The judicial system’s new “crack” cocaine fix


crack vs powderRemember how the punishment for possessing or dealing in crack was substantially higher than for cocaine, even though “crack” was nothing more than cocaine on steroids?  That disparity was eliminated when President Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act in 2010 because quite frankly is disproportionately negatively impacted minorities.  The Act was unanimously approved by both Houses of Congress meaning it faced no serious opposition from Republicans.

As usual, the criminal justice system has found other ways to exacerbate racial divisions in enforcement and punishment and have filled the gap with “suspended license” offenses.  Like all bad policy it has not yielded the intended results of increased revenue for the “State” simply because it was not well thought out and unfair public policy.  Basically what happens is suspended licensestates “suspend” a person’s drivers license if they are unable to pay court costs for appearances before the judicial system for any offense meaning the only way a driver can retrieve or if they don’t have one get a license is by paying all past due court costs. Of course it doesn’t matter if you have to drive to get to work or not, and in the case of  places with large rural populations like Tennessee where public transportation is sparse in some areas, tough! Such poorly planned law means a person commits the other illegal act of driving with a suspended license and when caught only increases their debt and criminal record…..if they’re lucky enough to survive the encounter with police when ticketed for such an offense.   The NYT piece goes on to say

Going through the legal system, even for people charged with nonviolent misdemeanors, can be expensive, with fines, public defender fees, probation fees and other costs running into hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars. Many people cannot pay.

As a result, some states have begun suspending driver’s licenses for unsatisfied debts stemming from any criminal case, from misdemeanors like marijuana possession to felonies in which court costs can reach into the tens of thousands of dollars……..Most states also suspend licenses for failure to pay traffic fines, another policy that critics say creates a quicksand of debt.

Though the law was projected to raise more than $20 million a year, it has not come close, according to state agencies. Revenue from litigation taxes, the primary court fee collected by the state, has remained flat and even declined a bit in 2014, and license reinstatement fees have increased far less than was anticipated.

But since suspensions under the law began in mid-2012, almost 90,000 licenses have been suspended. Over the same period, 170,000 Tennessee licenses were suspended for unpaid traffic tickets. In both categories, more than 40 percent of the suspended drivers were black, compared with 16 percent of state residents.

Bad policy often gives bad results that are of no benefit to the state or its citizens.  This trend in the justice system is another example of bad policy.  Fix this America!!

 

Muslim, the new black


I hope Muslim Americans study very well American history, because it’s about to repeat itself and Muslims will find themselves having to fight the same battles of equality fought by their African-American, Native-American, Asian American and Spanish speaking American brothers and sisters who have fought the entire length of this country’s existence.  What’s even more ironic is this fight is symbolically starting on the day after the country’s observance of Martin Luther King day who’s being honored because he gave his life with a bullet to the brain fighting for the rights of people of color to equality.  Everybody loves to quote Dr. King and memorialize him while at the same time completely  ignoring his calls for racial human rights and equality.  America is determined to go back down the road of bigotry and xenophobia and it has targeted its Muslim citizens.

It’s not an issue of who is Muslim…..they come in all shapes, sizes and colors…..it’s Islam and Muslims that many in America have set their sights on.  No where was that more apparent than during President Obama’s State of the Union Address.  A blogger at RH Reality Check was insightful enough to observe the Senate chamber’s reaction to a portion of Obama’s address.  The word “applause” appears at the points in his speech where members of Congress reacted positively to what the Prez said by clapping/applauding.

As Americans, we respect human dignity, even when we’re threatened, which is why I’ve prohibited torture, [applause] and worked to make sure our use of new technology like drones is properly constrained [applause]. It’s why we speak out against the deplorable anti-Semitism that has resurfaced in certain parts of the world [applause]. It’s why we continue to reject offensive stereotypes of Muslimsthe vast majority of whom share our commitment to peace[SILENCE]. That’s why we defend free speech, and advocate for political prisoners, and condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender [applause]. We do these things not only because they’re right, but because they make us safer [applause].

However, no one in Congress, Democrat or Republican seems to think that Muslims are interested in peace and Obama’s remarks fell flat on the deaf ears of America’s lawmakers.  That doesn’t bode well for America’s Muslims.  To add insult to injury, the Speaker of the House, John Boehner unilaterally and unbeknownst to the White House invited Israel’s warmonger Benjamin Netanyahu to talk about Iran and radical Islam…..which means Islam, which means Muslims, all Muslims those who are criminal and deranged beyond any hope as well as those who are law abiding contributing members to their societies……the ones Obama was referring to in his SOTU. Of course, Netanyahu has to demonize Muslims because he too is trying to exterminate them and he wants our help doing so….not that we’ve done very much to stop him, we just haven’t hastened his efforts.

Certainly all the talk about Islamophobia and the hysteria surrounding it takes place in an atmosphere generated by the tragedy in Paris, France surrounding the Charlie Habdo cartoons, and the demonstrations taking place in Germany and the geopolitics of the larger Middle East and it seems America is doomed to repeat its history of enslaving and persecuting a group of people based solely on an affiliation America does not like and it would appear most members of Congress have no problem with that.  This then is a part of our Nation’s character….it revels in xenophobia…..it embellishes it, embraces it, perpetuates it (FoxNews)  and it wants to legalize it, return America to it’s segregationist past, glory.  It won’t even stop at separate but equal, it wants to go beyond that to criminalize and expel.  African-Americans, some living today….have seen this propensity America has to its dark side; Asian-Americans and Native-Americans have too.  Muslim Americans might want to talk to them about how they survived the American juggernaut…..or at the very least, study and learn American history in order to prepare themselves.

More Bergdahl news


I should have included this in a previous post but just saw it.  Seems there’s more to the Bergdahl story than meets the eye.  Daily Kos points out several inconsistencies that when brought to light should permanently mute the strings of discord currently being played by the #DemonicGOP.

Bergdahl had left his base without permissions on at least one prior occasion, and had come back! This is according to a report in the Army Times. In fact, his fellow soldiers failed to report it at the time. (The 35 page classified Army report (as reported to the New York Times) that was compiled 2 months after Bergdahl disappeared, concluded that he had left his unit twice, not once. And the Army blamed lax security practices and a lack of discipline. Moreover, the supposed letter he left confessing to everything was not mentioned in the report at all.)

According to the now famous article by Michael Hastings about Bergdahl, his unit was basically a bunch of undisciplined fuck ups who went out on patrol without helmets, lost weapons, totally lacked morale and respect for military authority, etc. At least two commanders were actually demoted! So, you have to take with a grain of salt the accusations being made against Bergdahl by these people. Especially now that we know they failed to report Bergdahl left the base without permission on a prior occasion, and are still telling the media that he is a “deserter” when they know damn well that’s not true.

The New York Times has also reported that it is almost impossible to attribute the losses the unit suffered to Bergdahl, or looking for Bergdahl. Given the lack of unit discipline, etc. One wonders whether Bergdahl is being scapegoated by these people, who were drummed up by GOP political operatives.

Bergdahl’s apparent heroism while in captivity has been almost completely ignored and glossed over. The Daily Beast originally reported that Bergdahl lulled his captors into believing he was sympathetic to them, and when they let their guard down he escaped for 3 days. When they finally found him in a hand-dug trench he covered with leaves, he was nearly naked an exhausted. Yet, it took 5 Taliban to subdue him as he fought back trying to avoid being recaptured.

 

American media, guilty of sedition?


Bowe Bergdahl hasn’t even stepped foot in this country and yet members of the media are saying this?

Is he guilty of being a deserter, is he guilty of being a defector? And after five years of captivity — some people initially said, well, that’s enough — should he face the appropriate punishment if he is found guilty?

chris wallaceChris Wallace of FoxNews infamy (I guess you know why such a provocative question would be posed) was asking the former Attorney General Michael Mukasey from the even guiltier, more deserving of prosecution, GWB administration who replied such a question was premature.  I assert on what basis should such a question like that even be asked?!?!?  It was only mere hours  before Wallace went on the air with the typical FoxNews bluster that this headline appeared

U.S. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has told people treating him at an American military medical facility in Germany that he was tortured, beaten and held in a cage by his Taliban captors in Afghanistan after he tried to escape, a senior U.S. official said Sunday.

CIA tortureNow if one were to ask what proof can Bergdahl provide since there is no one to independently verify beside Bergdahl and the Taliban, if you were to pose the question where are the physical scars to indicate such torture it would have to be said perhaps the Taliban is as adept at torturing people without leaving scars as our own government under George Bush was with the countless people tortured at Baghram and other secreted sites where suspected “Islamists”, whatever that means, were held.

What we’re witnessing is the #DemonicGOP nipping at Obama’s heels like the attack dog is has become, rather than a political party, in order to generate scandal.  In fact Lindsey Graham is now saying the President should be impeached because of his decision to exchange Bergdahl for five Taliban prisoners.  Of course impeachment won’t occur….it’s not a political reality, but the mere suggestion of it is enough to taint the Obama administration and the Democratic party in this off year election. Obama and Bergdahl are being “swiftboated” much like John Kerry who had the distinction of being the first politician to be given that dubious distinction and it’s as ugly now as it was was in 2004.  Some say however this time it won’t be as effective

Republicans have been carrying out a swiftboating media operation that is being led by a former Bush administration official that is designed to smear Sgt. Bergdahl in order to create an Obama political scandal. The revelation that Bergdahl was tortured means that Republicans are not only attacking the credibility of a soldier, but they are attacking a soldier who was tortured by the enemy.

Even by the new Obama era standards for conservative hate, this is low. The possibility that Sgt. Bergdahl was tortured confirms the White House’s reasoning for making a deal to bring Bergdahl home. Republicans have painted themselves into a corner with their attacks on Bergdahl……

I don’t think however that the #DemonicGOP will look bad…they’ll simply deflect and move on to the next scandal they hope will have traction with the equally insatiably racist, xenophobic, gun toting segments of American society.

 

A more focused criticism of the Obama assault on liberty


The last several posts here have been very critical of the Obama administration’s approach to domestic politics and particularly it’s heavy handed approach to dissent.  Unfortunately, it’s so extensive one article posted here listed 20 examples of the Administration’s assault on domestic liberties.  I began to think perhaps such a long article which underscores so many points might be as oppressive as Obama’s policies so this one very concise piece by Coleen Rowley from one of my favorite sources, Consortium News makes the point very well about a very frightening trend started by Bush and solidified by the current administration.

U.S. intelligence says the terror threat from al-Qaeda is receding, but Congress keeps on expanding the scope of this “war” so as not to look “weak on terror,” now adding new military powers that could be used against American citizens.

The political, military industrial, corporate class in Washington DC continues to re-make our Constitutional Republic into a powerful, unaccountable Military Empire.

The U.S. Senate has just voted 93 to 7 to pass the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2012, which allows the military to operate domestically within the borders of the United States and to possibly (or most probably) detain U.S. citizens without trial.

Forget that the ACLU called it “an historic threat to American citizens,” this bill is so dangerous not only to our rights but to our country’s security that it was criticized by the Directors of the FBI and the CIA, the Director of National Intelligence and the U.S. Defense Secretary!

For the first time in our history, if this Act is not vetoed, American citizens may not be guaranteed their Article III right to trial. The government would be able to decide who gets an old-fashioned trial (along with right to attorney and right against self-incrimination) and who gets detained without due process and put into a modern legal limbo.

Does anyone remember that none of the first thousand people the FBI rounded up after 9/11, and who were imprisoned for several months (some brutalized) were ever charged with terrorism? Does anyone remember that hundreds of the Gitmo detainees who were handed over to their American military captors in exchange for monetary bounties were found, after years of imprisonment, to have no connection to terrorism?

When in doubt about a case, what do you think the government will again do? Does it prefer to submit its evidence to a jury’s scrutiny and its witnesses to the trouble of being cross-examined in court by a defense attorney or would it be easier to have no questions asked and dump the accused into detainee prison without rights? I think we already know that answer from the nearly ten years of experience at Guantanamo.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, declared that suspected citizens open themselves up “to imprisonment and death” He added: “And when they say, ‘I want my lawyer,’ you tell them: ‘Shut up. You don’t get a lawyer.’”

Of course, the politicians will say we are just talking about a few cases. But in fact the sky’s probably the limit given the current legal ambiguity in the Patriot Act expansion of “material support for terrorism” to now include humanitarian aid and even mere advocacy speech without any need to prove an accused person intended to support any kind of terrorist violence.

The Department of Justice has been currently using this ambiguity for over a year to investigate 23 American citizens who are anti-war activists in Chicago and Minneapolis. Additionally, the “war on terror” will undoubtedly expand even more when it is de-linked from 9/11.

See “The War on Terrorism Congress Never Declared — But Soon Might” by Stephen I. Vladeck, a law professor, expert on these issues and associate dean for scholarship at American University Washington College of Law, which states:

“An individual may be detained for providing ‘direct support’ (which, in the government’s view, may be nothing more than minor financial or logistical assistance) in aid of ‘associated forces’ that are ‘engaged in hostilities against … coalition partners.’

“Thus, the NDAA effectively authorizes the military detention of any individual who provides such assistance anywhere in the world to any group engaged in hostilities against any of our coalition partners, whether or not the United States is in any way involved in (or even affected by) that particular conflict.”

Given this expansion of the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force contained in the 2012 NDAA to encompass undefined “associated forces,” we could witness the U.S. government targeting a large range of political dissidents, human rights activists, humanitarians, and maybe even “occupiers.”

The NDAA is deliberately confusing for political purposes but much is at stake. President Barack Obama’s determination as to whether or not he will veto the problematic 2012 war funding bill will determine how Benjamin Franklin’s glib response to the woman waiting outside the Constitutional Convention is ultimately answered. Franklin and other founding fathers had created “a Republic, Madam, if you can keep it.”

But a lawless Military Empire could now await where U.S. “emergency war powers” trump the Constitution, where the Commander in Chief becomes king for a term(s), the military enters into domestic police-state actions in violation of 130 years of Posse Comitatus law, and the Constitution becomes as quaint as the Geneva Conventions were for Alberto Gonzalez and the Bush Administration.

Corrupted, compliant politicians have already allowed their fears to get the better of them by going along with pre-emptive war in violation of the Nuremberg Principles and international law and torturing in violation of the Geneva Conventions and the Convention against Torture.

So why should they also not go for detaining American citizens without constitutional rights or trial?

You can tell President Obama he needs to live up to his threat to veto this legislation or you can sign Sen. Mark Udall’s petition.

This abdication to repression on Obama’s part led me to ask is it the position or our political system that makes presidents abuse their power and totally disregard the Constitution.  Indeed, Obama a Constitutional lawyer has turned out in many ways to be as bad as his predecessor even after suggesting, as Rowley points out, that he would be different.  I’m simply not at the stage where I believe in the lesser of two evils concession, although there are surely some good points made on that theory’s behalf.  We should hold our elected officials to their words; if they promise they will not abuse the rights of American citizens and then it turns out that they have picked up the baton of state sponsored, government endorsed oppression, they should be voted out of office and it should be made explicitly clear to them the reason is because of their betrayal.  I wish Obama supporters would get on board with this idea; his misuse of his executive powers should be no more acceptable to the electorate than Bush.

More Guantanamo Bay news


Proponents of Guantanamo Bay have always maintained it’s necessary to keep that base open to house the meanest of the mean; black/brown Muslim terrorists who have the ability to swim from Cuba to the mainland, fashion knives out of paper products and invade the homeland causing death and destruction.  To substantiate their claim to keep the facility eternally open, they have put forward some really astonishing claims about recidivism, which we have addressed on the pages of Miscellany101 here and here.

It appears Obama will not be able to close Guantanamo down anytime soon, nor does he appear to be up for the fight, having been effectively betrayed by members of his own party during a lame duck session after the congressional elections, and facing an ever more combative new Congress who no doubt will use this recidivism issue again to underscore their desire to keep Gitmo open.  So here’s another study which “refudiates” that claim making it the third different one to do so which really begs the question why do the supporters of the facility bother with erecting false claims and figures in the first place.

On the ninth anniversary of the first detainee’s arrival at the infamous prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a Washington think tank challenged intelligence estimates suggesting that large numbers of former detainees have taken up arms against the United States.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper claimed in December — without offering any evidence — that 13.5 percent of former Guantanamo detainees are confirmed, and an additional 11.5 percent are suspected of “reengaging” in terrorist or insurgent activities after their release.

The conservative media embraced the storyline that as many as one in four former detainees had returned to the battlefield, up sharply from the prior year.

But three scholars with the New America Foundation are out with a new report — this one backed up with data — concluding that only 6 percent of released detainees engaged or are suspected of having engaged with insurgents aimed at attacking U.S. interests. Another 2 percent engaged or are suspected of having engaged against non-U.S. targets.

It appears that America is perfectly willing to let bygones be bygones and keep the facility even though for now it serves no useful purpose.  Perhaps some hope it will house the millions of American Muslims who will be sent there after the King committee hearings?

 

Stewart To GOP: No More Using 9/11 For Political Gain Until First Responders Bill Is Passed (VIDEO)


Vodpod videos no longer available.

I applaud Jon Stewart for  his political activism at a time when it seems neither the people we elected or the media have the fortitude to say the same things or expose the same distortions as done by Stewart.  It speaks volumes about how many have forfeited their responsibility to bring honest debate to the issues and not demagogue or bumper sticker them in sound bites.

The issue of what has happened to 911 first responders is just such an issue that politicians cannot point the fingers of blame and have instead chosen to do absolutely nothing at all leaving many of those who worked in the days and months after 911 to deal with debilitating diseases and death while a once grateful nation forgot them.  Politicians, who have been besieged with requests for help seem to have forgotten them too and there is only Jon Stewart to remind us of them?

Where is the outrage that gave birth to the tea party factions nationwide?  Where is the call to action that inspires member of Congress to  investigate average everyday citizens because of their religion, to do something for those who are still fighting today what happened to us nine years ago.  Our priorities are so distorted that congressmen can talk just weeks after elections about forming committees but can’t pass bills that have been discussed, debated, written and re-written for months?  This is today’s  America.

 

Kill Them


by Linh Dinh

Michael Enright, a 21-year-old college student, slashed a NYC cab driver in the face and neck because this man was Muslim. Enright is being held in a psychiatric ward. If he is mad, then the United States is also insane. Enright’s assault merely mirrors what we, as a nation, have done for nearly a decade.

The United States has responded criminally and incoherently to what happened on September 11, 2001. Lopped of our twin members, downtown, we also lost our authoritative voice. Two days after that disaster, George Bush grimly declared, “The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him.” Six months later, Bush shrugged, “I don’t know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don’t care. It’s not that important. It’s not our priority.” Our current president never mentions bin Laden, yet Obama has sent many more troops into Afghanistan. We’re not leaving any time soon, that’s for sure. Congress has just approved 1.3 billion dollars to expand our military bases there. Our new mission, if Time Magazine is to be believed, is to defend Afghan women against the Taliban, whom we created in the first place, to fight the Soviets. America gets a kick out of these flip flops. We propped up Saddam Hussein, then we had him hanged. We fought Communist Vietnam, then we staged a naval exercise with that same regime, as happened just recently, riling up China. Tension feeds the military industrial complex. Wars are even better.

Responding to 9/11, America also invaded Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with that catastrophe. Since the real reasons for our two current conflicts, access to oil and natural gas, defense of the petrodollar, war profiteering, are never admitted to, many Americans have concluded that we’re simply waging war against Islam, which is, frankly, not that far off the mark considering our unequivocal support for Israel whenever it attacks Gaza, Lebanon, Syria or any other Muslim population. The U.S. has also been killing Pakistani civilians and threatening Iran. It’s a miracle many Muslims don’t hate us more.

Without Israel and oil, it’s a safe bet we wouldn’t be demonizing Muslims so relentlessly. As is, this stoked hatred is bringing out the worst in our character. On Yahoo! News, many comments on the Enright story don’t condemn but applaud his obvious crime, and also bash Islam.

Bruce, “Slay the infidel…..stone the rape victim……beat your wife……..mate with your goat…..wipe your bu tt with your bare hand…..AHHH the joys of islam!”

David, “this guy should get a medal and be aloud [sic] to blow up the mosque at the ground zero sight, its [sic] about time someone in ny stepped up and showed some american balls!!!”

Spreading like cancer across the internet, openly hateful and racist comments are especially common after stories about Muslims, blacks or Mexicans, the top three scapegoats at the moment. Obama is a lightning rod for anti-black racism, which is ironic because he does not favor blacks in any way. Like Bush, Clinton and the rest of our bank-bailing-out, paid-for politicians, Obama couldn’t care less about the little guys. Eyeing his own wallet and his future after the White House, Obama’s here to defend the moneyed interest. His blackness is merely symbolic, but that’s enough to enrage the racists.

After Michelle Obama went to Spain, Alternative Right, a webzine with contributions from several established authors, had an article titled, “Michelle’s Vacation in Whitey World.” Among the comments, one man suggested that she should have gone to a blacker destination, like “Ghana or the Maldives.”

One Sheila wrote, “I cringe every time I see a photo of the Sasquatch/Wookie as purportedly “First Lady” of American women. My spouse always comments that she reminds him of a chimp with her underbite, and I am always struck by her enormous feet and trapezius muscles. Either way I feel a sort of cognitive dissonance, such as when I view old photos and see 19th century blacks dressed in Victorian clothing.     As far as her amazing European adventure, she is putting herself in white people’s faces. Her very presence is a way of announcing the new order.”

There’s no new order, lady. Obama himself is a head fake! Scratch that skin lightly, and you’ll see your beloved Dubya again. Everything is still in place, including the torture chambers. After another article in Alternative Right, a reader lamented, “After 9/11, we saw the lack of a white nation identity. There was abject surrender to Islam.” Only the most deluded can call the killing of hundreds of thousands of Muslims, and the occupation of two Islamic countries, an “abject surrender to Islam.” Although not all Americans think this way, of course, this man is hardly alone. As the world’s biggest source of terror, we’re posing as its most helpless victims.

The scapegoating of Muslims, blacks and Mexicans gives the appearance that we’re being threatened from without and below, when we’re actually being mugged from above, from the inside. It’s the entrenched who are killing us, not outsiders. Even with 9/11, too many questions remain. One must remember that Bin Laden began as a CIA asset, and two months before the attack, he was at the American hospital in Dubai, where a CIA agent visited him. On September 10, 2001, bin Laden was at the Army Hospital in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, to receive dialysis treatment. Again, no attempt was made to arrest him. Today, we’re also not trying to arrest this man, and that’s no conspiracy theory.

‘Nuff Said!


Obama’s well wishing to the Muslim world


President Obama’s remarks on the advent of Ramadan

On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I want to extend our best wishes to Muslims in America and around the world. Ramadan Kareem.

Ramadan is a time when Muslims around the world reflect upon the wisdom and guidance that comes with faith, and the responsibility that human beings have to one another, and to God.  This is a time when families gather, friends host iftars, and meals are shared.  But Ramadan is also a time of intense devotion and reflection – a time when Muslims fast during the day and pray during the night; when Muslims provide support to others to advance opportunity and prosperity for people everywhere.  For all of us must remember that the world we want to build – and the changes that we want to make – must begin in our own hearts, and our own communities.

These rituals remind us of the principles that we hold in common, and Islam’s role in advancing justice, progress, tolerance, and the dignity of all human beings.   Ramadan is a celebration of a faith known for great diversity and racial equality.  And here in the United States, Ramadan is a reminder that Islam has always been part of America and that American Muslims have made extraordinary contributions to our country. And today, I want to extend my best wishes to the 1.5 billion Muslims around the world – and your families and friends – as you welcome the beginning of Ramadan.

I look forward to hosting an Iftar dinner celebrating Ramadan here at the White House later this week, and wish you a blessed month.

May God’s peace be upon you.

That said, my wish list is for  President Obama to keep his word about Guantanamo Bay and the withdrawal of American forces in Iraq so that Muslims in those places can have “peace”.

Netanyahu Speaks with Forked Tongue


It won’t make that much difference in people’s attitudes about Israel, although it should be extremely embarrasing to official Washington, the admission or rather revelation that Benjamin Netanyahu lied in order to sabotage the Oslow Accords back during the Clinton Administration.  It’s no small foot note that Netanyahu is now the Prime Minister of Israel and  no doubt still lies; it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks, dontcha’ know.

What’s also interesting to this observer is the revelation comes from a news outlet other than the US main stream media, that darling of Israel and any US administration that is in power.  I don’t entirely agree with the reporter’s assertion in the piece that the video which contains the damning details was shot unbeknownst to Netanyahu; I think Netanyahu and most other Israeli officials don’t give a damn whether Americans or anyone else knows what they really think or believe, because they know it will be smoothed over for them by corporate media.  Witness the rather arrogant behavior of the Israelis during Joe Biden’s recent stop in Israel where they announced new settlements at a time it was hoped they would freeze settlements.  What Netanyahu admits to is

he deceived the US president of the time, Bill Clinton, into believing he was helping implement the Oslo accords, the US-sponsored peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, by making minor withdrawals from the West Bank while actually entrenching the occupation. He boasts that he thereby destroyed the Oslo process. He dismisses the US as “easily moved to the right direction” and calls high levels of popular American support for Israel “absurd”.

He also suggests that, far from being defensive, Israel’s harsh military repression of the Palestinian uprising was designed chiefly to crush the Palestinian Authority led by Yasser Arafat so that it could be made more pliable for Israeli diktats.

Many within the Israeli leadership as well as the apparatchiks here in America were opposed to the Oslow Accords because they claimed, as usual, Israel was being asked to give up too much.  Netanyahu’s conniving position was no doubt taken so he could appear to be the more moderate and acceptable leader for Israel….a diplomatic version of good cop, bad cop, the bad cop being the bloodthirsty Ariel Sharon.  In reality Netanyahu is much worse.  The video which contains these statements by Netanyahu, which also appears below, has been circulating around in Israel for a period of time yet no one of the so called liberal Israeli public opinion, which we are told is far more open to criticism of  Israeli leadership because they get better media coverage and a more critical viewpoint  of Israeli government shenanigans; no one from this elite society of free thinkers has uttered a call for Netanyahu to resign.  No one seems the least bit concerned about the effect this news will have on Israel’s international relations.  One wouldn’t really expect them to be concerned at all; the Israelis have positioned themselves so far to an extreme nothing short of a war in which they are alone on one side facing everybody else would make them rethink positions they have come to hold so dearly today.   But it is interesting to this observer that the video appears after Netanyahu’s visit to the US just a few short days ago and is just one more ‘in your face’ statement made to belittle and demean the ‘world’s only superpower’.  Somehow, that expression- world’s only superpower,  just doesn’t have the ring to it it once did.

Perhaps this also gives people in the west, if they care to stop and reflect just once, an idea of the frustration the Palestinians have felt toward the Israeli government and people.  The leaders of Israel openly admit their signature on treaties, commitments, agreements aren’t worth the paper they are written on, and this deceit is carried out with the full knowledge and approval of Israeli citizenry.

The GOP: Not So Grand Anymore


Obama’s election sealed the fate for the Republican Party. It will continue to exist but in so many splintered forms and multi-faceted alliances it will look like a scene from The Survivor  television show.  The warnings of the demise of the party have been sounded for at least the last two years when the fruit cake, nutty birthers/tea baggers came along, but no one in the party seemed interested or they were afraid to speak out.  Now they are.

Too many Republican leaders are acquiescing to a poisonous “demagoguery” that threatens the party’s long-term credibility, says a veteran GOP House member who was defeated in South Carolina’s primary last month.

He cited a claim made famous by Palin that the Democratic health care bill would create “death panels” to decide whether elderly or sick people should get care.

“There were no death panels in the bill … and to encourage that kind of fear is just the lowest form of political leadership. It’s not leadership. It’s demagoguery,” said Inglis, one of three Republican incumbents who have lost their seats in Congress to primary and state party convention challengers this year.

Inglis said voters eventually will discover that you’re “preying on their fears” and turn away.

And again here

Warning that tea party “mischief” may be aiding Democrats this election season, defeated Utah Republican U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett says that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid likely will keep his seat and that the GOP may not win hotly contested Senate races in Colorado or Kentucky either.In an interview in his home state with The Associated Press, Bennett also suggested that Republicans may not have a clear plan to govern even if they do take control of the Senate this year.

What this suggests is the GOP is fear mongering and led by  personalities who have nothing to lose  by the death of the Party due to their betrayal.  The likes of radio and television personalities with contracts larger than any athlete with the exception of LaBron can continue their daily on air diatribe with no consequences to themselves when the Party fails.  Departing Republican senators seem to suggest as well that their Party has no plan of action to govern since all they can do is prey on the fears of constituents about the dangers of one group or another .  Both articles speak to a lack of any initiative on the part of the GOP for constructive governance. Eventually, we are to blame for not holding their feet to the fire and demanding they get out of the cellar of race baiting, pitting one side of Americans against another, brand of politics.

Doing things the right way


America’s relationship with Israel and her subservience to the State of Israel is harmful for both parties.  For America the harm is in allowing itself to be seen by the rest of the international community as a country that does not respect the rule of law when it doesn’t protest illegal Israeli activity and for Israel the harm is in not having any one tell her to stop her violations of law.  Some how even criticism of Israel, no matter how mild, has become synonymous with an existential threat, or equally as bad with illegal activity itself.  Israel has relegated for itself a god like status among the league of nations and sees itself as the sole judge of international behavior bar none even her largest supporter.

The murderous rampage of Israel on the Gaza bound flotilla evoked barely a peep from the American administration, even for the death of an American citizen, not to mention the number as yet determined  other victims.  America and Israel have placed themselves on a pedestal of being beyond and above the law and there’s nothing the Israelis can do that will cause an American administration to rebuke her. Such a position is surely an untenable one and no state deserves to reserve for itself the right to arbitrarily decide which laws it will follow and which ones it will discard.

America would do well to learn from the people in her own backyard.  The shooting of a young Mexican boy who was on the Mexico side of the border by a US Border guard caused the Mexican government to issue this statement

‘The government reiterates its rejection to the disproportionate use of force on the part on (sic) U.S. authorities on the border with Mexico,’ he (Mexican President Felipe Calderon) added.

Going even further ,the president assured America and his own citizens of his commitment to securing the lives of Mexican citizens  saying, he will use all resources available to protect the rights of Mexican migrants. Compare that to the less than luke warm reply given by the Obama administration  to the excesses of the IDF and their murder of an American citizen and the kidnapping of over 600 people of the Gaza flotilla.  Not only did the administration not rebuke Israel for its actions, but it went so far as to blame people who were trying to enforce international law and help defenseless people for their own murder. One can conclude therefore that no American can expect his country to protect him from the extra judicial actions of the Israeli government no matter how innocent he may be.  Contrast that to the actions of the  Mexican authorities who simply reiterated that government’s dedication to its own citizens.   How refreshing it is to hear a president pledge to defend his nationals without any regard for diplomacy with others. It’s too bad that president was not elected by Americans. It is something not seen in any president of the United States when faced with the dilemma of American lives vs Israeli sensitivities.

Silence!


In this day of information technology and rapid news gathering, there is still too much silence coming from the halls of government and the corporate media about the attack on the Gaza bound flotilla and the violation of international law on the part of the Israelis. So here is a response to the vacuum left by “power” and by the way the answer to the question posed by Cook is a resounding NO!

It is quite astounding that Israel has been able to create over the past 12 hours a news blackout, just as it did with its attack on Gaza 18 months ago, into which our main media organisations have willingly allowed Israeli spokespeople to step in unchallenged.

How many civilians were killed in Israel’s dawn attack on the Gaza-bound flotilla of aid? We still don’t know. How many wounded? Your guess is as good as mine. Were the aid activists armed with guns? Yes, says Israel. Were they in cahoots with al-Qaeda and Hamas? Certainly, says Israel. Did the soldiers act reasonably? Of course, they faced a lynch, says Israel.

If we needed any evidence of the degree to which Western TV journalists are simply stenographers to power, the BBC, CNN and others are amply proving it. Mark Regev, Israel’s propagandist-in-chief, has the airwaves largely to himself.

The passengers on the ships, meanwhile, have been kidnapped by Israel and are unable to provide an alternative version of events. We can guess they will remain in enforced silence until Israel is sure it has set the news agenda.

So before we get swamped by Israeli hasbara let’s reiterate a few simple facts:

* Israeli soldiers invaded these ships in international waters, breaking international law, and, in killing civilians, committed a war crime. The counter-claim by Israeli commanders that their soldiers responded to an imminent “lynch” by civilians should be dismissed with the loud contempt it deserves.

* The Israeli government approved the boarding of these aid ships by an elite unit of commandoes. They were armed with automatic weapons to pacify the civilians onboard, but not with crowd dispersal equipment in case of resistance. Whatever the circumstances of the confrontation, Israel must be held responsible for sending in soldiers and recklessly endangering the lives of all the civilians onboard, including a baby.

Israel has no right to control Gaza’s sea as its own territorial waters and to stop aid convoys arriving that way. In doing so, it proves that it is still in belligerent occupation of the enclave and its 1.5 million inhabitants. And if it is occupying Gaza, then under international law Israel is responsible for the welfare of the Strip’s inhabitants. Given that the blockade has put Palestinians there on a starvation diet for the past four years, Israel should long ago have been in the dock for committing a crime against humanity.

Today Israel chose to direct its deadly assault not only at Palestinians under occupation but at the international community itself.

Will our leaders finally be moved to act?

The Truth has been laid bare


It’s now painfully obvious why we went to war in Iraq. I agree with former CIA analyst Ray McGovern some of it was because of “oil”, “Israel” and “logistics”, which form the acronym, oil.  The “O” in that word really was the main reason, but on an even larger level there were more and other business interests to satisfy.  Basically however, a former US businessman then President sent Americans over to fight a war to increase his bottom line, his ledger, his accounts; war is profitable to the American economy and all that’s left to do is figure out how to get people to willing sacrifice their sons and daughters to fight such a war, even when there is no other reason to do so than the personal profitability of the commander in chief and his associates, and then execute that war, not towards a successful conclusion but for as long as it takes to get corporate America back in the black.  Now you know why no one wants to talk of withdrawal from Iraq or any other war zone, because such decisions are made when the markets and other economic indicators say it is time to do so and not one day before.

So while partisan politics takes potshots across the great political divide over the ever scandalous BP disaster, intimating that one side or the other is benefiting from the largest eco catastrophe in American history, let them not forget we fight wars where we kill people and get killed in order to revitalize our economy.  In essence we fight people who are defenseless; we kill people who mean us no harm, we destroy whole societies, many of them older than our own because we can and because it’s good for business.  It has nothing to do with defending the homeland, it has nothing to do with promoting democracy or even capitalism and it has nothing to do with helping the weak or the oppressed. The blood of your loved ones and the ones they kill increases the profit margins of the ones who send those very loved ones off to meaningless and perpetual war. How do you like that America?!

NOW The Teabaggers Have a Reason to be MAD!


Just when you think it’s safe to have hope in government they go and make a major bo0 boo when it comes to your rights as a citizen.  For now, government is pretty safe in saying they will go after and even KILL Anwar al-Awlaki because as far as everyone is concerned he’s a bad guy and he’s not entitled to the same rights and privileges as the rest of us and that’s because the government said so.  It doesn’t matter that not one shred of proof has been offered other than the government’s claim to Awlaki’s nefarious character, or that we haven’t given him a chance to defend himself against the accusation.  Nor does it seem to matter that his rights as an American citizen are irrelevant as far as the government is concerned; perhaps there are many who assert he isn’t an American citizen, much like the teabaggers who say the same about Obama, and in that he and Obama, oddly enough, have something  in common. What is telling is the government’s premise their position to extra-judiciously kill Awlaki is in ‘strict accordance with the law.‘  He’s no longer considered a ‘militant preacher’ now he’s an operative for al-Qaida based on the kind of evidence that was enough to allow others to stand trial or have access to the judicial system but for him is a death sentence without recourse to the rights guaranteed him by the US Constitution.  However the incremental erosion of citizenship rights by Government means what’s here and allowed today can very easily be taken away tomorrow merely on the declaration of an un-named and in general civics terms unaccountable public  servant.

What bothers this observer is how close the US response to perceived acts of terrorism mimics that of the Israelis who claimed the right to kill any of their enemies whenever and wherever they wanted at the beginning of the 21st century.  Years later Israel is still an insecure, even by their own admission, country that continues to kill its opponents while at the same time further dimming hopes for peace and security.  Simply put, assassinations of political foes does not engender security or peace nor the cessation of hostilities, but rather exacerbates them.  That is a lesson the US, despite the Israeli model, has refused to learn.

What looms on the American horizon is the prospect that any one who resists the government and can be adequately portrayed as evil enough for his death to be accepted by a large segment of the US population stands the risk of having their rights casually dismissed and their life equally dispatched the way of a common criminal without the ability to prove or disprove a charge or legally defend himself. I know that’s enough to get tea baggers angry in this day and age; the existence of a black American as president sets them off.  The polarization of American society has made it possible for people to turn a blind eye to  the idea that one branch of government can unilaterally determine the rights it is willing to extend to a citizen with the citizen having no say in the matter especially when that citizen is not from one group or another.  That can only mean the continued insurgency of the federal government on the rights of its citizen.

Killing Peace


By capturing a Taliban military official who expressed interest in negotiating with the President of Afghanistan AND the Americans, the US pretty much guaranteed their continued presence in the region for years to come. It couldn’t come at a worse time, what with NATO forces engaged in very vicious fighting in some areas of Afghanistan and racking up heavy civilian casualties, capturing Abdul Ghani Baradar and in essence making him a martyr, although he was captured alive, will underscore how allied forces can’t be trusted and by extension, the Karazai government as well. Pretty dumb move.  What’s worse is the excuse given for the capture of a man who wanted to cooperate with his perceived enemies.

Pakistan it seems felt left out of the negotiation process going on between the Taliban, Karzai and the US so they interjected themselves, read that sabotaged, into the peace process.  To add insult to injury, it appears the US doesn’t mind that they were shot in the back by an “ally”.  It’s clear Afghanistan is going to be Obama’s war no matter how many terms he serves.  It is another example of how America has ineptly handled opportunities to end  so many times in this euphemistically called ‘war on terror’.  They seem neither interested in ending the war or the terror it brings.

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Opposition in Today’s America


From the people who brought you this

and this………

bring you this:

One of the opening speakers for the convention was former House Republican Representative Tom Tancredo.  Not surprisingly Tancredo bemoaned the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States.  What was a surprise was the explanation Tancredo gave for President Obama’s election.  Tancredo claimed that President Obama was elected became we “do not have a civics, literacy test before people can vote in this country.”

Thus another attempt to de-legitimize Obama’s election as president is being carried out by the opposition party.

Obama’s Treasonous Praetorian Guard


This last incident of a breach of security during an Obama appearance wouldn’t be so suspicious if it was an isolated incident perhaps but it follows an even more suspicious incident that happened during candidate Obama’s campaign and amidst a growing number of threats against the President which have reached astronomical proportions.   Someone within the President’s detail should be held accountable. I’m talking about the husband and wife  pseudo “socialite” team that wrangled their way in to a state dinner at the White House two days ago.  It doesn’t help matters that they were  accompanied by a film and make up crew to the very first gate at the White House and yet by all accounts the Secret Service still did not follow proper procedures when they allowed the two to continue on to another check point whereby they were subsequently cleared for admission to the State dinner.   How can you account for such obvious lapses of security with the President’s security in the Secret Service?  Is this normal, post 911?  Post Fort Hood?  It’s almost as if someone inside the  organization is screaming for the next crazed kook to seize the opportunity they’re being given  to take a shot at the President.  Our fellow countrymen have shown there are many who would like that opportunity.  It appears President Obama has surrounded himself willingly and unknowingly with people who really don’t have his best interest at heart, and who may in fact mean him serious bodily or political harm.  He should do himself a favor and start an entire house cleaning of his Secret Service detail.