge says that relationship isn’t enough to quash a rights group’s open records request for communications between the nation’s telecoms and the feds.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation wanted to see what role telecom lobbying of the Justice Department played when the government began its year-long, and ultimately successful, push to win retroactive immunity for AT&T and others being sued for unlawfully spying on American citizens.

The feds argued that the documents showing consultation over the controversial telecom immunity proposal weren’t subject to the Freedom of Information Act since they were protected as “intra-agency” records.

Threat Level: Telephone Company Is Arm of Government, Feds Admit in Spy Suit

(via Disinfo)

New York man accused of using Twitter to direct protesters during G20 summit

A New York-based anarchist has been arrested by the FBI and charged with hindering prosecution after he allegedly used the social networking site Twitter to help protesters at the G20 summit in Pittsburgh evade the police.

Elliot Madison, 41, from Queens, had his home raided and was put on $30,000 (£19,000) bail after he and Michael Wallschlaeger, 46, were tracked to the Carefree Inn motel in Pittsburgh during the summit on 24 and 25 September. […]

The FBI said that as well as the computers and radio scanning equipment discovered at the motel, they also confiscated from Madison’s home 11 gas masks, five pairs of goggles and test tubes and beakers. They said they also took away anarchist books and pictures of Marx and Lenin.

Guardian: New York man accused of using Twitter to direct protesters during G20 summit

Unconscionable.

Fascism by the numbers

As a follow-up to my recent post Is It Too Late to Stop Fascism in the US?, I worked from the definition of fascism proposed by Robert Paxton.

There are several other definitions of fascism, many of which are listed on the Wikipedia entry Definitions of Fascism. I’ve decided to go through the definitions that include specific lists of criteria and see which of them the United States fits.

I’ve made the case before that when Ronald Reagan signed the Military Cooperation with Law Enforcement Officials Act, he was quietly declaring martial law and creating a police state (and that the US has never really lived up to its liberal democratic ideals). I’m sure those with more knowledge of the right-wing populist movement of the 70s that culminated in Reagan’s election and with the Reagan administration itself could make the case that fascism, under many standard definitions, actually started then. I have more knowledge of the conteporary politics, so I’m focused mostly on the actions of the Bush administration, and to a lesser extent, the Obama administration.

I should also note that by the definition many of the pro-capitalist right wing definitions of fascism, which essentially equate fascism with the left, the entire world is fascist and the US was has been fascist at least since the New Deal. Still, I focus here on elements from contemporary America. For the most part, I’m considering business interests (especially Wall Street), right wing media (especially Fox News and talk radio pundits), the “Tea Party” Movement, the Republican Party, and to a lesser extent the Democratic Party to be one loosely connected coalition (even though some of them often fight amongst themselves).

John T. Flynn’s list

1. Anti-capitalist, but with capitalist features;

Mostly missing (though there are some anti-capitalist elements. Change it to “anti-socialist, but with socialist features” and then we’ve got a match. I think this is fair because 1) What we’re seeing is NOT an authentic capitalist movement, at least as Flynn would define it 2) Mussolini used the terms “state capitalism” and “state socialism” interchangeably.

2. Economic demand management…

3. …through budget deficits

Check and check.

4. Direct economic planning, reconciled with partial economic autonomy through corporatism

Check.

5. Militarism and imperialism

Check.

6. Suspension of rule of law.

Check.

Stanley G. Payne’s itemized list of characteristics of fascism

the creation of an authoritarian state

Check.

a regulated, state-integrated economic sector

Check.

fascist symbolism

Recursive definition.

anti-liberalism

This is less obviously a “Check” than it seems. During the 20s and 30s, “liberalism” more likely meant what today we’d call libertarianism or individualism (though social liberalism was already beginning). But, still, check.

anti-communism

Check

anti-conservatism.

Missing. Mostly because this round of fascism is in the guise of conservatism.

Umberto Ecco’s list

“The Cult of Tradition”

Check.

“The Cult of Action for Action’s Sake”

Check.

This one is confusing, but Wikipedia helpfully clarifies: “This, says Eco, is connected with anti-intellectualism and irrationalism, and often manifests in attacks on modern culture and science.”

Check Check and Check.

“Disagreement is Treason”

Check and check.

“Fear of Difference”

Check, check, check

“Appeal to a Frustrated Middle Class”

Check

“Obsession With a plot”

Check and check

“Pacifism is Trafficking With the Enemy” because “Life is Permanent Warfare”

Check and check.

“Contempt for the Weak”

I’m not even sure where to begin with this one. Check.

“Selective Populism”

Check

“Newspeak”

Check.

Recap

Here are the characters from above that fit modern America:

Economic demand management through budget deficits
Direct economic planning, reconciled with partial economic autonomy through corporatism
Militarism and imperialism
Suspension of rule of law
the creation of an authoritarian state
a regulated, state-integrated economic sector
anti-liberalism
anti-communism
anti-conservatism
The Cult of Tradition
The Cult of Action for Action’s Sake (along with anti-intellectualism and irrationalism, and attacks on modern culture and science).
Disagreement is Treason
Fear of Difference
Appeal to a Frustrated Middle Class
Obsession With a plot
Pacifism is Trafficking With the Enemy” because “Life is Permanent Warfare
Contempt for the Weak
Selective Populism
Newspeak

Here are the missing characteristics:

Anti-capitalist, but with capitalist features
anti-conservatism
fascist symbolism (technicality, due to recursive definition)

Is it too late to stop fascism in the US?

(Image from this old post by Nick P, it’s NOT from a Tea Party rally)

First thing first, Robert Paxton’s definition of fascism:

Fascism is a system of political authority and social order intended to reinforce the unity, energy, and purity of communities in which liberal democracy stands accused of producing division and decline. […]

A form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.

Now, Sara Robinson on the question “Are we there yet?”:

And every time this question got asked, people like Chip Berlet and Dave Neiwert and Fred Clarkson and yours truly would look up from our maps like a parent on a long drive, and smile a wan smile of reassurance. “Wellll…we’re on a bad road, and if we don’t change course, we could end up there soon enough. But there’s also still plenty of time and opportunity to turn back. Watch, but don’t worry. As bad as this looks: no — we are not there yet.”

In tracking the mileage on this trip to perdition, many of us relied on the work of historian Robert Paxton, who is probably the world’s pre-eminent scholar on the subject of how countries turn fascist. In a 1998 paper published in The Journal of Modern History, Paxton argued that the best way to recognize emerging fascist movements isn’t by their rhetoric, their politics, or their aesthetics. Rather, he said, mature democracies turn fascist by a recognizable process, a set of five stages that may be the most important family resemblance that links all the whole motley collection of 20th Century fascisms together. According to our reading of Paxton’s stages, we weren’t there yet. There were certain signs — one in particular — we were keeping an eye out for, and we just weren’t seeing it.

And now we are. In fact, if you know what you’re looking for, it’s suddenly everywhere. […]

All through the Bush years, progressive right-wing watchers refused to call it “fascism” because, though we kept looking, we never saw clear signs of a deliberate, committed institutional partnership forming between America’s conservative elites and its emerging homegrown brownshirt horde. We caught tantalizing signs of brief flirtations — passing political alliances, money passing hands, far-right moonbat talking points flying out of the mouths of “mainstream” conservative leaders. But it was all circumstantial, and fairly transitory. The two sides kept a discreet distance from each other, at least in public. What went on behind closed doors, we could only guess. They certainly didn’t act like a married couple.

Now, the guessing game is over. We know beyond doubt that the Teabag movement was created out of whole cloth by astroturf groups like Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks and Tim Phillips’ Americans for Prosperity, with massive media help from FOX News. We see the Birther fracas — the kind of urban myth-making that should have never made it out of the pages of the National Enquirer — being openly ratified by Congressional Republicans. We’ve seen Armey’s own professionally-produced field manual that carefully instructs conservative goon squads in the fine art of disrupting the democratic governing process — and the film of public officials being terrorized and threatened to the point where some of them required armed escorts to leave the building. We’ve seen Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner applauding and promoting a video of the disruptions and looking forward to “a long, hot August for Democrats in Congress.”

This is the sign we were waiting for — the one that tells us that yes, kids: we are there now. America’s conservative elites have openly thrown in with the country’s legions of discontented far right thugs. They have explicitly deputized them and empowered them to act as their enforcement arm on America’s streets, sanctioning the physical harassment and intimidation of workers, liberals, and public officials who won’t do their political or economic bidding.

This is the catalyzing moment at which honest-to-Hitler fascism begins. It’s also our very last chance to stop it.

Alternet: Is the U.S. on the Brink of Fascism?

Robinson has 2 follow-up posts: 7 Ways We Can Fight Back Against the Rising Fascist Threat and 5 Ways to Build a Fascist-Proof America

I don’t share Robinson’s faith that we can pull out of this. I don’t have her faith in the Democratic Party, which I think plays the role of “good cop” in what’s actually a one party system. I think the entire establishment media, not just Fox News, is a party of that system and can never be made to “get the story right.” I don’t think we can rely on the police to do the “heavy lifting.”

I have, however, been considering what can be done. I will share my thoughts and conclusions eventually (unless of course I do decide there really isn’t anything that can be done).

In the meantime, here are some other things to consider.

Naomi Wolf in her own piece claiming we’re in the late stages of a fascist shift: (from 2007)

A friend emails me a story from USA Today about a 24-year-old college graduate who testified before Congress about her family of immigrants and the difficulties they face; shortly afterward, the entire family was arrested by immigration agents. Another online piece reports that Blackwater is setting up operations along the US/Mexico border and an insightful post on Daily Kos describes how the TSA list will revert from the airlines to the management of the Department of Homeland Security shortly and that by February we may well face the need to apply to the State for permission to travel. If this proposed regulation goes through, we will move from 1931 to about 1934–when the borders started to close– with the stroke of a pen. Jews in America have hardwired into their DNA a sense of the distinction between those who got out before the borders closed and those who waited a moment too long.

And these thoughts about life during totalitarianism from William S. Burroughs and RU Sirius.

Long article on tasers and their use and misuse

The latest case, as of this writing at least, involves a Syracuse mother who was pulled out her car during a routine traffic stop. She was summarily tasered, cuffed and arrested in front of her kids by an officer who left them behind, alone in their car, while he took her to the station and charged her for resisting arrest, driving five miles over the speeding limit, and disorderly conduct — the diaphanous charge controversially leveled on Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. earlier this year.

There’s plenty more where that came from. Did you hear the one about the pregnant woman who was tasered because she wouldn’t sign her speeding ticket, or the pregnant woman who was tasered at a baptism party thrown by her father, a bible-study teacher who was charged with public intoxication in his own backyard and whose wife and son were also tasered? How about the officer who tasered a pregnant woman while inside the police department?

Or the cop who tasered a girl, no lie, in the brain, because he couldn’t chase her down on foot? Or the one that shoved a taser up a man’s ass in Idaho? Or those who tasered and pepper-sprayed an umbrella-wielding man in a Dollar Store bathroom, and after finding out that he was both mentally disabled and deaf still decided to charge him with resisting arrest, failure to obey a police officer and (of course) disorderly conduct, charges which the on-duty magistrate refused to accept? And don’t forget the belligerent baseball fan, the 72-year old grandmother, the bride and groom tasered at their wedding, the bicyclists who were tased after cops tried to run them off the road. And what about that guy who burst into flames? What about the six-year-old who was tasered after threatening to cut his own leg with a glass? (That’ll teach him!)

Alternet: Why Are Cops Tasering Grandmothers, Pregnant Women and Kids?

There’s also some worthwhile material on the benefits of tasers as a (sometimes) non-lethal weapon.

(via Atomjack)

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