Archive for Class War

The U.S. Executive Branch Is a Clear and Present Danger to Our Democracy

On the left we have the 1.4 million employees of the Pentagon, CIA, NSA, Department of Homeland Security and FBI, etc., 1,000 other government entities and 2,000 private companies located in 17,000 buildings collecting data on hundreds of millions of Americans’ phone calls and Internet communications a year, and the world’s largest arsenal of weaponry.

On the right we have the handful of Al-Qaeda members whom Mr. Obama on May 23 downgraded to a minor threat, and a few thousand Pakistani, Yemeni and North African tribesmen who would focus entirely on their domestic concerns if our leaders would stop bombing and assassinating them. Can anyone in the right mind claim we need to fund the giant apparatus at the left to protect us from the minuscule group of folks on the right?

Read this entire article on Alternet.

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Pentagon bracing for public dissent over climate and energy shocks

(Nafeez Ahmed, The Guardian, 13 June 2013)
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Top secret US National Security Agency (NSA) documents disclosed by the Guardian have shocked the world with revelations of a comprehensive US-based surveillance system with direct access to Facebook, Apple, Google, Microsoft and other tech giants. New Zealand court records suggest that data harvested by the NSA’s Prism system has been fed into the Five Eyes intelligence alliance whose members also include the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. . . . But why have Western security agencies developed such an unprecedented capacity to spy on their own domestic populations? Since the 2008 economic crash, security agencies have increasingly spied on political activists, especially environmental groups, on behalf of corporate interests. This activity is linked to the last decade of US defence planning, which has been increasingly concerned by the risk of civil unrest at home triggered by catastrophic events linked to climate change, energy shocks or economic crisis – or all three. . . . Just last month, unilateral changes to US military laws formally granted the Pentagon extraordinary powers to intervene in a domestic “emergency” or “civil disturbance” . . . Department of Homeland Security documents released in April prove a “systematic effort” by the agency “to surveil and disrupt peaceful demonstrations” linked to Occupy Wall Street, according to the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF). . . . Similarly, FBI documents confirmed “a strategic partnership between the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the private sector” designed to produce intelligence on behalf of “the corporate security community.” A PCJF spokesperson remarked that the documents show “federal agencies functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America.” . . . In particular, domestic surveillance has systematically targeted peaceful environment activists including anti-fracking activists across the US, such as the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition, Rising Tide North America, the People’s Oil & Gas Collaborative, and Greenpeace. Similar trends are at play in the UK, where the case of undercover policeman Mark Kennedy revealed the extent of the state’s involvement in monitoring the environmental direct action movement. . . . A University of Bath study citing the Kennedy case, and based on confidential sources, found that a whole range of corporations – such as McDonald’s, Nestle and the oil major Shell, “use covert methods to gather intelligence on activist groups, counter criticism of their strategies and practices, and evade accountability.” . . . Indeed, Kennedy’s case was just the tip of the iceberg – internal police documents obtained by the Guardian in 2009 revealed that environment activists had been routinely categorised as “domestic extremists” targeting “national infrastructure” as part of a wider strategy tracking protest groups and protestors. . . . The Pentagon knows that environmental, economic and other crises could provoke widespread public anger toward government and corporations in coming years. The revelations on the NSA’s global surveillance programmes are just the latest indication that as business as usual creates instability at home and abroad, and as disillusionment with the status quo escalates, Western publics are being increasingly viewed as potential enemies that must be policed by the state.

 

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Ethan Nadelmann: The Real Drug Czar

The most influential man in the battle for legalization is a wonky intellectual in dad jeans

(TIM DICKINSON, Rolling Stone,
JUNE 06, 2013)

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The driving force for the legalization of marijuana in America – a frenetic, whip-smart son of a rabbi who can barely tell indica from sativa – has just entered enemy territory. Ethan Nadelmann, the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, is here in California’s crucible of conservatism, Orange County, to talk about the failure of the War on Drugs and why the government should leave pot smokers alone. As a grizzled ex-DEA agent glares at him from the audience of a lecture hall on the campus of U.C. Irvine, it’s clear that this crowd has not gathered to celebrate cannabis culture. And that’s just the way Nadelmann likes it.

Today, thanks in large part to Nadelmann’s efforts, pot is fully legal in two states and available medically in 16 others. “He is the single most influential policy entrepreneur on any domestic issue,” says John DiIulio, a longtime drug warrior and tough-on-crime academic who has recently come around to Nadelmann’s side on marijuana policy. “He wore me down,” DiIulio says. “What can I say?”

[COMMENT by Lorenzo] This is a somewhat long article, but very much worth the time to read. Here are some of the topics that are covered:
Too High to Fail: Inside Denver’s weed boom
Conservatives Push Marijuana Reform in Congress
The Top 10 Marijuana Myths and Facts

Also, you can listen to a talk given by Ethan Nadelmann in my Podcast 208 – “It’s Time To End The War on Drugs”

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Don’t ever speak to the FBI without a tape recorder running and a lawyer present

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50 Reasons You Despise George W. Bush

( Steven Rosenfeld, Alternet, April 25, 2103)
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Let’s look at 50 reasons, some large and some small, why W. inspired so much anger.

1. He stole the presidency in 2000.

3. He covered up his past.

4. He loved the death penalty.

8. He ignored warnings about Osama bin Laden.

12. Bush turned to Iraq not Afghanistan.

14. He flat-out lied about Iraq’s weapons.

19. Bush pardoned the Plame affair leaker.

22. The war did not make the U.S. safer.

23. U.S. troops were given unsafe gear.

31. He cut veterans’ healthcare funding.

44. Bush let black New Orleans drown.

48. Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld.

49. He’s escaped accountability for his actions.

[COMMENT by Lorenzo: Little Bush is certainly the most simple-minded man to sit in the White House during my lifetime, and most definitely, IMO, one of the worst and most evil of our presidents. But then there was Nixon, who was obviously insane and who had an “enemies list”, which was very un-presidential. And now there is Obama with a “KILL LIST”, which is very un-American. . . . The Empire is in obvious decline.]

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Beware of the “Progressive Movement” & the Billionaires Funding It

(JOHN STAUBER, Counterpunch, March 15-17, 2013)
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The self-labeled Progressive Movement that has arisen over the past decade is primarily one big propaganda campaign serving the political interests of the the Democratic Party’s richest one-percent who created it. The funders and owners of the Progressive Movement get richer and richer off Wall Street and the corporate system. But they happen to be Democrats, cultural and social liberals who can’t stomach Republican policies, and so after bruising electoral defeats a decade ago they decided to buy a movement, one just like the Republicans, a copy. . . . The liberal elite own the Progressive Movement. Organizing for Action, the “non-partisan” slush fund to train the new leaders of the Progressive Movement is just the latest big money ploy to consolidate their control and keep the feed flowing into the trough. . . . The professional Progressive Movement that we see reflected in the pages of The Nation magazine, in the online marketing and campaigning of MoveOn and in the speeches of Van Jones, is primarily a political public relations creation of America’s richest corporate elite, the so-called 1%, who happen to bleed Blue because they have some degree of social and environmental consciousness, and don’t bleed Red. But they are just as committed as the right to the overall corporate status quo, the maintenance of the American Empire, and the monopoly of the rich over the political process that serves their economic interests. . . . The Progressive Movement we see today was created by a small group including Democratic political operatives and foundations including TIDES (formed in 1976), the millionaires and billionaires of the Democracy Alliance, (formed in 2005) and eventually the Obama machine. » Continue reading “Beware of the “Progressive Movement” & the Billionaires Funding It”

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Obama Says He Can Use Lethal Force Against Americans on US Soil without a Trial

( Adam Serwer, MotherJones, Mar. 5, 2013)
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Yes, the president does have the authority to use military force against American citizens on US soil—but only in “an extraordinary circumstance,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a letter to Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) Tuesday. . . . “The U.S. Attorney General’s refusal to rule out the possibility of drone strikes on American citizens and on American soil is more than frightening,” Paul said Tuesday. “It is an affront the constitutional due process rights of all Americans.” . . . The letter concludes, “were such an emergency to arise, I would examine the particular facts and circumstances before advising the president of the scope of his authority.” . . . In a Google+ Hangout last month, President Obama refused to say directly if he had the authority to use lethal force against US citizens. As Mother Jones reported at the time, the reason the president was being so coy is that the answer was likely yes. Now we know that’s exactly what was happening. “Any use of drone strikes or other pre-meditated lethal force inside the United States would raise grave legal and ethical concerns,” says Raha Wala, an attorney with Human Rights First. “There should be equal concern about using force overseas.”

 

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Cornel West: Obama is a ‘war criminal’ who has killed ‘over 200 children’

(Stephen C. Webster, RawStory.com, February 15, 2013 )
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Professor Cornel West argued that President Barack Obama is, like Presidents George W. Bush and Richard Nixon before him, a “war criminal” uniquely responsible for the deaths of “over 200 children.” . . . West’s words were in response to a question about the administration’s seeming preference for killing terrorism suspects from the air rather than risking American lives to take them prisoner and hold them for an indefinite amount of time in military custody. A legal whitepaper obtained by NBC News recently exposed the Obama administration’s once-secret justification for the program, which authorizes a deadly airstrike if intelligence officials believe it may take out any “senior operational leaders” of al Qaeda or “associated forces,” even if that includes an American citizen. . . . “I think, my dear brother, the chickens are coming home to roost,” West told Smiley. “We’ve been talking about this for a good while, the immorality of drones, dropping bombs on innocent people. It’s been over 200 children so far. These are war crimes.” . . . Troublingly enough, West is right on the number: The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reports that up to 216 children have died in three countries the U.S. is not formally at war with — Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia — as a result of suspected U.S. drone strikes starting in 2002 and dramatically escalating during Obama’s first term. Out of an estimated 451 total drone strikes during that period, over 300 were ordered by Obama against Pakistanis alone. The Bureau estimates that up to 4,643 people in all have been killed by drone strikes in those three countries. . . . Similarly, a United Nations committee said this month that “hundreds” of children have been killed by U.S. drone strikes since 2008, many which are personally approved by Obama, according to The New York Times. . . . “I think we have to be very honest, let us not be deceived: Nixon, Bush, Obama, they’re war criminals,” West said. “They have killed innocent people in the name of the struggle for freedom, but they’re suspending the law, very much like Wall Street criminals. The law is suspended for them, but the law applies for the rest of us. You and I, brother Tavis, if we kill an innocent person we go to jail, and we’re going to be in there forever.” . . . “I am not somebody who believes that the president has the authority to do whatever he wants, or whatever she wants, whenever they want, just under the guise of counter terrorism,” he said. “There have to be checks and balances on it.”

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To Vote or Not to Vote?

(Bruce E Levine, Counterpunch, 20 October 2012)
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“If the Bush administration didn’t like somebody, they’d kidnap them and send them to torture chambers. If the Obama administration decides they don’t like somebody, they murder them.” — Noam Chomsky

“I don’t vote. On Election Day, I stay home. I firmly believe that if you vote, you have no right to complain. Now, some people like to twist that around. They say, ‘If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain,’ but where’s the logic in that? . . . You voted them in. You caused the problem. You have no right to complain.” —George Carlin

When the Republicans win, Americans get senseless wars and corporate control. When the Democrats win, Americans get senseless wars and corporate control. Learned helplessness means a belief that no matter what one does or does not do, one cannot decrease one’s level of pain, and so one gives up trying. If a society’s electoral process promotes learned helplessness, it is not a democratic society. . . . Military spending under Obama, as a percentage of GDP, has been higher than it was during any year of the George W. Bush administration. And under Obama, there has not been a single prosecution of a high ranking Wall Street executive or any major financial firms for their criminal practices that helped produce a worldwide financial meltdown. There are differences between Romney and Obama, but not when it comes to democracy activists’ helplessness around stopping senseless wars and corporate control. . . . The bottom line is that regardless of what we do or don’t do in the election booth, we continue to get senseless wars and corporate control. . . . There are other democracy battlefields not as easily controlled by big money as is the U.S. electoral process. . . . Real power in the workplace is being fought every day by worker cooperatives, labor unions, and the self-employed. Battles for power over housing are being fought by housing activists such as City Life and the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America. Battles for power over who controls the food supply are being fought by family farmers and others. And other battles for power are being fought in health care, education, and in nearly every other arena where the corporatocracy reigns. These real battles for power and democracy are being fought—and sometimes won—and unpublicized by the corporate media. . . .  So, instead of voter and nonvoter democracy activists arrogance over their position, and instead of them flailing out at one another, let the ruling class tremble at unified voter and nonvoter democracy activists who, instead of overfocusing on electoral politics, join together on winnable battlefields.

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The Betrayal of America’s Middle Class Was a Choice, Not an Accident

(Amy B Dean, Truthout, 3 October 2012 )
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   The Betrayal of the America Dream

The outsourcing of good jobs, the elimination of pensions, rampant home foreclosures; skyrocketing higher education costs and mounting debt: Given these stark realities, the American middle class seems to be sinking fast.  . . . A study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics a couple of years ago estimated that basically 25 percent of the entire service workforce, or roughly 30 million jobs, [are] in danger of being off-shored and outsourced. That’s a huge number. And, if anything, the Labor Department has underestimated the impact of globalization on the American workforce over the years.” . . . “One of the myths out there is that high wages paid to union workers are driving these jobs offshore. We make the point that in a whole series of key manufacturing sectors – like the auto industry – workers in places like Germany and Japan make more money through wages and benefits than autoworkers in this country. The idea that just high wages are the reason that companies are going offshore is complete malarkey. The main reason is the incentives provided by foreign governments; and then, when companies bring their product back to this country, there’s essentially no tariff on it. So there’s a tremendous incentive for big corporations to go abroad and not pay any penalty for it.” . . . “An integral part of this is the success that the elite have had in focusing attention on the budget deficit,” he said. “While it’s important in the scheme of things, it should be at the bottom of the list, the absolute bottom. At the top should be … and you never hear these two words uttered together … the trade deficit, because it is the trade deficit that results in lost jobs. In the decade of the 90s, the trade deficit was close to 8 trillion dollars. Each year it gets bigger and bigger. We haven’t had a trade surplus since the mid-1970s. Since then, it’s been annual trade deficits. Every one of those annual deficits translates into lost jobs. Yet no one talks about ending the trade deficit.” . . .  “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome. After 37 consecutive years of trade deficits, all accompanied by lost jobs, I don’t care what anybody says about throwing up walls. You don’t have to throw up walls, but you do need to do something different. If something isn’t done, this country is going to go down the tubes.”

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