Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Word to the Wise!

Last week, my daughter asked me to send her several copies of my book. I carefully packed the books so they would not get damaged and took them to the PO. The  clerk asked me what I had in the box and I told her books. Then she listed off another list of things and I said books. She asked if I wanted tracking, for $.90 and I said sure, paid, and she took a stamp and stamped in red beside the address "Media Mail, subject to inspection.
   I'd never seen that stamp on a package before and questioned it. She told me the USPS has the right to inspect any media mail package. Then she said the USPS has the right to open and inspect anything but first class mail. I shrugged my shoulders and went on my way. A few days later, I used the tracking number and it seemed to be going on its way, from Stanwood WA to Everett, to Richmond CA, to Mill Valley, and delivered.
   My daughter called me and asked why I sent her a box of Teletubbies? She had received a box of these Telebubbies with my address label on it! The address on the box, under my sticker was from one address in Arizona to another in the same town.
   She went to the PO to inquire and the box I had sent her, which had been opened, was at the PO. I had reused a box my daughter had sent me, which still had her address on it.
   The PO Clerk told her that all media mail packages are now opened and inspected, as are several other classes of packages. What had happened with my package was, when they cut my package open, they pulled off the address label that I had put on the package. After they checked it, they taped it back up and sent it on its way. Apparently, somebody found my address sheet and stuck it on the nearest package. Hence, my daughter got he Teletubbies.
   So, the Teletubbies are on their way to their home in Arizona and my books were undamaged, but I will never send anything except by first class mail, insured and tracked.
   This fits in perfectly with the information I read the other day that NSA wants the PO to photograph every piece of mail, with its destination and origin and send that on to the Nazional Security Agency.

AMENDMENT IV - The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.

  It would seem that we the subjects of the Øbamanation (a wholly owned subsidiary of the United Corporations of the World, Ltd.) have little or no rights left but to do as we are told, or else. "Turn out your pockets and bend over sir, this will only hurt a little."

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Fourteen Defining Characteristics Of Fascism

Fourteen Defining
Characteristics Of Fascism

By Dr. Lawrence Britt
Source Free

    Dr. Lawrence Britt has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes. Britt found 14 defining characteristics common to each:

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism - Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottoes, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights - Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause - The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

4. Supremacy of the Military - Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

5. Rampant Sexism - The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.

6. Controlled Mass Media - Sometimes the media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

7. Obsession with National Security - Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined - Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.

9. Corporate Power is Protected - The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

10. Labor Power is Suppressed - Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts - Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment - Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption - Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

14. Fraudulent Elections - Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

Fascist America, in 10 easy steps

Fascist America, in 10 easy steps

   From Hitler to Pinochet and beyond, history shows there are certain steps that any would-be dictator must take to destroy constitutional freedoms. And, argues Naomi Wolf, George Bush and his administration seem to be taking them all. And now, in the Obamanation, we are reaping the harvest.

Tuesday April 24, 2007
Reprinted from: The Guardian

    Last autumn, there was a military coup in Thailand. The leaders of the coup took a number of steps, rather systematically, as if they had a shopping list. In a sense, they did. Within a matter of days, democracy had been closed down: the coup leaders declared martial law, sent armed soldiers into residential areas, took over radio and TV stations, issued restrictions on the press, tightened some limits on travel, and took certain activists into custody.
    They were not figuring these things out as they went along. If you look at history, you can see that there is essentially a blueprint for turning an open society into a dictatorship. That blueprint has been used again and again in more and less bloody, more and less terrifying ways. But it is always effective. It is very difficult and arduous to create and sustain a democracy - but history shows that closing one down is much simpler. You simply have to be willing to take the 10 steps.
    As difficult as this is to contemplate, it is clear, if you are willing to look, that each of these 10 steps has already been initiated today in the United States by the Bush administration.
    Because Americans like me were born in freedom, we have a hard time even considering that it is possible for us to become as unfree - domestically - as many other nations. Because we no longer learn much about our rights or our system of government - the task of being aware of the constitution has been outsourced from citizens' ownership to being the domain of professionals such as lawyers and professors - we scarcely recognise the checks and balances that the founders put in place, even as they are being systematically dismantled. Because we don't learn much about European history, the setting up of a department of "homeland" security - remember who else was keen on the word "homeland" - didn't raise the alarm bells it might have.
    It is my argument that, beneath our very noses, George Bush and his administration are using time-tested tactics to close down an open society. It is time for us to be willing to think the unthinkable - as the author and political journalist Joe Conason, has put it, that it can happen here. And that we are further along than we realise.
    Conason eloquently warned of the danger of American authoritarianism. I am arguing that we need also to look at the lessons of European and other kinds of fascism to understand the potential seriousness of the events we see unfolding in the US.

1 Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy

    After we were hit on September 11 2001, we were in a state of national shock. Less than six weeks later, on October 26 2001, the USA Patriot Act was passed by a Congress that had little chance to debate it; many said that they scarcely had time to read it. We were told we were now on a "war footing"; we were in a "global war" against a "global caliphate" intending to "wipe out civilisation". There have been other times of crisis in which the US accepted limits on civil liberties, such as during the civil war, when Lincoln declared martial law, and the second world war, when thousands of Japanese-American citizens were interned. But this situation, as Bruce Fein of the American Freedom Agenda notes, is unprecedented: all our other wars had an endpoint, so the pendulum was able to swing back toward freedom; this war is defined as open-ended in time and without national boundaries in space - the globe itself is the battlefield. "This time," Fein says, "there will be no defined end."
    Creating a terrifying threat - hydra-like, secretive, evil - is an old trick. It can, like Hitler's invocation of a communist threat to the nation's security, be based on actual events (one Wisconsin academic has faced calls for his dismissal because he noted, among other things, that the alleged communist arson, the Reichstag fire of February 1933, was swiftly followed in Nazi Germany by passage of the Enabling Act, which replaced constitutional law with an open-ended state of emergency). Or the terrifying threat can be based, like the National Socialist evocation of the "global conspiracy of world Jewry", on myth.
    It is not that global Islamist terrorism is not a severe danger; of course it is. I am arguing rather that the language used to convey the nature of the threat is different in a country such as Spain - which has also suffered violent terrorist attacks - than it is in America. Spanish citizens know that they face a grave security threat; what we as American citizens believe is that we are potentially threatened with the end of civilisation as we know it. Of course, this makes us more willing to accept restrictions on our freedoms.

2 Create a gulag

    Once you have got everyone scared, the next step is to create a prison system outside the rule of law (as Bush put it, he wanted the American detention centre at Guantánamo Bay to be situated in legal "outer space") - where torture takes place.
    At first, the people who are sent there are seen by citizens as outsiders: troublemakers, spies, "enemies of the people" or "criminals". Initially, citizens tend to support the secret prison system; it makes them feel safer and they do not identify with the prisoners. But soon enough, civil society leaders - opposition members, labour activists, clergy and journalists - are arrested and sent there as well.
    This process took place in fascist shifts or anti-democracy crackdowns ranging from Italy and Germany in the 1920s and 1930s to the Latin American coups of the 1970s and beyond. It is standard practice for closing down an open society or crushing a pro-democracy uprising.
    With its jails in Iraq and Afghanistan, and, of course, Guantánamo in Cuba, where detainees are abused, and kept indefinitely without trial and without access to the due process of the law, America certainly has its gulag now. Bush and his allies in Congress recently announced they would issue no information about the secret CIA "black site" prisons throughout the world, which are used to incarcerate people who have been seized off the street.
    Gulags in history tend to metastasise, becoming ever larger and more secretive, ever more deadly and formalised. We know from first-hand accounts, photographs, videos and government documents that people, innocent and guilty, have been tortured in the US-run prisons we are aware of and those we can't investigate adequately.
    But Americans still assume this system and detainee abuses involve only scary brown people with whom they don't generally identify. It was brave of the conservative pundit William Safire to quote the anti-Nazi pastor Martin Niemöller, who had been seized as a political prisoner: "First they came for the Jews." Most Americans don't understand yet that the destruction of the rule of law at Guantánamo set a dangerous precedent for them, too.
    By the way, the establishment of military tribunals that deny prisoners due process tends to come early on in a fascist shift. Mussolini and Stalin set up such tribunals. On April 24 1934, the Nazis, too, set up the People's Court, which also bypassed the judicial system: prisoners were held indefinitely, often in isolation, and tortured, without being charged with offences, and were subjected to show trials. Eventually, the Special Courts became a parallel system that put pressure on the regular courts to abandon the rule of law in favour of Nazi ideology when making decisions.

3 Develop a thug caste

    When leaders who seek what I call a "fascist shift" want to close down an open society, they send paramilitary groups of scary young men out to terrorise citizens. The Blackshirts roamed the Italian countryside beating up communists; the Brownshirts staged violent rallies throughout Germany. This paramilitary force is especially important in a democracy: you need citizens to fear thug violence and so you need thugs who are free from prosecution.
    The years following 9/11 have proved a bonanza for America's security contractors, with the Bush administration outsourcing areas of work that traditionally fell to the US military. In the process, contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars have been issued for security work by mercenaries at home and abroad. In Iraq, some of these contract operatives have been accused of involvement in torturing prisoners, harassing journalists and firing on Iraqi civilians. Under Order 17, issued to regulate contractors in Iraq by the one-time US administrator in Baghdad, Paul Bremer, these contractors are immune from prosecution
    Yes, but that is in Iraq, you could argue; however, after Hurricane Katrina, the Department of Homeland Security hired and deployed hundreds of armed private security guards in New Orleans. The investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill interviewed one unnamed guard who reported having fired on unarmed civilians in the city. It was a natural disaster that underlay that episode - but the administration's endless war on terror means ongoing scope for what are in effect privately contracted armies to take on crisis and emergency management at home in US cities.
    Thugs in America? Groups of angry young Republican men, dressed in identical shirts and trousers, menaced poll workers counting the votes in Florida in 2000. If you are reading history, you can imagine that there can be a need for "public order" on the next election day. Say there are protests, or a threat, on the day of an election; history would not rule out the presence of a private security firm at a polling station "to restore public order".

4 Set up an internal surveillance system

    In Mussolini's Italy, in Nazi Germany, in communist East Germany, in communist China - in every closed society - secret police spy on ordinary people and encourage neighbours to spy on neighbours. The Stasi needed to keep only a minority of East Germans under surveillance to convince a majority that they themselves were being watched.
    In 2005 and 2006, when James Risen and Eric Lichtblau wrote in the New York Times about a secret state programme to wiretap citizens' phones, read their emails and follow international financial transactions, it became clear to ordinary Americans that they, too, could be under state scrutiny.
    In closed societies, this surveillance is cast as being about "national security"; the true function is to keep citizens docile and inhibit their activism and dissent.

5 Harass citizens' groups

    The fifth thing you do is related to step four - you infiltrate and harass citizens' groups. It can be trivial: a church in Pasadena, whose minister preached that Jesus was in favour of peace, found itself being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, while churches that got Republicans out to vote, which is equally illegal under US tax law, have been left alone.
    Other harassment is more serious: the American Civil Liberties Union reports that thousands of ordinary American anti-war, environmental and other groups have been infiltrated by agents: a secret Pentagon database includes more than four dozen peaceful anti-war meetings, rallies or marches by American citizens in its category of 1,500 "suspicious incidents". The equally secret Counterintelligence Field Activity (Cifa) agency of the Department of Defense has been gathering information about domestic organisations engaged in peaceful political activities: Cifa is supposed to track "potential terrorist threats" as it watches ordinary US citizen activists. A little-noticed new law has redefined activism such as animal rights protests as "terrorism". So the definition of "terrorist" slowly expands to include the opposition.

6 Engage in arbitrary detention and release

    This scares people. It is a kind of cat-and-mouse game. Nicholas D Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, the investigative reporters who wrote China Wakes: the Struggle for the Soul of a Rising Power, describe pro-democracy activists in China, such as Wei Jingsheng, being arrested and released many times. In a closing or closed society there is a "list" of dissidents and opposition leaders: you are targeted in this way once you are on the list, and it is hard to get off the list.
    In 2004, America's Transportation Security Administration confirmed that it had a list of passengers who were targeted for security searches or worse if they tried to fly. People who have found themselves on the list? Two middle-aged women peace activists in San Francisco; liberal Senator Edward Kennedy; a member of Venezuela's government - after Venezuela's president had criticised Bush; and thousands of ordinary US citizens.
    Professor Walter F Murphy is emeritus of Princeton University; he is one of the foremost constitutional scholars in the nation and author of the classic Constitutional Democracy. Murphy is also a decorated former marine, and he is not even especially politically liberal. But on March 1 this year, he was denied a boarding pass at Newark, "because I was on the Terrorist Watch list".
    "Have you been in any peace marches? We ban a lot of people from flying because of that," asked the airline employee.
    "I explained," said Murphy, "that I had not so marched but had, in September 2006, given a lecture at Princeton, televised and put on the web, highly critical of George Bush for his many violations of the constitution."
    "That'll do it," the man said.
    Anti-war marcher? Potential terrorist. Support the constitution? Potential terrorist. History shows that the categories of "enemy of the people" tend to expand ever deeper into civil life.
    James Yee, a US citizen, was the Muslim chaplain at Guantánamo who was accused of mishandling classified documents. He was harassed by the US military before the charges against him were dropped. Yee has been detained and released several times. He is still of interest.
Brandon Mayfield, a US citizen and lawyer in Oregon, was mistakenly identified as a possible terrorist. His house was secretly broken into and his computer seized. Though he is innocent of the accusation against him, he is still on the list.
    It is a standard practice of fascist societies that once you are on the list, you can't get off.

7 Target key individuals

    Threaten civil servants, artists and academics with job loss if they don't toe the line. Mussolini went after the rectors of state universities who did not conform to the fascist line; so did Joseph Goebbels, who purged academics who were not pro-Nazi; so did Chile's Augusto Pinochet; so does the Chinese communist Politburo in punishing pro-democracy students and professors.
    Academe is a tinderbox of activism, so those seeking a fascist shift punish academics and students with professional loss if they do not "coordinate", in Goebbels' term, ideologically. Since civil servants are the sector of society most vulnerable to being fired by a given regime, they are also a group that fascists typically "coordinate" early on: the Reich Law for the Re-establishment of a Professional Civil Service was passed on April 7 1933.
    Bush supporters in state legislatures in several states put pressure on regents at state universities to penalise or fire academics who have been critical of the administration. As for civil servants, the Bush administration has derailed the career of one military lawyer who spoke up for fair trials for detainees, while an administration official publicly intimidated the law firms that represent detainees pro bono by threatening to call for their major corporate clients to boycott them.
    Elsewhere, a CIA contract worker who said in a closed blog that "waterboarding is torture" was stripped of the security clearance she needed in order to do her job.
    Most recently, the administration purged eight US attorneys for what looks like insufficient political loyalty. When Goebbels purged the civil service in April 1933, attorneys were "coordinated" too, a step that eased the way of the increasingly brutal laws to follow.

8 Control the press

    Italy in the 1920s, Germany in the 30s, East Germany in the 50s, Czechoslovakia in the 60s, the Latin American dictatorships in the 70s, China in the 80s and 90s - all dictatorships and would-be dictators target newspapers and journalists. They threaten and harass them in more open societies that they are seeking to close, and they arrest them and worse in societies that have been closed already.
    The Committee to Protect Journalists says arrests of US journalists are at an all-time high: Josh Wolf (no relation), a blogger in San Francisco, has been put in jail for a year for refusing to turn over video of an anti-war demonstration; Homeland Security brought a criminal complaint against reporter Greg Palast, claiming he threatened "critical infrastructure" when he and a TV producer were filming victims of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana. Palast had written a bestseller critical of the Bush administration.
    Other reporters and writers have been punished in other ways. Joseph C Wilson accused Bush, in a New York Times op-ed, of leading the country to war on the basis of a false charge that Saddam Hussein had acquired yellowcake uranium in Niger. His wife, Valerie Plame, was outed as a CIA spy - a form of retaliation that ended her career.
    Prosecution and job loss are nothing, though, compared with how the US is treating journalists seeking to cover the conflict in Iraq in an unbiased way. The Committee to Protect Journalists has documented multiple accounts of the US military in Iraq firing upon or threatening to fire upon unembedded (meaning independent) reporters and camera operators from organisations ranging from al-Jazeera to the BBC. While westerners may question the accounts by al-Jazeera, they should pay attention to the accounts of reporters such as the BBC's Kate Adie. In some cases reporters have been wounded or killed, including ITN's Terry Lloyd in 2003. Both CBS and the Associated Press in Iraq had staff members seized by the US military and taken to violent prisons; the news organisations were unable to see the evidence against their staffers.
    Over time in closing societies, real news is supplanted by fake news and false documents. Pinochet showed Chilean citizens falsified documents to back up his claim that terrorists had been about to attack the nation. The yellowcake charge, too, was based on forged papers.
    You won't have a shutdown of news in modern America - it is not possible. But you can have, as Frank Rich and Sidney Blumenthal have pointed out, a steady stream of lies polluting the news well. What you already have is a White House directing a stream of false information that is so relentless that it is increasingly hard to sort out truth from untruth. In a fascist system, it's not the lies that count but the muddying. When citizens can't tell real news from fake, they give up their demands for accountability bit by bit.

9 Dissent equals treason

    Cast dissent as "treason" and criticism as "espionage'. Every closing society does this, just as it elaborates laws that increasingly criminalise certain kinds of speech and expand the definition of "spy" and "traitor". When Bill Keller, the publisher of the New York Times, ran the Lichtblau/Risen stories, Bush called the Times' leaking of classified information "disgraceful", while Republicans in Congress called for Keller to be charged with treason, and rightwing commentators and news outlets kept up the "treason" drumbeat. Some commentators, as Conason noted, reminded readers smugly that one penalty for violating the Espionage Act is execution.
    Conason is right to note how serious a threat that attack represented. It is also important to recall that the 1938 Moscow show trial accused the editor of Izvestia, Nikolai Bukharin, of treason; Bukharin was, in fact, executed. And it is important to remind Americans that when the 1917 Espionage Act was last widely invoked, during the infamous 1919 Palmer Raids, leftist activists were arrested without warrants in sweeping roundups, kept in jail for up to five months, and "beaten, starved, suffocated, tortured and threatened with death", according to the historian Myra MacPherson. After that, dissent was muted in America for a decade.
    In Stalin's Soviet Union, dissidents were "enemies of the people". National Socialists called those who supported Weimar democracy "November traitors".
    And here is where the circle closes: most Americans do not realise that since September of last year - when Congress wrongly, foolishly, passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 - the president has the power to call any US citizen an "enemy combatant". He has the power to define what "enemy combatant" means. The president can also delegate to anyone he chooses in the executive branch the right to define "enemy combatant" any way he or she wants and then seize Americans accordingly.
    Even if you or I are American citizens, even if we turn out to be completely innocent of what he has accused us of doing, he has the power to have us seized as we are changing planes at Newark tomorrow, or have us taken with a knock on the door; ship you or me to a navy brig; and keep you or me in isolation, possibly for months, while awaiting trial. (Prolonged isolation, as psychiatrists know, triggers psychosis in otherwise mentally healthy prisoners. That is why Stalin's gulag had an isolation cell, like Guantánamo's, in every satellite prison. Camp 6, the newest, most brutal facility at Guantánamo, is all isolation cells.)
    We US citizens will get a trial eventually - for now. But legal rights activists at the Center for Constitutional Rights say that the Bush administration is trying increasingly aggressively to find ways to get around giving even US citizens fair trials. "Enemy combatant" is a status offence - it is not even something you have to have done. "We have absolutely moved over into a preventive detention model - you look like you could do something bad, you might do something bad, so we're going to hold you," says a spokeswoman of the CCR.
    Most Americans surely do not get this yet. No wonder: it is hard to believe, even though it is true. In every closing society, at a certain point there are some high-profile arrests - usually of opposition leaders, clergy and journalists. Then everything goes quiet. After those arrests, there are still newspapers, courts, TV and radio, and the facades of a civil society. There just isn't real dissent. There just isn't freedom. If you look at history, just before those arrests is where we are now.

10 Suspend the rule of law

    The John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007 gave the president new powers over the national guard. This means that in a national emergency - which the president now has enhanced powers to declare - he can send Michigan's militia to enforce a state of emergency that he has declared in Oregon, over the objections of the state's governor and its citizens.
    Even as Americans were focused on Britney Spears's meltdown and the question of who fathered Anna Nicole's baby, the New York Times editorialised about this shift: "A disturbing recent phenomenon in Washington is that laws that strike to the heart of American democracy have been passed in the dead of night ... Beyond actual insurrection, the president may now use military troops as a domestic police force in response to a natural disaster, a disease outbreak, terrorist attack or any 'other condition'."
    Critics see this as a clear violation of the Posse Comitatus Act - which was meant to restrain the federal government from using the military for domestic law enforcement. The Democratic senator Patrick Leahy says the bill encourages a president to declare federal martial law. It also violates the very reason the founders set up our system of government as they did: having seen citizens bullied by a monarch's soldiers, the founders were terrified of exactly this kind of concentration of militias' power over American people in the hands of an oppressive executive or faction.
    Of course, the United States is not vulnerable to the violent, total closing-down of the system that followed Mussolini's march on Rome or Hitler's roundup of political prisoners. Our democratic habits are too resilient, and our military and judiciary too independent, for any kind of scenario like that.
    Rather, as other critics are noting, our experiment in democracy could be closed down by a process of erosion.
    It is a mistake to think that early in a fascist shift you see the profile of barbed wire against the sky. In the early days, things look normal on the surface; peasants were celebrating harvest festivals in Calabria in 1922; people were shopping and going to the movies in Berlin in 1931. Early on, as WH Auden put it, the horror is always elsewhere - while someone is being tortured, children are skating, ships are sailing: "dogs go on with their doggy life ... How everything turns away/ Quite leisurely from the disaster."
    As Americans turn away quite leisurely, keeping tuned to internet shopping and American Idol, the foundations of democracy are being fatally corroded. Something has changed profoundly that weakens us unprecedentedly: our democratic traditions, independent judiciary and free press do their work today in a context in which we are "at war" in a "long war" - a war without end, on a battlefield described as the globe, in a context that gives the president - without US citizens realising it yet - the power over US citizens of freedom or long solitary incarceration, on his say-so alone.
    That means a hollowness has been expanding under the foundation of all these still- free-looking institutions - and this foundation can give way under certain kinds of pressure. To prevent such an outcome, we have to think about the "what ifs".
    What if, in a year and a half, there is another attack - say, God forbid, a dirty bomb? The executive can declare a state of emergency. History shows that any leader, of any party, will be tempted to maintain emergency powers after the crisis has passed. With the gutting of traditional checks and balances, we are no less endangered by a President Hillary than by a President Giuliani - because any executive will be tempted to enforce his or her will through edict rather than the arduous, uncertain process of democratic negotiation and compromise.
    What if the publisher of a major US newspaper were charged with treason or espionage, as a rightwing effort seemed to threaten Keller with last year? What if he or she got 10 years in jail? What would the newspapers look like the next day? Judging from history, they would not cease publishing; but they would suddenly be very polite.
    Right now, only a handful of patriots are trying to hold back the tide of tyranny for the rest of us - staff at the Center for Constitutional Rights, who faced death threats for representing the detainees yet persisted all the way to the Supreme Court; activists at the American Civil Liberties Union; and prominent conservatives trying to roll back the corrosive new laws, under the banner of a new group called the American Freedom Agenda. This small, disparate collection of people needs everybody's help, including that of Europeans and others internationally who are willing to put pressure on the administration because they can see what a US unrestrained by real democracy at home can mean for the rest of the world.
    We need to look at history and face the "what ifs". For if we keep going down this road, the "end of America" could come for each of us in a different way, at a different moment; each of us might have a different moment when we feel forced to look back and think: that is how it was before - and this is the way it is now.
    "The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands ... is the definition of tyranny," wrote James Madison. We still have the choice to stop going down this road; we can stand our ground and fight for our nation, and take up the banner the founders asked us to carry.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Impeachment is Not about Getting Revenge

Impeachment is Not about Getting Revenge
It is Reaffirming the Constitution, Bill of Rights and the Rule of Law

WE are now seeing the same reaction that followed the Nixon era. As the evidence mounted about Nixon’s high crimes and misdemeanors the call for impeachment grew from a murmur to a roar heard round the country. Article II Section 2 of the Constitution gives the President of the United States the power of “reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of Impeachment.” Nixon knew that if he was impeached, he would be tried for his crimes with no possibility of pardon. A deal was cut, he resigned and was pardoned for his high crimes and misdemeanors and allowed to go his way. One of the arguments at the time was that the nation had gone through a time of great travail and it was time to move on. Some thought an impeachment and trial would denigrate the presidency.
    Nothing could have denigrated the office of the President more than letting a liar; thief and crook walk away from his crimes, unpunished. That sent a signal that any well placed two-bit crook could gain the office of the President, do anything he wanted, then walk away with no consequences. Look at what has happened since.
    The legislation punched through by Bush and his minions has gutted the Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights, which is the list of the Inalienable Rights of Man that were to be forever protected by this government, so long as it should exist. The treasury of the United States, the collective wealth of the people, has been stripped away and given to a wealthy and powerful few at the expense and impoverishment of the many. The Congress has the sole right to declare war and that has been usurped by the Executive.
    We have been involved in a war and occupation of a foreign sovereign nation which has cost us over two thousand lives, many billions of dollars, the Iraqis over a half million lives and has left their nation in ruins, all based on lies and cooked intelligence. Not to mention Afghanistan, which has been eating armies since the time of Alexander.
   New Orleans and the surrounding area is still a ruin after Katrina, despite millions in no-bid contracts to Bush Gang cronies, most of which, like Iraq restoration contracts to some of the same companies, has gone missing, unaccountable.
    What is needed today is not revenge, but justice. The badly tattered Constitution of the United States and its almost totally destroyed Bill of Rights must be restored, intact and functioning to the halls of government. To do this properly, the rules and laws of the Constitution must be enacted and again carried out. This requires impeachment of the Bush Gang and, if found guilty, removal from office and remanded for trial. To go back to business as usual, leaving such a miscreant and his cronies in office, to continue to cover their tracks and do more harm for another two years is an act of moral cowardice that could well destroy what is left of our Constitutional government.
    When you consider that the President’s oath of office is, “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”  And then remember that, when one of Bush’s staff suggested that one of his acts might be unconstitutional, he replied in a rage, “Stop shoving the Constitution in my face! It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!” That, in itself, should provide sufficient grounds for impeachment.
    Since 2000, when the Supreme Court took the election out of the hands of We the People, appointing a president by a 5-4 majority, the Constitution has been slowly, but steadily eroded. No people in history have ever received back the freedoms that they have once given up to entrenched authority, except by bloody revolution.
    This is a time to break that losing streak and invoke our own Constitution to provide the people redress of grievances and restore our nation to health. To repair the damage done to the United States by this lawless bunch is going to require enormous effort and sacrifice over many years. It will be possible only if We the People start once again using our Constitution as the rule and guide of our actions, reaffirming the Rights of Man and bringing justice and the rule of law back to the nation.
    Impeachment is the first step toward this goal. Let us not let it slip away yet again and leave chaos in its wake. A successful impeachment will serve notice to all that the government of the United States is no longer up for grabs; that those who wish to usurp the power of the Constitution and use public office for personal gain will face justice under that Constitution.
    Perhaps this will once again give rise to true statesmen in office rather than power seekers. If our lawmakers realize that the oath they took to support and defend the Constitution of the United States means what it says and refers to them, then perhaps the legions of lobbyists seeking votes for sale to the highest bidder will begin to dry up. Then, We the People will once again have a nation to be proud of, that will be looked up to once again by the world, not for having a preponderance of weapons of mass destruction and a willingness to use them, but as a nation of law and respect for the Rights of Man and the environment everywhere, but more especially at home.
    The above article was written and posted on 11 November 2006 while we were still being Bushwhacked. At one time, we thought Mr. Obama would see that justice was done. Instead, he immediately increased the wars, the giveaways to the rich, protected the Bush syndicate and continued the further destruction of the middle and working "classes."
    Now, the Nazional Security Agency, under his auspices, claims the right to watch and listen to everybody in the world, including all US citizens, 24/7. Everything in Obama's new "transparency" is classified secret or above, every whistleblower must run for his life, for the policy is to imprison the whistleblower and hide the crimes the whistleblower uncovered..
    If We the People do not reassert the Constitution of the United States and insist on its being restored to the Halls of Government, intact and functioning, then I fear the United States of America is truly lost..
   Read the Constitution! You will see that impeachment is not some last ditch, horribly expensive process. It is considered much as a Grand Jury, to investigate and indict. It is not restricted to the President. It extends to all government employees, such as Senators and Congressmen, who have violated their trust to serve We the People and adhere to the Constitution of the United States, which is We the People's contract with America.
Article II, Section 4  The President, Vice President and  all civil officers shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors.
Article I Section 3  The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.
    Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgement and Punishment, according to Law.
     And there lies the rub. With a bought and paid for Senate and a bought and paid for Supreme Court, how can an honest trial be held?
     So, perhaps it may be up to We the People once more. While you are at it, read the Declaration of Independence carefully. About the only difference you will see today is that the enemies of the people are not in England, they are here in DC.
     Please, think about it.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Enemy Within

MANY years ago, during the unlamented “Cold War” we were warned to beware the “enemy within” which referred to communist infiltrators into the government and industry. We were all supposed to be ever vigilant against this threat. There were witch hunts galore and people like McCarthy were in their ascendency. HUAC (House Un-American Activities Committee) destroyed the lives of countless Americans who believed in our Constitution and Bill of Rights. (A subversive concept according to HUAC) The “Enemy Within” was supposed to be able to cause much trouble, for us and for the government. For a time, everyone was suspect, your friends, your neighbors, the butcher, the baker. You were to watch everyone and report suspicious behavior to the FBI. Those you watched were also to be watching you, and making their reports.
    With the fall of the CCCP, everyone relaxed. The Enemy Within was gone! What few realized was that not only was the enemy within still there, but we had misidentified it, it was stronger than we had dreamed and was growing stronger every day.
    The Enemy Within is the Corporate State, and the minions who do its bidding are the United States Government! For over two centuries, the United States of America was a Constitutional Republic. Its government was ruled by the Constitution of the United States. That Constitution provided a system of checks and balances to ensure that no one body could gain control over the government and turn it into a dictatorship. There was a Legislative body, the Senate and Congress, that legislated, made rules and taxes, provided for the welfare of the nation and its people. There was the Executive branch which did the nuts and bolts operation of the nation, constrained by the Legislature and the Constitution. There was a third body, the Supreme Court, which was to study and rule on the constitutionality of legislation, to see that it fell within the confines of the Constitution, which was the ultimate authority.
    There were challenges over the years, but most or all were met and overcome ultimately by the Constitution. The Constitution was added to over the years as times and conditions changed, but it remained the authority. Under the Constitution, the ultimate authority was We the People. We were the ones that approved or disapproved an amendment to the document.
    All of that seems to have ended with the (probably) false flag attack on September eleventh. Immediately afterward, the long prepared, illegal, misnamed and unconstitutional “Patriot Act” was put forward, voted into law, unread, and the Constitution was rendered nothing more than an old piece of parchment. This is the oath taken by every Congressman and Senator at the start of their term, and at the beginning of each session of Congress.
        I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.
    The President of the United States takes an even shorter oath, which is specified in article II, Section 1. of the Constitution
        I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
    Please note, that oath is to support the Constitution of the United States, against all enemies, foreign and domestic. It says nothing about protecting the banksters, or invading foreign nations, or kill lists, indefinite detentions, torture.  Virtually every legislator, and many presidents are oath breakers! They are guilty of treason! Even the “Supreme” Court basically ignores the Constitution in favor of big business, spying, detention, torture, etc.
    So, what is the Enemy Within? It is the corporate bodies that worship only greed and profit and trample upon the people, both here and abroad, that protest this greed. It is the bought and paid for legislators, who put their tongues firmly in cheek and cross their fingers when taking their “Oath of Office.” It is the Presidents who begin to lie when they put their hands on the Bible at their inauguration, and continue to do so for the next four years at the behest of their wealthy masters.
    It is the Military-Industrial-Intelligence-Congressional-Complex, warned about by President Eisenhower as he left office. It is the endless revolving door between business and government that keeps the greed and giveaways on track. It is the tightly controlled press that rarely prints anything that would put the corporate or military bodies in a bad light.
    Take note of the comments on bills. “Lobbyists spent $350 million this weekend to defeat this bill.”
“Lobbyists spent $250 million this week to ensure the passage of the bill.”
    That, in any sane government, would be called bribery, but in the United States, that’s just the cost of doing business. Legislators are much too busy raising funds for their next election to actually pay attention to what their lobbyist instructed staff tell them to vote for or against. They just count the “contributions” to their campaign and make sure they don’t offend the larger “donors.”
    So, unless We the People force the Constitution to be put back in the Halls of Government, intact and functioning, the Enemy Within will stay in power and We the People will cease to be citizens and will become nothing but their subjects and serfs.
    I fear it is up to us, and there is a very steep hill to climb.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Crossing the Line

Crossing the Line

(A guest editorial by Cliff Carson)

    Much discussion has been bandied about in the past few days concerning the use of Sarin gas on the Syrian population, and what we as a moral Nation should do about it. Of course the inference is that the Assad Regime is the user of that poison gas. The Media is full of the Obama statement, warning Assad, that using gas on the people would be "crossing the Line" and if such was to occur, the United States would become involved on the side of the Rebels.
    Well the charge has now been made, so what to do next is the question.
    I pose that first we need to do some fact checking and then some soul searching.
    Has gas been used? According to reports, gas was used in a limited way on March 15th.  Can this be proven and if it was used who did it - the Assad Regime or the Rebels?  By the way, who are the Rebels and when did this all start?
    We can go back as far in history as you might desire, but I choose to wander back to Plato and report some of his writings on Elites and State leaders, and as you might guess the nobility of wars.
    Plato espoused that for the Elites and the State to lie to the people was perfectly acceptable as long as it was good for the State as a whole. But in Plato's world the State leadership was made up of the Elites.  His reasoning for allowing the Elites, and thus the Government, to lie?  The State and the Elites will only act for the good of the people as a whole and there the people should look upon the State and the Elites as a form of Gods.
    "If anyone at all is to have the privilege of lying, the rulers of the State should be the persons, and they, in their dealings either with enemies or with their own citizens, may be allowed to lie for the public good.".  - Plato
    You might not be surprised to learn that Plato, who believed in Reincarnation, thought that the deceased would return in either a higher calling or lower status depending on their performance  at their previous level in life.  Plato thought that the highest level into which anyone could be reincarnated would be  -  Politician.
   Back to the question - was Sarin gas used?  At this time there is no way to prove whether or not it was used, unless it was immediately tested, because Sarin gas and any evidence of it disperses rapidly and it is too late now to find any evidence pertaining to use back on the 15th of March.
    But if it was used, who did the deed?  Some information to ponder:
   Once Gaddafi was deposed and the new Libyan Government was in control, it was reported in one of England's Newspapers, The Daily Telegraph that:  
    "Syrian rebels held secret talks with Libya's new authorities on Friday, aiming to secure weapons and money for their insurgency against President Bashar el-Assad's Regime.  Syrian rebels held the secret talks ( in Turkey) with Libya’s new authorities on Friday, aiming to secure weapons and money for their insurgency against the President Bashar al-Assad’s regime"
    A Libyan source speaking on the condition of anonymity stated, "There is something being planned to send weapons and even Libyan fighters to Syria. There is a military intervention on the way.  Within weeks you will see."  Later that month over 600 Libyans were reported to have entered Syria to begin Combat operations and more fighters and weapons have  followed continuously since.
    After the longest war in American History ( Iraq) which was entered into based on false information ( A Presidential lie) that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, isn't it hypocrisy to see the Western powers, including America, arming, funding, and politically backing rebels in Syria, whose army consists of Al-Qaida terrorists and religious Sunni's fighting to oust the Alawite Religion of Assad and based on that initial report of the use of Sarin gas on March 15th? It was first reported to the world by European news Media as follows:
     "At least 25 are reported dead after a chemical weapons attack targeting Syrian soldiers was carried out by NATO-backed terrorists in the northern city of Aleppo."
    So here we are. If the gas was used, by whom was it used?  Keep in mind that the statement about "crossing the line" was uttered by Obama prior to this gas attack.  Was the gas attack something the Assad Regime initiated?  Or was it by the foreign fighters brought in by the United States and its allies?  Or maybe it was a False Flag operation conducted by those wanting a new Profit Stream opened up due to a new War in Syria?
    Finally there is a final question that should be asked and answered:
    Is the United States war crowd  immoral enough to want to instigate a new war for the war profits that accrue to the Elites and the Federal Government which the Military Industrial Complex controls?
    Let me take you back to Operation Northwoods.  At the time this False Flag concept was hatched up by the War Crowd in our Government, the Cuban Missile Crisis had caused planners to work up a plan to rile up the public, to support a war against Cuba.   This was to be done by initiating raids against American Citizens conducted by US special forces.  This series of raids was to kill American Citizens and blame it on Cuban Terrorists. The only reason Operation Northwoods wasn't carried out was because President John Kennedy told the War Crowd it wasn't going to happen while he was President.  Later both he and his brother Robert were assassinated, by - well you know the story.
    There are those who want War as a means of profiteering. They have been on Earth since man rose up to walk upright. They will always be among us. We need to be vigilant and learn to recognize them by their actions.
    It is they who have crossed the line.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Little Child Shall Lead Them

A Little Child Shall Lead Them
Isaiah 11:6

AN eight year old child made a poster in his third grade class. His proud teacher took a photo of him holding his poster. I’ve spent quite a bit of time looking at that photo, which now has been seen around the world. I have looked at his expression, the way he delicately holds his poster up for his teacher. He has a small smile, including the gaps of missing baby teeth, but his eyes caught me. I see a sadness, a pleading, in his eyes. He means what his poster says, “No more hurting people. Peace” On either side of the word Peace is a heart and below it is a peace symbol.
    This eight year old child has just solved the major problem of the world, and he wants the world to understand it and do it. No More hurting people. If that is accomplished, then Peace may result.
    I don’t know what it was that influenced him to write that poster. Perhaps he had heard people discussing drones and the killing of women and children around the world. Perhaps he had watched a schoolyard bully beat up a little kid and steal his lunch money. Maybe it was a kindly old lady who lived down the street and sat on the porch swing, feeding him cookies, petting her cat, and telling him stories of her youth. Perhaps it was just common sense, which is much more common in small children than it is in  adults, but is rarely recognized by us.
    A few days, or perhaps a week or so later, his shattered body was lying on a street in Boston, surrounded by many hurting people, including his mother, sister and, his father.
    A bit earlier, I had seen a photo of a bunch of Pakistanis, with a row of dead children laid out in a row before them. Victims of an Obama sponsored drone. Perhaps he saw that, though I doubt it. It was not widely published here in the US.
    Mr. Obama came to Boston for a brief photo-op, vowing to bring the perpetrators to “justice” and announcing that he is sending in guns, tanks and drones to “pacify” yet another poor country in Africa.
    Mr. Obama, what part of Martin Richard’s poster do you not understand?

 No More hurting people.

    Isaiah 11:6 says, “a little child shall lead them.” I see that Martin’s picture is slowly fading away as the mass media has milked it for what it can get in the short attention span of the American public. I hope, though, that this simple photo will remain as a lesson in the hearts and minds of many around the world who weary of endless wars, endless “hurting people” for the profits and power of the arms and war makers.
    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the memory of this innocent little martyr and his simple poster could, in fact, lead the world toward the path of peace?
    Bless you Martin Richard. May your memory stay green and bright and may we bring your simple plea to fruition.
Steve Osborn
18 April 2013