Creating a better world through words and images

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

First they came for WikiLeaks, Pt. 2 — KEY FACTS (this one’s for the lovely Jennifer Teguia, my incredibly awesome wife…)

RULE of LAW is eroding fast in the Bush-Obama period.  Consider it a civilizational marker (a key point in the history of Western culture) that, following a “Republican” president’s assertion of his legal right to TORTURE (earning the harsh disapproval of a clear majority of Americans), we now have a “Democratic” president who claims the power to ASSASSINATE AMERICAN CITIZENS, on his own authority, with ZERO due process (what could be more antithetical to America’s founding values?). 

Consider the example of WIKILEAKS:

1. DEMONSTRABLY, LAW ENFORCEMENT HAS BEEN POLITICIZED — The ultimate nightmare for a democratic society; “justice” is dispensed on the basis of politics — evidence of a crime is irrelevant (almost as irrelevant as centuries of jurisprudence is proving). 

While I am not actually interested in defending Mr. Assange’s conduct in the bedroom (I may well be critical of his actions, once all the details are out), it is nonetheless abundantly clear that the sex-related charge (not rape, but a misdemeanor) against Julian Assange is a false front — especially considering that it emanates from Sweden (a country notorious for failing to investigate allegations of rape.  In fact, per author Naomi Wolf, Sweden’s legal system has been singled out by Amnesty International and the United Nations for providing rapists with an environment of “impunity”). 

CONSIDER THE FACTS:

– Rather than pursue the sex-related charge against Mr. Assange, the Swedish government is focused instead on figuring a way to “legally” extradite Assange to the U.S. in order to face some kind of espionage-related conspiracy charge (the charge is still being crafted by our Attorney General, Mr. Holder).

– One of the alleged victims expressed surprise when she learned of the “rape” charge, denying that there was any “violence or force” in her consensual sex with Mr. Assange (see Scott Horton’s recent article); the other alleged victim also acknowledges that sex, at least initially, was consensual (the complaint, possibly a very legitimate one, seems to stem from Mr. Assange’s failure to use a condom; in one instance, due to the condom’s in-use breakage). 

– Swedish press reports show that the initial “rape” charge was withdrawn within 24 hours by the Chief Prosecutor, Eva Finne, after examining the record, stating:  “No rape occurred.” 

– The misdemeanor charge that has been levied (with its odd Swedish-to-English transliteration of “sex by surprise”) CARRIES NO JAIL SENTENCE — it would not result in a jail sentence even if Mr. Assange were convicted – yet he was held for NINE DAYS in solitary confinement, prior to making his $300,000 bail… for a misdemeanor

– Bizarrely, INTERPOL put Assange on its “Red Notice” (most wanted) list — issuing an arrest warrant for an individual who had NOT been charged with a crime… and who had been cooperating fully with the Swedish authorities (making himself available to investigators, seeking and obtaining the prosecutor’s permission to travel to London — there never was any “manhunt” for Assange; he never was a fugitive!)

2. NO EVIDENCE HAS SURFACED THAT WIKILEAKS HAS “ENDANGERED LIVES”WikiLeaks has been revealing matters of policy (already well-documented, in many instances), not revealing troop movements. 

The level of secrecy for the leaked documents is debatable, as they were accessible by some THREE MILLION employees of the government (NPR, 11/28/10).

For the most part, WikiLeaks publications have merely confirmed official involvement in policies that are well known to the people throughout the world, such as:  The U.S. routinely hands detainees to our partners in the full knowledge that they will be tortured; the U.S. (hardly alone) spies on its fellow delegates at the U.N.; America has pressured other countries to drop legal proceedings against U.S. corporations that bribe their officials, pollute their environments, militarize and co-opt their police, and even experiment on their children ; and pressured governments to end prosecutions against America’s agents (and those of our closest allies), implicated in everything from kidnapping to assassination.  

Our military in Kabul reports that no one has been harmed and U.S. command has had to take no special measures to protect U.S. personnel or our partners, as a result of WikiLeaks’ publications.  From 11/29/10 DemocracyNow! (Daniel Ellsberg):

“(U.S.) command in Kabul has reported that they have not felt it necessary to protect or inform an individual, nor has any individual been harmed. And you can believe that if their plumbers operation, to the tune of more than a hundred men working on this, had been able to find one mutilated body, that one would be on the cover of Newsweek by now. So we’ve had a pretty good test of how well the process of sanitizing these documents by the newspapers, and by WikiLeaks, has operated, and the answer is: the proof is in the pudding. No harm has been done.”

WikiLeaks has taken credible and significant steps toward assuring that it is being responsible in its reports; WikiLeaks has offered to subject its reports to governmental review, but this offer was rejected by a government more interested in prosecuting WikiLeaks than assuring that future reports continue to protect lives.  From 11/29/10 DemocracyNow! (Gregg Mitchell, blogger for The Nation):

“…even in the previous leaks, WikiLeaks did work closely with news organizations. But here they gave the news organizations these files very early on, and the news organizations… at least the New York Times has gone to the administration, has run names past the State Department, and has redacted many of the documents, which then WikiLeaks has then taken redacted documents, and these are among the over 200 they’ve already posted. So, in a sense, WikiLeaks is letting the news media help them in making sure these documents are safe.”

3. WIKILEAKS IS JOURNALISM WikiLeaks is PUBLISHING the documents, not leaking them.  Last time I checked, there is no “Official Secrets Act” in America, and the First Amendment protects WikiLeaks’ right to free speech. 

WikiLeaks is acting in the same capacity as the New York Times when they published the Pentagon Papers in 1971 (leaked by Daniel Ellsberg, a hero to most Americans), exposing official lies about the Vietnam War foisted on the American public (lies that made possible the deaths of tens of thousands of American soldiers and millions of Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Laotian civilians).

Like the New York Times’ decision to publish those documents, WikiLeaks is just trying to illuminate the reality that all the world outside of America sees:  U.S. official positions suggest that we’re living in a dangerous fantasy (making “progress” in all our wars and “reforming” our banking system).

4. AMERICA IS FLIRTING WITH FASCISM — Pundits and current officeholders (from the Republican Minority Leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, to JOE BIDENthe VICE PRESIDENT of the UNITED STATES of AMERICA) have called Mr. Assange a “terrorist.”  Others, including Tea Party favorite Mike Huckabee and Tea Party Nation founder, Judson Phillips, have called for Assange’s assassination or execution.

I know it’s a cliche, but (paraphrasing Glenn Greenwald) America is really “through the looking glass” here, with the “Red Queen” Obama calling for “Sentencing first, then the verdict!”  With the mad denizens of this “Wonderland” (The Beltway) declaring every dissident a “terrorist” and shouting “OFF with their heads!”

The undeniable truth is that America is behaving atrociously in the world and damaging ourselves immeasurably for generations to come. 

The world sees America today in much the same light as it saw the U.S.S.R. in the 1980s:  we are bankrupting ourselves and breaking our imperial spine in Afghanistan; we are corrupt and oligarchic (with a parasitic upper class and corporate monopolies that preclude competition and stifle innovation); and most importantly, America is increasingly unrecognizable, in terms of our traditional commitments to Transparency; Rule of Law; and Democracy (not to mention human rights — most of the world correctly sees American rhetoric on the subject as self-serving and hypocritical).

WikiLeaks hopes to pull the blinders from our eyes… for which we should be grateful. 

If the reader will forgive the presumption, I will remind my fellow Americans the principle that WikiLeaks is defending:  It is in our best interests, for our security and our liberty, to have a reasonably informed populace.  

“INFORMATION,” said Thomas Jefferson, “IS THE CURRENCY OF DEMOCRACY.”

George W. Bush’s presidency made the world doubt America:  our values, intelligence, and future relevance.

To date, Barack Obama’s presidency has only confirmed those doubts. 

So don’t be fooled by the demagogues in government and the media.  They are just trying to kill the messenger (literally, for some) and unwittingly dismantling the democratic experiment known as America. 

Actually, those declaring Assange a “terrorist” and openly calling for his murder are worse than demagogues — in fact, Americans used to consider such conduct “fascist” …however that is a word the establishment today reserves for progressives, would-be bank regulators, and advocates of single-payer healthcare.

As the tax cut compromise oozes toward committee and the desk of The Great Capitulator, the world — beyond regressive, budget-busting, Social Security-diminishing tax policy — goes on. 

Fellow activist and blogger, Nick Wilczynski, and I have kept up our conversation since it began at the “Rally to Restore Peace/Sanity,” and he has recently shared some of his thoughts with me, regarding the COST of the recent “hostage-taking” (holding up all other legislation until this $858 billion-baby passes). 

Here’s an excerpt from Nick’s insightful blog (I’ve highlighted the text I found most compelling — but I invite my readers to follow this link to Nick’s blog and enjoy more of his insights and observations):

Invitation accepted...

"The First War on Christmas"

CHECK THIS OUT!

This is some of the Daily Show’s best work in years.  Juxtaposing the old-fashioned Christmas classics (with their kind-hearted Christian values) with the FOX News incitements to angry, paranoid victimhood (twisting 21st-Century sensitivity to one’s neighbors into a “War on Christmas”) speaks volumes about what has happened to religious tolerance in America.

CUE UP at 5min,28second mark for just the short; or the 1min,36second mark for the full lead-in, featuring FOX NEWS clips

Right now, I’m devoting a lot of time to one of my projects, writing and illustrating a condensed version of John Perkins’ Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

IN THE NEWS: 

Wikileaks is under attack for exposing the habitual dishonesty of our government’s official statements (as well as the routine criminality of our government’s actions); I believe that Wikileaks is performing a vital service, and I have been appalled by the “kill the messenger” strategy; I urge anyone reading this to support Wikileaks however you can (boycott Amazon.com or PayPal — and be sure to tell them WHY; write a letter to the editor; call your congressional representatives, and urge them to pursue the HIGH CRIMES — the torture and assassinations — instead of the misdemeanors, like Mr. Manning’s conscience-driven act and the dubious “rape” charge against Mr. Assange — it doesn’t seem to hold up to much scrutiny; the latest version I’ve heard reported, on yesterday’s DemocracyNow, was that the allegation is centered around the argument that, although the sex was consensual, Mr. Assange neglected to use a condom… thus, the “rape” charge)

* Tax Cuts — Regarding the extension of ALL the Bush tax cuts, it appears the Dems are preparing for another capitulation, but nonetheless, I would urge readers to push for extending “only” those tax cuts for the bottom 98% (call the Obama White House and make your point, loud and clear; extending tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% will add some $700 billion to the national debt over the next decade, and if history’s any indication, do VERY little to help the economy — the wealthy simply are not investing in America)

* Deficit concerns — The current panic about the size of America’s budget deficit is just more nonsense from the “austerity” crew (they’d like to see America take an IMF-worthy solution: cut social spending down to the bone, through the marrow, and make sure the aristocracy grows and grows); I’d stick with the advice of economists like Paul Krugman and Joe Stiglitz, Dean Baker, and a few others: The deficit is NOT (by far) the biggest problem currently facing America.  JOB-CREATION should be “Job One,” and you probably know my recommendation on that front:  put people to work, MODERNIZING/GREENING the INFRASTRUCTURE; keep people in their homes (a foreclosure moratorium sounds appropriate to me, everything considered); and end the wars that are achieving bin Laden’s ends for him: emptying America’s treasury and bringing him thousands of recruits…

* NET NEUTRALITY (this is the big one, folks!) — Despite all of Mr. Obama’s campaign promises, his FCC chairman has just announced a policy that threatens to create a two-tiered internet, ending “net neutrality” as we know it (the principle that basically amounts to a level internet for all content — versus the now FCC-proposed (corporation-demanded) vision of a “fast-lane” for major corporate content and a pixelated, slow-loading “slow-lane” for DemocracyNow! and thousands of other worthy sites); I urge you to call, write, implore, beg WHOMEVER — the FCC, your congressional rep. or senator, the White House — and fight to keep the internet as we know it… the last open, relatively free and democratic space in this world (with the exception of a child’s imagination) — all kidding aside, I think “net neutrality” is one of the most worthwhile causes today; so very much hinges on the unimpeded exchange of ideas and access to education, information, and human connections…

Until next time, thanks to all who have written and visited this site!  I’ll keep blogging my opinions and keeping you posted on future developments with my projects (I’m thinking about creating a “RUN WITH IT” page, where I could list some of my less fully developed project concepts and invite YOU to “run with it”).

WE SHOULD: 1) Work to end the divisions that are weakening America; and 2) Defeat the Establishment’s efforts to doom the Left to irrelevance, by challenging Obama NOW (let the president know that he can not take us for granted, pursuing a Bush-Lite agenda and doing his utmost to protect the same power elites that control the Republican leadership).

1) End the dividing of America — Extend an olive branch to the Right: a) Formally congratulate your local Tea Party — or other grass-roots conservative groups — on their recent election victories; b) Communicate your belief that we should join forces on the less ideological issues and priorities common to both the Right and Left, such as:

— JOBS/THE ECONOMY (Left and Right, average Americans favor investing in infrastructure and education; applying a minimal tax to the trading of derivatives; reforming, or repealing outright, trade pacts like NAFTA; ending the “underground” economy that has driven wages downward; and keeping people in their homes — together, we can pressure policymakers to address these issues; the economy will benefit)

— FIX THE HEALTH INSURANCE LEGISLATION passed by the Democratic congress (Left and Right will never agree on the Public Option or Abortion Services, but most of us DO AGREE that this predatory industry still needs serious reform, so let’s add some meat to this skeleton of a bill by ending PhRMA’s backroom deal with the Obama administration, as well as the insurance industry’s exemption from anti-trust legislation)

— CUT WASTEFUL SPENDING (phase out corporate welfare to industry giants that are using government subsidies to crush the small business owner and small farmer, alike; bring TRANSPARENCY to the Federal Reserve, Pentagon, and international aid agencies and private contractors that have misspent BILLIONS in the post-9/11 era with NO repercussions or reforms to prevent their continued looting of the nation’s wealth)

— END THE (counterproductive) WARS that are doing bin Laden’s work for him: bankrupting the U.S. (bin Laden’s stated goal) and creating terrorists around the world – it’s high time we had a MAJOR STRATEGIC OVERHAUL in the War on Terror

2) Escaping irrelevance — Announce our intention to FIRE OBAMA (the new record holder for sprinting at the greatest speed and distance AWAY from a mandate — one of the largest in history; giving away the store to his discredited opposition; and constantly repudiating his base);

— Coordinate with other progressives and select a candidate (SOON) to run against the president in the 2012 Democratic Primary (Russ Feingold would certainly be a step in the right direction: He opposed NAFTA, the Patriot Act, and the Iraq War; took a principled position against the watered down Financial System “reform” bill…)