Two items in the news offer us rare glimpses into how public policy is actually arrived at and what differences there really are between Democrats, even progressive Democrats - let alone centrists such as Obama - and Republicans.
The first item concerns the Minneapolis City Council's role in the police state tactics used at the St. Paul RNC and the other item concerns foreign policy and Pakistan in particular.
Both are related directly to the so-called war on terror: what both major parties call the central issue of our time.
It is clear that the fulcrum for today's politics involves the "war on terror" and whether the dominant paradigm about it that both major parties subscribe to will carry the day, or a different paradigm wins out that originates from among the people.
First item: At OpEd News on September 11, 2008, Michael Cavlan reported the inside dirty dealing in the all progressives Minneapolis City Council in which the council gave the green light to the police to use the storm trooper tactics before and during the RNC. I quote from the piece at some length as follows:
"In the months before the Republicans came to town, there had been a flurry of activity. Local activists were keeping a close eye on their local elected officials. Initially, there had been a so called Free Speech Committee set up, supposedly to look at how authorities could allow free speech during the RNC and keep order.
"We found out that the Free Speech Committee did not allow any members of the public to add our input. Only City Council members on the committee and lawyers were allowed to speak. There was no free speech allowed at the misnamed Free Speech Committee.
"Nonetheless, activists followed the Committee's actions closely and were present during each meeting. The City Council of Minneapolis is almost 100% Democratic. In fact the only real opposition in Minneapolis is the Green Party which currently has one Green on the City Council, Cam Gordon, who was a small light in a very dark room. But, we were to discover, even that light was to be extinguished.
"The so called Free Speech Committee would change the time and locations of its meetings...There was also discussion on protest groups being required to register themselves and even their members, to be 'allowed' to protest. At these times, Cam Gordon spoke eloquently on behalf of the community and in opposition to these repressive measures...
"Then suddenly [after months] we found out that the Free Speech Committee had their last meeting, July 16th. The meeting itself was unannounced, unlike the other meetings which at least had a pretense of openness and public inclusion. At the next Minneapolis City Council meeting July 25th, the recommendation of the misnamed Free Speech Committee was announced. The Free Speech Committee Resolution passed unanimously, even by our one small light, Councilman Cam Gordon.
"The Minneapolis Police were given 'legal' authority to shut down any protest or group of 25 people or greater. They were also authorized to use rubber bullets, mace and the other array of non-lethal weapons on innocent, peaceful demonstrators, practicing our First Amendment Rights. Also violated repeatedly was the Fourth Amendment Right protecting us citizens against illegal search and seizure. Police violated the laws of assault and battery and destruction of evidence of their crimes, as evidenced by their targeting journalists." [Emphasis added]
Cavlan notes, probably correctly so, that even if the city council had not approved these fascistic tactics that they would have been by-passed and the police and various state and federal officials would have done it anyway.
Despite months of efforts by grassroots activists and even a Green on the City Council - making grand speeches about protecting free speech - despite the people doing the very best that they could to monitor, participate and speak out, the fix was in and democratic participation
was merely a charade for the real power being exercised, even on the nearest thing to local control as you can find in the government - at the City Council level – and even in one of the most left-influenced places in the country.
Second item: As reported by the New York Times (NYT) on September 11, 2008, in July of 2008, Bush secretly approved Spec Ops forces to launch ground military attacks inside Pakistan without prior approval from the Pakistani government.
The NYT essay notes: "It is unclear precisely what legal authorities the United States has invoked to conduct even limited ground raids in a friendly country." It's unclear because such actions are blatantly against international law. (During the Vietnam War when President
Nixon announced on April 30, 1970, that he had begun bombing Cambodia and thereby expanding the war, a fury broke out in America.
During the widespread protests that followed, four students were famously shot and killed by National Guardsmen at Kent State University in Ohio on May 4.)
The Times' article continues: "Pakistan's government has asserted that last week's raid achieved little except killing civilians and stoking anti-Americanism in the tribal areas. "'Unilateral action by the American forces does not help the war against terror because it only enrages public opinion,' said Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's ambassador to Washington, during a speech on Friday. 'In this particular incident, nothing was gained by the action of the troops.'" What gives this story even more resonance is the fact that the Bush regime is now finally embracing the tactics that Obama had called for back in August, 2007.