No One Could Have Predicted This

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Feb 152021

Shortly after sunrise on Jan. 15, FBI agents descended with guns drawn on a squat, red-brick apartment complex here, broke open the door of one of the units and threw in a stun grenade, prompting the frightened property manager to call 911.

Inside the apartment, furnished with little besides books and a sign declaring “THE REVOLUTION IS NOT A PARTY,” the agents found their target: a 33-year-old U.S. Army veteran and self-described “hardcore leftist” who had posted a flier on social media threatening to attack “armed racist mobs WITH EVERY CALIBER AVAILABLE.”

The man, Daniel Baker, hardly fit the profile of those who had been expected to cause trouble in the run-up to President Biden’s inauguration. After a mob of Donald Trump supporters invaded the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in hopes of preventing Biden from taking office, the FBI had warned that far-right extremists were plotting armed marches in Tallahassee and other state capitals, as well as in D.C.

But Baker represents the flip side of that threat: As a far-right extremist movement wages an assault on American government and institutions, experts say an unpredictable battle is brewing, fueling potentially legitimate threats of violence from the opposite fringe of the political spectrum.

Baker’s friends said he had a bombastic social media presence that he stepped up to match inflammatory right-wing rhetoric. … The FBI agents who had been monitoring Baker’s social media posts since October described him as being on a “path toward radicalization.” … On Jan. 25, U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael J. Frank agreed that Baker posed a potential threat and ordered him held without bond, writing that the former soldier had “repeatedly endorsed violent means to advance the political beliefs that he espouses.”

The corporate establishment media is doing their job and continuing to manufacture consent for a new PATRIOT act, this time aimed (more so) at crushing internal dissent. One thing to note in the language the Democrats have used around this—they never say right wing “extremism,” it’s always just “domestic extremism.” Considering that fascism and capitalism are totally compatible, and some might argue neoliberalism is quite similar to fascism, it should be no surprise that the “right wing extremism” is being used (again, if anyone recalls the 90s) as a pretense for passing laws that are squarely aimed at the dissident and socialist left.

Unfortunately the mainstream “left” have been subject to an unhinged propaganda campaign over the last five years, and consists in reality of mainly conservatives if not outright reactionaries at this point, many of whom are cheering on these developments instead of recoiling in horror as they ought to.

January 6th is the new 9/11, only with far less justification. The state and its media organs have convinced the mainstream left to demand draconian prison sentences for people essentially charged with trespassing (using laws the left once correctly decried as criminalizing protest!), to call for strengthening the police state, to demand expansion of unconstitutional domestic surveillance programs, to demand that private actors censor on behalf of the state (as if a public-private partnership to sidestep the Constitution is justifiable, and worse using extreme right wing capitalist-libertarian views on free speech rights that in earlier times were only held by reactionary nutjobs like Pat Buchanan and Moral Majority types), to live in fear that their neighbors are extremists who would eat their children and murder them in their sleep for being good liberals were it not for the fear of an all powerful state apparatus of violence keeping them civilized…

An Open Letter to the City Council of Raleigh NC

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Jun 062020


At the press conference Friday morning, our mayor passionately stated:

The Raleigh City Council supports our police chief … We have her back now, and we support her.

Raleigh Mayor holds press conference after a week of protests in the city

The council member code of conduct states:

Members should never attempt to express an opinion on an issue as the position of the city unless the full council has endorsed that position.


However, there is no public record of a meeting, motion, vote, or resolution wherein the council declared their support for the police chief. Based upon this it appears that our Mayor violated the council code of conduct, and if the the rules of the council are to mean anything can and should be sanctioned for it. It is hypocritical for the mayor to consistently note when members of the public violate decorum, and to gavel at other members of the council when she deems them in violation, only to go on and do so herself with such a bold affirmation very publicly during a politically tense moment with public confidence in RPD low (an understatement, I suspect). If this is just a misunderstanding, a vote on a resolution of support for our police chief should be held so that each council member enters their view into the public record.

Even after the events of this weekend, the RPD continues to astound with its brazen attacks on their fellow citizens. Friday we learned that the RPD instructed the Wake County Sheriff to serve a warrant unrelated to the RPD’s jurisdiction (certainly not worthy of rousing officers in the middle of the night over) against Conrad James (whose event drew an astounding crowd of three), in the dead of night because he “had caused a nuisance”: merely knocking on the front door of a police station asking that officers pass a list of his demands for reform onward to their chief officer, afterward even having a polite chat with the police chief that happened to make for a diffusing news piece that was nothing but glowing for the police chief and the RPD (the citizen heard! the chief opening her heart and pledging to seek a more perfect justice!).

And then the RPD went on to openly surveil him (speaking his name as a target over public radio bands) during the peaceful marches Friday night, and furthermore openly followed him back to his home as he left well before curfew.

These are clear acts of retribution on the part of RPD that they have openly admitted to intended to have a chilling effect on speech, and for what? Mere participation in a moment of protest? Mild criticism of the police department? Should I be afraid of a knock on my door at three in the morning for sending these letters? Is the RPD running background checks on everyone who called into the meeting Thursday evening in case they have some outstanding warrant or unpaid citation they could be harassed over? Which of us will they next descend upon in the dead of night in their attempt to intimidate the city into silence? There is no going back from this precipice: the mayor and police chief must go, no more of this “if immediate demands are not met” nonsense.

Furthermore, while the curfew may have been legal and justified the first night, at this point it is very clearly unconstitutional on a number of grounds, and grows more problematic with each passing day. The NC ACLU has noted its concern with very similar curfews imposed in Greensboro and High Point, and by the criteria listed in their June 1st article it is clear Raleigh’s curfew fails to pass muster.

This is the latest declaration from our mayor that impinges upon our basic right to free expression, showing a pattern of either fundamental misunderstanding of or outright contempt for the basic law of our land. That upon reflection her only regret is not putting a curfew into place with even less justification makes it feel like contempt is the likelier of the two.

Does the city council really stand for this: For tear gassing peaceful protesters (including at least one member of the city council)? For banally violating the basic civil liberties of Raleigh’s citizens? For allowing the police to terrorize and take vengeance upon anyone who dares question them?

I thought I was cynical, but every day this year is a surprise,

  • Clinton Ebadi, Resident of District D

An(other) Open Letter to Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin of Raleigh NC

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Jun 022020

To the mayor,

I see you are still in office. Do you not understand how responsibility works? Especially after Sunday where RPD launched chemical weapons into a peaceful crowd with no provocation (spreading an outright lie to justify it), proceeded to antagonize the crowd for hours by repeatedly tear gassing them, escalating the situation until the crowd erupted in anger. Officers launching flash bang grenades at the owner of Ruby Deluxe was a nice touch too.

There were hours where the crowd was cohesive enough that the police could have declared an unlawful gathering and ended it Sunday before rioting started (or, you know, the RPD could simply have not antagonized the crowd in the first place): the blame falls squarely on your shoulders as the Mayor for this absolutely bungled response and I think proves the point of the protesters. Your police force picked a fight with the citizens they are sworn to protect, and outright terrorized the city Sunday.

Compare to last night when RPD showed restraint and at least kept their jackbooted thug contingent out of sight, giving the protesters room and allowing them time to peacefully disperse. I do hope the council reconsiders the curfew soon however: it will certainly be unequally enforced if it goes on long enough, and there will almost surely be an incident that inflames tensions again.

In addition to to your resignation and the termination of the chief of police, the city council must move forward and kill the half-assed police “oversight” board (where the oversight is the oversight) and replace it with one that has subpoena power, as our marginalized communities have been demanding for years now. It might be time to reconsider your position that “Sometimes, when you make nobody happy, maybe that is the best solution” and consider that listening to the citizens you represent and protecting them from brutalization at the hands of law enforcement is the best solution, and is your duty. Law enforcement is a job: if they don’t like having to respect citizens, good riddance. Citizens can’t choose the color of their skin!

Reinstating CACs until an alternative is researched would be a good show of faith too, although since the rest of the council except for Mr. Cox are also opposed to them I admit that’s a stretch. Just know you’re all unlikely to be re-elected unless you actually do something about this and really begin to LISTEN to marginalized communities instead of paying them lip service and waiting for them to be gentrified out of existence.

If you don’t understand why you as the mayor must resign over this, I leave you with a tale of inverted responsibility courtesy of Kierkegaard:

Although everyone wants to rule, no one wants to have responsibility. It is still fresh in our memory that a French statesman, when offered a portfolio the second time, declared that he would accept it but on the condition that the secretary of state be made responsible. It is well known that the king in France is not responsible, but the prime minister is; the prime minister does not wish to be responsible but wants to be prime minister provided that the secretary of state will be responsible; ultimately it ends, of course, with the watchmen or street commissioners becoming responsible. Would not this inverted story of responsibility be an appropriate subject for Aristophanes!

I know you were looking for a cushy prestige gig to capstone your career where you didn’t actually have to lead as it’s clear you have no leadership ability in you, but that’s not how this year turned out. Resign and allow someone competent to take your place before Raleigh goes down in service of your vanity.

  • Clinton Ebadi, Resident of District D

An Open Letter to Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin of Raleigh NC

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May 312020

To the mayor,

Resign, now. You have no legitimacy after allowing the police to brutalize a peaceful protest last night and trigger rioting.

The chief of police and wake county sheriff need to go too. What did you think would happen when the police showed up fully jackbooted in riot gear off the bat? Do you not understand the message that sends? That they followed up by lobbing chemical weapons at peaceful protesters made it deafeningly loud: we are an occupying force, and you are the occupied. You are in charge of that force, and are ultimately responsible for last night.

You went on to blame outside agitators: I hate to break it to you, but the agitators took their uniforms off and quietly went back to their homes in our communities last night.

You’ve made it clear through your many tone deaf comments (remember when you endorsed Bloomberg, making it clear that you’re fine with monstrous policing that brutalizes marginalized communities as long as the tax base increases?) that you are only the mayor of upper class white Raleigh. Disbanding the CACs because the underclass used them to complain about being tread upon, creating a joke of a police advisory board with no teeth as a giant “fuck you” to the communities suffering from state violence, even continuing to push forward on the stadium project (made possible only by Trump’s “opportunity zones” which were created specifically to destroy minority communities!) even as the COVID-19 crisis began. But you created a few special parking zones! Mission accomplished! You’re a joke.

You’ve made it clear you view the majority of Raleigh as an annoyance, and wish to silence their pleas for a better life as they are ground underheel (until they are silenced forever: dispossessed by gentrification courtesy of your friends in the construction industry).

  • Clinton Ebadi, Resident of District D

And did those feet in ancient times
Walk bare upon these lonely streets like mine?
Does God watch us from that penthouse high above
His children down below who live on air and love?

Some Parts of the Planet Don’t Suck

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Mar 162017

Good news for the Netherlands:

The big winner of Wednesday’s election – and now the largest party of the Dutch left for the first time – was GreenLeft, headed by 30-year-old Jesse Klaver, hailed by his enthusiastic supporters as the “Jessiah”.

Sometimes compared to Canada’s youthful prime minister, Justin Trudeau, Klaver – who has a Moroccan father and a mother of Indonesian descent – said on polling day that the left’s answer to the far right’s rise in Europe was to stand up for its ideals.
“What I would say to all my leftwing friends in Europe: don’t try to fake the populace,” he said.
“Stand for your principles. Be straight. Be pro-refugee. Be pro-European. We’re gaining momentum in the polls. And I think that’s the message we have to send to Europe. You can stop populism.”
The Netherlands’ youngest ever party leader, Klaver built a strong following on social media through small Meetup events after taking over GreenLeft’s leadership in May 2015.

This Happened In Our Time

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Apr 212013

… where I saw that this was a problem was dealing with a man by the name of Nahdmi Auchi. A few years ago was listed by one of the big business magazines in the UK as the fifth richest man in the UK. In 1980 left Iraq. He’d grown rich under Saddam Hussein’s oil industry. And is alleged by the Italian press to be involved in a load of arms trading there, he has over two hundred companies run out of his Luxembourg holding unit. And several that we discovered in Panama. He had infiltrated the British Labour political establishment to the degree that the 20th business birthday in London he was given a painting signed by 146 members Commons including Tony Blair. He’s the same guy who was the principal financier of Tony Rezko. Tony Rezko was the financier and fundraiser of Rod Blagoyevich, from Chicago. Convicted of corruption. Tony Rezko has been convicted of corruption. And Barack Obama. He was the intermediary who helped Barack Obama buy one of his houses and then the money not directly for the house but it bouyed up Tony Rezko’s finances came from that… [indistinct]. So during the – this is detail, but it will get to a point. During the 2008 presidential primaries a lot of attention was turned to Barack Obama by the US press, unsurprisingly. And so it started to look into his fundraisers, and discovered Tony Rezko, and then they just started to turn their eyes towards Nadhmi Auchi. Auchi then hired Carter Ruck, a rather notorious firm of London libel solicitors, whose founder, Carter Ruck, has been described as doing for freedom of speech what the Boston strangler did for door to door salesmen.

And he started writing letters to all of the London papers who had records of his 2003 extradition to France and conviction for corruption in France over the Elf-Acquitaine scandal. Where he had been involved in taking kickbacks on selling the invaded Kuwaiti governments’ oil refineries in order to fund their operations while Iraq had occupied it. So the Guardian pulled three articles from 2003. So they were five years old. They had been in the Guardian’s archive for 5 years. Without saying anything. If you go to those URLs you will not see “removed due to legal threats.” You will see “page not found.” And one from the Telegraph. And a bunch from some American publications. And bloggers, and so on. Important bits of history, recent history, that were relevant to an ongoing presidential campaign in the United States were pulled out of the intellectal record. They were also pulled out of the Guardian’s index of articles. So why? The Guardian’s published in print, and you can go to the library and look up those articles. They are still there in the library. How would you know that they were there in the library? To look up, because they are not there in the Guardian’s index. Not only have they ceased to exist, they have ceased to have ever existed. Which is the modern implementation of Orwell’s dictum that he controls the present controls the past and he who controls the past controls the future. Because the past is stored physically in the present. All records of the past.

This is going to take a while to read

So you can have a lot of political change in the United States. But will it really change that much? Will it change the amount of money in someone’s bank account? Will it change contracts? Will it void contracts that already exist? And contracts on contracts, and contracts on contracts on contracts? Not really. So I say that free speech in many places – in many Western places – is free not as a result of liberal circumstances in the West but rather as a result of such intense fiscalization that it doesn’t matter what you say. ie. the dominant elite doesn’t have to be scared of what people think, because a change in political view is not going to change whether they own their company or not. It is not going to change whether they own a piece of land or not.

So why is it that people engage… why is it that powerful organizations – there is all sorts of reasons why non-powerful organizations engage in secrecy, which to my view is legitimate, they need it, because they are powerless. But why do powerful organizations engage in secrecy? Well, usually because the plans that they have if made public would be opposed by the public. And plans that are opposed before implementation often don’t get implemented. So you want to wait as long as possible. And then implementation eventually makes them public by the very fact that they are being implemented but it is too late by then to alter the course effectively. So an organization on the other hand that is engaged in planning behaviour that if revealed is not opposed by the public doesn’t have that burden. It doesn’t have that planning burden where it is forced to take things off paper. So this will be an efficient organization, this will not be an efficient organization, and in the mix as they do economic and political battle, it will equilibriate out, these guys will shrink and these guys will grow.

waste not, or die.

Also, the extrinsic risks might be higher. The other risks associated with conducting a political life may already be quite high. So one has to keep these risks in proportion. Also the potential rewards are much greater. One might be involved in a very grand historic moment, and become swept up in it. And because we all only live once, we all suffer the continuous risk of not having lived our life well. Every year. Every year that is not used is 100% wasted, it’s not a risk of that, it is a dead bet.