Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Free Speech Hypocrisy: the US Gov't and WikiLeaks

It has come to light with recent events that we live in a civilization whose political leadership, and its unpaid agents in our corporate-owned media, express no qualms or hesitation about lecturing the world's Muslims over the importance of living in a democratic society, women's rights, and individual liberties--the most important of which is freedom of the press.  We have even fewer notions about attacking Vladimir Putin for silencing his country's dissident reporters who reveal the war crimes his government has committed in Chechnya (accompanied by open calls for those reporters to be assassinated by nationalist Russian politicians [who sound remarkably similar to any American conservative]).  

But all of that melts away when someone dares to reveal the depths of our  government's crimes.  When you show our government for the criminal enterprise it has become in its foreign policy, needless to say, to this country's elite thinks there should be no free speech for thee.

Our President is openly calling for the prosecution of Julian Assange.  Sarah Palin is going even further, calling for WikiLeaks to be declared a "terrorist organization" and have its assets (and anyone who helps them) frozen.  Such believers in freedom and democracy, to be sure.  Paragons of the values of this country's founders--that is, if they were Kim Jong-il and Erich Honecker.

If James Madison were alive today (the person who wrote the First Amendment, for Sarah Palin fans), he would be utterly ashamed over what has become of this republic.  There is no secrets protection clause in the First Amendment.  There never has been.  That was inserted by the US government in the last century to "protect" itself, which it does by classifying millions of documents (regardless of whether or not they are worthy of such classification), thereby preventing us from finding out that our government back in the early 1960s had within its ranks people who thought we should attack our own country, purposely targeting and killing Americans in terrorist attacks (that included blowing up buildings), blame it on Cuba, and use it as a pretext to invade the island and overthrow Castro.  Think about that.  Our government considered murdering its own citizens to manufacture a pretext for a war.  We only know about it now because it took that long to get it declassified.  If Obama, Palin, and our phony establishment media had it their way, you would be waterboarded and electrocuted for having revealed such a criminal plan before it was officially declassified.

The whole purpose of the First Amendment and freedom of speech is not as some academic exercise or for street preachers or telemarketers to propagandize us with their products.  According to Madison scholar Vincent Blasi, "The principal safeguards, as he viewed the matter, were devices to prevent the concentration and consolidation of governmental authority. These included the separation of powers, federalism, and what he termed the 'extended sphere,' by which Madison meant a territorial jurisdiction large enough to encompass a multiplicity of interests, passions, and ideologies that would keep each other in check. The conventional wisdom of his day held that smaller units of government provide a greater safeguard for minority rights. Madison thought the reverse: that smaller units of government allow a cohesive oppressive majority to form. In Madison's extended sphere, internal controls such as checks and balances were more important than external controls such as popular opinion or elections, although he did envision a periodic checking role for an electorate devoted to choosing virtuous, independent, and incorruptible representatives." 

In other words, allowing the free, unregulated flow of information by private individuals was seen as a must and vital way to keep in check the power of government.  If you listened to Fox News, you would never know such a thing existed.  Indeed, the government would be seen as a good in itself.  How ironic that people who claim to oppose an overreaching government, opposing federal government spending and regulations, and who now want to declare people terrorists (and possibly even use that same government to murder them) for doing what Madison wrote was the primary mission of a free press: the use of the free exchange of information  (by anyone, and not just an "official" member of the dying journalism profession) to keep our government honest.  Even then, governments were understood to be untrustworthy to their core because they were made up of people.  Today, with Interpol's arrest warrant for Julian Assange and the likely shutdown of WikiLeaks (and the hunting down of its members and even its supporters), what we are seeing is the twilight of the First Amendment and our society's eroding freedoms, turned into dust by people who never believed in what Madison wrote to begin with.

The arguments being used by the US government, that somehow these revelations "threaten lives" are even more spurious than the proposals for what to do with Assange and WikiLeaks.  Can anyone show a single instance, anywhere in the world, where these revelations have cost a single life?  And even so, should that be a matter of the law?  After all, our government has no problem with making our parolees register, and publicly provide that information, which has actually led to several of them being attacked and killed.  No, transparency only matters when it hurts people we do not like, and when it does not negatively impact the criminal outcomes of a centralized government that treats us like subjects to be spied upon, monitored, tortured, and assassinated (and all under the appearance of freedom).

If we could give a Joseph Stalin prize for totalitarianism, I would not offer it to the Western governments that want to see Mr. Assange strung up and hanged.  No, if we could give it to anyone, it should be us, the citizens of these supposedly free governments who cower, accept, and even vociferously apologize for destroying the foundations of an open society.  To that, I am truly glad Mr. Madison is not alive to see what we have done to his country and Constitution.  We have desecrated his memory and made a mockery out of the values of the people who founded this republic, and in the process transformed ourselves into a praetorian state.  

Worse, there is no public debate anywhere about this, in either of the two parties, even in civil liberties circles, never mind the citizenry.  We have accepted this growing Orwellian state without notice and without a care in the world, and we the people who have to live in this will be the ultimate losers when our every move in the not too distant future is being watched, when our DNA collected by the authorities upon birth, when we have GPS devices installed in us on the first day of pre-school, and when the intent of our speech will be scanned and interpreted by bureaucrats.  Oh, but God help you if you want health care.  We would not want to be thought of as Communists!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Thanksgiving Prayer

Starting a tradition set last year at this site, for your elucidation and holiday enjoyment, I am resubmitting a most important poem from late William S. Burroughs, a Thanksgiving Prayer.  Enjoy.

Sarah Palin: North Korea-Loving, Communist-American!

Yes, I know it is a misleading title, and I know that the ex-Governor of Alaska has no clue which Korea is democratic or Communist.  But after all, according to her apologists, I am the next Stalin for believing that sick and dying people deserve health care as a right of citizenship (on par with voting and freedom of speech).  I thought today we should give our erstwhile right-wing friends a taste of their own medicine, and credit must be given to the refudiator: she makes it remarkably easy.  Without further ado, the future Presidential nominee for the stupid party.


Palin's Korea Mixup: "We Gotta Stand With Our North Korean Allies"

Palin was asked during an interview with how she would handle the current situation between North and South Korea.

NEW YORK -- Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin accidentally mixed up North and South Korea during a radio interview Wednesday.

Palin was asked during an interview with Glenn Beck how she would handle the current situation between North and South Korea.

"Obviously we gotta stand with our North Korean allies," she said. "We are bound to treaties."

A few moments earlier Palin had correctly identified North Korea as an adversary, not an ally.

"We aren't having a lot of faith that the White House is gonna come out with a strong enough policy to sanction what it is that North Korea is gonna do."

Debate about the nation's policy in Korea has been fueled by North Korea's recent barrage on the island of Yeonpyeong that killed two South Korean civilians, two marines and wounded 18 others in what U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called one of the "gravest incidents" since the Korean War.

I believe this is what Clarence Darrow meant when he wrote, "When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President. I’m beginning to believe it.

UPDATE:  It turns out the ex-Mayor of the meth capital of Alaska believes that the media, and no doubt evil embryo killers like myself, are being too harsh on her for making just this little one-time gaffe about North Korea being an 'ally.'  I mean, it is not like she lacks knowledge about which countries are in North America, or cannot name a single Supreme Court case outside of Roe v. Wade, or thinks that one of the Constitutional duties of the Vice President of the US is to set the legislative agenda of the US Senate.  Obviously, those are all just a few of many individualized mistakes that have nothing to do with anything, like having some semblance of intelligence about the office you are running for, geography, and government in general.  All a coincidence.  

Maybe that is why Sarah prefers to "get the word out" through Twitter and Facebook--least she have to face other live human beings who might correct her for all of the one-time little gaffes she keeps making, over and over.  How horrible and anti-American of us to notice such things.  If only we were not filled with such boundless hatred for all of those wholesome values that makes us the greatest country that has or will ever exist--so that being a hate-filled wretch who uses gender to promote a retrograde, anti-female ideology would become a virtue to us all.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Get WikiLeaks Part Deux

For revealing our crimes and lies, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has suffered much.  He has been hounded by some of his own ex-employees, after causing derision for his eccentricities and revelations, and now will be hunted down to the ends of this earth, courtesy of my government (and remarkably enough Sweden).

Sweden orders arrest of WikiLeaks founder

(CNN) -- The Stockholm Criminal Court on Thursday issued an international arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on probable cause, saying he is suspected of rape, sexual molestation and illegal use of force.

The court also ordered Assange arrested in his absence, which requires Swedish authorities anywhere in the world to detain Assange if they come across him. Sweden's director of prosecutions, Marianne Ny, had requested the arrest in absence.

"The background is that he has to be heard in this investigation and we haven't been able to get a hold of him to question him," Ny said earlier Thursday.

Assange faces five counts that appear related to two incidents, according to the request Ny filed with the court.

He faces one count of rape and one count of sexual molestation related to an instance around August 17 in Enkoping, just outside Stockholm. He then faces two counts of sexual molestation between August 13 and 18 in Stockholm, and one count of illegal use of force between August 13 and 14, also in the capital.

Assange could be sentenced to at least two years in prison if convicted, according to the document.

It is the first time authorities have mentioned probable cause. The molestation charge, previously mentioned in the case, has also been upgraded to sexual molestation.

In a news release issued after the court's decision, Assange's British lawyer said the charges stem from consensual sexual relationships his client had with two women.

"Only after the women became aware of each other's relationships with Mr. Assange did they make their allegations against him," lawyer Mark Stephens said in the statement.

Stephens also said neither he nor Assange "have ever received a single written word, at any time, in any form, from Swedish authorities on the Swedish investigation against our client."

The media has been the only way they've learned substantial information about the investigation, Stephens said. He called it "a clear contravention to Article 6 of the European Convention, which states that every accused must be informed promptly, in a language which he understands and in detail, of the nature and cause of the accusation against him."

It was unclear where Assange was Thursday. Stephens told CNN he could not reveal his client's location.
Swedish prosecutors announced over the summer they were investigating Assange in two separate cases of rape and molestation. Ny said then there was reason to believe a crime had been committed, but that more investigation was necessary before she could make a final decision.

Assange has maintained he is innocent, telling the Arabic-language television network Al-Jazeera the accusations were a "smear campaign."

Assange repeatedly declined to answer questions about the rape and molestation investigation and what the allegations may mean to his organization when he spoke to CNN's Atika Shubert in October.

"This interview is about something else. I will have to walk if you are ... if you are going to contaminate this extremely serious interview with questions about my personal life," he said. Moments later, he walked off the set.

I suppose this is our way of taking out reporters.  I guess it beats the way in which Vladimir Putin prefers eliminating rascally media folk (typically with a bullet to the head).

At this rate, I am thankful that Daniel Ellsberg is not doing today what he did in the early 1970s.  I have little doubt that he would be rotting away in a dungeon somewhere in GITMO or rural Afghanistan, being waterboarded by one of our freedom-loving friends.  Such is this country's patriotic citizenry's hatred of "big government," except when it is torturing people, spying on us, racially profiling Mexicans, or murdering en masse Muslims.  But Juno forbid if your junk gets touched at the airport.  All of the sudden, they pretend to care.

Naturally, if there is ever another budding underwear or shoe bomber on one of our planes, I think we can reasonably posit where Mr. Tyner's sympathies for the use of "enhanced interrogation" tactics will be.  But of course, he is white, so he obviously could not be a terrorist.  Is it not ironic to see the variance in response to government intrusion for these folk on airport security, when these are the very same people telling us that we need to collectively stop Latinos and compel them all to affirmatively prove they are Americans or legal residents (risking jail if they forget to 'bring their papers')?  But someone inconvenienced Mr. Tyner's day and patted him down as a precondition to get on a passenger jet.  Rough life.

Meanwhile, my government is conspiring to have people arrested on charges that coincides with our attempts to politically and legally silence them, sowing discord in their own camp to coerce our targets to discontinue any US government secret-leaking operations, and who will no doubt face the full force of the NSA if/when Congress passes the misnamed Protecting Cyberspace Act--a bill that, if enacted, will allow our supposedly evil Muslim/Kenyan/Maoist President to single-handedly shut down WikiLeaks, attack its IP address, and make sure no inconvenient secret information is revealed.  

And what kind of secret information are we talking about?  Since apparently no one is paying attention in this country, how about the fact we now know that our military and then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld lied when he declared that the US had no idea how many people had been killed in Iraq (that the US "does not do body counts" in Iraq)?  Thanks to Julian Assange and Pfc. Bradley Manning (the true patriot and hero), we now know that our government lied to us the entire time and had been counting the people we were killing from the start of the war.  That is the kind of voice that my government, including my so-called radical Marxist President, is trying to silence.  And sadly, I fear my government will succeed.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Moron Report #44: Bristol Palin is Destroying America

It is not that the daughter of the future loser to Obama in the 2012 Presidential elections is annoying us with her hypocritical pleas for people not to have sex before marriage, while she totes around a baby she had out of wedlock.  It is not that I even care that she is on some second rate dance show that I take pride in having never watched.  

Unfortunately for the people of Wisconsin, Steven Cowan cares....a lot.  How much?  He took out his t.v. set and had a 15 hour standoff with SWAT at the sight of Bristol Palin dancing.  Tough audience.


Man shoots TV over Bristol Palin's "Dancing" success

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A Wisconsin man angry at the success of Bristol Palin on "Dancing with the Stars" blasted his TV with a shotgun as she waltzed her way into the program's finals.

Steven Cowan's violent outburst came amid a heated debate over Palin's survival on the TV dance competition show despite weeks of low scores.

Critics say the 20 year-old is benefiting from the popularity of her politician mother, Sarah Palin, with the largely older, female viewers of the program. Each week the dancers are judged by a panel of experts and then voted upon by viewers, and based on a combination of scores and ballots, one contestant is voted off.
According to a criminal complaint obtained by The Smoking Gun website on Wednesday, Cowan's wife Janice told police her husband was watching Bristol Palin dancing Monday night when he "jumped up and swore...Steven was upset that a political figure's daughter was on this show when Steven did not think that she was a good dancer."

Cowan, 67, then took his shotgun and fired a round into the TV screen, triggering a 15-hour stand-off with police in the small town of Vermont, Wisconsin. He surrendered and was charged with reckless endangerment and use of a dangerous weapon, according to the complaint.

Bristol Palin, whose mother Sarah is a conservative Tea Party favorite and one of the most polarizing politicians in the U.S., was voted through to next week's "Dancing" finals on a record number of public votes, ousting the more confident and composed dancer and singer Brandy.

More than 17 million Americans watched Tuesday's results show in what broadcaster ABC said was the biggest audience for "Dancing" since late September.

Brandy said on Wednesday she was shocked at losing out Palin for a spot in the finals.

Her professional dance partner, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, showed even greater disappointment. "In this case you cross the finish line first, and somebody (Palin) barely finishes, and you get a tie because they showed heart. It's kind of difficult for me to deal with," Chmerkovskiy told morning news show "Good Morning America".

Bristol Palin this week hit back at her critics, attributing her success to hard work and saying that her mother's high profile has its disadvantages.

"I've gotten so many people who just attack me every day because of who my mother is," she told Access Hollywood on Monday.

Palin will compete in next week's "Dancing with the Stars" final against "Dirty Dancing" actress Jennifer Grey and former "That's So Raven" Disney child star Kyle Massey.


Think of all of the ammunition, spent casing, police man hours, such a terrible waste.  If only Bristol Palin had not shown up on Dancing With The Stars and pretended to be a dancer.  If only we did not have fake reality t.v. shows that made a mockery of television and good taste.  If only people cared as much about the fact Bristol's mom thinks that rape victims should have to buy their own rape kits and be forced to carry babies that were products of said sexual assaults to term.  If only the base of the Republican Party had sunk to the bottom of the Atlantic when they were coming over here on the boats a few centuries ago to kill off indigenous peoples and import African slaves.  If only Spartacus and levelers had won.  The world would be a better place.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Adios, Democrats

It is hard to watch the elections and be happy with the results, with the exception of the Blue Dogs getting wiped out.  Russ Feingold, the only real progressive Senator left, lost.  My fellow weed connoisseurs in Cali lost on Prop. 19 (with the eleventh hour liberal deserters hiding behind the proposition's supposed confusing language to excuse cowering to Attorney General Eric Holder's threat to prosecute growers/users, regardless of the referendum's outcome).  Even Alan Grayson, one of the few Democrats in Congress who seemed to have a spine (next to Feingold), was roundly defeated.

On the other hand, we lost some useless Democrats on Tuesday, whose defeat, even at the hands of the Republicans, was richly deserved.  Gone is Gene Taylor, the most right-wing Democratic member of Congress, a man who downplayed the BP oil spill by comparing it to chocolate milk.

Unfortunately, a few DINOs won election, including the current Governor of West Virginia, Joe Manchin, who ran almost to the right of his opponent, on health care, the environment, abortion, etc.  Say what you will about the tea partiers' racism, hatred of Mexicans, and government in general (except when they are using its services),  they understand one thing, arguably the most important value of all when you constrict yourself to one of the two political parties--they know how to hold their preferred party accountable.

The sad truth is most liberals and progressives do not know  how to do this.  Either because we are weak and scared into voting Democratic after the 2000 elections, or because we allow a bunch of conservative DLC/Blue Dog hacks to run our party into the ground (and who expend their only criticisms on the left [much like their right-wing left friends at Counterpunch]).  Deep down, I think the real problem is there is not enough of us to begin with, even in the Democratic Party.

If one believes the Gallup company, conservatives, while not a majority of the electorate, are still more predominant (by a ratio of 2 to 1) than liberals.

The biggest problem for liberals, however, is the fact we are not even the largest voting bloc from within the Democratic Party.

Of course, what constitutes a moderate in today's electorate is very different from 20-30 years ago.  By today's standards, Ronald Reagan was a moderate (maybe even a liberal), and Richard Nixon (the man who came up with the idea of employer mandated healthcare) a Marxist on par with Mao Zedong.  It may be we have been a liberal party or a more liberal one than the polls realize.  It is just the poles have shifted so far to the right that it has made moderates seem more liberal.  If that is the case then we are not in such peril after all.  Our main task is to motivate people in our base and get them to vote, assuming that is possible when their own party constantly undercuts and insults them at every turn.

So, what do we do?  Do we continue to support a party that basically will not represent our values?  Do we go and support a third party, which will represent our values, but will at the end of the day never get elected to anything?

This problem goes much deeper than an election or a party.  We have always been the underdog in the battle for ideas (and this goes back to our revolution when British critics of our cause could look at us with scorn about our supposed belief in liberty while allowing slavery).  And this should not be very surprising.  We do not own most of the media, as much as the right would have everyone believe.  Our media is owned by corporations, who are unpaid agents of our government, and most of those companies are either going to be conservative (like Fox, realclearpolitics, Rasmussen, Associated Press, et al.) or they will be politically neutral "professionals" who do not want to seem partisan (for fear of being baited as liberal).

And as much as progressives hate to face this, particularly for those from the right-wing left*, who spend all of their time blaming the left for society's ills and wanting to marry the very people who think they should be thrown into the fiery cauldrons (alongside Mexicans, people without health insurance, and just about anyone else outside of their white male demographic), our system is rigged against us in one big way.  Our constitution supports a majoritarian, winner-take-all two party duopoly with unregulated corporate sponsorship of those campaigns.  We do not have proportional representation, like in most democracies, so if you support a third party, you are essentially declaring that you intend to lose.  

So, is it worth it?  Do we support a party that refuses to support us, try to replace it, or cave to the demands of the primitivists and drop out?  I ask it not just as a rhetorical question, but also as a question that I have been continually inquiring over as a voter since the age of 18.

*=note, these are the same libertarian lemmings-masquerading-as-uncompromising-radicals who whine about the "Twitter left" in the liberal blogosphere that takes away traffic from their site (not infrequently emblazoned with some appeal for your money, like some cheap preacher on the Trinity Broadcasting Network), all while having their own Facebook page!  Such is their dedication to hard hitting commentary, like that of a xenophobic ex-Reagan Administration official who helped give the world supply side economics.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Not In Oklahoma...

The skies will turn blue, the seasons will change, and Oklahoma will remain free of Sharia law.  Yes, this is of paramount concern to us all in the so-called heartland.  Not the economy.  No, the Saudis might take over Oklahoma.

Oklahomans vote on Sharia law ban

(CNN) – Looks like Oklahomans will not, repeat not, be subject to Sharia law anytime in the near future. Local media in the state, tonight, is reporting that ballot initiative SQ755, which bars state courts from using Islamic or international law, is on the path to approval– Yes votes outweighing Nos by more than two-to-one, with about 40-percent of the precincts in.

The outcome was never in doubt, but the measure's necessity was, and is. Constitutional scholars point out that Sharia law is religious law, and the first words of the First Amendment say, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."

Still, the fact that it got on the ballot in the first place says a lot about what's on voters' minds.

Oh, yes, it says a lot about the people of Oklahoma and what is on their minds--namely, that they are out of their minds.  I cannot wait to see what the Southern Baptist Convention will be doing to get out the Republican vote in 2012.  Maybe a ban on voodoo, anything with the Spanish language in it, or how about just black people altogether?  How about a vote to ban the possibility that one day the Nebulans will colonize us and try to impose martian law on us?  Surely, that will save the lumpens for the rapture.  Never mind the 10% unemployment rate.

I wonder how many of these same white right/tea party folk would vote for a ban on all future religious/ecclesiastical authority based on the Bible?  Oh, I somehow think we would be hearing a different interpretation of the Establishment Clause then.

It is at times like this I lament that the natives did not finish us off when they had the chance.