Category "America and Its Revolution...Is it Over?"

America as a ‘Horror Show’ and the Fraud of Its Politics

February 20th, 2014 by Andy in America and Its Revolution...Is it Over?, Video

I referenced this interview between Bill Moyers and acclaimed journalist and television producer David Simon in a previous posting, but it is so good, so lucidly candid, so completely on the money in its analysis of just what is happening to America politically, economically, socially, that it needed to be highlighted again. I cannot emphasize enough as to the how and why the points presented here by Simon should be seen by all Americans. This should be required reading/viewing in every social studies and political science classroom in the country.

It is well worth the 20 minutes of your time it will take to watch it.

We’ve changed and we’ve become contemptuous of the idea that we are all in this together.

The monetization of human beings like that, you know, anybody tells you that the markets will solve everything, the libertarian ideal.

I can’t get past just how juvenile the thought is that if you just let the markets be the markets, they’ll solve everything.

You know, America worked when there was tension between capital and labor, when there– when neither side won all of its victories, when they were fighting. It’s in the fight that we got healthy, that we transformed a working class into a middle class, that we became a consumer economy that drove the world for about half a century.


And yet that’s the kind of argument that supply-side economics is. Give us, the job makers, the money and we’ll make jobs. Not with all of it you won’t. A lot of it’s going to Wall Street and it’s going to sit there and it’s going to be subjected to much less tax liabilities, the capital gains. You know, the scam of it, the scam of what America’s become, you know, give the money to the rich and they’ll see that you’re not poor. Is that really what you’re saying?


But ultimately, capitalism has not delivered on the promise to be a measurement of anything other than money, of profit. And if profit is your only metric, man, what are you building? Where does the environment fit into that? Where does human potential and you know, for anything other than having some money in your hand, you know, where does, where do people stand when they have health needs or when they make a mistake in life? You know, it was said a long time ago you judge a society by is hospitals and its prisons. By that standard we’re, you know, we have a lot to be ashamed of.


You know, I’ve had the sensation over the last twenty — and before The Wire, even, I mean, when I was just a police reporter in Baltimore — of hearing people inside the beltway speak about the American city or about urban issues or about things that I actually knew a little bit about. And they would talk about it you know, I’d be listening to, you know, a Gingrich or even some well-meaning liberal. And I would think, I would love to have these guys in my Volkswagen Passat and just kick them out on the corner at Monroe and Fayette and you know, and just leave them there for a month, you know, and just see if they can you stop them from saying this stuff with just a little bit of aware.


You know, government and democracy in particular, it is about constant battle, it’s about nothing ever being fixed or ever being right. We will never solve a problem to the point where we can walk away from it and the machine will, you know devour the problem without our attending to it.

There will always be conflict, there will always be competing interests that force us to engage in the hard job of governing ourselves. And so the anti-government thing strikes me as a perversity. I don’t think the founding fathers would recognize it. They were constructing a government of the people. That’s their language and I think that’s their belief.

And the idea that the government is some, you know, once we start regarding it as some alien force that we can’t control, we’re done, democracy’s done. That’s the last stage of walking away from the responsibility of governing ourselves. If we can’t control it, if it is going to be a purchased government, if we can’t institute the reforms that are necessary, then we’re done, we’re done right now.

Read The Interview Transcript

The Divide Between The Two Americas of Rich and Poor and What It Means

February 5th, 2014 by Andy in America and Its Revolution...Is it Over?, Video

David Simon, a journalist and producer of the popular television series The Wire, delivers one of the most succinct descriptions of the problems that are ailing the United States - politically and economically - that one will hear anywhere.

We at USTV Media are enthused about posting this presentation, because it echoes the major points that we have been striving to make over this past decade plus; that you cannot have a workable society if it is run on market principles devoid of social values. You need a society in which neither capital or labor is allowed to dominate. Simon discusses how we either have a representative government or we don’t, and if it is not serving us in that capacity, that should be a call to arms towards rehabilitating and restoring it. Wall Street and the market logic as a guiding parameter for organizing society is doomed to failure, and reversing its destructive qualities will either be done in some practical way when things get bad enough, or it will keep going until people get desperate enough to resort to violence. Today, the triumph of capitalism has become complete, to the point that it has bought the electoral process, he one venue for reform that remained to Americans.

This goes to the heart of another point we’ve been making at USTV Media, that when your democratic society is ruled by the market, you become a market society, one in which everything becomes a commodity and is for sale. Including the rules. And when you can buy the rules, you win the game.

There are so many interesting points raised in this talk, we couldn’t begin to outline them all here. What do “small town values” mean in a mass, urban world? There is the role that race plays, and why class has become the real dividing line in our current political dynamics, and much more. It is well worth taking the time to watch.

Simon provides a written synopsis of his talk in this piece which ran last fall in The Guardian, There are now two Americas. My country is a horror show.

For as Simon recently told Bill Moyers

We’ve changed and we’ve become contemptuous of the idea that we are all in this together…

The horror show is we are going to be slaves to profit. Some of us are going to be higher on the pyramid and we’ll count ourselves lucky and many many more will be marginalized and destroyed…

I don’t think that you can call the American government anything other than broken at this point. And I think the break has come at the legislative level. I mean, that’s the part of the government that has been purchased.

Watch the complete, must-see interview with Bill Moyers

‘A Disturbance In The Force’: The Rise of Global ‘Neofeudalism’

August 17th, 2013 by Andy in America and Its Revolution...Is it Over?

So it’s not just me, though I don’t know if that makes me feel better or worse.  Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism describes her feeling a real disturbance in the force, one that is brewing with ominous implications, Of note is her defining it in terms that we at USTV Media have been using for over a decade now. In particular the notion that we are experiencing a form of global corporate “neofeudalism,” the evidence for which is becoming undeniable except for the most ideologically rigid and politically recalcitrant.

I realize that for friends and compatriots, our inability to avoid seeing these realities can make us not the most fun and lighthearted conversationalists to be around all the time. But as Smith points out, “it’s not exactly cheery to be watching its progress on a daily basis.”

Perhaps I’m just having a bad month, but I wonder if other readers sense what I’m detecting. I fancy if someone did a Google frequency search on the right terms, they might pick up tangible indicators of what I’m sensing (as in I’m also a believer that what people attribute to gut feeling is actually pattern recognition).

The feeling I have is that of heightened generalized tension, the social/political equivalent of the sort of disturbance that animals detect in advance of earthquakes or volcanic eruptions, of pressure building up along major fault lines. The other way to articulate this vibe is that it is as if events are being influenced by a large unseen gravitational or magnetic force, as if a black hole had moved into the ‘hood. We can’t see the hidden superdense object, but we can infer that it’s distorting the space around it.

Now if you just want to go with the “maybe this is just your neurosis” view, we are in the midst of a counterrevolution, and it’s not exactly cheery to be watching its progress on a daily basis.

It isn’t just that the economic rights for ordinary workers and the social safety nets of the New Deal and the earlier labor movements here and abroad are being demolished. Major elements of a broad social and political architecture that served as the foundation for the Industrial Revolution are being torn apart: the Statute of Fraud (essential to give people of every level of society decent protection of property rights) and access to legal remedies; basic protection of personal rights (habeas corpus, due process, protection against unlawful search and seizure); local policing (as in policing being accountable to local governments). Decent quality public education and the freedom of the press are also under assault. People here have used various terms for this new political order that is being put in place; neofeudalism works as well as any, but it looks intended to dial the clock back on many economic and civil rights of ordinary people, not back to the Gilded Age, but to before the French and American Revolutions.

It’s a counterrevolutionary movement on a sweeping scale.

Read Smith’s full post Here

The American Lockdown State and ‘Paying the Bin Laden Tax’

March 6th, 2013 by Andy in America and Its Revolution...Is it Over?

Tom Engelhardt at delivers another straight on look at the de-evolution of the American republic into a militarized police state. As he astutely points out in this piece; “Maybe it’s time to face the facts: this isn’t your grandfather’s America.”

It seems we’ve been trying to face up to that for over a decade here at USTV Media. Whether it’s done any good or not, well, the fact that we are at this point today would tend to leave one shaking one’s head in the negative. Regardless, the truth-telling goes on as best as possible, as evidenced by this must-read dissertation from Mr. Engelhardt.

Since the al-Qaeda leader was aware of the relative powerlessness of his organization and its hundreds or, in its heyday, perhaps thousands of active followers, his urge was to defeat the U.S. by provoking its leaders into treasury-draining wars in the Greater Middle East.  In his world, it was thought that such a set of involvements — and the “homeland” security down payments that went with them — could  bleed the richest, most powerful nation on the planet dry. In this, he and his associates, imitators, and wannabes were reasonably canny…

In the meantime, he — and 9/11 as it entered the American psyche — helped facilitate the locking down of this society in ways that should unnerve us all.  The resulting United States of Fear has since engaged in two disastrous more-than-trillion dollar wars and a “Global War on Terror” that shows no sign of ending in our lifetime. (See Yemen, Pakistan, and Mali.)  It has also funded the supersized growth of a labyrinthine intelligence bureaucracy; that post-9/11 creation, the Department of Homeland Security; and, of course, the Pentagon and the U.S. military, including the special operations forces, an ever-expanding secret military elite cocooned within it.


And yet, in these years, what might have remained essentially a nightmarish fantasy has become an impending reality around which the national security folks organize their lives — and ours.  Ever since the now largely forgotten anthrax mail attacks that killed five soon after 9/11 — the anthrax in those envelopes may have come directly from a U.S. bioweapons laboratory — all sorts of fantastic scenarios involving biochemical attacks have become part and parcel of the American lockdown state.


In the process, they oversaw the building of a National Security Complex with powers that boggle the imagination and freed themselves from the last shreds of accountability for their actions.  They established or strengthened the power of the executive to: torture at will (and create the “legal” justification for it); imprison at will , indefinitely and without trial; assassinate at will (including American citizens); kidnap at will anywhere in the world and “render” the captive into the hands of allied torturers ; turn any mundane government document (at least 92 million of them in 2011 alone) into a classified object and so help spread a penumbra of secrecy over the workings of the American government; surveil Americans in ways never before attempted (and only “legalized” by Congress after the fact, the way you might backdate a check); make war perpetually on their own say-so; and transform whistleblowing — that is, revealing anything about the inner workings of the lockdown state to other Americans — into the only prosecutable crime that anyone in the Complex can commit.


What it means to be in such a post-legal world — to know that, no matter what acts a government official commits, he or she will never be brought to court or have a chance of being put in jail — has yet to fully sink in.  This is true even of critics of the Obama administration, who, as in the case of its drone wars, continue to focus on questions of legality, as if that issue weren’t settled.  In this sense, they continue to live in an increasingly fantasy-based version of America in which the rule of law still applies to everyone.


Here’s the kicker.  According to the Post , the “legal principles” a White House with no intention of seriously limiting, no less shutting down, America’s drone wars has painstakingly established as “law” are not, for the foreseeable future, going to be applied to Pakistan’s tribal borderlands where the most intense drone strikes still take place.  The CIA’s secret drone war there is instead going to be given a free pass for a year or more to blast away as it pleases — the White House equivalent of Monopoly’s get-out-of-jail-free card.


The drone strikes, after all, are perfectly “legal.”  How do we know?  Because the administration which produced that 50-page document (and similar memos) assures us that it’s so, even if they don’t care to fully reveal their reasoning, and because, truth be told, on such matters they can do whatever they want to do.  It’s legal because they’ve increasingly become the ones who define legality.

It would, of course, be illegal for Canadians, Pakistanis, or Iranians to fly missile-armed drones over Minneapolis or New York, no less take out their versions of bad guys in the process.  That would, among other things, be a breach of American sovereignty.  The U.S. can, however, do more or less what it wants when and where it wants.  The reason: it has established, to the satisfaction of our national security managers — and they have the secret legal documents (written by themselves) to prove it — that U.S. drones can cross national boundaries just about anywhere if the bad guys are, in their opinion, bad enough.  And that’s “the law”!

As with our distant wars, most Americans are remarkably unaffected in any direct way by the lockdown of this country.  And yet in a post-legal drone world of perpetual “wartime,” in which fantasies of disaster outrace far more realistic dangers and fears, sooner or later the bin Laden tax will take its toll, the chickens will come home to roost, and they will be able to do anything in our name (without even worrying about producing secret legal memos to justify their acts).  By then, we’ll be completely locked down and the key thrown away.

Read the Full Essay

Is the American Constitution Still Relevant?

March 2nd, 2013 by Andy in America and Its Revolution...Is it Over?

Robert Parry delivers this insightful take on the state of the American Constitution in today’s society. He does a good job in expressing the differences between how the Left and Right perceive the constitution today, and use it within the context of American political debate.

Especially revealing is how it unveils the falsity behind the whole fealty to a “strict constructionism” among so-called “constitutionalists” in American politics today. Of particular note is the point made, one I have often referenced myself, about how many self-professed proponents of “states rights” are eager to reference the constitution in defense of their political ideology, yet neglecting to recognize that the adoption of the constitution was in effort to curb (and in some respects dramatically so) the independent sovereignty of the states.

There are two major schools of thought about the U.S. Constitution. One from the Left argues that it’s an outdated structure that should not be allowed to inhibit actions necessary to meet the needs of a modern society. And one from the Right, that only a “strict constructionist” reading of the Constitution and respect for the Framers’ “original intent” should be allowed.

But the problem with these two views is that neither is logically consistent or honest.


While the Left tends to view the Constitution as an irretrievably flawed document (albeit with individual liberties that the Left loves), the Right has made political hay by presenting itself as the Constitution’s true defenders. The Right argues for what it calls “strict construction” and “original intent.”

Yet, even right-wing Supreme Court justices who wax eloquently about “originalism” will twist the Framers’ words and intentions when ideologically convenient, such as when Antonin Scalia inserted restrictions in the Commerce Clause — during his opposition to the Affordable Care Act — although James Madison and the Framers left the congressional power to regulate interstate and national commerce unlimited.


Similarly, when Scalia and four other Republican justices wanted George W. Bush in the White House, they suddenly discerned in the Fourteenth Amendment’s demand for “equal protection under the law” an “original intent” to ensure Bush’s Florida victory in Election 2000 — though the amendment was adopted after the Civil War to protect the rights of former black slaves, not white plutocrats.

Thus, the U.S. Constitution has become something like a secular Bible, with people using different parts to justify whatever their desired positions already are. Instead of letting the words of the Constitution guide their governance, they let their governing interests dictate how they interpret the Constitution.

But the Right — much more than the Left — has built a cottage industry around this practice, sending well-funded “scholars” back in time to cherry-pick (or fabricate) quotes from the Framers to support whatever the Right wants done.


The Right also understands that national mythology is a powerful force, very effective in manipulating Americans into believing they are standing with the Founders even if the history has to be falsified to achieve that emotional response. Many Tea Partiers, it seems, will eagerly eat up a stew of bad history served by the likes of Glenn Beck.


[B]y recreating the Founding Narrative so it jumps from the Declaration of Independence in 1776 directly to the U.S. Constitution in 1787, the modern Right has learned that it can convince ill-informed Americans that the Constitution was devised as a states’ rights document with a weak central government, when nearly the opposite was the case.

Read the complete article Here.

On a related note, is this must-read historical overview from Robert Parry on how America’s False History Allows the Powerful to Commit Crimes Without Consequence.

Bradley Manning: A Tale of Liberty Lost In America

December 13th, 2012 by Andy in America and Its Revolution...Is it Over?

The ever-astute Glenn Greenwald delivers this excellent op-ed regarding the prosecution of Bradley Manning, and the hypocrisy of the Obama administration for pursuing it.

Whatever one thinks of Manning’s alleged acts, he appears the classic whistleblower. This information could have been sold for substantial sums to a foreign government or a terror group. Instead he apparently knowingly risked his liberty to show them to the world because, he said when he believed he was speaking in private, he wanted to trigger “worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms.”

Compare this aggressive prosecution of Manning to the Obama administration’s vigorous efforts to shield Bush-era war crimes and massive Wall Street fraud from all forms of legal accountability. Not a single perpetrator of those genuine crimes has faced court under Obama, a comparison that reflects the priorities and values of US

Manning isn’t being punished for what he did, but for who it affects most. This isn’t about protecting “national security.” It’s about protecting the “insecurity” of the elites of power, who simply cannot stand being exposed or made to look the fools that they often are. This is why those who commit crimes for power (such as torturers, banksters, etc…) are left totally off the hook, whereas those whose actions challenge power, are mercilessly pursued by those same organs of power.

The repressive treatment of Bradley Manning is one of the disgraces of Obama’s first term, and highlights many of the dynamics shaping his presidency. The president not only defended Manning’s treatment but also, as commander-in-chief of the court martial judges, improperly decreed Manning’s guilt when he asserted in an interview that he “broke the law”.


Bradley Manning has bestowed the world with multiple vital benefits. But as his court martial finally reaches its conclusion, one likely to result in the imposition of a long prison term, it appears his greatest gift is this window into America’s political soul.

Read The Complete Article

Feast of Fools: How American Democracy Became the Property of a Commercial Oligarchy

September 27th, 2012 by Andy in America and Its Revolution...Is it Over?

This has to rank as one of the greatest pieces of political writing ever penned. I don’t say that lightly.

George Orwell once stated that one of the main goals he was striving for in his work, was to elevate political writing into an art form unto itself. Lewis Lapham has achieved this, being one of the master practitioners of the form for some time. His latest piece, published in Lapham’s Quaterly, with an online version presented on, qualifies as one of his greatest works from his half-century long career.

Adding to the value of this piece is Lapham’s repeated references to Thomas Paine. This is no real surprise, as Lapham has long been an admirer of Paine’s. It was his brilliant piece, “Uncommon Sense,” unleashed in a propitiously timely manner, during the run up to the Bush/Cheney administration’s invasion of Iraq in March o f 2003, for which I credit the renewal of my own interest in Paine a decade ago (and which helped inspire the creation of the UnCommon Sense TV Media project).

Good intentions, like mother’s milk, are a perishable commodity. As wealth accumulates, men decay, and sooner or later an aristocracy that once might have aspired to an ideal of wisdom and virtue goes rancid in the sun, becomes an oligarchy distinguished by a character that Aristotle likened to that of “the prosperous fool” — its members so besotted by their faith in money that “they therefore imagine there is nothing that it cannot buy.”


Troubled op-ed columnists sometimes refer to the embarrassing paradox implicit in the waging of secret and undeclared war under the banners of a free, open, and democratic society. They don’t proceed to the further observation that the nation’s foreign policy is cut from the same criminal cloth as its domestic economic policy. The invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the predatory business dealing that engendered the Wall Street collapse in 2008 both enjoyed the full faith and backing of a government that sets itself above the law.

The upper servants of the oligarchy, among them most of the members of Congress and the majority of the news media’s talking heads, receive their economic freedoms by way of compensation for the loss of their political liberties. The right to freely purchase in exchange for the right to freely speak. If they wish to hold a public office or command attention as upholders of the truth, they can’t afford to fool around with any new, possibly subversive ideas.

Paine had in mind a representative assembly that asked as many questions as possible from as many different sorts of people as possible. The ensuing debate was expected to be loud, forthright, and informative. James Fenimore Cooper seconded the motion in 1838, arguing that the strength of the American democracy rests on the capacity of its citizens to speak and think without cant. “By candor we are not to understand trifling and uncalled-for expositions of truth… but a sentiment that proves the conviction of the necessity of speaking truth, when speaking at all; a contempt for all designing evasions of our real opinions. In all the general concerns, the public has a right to be treated with candor. Without this manly and truly republican quality… the institutions are converted into a stupendous fraud.”


The cable-news networks meanwhile package dissent as tabloid entertainment, a commodity so clearly labeled as pasteurized ideology that it is rendered harmless and threatens nobody with the awful prospect of having to learn something they didn’t already know. Comedians on the order of Jon Stewart and Bill Maher respond with jokes offered as consolation prizes for the acceptance of things as they are and the loss of hope in things as they might become. As soporifics, not, God forbid, as incitements to revolution or the setting up of guillotines in Yankee Stadium and the Staples Center.


When intended to draw blood instead of laughs, speaking truth to power doesn’t lead to a secure retirement on the beach at Martha’s Vineyard. Paine was the most famous political thinker of his day, his books in the late eighteenth century selling more copies than the Bible, but after the Americans had won their War of Independence, his notions of democracy were deemed unsuitable to the work of dividing up the spoils. The proprietors of their newfound estate claimed the privilege of apportioning its freedoms, and they remembered that Paine opposed the holding of slaves and the denial to women of the same sort of rights awarded to men. A man too much given to plain speaking, on too familiar terms with the lower orders of society, and therefore not to be trusted.


Paine’s misfortunes speak to the difference between politics as a passing around of handsome platitudes and politics as a sowing of the bitter seeds of social change. The speaking of truth to power when the doing so threatens to lend to words the force of deeds is as rare as it is brave. The signers of the Declaration of Independence accepted the prospect of being hanged in the event that America lost the war.


Happily, at least for the moment, the society is rich enough to afford the staging of the fiction of democracy as a means of quieting the suspicions of a potentially riotous mob with the telling of a fairy tale. The rising cost of the production — the pointless nominating conventions decorated with 15,000 journalists as backdrop for the 150,000 balloons — reflects the ever-increasing rarity of the demonstrable fact. The country is being asked to vote in November for television commercials because only in the fanciful time zone of a television commercial can the American democracy still be said to exist.

Read the complete text of this magnificent work Here

Our 9/11 Torturers and Remembering To Forget The Truth

September 11th, 2012 by Andy in America and Its Revolution...Is it Over? provides some strong and much needed counterprogramming to the usual 9/11 anniversary articles. This, by State Department whistleblower Peter Van Buren, brings to mind that old line about the U.S. being attacked because they “hate our freedom.” As Tom Engelhardt comments…

As for our freedoms, a lack of the slightest urge to prosecute anyone who committed a crime on Washington time means that our governmental officials now have extraordinary new freedoms — more license than 007 ever did — to kidnap, torture, abuse, murder, surveil, and assassinate (including American citizens). That’s a record to ponder as another September 11th rolls around and, living in the greatest nation on earth, you ask yourself: Who really won, them or us?”

We talk about never forgetting 9/11, yet there are whole realms of realities to both that event and the numerous actions and effects which have transpired as a result of it, that we aren’t even aware of in the first place in order to forget. Often times the knowledge of these realities is not only left in the dark, but actively suppressed, such as the with the ongoing prosecution of John Kiriakou, whose story is detailed in some length in Van Buren’s The Persecution of John Kiriakou: Torture and the Myth of Never Again.

Here is what military briefers like to call BLUF, the Bottom Line Up Front: no one except John Kiriakou is being held accountable for America’s torture policy. And John Kiriakou didn’t torture anyone, he just blew the whistle on it.


It is now common knowledge that between 2001 and about 2007 the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) sanctioned acts of torture committed by members of the Central Intelligence Agency and others. The acts took place in secret prisons (“black sites”) against persons detained indefinitely without trial. They were described in detail and explicitly authorized in a series of secret torture memos drafted by John Yoo, Jay Bybee, and Steven Bradbury, senior lawyers in the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel. (Office of Legal Counsel attorneys technically answer directly to the DOJ, which is supposed to be independent from the White House, but obviously was not in this case.) Not one of those men, or their Justice Department bosses, has been held accountable for their actions.

Some tortured prisoners were even killed by the CIA. Attorney General Eric Holder announced recently that no one would be held accountable for those murders either….

Jose Rodriguez, a senior CIA official, admitted destroying videotapes of potentially admissible evidence, showing the torture of captives by operatives of the U.S. government at a secret prison thought to be located at a Vietnam-War-era airbase in Thailand. He was not held accountable for deep-sixing this evidence, nor for his role in the torture of human beings.

The one man in the whole archipelago of America’s secret horrors facing prosecution is former CIA agent John Kiriakou. Of the untold numbers of men and women involved in the whole nightmare show of those years, only one may go to jail…

If Kiriakou had actually tortured someone himself, even to death, there is no possibility that he would be in trouble.


For at least six years it was the policy of the United States of America to torture and abuse its enemies or, in some cases, simply suspected enemies. It has remained a U.S. policy, even under the Obama administration, to employ “extraordinary rendition” — that is, the sending of captured terror suspects to the jails of countries that are known for torture and abuse, an outsourcing of what we no longer want to do.

Techniques that the U.S. hanged men for at Nuremburg and in post-war Japan were employed and declared lawful.


The same Department of Justice that is hunting down the one man who spoke against torture from the inside still maintains a special unit, 60 years after the end of WWII, dedicated to hunting down the last few at-large Nazis. They do that under the rubric of “never again.” The truth is that same team needs to be turned loose on our national security state. Otherwise, until we have a full accounting of what was done in our names by our government, the pieces are all in place for it to happen again. There, if you want to know, is the real horror.

When the government says that we should “never forget,” what they really mean is “never know.” And this lack of knowledge isn’t just about the ongoing violations of domestic and/or international law, or both (which it is). The U.S. has, in the name of and under the pretense of 9/11 as the excuse, embarked upon a set of premeditated policies which are in violation of the most long-standing and fundamental of globally recognized legal codes, those which are considered the domaine of ‪hostis humani generis‬. Latin for “enemy of mankind,” such codes of prohibited conduct have existed long before the adoption of any modern international public law. This is about the inherently human recognition of behavior that fundamentally violates the very essence of our humanity.

Read the full text of Van Buren’s article Here

And if we lived in a society where the majority of its inhabitants were willing and able to have the truth expressed out loud to them; who would allow themselves to openly acknowledge the realities they know within their heart to be true, or at least realities which feature potions of a truth, which have been effectively and disingenuously suppressed from public debate, even public utterance, for the last decade; if we had a nation of people who possessed what George Orwell called ‘the power of facing,’ the ability and willingness to face facts, regardless of how unpleasant they might be, then words like these from Tom Engelhardt would be read aloud at the next ceremony commemorating the attacks of 9/11, and would be expressed publicly in the media and by the politician who wanted to actually serve his constituents, rather than manipulate and control them through fear and irrational nationalism.

Let’s Cancel 9/11: Bury the War State’s Blank Check at Sea

Let’s just can it all.  Shut down Ground Zero.  Lock out the tourists.  Close “Reflecting Absence,” the memorial built in the “footprints” of the former towers with its grove of trees, giant pools, and multiple waterfalls before it can be unveiled this Sunday.  Discontinue work on the underground National September 11 Museum due to open in 2012.  Tear down the Freedom Tower (redubbed 1 World Trade Center after our “freedom” wars went awry), 102 stories of “the most expensive skyscraper ever constructed in the United States.” (Estimated price tag: $3.3 billion.)  Eliminate that still-being-constructed, hubris-filled 1,776 feet of building, planned in the heyday of George W. Bush and soaring into the Manhattan sky like a nyaah-nyaah invitation to future terrorists.  Dismantle the other three office towers being built there as part of an $11 billion government-sponsored construction program.  Let’s get rid of it all.   If we had wanted a memorial to 9/11, it would have been more appropriate to leave one of the giant shards of broken tower there untouched.

Ask yourself this: ten years into the post-9/11 era, haven’t we had enough of ourselves?  If we have any respect for history or humanity or decency left, isn’t it time to rip the Band-Aid off the wound, to remove 9/11 from our collective consciousness?  No more invocations of those attacks to explain otherwise inexplicable wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and our oh-so-global war on terror.  No more invocations of 9/11 to keep the Pentagon and the national security state flooded with money.  No more invocations of 9/11 to justify every encroachment on liberty, every new step in the surveillance of Americans, every advance in pat-downs and wand-downs and strip downs that keeps fear high and the homeland security state afloat.


It’s a terrible thing to ask those still missing the dead of 9/11 to forgo the public spectacle that accompanies their memory, but worse is what we have: repeated solemn ceremonies to the ongoing health of the American war state and the wildest dreams of Osama bin Laden.

Memory is usually so important, but in this case we would have been better off with oblivion.  It’s time to truly inter not the dead, but the worst urges in American life since 9/11 and the ceremonies which, for a decade, have gone with them.  Better to bury all of that at sea with bin Laden and then mourn the dead, each in our own way, in silence and, above all, in peace.

Read The Complete Post

Obama’s War on the Constitution

September 6th, 2012 by Andy in America and Its Revolution...Is it Over?

There is hardly a single word in this that I would disagree with. This discussion between law professor Jonathan Turley and John Cusack lays out why the Obama administration, while supplicating certain desires and personal causes of the liberal class and people who identify themselves as “progressives,” are fundamentally undermining the very basis for the survival of a constitutional republic. Obama is, in these most fundamental of ways, a continuation of the Cheney/Bush regime. And now, the Republicans offer as an alternative to this happy face fascism an even speedier descent into a banana republic of tyrannical power, feeding off of the grotesque inequalities of wealth and privilege upon which all such tyranny subsists.

Supporting the Obama administration at this stage is playing a deal with the devil. I understand the logic among those who believe that rule by Romney/Ryan would be “worse,” and in some notable ways it would be. Clearly. But if the system is being undermined, then we are simply negotiating for a better, more comfortable seat on the Titanic, and not actually doing anything to change the systemic course to either tyranny or disaster (or both). However, there remains little doubt to those paying any attention that deciding to support what is called the Republican Party today, as a way of countering this descent and decay, is simply ignorantly foolish, or venal, or both.

CUSACK: …there are certain Rubicon lines, as constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley calls them, that Obama has crossed….

Three markers — the Nobel Prize acceptance speech, the escalation speech at West Point, and the recent speech by Eric Holder — crossed that Rubicon line for me…

Do we prosecute felonies like torture or spying on Americans? No, time to “move on”…


CUSACK: Churchill said, “The power of the Executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him the judgment of his peers, is in the highest degree odious and is the foundation of all totalitarian government whether Nazi or Communist.” That wasn’t Eugene Debs speaking — that was Winston Churchill.

And if he takes an oath before God to uphold the Constitution, and yet he decides it’s not politically expedient for him to deal with due process or spying on citizens and has his Attorney General justify murdering US citizens — and then adds a signing statement saying, “Well, I’m not going to do anything with this stuff because I’m a good guy.”– one would think we would have to define this as a much graver threat than good or bad policy choices- correct?

TURLEY: Well, first of all, there’s a great desire of many people to relieve themselves of the obligation to vote on principle. It’s a classic rationalization that liberals have been known to use recently, but not just liberals. The Republican and Democratic parties have accomplished an amazing feat with the red state/blue state paradigm. They’ve convinced everyone that regardless of how bad they are, the other guy is worse. So even with 11 percent of the public supporting Congress most incumbents will be returned to Congress. They have so structured and defined the question that people no longer look at the actual principles and instead vote on this false dichotomy.

Now, belief in human rights law and civil liberties leads one to the uncomfortable conclusion that President Obama has violated his oath to uphold the Constitution. But that’s not the primary question for voters. It is less about him than it is them. They have an obligation to cast their vote in a principled fashion. It is, in my opinion, no excuse to vote for someone who has violated core constitutional rights and civil liberties simply because you believe the other side is no better. You cannot pretend that your vote does not constitute at least a tacit approval of the policies of the candidate.


CUSACK: Have you ever heard a more specious argument than “It’s time for us all to move on?” When did the Attorney General or the President have the option to enforce the law?

TURLEY: Well, that’s the key question that nobody wants to ask. We have a treaty, actually a number of treaties, that obligate us to investigate and prosecute torture. We pushed through those treaties because we wanted to make clear that no matter what the expediency of the moment, no matter whether it was convenient or inconvenient, all nations had to agree to investigate and prosecute torture and other war crimes.

And the whole reason for putting this in the treaties was to do precisely the opposite of what the Obama administration has done. That is, in these treaties they say that it is not a defense that prosecution would be inconvenient or unpopular. But that’s exactly what President Obama said when he announced, “I won’t allow the prosecution of torture because I want us to look to the future and not the past.” That is simply a rhetorical flourish to hide the obvious point: “I don’t want the inconvenience and the unpopularity that would come with enforcing this treaty.”


TURLEY: President Obama has not only maintained the position of George W. Bush in the area of national securities and in civil liberties, he’s actually expanded on those positions. He is actually worse than George Bush in some areas….

President Obama has actually a formal policy allowing him to kill any US citizen.


TURLEY: That was the truly other-worldly moment of the speech. He went to, Northwestern Law School (my alma mater), and stood there and articulated the most authoritarian policy that a government can have: the right to unilaterally kill its citizens without any court order or review. The response from the audience was applause. Citizens applauding an Attorney General who just described how the President was claiming the right to kill any of them on his sole inherent authority…

Obama has asserted the right to kill any citizen that he believes is a terrorist. He is not bound by this panel that only exists as an extension of his claimed inherent absolute authority. He can ignore them. He can circumvent them. In the end, with or without a panel, a president is unilaterally killing a US citizen. This is exactly what the framers of the Constitution told us not to do.

CUSACK: The framers didn’t say, “In special cases, do what you like. When there are things the public cannot know for their own good, when it’s extra-specially a dangerous world… do whatever you want.” The framers of the Constitution always knew there would be extraordinary circumstances, and they were accounted for in the Constitution. The Constitution does not allow for the executive to redefine the Constitution when it will be politically easier for him to get things done.

TURLEY: No. And it’s preposterous to argue that.

CUSACK: When does it become — criminal?

TURLEY: Well, the framers knew what it was like to have sovereigns kill citizens without due process. They did it all the time back in the 18th century. They wrote a constitution specifically to bar unilateral authority.


TURLEY:So what Obama’s doing is to rewrite the most fundamental principle of the US Constitution. The whole point of the Holder speech was that we’re really good guys who take this seriously, and you can trust us. That’s exactly the argument the framers rejected, the “trust me” principle of government. You’ll notice when Romney was asked about this, he said, “I would’ve signed the same law, because I trust Obama to do the right thing.” They’re both using the very argument that the framers warned citizens never to accept from their government…

Liberals and civil libertarians have lost their own credibility, their own moral standing, with the support of President Obama… [my emphasis - AV, USTV Media]

Under international law, shielding people from war-crime prosecutions is itself a form of war crime. They’re both violations of international law….

President Obama has created an imperial presidency that would have made Richard Nixon blush. It is unbelievable.


TURLEY:When I talk to people who support the administration, they usually agree with me that torture is a war crime and that the administration has blocked the investigation of alleged war crimes.

Then I ask them, “Then, morally, are you comfortable with saying, ‘I know the administration is concealing war crimes, but they’re really good on healthcare?’” That is what it comes down to.

The question for people to struggle with is how we ever hope to regain our moral standing and our high ground unless citizens are prepared to say, “Enough.” And this is really the election where that might actually carry some weight — if people said, “Enough. We’re not going to blindly support the president and be played anymore according to this blue state/red state paradigm. We’re going to reconstruct instead of replicate.


CUSACK: I don’t know how to bring myself to vote for a constitutional law professor, or even a constitutional realist, who throws away due process and claims the authority that the executive branch can assassinate American citizens. I just don’t know if I can bring myself to do it.

If you want to make a protest vote against Romney, go ahead, but I would think we’d be better putting our energies into local and state politics — occupy Wall Street and organizations and movements outside the system, not national politics, not personalities. Not stadium rock politics. Not brands. That’s the only thing I can think of. What would you say?

TURLEY: Well, the question, I think, that people have got to ask themselves when they get into that booth is not what Obama has become, but what have we become? That is, what’s left of our values if we vote for a person that we believe has shielded war crimes or violated due process or implemented authoritarian powers. It’s not enough to say, “Yeah, he did all those things, but I really like what he did with the National Park System”…

We have to recognize that our political system is fundamentally broken, it’s unresponsive. Only 11 percent of the public supports Congress, and yet nothing is changing — and so the question becomes, how do you jumpstart that system? How do you create an alternative? What we have learned from past elections is that you don’t create an alternative by yielding to this false dichotomy that only reinforces their monopoly on power.

To paraphrase what the great Russian author and dissident once proclaimed, when asked what he thought he was going to accomplish by publishing his work The Gulag Archipeligo, which was an open challenge to the Soviet authorities, for which he was surely going to get in serious trouble for; “I may not be able to change anything, but it’s not going to continue to happen with my complicity.”

His work eventually served to help change everything.

And as one reader of the book once pointed out: “Totalitarianism doesn’t begin with a Stalin or a Hitler. It begins with *you*, on the day that you let a government become more powerful than the people it governs.”

Read The Full Interview with Cusack and Turley.

Thomas Paine on Revolution

August 29th, 2012 by Andy in America and Its Revolution...Is it Over?, Video

British actor and writer Ian Ruskin delivers a useful and historically accurate representation of Thomas Paine and his sentiments on the nature of Revolution.

Ruskin is the author and actor of the one-man play To Begin the World Over Again: The Life of Thomas Paine, which spotlights Paine in his own words.

Ruskin did this short video piece on Paine in response to Bob Basso and his rantingly cartoonish representation (and demonstrably inaccurate) portrayal of Thomas Paine in videos which went viral a few years ago, thanks to the pseudo-historical promotion of the likes of Glenn Beck, Fox News, and others. Ruskin does an excellent job in more accurately capturing Paine’s temperment and perspectives on the issues of the day, the meaning and purpose of his work, and the principles which they were founded upon.

Special thanks to Paine scholar Harvey J. Kaye for his assistance to Mr. Ruskin in developing these short program. Discover what Paine, and most of the Founding Fathers, really believed in and stood for.

Also watch Ruskin’s portrayal of Paine discussing the principles of THE ENLIGHTENMENT, and how they were instrumental to the founding of America. He also touches on immigration issues, what it means to be “illegal,” etc…

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