Cosmic Rats Multiply
Multiply Blog Archive 7
Multiply archive 7 Nov 11 2011 through Aug 15 2012
Romney's Medicare-Cut Lie Aug 15, '12
Progressive Thoughts Aug 11, '12
A Reply to a Chicken-Bigot Supporter Aug 4, '12
The Flaw in Impeachment Jul 3, '12
Backwards Conservatives Jun 1, '12
Smart Doesn't Work for Republicans May 30, '12
The Right to Vote: What women endured to gain it Apr 25, '12
Mythical Myths Apr 8, '12
Yet another case of limitless amoral greed by a multinational coporation. Mar 29, '12
 Republicans Exposing Themselves  Unity Among the Sane. Mar 22, '12
GOLDWATER INSTITUTE ATTACKS A WILDERNESS AREA Feb 28, '12
Golden Rain on Our Parade Jan 27, '12
Before It Begins... Jan 14, '12
The Nature of the Enemy Jan 9, '12
Foreign Policy: Who Makes It, and Why Do We Let Them? Jan 1, '12
THE NDAA, 2011 Dec 25, '11
Goldwater Institute Plots Against Unions and Clean Elections Dec 8, '11
PEACE WITH IRAN Nov 19, '11
MISSED POINTS Nov 13, '11
Eleven-eleven-eleven Nov 11, '11
Romney's Medicare-Cut Lie Aug 15, '12 7:17 AM
All of Romney's lies are disgusting and annoying.The blatant and frequent spewing of prevarication and deception disqualifies him from aspiring to the highest office in our nation, or, for that matter, any office of public trust.
The most infuriating recent lie is about the cut in the Medicare budget that President Obama approved as part of the Affordable Care Act.He even goes so far as to say He stole $700 billion from senior citizens.
That is NOT TRUE!The cuts in Medicare are the kind SHOULD be made- they cut WASTE, not BENEFITS.
The Medicare cuts, passed in the Affordable Care Act, come in the form of reimbursement reductions to hospitals, Medicaid prescription drugs and private insurance plans under Medicare Advantage. The Congressional Budget Office projects that they'll extend the solvency of Medicare by eight years.
AARP, the seniors' lobby and chief gatekeeper of Medicare benefits, endorsed the Affordable Care Act despite its cuts, arguing that they wouldn't affect seniors' access to care. The law expanded benefits by closing the prescription drug coverage gap known as the doughnut hole. The hospital and drug industries also endorsed the legislation, believing that the additional customers via the coverage expansion would more than make up for the cuts.
And of course Romney and Ryan don't plan to RESTORE the amount cut.They include those cuts in their drastic plans.
The Congressional Budget Office projects that Ryan's plan would raise seniors' out-of-pocket expenses by $6,500 per year.
Obama's long-term plan to save Medicare, approved under the Affordable Care Act, is to set up a panel of 15 Senate-confirmed experts tasked with issuing proposals to rein in the growth of spending if it exceeds a certain level. The Independent Payment Advisory Board, or IPAB, may only propose cuts to providers, not beneficiaries. Congress may replace the cuts by passing its own or with a three-fifths super-majority.
Romney and Ryan won't stop lying.All we can do is stop listening.
Progressive Thoughts Aug 11, '12 9:33 AM
In 2010 I wrote the following, posted in myWordpress blog,
Democrats, liberals, and progressives:
We elected Barack Obama enthusiastically, not just as the only alternative to the disaster waiting to happen that John McCain and Sarah Palin would have been.Our enthusiasm was based on a strong hope of a serious and long-needed alteration of the way America related to the rest of the world, and a hope for laws and policies that would protect all Americans from the greed and influence of corporate power.
We also elected as many Democrats as possible to help get this done.Those of us who were realistic knew that none of this would be easy, and that the new President andCongress faced unprecedented problems, most of ithem the direct result of the incompetence and malfeasance of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, though some of the economic disaster was the culmination of the policies begun by Ronald Reagan.
Nevertheless, some of us were disappointed at the continuation of the Afghan war, a conflict just as pointless as the one in Iraq.We are disappointed that Guantanamo is not yet closed, and that too few war crimes have been prosecuted.
Still, despite an extreme and heavily corporate-funded full-scale attack by the right wing, the record of achievement of Obama and Congress has been impressive.Not everything; not perfect, but better than any other President has done in so short a time.
Now that right-wing attack threatens to cripple further progress.Under normal conditions, the extremists running as Republicans wouldn't stand a chance, but 10 percent unemployment is not normal conditions.
That figure, last seen during the Reagan administration, makes enough people nervous and unhappy that they listen to any opposition, no matter how untruthful that opposition may be.
We know that unemployment can't be fixed overnight.We know it is the result of a Republican caused recession.And we know that Democratic policies will improve the economy sooner than Republicans would.
But because the economy isn't fixed yet, more people will believe lies because they are looking for someone new to blame.
Regardless of any disappointment we may have, this is no time to abandon the cause of progress.The alternative is not just lack of progress, it is regression: going backward.Backward into the bigotry of yesteryear, the authoritarian control over our private lives; the cold disregard for the needy; the loyal service to corporate wealth.
Two years is not nearly enough time on which to base a judgment of a President and a Congress, especially not in the middle of a recession, and not when we are being attacked with ever dollar and every lie the Republicans can muster.
We still have the structure of a government of and by the people.The extent to which the people are not in control is exactly as much as we fail to care, fail to act; fail to vote.
They have the hate, the money, and the greed, but we have the numbers to save our dream; to save our country.
Let's do it.
-cosmic rat, October 27, 2010
Nearly two years later most of that still applies.The Teabagger House has been as much of a disastrous impediment as I predicted, and it needs to be replaced, but the President does not.He needs to be empowered and supported to complete the political and social progress he started.Those who complain he has not been progressive enough; has not changed some things that need changing, I ask: Compared to whom?
Progress is never as fast or as complete as the most progressive of us would like, but slow progress is better than going backwards.It is up to us to back the most progressive choice, and then prod that choice to do more, and convince others to join in that.
Wordpress, by the way, is not bad for blogging.I've been using it for mostly nonpolitical writing, unlike Multiply, but it doesn't seem to have the discussion-group concept that we need.
A Reply to a Chicken-Bigot Supporter Aug 4, '12 7:10 PM
It sounds very nice to say you're supporting family values, but you know very well that is not what this is about. You are trying to prevent a group of people from having the same legal rights that everyone else enjoys.
What would you say about an organization that opposed equal civil rights for black people, or one against women having the right to vote? Many people did oppose those things, and no doubt spoke of traditional values. Eventually most of us realized that values opposed to equal rights were wrong.
Both sides have freedom of speech The difference is that one side advocates legal equality and tolerance, while the other wants to prevent that.
So just be honest. No one wants to prevent you from practicing your family values. You just want to keep a group of people down, deny them equality, because you don't like them.
The Flaw in Impeachment Jul 3, '12 8:21 AM
The concept of impeachment to remove public officials guilty of wrongdoing originated in 14th century England as a way for the House of Commons to make the monarch's advisers accountable to the representatives of the people.
The Constitutional Convention adapted this procedure for American use, but transplanting it into a system in which high officials are elected, and titles and privileges of nobility do not exist, created a potential for partisan abuse and contravention of democratic procedures.
The twoimpeachements of Presidents in the US, and the recent impeachment and removal in Paraguay of President Lugo under a similar system are clear evidence of this flaw.In all three of these cases impeachment was used solely for political purposes.
Only once would it have been used as intended, against Nixon, if he had not resigned.
Applied to appointed officials such as judges, this means of removal makes sense.Several such cases were warranted, while others were politically motivated.
When it comes to elected officials, howver, the decision to remove them should belong solely to the public who elected them.Recalls could be initiated by Congress, or by a petition of the people, but a recall vote should be the only legitimate means.
Madison was right about the problem, but he should have insisted that the only judge of an elected official should be the people.
The American colonial governments and early state constitutions followed the British pattern of trial before the upper legislative body on charges brought by the lower house. Despite these precedents, a major controversy arose at the Constitutional Convention about whether the Senate should act as the court of impeachment. Opposing that role for the Senate, James Madison and Charles Cotesworth Pinckney asserted that it would make the president too dependent on the legislative branch. They suggested, as alternative trial bodies, the Supreme Court or the chief justices of the state supreme courts. Hamilton and others argued, however, that such bodies would be too small and susceptible to corruption. In the end, after much wrangling, the framers selected the Senate as the trial forum
I have linkified my urls and added the last one, which describes some impeachment processes in other countries.
-cosmicrat July 4 2012
Backwards Conservatives Jun 1, '12 4:23 PM
Conservatives not only ARE backwards, socially, philosophically, and usually intellectually, but they DO things backwards.They fart in church and pray in the bathroom, to use a religious analogy (just for the hell of it).
There's nothing inherently wrong with cutting deficits and reducing the debt, but there is a time to do that: when the economy is doing well, as Clinton did.
When the economy is slow and unemployment high, that is exactly the WRONG time to cut any spending that directly or indirectly puts income in the hands of people who need it and will use it.
Giving money in tax breaks to those who DON'T need it does no good.Business and the rich are NOT the job creators.WE are, the common people who buy things we need and give business the need to hire more of us.They won't hire people if they don't need to, to keep up with demand.
--cosmic rat 6/1/2012
Smart Doesn't Work for Republicans May 30, '12 7:10 AM
With no intelligent argument against the re-election of President Obama, the Republicans are utilizing every unintelligent means it can think of.
Unintelligent does not mean ineffective.
Donald Trump, for example, is being used by Romney to push the birther myth again, while officially disavowing it (in the mildest terms possible).Birtherism's appeal is not primarily a literal one.There are, no doubt, some who actually believe its premise despite all the citizenship proof that is available.But the broader appeal is symbolic.The not-very hidden message is "A black man has no right to become President of our white nation."
This is effective not because all Republicans are primarily racists, but a high percentage of conservatives accept, with varying enthusiasm, that opinion.
Romney is not especially likeable, but he's the white guy, and he is more than willing to use that.
Facts are very inconvenient for Republicans, and they have shown willingness, over and over, to simply lie.Their lies are easy to contradict, and often are by the media, or at least by Democrats, but not everyone who heard the lie alsohears the truth.
The spending spree lie, easily proved false, is repeated so often that it's taken as a given.That's how the big lie works.
Voter suppression is another tactic they are using everywhere they can.It is outrageous and indefensible, but where Republicans are in charge of a state administration, they may be able to get away with it.The Justice Department must step in and put a stop to the assault on democracy.Lawsuits may be effective too, but can they get the changes made soon enough?
In the long run, we need Federal administration of all national elections, but now quick action is needed to assure voters they will not be disenfranchised.
The Right to Vote: What women endured to gain it Apr 25, '12 8:33 AM
Anyone who takes the right to vote lightly, or doesn't respect its importance should learn what it took for half of us to get it.Men and women both should think about that.
A TRUE STORY EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW!
This is the story of our Mothers and Grandmothers who lived only 90 years ago.
Remember, it was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.
The women were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking for the vote.
And by the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of 'obstructing sidewalk traffic.'
They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air.
They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cell mate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.
Thus unfolded the 'Night of Terror' on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right to vote. For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their food--all of it colorless slop--was infested with worms.
When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.
Mrs. Pauline Adams in the prison garb she wore while serving a 60 day sentence.
Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO's movie 'Iron Jawed Angels.' It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have my say. I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder.
Miss Edith Ainge, of Jamestown , New York
All these years later, voter registration is still my passion. But the actual act of voting had become less personal for me, more rote. Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege. Sometimes it was inconvenient.
(Berthe Arnold, CSU graduate)
My friend Wendy, who is my age and studied women's history, saw the HBO movie, too. When she stopped by my desk to talk about it, she looked angry. She was--with herself. 'One thought kept coming back to me as I watched that movie,' she said. 'What would those women think of the way I use, or don't use, my right to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just younger women, but those of us who did seek to learn.' The right to vote, she said, had become valuable to her 'all over again.'
HBO released the movie on video and DVD . I wish all history, social studies and government teachers would include the movie in their curriculum I want it shown on Bunco/Bingo night, too, and anywhere else women gather. I realize this isn't our usual idea of socializing, but we are not voting in the numbers that we should be, and I think a little shock therapy is in order.
Conferring over ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution at National Woman's Party headquarters, Jackson Place , Washington , D.C.
Left to right: Mrs. Lawrence Lewis, Mrs. Abby Scott Baker, Anita Pollitzer, Alice Paul, Florence Boeckel, Mabel Vernon (standing, right))
It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn't make her crazy.
The doctor admonished the men: 'Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.'
Please, if you are so inclined, pass this on to all the women you know. We need to get out and vote and use this right that was fought so hard for by these very courageous women. Whether you vote democratic, republican or independent party - remember to vote.
Helena Hill Weed, Norwalk , Conn. Serving 3 day sentence in D.C. prison for carrying banner, 'Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.'
So, refresh MY memory. Some women won't vote this year because - Why, exactly?
We have carpool duties?
We have to get to work?
Our vote doesn't matter?
I'm so busy...I've got so much on my plate!
Read again what these women went through for you!
We can't let all their suffering be for nothing.
This emailed presentation was nonpartisan.It's point is that you should appreciate, honor, and use your democratic right to elect your government.Many still don't have that right.
Those of you who think you are too pure to participate in the often messy and imperfect world of politics; who find the choices imperfect and not exactly in accord with your ideals-- imagine how you might feel if you were not allowed to vote, and could be jailed, beaten, or killed for demanding to.
Consider too the fact that one of the parties is engaging in voter suppression- placing obstacles in the way of the poor, the young, the old, the minorities abilities to register and vote.
If it is important to that party to keep people from voting, then why don't you realize how important it is that you DO?
Mythical Myths Apr 8, '12 8:59 AM
Here on Multiply, we have the opportunity to enjoy hearing all sorts of insanity, hatefulness, and reactionaryism.I have read that democracy is a bad thing, that they key to prosperity is to kiss the asses of the rich, and that it's unpatriotic not to lead the world in air pollution.
But if someone here has tried to advance the notion that "overpopulation is a myth", I must have missed it.It's a sort of cross between religious authoritarianism and right-wing politics, very much like the War On Women.And it has a Facebook page, and a Facebook discussion group.
So, naturally I felt compelled to drop into that group on a regular basis and attempt to acquaint them with reality.
The responses include "But if you look out the window of an airplane, there's lots of empty land."And "There are people waiting to be born, and if you practice family planning, you're killing some of them."
Not surprisingly, the organization behind this absurdity, the "Population Research Institute" (PRI), was started by a Catholic priest/Dominican monk, Paul Benno Marx.Yes, that's right, they're MARXISTS!Ok, so it's a different kind of Marx.
I suspected they were funded by the Catholic Church, so I looked into it.If they are, it's hidden, but the real source is interesting:
Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, which was called at one time"the country's largest and most influential right-wing foundation"
"In the early 1990s the foundation helped support The American Spectator, which at the time was researching damaging material on President Bill Clinton. The Bradley Foundation has provided funding for the Project for a New American Century (PNAC). PNAC brought together prominent members of the (George W) Bush Administration (Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz) in the late 1990s to articulate their neoconservative foreign policy, including sending a letter to President Bill Clinton urging him to invade Iraq."
Marx is dead now, but the head of the PRI now is Stephen W Mosher.Mosher was expelled from Stanford University's Ph.D program after having done research in China for violating anthropologiccal ethics.He released photographs of Chinese women having abortions with their faces exposed, a violation of personal privacy.
Stanford said thatMosher's informants had been put in jeopardy and that this was contrary to anthropological ethics.In the period after the Mosher controversy, it became much more difficult for American anthropologists to work in China.
Of course Mosher's agenda was to use China's 1-child law as a basis to oppose population control programs everywhere, even if they were voluntary.One would think that such an organization would be almost universally considered nuts but harmless.But during the Bush administration it was partly responsible for sabotaging funding to a UN organization that provided aid for family planning, and of course now we see birth control as a Republican political issue.
So, why does the right wing push such idiocy?It can't be of any use to their corporate friends.The Republican problem is that they run out of rich votersOne, or even 10 percent aren't enough.All they have to get more is to create more radical social-conservative issuesIt doesn't matter how stupid they are.Anything they can count on Democrats not to agree with, they'll use it.
Yet another case of limitless amoral greed by a multinational coporation. Mar 29, '12 1:48 AM
The following is from an email from Sum of UsThey hope that phone calls to Novartis might affect its pursuit of the devastating ruling it seeks.I doubt that, but I do think people worldwide should know what this company is doing.
"For years now, Novartis has been trying to challenge India's patent law that prevents “evergreening” — a tactic drug companies use to extend patents on drugs that are about to expire by making tiny tweaks to the medication. The pharma giant has already lost an earlier challenge in an Indian High Court, but India's highest court, the Supreme Court will make its final ruling on Novartis's second lawsuit in the days ahead.
At stake is the ‘pharmacy to the developing world' - which saves more lives across the globe than we'll ever be able to count. Right now a country like Zambia is able to treat hundreds of thousands of people with HIV through its public health system because it can buy generic Indian anti-retrovirals that cost $120 per person each year, instead of brand name versions that cost $12,000 in the US and four times as much as generics in Zambia. That's also why groups like Doctors Without Borders buy their drugs from India.
Novartis is fighting hard to bring India's 'pharmacy to the developing world' to a screeching halt, in part because company executives think what happens in India won't damage their brand in New York, London, Vancouver or Melbourne.
Q: Is it true that India does not grant patents on medicines at all?
A: Until 2005, India was not required to grant patents on medicines. This allowed it to become the “pharmacy to the developing world”, and a key source of generic affordable medicines, such as antiretroviral medicines (ARVs) to treat HIV and AIDS worldwide.
But this all changed in 2005 when India had to implement international trade rules under World Trade Organization's Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). TRIPS requires that member countries grant patents on pharmaceuticals that last 20 years. 20 year patent monopolies will mean medicines are priced out of reach, because cheaper Indian generics will be kept off the market for 20 years or more.
But when India amended its patent legislation in 2005 to comply with international trade rules, it included provisions designed to protect health and access to medicines.
Section 3(d) of the Patents Act explicitly requires that patents should only be granted on medicines that are truly new and innovative. For new forms and new uses of existing medicines, Section 3(d) requires patent applicants to prove significantly improved therapeutic efficacy before a patent can be granted, rather than, for example, merely turning a once-a-day pill into a weekly pill.
Q: Why is Novartis suing the Indian Government?
A: Novartis applied for a patent in India on the cancer medicine imatinib mesylate, marketed under the brand name Gleevec/Glivec in many countries. In other countries that obtained patents, Gleevec was sold at US$2,600 per patient per month. But in India, generic versions of Gleevec were available for less than $200 per patient per month. Novartis wanted to maximize its profits so applied for a patent so that it could sell Gleevec at higher prices in India. The patent was rejected by the Indian patent office in 2006 on the grounds that it was a new form of an old medicine, and therefore unpatentable under Indian law. Novartis decided to challenge this decision.
Q: On what basis is Novartis claiming a patent on imatinib mesylate, and why was it rejected?
A: Imatinib mesylate (Gleevec) is the salt form (mesylate) of an older medicine, imatinib. Novartis claims it deserves a patent on imatinib mesylate because there is a 30 percent increase in the bioavailability of the medicine in this new form.
Novartis's patent application was rejected in part because Section 3(d) explicitly requires that patents should only be granted to medicines that are truly new and innovative.
According to Professor Brook K. Baker, a Professor of Law and policy analyst for Health GAP (Global Access Project), Section 3(d) requires that there must be a significantly improved clinical effect. Novartis doesn't like this "clear" standard, because its cancer drug Glivec doesn't meet it. So Novartis wants the Supreme Court of India to reinterpret and weaken Sec. 3(d) so that any minor improvement in absorption into the body or shelf life of a medication could result in a new 20-year patent monopoly.
Q: How is Novartis trying to make Section 3(d) meaningless?
A: Section 3(d) requires that a pharmaceutical company prove that its drug offers “increased therapeutic efficacy” to deserve a patent. Novartis knows that Gleevec fails to meet this standard, so is trying to argue that "efficacy" should be interpreted differently by the Indian courts and patent offices. The interpretation of the definition of "efficacy" is central to this case, and to the future of India's role as pharmacy of the developing world.
Q: Novartis says the case is about “clarifying” patent law, and will not hurt the availability of affordable medicine. What are the facts?
A: Novartis, in its reply to SumOfUs members, claims their case does not challenge or hinder the supply of essential medicines to other countries. Novartis claims that it respects “flexibilities” under TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights). Under TRIPS, flexibilities allow countries respond to public policy issues that are specific to their countries., andstrive to achieve a balance between the private rights of the patentees and the socio economic needs and objectives of its people.
This reply doesn't stand up to the facts. In reality, Novartis has been working to oppose countries' use of 'TRIPS flexibilities' to increase access to affordable medicines in India, South Korea, Brazil and Argentina to try to increase its monopoly control.
In India, it issued a statement opposing India's grant of a lawful compulsory license on a Bayer cancer medicine. In South Korea, it opposed attempts to set price controls on Gleevec. In Brazil, it sought a patent term extension on Gleevec, and in Argentina it sought judicial adoption of data exclusivity. In each of these instances, countries were using flexibilities allowed by international law only to have Novartis turn around and try to increase its monopoly control.So much for the "respect flexibilities" defense.
Q: Aren't drug patents needed to stimulate innovation for new drugs by pharmaceutical companies?
A: Studies show that while patent protection has increased over the last 20 years, innovation has been steadily falling, with an increase in the number of drugs produced of little or no therapeutic gain. This undermines the case that is often made by the pharmaceutical industry that more patent protection would result in more investment in useful medical innovations."
Novartis USA: 1-800-452-0051
 Republicans Exposing Themselves  Unity Among the Sane. Mar 22, '12 9:09 AM
The one good thing that can be said about them is that their primary campaigns are proving our point about how bad and wrong they are on every single issue.
Not only are they shamelessly pandering to their corporate/wealthy economic base, but clearly appealing to sexists, religious extremists, ethnic bigots, racial bigots, and the willfully ignorant.
It is troubling that there are segments of the American population to which such hateful and prejudiced ideas do appeal.There is no clearer indictment of our educational system than the fact that significant numbers of our citizens are unable to think rationally.To the extent that there is a subculture that chooses ignorance over education, and aggressive hatred over tolerance and acceptance of differences, perhaps it means that our society is, paradoxically, too tolerant of such negative values.
There seems to be no end to the outrageous insults to humanity proposed, sometimes even enacted, by Republicans.Those who thought, in 2010, that the Republican party was an acceptable alternative, that it was still safely moderate enough to use as something one could vote for to protest what some believed was too slow an economic recovery, and that the extremist rhetoric from the Tea-Party Republicans was only political exaggeration, are finding that they were badly mistaken.
From the mean-spirited and hare-brained attacks on both the right of women to abortion and the accessibility of contraception should frighten any rational thinking man or woman.The serious attacks on workers' rights make it clear that the Republican party is no place for anyone who needs to work for a living.It is not a party for racial, ethnic, or religious minorities.Certainly not for the poor, or even the middle class, nor anyone, whatever their income, who cares about the well-being of their fellow citizens, in addition to their own.
We began to realize in 2008 that the Republican party was in decline.It was given one last chance, mistakenly, in 2010, even as it was retreating to its extreme right-wing constituancy,That has done our country harm, but at least we have gotten a clearer look at its raw agenda and motivations.
It cannot be considered any longer a part of the mainstream political consensus.
The threat it poses stems from the vast corporate ability to fund campaigns and propaganda, and from its appeal to the various hate groups and theocrats.Republicans are also willing to curtail the democratic process itself by making it more difficult for poor and minorities to vote.There is also evidence that they have tampered with vote counting in the past, and little doubt they would use that where they can get away with it.
One should never underestimate an enemy, especially a ruthless one.
UNITY AMONG THE SANE
Sane, reasonable people in this country, range in political views from the center, including even some moderate conservatives, to the very progressive.All of these would be horrified by the prospect of any of the Republican candidates being elected President.
Not all of these people are going to agree with one President on all issues.It's impossible.No one can rationally expect that to happen.But one candidate is likely to be closer than the other to one's personal views.
We might like to see several candidates with different views, all with a reasonable chance of winning.In parliamentary democracies there are often more choices.But we must work within the reality we have.If we work in unity, finding principles we can hold in common, we can change a great deal.
Seperately, there is very little we can do.And, if our disunity means victory for our common enemies, our petty disagreements may result in great harm.
Despite the crucial importance of the coming election, some of those who should care the most speak of abandoning the cause and advocate casting useless votes (or none at all) in a self-destructive protest against what they call the "evil" of the entire system.
That tactic, if you can call it one, will certainly not change that evilness at all, but it will diminish the effectiveness of all who work to make the system better.It is the political equivalent of throwing a tantrum.
Whether we call it evil or dysfunctional government, it is an affliction that has incrementally infected our system from the beginning on.It did not happen overnight- not the corruption of wealth, not the use of the military to protect private enterprise exploiting foreign countries.
Eroded democracy and liberty, Government at all levels highjacked by greed and authoritarian ideology and religion got that way over two centuries.We will not make it go away suddenly.Even with the best of unity, we can only make incremental improvements.
One President cannot change the US from an imperial world power to a perfect citizen of the world.What a President can do, who is dedicated to peace and justice as Obama is, is work on every possible detail of foreign policy that he CAN change.
And such a President can do incrementally more when he has the outspoken support of a larger number of citizens.To an extent, support can be in the for of criticism if it is properly framed and expressed.Extreme condemnation and unrealistic expectations are counterproductive.
It is politically clear that a President can go only so far and remain effective.Beyond that, though it cannot be proven, we can sense intuitively that there are things he cannot do and remain alive.
The political inertia that is built in to the system, by design or evolution, serves to prevent extreme disaster as well as quick utopian reform.The one President that did the most to set the country on a better course, FDR, had over 12 years and extraordinary circumstances to make it possible, and even then there was more to be done.
Major change can be done, but a planned strategy is needed.Here it is:we need the Democratic party to be absolutely, unquestionably dominant.It needs to have a minimum of 70% majority.That's 70% of the vote for President, 70 Democratic Senators, 70% of the House.Until it reaches that point, we cannot afford not to support Democrats.
Once that happens, sustainably, we can afford to form a party to the left of the Democrats without guaranteeing a Republican win.At this point, it will not be the system that limits us, only the viability of the ideas with which we build the new party.
GOLDWATER INSTITUTE ATTACKS A WILDERNESS AREA Feb 28, '12 5:43 AM
Not content with its brutal assault on Arizona workers rights to collective bargaining, the Goldwater Institute is now waging a legal attack on the US Forest Service, challenging its right to protect a Wilderness Area in Arizona.Not only is the GI WRONG about the issue, but the suit is entirely unnecessary.
The original problem is that a major forest fire and resultant flooding destroyed a pipeline system that supplied the city of Tombstone AZ with spring water from the wilderness area.
To repair the pipeline and associated structures, the city of course needed permission from the US Forest Service to bring equipment into the wilderness area.
Contrary to what the GI is telling the public, permission was granted.Here is the USFS decision:
The Forest Service (FS) recently authorized the City of Tombstone, Arizona to use mechanized and motorized equipment in the Miller Creek Wilderness to make repairs to a spring that feeds its municipal water system. Heavy rains following last year's Monument Fire caused mud and rock slides that damaged pipes at this spring and two others in the Wilderness, which feed Tombstone with water. The FS has yet to decide how Tombstone will be allowed to access these other two springs.
According to a concerned citizen in the area, a work crew of six people could complete the necessary repairs on the one spring in less than a week without the use of motorized or mechanized equipment. Additionally, he contends the City's plan to gain access to a spring it abandoned 35 years ago would require building a one-and-a-half mile road into the Wilderness.
This Decision Memorandum is clearly sympathetic to Tombstone's needs, and quite
reasonable.The primary responsibility of the Forest Service is to preserve the wilderness area as intended, yet they allowed Tomstone to proceed with repairs.
The GI claims "...federal bureaucrats are refusing to allow Tombstone to unearth its springs and restore its waterlines unless they jump through a lengthy permitting process that will require the city to use horses and hand tools to remove boulders the size of Volkswagens."
This is clearly not true.
This is what is behind the GI involvement in the lawsuit:"The Goldwater Institute seeks to uphold the principle that the 10th Amendment protects states and their subdivisions from federal regulations that prevent them from using and enjoying their property in order to fulfill the essential functions of protecting public health and safety."
It should be obvious that the 10th Amendment doesn't grant a city the right to do what it wants on Federal land with out permission based on a good reason.It isn't "their property"
The GI is trying to extend the meaning of the 10th Amendment.
"The Tenth Amendment, which makes explicit the idea that the federal government is limited only to the powers granted in the Constitution, is often considered to be a truism. In United States v. Sprague (1931) the Supreme Court asserted that the amendment "added nothing to the [Constitution] as originally ratified."
The only time a Federal law has been invalidated under the 10th Amendment is when it "directly compels states to enforce federal regulations."
Clearly, a state or its subdivisions must OBEY Federal regulations.To have it otherwise would threaten all sorts of protections of civil rights and of the environment.Such a threat is likely the Goldwater Institute's agenda.
Golden Rain on Our Parade Jan 27, '12 3:13 PM
Beware the Goldwater Institute
Nick Dranias, Byron Schlomach, Stephen Slivinski:Consider this bunch of right-wingers to have the same evil motivations as the Koch Brothers and the US Chamber of Commerce.They're aligned with the wealthy elite to drain the middle class and poor of what little they have left.
Their latest push is "Save Taxpayers Tens of Billions of Dollars: End Government-Sector Collective Bargaining"
They're trying to do to Arizona, and every other state they can, what Gov. Walker tried to do to Wisconsin.
It has nothing to do with saving taxpayers' money.Killing unions would not save the average taxpayer a dime.Any money a state can slash from worker salaries will likely go to tax cuts for corporations, just as Wisconsin's governer planned.
The real purpose is to suppress unions and wages both public and private.What they don't want us to realize is that if one set of workers, public or private, is getting well paid, that helps raise everyone in the area's average pay as well, whether they're unionized or not.
Conversely, if they can keep all wages down for any major employer, whether it is state or private industry workers, the prevailing wage goes down for everyone.
The Goldwater Insti-tooters state that public wages average more than private wages, as if that were a bad thing.Governments should not be cutting pay just because they can get away with it, as some private employers do.
If private wages rise to equal public pay, that is a desirable goal.Good pay helps keep demand high, which keeps the economy moving.In addition, we want our public workers, from police, firemen, teachers, to Motor Vehicle Department clerks to feel fairly compensated, not resentful and worried about making ends meet.
Corporations no longer follow the simple conclusion that Henry Ford once made: he knew that he needed to pay his workers enough so that they could afford to buy the cars they built.Globalization has made the human factor an unnecessary consideration in our economy.
As a result, corporations have little interest in whether the economy produces prosperity for ordinary people.They'll gladly turn us into a Third World workforce, or abandon us altogether.
We need to focus on the destructive plans of organizations like the Goldwater Institute and reveal the truth about them loudly and clearly.
~~cosmic rat January 27, 2012
Before It Begins... Jan 14, '12 9:03 PM
...IS THE TIME TO STOP A WAR
There are many important issues worth addressing, but the highest priority must be placed on preventing a mistake that, once made, cannot be unmade.There is no "undo" option to starting a war.Congress cannot repeal an exploded missle warhead- not ours, nor those fired in retaliation.No one can save the many lives destined to be snuffed out the moment one nation attacks another.
A war may not be an intentional plan, but the result of one too many provocations, threats, intimidating words or actions.It is never certain just how far a nation's leaders will allow their country to be backed into a corner before deciding they have no other option but to push back, even against a more powerful enemy.
Whether planned or not, the reckless aggressive conduct of foreign policy is the cause, and that is what must be stopped BEFORE it goes past that point.Why don't the American people speak out loudly in protest of this deadly game?Historically, because of propaganda.Watch this video
How the media manipulates the world into war
Remember that there is ABSOLUTELY NO RATIONAL EXCUSE for the American government's aggressive attitude and behavior.Wars and actions that lead to them never make logical sense to the nations as a whole.There may be profits and advantages to some, but everyone else loses, even the "winning" side.
If you have not read the history that has led up to the current state of affairs, please do so.For background, read the relationship of oil to foreign policy .
Mohammad Mosaddegh, Prime Minister of Iran from 1951 to 1953, worked hard to negotiate a fair deal for his country with Britain and its Anglo-Persian Oil Company (which later became BP).The British refused, and the Iranian oil industry was nationalized.The nationalization law provided for repaying the APOC for its investment.
Instead of accepting that, the British, assisted by the US CIA, overthrew Iran's democratic government in 1953.
The Nuclear program of Iran was started in the 1950's by the US government."Atoms for Peace" they called it.Actually it was atoms for dollars, selling the puppet Shah the reactors, technology, and fuel, paid for with oil profits.
After the 1979 revolution, not only did the US and France cut off fuel supplies and technical assistance, much of which had been paid for in advance, but failed to repay millions of dollars owed to Iran as a result.Unable to trust the US, or, due to US pressure, any other country,as a source of fuel, Iran's only option is to process its own.
Accusations that Iran intends to build nuclear weapons have never been proved, despite IAEA inspections and undoubtedly intense CIA efforts to find such proof.Certainly, with the level of threats being made against Iran, there is ample incenttive to want nuclear weapons as a defense.That proves nothing, either.
Even if the Iranian government did decide to build nuclear bombs, it would be doing nothing that the US and many other nations already have done, andany sovereign nation has an absolute right to do.
These are not just interesting facts-- they are facts that may make the difference between war and peace-- life or death.
Just as a sane response in 1953 could have left Iran a democracy and possibly a US ally, and normalizing relations and fulfilling our contracts after the 1979 revolution would likely have resulted in American technicians working in and monitoring Iranian nuclear power plants, a calmer more rational approach now would prevent a possible tragic and very deadly war,and many years of hostile and unstable relations.
What we need to realize is that changing the course of a foreign policy is not just a matter of convincing the President.There must bean overwhelming popular protest big enough to give him cover to change it.The forces pushing the hard line cannot be resisted with anything less.It is not at all certain just what it will take, since we are not talking about elected officials.
The Nature of the Enemy Jan 9, '12 5:54 AM
Awareness is ever increasing that corporate interests are corruting democracies and draining the wealth of populations to enrich themselves, throughout the world, but most severely in the US and in countries which don't or can't stand up for the people against corporate wealth and power.It is difficult or impossible for elected leaders to make positive changes as long the corporate interests retain their power to "vote" with their millions or billions of dollars.
When we contemplate the power that we must struggle against, it is tempting for some to label it a conspiracy.It is one of sorts, but based on a common interest of unchecked greed that is the very nature of the corporation.You may recall that I wrote of that in a previous article.
Whose economy is this, anyway?
Three years ago, I wrote:
THE WORLD OF CONSPIRACY
It appears thatmore and more people are becoming increasingly aware of the multiplicity of conspiracy theories floating about on the internet, books, and even radio and TV.This is not surprising, given that we have all lived through 8 years of the most devious, deceptive, and corrupt Presidential administration America has ever had.
It has led us to question the truth and intention, often quite rightly, of everything our government has done, and speculate on what it might do.
It has led us to look into a great deal of our history that has been under-taught, and realize that many reprehensible acts have been done by our government in the past that are quite opposite to the ideals of truth, justice, and liberty that we were taught in school.
Many of us also remember the Vietnam war as our first powerful lesson that our government can go tragically, disastrously wrong and cost the lives of many thousands of both Americans and others, needlessly.
We are wise to keep our eyes and ears alert for hints of hidden intentions, covert actions, and authoritarian agendas, and it is good to share and discuss them with other intelligent people.
But, there are also myriad trails that lead nowhere.Conclusion-jumping is a major sport on the web.Some of it has an agenda of pointing the blame for everything toward whatever group the writer happens to hate.Others are well-intentioned, but lack any substantiation for their theory.
It is worthwhile to investigate any honest speculation or suspicion for more evidence, so I do not dismiss them entirely as wrong-- just not proven.Conspiracies have existed and undoubtedly do exist.Generally speaking, though, the grander the scale of the supposed plot, the less likely it is to be true.
-Cosmicrat, November 2008
One truth has slowly emerged since we rid ourselves of the administration that so willingly led us into the worst of pro-corporate foreign policies while sacrificing our domestic economy.That is that even with the best of intentions, a President has only limited ability to change the direction of international relations, and to overcome the non-governmental grip on economic policy.To do that, progressives, with the informed backing of an increasing majority of voters, must work for years with unceasing dedication.
We must reject the idea that we can defeat the corrupting forces by weakening government.That would only leave the people more helpless than they are now.We are already being asked to give up guarding our clean air and water for the sake of jobs, by some of the same interests that took our jobs in the first place.We are asked to give up hard-won protections against the economic effects of corporate greed so that the wealthy can pay outrageously low tax rates.Our only defense is to empower ourselves democratically.
It has been pointed out that international corporations have used an increasingly global economy to increase the scope of their profits while evading the controls, regulation, and taxation of any one nation.Indeed the policy of free trade has been the worst single idea that any nation could impose upon itself and its people.
It would be easy to conflate the effects of economic globalism with the entirely different idea of world government.That latter has been contemplated with fear and claimed to be the purpose of conspiracies.In fact, one of the main reasons for the harm is that there is no international political control over international finance and trade.A sovereign state can (though sometimes doesn't) adequately regulate all trade and finance within its borders.The interests of greed don't want an international body with that power.They prefer to keep the various national governments they deal with at odds with one another.If there's war, they'll profit from that.If not, they'll keep relations just rocky enough to prevent complete regulation, and just peaceful enough for safe trade.
It is no accident that while the US and other national economies are struggling and large portions of their populations becoming poorer, the biggest corporations are profiting quite well.The continuing failure of the "job creators" to create jobs is being used as an argument against the tighter controls and stiffer taxes that we should be placing on them.But no amount of favors or even more absurd tax breaks will induce them to create a single job.Only increased demand for products and services will do that, along with an intensely scrutinized requirement that American workers are used in manufacturing.
We must end the notion of advancing free trade.Import duties are not so much against trade with other nations as they are to prevent corporations, many of them American in origin, from using foreign labor against our own workers.
We must end corporate personhood and the resulting ability to meddle in the political affairs of real human citizens.Allowing their corrupting power over democracy prevents the people from protecting themselves with the only tool they have.
We must re-empower our unions to ensure that workers reap their fare share in return for their labor.Unions should regulated and audited to keep them honest, but encouraged to fulfill their vital functions, including workplace safety.
There are many other steps to restoring an economy that works for all of us, but only a government that works for the people, and only the people, can do what needs to be done.
--Cosmicrat, January 2012
Foreign Policy: Who Makes It, and Why Do We Let Them? Jan 1, '12 5:27 AM
Policies toward other nations, like domestic policies, should be formed and implemented according to the wishes of a majority of the American people by the President and Congress.
It has never quite worked out that way.
We need to know who makes foreign policy, and why.
In my Rat Now column, I've assembled some investigative articles detailing the history, the people, and the motives.Some questions are still unanswered, including the most important one:How do we fix it?
It's easy to say "elect someone different", but that hasn't worked in 200 years.And, no, the economic moron with two first names is not an acceptable alternative.We must start by getting the corporate interests out of government, not giving them free rein.
THE NDAA, 2011 Dec 25, '11 11:15 PM
This year's National Defense Authorization Act is being pointed to as a threat to civil liberties.In a way it is, but not because it does much of anything new.It's because it doesn't.It, or a separate bill, should have repealed a whole list of existing laws, starting with the MCA, Military Commissions Act.Of course, that would require a whole different Congress, with a lot more members dedicated to restoring fully the rights and freedoms of Americans.
As it is, only 13 Senators stood up to register a symbolic NO vote to this edition:
Six Democrats, 1 Independeant, and 6 Republicans.
That is not to say that all the "yeas" were enthusiastically for it; no doubt many just realized it was pointless to oppose it without repealing its predecessors.
Senator Feinstein of the Intelligence Committee says:
'The legislation provides new authorities to improve the operations and oversight of the United States intelligence community. It also provides the Director of National Intelligence with needed personnel management authorities during a period of strained federal budgets.'
'This bill aims to improve intelligence community operations and to ensure vigorous congressional oversight...It makes targeted cuts to eliminate waste and excess while preserving the critical work of the intelligence community-from counterterrorism and counterproliferation to the war in Afghanistan. We included several detainee-related provisions that increase oversight of Guantanamo transfers and improve detainee monitoring. As the Guantanamo recidivism rate rises to more than 27 percent, Congress needs full insight into the transfer and resettlement process.'
Oversight is good, though the paranoia about untried prisoners does nothing for the cause of justice.
Minnesota SenatorAl Frankensaid:
In 1971, President Richard Nixon signed into law the Non-Detention Act to make sure the U.S. government would never again subject any Americans to the unnecessary and unjustifiable imprisonment that so many Japanese-Americans, German-Americans, and Italian-Americans had to endure. It wasn't until 1988, 46 years after the internment, when President Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act, that the government formally acknowledged and apologized for the grave injustice that was done to citizens and permanent residents of Japanese ancestry.
These were dark, dark periods in American history. And it is easy today to think that is all behind us.
...Americans could be subjected to life imprisonment without ever being charged, tried, or convicted of a crime, without ever having an opportunity to prove their innocence to a judge or a jury of their peers. And without the government ever having to prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
I think that denigrates the very foundations of this country. It denigrates the Bill of Rights. It denigrates what our Founders intended when they created a civilian, non-military justice system for trying and punishing people for crimes committed on U.S. soil.
al franken stands against ndaa abuses
Karoli of CrooksAndLiars.com points out:
Sections 1026 and 1027 prevent the use of federal funds for building detention facilities in the United States or transferring Guantanamo detainees to domestic facilities or releasing them into the United States. It effectively continues a congressional policy of preventing more Article III criminal trials of Guantanamo detainees and preventing the construction of alternative facilities that would enable President Obama to fulfill his promise to shutter Guantanamo."
"These restrictions, it is worth noting, are already in current law. So while they are (in our opinion) bad ideas, they are by no means new the NDAA.
In case anyone is actually blaming Obama for that, don't.
June 15, 2007 07:29 PM
The Forgotten Legislative History of Indefinite Detention
By Anonymous Liberal
Earlier this week, a panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the government did not have the authority to detain Ali Saleh Kahlah Al-Marri--a Qatari national who had come to the United States on a student visa--indefinitely without process. Al-Marri, who the government claims is a terrorist, has spent the last four years in a military brig in South Carolina. He has not been charged with a crime or even an immigration violation.
In its court filings, the Bush administration argued that Congress had implicitly provided statutory authority for this sort of detention when it passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) shortly after 9/11. The Fourth Circuit rejected this argument, noting that "if Congress intended to grant this authority it could and would have said so explicitly."
The Court then pointed out an obvious historical flaw in this argument:
In fact, shortly after Congress enacted the AUMF, it enacted another statute that did explicitly authorize the President to arrest and detain "terrorist aliens" living within the United States believed to have come here to perpetrate acts of terrorism. . . .
[T]he Patriot Act establishes a specific method for the Government to detain aliens affiliated with terrorist organizations, who the Government believes have come to the United States to endanger our national security, conduct espionage and sabotage, use force and violence to overthrow the government, engage in terrorist activity, or even who are believed likely to engage in any terrorist activity. Congress could not have better described the Government's allegations against al-Marri -- and Congress decreed that individuals so described are not to be detained indefinitely but only for a limited time, and by civilian authorities, prior to deportation or criminal prosecution.
In sum, Congress has carefully prescribed the process by which it wishes to permit detention of "terrorist aliens" within the United States, and has expressly prohibited the indefinite detention the President seeks here. The Government's argument that the President may indefinitely detain al-Marri is thus contrary to Congress's expressed will.
Though the Court stopped there, the evidence that Congress did not wish to authorize this sort of detention is even more clear cut.
First, during the negotiation of the terms of the AUMF, the Bush administration sought to include language specifically authorizing the use military force "within the United States." Congress rejected that language and it was not included in the final version of the AUMF. That, in and of itself, is compelling evidence that Congress did not intend to authorize the military detention of people lawfully within the United States.
But the legislative history of the Patriot Act is even more compelling. On September 12, 2001, the Justice Department began drafting what would later become the Patriot Act. A week or so later (right around the time Congress was voting on the AUMF) John Ashcroft delivered the administration's proposed bill to Congress and demanded that it be enacted within days. One of the key provisions of the administration's bill would have allowed the government to indefinitely detain immigrants whom it deemed to be threats to national security.
Despite the enormous political pressure to act quickly, this provision immediately encountered resistance from both sides of the aisle. From the New York Times, September 20, 2001:
Mr. Leahy singled out the administration's immigration provisions as especially troublesome. The White House has proposed that authorities be able to detain or deport immigrants who are suspected of terrorism without presenting any evidence in court. . . .
''On the immigration question, if we change from 24 to 48 hours before deciding whether to charge someone, well, I can understand that,'' Mr. Leahy said. ''But I don't think we need to talk about indefinite detention.''
And September 28, 2001:
Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, is worried about the administration's proposal to allow the indefinite detention of immigrants if they are deemed to be threats to national security.
Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, shares those objections.
These concerns led to the provision being dropped from the bill, first from the House version on October 2, 2001:
Democratic and Republican negotiators in the House reached agreement today on a bill that would give law enforcement officials expanded authority to wiretap suspected terrorists, share intelligence information about them and monitor their Internet communications.
But the compromise bill also makes the wiretap authority temporary and omits or scales back some of the measures the Bush administration sought, notably the authority to detain immigrants suspected of terrorism indefinitely without charges. The administration had been pressing for far more extensive changes in the law and had hoped its proposals would move with little debate through a Congress eager to respond to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The proposal for indefinite detention of immigrant suspects engendered the greatest opposition from civil libertarians both inside and outside Congress. Under the plan agreed to this evening by Representative F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., the Wisconsin Republican who is the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, the committee's ranking Democrat, the government could detain an immigrant suspected of terrorism for seven days without bringing charges.
And then from the Senate version on October 12, 2001:
[The Senate compromise bill] would also strengthen the authorities' ability to detain terrorism suspects, although it would not provide the indefinite detention the administration originally sought.
So, long story short, in the weeks following 9/11, the Bush administration pushed hard for the authorization to use military force domestically and later for express statutory authority to detain suspected terrorists indefinitely without process. And although Congress was under enormous political pressure to act quickly and was clearly willing to rubberstamp most of the administration's requests, it pushed back and ultimately rejected the administration's efforts on both occasions. The AUMF did not authorize military force within the United States and the Patriot Act provided the government with only the authority to detain "terrorist aliens" like al-Marri for up to 7 days without process, at which point it must commence either deportation or criminal proceedings (though, interestingly, a never-yet-utilized provision of the Act arguably allows the government to continue holding "terrorists aliens" more or less indefinitely, subject to certain certifications).
Despite this clear legislative history, the government's lawyers now claim that, in passing the AUMF, Congress granted the administration powers that it quite clearly did not intend to grant, including powers it specifically rejected during the debate over the Patriot Act, which began almost as soon as the AUMF was passed. Fortunately, the Fourth Circuit saw this argument for what it was, a particularly brazen example of revisionist history.
No Habeas Corpus for "Any Person"
With the approval of Congress and no outcry from corporate media, the Military Commissions Act (MCA) signed by Bush on October 17, 2006, ushered in military commission law for US citizens and noncitizens alike. While media, including a lead editorial in the New York Times October 19, have given false comfort that we, as American citizens, will not be the victims of the draconian measures legalized by this Act-such as military roundups and life-long detention with no rights or constitutional protections-Robert Parry points to text in the MCA that allows for the institution of a military alternative to the constitutional justice system for "any person" regardless of American citizenship. The MCA effectively does away with habeas corpus rights for "any person" arbitrarily deemed to be an "enemy of the state." The judgment on who is deemed an "enemy combatant" is solely at the discretion of President Bush.
The oldest human right defined in the history of English-speaking civilization is the right to challenge governmental power of arrest and corpus laws, considered to be the most critical parts of the Magna Carta which was signed by King john in 1215.
Alexander Hamilton wrote in The Federalist #84 in August of 1788:
"The establishment of the writ of habeas corpus... are perhaps greater securities to liberty and republicanism than any it [the Constitution] contains .... The practice of arbitrary imprisonments have been, in all ages, the favorite and most formidable instruments of tyranny. The observations of the judicious [British eighteenth-century legal scholar] Blackstone, in reference to the latter, are well worthy of recital:
"To bereave a man of life" says he, "or by violence to confiscate his estate, without accusation or trial, would be so gross and notorious an act of despotism, as must at once convey the alarm of tyranny throughout the whole nation; but confinement of the person, by secretly hurrying him to jail, where his sufferings are unknown or forgotten, is a less public, a less striking, and therefore a more dangerous engine of arbitrary government."
While it is true that some parts of the MCA target non-citizens, other sections clearly apply to US citizens as well, putting citizens inside the same tribunal system with non-citizen residents and foreigners.
Section 950 of the MCA states that, "Any person is punishable as a principal under this chapter [of the MCA] who commits an offense punishable by this chapter, or aids, abets, counsels, commands, or procures its commission."
Section 950V. "Crimes Triable by Military Commissions" (26) of the MCA seems to specifically target American citizens by stating that, "Any person subject to this chapter who, in breach of an allegiance or duty to the United States, knowingly and intentionally aids an enemy of the United States, or one of the co-belligerents of the enemy, shall be punished as a military commission under this chapter may direct."
"Who," warns Parry, "has 'an allegiance or duty to the United States' if not an American citizen?"
Besides allowing "any person" to be swallowed up by Bush's system, the law prohibits detainees once inside from appealing to the traditional American courts until after prosecution and sentencing, which could translate into an indefinite imprisonment since there are no timetables for Bush's tribunal process to play out.
Section 950j of the law further states that once a person is detained, not withstanding any other provision of law (including section 2241 of title 28 or any other habeas corpus provision) no court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider any claim or cause of action whatsoever... relating to the prosecution, trial, or judgment of a military commission under this chapter, including challenges to the lawfulness of procedures of military commissions."
Other constitutional protections in the Bill of Rights, such as a speedy trial, the right to reasonable bail, and the ban on "cruel and unusual punishment," would seem to be beyond a detainee's reach as well.
Parry warns that, "In effect, what the new law appears to do is to create a parallel 'star chamber' system for the prosecution, imprisonment, and possible execution of enemies of the state, whether those enemies are foreign or domestic.
"Under the cloak of setting up military tribunals to try al-Qaeda suspects and other so-called unlawful enemy combatants, Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress effectively created a parallel legal system for 'any person'-American citizen or otherwise-who crosses some ill-defined line."
In one of the most chilling public statements ever made by a US Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales opined at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Jan. 18, 2007, "The Constitution doesn't say every individual in the United States or citizen is hereby granted or assured the right of habeas corpus. It doesn't say that. It simply says the right shall not be suspended."
More important than its sophomoric nature, Parry warns, is that Gonzales's statement suggests he is still searching for arguments to make habeas corpus optional, subordinate to the President's executive powers that Bush's neoconservative legal advisers claim are virtually unlimited during "time of war."
Impunity for US War Criminals
A provision mysteriously tucked into the Military Commission Act (MCA) just before it passed through Congress and was signed by President Bush on October 17, 2006, redefines torture, removing the harshest, most controversial techniques from the definition of war crimes, and exempts the perpetrators-both interrogators and their bosses-from prosecution for such offences dating back to November 1997.
Author Jeff Stein asks, "Who slipped language into the MCA that would further exempt torturers from prosecution?"
The White House denies any involvement or knowledge regarding the insertion of such language, leaving the origin of adjustments to this significant part of the MCA a mystery.
Motivation for this provision, however, leads clearly to leadership in the Bush administration, as the passage effectively rewrote the US enforcement mechanism for the Geneva War Crimes Act, which would have, upon sworn testimonies of Lieutenant General Randall M. Schmidt, Major General Mike Dunlavey, and US Brigadier General Commander, Janis Karpinski, held former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney, and President George Bush guilty of active roles in directing acts of torture upon detainees held at Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib (see Censored 2007, Story #7).
A spokesperson for the Center for Constitutional Rights comments, "The MCA's restricted definitions arguably would exempt certain US officials who have implemented or had command responsibility for coercive interrogation techniques from war crimes prosecutions...
This amendment is designed to protect US government perpetrators of abuses during the 'war on terror' from prosecution."
Joanne Mariner of Human Rights Watch adds that the effect of this provision of the MCA is "that perpetrators of several categories of what were war crimes at the time they were committed, can no longer be punished under US law."
As a whole, the MCA evolved out of the need to override the June 2006 Supreme Court declaration that the administration's hastily assembled military commissions were unconstitutional. That momentous Supreme Court decision confirmed that all prisoners in US custody had to be held in accordance with the Geneva Convention's Article 3, which prohibits "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment." Through passage of the MCA, Congress and the President negated the corrective role of the courts in checking and balancing executive power.
A Senate aide involved in the drafting of the Senate version of the bill that was agreed upon by john McCain, Lindsey Graham, and John Warner, said, "We have no idea who [the extended impunity provision] came from or how it came to be." White House spokesperson Dana Perrino said the stealth changes didn't come from the counsel's office, "It could have come from elsewhere in the White House or justice Department," she said, "but it didn't come from us."
Whatever the source, the amended provision was passed and is a part of US law.
So, what we need is one of two things to happen:Congress to repeal the entire pile of awful, offensive laws (and obviously, the Tea Party is useless when it comes to standing for the freedom it talks about), or the Supreme Court declaring it unconstitutional.
~~cosmic rat 12/25/2011
Goldwater Institute Plots Against Unions and Clean Elections Dec 8, '11 3:21 PM
Many people liked Barry Goldwater, even if they disagreed with him, because he actually liked and respected others, and he stood for honesty and compassion toward all.
The institute that uses his name does not.It is acting in opposition to collective bargaining and against Arizona's clean elections law.
Release time, was first brought to light in a report by Goldwater Institute investigative reporter Mark Flatten, and it means that the city pays the salary and benefits of employees who do union work – in many cases, full-time union work – on the taxpayers' dime.
That is a great deal for the unions, and a terrible deal for taxpayers.
Now, taxpayers are fighting back. Just moments ago, we filed a suit against the City of Phoenix and the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association to stop this practice. If the challenge is successful, it will bring an end to what has become a tradition of granting millions of taxpayer dollars to unions. You can follow the case on our case page.
It's a case that will have national ramifications – no one knows exactly how much release time costs taxpayers overall, but on the federal level alone the practice costs taxpayers nearly $130 million annually at last count.
Director of the Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation
No, you are not "fighting for taxpayers". You are fighting against unions and the right to collective bargaining that have made this country great.
You and your ilk are destroying the middle class and making it harder for working people to make a decent wage with decent benefits.
Stop it! Your misguided greed-based agenda will hurt everyone in the long run, even your corporate friends.
On Clean Elections
"If you live in Arizona, you've probably seen or heard advertisements promoting the government agency that runs Arizona's “Clean Elections” program that gives away tax dollars to politicians campaigning for office. The ads have appeared just about everywhere in recent years with slogans such as “Everyone wins with Clean Elections” and “80% of voters believe Clean Elections is important.” You may have wondered how any government agency can get away with spending our tax dollars on this kind of marketing when so many people are suffering from the sluggish economy.
Well, it turns out they can't. The Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission has exceeded its legal authority with this lavish spending, as well as violated specific limits in state law. The Goldwater Institute has gone to court to stop this government waste and require the commission to repay the taxpayers.
The commission claims it has a right to throw away tax dollars on this marketing campaign because the law allows the agency to spend 10 percent of its yearly budget on “voter education.” But these ads have little to do with voter education and everything to do with trying to put a positive spin on the image of this government agency. In an editorial on Sunday, the Arizona Republic wrote "the content of the advertising...appears more like self-promotion and electioneering than anything educational." You can read that entire editorial here. Also, the agency spends nearly double the amount of money that's allowed by law for any type of voter education—more than $2 million each year.
Even worse, the commission has continued to pay for these ads after the legislature decided to ask voters in November 2012 to consider de-funding the program. That means this government agency is using tax dollars to try to influence how voters might cast their ballots.
We're going to court to force the Clean Elections Commission to stay within its legal boundaries and protect taxpayers from wasteful, self-promotional government spending. We'll be sure to keep you updated on our progress. In the meantime, if you want to read more about the case, you can find the details here.
Thank you,Carrie Ann SitrenAttorney
Goldwater Institute Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation"
They don't care about a few ad dollars- they're trying to discredit and destroy the AZ clean elections law.It's important that all voters know about clean elections.If they were FOR them, the GI would agree.
PEACE WITH IRAN Nov 19, '11 5:13 PM
Most of us already realize that war with Iran would be a disaster: destabilizing the Middle East, many deaths of both Americans and Iranians, a huge economic cost that we cannot afford, and creating a division in American politics that would alienate many of us from the very administration we support on domestic issues.
Anyone who is unsure what to think regarding Iran needs to understand it much better.This hasn't been easy.Even in this time of global information availability, propaganda still has an effect.
Those of us who bought into the Green movement in 2009 need to admit that we were fooled.And we all need to understand the history of how we became Iran's enemy, and why Iran should not be OUR enemy.
An Open Letter to the Anti-War Movement: How Should We React to the Events in Iran?
by Phil Wilayto
is the best and most complete analysis of Iran's politics, society, and recent history that I have read so far.Please read all of it.
We, those of us who believe in democracy and social justice, would have voted for Ahmadinejad.In Iran, that would be a clear majority.The election wasn't rigged.Mousavi would be the equivalent of a Republican.
...the CIA was behind the 1953 overthrow of Iran's democratically elected prime minister, Dr. Mohammad Mossedegh.That coup, the agency's first, reinstalled Mohammad Reza Pahlavi Shah, the U.S. puppet who for the next 26 years ruled Iran with an iron hand, setting the stage for the 1979 Revolution.
...as a result of the CIA coup, U.S. and British oil companies each received 40 percent control of Iran's oil, with the other 20 percent divided up among other European companies.The 1979 revolution returned those Iranian resources back to the Iranian people -- a development that, in my opinion, is the real reason for official U.S. hostility toward Iran.
Then there were 30 years of sanctions, siding with Iraq during the 8 year Iraq-Iran war, the US downing of a civilian airplane killing 200 people, and in 2007, the Bush-authorized CIA black-ops in Iran.
Can we actually wonder why Iran resents us?
It may be true that Ahmadinejad, in expressing his understandable opinions of the US and its policies toward his country, is unnecessarily rude and offensive.Perhaps even the Iranians who vote for him think he's an asshole.But foreign policy cannot be based on assholiness.Neither war nor continued hostility is in our interest as a nation.The people of the United States must say NO.
MISSED POINTS Nov 13, '11 7:58 PM
We laugh atPerry forgetting one of three Federal departments he would ax, yet our laughter should be at the stupidity of his thinking of eliminating them.Our amusement should be tempered by the fact that there are actually people who take such ideas seriously.
The Department of Commerce and Labor was established on February 14, 1903. It was subsequently renamed to the Department of Commerce on March 4, 1913, when Labor got its own department.Its mission is to promote job creation and improved living standards for all Americans by creating an infrastructure that promotes economic growth, technological competitiveness, and sustainable development.
It gathers economic and demographic data for business and government, issues patents and trademarks, and helps set industrial standards.
Obviously, especially at this time, Commerce is extremely important.So, equally, are Education and Energy, which are inter-related to the goals of the Commerce department.
All three departments need to be doing more, not less or nothing, to improve national prosperity.Clearly Education has not been doing nearly enough in Texas.
Another missed point was made evident as news reported Cain's history of sexual harassment.It has been noted how badly he handled the revelations from his past, but few aside from a Teaparty fan group ever thought him a serious candidate.
What is of more concern is none of the conservatives seem to care whether he comitted the offenses.By implication they do not recognize a woman's right to a workplace, or a job interview, without unwanted sexual pressure.
Perhaps, considering that many of them also do not support other civil rights laws, this is no surprise.It is definitely something to keep in mind when evaluating the character of conservatives as they publically advocate their policies.
The 3rd and most important should be noted regarding Iran.There has long been discussion of Iran's nuclear technology and whether they are really trying to build a weapon.Recently some mentally deficient politicians have talked about attacking Iran, essentially on the basis of unproven allegations.
The point to remember here is not whether or not Iran might want to become a nuclear power, nor whether or not any other country wants them to.
The fact is that Iran is a sovereign nation with every right to develop a nuclear bomb if it so desires.It is also a fact that no other nation, not the US, and not Israel, has any right to prevent it.
The propaganda would have us believe that Iran is our enemy, and it certainly seems we treat it as one.We are also aware that their President is highly critical of the US.
What we forget is that long before Iran was our enemy, WE BEHAVED AS THEIR ENEMY.Think of that.It is no subtle distinction, in international relations, who started mistreating who.Since 1953, when we and the British overthrew their democracy, we have been a threat to Iranians.They have not been a credible threat to us.
Eleven-eleven-eleven Nov 11, '11 3:17 PM
It is Corduroy day.Parallel Universe day.And, Veteran's Day.
It is hard to think of veterans without thinking of the human phenomenon that produces them: war.Veterans, members of the military forces past and present, are the human tools of war, and they are also victims of war.Some are heroes.If you are one of those, you know who you are.Someare villains.You, too, know who you are.Some of you are a little of both.
Afghanistan: a pictorial view
This country, and all countries, need those who are willing to volunteer to defend us from those who might attack.We owe them our gratitude, we owe them respect and good treatment, better treatment than they often receive.
We owe them this even when they are misused, sent to attack and invade and kill when there is no threat, no justification, no reason except greed for resources, political expediency.
We, the people, also owe them every effort to stop misusing them.We need to remain vigilant toward any influence that threatens war.We need to educate ourselves, to realize that most of the wars America has fought were unnecessary.They had nothing to do with defending freedom or democracy, or the safety of our nation.
The next war, whenever it is, where ever it is, will be unnecessary too.