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

When competing ideologies are apparently irreconcilable and political expression is increasingly toxic (as in the current environment), there is only one sane response: informed, rational, cool-headed PRAGMATISM.

IF ONLY an American leader would emerge and make the case for proven solutions!

Using Prof. Krugman‘s example of the abortion debate: The “pro-life” and “pro-choice” factions will NEVER agree on the question of abortion’s legality/morality. Yet there is widespread agreement on the desirability of reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies and abortions in America.

I have spent the past two decades wishing that some Solomon-like politician would simply present the case for dramatically reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country using proven methods: sex education and universal health care.

Implementation of such solutions would reduce the frequency of abortion to a mere fraction of the current frighteningly high rate (some 1 in 4 American women have an abortion at some point in their lives; a disgrace in our wealthy nation).

Similarly, I would love to see President Obama (or some centrist Republican) make the clear case — based on innumerable historical and global examples — that neglecting the least fortunate in our society will ultimately destroy our economy.

Just as America has been well served by the enforcement of minimal labor and environmental standards, it is also in our best interest to treat and prevent societal ills before they metastasize… lest we devolve into the Third World kleptocratic and anarchic state we increasingly resemble (after decades of massive privatization and deregulation).

Leave ideology out of it! No single ideology will ever “prevail” — and everyone is entitled to his/her opinion. We need to revive America’s capacity for logic and reason (the forces of unbridled greed have nearly reduced us to two tribes of unthinking animals — divided and nearly conquered — but it’s not too late!).

The Bush-Obama years have alerted Americans that our way of life and prosperity are threatened. Americans are ready to listen to a true voice of hope… hope we can truly believe in (not some mere slogan).

It’s time to have an adult discussion about WHAT WORKS, instead of continuing to pursue utterly failed policies like border walls, torture, spying on our citizens, drone assassinations, and illegal wars — not to mention the willy-nilly criminalization of everything from abortion to soft drugs to muckraking journalism to radical expression (Islamic or otherwise).

Such policies have demolished America’s moral credibility in the world while nearly bankrupting us and more than doubling our prison population — making us #1 in the world for incarcerating our own citizens… meanwhile we neglect to educate our citizens and provide each and every American with basic health care and services; a sure path to the bottom.

[SUBJECT] Contributing to Obama and the Democrats…

…is something I can no longer do, in good conscience.  Obama’s foreign and domestic policies largely represent continuity from his predecessor (or worse, such as the president’s assertion of the right to execute American citizens without a shred of due process). 

I did not canvas neighborhoods in Missouri, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. and donate hundreds of dollars to elect this corporatist party — and yet that is what I have received for my efforts: a “Democratic” party that scorns progressive values and fights its base, tooth and nail, to advance GWB-style conservatism: tax cuts for millionaires and hikes for 40 million low-income Americans; millions illegally foreclosed upon; Mitt Romney’s health care “reform;” persecution of journalists (Assange) and whistleblowers; and a wholeheartedly NeoConservative foreign policy, continuing the policies that erode civil liberties at home and create terrorists at home and abroad. 
 
It would be easier to take if I had seen this president fight — just once — on the side of liberals, instead of against us (such as when the Public Option was clearly within reach; or reform of the financial industry’s fraudulent, plundering practices). 

I will never make the same mistake again. 
 
I am presently devoting all my efforts to persuading progressives to abandon these Wall St-first Democrats and seek a LIBERAL standard bearer to support in the next election.  I hope that you who are reading this will consider my arguments (www.invitation2artivism.com) and join my cause.  In the coming months, I will explain my strategy for dealing the corporate-duopoly (Rs and Ds) a major setback and making progressives (and true conservatives) relevant again.
 
Thank you,
James O’Donnell III
 
P.S. And now, regrettably, I must unsubscribe from your service.

To the Tea Party and Republicans:

The violence you seek to dismiss as “random” is anything but. Please consider the possibility that you are supporting a genuinely fascist movement, ascendant in America since at least 9/11.

Please understand that I’m not trying to insult you; both Republicans and Democrats have led us to this frightening place (Republicans with their demagoguery; and Democrats with their cowardice).

Besides which, the term “fascism” should never be used as a bludgeon, simply to silence those with whom we disagree. It has a specific meaning derived from its historical context: Italy under Mussolini; Germany under Hitler; Spain under Franco. Those regimes were distinguished by the following characteristics:

— Aggressive nationalism, waging foreign wars and aggression;
— Populism based on identity politics, demonizing minorities (based on race, religion, sexuality);
— Hostility toward liberalism, communism, labor unions, artists, and intellectuals;
— Corporatism that merges the interests of the state with those of big business;
— The culture of victimhood, stoking xenophobia and resentment in the majority;
— Acceptance of state violence, including torture and executions; and
— Intolerance of dissenting views — the end of civil discourse.

 

Many of us have understood for years that America is devolving into a fascist state (Naomi Wolf has written an excellent book on the subject).

We watched in horror as George W. Bush embraced the methods and rhetoric of fascism, from his political purges at the Justice Department and expert manipulation of the media, all the way down to his employment of the Nazi’s preferred euphemism, “enhanced interrogation techniques,” to refer to institutionalized TORTURE.

Obama has simply continued the Bush policies. A corporatist lackey like his predecessor, he could not be further from a “Leftist” or “Socialist” — and the people who routinely label him such are simply demonizing him to push him even further to the right.

Such pundits and politicians are not your advocates. Posturing aside, they demonstrate nothing but contempt for the Constitution, habeas corpus, civil rights, and America’s traditional values.

They constantly tell us WHO TO BLAME for the damage wrought to our economy and society, and HOW THREATENED our traditions and values are…

They blame immigrants, gays, progressives, minorities, intellectuals (anyone but the true power elite: the mega-banks and speculators who plundered the world’s economy; oil companies that prop up dictators and extremists like the House of Saud; health-related industries with their actual death panels; telecommunications giants that marginalize dissent out of existence; the military-industrial complex that makes America hated and feared in the world; and so on.

Raised in Arizona, I consider myself a socially-liberal conservative with libertarian tendencies. PLEASE trust me that I have labored long and hard, putting facts before ideology, to understand the forces that are threatening our future.

It isn’t “Liberalism” that’s destroying America (NIXON was more liberal than Obama). It is the 30-year assault on the middle class and the massive transfer of wealth to the top 1%, led by “free-trading” outsourcers (slavers) and faux-conservatives in both political parties, stripping away the regulations that once protected Capitalism and helped our markets run smoothly.

No self-respecting American should even consider voting for an establishment Republican or Democrat in this environment.

The dogs of fascism (using Orwell’s metaphor), railing against “the other” and inciting hate and fear — “birther” conspiracies and “death panel” foolishness — are America’s REAL enemies. They use the language of violent revolt and draw rifle-sights over their political opponents, urging us to hate and distrust our neighbors (“divide and conquer” is their mantra).

Like my father the veteran (and dozens of other old-school conservatives I respect) most center-right Americans are better than these creeps. They should not buy into their cheap, ugly worldview (for there is no “War on Christmas”). These fearmongers are our enemies — not the “straw man” liberals they invent. They would incite us to turn this great country into an anarchic state where political violence is common and free discourse is nonexistent.

If we don’t resist them, they will continue to steal elections (Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004); intimidate open debate (town halls in 2010); drain our national wealth (forests, oceans, mountains, and lakes); and squelch competition and the free market (subsidizing corporate giants at the expense of small businesses).

I beg you to consider alternative views. Read Thomas Franks’ What’s the Matter with Kansas?, Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine, or Noam Chomsky’s Hegemony or Survival. Listen to Amy Goodman’s DemocracyNow! It turns out that the marginalized folks have gotten it right for years — on WMD lies, Wall Street bailouts, “free” trade pacts, cap & trade schemes, and more.

Stop passively accepting the cheap, seductive lies of the new “conservatives.” They are, quite simply, the proponents of a new American fascism, and we must stop them.

Today, MoveOn.org tried to get me worked up about the fact that Maine’s rabid new governor wants to tell Obama to “go to hell!” So what? Most progressives should be echoing him!

On the political front, this is my most urgent plea: THE LEFT SHOULD TELL OBAMA AND THE DEMOCRATS (ASAP) THAT WE ARE THROUGH WITH THEM, JUST AS THE RIGHT SHOULD BE GIVING THE REPUBLICANS PRECISELY THE SAME MESSAGE.

2010’s MIDTERM ELECTION SHOULD GO DOWN IN HISTORY AS THE LAST ELECTION DICTATED BY THE TWO-HEADED HYDRA OF THIS ANTI-AMERICAN CORPORATIST DUOPOLY.

THE ESTABLISHMENT (“Left” and “Right”) IS OUR SHARED ENEMY, BEHIND THE ASSAULT ON OUR CONSTITUTION and THE MASSIVE TRANSFER OF WEALTH TO THE TOP 1%.

Reality: Although the “Tea Party” was largely the creation of the corporate media, there is a genuine conservative outrage in the nation that Obama and the Democrats spurned their mandate and continued Bush’s transformation of America into a corporatist state: rewarding Wall St. fraud with the increasingly broken spine of the middle class (pension funds defrauded, millions illegally evicted from their homes, hundreds of thousands of public workers laid off); letting PhRMA and AHIP write the insurance “reform” law; expanding terrorist wars that benefit extremists and kill women and children with globally-deployed drones (at a 10:1 ratio, civs:militants, per the conservative Brookings Institute); and persecuting honest journalists, liberals, Muslims, and labor unions.

Believe it or not, many non-establishment conservatives (REAL conservatives) across the country share progressives’ disappointment on these issues! They don’t like the Wall St. bailout, National RomneyCare, or the war in Afghanistan any more than we do! They want to see the Federal Reserve audited — WE SHOULD JOIN THEM ON THESE FRONTS!

Consider where Bush and Obama have led us: It is now “okay” in America (not even worthy of discussion in the corporate media) that the President can order the assassination of an American citizen with NO due process, whatsoever. Right now, OBAMA is jailing and torturing an American soldier, Bradley Manning, who has not even been charged with a crime (seven months of solitary, involuntary drugging, and no exercise are reportedly having a devastating effect on this young man — a HERO if he is “guilty” of leaking America’s least classified documents and trying to shake-up a journalistic establishment that is still “selling WMD lies,” in one form or another — like the current nonsensical clamor for “austerity” — sacrificing the economy of the many, to create the economy for the few).

Conservative outrage is not misplaced (no matter how foolish Tea Party types appear, spouting the empty and backwards “Socialism” and “Death Panels” rhetoric of corporate plants like Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin).

If MoveOn had any sense, the organization would urge its members to give the Dems the finger and reach out to locally organized Tea Parties and other conservatives across the nation, RIGHT NOW (urging them to do likewise for the GOP).

TOGETHER we can pressure this “Bad Cop-Worse Cop” government to restore the Bill of Rights, end the wars, rebuild our infrastructure, and prosecute the Wall St. Criminals who pillaged our economy… or WE CAN REPLACE THEM.

YES, WE CAN.

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.