Posts Tagged ‘Constitution’
by stuartbramhall in Electoral reform, Things That Aren't What They Seem
There is growing concern about the growing number of resignations from the Obama White House, another significant sign his administration is in deep trouble. Especially as seven of the resignations have occurred within the last six months. Both parties try to avoid major White House changes in the six months leading up to a midterm election. The instability jeopardizes voter confidence and greatly increases votes for the opposing party.
- Rahm Emanuel, chief of staff. Resigned effective October 1, 2010.
- Retired General James Jones, National Security Adviser. Resignation announced on October 8, 2010.
- Ellen Moran, Communications Director. Left in April 2009.
- Van Jones, special adviser for “Green Jobs.” Left in September 2009.
- Mark Lippert, deputy national security adviser. Left in October 2009.
- David Ogden, Deputy Attorney General. Resigned in February 2010.
- Greg Craig, White House Counsel. Craig was forced to announce his resignation in November 2009.
- Peter Orszag, Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Resigned in June 2010.
- Retired Admiral Dennis Blair, Director of National Intelligence. Resigned in May 2010.
- Christina Romer, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. Resigned in September 2010.
- Larry Summers, Director of National Economic Council. Resignation not to take effect until after November 2 election.
- Senior White House Advisor David Axelrod. Resignation planned for early 2011.
It’s widely acknowledged that Emanuel’s, Jones’ and Crags resignations – and possibly others – were forced, rather than voluntary.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates has also announced his decision to leave early next year. However it’s rumored Gates may move up his departure, owing to Jones’ dismissal. In addition there are recent reports that White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has been asked to leave. As well as rumors Hillary Clinton may leave if the Democrats do poorly in the election, especially if Gates leaves early.
With Obama’s sinking approval ratings, it’s no surprise that Democrats in tough Senate and Congressional races are deliberately distancing themselves from the President (see http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/konrad-yakabuski/incumbent-democrats-distance-themselves-from-washington/article1756190/).
Enter Deep Throat 2
However according to investigative journalist and former intelligence officer Wayne Madsen – and “Deep Throat 2″ – a former Obama insider who has been spilling his guts to a mysterious blogger named Ulsterman – Obama is also in deep trouble personally. In fact Deep Throat 2 alleges he’s taking antidepressants, drinking to excess and manifesting Nixonian-style paranoia. (see http://theintelhub.com/2010/10/15/wayne-madsen-white-house-in-crisis/ and http://newsflavor.com/politics/world-politics/white-house-insider-what-the-hell-have-we-done/)
It has reached a point, according to Madsen and Ulsterman, that the President does little more than play golf and watch ESPN. With some top level Democrats talking about invoking Section 4 of the 25th Amendment – which permits the involuntary removal of the president from office. In Obama’s case, for health reasons.
The Awful Legacy of Caretaker Governments
However what I find most troubling is that, for whatever reason, Obama is no longer in charge. And once again, as under Nixon (term 2), Reagan (who never recovered after getting shot), and Bush II; the US is being run by a caretaker government – faceless appointees, who are totally unaccountable to American voters and feel free to engage in unconstitutional and blatantly criminal activities. This is clear from the legacy of past caretaker governments: illegal weapons sales to an enemy nation (Iran), CIA involvement in narcotics trafficking, the raiding of the federal workers’ compensation fund (I cover this in my memoir) and fraudulent S&L loans to fund covert mercenaries (directly responsible for the collapse of 29 savings and loan associations), 9-11, Guantanamo, torture, sodomy of teenage Iraqi prisoners, extraordinary rendition and the repeal of habeas corpus and other constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties.
by stuartbramhall in Attacks on Civil Liberties, Challenging the Corporate Media, Mind Control and Disinformation, The Global Economic Crisis, The Wars in the Middle East
Hurray for Ron Paul declaring to the whole world (via the Southern Republican Leadership Conference) that Obama isn’t really a socialist, but a corporatist. And for only losing the straw poll by one vote (to Romney), which meant the Wall Street Journal had to cover his speech. They call him a “gadfly.” I could wear gadfly – assuming that people who support Paul’s stance on corporatism are gadflies by association. I’m not sure whether “gadfly” or “libertarian” is a worse insult. So long as they don’t call us liberals. That would be the kiss of death.
Ron Paul’s Support Isn’t Limited to Republicans
Does Ron Paul’s willingness to make such a bold statement have something to do with the fact his Campaign for Liberty is drawing bipartisan (I prefer the word nonpartisan actually) support? With the fact that prominent leftists such as Naomi Wolf are making supportive statements regarding his campaign to restore Constitutional freedoms? You bettcha.
Wolf, of course, has come under heavy attack by the liberal establishment for siding with the Tea Party and Patriot movement in regards their stance on Constitutional and states’ rights. Some of the criticism has been quite extreme, with some progressive followers threatening to throw Wolf’s books away.
The Need for Nonpartisan Movements
The obvious question that comes to mind is what’s so terrible about a nonpartisan civil liberties – or better still anti-corporate – movement in this country? It’s becoming increasingly apparent that the divisions between the so-called right and left and between conservatives and liberals are really very artificial ones imposed on us by the corporate controlled media, the two major political parties and whatever government propaganda agencies (CIA, FBI, Pentagon and others we probably haven’t heard of) are at work to control public access to information.
They seem to want all Americans to believe that they are destined to belong to one of two opposing camps, depending on the state they are born in. Because heaven forbid that Red and Blue states should discover that they share some common ground and mobilize to revoke the corporate charters of Wall Street banks and that knowingly engaged in mortgage fraud (yes, deliberate fraud. See mortgage fraud links) and other criminal chicanery that caused the global economy to collapse in October 2008.
Clever Distractions by the Media and Major Party Leadership
One way I feel the media and the major political parties do this is by systematically distracting the public and even members of populist reform groups (of which the Tea Party movement is a prime example) away from the root cause of America’s present difficulties – namely the total political control banks and corporations have over Congress and the presidency.
An excellent example is frenzy the right wing talk show hosts have whipped up over various inane conspiracies – most recently ones involving Obama’s birth certificate and the alleged Cloward-Piven strategy the American left hatched in 1966. I have no particular problem, in theory, with the notion that the government and their corporate cronies hatch conspiracies – powerful (mainly) men have been sitting in dark smoke filled rooms since the American Revolution. However in my experience you have to be pretty rich and powerful to hatch a successful conspiracy. Poor people don’t seem to be very good at it.
What bothers me is the underserved prominence these two particular conspiracies have received in the mainstream media (Fox News in particular). It appears to me to be a deliberate effort to distract the American public from the much more dangerous actions of Wall Street banks and their so-called government regulators.
Correction: Earlier this post stated that author Naomi Wolf has gotten flak for supporting the concerns of some Tea Party members about possible government involvement in 9.11. Wolf has clarified that she does not have concerns about government involvement in 9.11. What she actually stated was that she would support an independent investigation.
by stuartbramhall in Challenging the Corporate Media, Mind Control and Disinformation, The Global Economic Crisis
As a long time progressive, I have been quite fascinated to discover that I agree with the Tea Party movement in many areas. In fact a number of people on the so-called “left” have been following Ron Paul, one of the Tea Party’s founders, quite closely since he first raised the alarm about the systematic destruction of the Bill of Rights under the Bush administration.
I use the term progressive quite loosely because I have always found it quite difficult to attach a label to my political views. In fact I have only recently discovered there are two kinds of libertarians – “free market” libertarians like Ron Paul and “left” libertarians like MIT linguistics professor Noam Chomsky. However given that we don’t really have a “free market” economic system in the US – and haven’t had one since the federal government began selectively subsidizing corporations over a century ago – I sometimes wonder if the two wings of libertarianism are as far apart as we are led to believe. This morning I am feeling like a green left libertarian feminist, though this may change later in the week. Would I vote for Ron Paul as the Republican presidential candidate? There is a strong possibility I would.
It appears that that the free market and left libertarians are in fundamental agreement that the root cause of the current economic and political crisis relates to the loss of popular control over our government. Where we seem to part ways is in our analysis of exactly how the American people lost control of the democratic process – though in many cases the solutions we propose are surprisingly similar.
Points of agreement
- Like the Teabaggers, I believe the trillions of dollars of debt the US is amassing will result in the destruction of the US economy and its replacement (most likely by China) as the world’s superpower.
- Like the Teabaggers, I am totally opposed to the two trillion bailout Bush and Obama awarded to the Wall Street speculators, many of who engaged in outright fraud, responsible for the October 2008 economic collapse. The word for this is crony capitalism, not free market capitalism.
- Like the Teabaggers, I support the concept of limited government. I believe in the absolute freedom of conscience, expression and association guaranteed in the Constitution, as well as the protections the Bill of Rights guarantees against unlawful detention and (heaven forbid) extrajudicial murder by federal authorities that Obama has just authorized by executive order. The right to habeas corpus, which dates back to the 13th century Magna Carta, must be restored now. I also oppose federal interference with local and state authority because I feel participatory democracy is that absolute best model of government and the current corporate stranglehold on our federal government means the only place Americans can have any voice in government is at the local and state level. Over the last 30 years I have watched how the centralization of economic and political control in the European Union has systematically stripped Europeans of their democratic rights by placing de facto political control with European banks and corporations.
Points of Difference
Ironically my main points of difference with the Tea Party movement are not so much with its founders, but with various public figures such as Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck who the mainstream media (particularly Fox News) has appointed spokespeople for the movement. The media has very effectively used these individuals to promote various “conspiracy” theories as the cause of the current crisis – distracting the American people from what clearly is the main cause – namely the greed, recklessness and criminality that pervades our banking industry and the crony capitalists Obama has appointed to conceal all this from public view.
by stuartbramhall in End of Capitalism, Sustainability, The Global Economic Crisis
The collapse of the 71 year old Soviet empire in 1989 stemmed mainly from the collapse of the Soviet economy, due to an unwinnable war in Afghanistan and a blown out military budget. The parallels with current US economic and geopolitical problems are obvious. Other similarities include the fact that the citizens of the US have lost any ability to influence their own government, as well as being stripped of basic civil liberties they are supposedly guaranteed under the Constitution.
The power structure in the US is clearly different from that of the former USSR. It’s not Communist Party bureaucrats who have seized control of our government – but powerful corporations with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. However like the Communist apparatchiks, these corporate interests have also assumed near total control over public information, via their ownership of electronic and print media outlets.
All this has occurred at a juncture in history when the human species faces three of the most urgent crises to ever face human kind – climatic instability resulting in an escalation of extreme weather events (deadly droughts, wild fires, storms and floods), fossil fuel depletion and the impending collapse of an extremely dysfunctional economic system. At a point in time when government leadership is desperately needed to find solutions to these urgent problems, our elected officials seem to be paralyzed. Moreover instead of stimulating public discussion and debate on how to solve these problems, the mainstream media seems more concerned with persuading us to buy things we don’t want or need.
What Will the Collapse Look Like?
There is no way of predicting the exact timing of the economic collapse many credible economists feel is inevitable. It could occur suddenly (via the collapse of the US dollar of China or other foreign countries that finance our $2 trillion debt dump our Treasury Bills). However many experts believe the US economy will simply bleed to death – under the weight of the $2 trillion TARP bail out and the $2.4 trillion dollars the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan will cost is. In this scenario we would simply see more and more businesses go under and more and more people lose their jobs and become homeless – until government and businesses simply no longer have the financial resources to support the basic infrastructure (electricity, gas, phone service, Internet, clean water, well-stocked supermarkets, police and fire service) we have all come to rely on.
I feel there are important lessons to be learned from the 1989 collapse of the USSR. One of the main reasons the crisis hit the Soviet people so hard was that there were virtually no civic organizations to take over when the government infrastructure fell apart. There were no church or neighborhood networks to organize food banks or soup kitchens or to look after the sick and elderly. In addition to the Soviets’ absolute ban on churches, the KGB (Soviet secret police) viewed all independent unions and community organizations as a threat to state power and disbanded them by arresting (and occasionally murdering) their leadership. Following the 1989 infrastructure collapse, farmers continued to produce food and oil refineries continued to produce small amounts of gasoline. However there ceased to be an organized distribution system. Thousands of people starved or froze to death or died of treatable medical conditions – because there was simply no organized way of finding drivers to deliver food, fuel and medical supplies to the people who needed them. We see a similar problem on a smaller scale in Haiti since the recent earthquake.
It’s Up to Us – the Government Isn’t Going to Do It
Based on his low popularity ratings, I gather a lot of us assumed Obama was going to deliver on his campaign promises to reform the Wall Street companies that got us into this economic mess, restore our civil liberties, end the economy busting wars in the Middle East and enact programs to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels. Instead he has squandered all his political capital on a very unpopular health care bill that is basically a corporate welfare bailout for insurance and drug companies. The only conclusion I can draw is that it’s now up to the American people to lead the way for our government and the rest of the world.
by stuartbramhall in Attacks on Civil Liberties, Challenging the Corporate Media
While the first major aim of Pentagon, FBI and CIA propaganda efforts is to promote a military agenda focused on unprovoked agression and conquest, a second, equally important, aim is to promote public acceptance of a draconian restriction in civil liberties. The past decade has witnessed a de facto repeal of a substantial portion the Bill of Rights. The specific Constitutional amendments no longer recognized by the US government include amendments four, five and six.
The fourth amendment protects people and their homes, papers and “effects” from being searched or seized without a warrant and probable cause (which means the police must convince a judge a crime has been committed, as well as specifying where they intend to search and what they expect to find). The fifth amendment has three separate but related provisions. The first clause stipulates that people can only be detained for capital (i.e. punishable by the death penalty) offenses by a Grand Jury indictment – the only exception being military personnel during war or civil emergency. The second states the government cannot compel an accused to be a witness against himself. The third forbids the government from detaining people, confiscating their property or killing them without following formal judicial process. The sixth amendment guarantees the accused in all criminal prosecutions the right to a speedy public trial by an impartial jury, the right to be informed of the nature of the accusation and the right to confront witnesses against him.
De Facto Repeal of the Bill of Rights
The Patriot Act and other legislation enacted in response to 9-11 violates most, if not all of the fundamental legal rights guaranteed in the Constitution. Under current law it’s permissible for government agents to enter homes and apartments in the occupant’s absence and confiscate their belongings without a warrant or even informing the occupants they have been there. It is also perfectly legal for the government to read peoples’ mail, listen to their phone conversations and read their emails – all considered to be an unconstitutional search of their “effects.” Like the Bush administration, the Obama administration asserts the right to detain – indefinitely – individuals they claim are a “threat to national security” without charging or bringing them to trial. Moreover the Obama administration has gone even further in asserting the right to assassinate both citizens and non-citizens they view as a “threat to national security,” without benefit of their Constitutional right to prove their innocence in a court of law.
Despite his campaign promises to provide Guatanamo detainees a jury trial in civilian court, Obama has also announced his intention to try several of them via military tribunal, where neither they nor their attorneys will be allowed to see evidence against them that involves a potential breach of “security,” nor question witnesses who are the source of this secret evidence. Obama’s dilemma here is these men couldn’t be convicted in a civilian court, as the vast majority of judges would disallow evidence against them that was obtained under torture. In addition to being illegal under international law, torture also violates the fifth amendment, as it compels people to testify against themselves.
Public Passivity in the Face of Creeping Totalitarianism
Over the past 10 years Americans have lost all these critical constitutional rights with hardly a whimper of protest. The reasons for this leaden passivity while the world’s first modern democratic experiment steadily degenerates into a totalitarian police state are complex and open to debate. In my opinion they relate in large part to a fundamental shift in the way Americans view their relationship to government. This, in turn, stems from the systematic marginalization of the American public from a political process in which corporate control over Congress and the presidency has become near absolute.
Corporate interests exert this control into important ways – first, as the primary funders of election campaigns and second, by their virtual control over the mainstream media – which translates into the ability, which they regularly exercise, to demolish the reputation of any elected representative who tries to enact legislation contrary to their interests.