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Artwork/Political Cartoons
Artwork/Political Cartoons
Artwork/Political Cartoons

The New York Times is at it again, defending the Neoconservative agenda and standing with a notorious old ally, William Kristol’s Weekly Standard: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/20/us/politics/bias-in-ron-pauls-newsletters-draws-new-attention.html?_r=1&hp  The following is my response to this transparent hit piece, my comment to the NYT — whether they print it or not:

Ah, the NYT and Weekly Standard, together again (though usually it’s on the Neocon agenda, like when they sold WMD lies together).

The only reason for this recycled trash is that Rep. Paul is poised to win Iowa (the MSM’s attempts to erase him haven’t entirely succeeded) — and Ron Paul poses the last threat standing to the crooked establishment, its racist and genocidal, for-profit wars (GWoT-Drug) and the authoritarian state it has built.

Obama, a vigorous champion of that abhorrent agenda, helped craft the NDAA that passed last week, ENDING DUE PROCESS.

Among all 2012 presidential aspirants, ONLY Ron Paul has demonstrated some allegiance to our Constitution.

I’ve watched Paul for years (even spoke with him, once), and I do not believe the man is a racist. I DO believe that he should be ashamed of the fact that — 20-odd years ago — he allowed racist filth to be published on his newsletter… but he has repudiated these comments in no uncertain terms.

He is the ONLY candidate, including Obama, who has demonstrated any concern for civil liberties — by ending these imperialist, genocidal wars and fixing our broken justice system.

I worked very hard for Obama in 2008, primary through general, and I hate to say it, but in many ways he’s turned out to be worse than Bush… just smoother. Obama has cemented the POLICE STATE that Bush tried to foist on us.

ONLY Ron Paul holds out any promise of restoring our democracy — RON PAUL 2012.

UPDATE:  The above comment was blocked by the Times.  When it comes to censoring their readers, they’re getting awfully predictable.

Congress has just passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a military spending bill that, aside from the usual profligacy, puts the official stamp on THE END OF THE BILL OF RIGHTS, the coup de grace to habeas corpus and the Constitution.  And while that might sound melodramatic to some, it is the consensus of everyone from the usual libertarian suspects (from the ACLU to Rep. Ron Paul)… to the human rights crowd (Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch)… to the two four-star Marine generals, Krulak and Hoar, who earlier this week co-authored an op-ed in The New York Times asserting that, not only does this bill represent a “victory” for al Qaeda, but, with its passage, “Due process would be a thing of the past.”

(The NDAA has also elicited objections from the current Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, and our long-serving FBI director, Robert Mueller, in addition to the top intelligence official in the U.S., National Director of Intelligence, James Clapper — albeit on different grounds:  that it will complicate, confuse, and possibly even impede them in their efforts to combat terrorism.)

While civil liberties and the rule of law have been dramatically curtailed in the post-9/11 era, the relevant provisions of this act — which President Obama helped shape — mark a new and stunning blow to FREEDOM in America (increasingly a privilege held only by the 1% of Americans, who are not only freer than the rest of us — to speak their minds, assemble as they please, and pursue happiness — but who are also unambiguously untouchable, whatever crimes they commit, even when the evidence of their culpability is undeniable and their victims number in the millions).

Human Rights Watch executive director, Kenneth Roth:

“By signing this defense spending bill, President Obama will go down in history as the president who enshrined indefinite detention without trial in US law.”

Amnesty International:

“…once the NDAA becomes law a US citizen on US soil can lawfully be killed by the US military if the military believes that citizen to be a terrorist affiliated with Al Qaeda or its allies… The key word in that last sentence was believes.’

Amnesty International then reminds us that more than two-thirds of the nearly 800 individuals the U.S. government has imprisoned at Guantanamo were later released, charged with no crimes whatsoever.  (And so far as the frequently touted claim that as many as “one in seven” GITMO detainees have “returned to the battlefield,” here is just one of several excellent analyses I’ve read debunking that little bit of propaganda.)

The ACLU:

“…these provisions could be used by this and any future president to indefinitely detain people without charge or trial — even American citizens and others picked up within the borders of the United States.”

*          *          *

When I called her office to voice precisely these concerns, Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s staff assured me that her amendment to the NDAA meant that Americans would be exempted from this patently unconstitutional provision — but I have since learned that this claim is FALSE.  Sen. Feinstein’s amendment only means that military detention of Americans is not compulsory, as the original language required.  (Feinstein was merely acting to address President Obama’s concern that such a condition would encroach on the prerogatives of the executive branch.) 

In other words, the bill does, in fact, make it legal for American citizens to be detained indefinitely — or killed outright — by the U.S. military, even on U.S. soil (obliterating the Posse Comitatus Act, which is nearly as old as the Constitution and which prohibits the military from being deployed against the citizenry… or used to, anyway). 

Thanks to Sen. Feinstein’s heroic defense of the Constitution (not!) it is now permissible for the Commander in Chief to decide that the military should kidnap you and throw you in a dungeon for the rest of your life… or send a drone to fire a poison dart into your throat and murder you — all without a shred of due process, including any kind of judicial review — probably just because you’ve become a thorn in side of the powers that be… or because, like Anwar al-Awlaki, you’ve become a political liability (scrutinize these essays advocating, in May 2011, that the government murder this American; they’re filled with admissions that he had NO ROLE in any terrorist organization, and that the threat he posed was in his potential to “inspire”).  Maybe you once wrote something violent on your blog or made a donation to a charity that possibly had some murky connection (or not) to some organization or political party on the official enemies list — one that is not unofficially supported by our government, that is, such as the M.E.K. (a State Department designated terrorist outfit that is nonetheless openly supported by elite Americans, from former DHS Secretary Tom Ridge to former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani to screaming Howard Dean, all on the terrorists’ payroll — not that they have anything to fear from our double standard- riddled, legally and morally incoherent government; their class of Americans can advocate for terrorists, pal around with the mafia, whatever they please).

*          *          *

I’m going to leave the last word to Representative Ron Paul (my last, somewhat realistic, hope for a 2012 presidential candidate who has some actual loyalty to the nation and our Constitution).

Here’s Ron Paul speaking out this week on the NDAA (if you follow the link, begin at the 9 minute, 42 second mark):

“This, to me, is an extremely wrong way to go.  This is a giant step.  This should be the biggest news going right now, literally legalizing martial law… and yet in our debate, it didn’t come up at all.  

“…the arrogance of them trying to push through on a voice vote that if you go through a trial and are found innocent, the government wants the right to put you in prison for life anyway!” (This provision, at least, was defeated in the Senate.)

“…It’s up to so many of us, now, to wake the people up, because they don’t probably realize the significance of this, but this is BIG… This step, where they can literally arrest American people, American citizens, and put ‘em away without a trial, and you heard Lindsey Graham say, ‘well, if they ask for a lawyer, tell them, No lawyer for you!’ — I mean, THAT is arrogant and bold and dangerous… Let’s hope and pray that we can get that kind of stuff reversed.”

Earlier today, my wife and I visited the Occupy Berkeley encampment and strolled the grounds.  Like Occupy Oakland, the site was clean and organized, with receptacles for trash and recycling, as well as a kitchen providing food for the hungry. 

As others before me have noted, the OWS movement isn’t just complaining about social ills, it’s acting to REMEDY them: providing food, blankets, and other goods to those who sorely need them in our communities (until the authorities close those sites down, that is — in many cases with unnecessary violence, brutalizing campers, visitors, and journalists alike and needlessly destroying the occupants’ property, including hundreds of tents and thousands of books, thus far).

At the time of our visit, the Occupy Berkeley kitchen tent was being manned by a pleasant young man who, in a pronounced Irish brogue, introduced himself as Shamus (Shamus Collins, it turns out).  He was happily preparing food for the camp, constantly in motion, like a restaurant chef during the afternoon rush… except when he stopped to chat with us. 

Affable and engaging, Shamus told us that, in addition to Berkeley, he’s been to Occupy Wall Street sites in Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, San Francisco, and even Oakland where, whaddaya’ know, he was shot by an American police officer…

Welcome to America, Shamus!

The Oakland Police shot Shamus with a non-lethal projectile on October 25th, apprehending him (and others) in the act of helping an American Iraq War veteran, Scott Olsen… who, you’re probably aware, had also been shot by the Oakland Police (at close range with a tear gas canister, critically injuring him — an incident that made news all over the world).

When Shamus casually related his story, my wife immediately recognized him from reports she had seen following that notorious incident.  She recalled her dismay at the fact that police had assaulted people who were doing nothing more than attending to a young man lying on the ground, bleeding profusely from his skull, in obvious need of aid.

“How are you?” we asked Shamus, inquiring about his injury.  Not so good, it turns out. 

As a result of his injury, Shamus’s doctors tell him he is going to lose a kidney.  “Non-lethal” these police weapons may be, but that designation should, perhaps, only be applied when their victims have access to medical professionals (another U.S. military veteran, Kayvan Sabehgi, who also served in Iraq, received “non-lethal” treatment at the hands of the Oakland Police, the very same day that Mr. Olsen did, and ended up with a lacerated spleen — I suspect that, had Shamus and Kayvan not received medical attention, one or both of them might not be with us today).

And such is the state of the rule of law in America in 2011.  The police, illegally coordinating with the federal government, brutally assault peaceful protesters exercising their once-applicable First Amendment rights… plus any journalists, judges, and passers by who happen to get in the way.

…and the perpetrators of systemic fraud that nearly collapsed the world’s financial system — and which has devastated the global economy to the tune of $40 TRILLION (thanks to SOCIALIZED LOSSES and “leaders” who impose AUSTERITY on the 99%) — well, not a single one of those scumbags (who, despite gross incompetence, criminality, and mismanagement, have enriched themselves beyond Mammon’s wildest dreams) has even been charged with a crime.

But that’s okay; these “job-creating” Wall Street “whizzes” are just doing what comes naturally in the crony-capitalist, oligarchic, emerging police state they’ve helped build: They lie, cheat, bribe, and steal their way to the top (foreclosing on the folks they deceived just a few years earlier)… ultimately CREATING THE POVERTY that virtually guarantees the kinds of social ills — violent criminality, substance abuse, homelessness, etc. — that make America one of the most unequal nations there is… and the leading police- and prison- state in the world!

*          *          *

Still, sometimes I miss the old days — back when there was some semblance of democracy and the law applied to everyone… or we could at least pretend that it did.  I miss the days when Nixon would say “if the president does it, that means it’s not illegal” and everyone laughed and laughed.  (Versus 2011, when we’ve made everything Nixon did perfectly “LEGAL” — how ironic; “Tricky Dick” was just a few decades before his time!)

Oh, and before I forget…

Good luck with your one kidney, Shamus!  And chin up:  If you end up on Wall Street someday, or in Washington, you’ll be able to loot the public till, invade countries, hack phones, and torture (even bunga bunga with a minor, whatever you like) with total impunity — the police won’t even consider arresting you!

But until that day, I wouldn’t raise my voice much, peacefully assemble, or render aid to any injured, anti-establishment veterans — America’s new order doesn’t take kindly to that kind of bolshevism.

I don’t know what the future holds for the Occupy Wall Street movement, but I have no doubt that the economic injustice that has fueled this popular expression of outrage isn’t going anywhere… and therefore, neither are WE. This movement will continue (and a good thing, too — it’s already been credited with derailing the Keystone XL pipeline project that threatened environmental and economic devastation).

I visited Occupy Oakland a couple of times, and I was largely heartened by what I saw: an open political space where citizens could interact (and occasionally take advantage of an open-microphone to address the crowd).  The site was populous, well-organized, non-threatening, and clean.  (Both times I visited Occupy Oakland, I took it upon myself to clean the area up a little, filling a small container with sidewalk litter before leaving — but doing so was barely necessary, as the Occupants were already doing a fine job picking up after themselves.)

The Occupy Oakland site was well-organized and supplied with everything from food and blankets to basic medical supplies for those who needed them.  It offered a designated safe space for children, at least two “library” tents, portable bathrooms, sanitation (water and soap), a station for trash/compost/recycling, and, most important, an actual space for peaceful dissent in America — something that barely exists anymore, in the age of “Free Speech Zones” (barricaded dissent, far from the protested event, or NONE).

(And yes, there was some public smoking of pot at Occupy Oakland, but no more than I’ve seen in certain other countries, like Canada or France, where they have this crazy thing called FREEDOM.)

Mayor Qwan, like NYC’s Michael Bloomberg, was simply doing the bidding of big business when she deployed a small army of police (at exorbitant cost to the city) to dismantle this harbor of peaceful assembly.  She cited the “threat” to public safety, indicating that a man shot and killed a block or two from the plaza last week had stayed at Occupy Oakland in the previous days… but consider the implications of that decision:

a) There has been no indication that the killing was in any way connected to the protest; and

b) If the official response to some unidentified miscreant murdering a peaceful protester is to SHUT DOWN the protest, doesn’t that just provide an incentive to any deranged, homicidal critic of the Occupy movement?  Should killing a protester serve the interests of banks and unctuous officials like Jean Qwan, giving them an excuse to shut down the whole enterprise???

Two months ago, for the first time, I heard Mayor Qwan speak at a public event, the ten-year 9/11 commemoration in Oakland.  She spoke about America’s victims, neglecting to mention the hundreds of thousands of victims of Washington’s savage response to those notorious attacks.  Mayor Qwan shared the stage with an alleged Christian who elected to celebrate the current Pope — the guardian of the Church’s pedophiles for over a decade, whose frequently incendiary comments have consistently denigrated liberals, secularists, Jews, and Muslims.  And Qwan more or less equated the value of Oakland’s diversity with “Taco Tuesday” (insulting and singularly uninspiring, with NO sense of the solemnity of the occasion; just another photo op).  

And now Oakland’s political, religious, and business elites have joined forces to shut down free expression in America.

In closing, I’ll just say this: Occupy Oakland introduced me to a lot of good people: long-hairs, future leaders, and concerned fuddy-duddies, my age and older; students (high school and college) trying to get a better handle on their society; professionals like teachers, construction workers, and farmers; hardworking, shrewd, and dedicated activists (representing Think Progress and the California Food and Justice Coalition); and others, just passing through, like Herman — a military veteran and also a veteran of America’s battle for civil rights in the 1960s and ‘70s — who had come to express solidarity with the downtrodden and offer solutions, facts, and insight.

But the nuttiest, most eccentric character I met during either of my excursions to Occupy Oakland was a tobacco-smoking (and marijuana-averse) Steinbeck enthusiast and self-identified “Republican” (no lie) who confided in me his disappointment that none of the gathered protesters — not one of the Occupy Oakland crowd — were offering violent “solutions,” such as ARSON (speaking for himself, he told me that he wished someone at OO would seize the microphone and begin calling for anarchists to set fires to bank-owned homes seized in foreclosure — “That’ll get their attention!”).  In response to his clearly misguided theory, I made the case that such actions would do NOTHING to help our cause… and could well end up harming the 99%, giving an excuse to government officials and law enforcement agents who have already demonstrated a predilection for fascism.

So let’s keep up the good work and leave the criminal and unjust actions to the kooks and our detractors, the enemies of free expression and the Bill of Rights: cynical and corrupt politicians like Mayor Michael (break my promise and buy my third term) Bloomberg and Mayor Jean “Hummus equals diversity” Qwan.

Peace.

My experience with Occupy Oakland... so far!

WE ARE THE 99% -- Links to Learn By...

(Follow the link to watch Stephen Colbert’s 10/24/11 treatment of the proposition that “Corporations ARE People” with Republican message guru Frank Luntz.)

WE ARE THE 99% -- Links to Learn By...

A W E S O M E    M E D I A   L I N K S ! ! !

Link #1: “The Walking Debt” — Jon Stewart illuminates how much MF Global’s collapse tells us about how little Wall Street has changed: STILL ridiculously risky and overleveraged (FORTY to ONE, for MF Global, the company that couldn’t account for $600 MILLION of its clients’ money…) — http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-november-8-2011/the-walking-debt

Link Set #1: “Colbert Super-PAC” — Stephen Colbert exposes the corruption of our campaign finance system http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/399181/october-06-2011/colbert-super-pac-shh—-apology-to-ham-rove

followed by: http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/401673/november-07-2011/colbert-super-pac—issue-ads and http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/401674/november-07-2011/colbert-super-pac—issue-ads—trevor-potter

Link Set #2: Plutocrats See Us As Tomorrow’s Zombie Hordes — Stephen Colbert’s “Platinum” segment on plutocrats’ plans to abandon America and start over on their manmade islands; and Rachel Maddow’s story on the Pentagon’s crowd-dispersing HEAT RAY (declined by our military in Afghanistan, it’s been re-designated for DOMESTIC USE); the super-rich are preparing for the complete breakdown of society and arming themselves against the peasantry. http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/401790/november-08-2011/colbert-platinum—wealth-under-siege

…complimented by: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GS6dSXmuWfA (Nine seconds in, you can see for a split second the types of Americans the military expects to target with their new heat ray: PEACE ACTIVISTS!)

WE ARE THE 99% -- Links to Learn By...

WE ARE THE 99% -- Links to Learn By...