Newly-Declassified U.S. Government Documents: The West Supported the Creation of ISIS

Judicial Watch has – for many years – obtained sensitive U.S. government documents through freedom of information requests and lawsuits.

The government just produced documents to Judicial Watch in response to a freedom of information suit which show that the West has long supported ISIS.   The documents were written by the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency on August 12, 2012 … years before ISIS burst onto the world stage.

Here are screenshots from the documents. We have highlighted the relevant parts in yellow:

ISIS1Why is this important? It shows that extreme Muslim terrorists – salafists, Muslims Brotherhood, and AQI (i.e. Al Qaeda in Iraq) – have always been the “major forces driving the insurgency in Syria.”

This verifies what the alternative media has been saying for years: there aren’t any moderate rebels in Syria (and see this, this and this).

The newly-declassified document continues:

ISIS 2Yes, you read that correctly:

there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist Principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime ….

In other words, the powers supporting the Syrian opposition – the West, our Gulf allies, and Turkey wanted an Islamic caliphate in order to challenge Syrian president Assad.

Sure, top U.S. generals – and vice president Vice President Joe Biden – have said that America’s closest allies support ISIS.  And mainstream American media have called for direct support of ISIS.

But the declassified DIA documents show that the U.S. and the West supported ISIS at its inception … as a way to isolate the Syrian government.  And see this.

This is a big deal.  A former British Army and Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism intelligence officer and a former MI5 officer confirm that the newly-released documents are a smoking gun.

This is a train wreck long in the making.

Posted in Politics / World News | 3 Comments

FBI Confirms No Major Terrorism Cases Cracked Via Unconstitutional Patriot Act Phone Spying

Submitted by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

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FBI agents can’t point to any major terrorism cases they’ve cracked thanks to the key snooping powers in the Patriot Act, the Justice Department’s inspector general said in a report Thursday that could complicate efforts to keep key parts of the law operating.

Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz said that between 2004 and 2009, the FBI tripled its use of bulk collection under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows government agents to compel businesses to turn over records and documents, and increasingly scooped up records of Americans who had no ties to official terrorism investigations.

– From the Washington Times article: FBI Admits No Major Cases Cracked with Patriot Act Snooping Powers 

Back in 2013, as debate about the Snowden revelations was at its zenith, I published a post titled NSA Chief Admits “Only One or Perhaps Two” Terror Plots Stopped by Spy Program. Here’s an excerpt:

The Obama administration’s credibility on intelligence suffered another blow Wednesday as the chief of the National Security Agency admitted that officials put out numbers that vastly overstated the counterterrorism successes of the government’s warrantless bulk collection of all Americans’ phone records.

Pressed by the Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee at an oversight hearing, Gen. Keith B. Alexander admitted that the number of terrorist plots foiled by the NSA’s huge database of every phone call made in or to America was only one or perhaps two — far smaller than the 54 originally claimed by the administration.

“One or perhaps two.” Or perhaps zero. The guy has the nerve to say “perhaps.” How do you not know? What a bunch of lying assholes. How the heck does 54 turn into “one or two,” and I’ll tell you something else, I don’t believe the one or two figure for a minute. I mean there’s no way he would say “zero” when he is fighting to keep his petty little Stasi state intact. Furthermore, how about some details here. What was the one plot the NSA foiled? Some teenager throwing firecrackers on the White House lawn? These guys need to get lost already. From the Washington Times:

As time has passed and the years have gone by, it has become increasingly clear that the phone records collection program hasn’t stopped a single terror attack. In fact, a recently published report by the Justice Department’s inspector general admitted as much. This takes on increased significance with parts of the Patriot Act set to automatically sunset on June 1st.

The Washington Times reports:

FBI agents can’t point to any major terrorism cases they’ve cracked thanks to the key snooping powers in the Patriot Act, the Justice Department’s inspector general said in a report Thursday that could complicate efforts to keep key parts of the law operating.

Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz said that between 2004 and 2009, the FBI tripled its use of bulk collection under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows government agents to compel businesses to turn over records and documents, and increasingly scooped up records of Americans who had no ties to official terrorism investigations.

Backers say the Patriot Act powers are critical and must be kept intact, particularly with the spread of the threat from terrorists. But opponents have doubted the efficacy of Section 215, particularly when it’s used to justify bulk data collection such as in the case of the National Security Agency’s phone metadata program, revealed in leaks from former government contractor Edward Snowden.

“The agents we interviewed did not identify any major case developments that resulted from use of the records obtained in response to Section 215 orders,” the inspector general concluded — though he said agents did view the material they gathered as “valuable” in developing other leads or corroborating information. 

The report was heavily redacted, and key details were deleted. The entire chart showing the number of Section 215 requests made from 2007 through 2009 was blacked out, as was the breakdown of what types of investigations they stemmed from: counterintelligence, counterterrorism, cyber or foreign intelligence investigations.

Redacted indeed. This is what pages 16-20 look like, and the pages immediately after these are just as bad.

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Most transparent administration ever.

Moving along, the conclusion that Section 215 of the Patriot Act hasn’t stopped any terror attacks naturally won’t stop FBI director James Comey (and others) from fear-mongering. A favorite pastime of government officials and their lapdogs. As Politico reports:

Speaking at an American Law Institute event this week, FBI Director James Comey warned that a PATRIOT Act sunset would “severely” affect his agency. The FBI relies heavily on the soon-to-expire provisions of the law to obtain specific business records — from library records to gun ownership data — and wiretaps for multiple devices, he said.

“If I lose these tools, it’s a huge, huge problem,” Comey said. “We use [Section 215 to obtain specific records] fewer than 200 times per year, but when we use it, it matters tremendously.”

But not for terrorism, and the Patriot Act was specifically passed to deal with terrorism.

“ISIS is singing a siren song, calling people to their death to crash on the rocks — and it’s the rocks that ISIS will take credit for,” said Ron Hosko, president of Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund and former assistant director of the FBI. “They’re looking for those who are disaffected, disconnected and willing to commit murder. So if we’re willing to take away tools, OK, congressman, stand behind it [and] take the credit for putting the FBI in the dark.”

Can you believe people like this exist, and that their insane rhetoric actually speaks to some people? Scary.

While the current debate about Section 215 of the Patriot Act is encouraging and necessary, it is extremely important to understand that this is just a tiny, potentially meaningless tip of the iceberg when it comes to unconstitutional government surveillance. As The ACLU’s Chris Soghoian explains courtesy of Schneier.com:

There were 180 orders authorized last year by the FISA Court under Section 215 — 180 orders issued by this court. Only five of those orders relate to the telephony metadata program. There are 175 orders about completely separate things. In six weeks, Congress will either reauthorize this statute or let it expire, and we’re having a debate — to the extent we’re even having a debate — but the debate that’s taking place is focused on five of the 180, and there’s no debate at all about the other 175 orders.

Now, Senator Wyden has said there are other bulk collection programs targeted at Americans that the public would be shocked to learn about. We don’t know, for example, how the government collects records from Internet providers. We don’t know how they get bulk metadata from tech companies about Americans. We don’t know how the American government gets calling card records.

So the 215 program that has been disclosed publicly, the 215 program that is being debated publicly, is about records to major carriers like AT&T and Verizon. We have not had a debate about surveillance requests, bulk orders to calling card companies, to Skype, to voice over Internet protocol companies. Now, if NSA isn’t collecting those records, they’re not doing their job. I actually think that that’s where the most useful data is. But why are we having this debate about these records that don’t contain a lot of calls to Somalia when we should be having a debate about the records that do contain calls to Somalia and do contain records of e-mails and instant messages and searches and people posting inflammatory videos to YouTube?

Certainly the government is collecting that data, but we don’t know how they’re doing it, we don’t know at what scale they’re doing it, and we don’t know with which authority they’re doing it. And I think it is a farce to say that we’re having a debate about the surveillance authority when really, we’re just debating this very narrow usage of the statute.

The battle to push back the American Stasi is just beginning.

For related articles, see:

Congress is Attempting to Reauthorize Key Patriot Act Provisions by Sneaking it Into “USA Freedom Act”

How NSA Surveillance Was Birthed from the Drug War – The DEA Tracked Billions of Phone Calls Pre 9/11

Decoding the NSA: How the Agency Manipulates Language to Mislead the Public

Congressman: Did You Think This Program Could be Indefinitely Kept Secret from the American People? Government Attorney: “Well we Tried”

Manufactured Terrorism – U.S. Officials Claim Credit for Stopping Another Terror Attack Created by the FBI

Posted in Politics / World News | Leave a comment

DIA Docs: West Wants a “Salafist Principality in Eastern Syria”

Newly-declassified US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) documents from 2012:

In Syria:

THE SALAFIST [sic], THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD, AND AQI ARE THE MAJOR FORCES DRIVING THE INSURGENCY IN SYRIA.

AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq, which became ISIS: “ISIS, once called AQI”] SUPPORTED THE SYRIAN OPPOSITION FROM THE BEGINNING, BOTH IDEOLOGICALLY AND THROUGH THE MEDIA…

OPPOSITION FORCES ARE TRYING TO CONTROL THE EASTERN AREAS (HASAKA AND DER ZOR), ADJACENT TO THE WESTERN IRAQI PROVINCES (MOSUL AND ANBAR), IN ADDITION TO NEIGHBORING TURKISH BORDERS. WESTERN COUNTRIES, THE GULF STATES AND TURKEY ARE SUPPORTING THESE EFFORTS.

IF THE SITUATION UNRAVELS THERE IS THE POSSIBILITY OF ESTABLISHING A DECLARED OR UNDECLARED SALAFIST PRINCIPALITY IN EASTERN SYRIA (HASAKA AND DER ZOR), AND THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT THE SUPPORTING POWERS TO THE OPPOSITION WANT, IN ORDER TO ISOLATE THE SYRIAN REGIME…

Now for some definitions:

Salafi Movement:

The Salafist movement, also known as the Salafi movement, is a movement within Sunni Islam that references the doctrine known as Salafism.

The Salafi movement is often described as being synonymous with Wahhabism, but Salafists consider the term “Wahhabi” derogatory.[1] At other times, Salafism has been described as a hybrid of Wahhabism and other post-1960s movements.[2] Salafism has become associated with literalist, strict and puritanical approaches to Islam – and, particularly in the West, with the Salafi Jihadis who espouse offensive jihad against those they deem to be enemies of Islam as a legitimate expression of Islam.

In recent years, Salafi methodology has come to be associated with the jihad of extremist groups that advocate the killing of innocent civilians [though not all Salafists can be stereotyped under this umbrella].

Principality:

A principality (or princedom) can either be a monarchical feudatory or a sovereign state, ruled or reigned over by a monarch with the title of prince or by a monarch with another title within the generic use of the term prince.

Thus, what the documents say the Western powers and their collaborators want, a “Salafist Principality” in Easter Syria, is an Islamic monarchical state.  It should be no surprise that the US/West want this, as they are allied with so many Islamic dictatorships (ie the Gulf States and Turkey, as noted above).

The strictest sect of Salafism:

Wahhabism (Saudi Arabia)

Wahhabism is a more strict, Saudi form of Salafism, according to Mark Durie, who states Saudi leaders “are active and diligent” using their considerable financial resources “in funding and promoting Salafism all around the world.” Ahmad Moussalli tends to agree with the view that Wahhabism is a subset of Salafism, saying “As a rule, all Wahhabis are salafists, but not all salafists are Wahhabis”.

Saudi Government is funding to increase the Salafi Islam throughout the world. Estimates of Saudi spending on religious causes abroad include “upward of $100 billion”, between $2 and 3 billion per year since 1975 (compared to the annual Soviet propaganda budget of $1 billion/year [and US government/corporate propaganda budgets of many billions per year]),[92] and “at least $87 billion” from 1987–2007.

Its largesse funded an estimated “90% of the expenses of the entire faith“, throughout the Muslim World…

“Books, scholarships, fellowships, mosques” (for example, “more than 1,500 mosques were built from Saudi public funds over the last 50 years”) were paid for.[96] It rewarded journalists and academics, who followed it and built satellite campuses around Egypt for Al Azhar, the oldest and most influential Islamic university.[97] Yahya Birt counts spending on “1,500 mosques, 210 Islamic centres and dozens of Muslim academies and schools”.

This financial aid has done much to overwhelm less strict local interpretations of Islam, according to observers like Dawood al-Shirian and Lee Kuan Yew, and has caused the Saudi interpretation (sometimes called “petro-Islam”) to be perceived as the correct interpretation – or the “gold standard” of Islam – in many Muslims’ minds.

While the Western powers and their collaborators may want a Salafist Principality in Eastern Syria, they, mainly the US, are openly supporting the most extreme Salafist, missionary state in the world: Saudi Arabia.

The US has been supporting Saudi Arabia since oil was discovered there around the 1930s.

The US is the world’s biggest arms trafficker.  The biggest arms sale of the world’s biggest arms trafficker was to the Saudi dictatorship, approved by Obama in 2010:

The Guardian:

Barack Obama to authorise record $60bn Saudi arms sale

Biggest arms deal in US history…

The US is the world’s largest arms supplier…

Amnesty reported that, contrary to US gov and media propaganda, the Saudi regime got worse under the last dictator (who recently died), and is getting even worse now under new US-backed dictator Abdulaziz, with Saudi Arabia committing dozens and dozens of beheading/crucifixions, taking the lead in confirmed state executions worldwide.

2009 US documents leaked by Wikileaks revealed Hillary Clinton stating that Saudi Arabia is the world’s biggest source of funding for Sunni terrorist groups.

Abdulaziz himself, the top of the Saudi dictatorship, is said by al Qaeda to be one of their sources of funding and support.

Unlike Iran, which has parliamentary representatives and voting, Saudi Arabia is a straight despotism which maintains itself through terror, such as by lashing innocent civilians in public.

Unlike Iran, Saudi Arabia not only does not renounce nuclear weapons (US intelligence does not even say Iran is pursuing them; in fact far from it), but Saudi officials promise never to renounce nuclear weapons, or even negotiate about nuclear weapons, which Iran has agreed to do numerous times, with the US always cancelling the negotiations, as Obama has done before, and did again this week: “US Kills Nuclear Free Mid-East Conference“.

Indeed, Saudi Arabia just announced its intentions to go nuclear, a prospect that has long been known to all.

None of this prevents the US from making its biggest ever lethal arms sale to the dictatorship, or selling them almost a billion dollars worth of banned cluster bombs in 2013, which HRW reports are now being used in the US-coordinated/assisted Saudi aggressive war against Yemen, from which the US refuses to rescue its own civilian nationals, unlike eight other countries including Russia, China, and India, which have performed rescue missions.

To be fair, the US has performed rescue missions in Yemen… for Saudi bombers.

@_DirtyTruths

Author’s research focuses on global force dynamics.  He also writes professionally for the film industry.  His articles have been noted by professors, scholars, student-groups, and other independent researchers.

Posted in General, Media, Politics / World News, propaganda | Leave a comment

Researchers Predicted In 1971 that Debit Cards Would Become the Ultimate Spy Tool

We noted in 2013:

The Wall Street Journal reported that the NSA spies on Americans’ credit card transactions. Senators Wyden and Udall – both on the Senate Intelligence Committee, with access to all of the top-secret information about the government’s spying programs – write:

Section 215 of the Patriot Act can be used to collect any type of records whatsoever … including information on credit card purchases, medical records, library records, firearm sales records, financial information and a range of other sensitive subjects.

Many other government agencies track your credit card purchases as well. In fact, all U.S. intelligence agencies – including the CIA and NSA – are going to spy on Americans’ finances.

The IRS will be spying on Americans’ shopping records, travel, social interactions, health records and files from other government investigators.

The Consumer Financial Protection Board will also spy on the finances of millions of Americans.

Various agencies are also tracking our debit card transactions.

Indeed, as Gizmodo’s Matt Novak notes, researchers predicted this in 1971:

In late October of 1971 a group of academics and technologists gathered at a conference at Georgetown. They were given the task of devising the most comprehensive (yet invisible) surveillance program imaginable. What they came up with sounds an awful lot like our current debit card system.

This was the question posed to the researchers in 1971:

Suppose you were an advisor to the head of the KGB, the Soviet Secret Police. Suppose you are given the assignment of designing a system for the surveillance of all citizens and visitors within the boundaries of the USSR. The system is not to be too obtrusive or obvious. What would be your decision?

What amazing, unobtrusive surveillance system did they come up with? It wasn’t a network of intercepting every phone call or placing cameras on every street corner. They imagined an electronic funds transfer system, or EFTS—a system that looks strikingly similar to the debit card system we all use today.

“Not only would it handle all the financial accounting and provide the statistics crucial to a centrally planned economy,” Paul Armer wrote in 1975 recounting the KGB-infused thought experiment. “It was the best surveillance system we could imagine within the constraint that it not be obtrusive.”

Armer was a computer scientist at RAND and an early advocate of digital privacy, long before people had debit cards, let alone access to the internet …. he thought that this cashless society actually posed the greatest threat to the privacy of Americans.

Think for a moment about the information that banks collect every time you swipe your card. They know precisely where, when, and how you’re spending your money. After just a few transactions, anyone with access to that information can start to paint a pretty detailed picture of how you live your life. And perhaps most importantly, that picture is being painted without you giving it much thought at all.

This is all the more ominous given that the powers-that-be are pushing a cashless society, so they can more easily spy on and control us.

In other words, if society becomes cashless, dissenters can’t hide cash.  All of their transactions would be trackable, and all of the financial holdings would be vulnerable to seizure or attack by the government.  This would be the ultimate form of control.

Get it?

Posted in Business / Economics, Politics / World News | 3 Comments

Our Crazy-Making Economy’s Endgame: Festering Frustration Seeking an Outlet

The consequence of policies that exacerbate injustice, inequality and double-bind demands is a madness that will find a social and economic outlet somewhere, sometime.

We all know crazy-makers: people who make contradictory claims about reality, who say one thing and do another, who change their stories constantly to justify their own pursuit of self-interest, who demand the impossible of others while giving themselves unlimited excuses.

When they can’t change reality to suit their purposes, they change their accounts of reality, and stick with the revised stories even when they are contradictory.

This describes the entire financial structure of the U.S.: crazy-making.

We all know the U.S. economy is diseased, and the Powers That Be are attempting to mask the sickness with contradictory accounts of reality.

To get ahead, you need a 4-year college diploma. But oops, the student debt you’ll need to shoulder acts as a brake on getting ahead. And it turns out many of those who became debt-serfs to get a diploma actually end up in jobs that don’t require a college education.

One reality–soaring student loan debt and diminishing value of the product, a college diploma–and two contradictory stories.

Systems theorist/anthropologistGregory Bateson developed (with others) the concept of double bind, a psychological and social conflict in which contradictory demands generate a form of schizophrenia:

Unlike the usual no-win situation, the subject has difficulty in defining the exact nature of the paradoxical situation in which he or she is caught. The contradiction may be unexpressed in its immediate context and therefore invisible to external observers, only becoming evident when a prior communication is considered. Typically, a demand is imposed upon the subject by someone who they respect (such as a parent, teacher or doctor) but the demand itself is inherently impossible to fulfill because some broader context forbids it. For example, this situation arises when a person in a position of authority imposes two contradictory conditions but there exists an unspoken rule that one must never question authority.

Consider the schizophrenia-generating contradictions underpinning all U.S. economic policy.

We have to keep interest rates near-zero forever because the economy is weak, but the economy is strong–look at the low unemployment rate.

Well, which one is it? The official answer: both. The U.S. economy is both strong and weak at the same time. Interestingly, it’s strong in terms of official measures of employment and jobs, but weak in financial terms.

This means there’s nothing to be fixed for those working for a living, and everything to fix for financiers and banks, who are struggling due to weak financial fundamentals.

Meanwhile, corporate and financier profits are soaring to record levels and wages have stagnated for years. Wait a minute–weren’t we just told that the financial fundamentals are weak, hence the need for zero interest rates for ever, and that job growth was strong?

These are internally inconsistent accounts of reality, i.e. crazy-making. Here are corporate profits–to the moon, baby:

Here are wages/salaries: going nowhere for 15 years (or 40 years, if we go back to the 1970s):

Financialization has enriched the few with access to free money for financiers and those who own assets favored by the Fed and left everyone earning a living in the dust:

The Federal Reserve insists on maintaining this crazy-making double bind because the stock market depends on both conditions being true at the same time: the economy must be expanding so profits can loft ever higher, but the economy must also be weak and ill so the Fed will continue its policies of zero interest rates (ZIRP) and free money for financiers that have pumped trillions of dollars into “risk-on” assets like stocks.

If either of these contradictory conditions is erased, the stock market will tumble, as neither a weak economy nor zero interest rates (ZIRP) alone is sufficient to maintain the stock market’s current sky-high valuations: profits must continue rising and rates must stay zero to enable carry trades, stock buy-backs, and all the other financial finagling that has driven stocks into the stratosphere.

In effect, the Fed and all the other organs of propaganda are telling the American public: don’t you dare trust your lying eyes, ears, mind and awareness of rising insecurity–believe us.

Crazy-making contradictions generate free-floating anxiety, frustration and rage that then seek an outlet. The essence of official crazy-making is that dissent–protests that the official stories are patently false–is suppressed, marginalized or ridiculed. This is the purpose of a militarized Police State–to suppress anything that questions authority and that might undermine the schizophrenic policies and propaganda.

The endgame of crazy-making is that just about anything can suddenly become an outlet for the rage, frustration and anxiety that is the only possible output of schizophrenic policies. A minor civil disturbance morphs into a major riot; a limited melee at a sports event metastasizes into a destructive free-for-all, and a peaceful gathering turns ugly seemingly without cause.

These are expressions of the social and economic double-binds that are being imposed on the citizenry as the last-ditch method of retaining control of the nation’s wealth and power–both of which are flowing into the hands of the few at the expense of the many.

You can impose crazy-making policies and propagandize a schizophrenic economy, but you can’t bottle up the resulting frustration, anxiety and rage forever. Our oligarchic Elite reckons it can suppress anything and everything with Police State tactics, but the madness they have created will not be so easily controlled.

The consequence of policies that exacerbate injustice, inequality and double-bind demands is a madness that will find a social and economic outlet somewhere, sometime, and probably at a moment when few in the Power Elite expect it.


How to forge a career in a crazy-making economy:
Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy
,
a mere $9.95 for the Kindle ebook edition and $18 for the print edition.

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Seizing an alternative: Integrity for the whole truth, and nothing but the truth (7 of 7)

The following is my paper for the Claremont Colleges’ conference, Seizing an Alternative Toward an Ecological Civilization, with open registration to the public on June 4-7, 2015.

Paper title:

‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ political collapse: Seizing an alternative to OBVIOUS unlawful wars, bankster looting, lying corporate media

I’ve divided the paper into sections:

Recognizing The Emperor’s New Clothes as THE STORY of today (1 of 7)

Obviously unlawful US/UK wars of the present (2 of 7)

Obviously unlawful Israel wars on Gaza (3 of 7)

War lies to hide obviously unlawful wars: propaganda as usual (4 of 7)

Bankster looting: fundamental fraud that “debt” is “money” (5 of 7)

Lying corporate media: required propaganda trying to hide naked empire (6 of 7)

Integrity for the whole truth, and nothing but the truth (7 of 7)

This section is: Integrity for the whole truth, and nothing but the truth (7 of 7)

**

Readers and writers in alternative media can explain, document, and prove that much of these “created realities” described by Karl Rove are “Big Lie” crimes, objectively not even close to the foundational principle of “limited government” within the US Constitution, and “created” with whatever Emperor’s New Clothes rhetoric their focus groups conclude most likely to sell.

“Constitutional governments and aristocracies are commonly overthrown owing to some deviation from justice…the rich, if the constitution gives them power, are apt to be insolent and avaricious… In all well-attempered governments there is nothing which should be more jealously maintained than the spirit of obedience to law, more especially in small matters; for transgression creeps in unperceived and at last ruins the state, just as the constant recurrence of small expenses in time eats up a fortune.” – Aristotle, Politics, Book V. 350 B.C.E.

“The people — the people — are the rightful masters of both Congresses, and courts — not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert it.” –  “Abraham Lincoln, [September 16-17, 1859] (Notes for Speech in Kansas and Ohio),” Page 2.

Current humans empowered with the facts are actively engaged to shatter humanity’s collective Emperor’s New Clothes deceptions. The general public would never consent to what’s being done to them if empowered with accurate comprehensive information of their conditions. The informed are motivated to create a new future of peace, technological advance, and cooperative happiness.

This paper has provided objective, measurable, and independently verifiable facts that easily explain, document, and prove Earth’s history of:

The ongoing costs of Earth’s history controlled by a .01% group of literal psychopaths (and here), extending to our world of the present, are annual war and poverty murders of millions, harm to billions, and looting of  trillions.

Again, and importantly, these are facts that anyone with a basic education can easily verify with a few moments of attention as objective statements about Earth’s most vital conditions.

Res ipsa loquitur: these facts speak for themselves, for all who are ready to see, listen, and discuss with Enlightenment ideals won for humanity over 300 years ago:

  • Reject thoughtless obedience to authorities in government, religion, and a .01% privileged class connected to government.
  • Have EVERYONE educated enough to consider and discuss factual evidence in full freedom.
  • Have EVERYONE empowered with voice and vote of how the facts should be related with in policy (what to do) in order to ongoingly optimize unalienable rights of Life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

Please stop until you’ve fully embraced this point: the facts within this paper are independently verifiable, and to the knowledge of those of us communicating have never been refuted. Indeed, as you’ve heard from Gandhi and Simon Johnson, the .01% will do everything to avoid factual consideration because all the facts are on our side.

Our case is as clear as asserting a baseball pitch ten feet over everyone’s head is not even close to the definition of a “strike,” with video evidence for anyone’s independent review and analysis. Ironically, if we were discussing baseball rather than wars, money, and media, Americans would never allow their sacred game to suffer such Emperor’s New Clothes propaganda.

When enough people are willing to apply their educations to look, and exercise their integrity to state simple facts, humanity will be in position to seize the alternative of a brighter future for all Earth’s inhabitants:

**

Note: I make all factual assertions as a National Board Certified Teacher of US Government, Economics, and History, with all economics factual claims receiving zero refutation since I began writing in 2008 among Advanced Placement Macroeconomics teachers on our discussion board, public audiences of these articles, and international conferences. I invite readers to empower their civic voices with the strongest comprehensive facts most important to building a brighter future. I challenge professionals, academics, and citizens to add their voices for the benefit of all Earth’s inhabitants.

**

Carl Herman is a National Board Certified Teacher of US Government, Economics, and History; also credentialed in Mathematics. He worked with both US political parties over 18 years and two UN Summits with the citizen’s lobby, RESULTS, for US domestic and foreign policy to end poverty. He can be reached at Carl_Herman@post.harvard.edu

Note: Examiner.com has blocked public access to my articles on their site (and from other whistleblowers), so some links in my previous work are blocked. If you’d like to search for those articles other sites may have republished, use words from the article title within the blocked link. Or, go to http://archive.org/web/, paste the expired link into the box, click “Browse history,” then click onto the screenshots of that page for each time it was screen-shot and uploaded to webarchive. I’ll update as “hobby time” allows; including my earliest work from 2009 to 2011 (blocked author pages: here, here).

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The 16 Core Progressive Policies, Really?

Salvatore Babones’ proposals in Sixteen for ’16: A Progressive Agenda for a Better America are not bad, assuming a progressive agenda can limit itself to one nation.

But these sorts of proposals tend to be — and this one is no exception — smart, compassionate takes on the topics that are in the corporate media. The topics that aren’t already on your television also aren’t in this book or others like it.

What should the U.S. public budget be? Is nearly double the 2001 level too much military spending, too little, or just right? Who knows. Babones doesn’t say.

Why not consult someone on “the other 54% of the budget” that all such literature ignores (the military’s 54% of discretionary spending, as calculated by the National Priorities Project)? Just a quick consultation with someone aware of the existence of the single largest public project of the United States would add something to all of these pseudo-electoral platforms.

Item number 14 in Babones’ list is “Stop torturing, stop assassinating, and close down the NSA.” He goes through the common pretense that Obama “banned torture,” as if it weren’t a felony that was simply going unpunished on Obama’s orders. He follows this up with the usual pretense that the limited “ban” on torture opened up loopholes for torturing “legally.” Babones does a bit better on drone murders. But what about manned-aircraft murders? Tank murders? Gun murders? What about war? Is war “progressive”? Who knows!

Should we, as the other 15 points propose, create jobs, build America’s infrastructure, support public education, extend Medicare to everyone, raise taxes on top incomes, refinance social security, take down Wall Street, make it easy to join a union, set a living minimum wage, upgrade to 10-10-10, put an end to the prison state, pass a national abortion law, let people vote, suffer the refugee children, and save the earth? Of course, we should.

But if you’re willing to end the prison state (and as the text expands on that, to end the militarization of local police) then you are willing to make significant change, and you are aware of the problem of militarization. So how does that little item that takes up 54% of the budget go AWOL from all of these projects?

If U.S. military spending were merely returned to 2001 levels, the savings of $213 billion per year could fund education, a new justice system, aid for refugees, an open and fair and verifiable election system, and the saving of the earth — with a good bit of change left over.

Whence the nearly unanimous decision to avoid the topic? The Institute for Policy Studies, which published this book, does not ignore the topic elsewhere. Why does it not manage to infiltrate these progressive platforms? Perhaps peace is just not progressive.

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On the U.S. Killing of Two Children in Syria

The U.S. military admitted on Thursday to killing two girls in Syria.

If a target of U.S. aggression can be alleged to have killed children, especially with the wrong kind of weapon, that is used as grounds for war. War is supposed to be the cure for that.

This was the case in 2013 with the White House’s false claims to knowledge that the Syrian government had killed children with chemical weapons. President Obama told us to watch videos of dead children and either support a bombing campaign against Syria or support killing children.

But that’s a Catch-22, because it’s telling you to either support killing children or support killing children.

In recent days I’ve been watching videos of children killed in Yemen by Saudi Arabia with U.S. missiles and support. Missiles are in fact not any more precise in their actual use than chemical weapons, not any less deadly, not any less guilty of killing children, including the hundreds of children the U.S. has killed with missiles from drones in just a few countries it doesn’t even admit to being at war with.

The Pentagon doesn’t admit to any of this; it sometimes admits to isolated incidents that have been widely reported.

But imagine if missiles were considered the wrong kind of weapon, and imagine if the Syrian government and its friends were considered “the international community” — one could imagine the international community demanding the humanitarian bombing of Washington, D.C., as revenge for the brutal murder of two little girls by U.S. missile in Syria.

We in the United States view the domestic bombing of 4 little black girls in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963 as barbaric, and we view racism as something we’ve overcome, but imagine if the little girls whom President Obama murdered in Syria in November had been white, Christian, English-speaking Americans. One cannot in that situation suppose the response would have been the same.

It is not possible to avoid civilian casualties in war. They are the majority of the casualties — of the dead, of the injured, of those rendered homeless, and of the traumatized — in virtually every war of the past half century. Often they are an enormous majority. The idea that war can be a tool to remedy something worse than war, or that genocide is truly distinct from war is not supported by facts.

The Pentagon admitting to killing civilians is rare but not unprecedented. In fact it is a small nod in the direction of a policy that President Obama created and then quickly abandoned under which he claimed that all such casualties would be reported.

Does it matter? Will people care?

For that, I think there has to be video, it has to be widely shown and the killings morally condemned, and people have to find their way to the media outlets willing to show it and condemn it.

That is, if we’re talking about people in the United States.

Of course the people of Western Asia will protest the United States all the more fervently whether the general public in the United States knows what its government is doing or not.

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If U.S. Military Spending Returned to 2001 Level

The House of Representatives has headed out of town to memorialize wars without managing to achieve agreement with the Senate on reauthorizing some of the most abusive “temporary” measures of the PATRIOT Act. Three cheers for Congressional vacations!

What if not just our civil liberties but our budget got a little bit of 2001 back?

In 2001, U.S. military spending was $397 billion, from which it soared to a peak of $720 billion in 2010, and is now at $610 billion in 2015. These figures from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (in constant 2011 dollars) exclude debt payments, veterans costs, and civil defense, which raise the figure to over $1 trillion a year now, not counting state and local spending on the military.

Military spending is now 54% of U.S. federal discretionary spending according to the National Priorities Project. Everything else — and the entire debate in which liberals want more spending and conservatives want less! — is contained within the other 46% of the budget.

U.S. military spending, according to SIPRI, is 35% of the world total. U.S. and Europe make 56% of the world. The U.S. and its allies around the globe (it has troops in 175 countries, and most countries are armed in great part by U.S. companies) make up the bulk of world spending.

Iran spends 0.65% of world military spending (as of 2012, the last year available). China’s military spending has been rising for years and has soared since 2008 and the U.S. pivot to Asia, from $107 billion in 2008 to now $216 billion. But that’s still just 12% of world spending.

Per capita the U.S. now spends $1,891 current U.S. dollars for each person in the United States, as compared with $242 per capita worldwide, or $165 per capita in the world outside the U.S., or $155 per capita in China.

The dramatically increased U.S. military spending has not made the U.S. or the world safer. Early on in the “war on terror” the U.S. government ceased reporting on terrorism, as it increased. The Global Terrorism Index records a steady increase in terrorist attacks from 2001 to the present. A Gallup poll in 65 nations at the end of 2013 found the United States overwhelmingly viewed as the greatest threat to peace in the world. Iraq has been turned into hell, with Libya, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia close behind. Newly embittered terrorist groups have arisen in direct response to U.S. terrorism and the devastation it’s left behind. And arms races have been sparked that benefit only the arms dealers.

But the spending has had other consequences. The U.S. has risen into the top five nations in the world for disparity of wealth. The 10th wealthiest country on earth per capita doesn’t look wealthy when you drive through it. And you do have to drive, with 0 miles of high-speed rail built; but local U.S. police have weapons of war now. And you have to be careful when you drive. The American Society of Civil Engineers gives U.S. infrastructure a D+. Areas of cities like Detroit have become wasteland. Residential areas lack water or are poisoned by environmental pollution — most often from military operations. The U.S. now ranks 35th in freedom to choose what to do with your life, 36th in life expectancy, 47th in preventing infant mortality, 57th in employment, and trails in education by various measures.

If U.S. military spending were merely returned to 2001 levels, the savings of $213 billion per year could meet the following needs:

End hunger and starvation worldwide — $30 billion per year.
Provide clean drinking water worldwide — $11 billion per year.
Provide free college in the United States — $70 billion per year (according to Senate legislation).
Double U.S. foreign aid — $23 billion per year.
Build and maintain a high-speed rail system in the U.S. — $30 billion per year.
Invest in solar and renewable energy as never before — $20 billion per year.
Fund peace initiatives as never before — $10 billion per year.

That would leave $19 billion left over per year with which to pay down debt.

You may say I’m a dreamer, but this is life and death. War kills more by how the money isn’t spent than by how it is spent.<--break->

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“Fast Track” Violates the U.S. Constitution

Screen Shot 2015-05-22 at 2.07.50 PM

U.S. Constitution, Article 2, Section 2, #2: “The President … shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur.”

——

Eric Zuesse

The Constitution’s two-thirds Senate rule regarding treaties is violated by Fast Track as it currently stands and has stood; and that provision of Fast Track (reducing the required two-thirds down to merely half of the Senators voting “Yea”) would need to be eliminated and the Constitution’s two-thirds-Senate requirement restored, in order for there to be able to be any further applications of Fast Track; this would not necessarily apply regarding past applications of Fast Track such as NAFTA, and prudentiality might sway against such retrospective applications; but, for TPP, TTIP, TISA, and other future applications of Fast Track, or in other words for constitutionality of future international-trade agreements, the words of the Constitution are unmistakably clear, and those words must be applied, notwithstanding the violations of the U.S. Constitution that have already been erroneously instituted. The purpose of the U.S. Supreme Court is to hold that document, the U.S. Constitution, and none other, as this nation’s inviolable Scripture, by which all future actions of the United States Government are to be evaluated, and all future laws (a treaty being in a separate and even stricter category for which reason the two-thirds Senate rule was included in Article 2, Section 2, #2) are to be judged to be either valid or invalid.

The 50-vote-Senate provision of current Fast Track is unconstitutional if it allows anything of a “treaty” nature to be passed, because the two-thirds-Senate rule for any treaty is in the Constitution and would need first to be eliminated by the Amendment process in order for it to be able to be removed — and this has not been done.

The U.S. Supreme Court is, of course, exceedingly reluctant to accept justiciability of matters that are within the discretion and expertise of the other two branches, but the two-thirds-Senate rule is a Constitutional provision that applies to all treaties; and it is violated by existing Fast Track. For the Court to deny this issue’s justiciability would be for the Court to rule that the Constitution’s treaty-clause’s two-thirds-Senate rule can be legally violated by the Senate and by the U.S. Government. If that were the case, then there might as well be no U.S. Supreme Court, because it would be a Court whose ruling majority would be violating both of the solemn oaths by which each one of them had first entered the Court.

Furthermore, for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that violating the clear words of the Constitution is within the discretion of the other two branches to do, would be an outrage that would be recognizable as such by the general public and that would therefore bring forth valid grounds for impeachment, if not for outright revolution. It would be treason from the judicial bench.

The language of the U.S. Constitution on this matter is clear. The Court’s only discretion on the matter concerns the prudentiality of retrospective applications. Fast Track as it exists and has existed up till now is unConstitutional violation of the two-thirds-Senate rule for approving of anything that is in the nature of a “treaty.”

There is no discretion in this matter for any U.S. Supreme Court member who adheres to his oaths of office, and to the U.S. Constitution.

Fast Track as it now exists must be struck down.

NOTE #1: This is in response to a reader at reddit, who said, after having read only this article’s title (and taking issue with the article on that basis): “No, it doesn’t. Trade agreements aren’t treaties. This article is just fundamentally wrong.”:

Until 1979, every trade agreement that the U.S. had with any nation or nations was a treaty not only in reality but in name — recognized as such. However, in 1979, the U.S. signed the first international trade agreement that the U.S. refused to call a “treaty,” the Tokyo Round GATT. That sort of thing has happened only four more times, the biggest being NAFTA. And yet even after 1979, the vast majority of international trade agreements to which the U.S. was a signatory were called, even by the U.S., as “treaties.” So: you are wrong. Almost every international trade agreement that the U.S. has signed was called as a “treaty” by the U.S. Government.

The few (5) exceptions, all since 1979, were the few deals that were so bad they’d not have been able to pass constitutionally unless the U.S. Government declined to call them a “treaty.” But calling, for example, a robot a “person” does not make it so.

PS: For the U.S. Supreme Court to allow the President and the Senate’s Majority Leader to determine that certain international trade agreements are not “treaties” that are referred to by the U.S. Constitution’s Treaty Clause would be for the Supreme Court to cede to the Executive and Legislative branches the core power and authority of the Judicial branch, which is to interpret the Constitution. It would thus set a disastrous precedent that would end Constitutional rule in America.

NOTE #2: Another reader, at a different reddit page, offered a comment that’s entirely correct, and that is sufficiently insightful and well-put to be worth passing along here:

The legal justification used to explain why TPP doesn’t need 2/3 of the Senate is that it’s a trade agreement, not a treaty. I think this is total nonsense. Relatively little of the TPP actually has to do with trade, and all the most heinous parts of it (ISDS, criminalizing non-commercial copyright violations, etc) are things that would ordinarily be part of a treaty, not a trade agreement. It’s fairly obvious that the Obama Administration is wrapping the really objectionable stuff up with the parts that actually pertain to trade and calling the result a ‘trade agreement’ to get around the 2/3 requirement for a treaty.

Unfortunately, the judiciary’s current position is that the legislative and executive branches are the ones that determine whether something is a treaty or trade agreement. However, the judiciary has expanded the scope of its oversight on these sorts of issues in the past, so if TPP turns out to be disastrous enough, the courts may be convinced to rule it unconstitutional.

NOTE #3: Another reddit page has a reader citing this against my argument:

In the United States, the term “treaty” is used in a more restricted legal sense than in international law. U.S. law distinguishes what it calls treaties from congressional-executive agreements and sole-executive agreements.[1] All three classes are considered treaties under international law; they are distinct only from the perspective of internal United States law.

The wikipedia entry on “Treaty Clause” starts with that, and then it proceeds to note that throughout American history, “states may make with the consent of Congress” things that are called “agreements,” since those agreements don’t involve foreign nations. What’s not said there is that only after the Fast-Track-initiating “Trade Act of 1974” were “agreements” passed with foreign nations that weren’t called “treaties.” They aren’t called “treaties” in the U.S. though they are called “treaties” by all of the other nations that sign. Now, why would that be? Might it be because the Treaty Clause of the U.S. Constitution prohibits any such “treaty,” since they have failed to meet the two-thirds requirement? In other words: “congressional-executive agreements” that are with foreign nations and that all of the other nations call “treaties” are instead called by the Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate and by the U.S. President by a different name, are actually treaties that were passed in violation of the U.S. Constitution, and this is why these high federal officials lie: they want to hide their violation of the U.S. Constitution. All such fraudsters should be prosecuted. They violate their oaths of office. And any Senator who participates in it should be prosecuted, for the same reason. But, first, the U.S. Supreme Court must do its duty, which is to declare this fraud a fraud. After all: if fraud against the Constitution is not the Supreme Court’s business, then nothing is nor can be, because fraud against the Constitution is fraud against the core of the U.S. Government. Permitting that would be acquiescing in the termination of American democracy.

———-

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity, and of  Feudalism, Fascism, Libertarianism and Economics.

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When the Current Housing Bubble Finally Bursts

Bubbles are followed by echo-bubbles, and the bursting of the second bubble ends the speculative cycle.

If we have learned anything in the past 20 years of massive asset bubbles and equally massive declines when the bubbles finally pop, it’s this: those caught up in the expansionary phase of the bubble cannot believe the bubble that’s rewarding them so richly could actually burst.

This psychology of mass delusion now dominates housing, stocks and bonds: not only is this not a bubble, the expansion will continue forever.

History, however, suggests otherwise: all bubbles burst, period. With that in mind, I’ve made a few notes on a chart of the Case-Shiller Home Price Index. This chart displays both the nation Case-Shiller index and the San Francisco Bay Area index.

Over the long-term, housing has tended to rise about 1% annually above inflation. According to the Bureau of labor Statistics, $1 in pre-bubble 1997 is $1.46 in 2015 dollars. A 1% gain over the past 17 years adds 18.4%.

If we add inflation and a 1% annual gain, we find a historically justified target around 110 on the Case-Shiller index.

One of the more striking characteristics of bubbles is their symmetry: if the expansionary phase took 3 years, the bursting phase also takes around 3 years to complete.

The last housing bubble took about 3 years from peak to trough, and this provides a baseline projection for the decline of the current housing bubble, which is shaping up as a classic echo-bubble: very much like the previous bubble, but of slightly lower magnitude.

The projected decline over the next three years to the 110 level is the best-case scenario. Analyst Mark Hanson made a very persuasive case for a much sharper drop when the current housing bubble pops: Mark Hanson Is In “Full-Blown, Black-Swan Lookout Mode” For Housing Bubble 2.0.

In essence, Hanson suggests that the narrow base of the current bubble expansion–all cash buyers (speculators, private-equity funds, overseas oligarchs and corrupt officials, etc.) and marginal borrowers relying on highly leveraged FHA and VA mortgages–will collapse much quicker than the previous bubble, which was inflated by a much larger base of market participants.

Bubbles also have a habit of overshooting when they finally burst. the Federal Reserve acted quickly to re-inflate the housing bubble by lowering interest rates to near-zero and buying over $1 trillion of mortgage-backed securities. Given the narrow base of the current bubble, these tricks will not work should the Fed attempt to inflate Housing Bubble 3.0

In general, bubbles are followed by echo-bubbles, and the bursting of the second bubble ends the speculative cycle. There is no fundamental reason why housing could not round-trip to levels well below 100 on the Case-Shiller Index when the current bubble finally bursts.

If Mark Hanson’s analysis is prescient, it may not require 3 years for the current housing bubble to implode; 2 years (2017) might be more than enough time for the speculative excesses to evaporate.

As I have noted before, when the herd turns, risk-on bids disappear, and the bottom drops out of the market much faster than participants believe is possible.

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Arguing That You Don’t Care About The Right To Privacy Because You Have Nothing To Hide Is No Different Than Saying You Don’t Care About Free Speech Because You Have Nothing To Say

Most Americans value privacy and oppose mass surveillance.

The minority who don’t – and who think spying is okay because they have “nothing to hide” –  are grossly misinformed (and don’t know that spying is meant to crush dissent and consolidate powernot stop terrorism).

Edward Snowden noted today in a Q&A on Reddit:

Some might say “I don’t care if they violate my privacy; I’ve got nothing to hide.” Help them understand that they are misunderstanding the fundamental nature of human rights. Nobody needs to justify why they “need” a right: the burden of justification falls on the one seeking to infringe upon the right. But even if they did, you can’t give away the rights of others because they’re not useful to you. More simply, the majority cannot vote away the natural rights of the minority.

But even if they could, help them think for a moment about what they’re saying. Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.

Amen.

Posted in Politics / World News | 10 Comments

Being Pro-Voice

The abortion debates is the last place I would have looked for inspiration in methods of handling the major political and social problems of the world. Politically I’ve always thought of abortion — the topic of abortion, that is — as part of a fraud. A so-called democracy is limited to two political parties, both of which serve corporate monopolies, both of which invest primarily in war preparations, both of which cavalierly sacrifice the future habitability of the planet as well as the immediate survival of numerous species, both of which advance income inequality, both of which strip away our civil liberties — and yet, the two of which are depicted as diametrically opposed, supposedly offering us a world of difference at the polling place. And how is this done? Easy, one of them is pro- and the other anti- abortion! I can’t count how many people have listed everything they oppose about a presidential candidate and then begged me to vote for that same candidate in order to determine the abortion issue in the U.S. Supreme Court.

So, Aspen Baker’s book, Pro-Voice: How to Keep Listening When the World Wants a Fight, comes as a pleasant surprise. To begin with, this book causes me to recognize another reason I’ve had a distaste for the abortion debate. I don’t mean that there’s not really any clearly desirable position to take on it; I already realized that. I mean that the abortion debate is exceptionally simplistic, dishonestly so. And the reason for this, brought out I think by Baker, is that people who have abortions do not talk about them. There is such a stigma attached to it, that the experience of having an abortion, including the decision making process gone through, including the days and years after the abortion, including the impact on other people involved, is basically unknown. And that vacuum is filled by slogans dedicated toward legislative ends.

One result of keeping abortion shameful and secret is isolation and suffering for those who have abortions. One goal of creating telephone talk-lines and websites and media coverage, as Baker’s group Exhale has done, is to bring human friendship and compassion to people isolated by politics and treated as political tools by two opposing groups. Now, if you are fervently dedicated to the “pro-life” or “pro-choice” position, then the emotional state of women who have abortions may seem secondary, and how it’s addressed may seem worth judging primarily in terms of how it advances or impedes another goal. But what if, without hurting your pro-choice or pro-life goal, a pro-voice approach began to create a little reconciliation between the two camps, and what if that began to create some new goals?

I began reading this book skeptically. I found myself asking why a book-length account of the value of telling specific stories didn’t instead just tell a few of those stories. Eventually it did, at least in excerpt form. And what happened around those stories began to seem important as well. Exhale created greeting cards for people who’d had abortions, something now also done for queer and poor families and single moms. Creating understanding and acceptance of women who’ve had abortions, regardless of your view of abortion, is a valuable contribution to a discussion, a negotiation. Do you view abortion as murder? Well, murderers too should be treated as human beings, and some day we may advance our understanding that far as well.

Baker claims to have influenced the discourse so much that conservative groups have reduced their talk about “postabortive women” and “postabortion syndrome,” choosing, Baker writes, to speak about “healing from grief and loss, rather than seeking forgiveness for a sin.” And organizations have arisen to help women that include both pro-choice and pro-life staff people. In fact, Baker writes, most Americans are both pro-choice and pro-life. When Exhale advised an MTV program featuring three women’s stories, the result was positive reviews both from serious feminists and from Fox News commentators. “It was not a cavalier decision she made,” commented one Fox News host on one of the women featured by the MTV show, noting in effect that the woman’s experience resembled reality more than common caricature.

What if we all read stories like these? What if the conversation became an open one? We should, I think, all have enough confidence in our political agendas to believe they would succeed in the light of day with full information. And in fact they might. The horrendously bad aspects of abortion could be made known in a real and credible way — much more persuasive than pro-life myths. The overwhelming moral justifications for abortion in many cases, could be more widely understood.

And what if those who shout from one side or the other then began talking with each other?

And what if reading the stories of women struggling through difficulties resulted in some political awareness of the extent and nature of those difficulties and how they impact each other? Women lacking access to good education, jobs, income security, healthcare, and so on (part of only a small fraction of the stories, which really come in infinite variety — though perhaps a larger fraction among the stories that never reach the internet)  — those are women in need of more than just common human decency. But common human decency sure is a good place to start.<--break->

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How the Media Deceive the Public about “Fast Track” and the “Trade Bills”

Eric Zuesse

The way that “Fast Track” is described to the American public is as an alternative method for the Senate to handle “Trade Bills” (TPP & TTIP) that the President presents to the Senate for their approval; and this alternative method is said to be one in which “no amendments are permitted, and there will be a straight up-or-down vote on the bill.”

But, in fact, the “Fast Track” method is actually to require only 50 Senators to vote “Yea” in order for the measure to be approved by the Senate, whereas the method that is described and required in (Section 2 of) the U.S. Constitution is that the President “shall have the Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur.”  That’s not 50 Senators; it’s 67 Senators, that the Constitution requires.

In other words: “Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority” (which was invented by the imperial President Richard Nixon in 1974, in order to advance his goal of a dictatorial Executive, that the Presidency would become a dictatorship) lowers the Constitutionally required approval from 67 Senators down to only 50 Senators.

This two-thirds rule is set forth in the Constitution in order to make especially difficult the passing-into-law of any treaty that the United States will have with any foreign country. The same two-thirds requirement is set forth for amending the Constitution, except that that’s a two-thirds requirement in both the House and the Senate: it can be done “by either: two-thirds (supermajority) of both the Senate and the House of Representatives …; or by a national convention assembled at the request of the legislatures of at least two-thirds (at present 34) of the states.” 

Getting two-thirds of either house of Congress to vote for a bill is rare and difficult, but it has happened 27 times, because the entire process was public, and because there was widespread support of each Amendment.

By contrast: Obama’s proposed trade treaties are still secret.

The difference between 50 Senators versus 67 Senators is, essentially, the difference between a treaty that is publicly discussed and widely acceptable to the American public (the people, after all, who voted for those members of Congress); versus a secret treaty that will be widely unacceptable to the American public when the America public will become informed of its contents, which won’t be until years after the treaty has already gone into effect.

This is the reason why only a tiny fraction of authentic “trade bills” even need “Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority” in order to pass; most trade bills are passed in the normal way. A President doesn’t ask for “Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority” unless he is going to be presenting to the Congress a treaty that is so horrible for the American people that only few members of either the House or the Senate would vote for it — the bill needs “Fast Track” in order for it to be able to pass.

What types of “Trade Bills” are these?

They are treaties in which only a tiny fraction of the treaty actually has to do with “Trade,” or with tariffs and other legal favoritisms toward one nation as opposed to another.  In other words: They’re legislation to cede our national sovereignty to international corporations. Issues of tariffs and other “trade” disputes between nations are tacked onto these multinational treaties in order to be able to fool the public into thinking that all that’s at issue is “trade.”

Now, it’s true that “Fast Track” does also eliminate the ability of members of the Senate to propose an amendment to the treaty that the President is presenting for their approval. But that’s a relatively minor feature of “Fast Track,” which was included in the concept in order for “Fast Track” to be able to be described by politicians and by the ‘news’ media as being a minor matter — no “big deal,” no ceding of sovereignty to international corporations. 

It’s not a minor matter; it’s the biggest matter in President Obama’s entire Presidency: it’s about scandalously bad international treaties with many nations at once, in which international corporations (that is, the hundred or so individuals who own the controlling interests in them) will be handed our national and democratic soverieignty over labor rights, consumer rights, environmental rights, and investors’ rights — it’s every way that those billionaires can think of to pass off onto the public the harms that they do while keeping for themselves all the benefits of the heads-I-win-tails-you-lose game they’re playing with the U.S. public and that of every other signatory nation. It’s international fascism, not merely fascism  of the local type.

And that’s what we’ve now got.

———-

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity, and of  Feudalism, Fascism, Libertarianism and Economics.

Posted in Business / Economics, Energy / Environment, General, Media, Politics / World News, propaganda | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

War Speaks Every Language But Never Knows What to Say to Frogs

Alice Walker explains this line, “Though war speaks every language it never knows what to say to frogs” in the opening of her beautiful book, Why War Is Never a Good Idea, illustrated by Stefano Vitale, thus:

War speaks every language she says, because every nation has war. But of course this isn’t true. Many nations that make war on others do not have war at home, not in remotely the way the nations have it where wars are fought. Anyone in the United States knows that a global war aggressor suffers, but also knows that the wars are not here, and that the difference is one of night and day. Many nations also do not make war, nearby or far off. Some nations, Costa Rica, Iceland, and lots of little nations, have no military, no war plans, no investment in future wars, and no wars. And this is why it matters that War Is Never a Good Idea, because good ideas exist as available alternatives.

The frogs, Walker explains very accurately as being among the respresentatives in her book of the creatures who play no role in creating war, have no understanding of war, and suffer from war, directly from its violence, and indirectly from its impact on climate change and the natural environment.

Walker’s personification of war as a being that knows and thinks and does things for its own purposes is also, strictly speaking, perfectly accurate, as well as powerfully provocative. Just as a “selfish gene” can be understood as aiming for the well-being of the gene rather than the organism, war does not benefit its participants, its victims, its observers, or for the most part its creators, supporters, cheerleaders, or tolerators. War does not generate happiness, prosperity, fulfillment, wisdom, beauty, or sustainability. War generates more war. In the absence of war it would be quite easy to persuade enough people to nip in the bud any notion of creating it. In the presence of war, the willful delusion that war is inevitable is quite pervasive.

“Though war is old, it has not become wise. It will not hesitate to destroy things that do not belong to it, things very much older than itself.”

There is wisdom in that line. Not only have various nations set war aside for decades or centuries, and in some cases brought it back again, but most human cultures for most of human existence never knew war at all. It is newer than most every adaptation of human evolution, and we are unable to adapt to it, and should we do so it would destroy us.

“Here war is munching on a village. Its missiles taking chunks, big bites out of it. War’s leftover gunk seeps like saliva into the ground. It is finding its way into the village well.”

Stop drinking the water.

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