Showing posts with label Police. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Police. Show all posts

Monday, May 11, 2015

Fascism and American Sports,,,

Let me say at the start that I truly enjoy sporting events, and teach a college course in sports economics. I have raised funds and brought many students to their first professional games: basketball, baseball, soccer. Growing up on Long Island, NY, I was a child of the NY Islanders Dynasty.

I also have reason to support military veterans, whether it be at the college at which I teach, or from a more personal perspective: My son is a Marine, my uncle was a Navyman, and I’m in the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

But I am also a student of history, and what I see occurring at sports stadiums today is frightening at best.

In his 2003 seminal essay, “The 14 Characteristics of Fascism” in Free Inquiry Magazine, political scientist Dr. Lawrence Britt summarized the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia), and Pinochet (Chile). Dr. Britt found they all had 14 elements in common. Some of these include:

Powerful and Continuing Nationalism – [the] constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, [and] songs….in public displays

Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights - Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause - The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals...

Supremacy of the Military - Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding... Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

Obsession with Crime and Punishment - The police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism.

Enter the Sport Stadium: the largest on-going collection of citizens in "public displays."

Now, I expect the National Anthem at the start of a sporting event. I look forward to it, to be honest. And I even appreciate the playing of other nation’s anthems when the match is international. But the trend is now towards something very unsettling – so unsettling that it’s reminiscent of the elements of Fascist Propaganda cited above.

The last time I went to a Mets game Citifield, I have to admit that I was a little uncomfortable when I was exposed to a “new tradition” in the 6th inning: the announcer required that we all stand, sing God Bless America, and participate in honoring ‘the veteran of the day.’ The fact that a stadium full of thousands dutifully rose as soon as they were told to, in order to honor the military, should cause some pause. In fact, it’s downright chilling.
I thought this was a one-time special event; I have since observed this ceremony multiple times, at multiple baseball stadiums. It’s now the norm.
This past week, the Washington Post revealed a ‘formal,’ paid relationship between the government and the NFL for much the same type of intertwining of the military state and sport.

As articulately expressed by,

“The national anthem is a long, drawn-out, pregame event. There’ll be a flyover by the Blue Angels at the perfect, climactic moment. During a break in the action, some soldier returning from Afghanistan or any other foreign war-zone will be reunited with his family while the stadium erupts in deafening applause and heart wrenching sobs.

Well, hold off on purchasing those tickets just yet, because the Washington Post found something interesting this week. All this patriotic propaganda- the troop-salutes, the banner ads, even the community service events where troops and NFL teams “build or re-build” a playground together, come with a price tag.
Fourteen NFL teams were paid a total of $5.4 million by the Department of Defense to cover the nationalistic propaganda filling downtime during the games.”

That’s right: not some organic, groundswell of thanks to our vets; but a paid program by the Pentagon to create a pro-military groupthink at a captured audience. Think about that.

So yesterday, perhaps my sensitivity was on high alert, but what I saw at a Major League Soccer game was equally scary. Soccer – often thought of as the international, or even “un-American” sport – took its required worship of the Police State to yet another level.

In the wake of the murder of NY Police Officer Brian Moore – thousands of police officers from around the nation lined the highways of Seaford, NY for his funeral. It was portrayed as a show of “support” for the officer and his family – but of course, the majority of those in attendance wouldn’t have known him if they had tripped over him when he was alive. Rather, at a time when police wrongdoing is revealed daily on websites such as, this was not a show of respect as much as a show of force: the Blue Line that protects its own, showing its muscle and demanding respect and awe from the public.

The start of the inaugural match between the New York Red Bulls and the New York City Football Club in Harrison, NJ, was launched with a moment of silence for the slain officer (I could argue that while police officers get such treatment, hundreds of innocent Americans slain by police get no such honor…but I won’t belabor that point.) But then the players entered the field – with black armbands. They didn't read, “Moore” – they read “NYPD.”

Yes, I have a problem with that.

At a time when there is a public relations war between the cops and the citizens they are supposed to serve; when police defiantly turn their back on the Mayor of New York City when he dares to criticize their tactics; when courtrooms have revealed the systematic and routine planting of evidence on innocent citizens; when military equipment and armaments are being distributed to civilian forces – yes, I have a problem with two sports teams being required by their league to “take sides.” When I was insolent enough to suggest so on a Supporters Club website, the post was removed by administrators with no explanation.

When I was merely 2 years old, none other than General and President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned,

"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist."

BBC’s documentary “Fascism and Football” is described thusly: “A documentary on how the Fascist regimes of Spain, Italy and Germany made football an important pillar of their propaganda and the lengths they went to in order to control the sport…”

Sports Fans, take note: The next time the masses at the stadium is told what to do, and how to do it, and when to do it, in an effort to honor the Police State – be aware of how you are being used – and the history behind it.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

City of Keene, NH seeks "Bearcat" Military Tank; America's Police continue to Militarize

The United States appears to be rushing head-long into a full-fledged Police State. Tasers. Pepper Spray. NDAA. Drones. And now, military tanks as “police” vehicles.

On June 6, 2011, in Oakland Park, Florida, James Doe, who was 31 years old and only 130 pounds, was tasered by police while he was handcuffed and locked in the back of a cruiser. He fell limp, and was pronounced dead upon his arrival at Florida Medical Center. James was just one of 40 deaths that occur every year as a result of the unnecessary or excessive use of Taser equipment by law enforcement officials.

Backtracking: In Chicago, a team of research scientists and doctors at the Cook County hospital trauma center stunned 6 pigs with two 40-second Taser discharges. All six animals exhibited heart rhythm problems. Two subsequently died of cardiac arrest. A San Francisco cardiologist and electrophysiologist, Dr. Zian Tseng, determined that a healthy individual could die from a Taser discharge, depending on electrode placement on the chest and pulse timing. Taser International then contacted him, asking him to reconsider his statements to the media on the subject, and then offered him “funding” to further his research. CBC News Story.

But Taser International is hardly the only private firm that profits by militarizing local police forces.

This Blog has been particularly critical of the increasing use of Pepper-Spray by Police forces. Excessive and indiscriminate use of the chemical has been used with increased frequency across the nation, particualarly at Occupy Protests; several photos and videos that caught pepper spray incidents in New York and at U. California–Davis went viral and heightened public attention and condemnation of the practice.

(see U C Davis Pepper Spray and NYPD Pepper Spray )

Police reactions in both cases initially consisted of lies and cover ups which couldn’t stand up to the evidence in the videos, and the officers in both of those cases were disciplined. Unfortunately, even as I write this, the state of Florida is now investigating the case of Nick Christie, a 62-year old mentally ill man who was bound, restrained and tied to a chair in a Flordia jail and coated with pepper spray in 2009. He died two days later.

Pepper spray was approved in the US for police use in spite of objections by US military scientists in 1991, and is now in use in 2,000 local jurisdictions. Subsequent to that approval, it was discovered that Thomas W. Ward, the head of the FBI's Less-Than-Lethal Weapons Program who approved pepper spray’s use on civilians, received payments from Luckey Police Products, a pepper spray manufacturer, while authoring the FBI study that led to its use. Ward received $57,500 in increments of $5,000 a month paid through his wife. He was sentenced to two months in prison.

In the meantime, various courts have declared its use to be cruel and excessive, and twelve citizens die each year from pepper-spray induced asthma attacks or asphyxiation.

News of the increased militarization and forcefulness on the part of American officers “of the peace” are accelerating with frightening speed. Congress recently passed the NDAA bill, permitting the military to detain US citizens without trial or charge indefinitely; the Obama administration has admitted to the expanded use of spy drones over the United States; and after the Super Bowl this past weekend, state and local police arrived in riot gear and on horseback at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst campus, “in anticipation” of student crowds. When the police decided the crowd on the public, state-owned property was "too big,” they moved in and dispersed students who, up to that moment, had broken no law and caused no damage.

And so, in this atmosphere of the growing American Police State, the city Council of Keene, New Hampshire has attempted to purchase a military tank, without public input, for the purposes of “rescue missions."

The City of Keene recently announced that its would use a grant of $285,933 from the Department of Homeland Security to purchase a "Bearcat" vehicle from LENCO, a company that prides itself on developing and selling vehicles for military and SWAT-team use. Of 15 City Councilors, only one – Terry M. Clark – opposed the purchase.

After the Council vote, citizen response was swift. A petition in opposition to acquiring the Bearcat was delivered to the City Council, signed by 144 residents. The opposition has crossed political lines, uniting conservatives, liberals, and libertarians. Initially, the City Council decided that they would simply “accept” the petition without discussing the issue again. Council Member Terry Clark then formally requested that the issue be returned to the City’s Finance Committee for a public hearing; the Council agreed, and this Thursday, Feb 9 at 5:30 pm the first public hearing on the issue will be held.

In the meantime, LENCO is attempting to backtrack. The Bearcat purchase is being ‘recast’ as an effort to purchase a “rescue” vehicle that will help Keene citizens in need. The LENCO website, however, approaches this issue quite differently. On its Website advertising six varieties of Bearcats (its domain name is, tellingly, “”), LENCO describes the vehicles as having the following attributes:

“Primary APC used by SWAT & SRT, Military Police, and Security Forces”

“Designed for Military personnel. Military-style turret can be configured for .50 caliber Dillon Mini-Guns and CROWS.”

“All Military Spec Steel construction. Currently used by SWAT and Special Op Teams at high security facilities.”

“V-Hull Blast Shield protects against grenades and IED attacks”

None of these sounds like the attributes of a “rescue” vehicle. In fact, LENCO had a video advertisement on YouTube that promoted its product: it showed military and SWAT teams exiting the vehicle, firing military weapons, drilling holes through house walls, and spraying toxic gases.

In the heat of the controversy, LENCO pulled the video ad off of YouTube.

But thanks to our friends at CopBlock, the video is included here. You watch, and you decide, whether this is a “rescue” vehicle or another military toy to facilitate the police state’s intimidation and control over the citizenry:


Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Kelly Ayotte: the Police State Candidate

Of the 33 Senate races taking place across the country this year, there are few whose outcome is as unpredictable right now as New Hampshire's. There are currently 4 major Republicans and 1 Democrat (Congressman Paul Hodes) running for an open Senate seat in this, a state that has voted both 'red' and 'blue' in recent elections. The danger is that in freedom-loving New Hampshire, this combination of candidates - and the support of the national GOP establishment in Washington, DC - could propel former NH Attorney General Kelly Ayotte, perhaps the most dangerous, pro-police-state politician the state has seen in decades, to front-runner status.

Anyone who has watched television in New Hampshire over the last few weeks has seen the barrage of Ayotte ads, each with the same theme: Ayotte put criminals behind bars. All but one of her ads features a uniformed police officer, and her latest shamelessly lauds her prosecution of the man guilty of killing Manchester Police Officer Michael Briggs.

But it is her other activities as the Granite State's Attorney General that should bring one to pause, if not shudder, for what she would bring to the legislative table. On a consistent basis, AG Ayotte testified before the state legislature to curtail civil liberties and protect the power of the police state. Four important examples:

1) The most egregious must be her abject lies about Medical Marijuana, delivered at last year's legislative debate.

She wrote,

"In fact, marijuana is an addictive drug that poses significant health consequences to its users, including those who may be using it for medical purposes...The use of smoked marijuana is opposed by all credible medical groups nationwide."

In fact, several major national medical groups have taken positive views of medical cannabis, including the American Academy of Physicians, the American Nurses Association and the American Public Health Association. In a 2001 report, even the American Medical Association noted that marijuana helped those suffering from certain ailments including HIV wasting syndrome and chemotherapy-induced nausea.

It is too bad she didn't consider the testimony of Fremont, NH resident Dennis Acton:

"...I am a cancer survivor and successfully used marijuana to treat severe nausea when my $1600 prescription didn't work. I testified along with many others at the Senate HHS Subcommittee hearing back in April. After the senate passed it, we were able to set up a meeting with the Governor. He was "unavailable" so he sent two policy advisors. About 20 of use showed up for this meeting and told our stories. … I really wish the Gov. could have been there to hear these moving stories. I wish other people like AG Kelly Ayotte... and others who dismiss the medicinal properties of marijuana (based on ignorance rather than science) could have heard this as well.

The bottom line is that terminally or severely ill people want to use marijuana to ease symptoms and to avoid becoming addicted to expensive and harmful opiate based drugs. It is just inconceivable that drugs like Oxycontin are readily available and are being abused terribly while marijuana is outlawed..."

Both the House and Senate adopted a medical marijuana bill, but the Senate lacked the votes to override the Governor's veto...a veto that relied, in part, on Ayotte's disgraceful testimony.

2) A second area is her continued opposition to permitting videotaping of police actions.

In 2009, House Bill 312 was submitted, simply permitting the recording (on a cell phone or other device) police activity. For years, police indiscretions have been brought to light through citizen vigilence (Even parking garages have video cameras these days!) The Bill was bipartisan, sponsored by 3 Democrats (Joel Winters, Susi Nord, and Maureen Mann) and 2 Republicans (Neal Kurk and Jenn Coffey), and passed the Democratically-controlled House.

Ayotte opposed the bill, likening the procedure to illegal wiretapping, and it died in the Senate.

3) In New Hampshire, "...Jury nullification is the undisputed power of the jury to acquit, even if its verdict is contrary to the law as given by the judge and contrary to the evidence." (State v. Hokanson, 140 N.H. at 721B906, cited in State of NH v Sanchez). This undisputed power is a check on a rule-oriented legal system that could result in terrible miscarriages of justice. And yet, when HB 906 was filed in 2007, simply requiring that jurors be informed of their existing, "undisputed" rights, Ayotte testified against the bill.

4)On two seperate occasions, Ayotte urged Governor Lynch to veto bills (2006 SB318 and 2009 HB160) that would establish the "Castle Doctrine" in New Hampshire. The Castle Doctrine gives a crime victim the right to use force when attacked when that victim is legally in a place where they have a right to be. Instead, Ayotte has supported the notion that a potential victim has a duty to retreat, rather than defend themselves...cold comfort to a woman walking home late at night and confronted in a dark street, or someone in a wheelchair, or a nightclub patron being surrounded by a group of thugs out to bash someone for fun.

Of course, this is also the Attorney General who advocated for the requirement that picture IDs be produced simply to purchase cough medicine...

Kelly Ayotte has spent her life enhancing and enlarging the power of the State and its Police and enforcement mechanisms as against its citizens. Having garnered the support of the GOP establishmentm, it is now no surprise that as the GOP primary nears, she is tripping over herself to embrace anti-immigration extremism, 14th-Amendment repeal nonsense, Sarah Palin, and the far-right elements that she needs to capture the nod.

But for anyone - Republican, Independent, or Democrat - who values New Hampshire's libertarian way of life, this candidate MUST be defeated. She does not, and must not, represent the people of New Hampshire.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

There is an old bit of prose about how the Nazis came for the Jews, the Gypsies, gays, the handicapped, etc., and when they finally came for 'me,' there was no left to help me.

I have been vigilant in this blog about pointing out the eradication of free speech and civil liberties in this country. Earlier this year, 400 children were kidnapped by the government in Texas, and the 'outcry' was little more than ho-hum. After all, they were polygamists, so "it doesnt affect me."

Well, right now, in Minnesota, hours before the Republican convention, there is a wholesale trashing of the Constitution taking place. Will anyone care? Or does it not concern people because the victims are young, protesting, liberal college students?

The full, breaking, and constantly-updated story (with video) can be found at

But the crux of the matter is this: 25-30 officers, in riot gears, stormed houses, forced residents to the floor, confiscated computers, and handcuffed and detained people for 'fire code violations,' all because they had planned to protest the Republican National Convention. Using an obscure, never-used law against conspiracy to start a riot, the government has found an effective law that basically preempts any protest or speech it doesnt want to hear.

Is this Beijing? Tiannamen Square? Does anyone remember the Chicago Police Riots of the 1969 Democratic Convention? The Kent State debacle? Have we learned nothing?

I call on McCain, as the Republican candidate, to forcefully condemn what is happening in Minnesota.

NOW, Today. And I call on my fellow citizens to stop yawning, since it isn't 'them' being carried away.