Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Why I Am Not Supporting Ron Paul

If you were to listen to the cheerleaders in our gated communities of this country, you would think that Ron Paul was the greatest thing since sliced bread.  The near cultishness of these followers, including a close friend from my undergrad days, is alarming and yet at the same time amusing (rivaling any hippie commune in the late '60s).  There is just something about watching a white person under the age of 40 wanting to keep his stock options untaxed, and his porn unmonitored, that makes you wonder about the future of our increasingly trivial polity.

There is even an attempt by right-wing Ron Paul supporters to try to appeal to progressives to vote for their most favored libertarian.

Sadly, many of the libertarian lemmings on the left will be crawling over to the Ron Paul train on their hands and knees, as they always do (yes, Mr. Cockburn, that includes you) when faced with the possibility of selling their souls, but I will not be one of them.   Take the libertarian appeals with a grain of salt because they continually whitewash every single one of the less savory aspects of Ron Paul with ad hominems and defenses that would be handled quite differently if committed by someone they politically disliked.

Ron Paul: The Good Side

This is not to obfuscate the positive contributions of Ron Paul on issues that count (and there are a few).  One, he is opposed to our interventionist foreign policy, voting against the war in Iraq (although it should be noted that Ron Paul, in spite of what he and his defenders say, voted in favor of the war in Afghanistan back in 2001).  And this is not a recent or newfound position.  Paul has been one of the more consistent critics of our foreign policy since the beginning of his Congressional career, dating back to the '70s, opposing the existence of NATO during the Cold War.  He is the most vociferous and erstwhile opponent of our imperial ways of any presidential candidate in the two major parties since Dennis Kucinich.

Two, Ron Paul is the only candidate in the current presidential field (in the two parties) who openly condemns the war on drugs, our government's addiction to law enforcement tactics to execute this incarceration spree, and what it has done to us politically and economically.  Paul is not the only elected official willing to challenge the war on drugs and our prison industrial complex (the result of the war on drugs), but he is the only one who is running for POTUS who thinks this way.

In addition, Rep. Paul opposes the Patriot Act (from the start and still does to this day), the National Defense Authorization Act, and he is on record as wanting to abolish foreign aid to the apartheid state that is Israel.  Those are not minor stances.  He has taken them time and again, even to his political detriment in his own party.  It is also why he will never win the presidential nomination in the Republican Party (who supports all of those policies as a matter of principle).  It is also why I at least have some modicum of respect for Ron Paul and believe him to be the only member of the stupid party in Congress who is not bought and sold by some interest group.

None of these positives should be ignored when passing any judgment on Ron Paul or his ideological inclinations, and it is why I understand some progressives for taking a serious look at Rep. Paul's candidacy.

Ron Paul: The Bad and Ugly

Unfortunately, Ron Paul has a downside, and the reservoir of that downside is as immense and deep as any of the other congregation of bigots in the Republican presidential field.

No matter how much anyone wants to sidestep it, the blatant racism and hatefilledness of Ron Paul's newsletters back in the '90s is sickening.  Here are just some of the views that Ron Paul wrote/signed off on.

"If you have ever been robbed by a black teen-aged male, you know how unbelievably fleet-footed they can be." - Ron Paul, 1992
"Given the inefficiencies of what D.C. laughingly calls the `criminal justice system,' I think we can safely assume that 95 percent of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal." - Ron Paul, 1992
"We don't think a child of 13 should be held responsible as a man of 23. That's true for most people, but black males age 13 who have been raised on the streets and who have joined criminal gangs are as big, strong, tough, scary and culpable as any adult and should be treated as such." - Ron Paul, 1992
"What else do we need to know about the political establishment than that it refuses to discuss the crimes that terrify Americans on grounds that doing so is racist? Why isn't that true of complex embezzling, which is 100 percent white and Asian?" - Ron Paul, 1992

Contrary to the complaints by Ron Paul supporters of a media conspiracy in bringing up the newsletters, it is nothing new.  The media has given extensive coverage to the newsletters throughout the 2000s, even back when Paul ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 (the details of which I gave coverage to on this site).  According to Ron Paul, he never wrote any of this, or cannot recall it.  Paul himself has stated that he never read his own newsletter, but merely signed off on it.  It has been rumored more than once that Lew Rockwell (the chairman of the Ludwig von Mises Institute) wrote the offending passages which, if true, shows that racialist attitudes on the libertarian right are no less foreign today than they were 60 years ago when libertarians opposed the civil rights movement on the grounds of states' rights (the same enabling concept that makes them sympathize with those who owned the very people they denigrate today).

Even assuming that Ron Paul is telling the truth, and let us say he is, he signed off on this newsletter and employed a white supremacist to write under his masthead.  If he did not read it, he is even worse for being a fool and incompetent, something Paul is not noted for being, which led me to believe four years ago (and today) that he is lying through his teeth about writing/reading his old newsletter.  He almost certainly did read it before he signed off on the passages, at the very least (and likely wrote it).  In fact, contrary to what Ron Paul supporters will tell you, Paul himself took responsibility for what he wrote/signed off on (depending on who you believe) back in 1996.

Do I believe for one minute that Ron Paul is the second coming of the Ku Klux Klan?  No, that seems very unlikely when considering that Paul has never ran his campaigns based on those issues.  What is more more likely is that Paul wrote/signed off on the newsletter's racism because he knew such expressed sentiments with his (almost exclusively) white readership would sell.  After all, it was a profit-making enterprise, something that should be familiar to anyone who believes money is the most important thing in life.

Ron Paul and Libertarians: In the Heart of Evil

Position-wise, and most dangerously, like with all libertarians Ron Paul supports unregulated capital.  He can call himself an opponent of corporatism, but he only opposes direct government subsidization.  Something you will never hear Ron Paul say is that we should take it a step further and abolish all preferential tax credits for corporations (save for an abolition of the tax code) and for that matter eliminate corporate charters and contracts enforcement for corporations, since all of the aforementioned take place under the watchful eye of our government.  Why would he support such government ownership and oversight of the rules?  Because libertarians believe that corporations are humans and that we are atomistic individuals who should selfishly pursue money in this system of unfettered capitalism (i.e., economic stratification, poverty, and misery for most of the population).

That might not sound so horrible, if you have economic resources or if you play a game of Monopoly.  What Ron Paul does not stress and what his supporters hate to mention, is that this means the abolition of child labor laws, the abolition of the right to collectively bargain (and for any unionization, at least legal recognition [a 20th century invention in the U.S.]), and the abolition of public education and what remains of our lessening social safety net, particularly Social Security and Medicare, which Ron Paul has declared un-Constitutional and should be abolished.  Here is Rep. Paul in a more open moment.

Naturally, as a presidential candidate, Ron Paul has partially reversed himself and now states he likes these programs after all.  And the best way to preserve the social safety net?  By cutting the living daylights out of it, of course!

Think about this.  Ron Paul considers Social Security slavery, but wants to preserve it by abolishing education and public housing.   This hypocrisy should not sound unfamiliar because Rep. Paul feels the same way about those who have been real slaves in this country.  Again, I will let Rep. Paul speak for himself.

This is not some newsletter.  It is the honest expressions of the man.  Ron Paul supports the Confederacy and lives the illusion that the best way to get rid of owning other human beings is through market forces (i.e., buying their freedom and compensating those who owned and treated slaves like animals), even though the market supported and made slavery viable for over two centuries (the first holding company on the New York Stock Exchange traded and sold slaves).   This is not unlike his son's declaration that the civil rights movement was unnecessary because market principles (the real motivating fetishism of libertarianism) could have eliminated segregation.

What Rand and Ron fail to note is that these institutions were culturally and politically supported (and overwhelmingly so by those at the top of the racial caste), and no market in the world is going to change what politics and culture maintains (for example, there is a supply and demand for harvesting and selling of human organs, but our cultural mores and laws do not permit it).  Moreover, slavery in the U.S. became the most profitable institution in American history because (not in spite of) the capitalist industrial revolution with the invention of the cotton gin.  Actually, many historians date Eli Whitney's invention with being one of the economic rationales to spread slavery, which became a lightening rod politically throughout the early 1800s after U.S. expansion westward.  If Ron and Rand Paul had it their way, we would still be dealing with these issues today because they never would have adjudicated and resolved them in 1865 or 1965 (back when the market and Southern culture commanded their presence).

I am not of the mind that either of the Pauls are white supremacists.  They are libertarians and motivated by other factors first (primarily economic), but like with Barry Goldwater's opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act their ideology embodies its greatest weakness--to recognize that markets do not answer all problems in society and sometimes, dare the thought, government intervention is necessary to remedy quandaries not infrequently caused by their side, and politically and culturally defended as traditions in need of preservation (a phenomenon of the right that plagues us to this day on gay marriage).  And they recognize this, which is why the catchall defense for the failures of the market for libertarians is to blame what few government regulations that do exist (even when never used), or opine about the importance of maintaining unregulated capital over all else (even if/when they do not provide for optimal returns).  The blind faith in the correcting nature of their economic system (which encourages people with economic resources to dismantle the commons and segregate themselves from everyone else) borders on the kind of ignorance one typically sees in a religious person who rationalizes the inattentiveness of their skygod after a prayer is not answered.

The inability of libertarians to care one wit for someone who does not have disposable income is the most grievous part of their ideology.  Notice again the hypocrisy of a Ron Paul or most libertarians' refusal to want to abolish state-contracts enforcement or corporate charters, while simultaneously advocating for the elimination of the National Labor Relations Board and the right of a working person in this country to form a labor union and collectively bargain for a higher wage (since that means legal and state recognition of such organizing, which situationally is interpreted as 'big government').  And that is the kernel of the evil, yes, the evil, of libertarianism and of laissez-faire capitalism.  The legal/state preservation of the owning class over (and at the expense of) everyone else.  It is why at the end of the day the right in this country supported and fought to preserve slavery, opposed the abolition of child labor, opposed unions, opposed the income tax, and public education.  Libertarianism (just a more socially liberal strain of conservatism) is an ideology centered on the negation of civilization and denial of society to dodge paying its bills.  That is the fatal flaw of libertarianism and no cutbacks on military spending and non-enforcement of anti-terrorism laws will ever be able to mitigate it.

Sounds like a harsh judgment to our stockholding friends?  This is the world we lived in before the age of child labor laws and the 8 hour work day (maladies that were abolished by government, contravening market forces).

This is the kind of society we had before there were unions, OSHA, and safety regulations for workers, like coal miners.

About half of my family tree was wiped out by that industry in the pre-union and pre-OSHA days from black lung and mining accidents.  The fate of those men (my grandfather, great grandfather, great-great grandfather, and at least a dozen great uncles and cousins, all killed by that industry's safety standards under the invisible hand) is of no consequence to the libertarian because, after all, it is the market and the market can never be wrong (and should only be 'corrected' by trying to buy it).  Like the tollbooth, to the libertarian we are only human if we can afford to cross their arbitrary/state-sanctioned and enforced rule of corporate humanness.  Otherwise, we are just expendable atoms.

If Not Ron Paul, Who?

I know what I have written is heretical to the Ron Paul supporters and will get me flamed or red-baited, but I do not care or expect a libertarian to understand.  You cannot be that narcissistic and then pretend to care about people outside of your life after reading one blog post.  It is an appeal to anyone who views those below the upper 1% income tax bracket as full citizens that should be given equal treatment and the same opportunities in life.  To them, to you, who should I vote for?

If you read this blog or any of my posts, including the ones in the 'best of' blogroll, I am no friend of Barack Obama.  I voted for him back in 2008, knowing that I would not vote for him in 2012, foreseeing many of his betrayals.  That is because Barack Obama was never a real progressive.  Yes, that is hard for Ron Paul supporters or any person who watches Fox "news" to believe.  You think he's a Communist.  A Communist who gave us a "government takeover" of healthcare.  You will never hear them tell us how a government subsidy for a private insurance plan is the same as government ownership and takeover because to them if the government so much as passes wind at someone less fortunate than they are, then that is Communism.  I debated a fellow once, where I live in the South (yes, he is a native Southerner), who assert to me that libraries were Bolshevist because they were supported by government.  That is how reactionary our politics has become in this country, a contribution given to us in part by the Ron Pauls and libertarians.

Barack Obama, the "Communist-socialist Islamist," is the same "Communist-socialist Islamist," who has given this country payroll tax cuts, extension of the Bush tax cuts (after running against them), support for free trade, opposition to a single-payer healthcare system (real socialism, for those of you paying attention), appointed a deficit panel that wants to gut Social Security, caved in to Republicans for a Congressional (and extra-Constitutional) "super" committee to legislatively address the deficit (and put Social Security and Medicare on the table for cuts), and appointed to his economic team the very people (Timothy Geithner and Lawrence Summers) who pushed for the recension of the Glass-Steagall Act back in the late '90s, helping to facilitate our economic collapse in 2008.  I either anticipated or knew all of that was coming (excepting the Bush tax cut extension), and yet I still voted for this man, just to spite the Republican Party of the Bush era, which I blamed partly on voters like myself who pulled the lever (or punched the chad) for Ralph Nader back in 2000  (buyer's remorse is always 20/20).

What I did not expect, and what has disappointed me to no end, is the level of depravity and constant flip-flopping of the Obama administration on the few issues he ran on back in 2008 that attracted me to vote for him, especially on the Patriot Act, the Iraq War, and national security vs. civil liberties.

This was Barack Obama back in 2008.

In the past three years, President Obama has gone back on every one of those sentiments (with the notable exception of an executive order banning torture).  The current administration has supported the extension of the Patriot Act, warrantless searches (which he previously critiqued as violating Constitutional values), turned whistleblowers like Bradley Manning into criminals (after giving support to laws that would protect them), and has expanded on George Bush's actions with even greater calumnies, like having a personal private hit list filled with the names of alleged (but not charged) terrorists (including American citizens), who are to be killed on sight by our government.  No charges, no trials, just murdered.  This administration has already killed our own citizens in this manner.  We afford trials for the likes of Jerry Sandusky and Jeffrey Dahmer, but if you are deemed to be a terrorist (on the word of one person [with absolutely no legal oversight]) then you can be killed.

And then there was the National Defense Authorization Act.  President Obama has threatened to veto the bill because of his opposition to some parts of the legislation.  But like with our pullout from Iraq, it is not a policy outcome he wants.  Indeed, he supports the worst parts of the bill, according to one of its sponsors, Rep. Carl Levin.  And just what are the worst parts of the bill he supports?  The arrest and detention of American citizens by the U.S. Army without warrant, held (potentially for life) without charge or access to an attorney and family.  In essence, the current administration in theory is supporting (or so reassured by one of the bill's sponsors) the ability of the U.S. government to disappear its own citizens, negating the Fourth and Sixth Amendments, habeas corpus, and the Posse Comitatus Act.   On my most cynical day as a voter in 2008, I never anticipated or imagined this.  

On account of the aforementioned, and these are only some of the administration's deviations, I will not and can not in good conscience support his re-election. 

So, if not Ron Paul or Barack Obama (or anyone in the Republican field), who should I support?  I honestly do not have an answer at this point.  I only know who I will not be voting for, and it will not be Barack Obama or Ron Paul.  Why sell my soul to vote for one imperfection over another?  If I do vote for anyone, it will be a real progressive, something which those of us on the left need to take to, instead of going into a coalition with people who want to abolish the tax code (and this country's poor) so we do not go to war over moderated believers in the system and all of its moles.  These candidates are two sides of the same coin, as much as they would like to portray themselves as being agents of change.  Doubt me?  Ask Ron Paul and Barack Obama their view on universal government-run healthcare.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

National Defense Authorization Act: Declaration of War Against Us

Whenever future civilizations, studying our downfall and ultimate demise, wonder when our empire decided it best to feed on us, arrest us, oppress us, and utilize outright state-sanctioned murder to protect the property of its elites, they will need to look no further than the recently passed National Defense Authorization Act.  This fine piece of legislation passed through the Senate today with a 93-7 vote.

20 Things You Should Know About the Bill That Could Ruin America

Last week the U.S. Senate passed 93-7 a version of the National Defense Authorization Act that includes provisions giving the military the right to detain you forever and without charge if they think you're some kind of terrorist. Consider it an early holiday present! There is no exchange policy, sorry.
President Barack Obama can get rid of the Act's indefinite detention provisions by using his veto powers. He says he might do just that, so there is hope. But Hopey could also change his mind at the last minute and let the language become law. Civil libertarians from all sides of the political spectrum are very anxious about the final call he'll make.

Even though you can't do much to prevent the provisions from taking effect, here's a list of 20 details about them. Maybe the info will come in handy when you finally flee to Saudi Arabia ISO political refugee status and have to explain how your country was oppressing you:
  • 1. The provisions were passed as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)—enacted for the last 48 years or so to provide funding for the military and all our wars. (The act for fiscal year 2012 awarded $662 billion for defense spending.) Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Carl Levin (D-MI) took the lead in promoting them, making passage a bipartisan effort/failure.
  • 2. Initially the provisions passed in a closed-door committee meeting, without a single hearing. The Senate didn't want to spoil the surprise for everybody.
  • 3. Because of the provisions, the NDAA now says the military can detain anyone deemed to be "a part of" or deemed to have "substantially supported" Al Qaeda, the Taliban, or "associated forces." You can be on the battlefield, or you can be PayPaling money to your local terrorist cell while sipping your latte at a Starbucks—doesn't matter. Even though we captured Saddam, Osama, and Anwar al-Awlaki, these powers are still necessary. Don't question.
  • 4. The bill grants power to the military to arrest U.S. citizens on American soil and detain them in military prisons forever without offering them the right to legal counsel or even a trial. This isn't a totally new thing: "dirty bomb" plotter Jose Padilla spent three-and-a-half years as an "enemy combatant" until he was finally charged. But Padilla's detention was unusual and sparked a huge outcry; the new provisions would standardize his treatment and enable us all to become Jose Padillas.
  • 5. Some people are trying to say that language regarding indefinite detention (Section 1031) doesn't apply to American citizens, but it does. However, the mandatory detention requirement (Section 1032) includes an exemption for American citizens, which means the military doesn't have to imprison you forever and ever "unless ordered to do so" by the president. You better remove that Nobama bumper sticker from your truck.
  • 6. The provisions could last as long as fruitcake lasts. We covered this earlier.
  • 7. Many important people oppose the provisions, including FBI Director Robert Mueller, the CIA, the military, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, the head of the Justice Department's National Security Division, the Director of National Intelligence, and your mom (unless she's a U.S. senator).
  • 8. A group of 26 retired generals and admirals wrote a letter to the Senate saying the provisions "reduce the options available to our Commander-in-Chief to incapacitate terrorists," and will "do more harm than good." The Senate obviously ignored them.
  • 9. According to Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who opposes indefinite detention of U.S. citizens, an American can be deemed a "terrorist" after just one hearing. Finally, the government promises to work efficiently on something.
  • 10. Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) tried to kill the provision on indefinite detention with an amendment that required Congressional review of these brand-new military detention powers, but his effort failed 60 votes to 38.
  • 11. All the Republican senators supported the provisions except for Paul and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL).
  • 12. Former Vice President Dick Cheney was in attendance for the vote on behalf of the waterboarding lobby. Every time he heard the words "indefinite detention," he got an erection.
  • 13. None of this stuff will ever affect people who are innocent of terrorism-related crimes, unless the government wrongly accuses them.
  • 14. As pointed out by Salon columnist Glenn Greenwald, the provision dispenses with Article 3, Section 3 of the Constitution, which provides that nobody can be punished for treason without heightened due process requirements being met." Goodbye, Art. 3 Sec. 3! Send our regards to the 4th, 8th, and 14th Amendments.
  • 15. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), one of the provisions' most vocal supporters, put it this way to the New York Times: "Citizens who are suspected of joining Al Qaeda are opening themselves up 'to imprisonment and death ... And when they say, "I want my lawyer," you tell them: "Shut up. You don't get a lawyer. You are an enemy combatant, and we are going to talk to you about why you joined Al Qaeda."'" Shut up, fool! Lindsey Graham hates it when you talk.
  • 16. Some of the senators who passed this shit don't really know what they are talking about when they talk about "enemy combatants" and their status under existing law.
  • 17. President Barack Obama has stated he'll veto the provisions because they would "raise serious and unsettled legal questions and would be inconsistent with the fundamental American principle that our military does not patrol our streets." They're also confusing.
  • 18. The provisions will militarize America even further and—in Graham's words—"basically say[s] in law for the first time that the homeland is part of the battlefield." Your backyard is a microcosm of the war on terror. Just think of that every time you host a barbecue.
  • 19. They could disappear from the NDAA if the House and Senate conferees who meet in conference committee this week decide to get rid of them.
  • 20. Texas Republicans have somehow worked sex with animals into all this.
Now for the good news: Greenwald at Salon says none of this indefinite detention without a lawyer stuff changes the status quo that much. It only codifies what's already been happening in the U.S. for the past few years. So you've been living under these conditions for a while now, but look—you're still not in jail. Just be more careful about what sorts of opinions on the government you post on Twitter, and don't say anything nice about Al Qaeda, and you'll be fine.


Nice to see the Republicans in Texas were able to use the bill to change the UCMJ to legalize bestiality for our military personnel.  I guess we now know their values and what makes them tick.  

Out of fairness, I will list the seven Senators who still believe in some modicum of human freedom.  Yes, dear right-wing left, there are Republicans on this list (even a couple of tea partiers).  Let them receive praise, as they deserve, alongside anyone else remaining who still wants to preserve our basic constitutional rights.

Tom Coburn (Republican-Oklahoma)
Tom Harkin (Democrat-Iowa)
Mike Lee (Republican-Utah)
Jeff Merkley (Democrat-Oregon)
Rand Paul (Republican-Kentucky)
Bernie Sanders (Independent-Vermont)
Ron Wyden (Democrat-Oregon)

Next to these seven brave souls, an entire chamber of Congress today decided to declare war on the citizenry of this country.  Understand that this legislation, if implemented, means the end of habeas corpus and your 4-6th Amendment rights in our Constitution.  That is not being rhetorical.  It is the cold hard reality of the bill.

One, our army will be able to, in the name of anti-terrorism, conduct domestic law enforcement functions, which countermands the Posse Comitatus Act.  And you are wrong, Sen. Rubio.  The army will be operating as a domestic police force, which is exactly what the Posse Comitatus Act prohibits.  You do not need to be on a military patrol to constitute the act's ban on using the army to enforce civilian law.  As a lawyer, Senator Rubio, you understand and know about this law (I learned about it as an undergrad and in law school) and you know that it bans the use of the army to enforce the 'laws of the land' (i.e., civilian law).  There is no way you can be honestly ignorant of this.

Two, our national government (through our army) will also be able to use the military to arrest you (yes, native-born American citizens [and yes, even those of you who are non-Muslims]) without warrant, search your property without a warrant or cause, and hold you indefinitely without charge.  And yes, that means potentially you could be kidnapped by your government and sent off to Guantanamo Bay (although one can only hope the president's executive order banning torture is being followed there).

Three, our national government, under the guise of national security, will have the right to use anti-terrorism as a rationale to have you assassinated on American soil--again, without charge or trial, and on the sole orders of the POTUS.  And this not only applies on American soil.  You can be given the same treatment abroad, as well.  In other words, this law basically declares war on you no matter where you are, and do it without any legal recourse and ability to challenge a charge made against you (since any charge will be made without the benefit of counsel or in a civilian court).

There is no shortage of hyperbole to call this for what it is because the summation of this bill is to cancel our rights.  It is a rank assault on our Constitution and worse on all of us as American citizens.  We are not to be trusted with rights that we claim to have, by a document that is to no longer apply to our lives, because the likes of Joseph Lieberman and John McCain say so.  And while I commend President Obama for denouncing parts of the bill, there are more than enough votes to override his veto (if this were to happen).  I do not think I need to tell you what the Republican Congressional leadership and every one of the party's presidential candidates not named Ron Paul think.  Of course, you already know the answer.

These are the same people who compare a government subsidy for a private insurance plan to a communistic threat to American values, but who simultaneously support domestic law enforcement tactics that are right out of North Korea.  Even Cuba (yes, Cuba) requires its government to charge you with a crime after arrest.  On his worst day as president, Lincoln admitted that the suspension of habeas corpus was his worst act and one he felt would damage his judgment by future historians.  We are now enshrining a totalitarian government in our country and making it, as Chalmers Johnson called it, our mortal enemy and nemesis.  And even if the courts rule it unconstitutional, consider that 93% of the US Senate felt it acceptable to allow the U.S. Army to arrest you without warrant, hold you indefinitely, possibly torture and/or kill you, without charge, without trial, without legal recourse, regardless of your innocence, guilt, or global residence.

I spend quite a bit of time on this blog chronicling the crimes of this country, especially our corporations and government (at this point seemingly joined at the hip), but even Wal-Mart has an appeals process for employees before firing them (even though such a policy is only in its corporate guidelines, not in its charter).  We have a Constitution requiring our government to charge us with a crime after arrest, to respect our privacy and personal property, and almost the entire Senate today desecrated the memory of James Madison, shredding over two centuries of the rule of law and the bedrock of our liberties in this republic.  Even if we survive this assault legally, we now know what the U.S. Senate thinks of us and our laws and traditions, and sadly I doubt today will be the last day we see the likes of a John McCain (or whoever replaces him) expanding the powers of our police state to abolish the remainder of our rights, so that we are mindless automatons living in a shell of a liberal Constitution as meaningful as the Soviet Union's constitutional provisions protecting free speech under Stalin.  If that is not evil, then I will never know what is.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Phony Post-Racist America of Herman Cain

There is something about the sight of a black man talking like a white Southerner from the 1950s.  Yes, that sounds like a harsh assessment of Herman Cain, but there is no other way of judging a person who says the things Herman Cain says.  You know something is wrong when an African American who lived through the civil rights movement, while freely admitting he never took part in it, spends his time talking about states' rights, the very concept used by the Dixiecrats of his era and state to rationalize opposition to the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Act.  

If Herman Cain's worldview had won out in the 1950s and '60s, he would not be voting or running for higher office.  Whether he likes to admit it or not, he is a free rider and beneficiary of a social and political movement supported by the very forces he claims have "brainwashed" his own community.

This is not to say that one must be a liberal or leftist in all cases without being something like a 'traitor' (fill in community appropriate treasonous name).  Actually, I have worked with African American academics in the past who were fairly conservative, a more prevalent phenomenon than people realize.  It should be no more notable than being a white leftist (as I am), in a country filled with white people, especially white men, who are predominantly right-wing in their political orientation.

What I do not find acceptable is the notion that anyone joking with a white supremacist like Neal Boortz (a man who started his political career as a speech writer for Lester Maddox [the last open racial segregationist governor in the U.S.]) about having possibly been owned by Mr. Boortz's ancestors, as though there should be nothing funnier than the notion of a black person being owned by a white supremacist's family 150 years ago. 

What I do not understand is how anyone, black or white, can call himself a believer in a religion whose founder told us to love everyone, including our enemies, can publicly declare that under no circumstances would he ever employ a Muslim (imagine, Herman, if the boards of exec two decades ago at Godfather's Pizza had the same attitude about employing black people?). Again, I will let Mr. Cain speak for himself.

What I will never understand is how anyone, regardless of your race, can say that racism is not a factor in economic inequality in American life.  I write this as a white man (transplant) living in the South, it is noticeable down here as much as anyplace in the U.S.--something Herman Cain should know as a lifelong Southerner.  So, am I to believe the fact that black unemployment is twice as high as white unemployment, all of this is based solely on the inability of black people to find a job?  Until the 1960s most African Americans in the South were not even allowed to vote and were systematically cut out of housing and jobs by discrimination.  The residue of that still persists in this country today in our inner cities and rural areas, and even our suburbs.  Tell me, dear white readers, when was the last time you were pulled over for "fitting the description" of a crime suspect?  When was the last time one of our so-called brethren of a lighter hue experienced the opportunity to have 41 bullets unloaded into us for reaching for our wallet or just shot in the back, execution style, while being restrained (without cause)?  When was the last time you ever saw a white presidential candidate have his citizenship challenged (note, John McCain was born outside of the U.S.)?

Herman Cain knows all of this, or at least he should, since he is on the side of the people who claim that Barack Obama is a Muslim socialist/terrorist sympathizer from Kenya.

And for those who say I am being overly critical, I challenge you to ask Mr. Cain his view on the Confederacy and the Confederate battle flag, or about the efficacy of joking with the speechwriter for Lester Maddox about being owned by his ancestors, etc.  Cain knows good and well the Confederate battle flag was put on the Georgia state flag back in 1956 as a protest against the civil rights movement and the Brown v. Board of Education decision (a decision that, like the civil rights laws of the '60s, Cain was a beneficiary of).  You will probably not see Herman Cain talking about that issue anytime soon, unless compelled by reporters, because he is campaigning for the votes of people who support the Confederacy and Confederate battle flag, and who 50 years ago thought Mr. Cain should not be allowed to legally vote or sit next to them on a bus.  Doubt me?  Go to rural Georgia (Cain's home state), say Watkinsville, and ask a native 70 year old white man there his view of Atlanta or Detroit, and then listen to the response (which you already know will be coming).  Those are Herman Cain's voters.  

Is it any wonder he thinks black people are 'brainwashed'?  Long before Mr. Cain and his friends thought universal healthcare was a Communist plot, they thought something else was proof of America's leftist conspiracy against freedom and democracy.  Yes, civil rights.

And that is why in Herman Cain's world, a white Republican who goes hunting at a place with 'n*gg*rhead' inscribed on a rock, and calls him brother onstage at a debate is not racist, but a liberal comedian who makes fun of his campaign is.  And that is why Herman Cain is on the wrong side of history now, as his supporters (i.e., the opponents of the "negro Soviet republic" they deemed the civil rights movement to embody) were five decades before.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Wall Street Demonstrators

It is rare that a group of demonstrators in this country spark something in me that gives me a ray of hope.  Mostly because people in the U.S. are so utterly docile, it is very difficult to feel anything but despair and cynicism about the polity.  Then every once an awhile my fellow citizens will surprise me.  This last week has been a pleasant surprise.

To be sure, our beloved respectable fourth estate thinks the youngins' to be misdirected.  How dare they spend time going after the same people who gave us the greatest economic destruction in the past seven decades?  Here is that bastion of leftist bolshevism (according to the right), The New York Times:
Members retained hope for an infusion of energy over the weekend, but as it approached, the issue was not that the Bastille hadn’t been stormed, but that its facade had suffered hardly a chip.
That blurb in itself is enough to elicit my support.  

Here they are getting arrested and treated like criminals by the armed guards for our criminal business class.

Speaking of which, here is how the New York Times initially portrayed the mass arrest, before realizing that it made the mistake of telling the truth the first time.

What about the veracity of the critiques of the demonstrators from the mainstream, corporate-owned media (i.e., media with a vested interest, even the liberals, with protecting Wall Street)?  The one most bandied about by the respectables is that the demonstrators have no direction, no organization, no demands, and a lack guidance, and that it is just a bunch of young people letting off steam.  I wonder, dear readers, was this question ever thrown out to any of the business-backed teabagger demonstrators?  No, that never happened.  In fact, here is a New York Times article neutrally reporting on a teabag demonstration on Tax Day back in 2009.  Notice, from this liberal icon of newspapers, nothing about how they were unable to figure out the electoral demands of the demonstrators.  Of course, you could tell by when/where they were demonstrating, but I digress.   

How about the teabaggers who showed up at presidential speeches with firearms, threatening violence?  No, the media had a very different response to them.  In fact, since when was it a rule that demonstrators needed to have a five point political agenda with electoral demands?  Is it not obvious enough what they are demonstrating against by their presence?  Of course, they had the same response to the anti-war demonstrations back in the '60s.  

Then again, just envision what the response would be from Fox "news" if one of the demonstrators showed up on the doorsteps of Wall Street like this:

.....my guess is they would have called for the death penalty or a surgical strike from one of our drones.  Oh, but the kids lack direction in their demands.
All of us, every non-millionaire in this country, should be supporting what these demonstrators are doing.  They are not just getting arrested and brutalized by the thugs in the New York City Police Department.  They are laying themselves on the line for us and our future.  I cannot count the number of students I have seen graduate in the past few years working as barristas and entry level, minimum wage jobs (and those are just the ones working).  Just like in the UK and Tunisia, this world's governments are run by old people who are taking the futures of this planet's youth and relegating them to a lifetime of poverty and economic servitude, without a care in the world.  

Unless the people getting dumped on by their governments stand up and scream, from the rooftops, and on the streets, I can guarantee you that not a single one of those phony, do-nothing candidates will even pretend to care.  The system is broken, everyone can see it.  Our government represents the interests of the business class of this country, the sponsors of our politicians, like the Roman patritians of old.  These criminals run our economy and way of life with a gun to our heads, knowing that they can pull the trigger at any moment and finish us off, and then have the same government rob our futures and bail them out for their malefesceance.  There is probably not a single corporate executive for a Fortune 500 company who deserves anything less than a lengthy prison stay and transfer of their loot to the very people they have spent the past few decades pilfering.

Remember the 'too big to fail' banks?  The institutions, like Bank of America, we gave nearly a trillion dollars of tax monies to (all pure deficit spending)?  Now, that same Bank of America, not satisfied with stealing our money and using billions to give their executives bonuses on our dime, have decided to charge us an extra $60 a year to use our debit cards (i.e., we have to allow this capricious company to charge us $60 to have the privilege of taking out our own money).  Such believers in financial responsibility.

These folks are fighting our fight, fellow progressives (for that matter, anyone who is willing to read and think).  And the response of the thugs of the NYPD have had one positive affect.  It has led to the intervention of many of our members of the armed forces, including the Marines (with respects to addictinginfo.org).

Semper Fi: Marines Coming To Protect Protesters On Wall Street
October 1, 2011

The thousands of indefatigable Wall Street protestors, risking their eyes and recording equipment against Wall Street’s personal jack-booted thugs in the NYPD, recently garnered even more support– the US Marines. That’s the type of support that may make an NYPD cop think twice before he decides to go all Tiananmen Square on a group of teenage girls, armed with chalk and cardboard signs (maybe it’s because they are spelled properly?).

The Occupy Wall Street movement may have thought it broke new ground when the NYC Transit Union joined their movement, but that ground just tipped the Richter Scale with news that United States Army and Marine troops are reportedly on their way to various protest locations to support the movement and to protect the protesters.

Here’s the message Ward Reilly relayed from another Marine, on his facebook page:
“I’m heading up there tonight in my dress blues. So far, 15 of my fellow marine buddies are meeting me there, also in Uniform. I want to send the following message to Wall St and Congress:I didn’t fight for Wall St. I fought for America. Now it’s Congress’ turn.
My true hope, though, is that we Veterans can act as first line of defense between the police and the protester. If they want to get to some protesters so they can mace them, they will have to get through the Fucking Marine Corps first. Let’s see a cop mace a bunch of decorated war vets.I apologize now for typos and errors.
Typing this on iPhone whilst heading to NYC. We can organize once we’re there. That’s what we do best.If you see someone in uniform, gather together.
A formation will be held tonight at 10PM.
We all took an oath to uphold, protect and defend the constitution of this country. That’s what we will be doing.
Hope to see you there!!”
Kudos, Mr Reilly!Thank You for having the courage and foresight to see past the transparently false and empty patriotism perpetually touted by the defense skanks and petro whores in Congress in order to keep their campaign coffers filled to the brim. Meanwhile, your brothers and sisters suffer massive cuts and are forced to live with PTSD, with little if any help from the very government and country for which you have sacrificed so much. Thank you for recognizing this movement not as a bunch of screaming white liberal kids with Henna tattoos, but as a universal and profound rejection of the unchecked and undue influence the plutocrats on Wall Street have had on the decision-making in Washington. Thank You for your service, and thank you for seeing through all the mountains of bullsh#t being shoveled around the clock by the Koch Bros. puppets in Washington via their lapdogs in the media.

It’s safe to say to if Mr. Reilly and his fellow marines lend their voices, it could be a defining moment that gives the Occupation of Wall Street movement the just right amount of fuel it needs to catch fire. After all, it would be interesting to see the media ignore  NYPD cops pepper spraying decorated war veterans, assuming the donut marchers dared to even consider the notion of trying.
Michael is a comedian/VO artist/Columnist extraordinaire, who co-wrote an award-nominated comedy, wrote for NY Times Laugh Lines, guest-blogged for Joe Biden, and writes a column for MSNBC.com affiliated Cagle. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Seriously, follow him or he’ll send you photos of Rush Limbaugh bending over in a thong.


This makes even more sense than the students, when you think about it.  No one has been sold a bigger bill of goods than the people in our military.  Being sent off for several tours, fighting wars of preemption for no good reason, watching many of your friends die, and meting out numerous killings on others (while having PTSD issues ignored by your superiors and branch, under the false notion that only 'weak' people seek help), from all that our government has compelled these men and women to endure.  And for what?  So, the capitalists of this country can keep the sweeper on, sucking dry like vampires the middle-class into extinction, and subsidizing politicians who blame it all of gays and Mexicans.  No one has a greater interest in the future of this country than those who have most recently served it, and to those young men and women on those streets I wish I was near New York to join you.  I think this the happiest I have been in many a year.  You give all of us hope.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Assassinating The Constitution: The Murder of al-Awlaki

With the recent murder of Anwar al-Awlaki by the U.S. government, courtesy of President Obama, you would think that such a blatant disregard for our Constitution would be controversial and widely opposed.  Of course not.  This is how you can tell we are becoming increasingly a police state.  Few, if any, pundits, politicians, or people in the know even bother to publicly express that an accused terrorist, born and raised in the U.S., deserves the same right to a public trial (with presentment of evidence) that we afforded Charlie Manson and Jeffrey Dahmer. 

Why?  After all, al-Awlaki was a Muslim of Arab descent, so you know most people on the right have no qualms about disemboweling him.  Because tomorrow it may likely be you, if you ever bother to dissent or oppose the actions of your government, that's why.

Credit to be given, because I do not pretend to be a fan of a person who thinks that the slaveholders were right in the Civil War, Rep. Ron Paul has been one of the few Congressional voices of reason on this issue.

The fact Paul would talk like that while running for President of the U.S. in the Republican Party, where candidates trip over themselves to love Jesus and hate Muslims more than the next person (just ask Herman Cain how many Muslims he plans on employing), that is no small thing.  It takes guts, and if nothing else I give the man his due for saying the obvious:  we are killing our own citizens without charge, based on a claim by an official without evidentiary offering, or public trial, on the notion that they deserve to die for being who they are.  This is an assault on our Bill of Rights and every one of our rights as citizens of this country.

How can one say that al-Awlaki ever was a terrorist?  What evidence does our federal government have?  Even if we assume that al-Awlaki was a spiritual godfather of the Fort Hood shooter, and inspired al-Qaeda converts, and was genuinely an unrepentant terrorist, what evidence do we have that he is guilty of these crimes?  Notice, you do not see too much offered by our government in that department.   Assuming they have evidence, why do we accept that our government would keep secret evidence that it supposedly has that one of our own citizens (born and raised in this country no less) is who they say he is?

And who is to say that if it is acceptable to have our government kill our own citizens without charge of any crime, and if it is OK to have 'enhanced interrogation' techniques (which it would not surprise me to find out that we are still using, in spite of what President Obama says), why not extend this to other groups of people?  Why not anti-Wall Street demonstrators?  It is not like the same federal law enforcement agencies had any problems with engineering the murder of Fred Hampton through the Chicago Police Department.  Why not just kill on sight anyone accused of being a violent criminal and just be done with the 4-6th Amendments altogether?  If killing Anwar al-Awlaki without anything resembling a trial is OK, we can have that discussion now, because it seems unlikely that our government is going to stop committing these kinds of crimes, and is almost certain to expand them.  Indeed, unless our courts step in and put a stop to it, this murder is just the beginning, the harbinger of only worse and even greater volume of abuses to come.  
You think not?  How many of you know that a good chunk of the employment pool for Google comes straight from the NSA in Fort Meade?  How many of our citizens know that our president has a hit list with other Americans on it, to be killed on his orders alone, without charge, without trial, without any respect for the rule of law?  How many of our citizens know that our government actually has a secret interpretation of the Patriot Act that allows the administration to do whatever it wants with regards to the law, and then not explain itself to us or even Congress?  And how many of our citizens know that our government can come into your home, without warrant or cause, take your property without telling you and get away with it (on the condition that you are a suspected terrorist [not according to any legal standards, but the subjective opinion of a non-legally trained bureaucrat])?

And to those deluded white conservatives who continue to live the dream that Obama is a Marxist-Leninist, ask yourself: do you not find it odd that Dick Cheney and George Bush Jr. praise Obama for what he has done in assassinating bin Laden and al-Awlaki?  That is hardly an accident.  They understand that your supposedly Islamist president is no different than any of you.  You just cannot own up to it.   Well, maybe you should ask al-Awlaki's family.  I am sure they could give you an earful.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Melting Ice, To The Right's Delight

I guess this is not enough proof to the people who think everything is a theory, except the notion that a 2,000 year old dead carpenter is coming back at any moment to take them to a nice place after they die.

Canadian Arctic nearly loses entire ice shelf

TORONTO (AP) — Two ice shelves that existed before Canada was settled by Europeans diminished significantly this summer, one nearly disappearing altogether, Canadian scientists say in newly published research.

The loss is important as a marker of global warming, returning the Canadian Arctic to conditions that date back thousands of years, scientists say. Floating icebergs that have broken free as a result pose a risk to offshore oil facilities and potentially to shipping lanes. The breaking apart of the ice shelves also reduces the environment that supports microbial life and changes the look of Canada's coastline.
Luke Copland is an associate professor in the geography department at the University of Ottawa who co-authored the research published on Carleton University's website. He said the Serson Ice Shelf shrank from 79.15 square miles (205 square kilometers) to two remnant sections five years ago, and was further diminished this past summer.

Copland said the shelf went from a 16-square-mile (42-square-kilometer) floating glacier tongue to 9.65 square miles (25 square kilometers), and the second section from 13.51 square miles (35 square kilometers) to 2 square miles (7 square kilometers), off Ellesmere Island's northern coastline.

This past summer, Ward Hunt Ice Shelf's central area disintegrated into drifting ice masses, leaving two separate ice shelves measuring 87.65 and 28.75 square miles (227 and 74 square kilometers) respectively, reduced from 131.7 square miles (340 square kilometers) the previous year.

"It has dramatically broken apart in two separate areas and there's nothing in between now but water," said Copland.

Copland said those two losses are significant, especially since the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf has always been the biggest, the farthest north and the one scientists thought might have been the most stable.
"Recent (ice shelf) loss has been very rapid, and goes hand-in-hand with the rapid sea ice decline we have seen in this decade and the increasing warmth and extensive melt in the Arctic regions," said Ted Scambos, lead scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado, remarking on the research.

Copland, who uses satellite imagery and who has conducted field work in the Arctic every May for the past five years, said since the end of July, pieces equaling one and a half times the size of Manhattan Island have broken off. Co-researcher Derek Mueller, an assistant professor at Carleton University's geography and environmental studies department, said the loss this past summer equals up to three billion tons. Copland said their findings have not yet been peer reviewed since the research is new, but a number of scientists contacted by The Associated Press reviewed the findings, agreeing the loss in volume of ice shelves is significant.

Scambos said the loss of the Arctic shelves is significant because they are old and their rapid loss underscores the severity of the warming trend scientists see now relative to past fluctuations such as the Medieval Warm Period or the warmer times in the pre-Current Era (B.C.).

Ice shelves, which began forming at least 4,500 years ago, are much thicker than sea ice, which is typically less than a few feet (meters) thick and survives up to several years.

Canada has the most extensive ice shelves in the Arctic along the northern coast of Ellesmere Island. These floating ice masses are typically 131 feet (40 meters) thick (equivalent to a 10-story building), but can be as much as 328 feet (100 meters) thick. They thickened over time via snow and sea ice accumulation, along with glacier inflow in certain places.

The northern coast of Ellesmere Island contains the last remaining ice shelves in Canada, with an estimated area of 402 square miles (1,043 square kilometers), said Mueller.

Between 1906 and 1982, there has been a 90 percent reduction in the areal extent of ice shelves along the entire coastline, according to data published by W.F. Vincent at Quebec's Laval University. The former extensive "Ellesmere Island Ice Sheet" was reduced to six smaller, separate ice shelves: Serson, Petersen, Milne, Ayles, Ward Hunt and Markham. In 2005, the Ayles Ice Shelf whittled almost completely away, as did the Markham Ice Shelf in 2008 and the Serson this year.

"The impact is significant and yet only a piece of the ongoing and accelerating response to warming of the Arctic," said Dr. Robert Bindschadler, emeritus scientist at the Hydrospheric and Biospheric Sciences Laboratory at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

Bindschadler said the loss is an indication of another threshold being passed, as well as the likely acceleration of buttressed glaciers able to flow faster into the ocean, which accelerates their contribution to global sea level.

Copland said mean winter temperatures have risen by about 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) per decade for the past five to six decades on northern Ellesmere Island.


How about that, hoaxers?  I guess you owe an apology to Al Gore after all.  Of course, I am sure it will be forthcoming, just like the way teabagger and ex-Congressman/current Governor of Georgia decided to ax his state's climatologist out of fear at the chance he might say something about global warming.

Gov. Nathan Deal signs executive order to replace state climatologist David Stooksbury

ATLANTA — Gov. Nathan Deal has dismissed Georgia's longtime state climatologist, but there was confusion about what transpired and the climatologist says he was never told of the development.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (http://bit.ly/oXjVfI) that Deal signed an executive order Tuesday appointing a state employee to take over the state climatologist's job.

The new state climatologist, Bill Murphey, works in a meteorology unit for the state's Environmental Protection Division in Atlanta. Deal spokesman Brian Robinson said in an email that Deal wanted to consolidate the work within the division.

Murphey would replace state climatologist David Stooksbury, who is also an associate professor of engineering and atmospheric sciences at the University of Georgia.

Stooksbury told the Journal-Constitution that he has had no direct communication from the governor's office about the change.

Notice, Mr. Stooksbury went out of his way not even mention his views on climate change, knowing what would likely happen to him in a state filled with folks who view corporations are more human than us (not including fetuses, naturally).  Apparently, even that was not enough to save his job, since Stooksbury's lack of slavishness and willingness to be controlled by the governor meant the possibility he could commit the heresy of saying what we already know about climate change.  If only our budding John Waynes were as critical-minded of their own myths as they are of scientific fact.  If only.