Homeland Theater

Conspiracy vultures descend on Newtown

It never fails. Every time something ghastly happens, from the Wisconsin Sikh temple massacre to the Oslo terror attacks to the Fort Hood Shootings to (d'oh!) 9-11, lugubrious conspiranoids have got to descend like ravenous vultures with bogus theories about how it was a "false flag" job perpetrated by a "Manchurian Candidate." The horrific bloodletting at the elementary school in Newtown, Conn., is, alas, no exception. And in this case, the theory has simply no basis in reality—it isn't even a distortion, contortion, embellishment or obfuscation—it is a simple invention, straight up. Yet animated partisans are plastering posts about it on my Facebook wall right and left—seemingly in all earnestness. Big ups to Talking Points Memo for rising to the tiresome ocassion of shooting down this jive:

SOA protests continue; Church expels activist priest

The 22nd annual protest against the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), formerly the US Army School of the Americas (SOA), brought several thousand activists to the Army's Fort Benning base in Columbus, Georgia, for a series of events from Nov. 16 to Nov. 18. One demonstrator, Robert Norman Chantal of Americus, Georgia, was arrested when he climbed over the base's fence during the concluding event, a symbolic funeral march, on Nov. 18. He was released later on his own recognizance, according to a Fort Benning representative. Chantal, who faces a possible six-month sentence, will be tried in a US District Court on Jan. 9.

'Occupy the Farm' evicted in East Bay

A UC Berkeley research field in the adjoining municipality of Albany that had been planted with winter greens in October by Occupy activists was ploughed under at the order of university authorities Nov. 16. The field, known as the Gill Tract, was occupied on Earth Day, April 22, and dubbed by activists "Occupy the Farm," with a vision of developing it as a community agro-ecology project. Crops planted then were similarly destroyed by UC, and nine arrested in a May 14 raid by UC police. But activists re-took the site in October, holding a punpkin-carving festival and planting the new crops. UC issued a letter upon razing the crops to the Albany city council calling the occupation a "threat to academic freedom." The contrasts a more conciliatory open letter issued in May pledging open "debate and dialogue" about the future of the site. In recent years, the field has largely been off-limits to the public, though local activist groups have repeatedly asked the university to open up the space to community residents. (Berkeley Patch, Nov. 18; Berkeleyside, Nov. 16; UC Berkeley News  Center, May 18; Berkeleyside, May 14; IndyBay, April 24)

Montana voters: corporations are not people

In a landslide victory, Montana voters approved an initiative on Nov. 7 Election Day stating "that corporations are not entitled to constitutional rights because they are not human beings." The initiative directly challenges the US Supreme Court's now infamous Citizens United decision, which allows corporations to contribute unlimited amounts of money for campaign groups know as "Super PACs" and "shadow money" organizations. Initiative 166 will likely win by 75% according to a projeciton by the Billings Gazette. The initiative states:

Obama's re-election: more historic than 2008?

Jonathan Martin on Politico called the obvious on the eve of the elections: "The GOP coalition is undergirded by a shrinking population of older white conservative men from the countryside, while the Democrats rely on an ascendant bloc of minorities, moderate women and culturally tolerant young voters in cities and suburbs. This is why, in every election, since 1992, Democrats have either won the White House or fallen a single state short of the presidency." And he quotes Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC): "If we lose this election there is only one explanation—demographics." In the actual event, Romney won 59% of the white vote, according to exit polls, a whopping twenty-point margin over Obama. "If only white people had voted on Tuesday, Mitt Romney would have carried every state except for Massachusetts, Iowa, Connecticut and New Hampshire," Jon Wiener writes in The Nation. "Even in the deepest blue states, white voters went for Romney: 53 percent in California, 52 percent in New York, 55 percent in Pennsylvania. Liberals hoped that whites who opposed Obama in 2008 would learn toleration and acceptance of racial difference after four years with a black president in the White House. But what happened was the opposite: Romney won 4 percent more of the white vote in 2012 than John McCain won in 2008."

Ninth Circuit keeps Montana campaign finance law —for upcoming election

The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled (PDF) Oct. 16 that it will keep Montana's campaign contribution limits in place for the duration of the election season, extending a stay on a lower court decision. The appeals court ruled that changing the finance rules less than one month before election day and after absentee voting has already started would prove unfair to candidates who have followed these rules throughout the present campaign cycle. The court also held that because Montana's campaign contribution limits are among the lowest in the country, removing that limit as a matter of free speech pursuant to the 2010 US Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission would drastically alter the playing field. American Tradition Partnership, one of the groups challenging the law, said that while the ruling is a setback, it intends to continue challenging the law and expects to "prevail in the end."

MS-13 gang makes US 'criminal organization' list

Mara Salvatrucha, the Salvadoran street gang that got its start in the heart of Los Angeles' Koreatown, has been officially designated by federal authorities as a "transnational criminal organization." MS-13, as it's also known, "is being targeted for its involvement in serious transnational criminal activities, including drug trafficking, kidnapping, human smuggling, sex trafficking, murder, assassinations, racketeering, blackmail, extortion, and immigration offenses," the US Department of the Treasury stated. That means the federal government can use "economic sanctions" against the gang, which has also established a foothold in El Salvador. The designation gives the Treasury Department the power to freeze any financial assets from the gang or its members and prohibits financial institutions from engaging in any transactions with members of the group. 

The Republicans are the party of white supremacy: deal with it

Global domination and corporate power are obviously inextricably linked to white supremacy, and certainly the prior two rose along with the last. But the three no longer form the seamless unity they did even a generation ago. This is what those on the left who repeat like a mantra that there is "no difference" between Romney and Obama don't seem to get. We have pointed out before Mitt Romney's use of coded messages to play to the racist vote while still maintaining  a veil (however diaphanous) of plausible deniability. Among his supporters at the GOP convention in Tampa last month, the veil was sometimes not there at all. Note this enlightening litany from the Washington Post, Aug. 29:

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