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January 26, 2012


A weblog about the politics and affairs of the old and glorious City of Albany, New York, USA. Articles written and disseminated from Albany's beautiful and historic South End by Daniel Van Riper. If you wish to make a response, have anything to add or would like to make an empty threat, please contact me.

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January 26, 2012

The First Dr. King Day After Freedom Is Repealed

Our politicians betray us big time, and Brighter Choice marches a vision of the corporate future to my neighborhood

*Update* From Salon: "Once the President accuses you of being a Terrorist, a decision made in secret and with no checks or due process, we can do anything we want to you, including executing you."

Would Martin Luther King Jr. approve of Barack Obama? If the great man were alive today, 39 years old, just as he was when unknown forces presumed by most people to be elements of the US federal government shot him down in a motel parking lot, would he take kindly to the current President of the United States?

Most people and media organizations appear to assume that Martin would automatically approve of Barack because they both have dark skin. But Dr. King did not believe in race. In his most famous speech he declared, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin.”

Dr. King lived, fought and died to protect the Bill of Rights and demand that it be applied equally to all. What would he think of a black president who is already going down in history as the man who finally destroyed the Bill of Rights? How would Dr. King feel to learn that Obama’s corporate betrayal of all the American people is the sad culmination of his own life’s work, and of his death?

Marchers Gathering To Honor Dr. King In My Neighborhood
Marchers Gathering To Honor Dr. King In My Neighborhood

At the end of every year the sitting president presents a bill to the US Congress to provide funds for the military called the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA.) This 49th annual budget bill, like most federal budget bills, contains “riders” or extra legislation that is irrelevant to the budget being authorized. The federal politicians do this so that the public does not notice what they’re trying to pull, to sneak their little crimes and thefts into “law.”

This year’s 2012 NDAA contains a little rider called Section 1021. This new “law” gives the US military the power to snatch people off the streets of our country and “detain them indefinitely,” that is, disappear them. No warrants are necessary, and a fair public trial to determine guilt or innocence is not required.

Under Section 1021 an anonymous government bureaucrat can “make a determination” that you, for example, are a “threat to national security.” Upon that random bureaucrat’s “determination” whim the US military is now required (not allowed, but required) to snatch you off the street and disappear you into “indefinite detention.” And like with credit reports, with which most of us are all too familiar, there is no standard procedure to erase that anonymous “determination” of guilt.

Cold Cops On Horses Leading The March
Cold Cops On Horses Leading The March

You didn’t hear about this? You say that Fox and NPR didn’t quite explain “the rider to the 2012 NDAA” so that you could understand what it was really about? You say all you’ve heard from the corporate media and the corporate elected officials is positive spin about Section 1021, how it will “protect” America?

The politicians and the media announcers have been telling us that our fears of a communist style corporate political purge are overblown, that Section 1021 only applies to “foreigners.” American citizens who are not “committing acts of terrorism” have nothing to fear, they say. The anonymous government bureaucrats won’t disappear you as long as you stay home, watch TV and voluntarily disappear yourself.

“Besides,” the corporate traitors say with a smirk, “that’s all covered in the next rider, Section 1022.” This part says that although the US military is required to snatch and disappear foreigners they are NOT required to snatch proper US citizens off the streets and drag them out of their homes. That has been reserved for future legislation.

Albany Police Honor Guard
Albany Police Honor Guard

But really, as a practical matter, suppose the military (or the secret police, the FBI) decides to snatch you off your living couch, right in front of your TV set. “But I’m a citizen!” you’ll scream. “Born and raised in America!” Doesn’t matter. The soldiers and the secret police are only doing their job. They’re simply following orders from an anonymous bureaucrat.

So next thing you know, you are housed in a secret detention center, either in the general population or, if they don’t like your attitude, in solitary confinement. You have no access to the outside world and certainly not to a lawyer. A fine pickle! How are you ever going to get out of this sticky situation and set things right?

There’s only one way out. Section 1022 allows the President of the United States to intervene and pardon you for the crime you’ve never been charged with and jailed for. Of course while you’re in the secret detention center there’s no way for you to contact the president. And of course, the president doesn’t listen to “terrorists” like you.

But don’t worry! All these things will work themselves out somehow because the President is our big brother who only wants what’s best for the fatherland.

Marchers Approaching My Neighborhood, Including Police Chiefs Krokoff And Reilly
Marchers Approaching My Neighborhood, Including Police Chiefs Krokoff And Reilly

Who is responsible for Sections 1021 and 1022 of the NDAA? What sort of anti-american terrorists would create and codify into law a directive that nullifies our Natural Rights, rights which we have had since the 1700s? Rights our ancestors won through violent revolution?

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the two terrorists who have delivered a devastating body blow against American freedom, an attack that makes Nine Eleven look like a relatively small but spectacular sideshow. They are servants of the corporate elite. These two vicious America haters have successfully stabbed America in the guts:

Corporate Comrades Obama And McCain Are Personally Responsible For NDAA Rider 1021
Corporate Comrades Obama And McCain Are Personally Responsible For NDAA Rider 1021

That’s right folks. The Manchurian Candidate himself, Senator John McCain had Sections 1021 and 1022 written at his command, after which he introduced the budget bill riders into the Senate. Meanwhile, Barack Obama vigorously pressured the Compliant Dumbass Democrats to obey the Gop Traitors and pass the riders. And then Obama signed a piece of paper on the last day of the last year and the Bill of Rights became effectively obsolete.

Yes, we have all lived through this profound world altering event which has passed with hardly any notice. The terrorists have won, the corporations have won, China has won. America has been defeated. The quiet shut down of the Bill of Rights is a fabulous victory for the One Percent, or rather what some more accurately call the Point Oh One Percent.

Some of you may recall that about three years ago Obama and that scary bastard McCain were paired against each other in some kind of bogus sporting event, something akin to professional wrestling. The hyped up contest involved massive amounts of money and endless advertisements in the corporate media. The sporting event, you my remember, was called “presidential election.”

Corporate Comrades Obama And McCain Are Personally Responsible For NDAA Rider 1021

Most people were fooled into thinking that the two corporatist “candidates” had differences, that one contender was good for the country and the other was bad for us. Actually, both work for the same foreign corporations (Fact: all corporations are foreign, no corporation is loyal to the US Constitution.) Both McCain and Obama have revealed themselves to be conjoined twins separated at birth, brothers in arms, virtual lovers, comrades dedicated to the cause of American Dictatorship.

For example, I recently learned that during the presidential campaign both candidates worked together to create a campaign staff that either one would use if elected. Get that? The same exact people. Months before the November election Timothy Geithner of Goldman Sachs was already in position to dictate policy to either corporate tool.

Like professional wrestling the 2008 presidential “contest” was a prearranged carnival show made for TV, this time featuring the The White Knight versus The Black Avenger. Their ideological sameness was neatly obscured by their contrasting shades of skin color. At the end of the presidential wrestling broadcast the voters, sick and tired of the sheer idiocy of that elite drunken cokehead George W. Bush, chose the obviously more competent of the two competitors.

Mayor Jerry Jennings defers To Our Patriotic Congressman Paul Tonko
Mayor Jerry Jennings Defers
To Our Patriotic Congressman Paul Tonko

This matter of contrasting skin color deceived almost everybody, most voters assumed that surely the two candidates must be profoundly different from each other. Even the Nobel Committee gave Obama their highest award merely because of his dark skin and for no other reason. I have no doubt that the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King would be very profoundly appalled by Obama’s Nobel.

Even though I knew better at the time, that once again we were being told to choose the lesser of two evils, during that 2008 election I could not help but get caught up in the excitement for Obama. So many wonderful, enthusiastic young people were successfully manipulated by the declining corporate media into thinking that Obama was going to save the country and the world from evil people like McCain. Especially from McCain, apparently still carrying out the instructions planted in his head so many decades ago by his North Korean captors.

Mayor Jennings At The Mic
Mayor Jennings At The Mic

But it took a lot more than race to fool the voters. There are Obama’s statements on the campaign trail. For example, early in his campaign the future president made these criticisms of the Bush Junior administration, then currently in power, these during a major speech at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington DC, August 2007:

As President, I will close Guantanamo, reject the Military Commissions Act, and adhere to the Geneva Conventions. Our Constitution and our Uniform Code of Military Justice provide a framework for dealing with the terrorists. ...This [Bush Jr.] Administration also puts forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we demand. I will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists without undermining our Constitution and our freedom.

I remember this speech very well, and others like it. Sure, for the first part Obama outlined how he would conduct the so-called “War Against Terror,” but everybody figured he had to say that stuff. Everyone I know listened carefully to this part near the end of the Wilson Center speech:

That means no more illegal wiretapping of American citizens. No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war. No more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient. That is not who we are. And it is not what is necessary to defeat the terrorists.

There is nothing vague about the above promises. These are the statements that put Obama in the White House.

Not only has President Obama failed to carry out his promises, he has skillfully made these grave problems much worse. One can only conclude, based on the promises made in this speech and many others on the presidential campaign trail, that Barack Obama the man is a complete and utter liar.

Paul Tonko Voted Against The 2012 NDAA and Tried To Stop Rider 1021
Paul Tonko Voted Against The 2012 NDAA and
Tried To Stop Rider 1021

As you can see from the photos, I strolled out of my house to watch the annual short procession from the State underground concourse at Madison Avenue to the statue of Dr. King in my neighborhood. The marchers gather under the arch outside the State Museum and finish practically at my front door. This year it was cold and sunny, but despite the weather we had a big turnout of citizens and a fair collection of politicians.

What was lacking this year was the usual line of corporate media trucks parked off to one side. I think Channel 10 was the only TV to show up. Must have been too cold this year for the corporate foot soldiers.

This year I hoped Occupy Albany would attend and liven things up. I even sent them a formal invitation before their General Assembly the day before, but they ignored my email. So instead of real political action by real citizens, we got to witness a bizarre attempt to hijack the event by a commercial outfit.

Brighter Choice "Drill Team" On A Forced March
Brighter Choice "Drill Team" On A Forced March

The hijacking attempt was made by none other than Brighter Choice, a for-profit “charter school” corporation masquerading as a nonprofit “foundation.” Of all the holidays MLK Day gets the least commercial exploitation, I’ve recently joked that the great man doesn’t even get a storewide mattress sale. I guess that’s because everybody is broke after Xmas.

But the “charter school” people who steal from the taxpayers are always busy with their schemes. They had lined up about two dozen kids no older than ten years old, four abreast in tight formation. The four kids in front carried a banner that proclaimed the squad a “drill team.”

Earlier this Brighter Choice squad of children had been used in an attempt to “hijack” the MLK Day event back under the concourse. It seems that this “drill team” had been ordered to barrel through the crowd gathering for the march and forcibly seize the position in front of the cameras. Apparently a lot of people were successfully fooled into thinking the Brighter Choice squad was some kind of officially sanctioned display.

Brighter Choice Children March Wearily While Overseers Scowl
Brighter Choice Children March Wearily While Overseers Scowl

By the time they arrived in my neighborhood these unhappy kids were trudging like political prisoners being marched off to the FBI detainment center. Several drillmaster overseers with scowls walked alongside the prisoners snapping orders. The kids looked very obedient but judging by the looks on their faces they certainly weren’t enjoying this holiday.

The kingpin of the Brighter Choice operation is a white guy named Thomas Carroll, who I call the Welfare Queen from Clifton Park. Undoubtedly this attempt to hijack the MLK ceremony was his idea, Brighter Choice is strictly a top-down outfit. I’ve heard Carroll compare himself to Martin Luther King, calling himself a “civil rights leader.” Really.

It was puffed up self-important persons like Tom Carroll who shot down Martin Luther King in 1968. And it is the Tom Carrolls of today who want to privatize Dr. King’s dream of equality and prosperity to make a monetary profit for themselves. Perhaps this is Tom Carroll’s personal dream, to make the taxpayers replace the MLK monument in my neighborhood with a statue of himself.

"Charter School" Kids Selected For Obedience Trudge Into The Future
"Charter School" Kids
Selected For Obedience Trudge Into The Future

I was circling around the monument during this year’s short, cold ceremony looking for good camera angles, when I noticed an interesting fellow standing off to one side by himself. He looked to be about 40, all bundled like someone who isn’t used to this kind of weather. He was watching Mayor Jennings at the mic with a steady, angry glare.

I snapped a picture of the guy but it didn’t come out because he really wasn’t there. Sure enough it was Dr. King himself, come back to America to watch what they’ve done to his day and his life’s work. For a moment I felt a tinge of pride that the great man who died for the Bill of Rights would visit our little overexploited City on a trip to the land of the living.

Funny thing, I think I was the only one to notice him standing there scowling at the politicians and the cops. All these people had come out into the cold sunshine to honor his statue but no one noticed the man himself. Yet he wasn’t hiding, he was with us the whole time.

So I asked him some question, something foolish. He turned to hold me in his steady gaze and I stopped talking. It was almost the same look he was giving the politicians, but with something like pity instead of anger. I glanced away for a moment but when I looked back Martin Luther King was gone. Just like that he was no longer with us.

Before The Event: Albany County Legislator Luci McKnight Calls After Congressman Paul Tonko, Who Walked The Route Twice
Before The Event: Albany County Legislator Luci McKnight Calls After Congressman Paul Tonko, Who Walked The Route Twice


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If you are having difficulties posting a comment, please email Daniel Van Riper. We are experimenting with our spam filters, and we do not want to exclude any legitimate commenters, just spammers!

Posted by:Barbara
Posted on:01/27/2012
The odd thing about charter schools is that they are based on the premise that kids will do better in an exclusionary environment, but nobody stops to think about just who is being excluded. Is it only bigotry when one moves to say, Clifton Park to avoid certain kids?
We have corporations trying to get their hands on some of that government money, under the guise of "helping", and a Governor trying to do the same thing for political reasons.
What happens to the kids excluded with this kind of double barreled attack on public education?

Posted by:Jeff
Posted on:02/02/2012
@Barbara Public schools are there to employ NYSUT members. Charters just enrich a different bunch.

Posted by:Don
Posted on:02/11/2012
Thanks for your dogged determination in keeping Albany a little bit nicer. If more people were as active as you, the capital district would be a better place. Thanks for what you do.

I found your site by googling joe gimondo and his efforts to get the predatory towing laws in Albany thrown out. The poor guy must be losing so much money in the last 5 years since the laws went into effect. I feel so bad for him... NOT!

He's such a dirtbag and I'm amazed at what he gets away with in the city of Albany.

Be thankful that Albany takes complete responsibility for its sidewalks though. In Troy and other cities, they make the homeowner responsible for the sidewlak in front of their property.

That's crazy but true.

Posted by:Roger Green
Posted on:02/13/2012
You may find this interesting.

Posted by:Dan Van Riper
Posted on:02/14/2012
Excellent link Roger, all about the fictional "liberal" Obama. Like the article points out, the "liberal" Obama presented in the corporate media by the Re-pub Debaters is a president that would be great for this country. Too bad he's a PR production.

BTW, Roger recently tackled the subject himself:

Posted by:Mas
Posted on:02/16/2012
If being in the same place is eevnidce of having the same position, which is very much the standard you're using in regard to Obama (but not for yourself), then you've just associated with me. That must make you me. If you aren't willing to accept that conclusion, it suggests that something about the chain of logic is itself wrong.

Posted by:Dan Van Riper
Posted on:02/17/2012
Mas - I'm not sure, but it sounds like you're saying that I'm being unfair for not allowing Obama to change his mind. Is that about right?

To that I will say that the man not only swore to uphold the US Constitution, he publicly promised the voters that he would do so. Instead he undermined the Bill of Rights with NDAA Rider 1021, among other things. One does not "change one's mind" about what matters the most.

Posted by:Sybil Allyson
Posted on:03/20/2012
Hi Dan,

Ran into your blog for the first time while doing some research for my introduction of Paul Tonko last Sunday at FUUSA, where your wife Lynne was tabling (much appreciated).

Anyway, just want to thank you! Love this blog post and your style of presenting material!


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