Posted by: quiscus | November 3, 2012

November 3, 2012

1. “Who is the worst civil liberties president in US history?

The one common strain running through these historic civil liberties assaults is war. War almost always erodes political liberties. That has always been true. Cicero famously observed “inter arma, enim silent leges” (in times of war, the law falls mute).

That fact – that wars maximize a political leader’s power – is a key reason they often crave war and why wars, under the Constitution, were supposed to be extremely difficult for presidents to start. As John Jay wrote in Federalist 4, “absolute monarchs will often make war when their nations are to get nothing by it, but for the purposes and objects merely personal” (that’s also why the absurd contortions invoked by President Obama to fight a war in Libya not only in the absence of Congressional approval, but in the face of formal Congressional disapproval, belongs high on the list of his worst and likely most enduring civil liberties assaults).

But in terms of the role played by war in enabling civil liberties assaults, at least the exploited wars are usually real. In the case of the “War on Terror”, it is far more illusory and frivolous than real. That – along with their permanence – is a major factor in determining where the civil liberties erosions of the last decade, and the presidents responsible for them, rank in history.”

2. “Electronic Voting Theft: Why we fight to prevent stolen elections in 2012 and beyond

The “solution” to electronic election theft can never lie in building up a margin of victory sufficient to overcome stolen numbers. Massive turnouts of voters are always a great thing. But electronic votes are the ultimate fungible blind article. The process desecrates everything democracy is supposed to stand for, and is never acceptable under any circumstances.

The fact that Republicans might steal elections from Democrats and vice versa means further that the two of them together can always shut out a third or fourth party trying to mount a serious challenge to corporate power. This has in fact been done throughout American history to protect the power of the corporate structure. We now have an African-American in the White House. But the last president who was not a Democrat or Republican was the Whig Millard Fillmore, whose term ended in 1853. As long as the vote count can be manipulated by those in power, electronically or otherwise, there is no hope for meaningful change through the ballot box.

As this year’s massive electoral drama unfolds, more and more disturbing stories surface about the ease with which it could be stolen. They are to be taken with profound gravity, no matter who one favors for the presidency or other office.

The gargantuan sums of cash flowing into the process due to Citizens United and other loopholes in the system mean, simply enough, that our government is wholly owned and operated by large corporations. Systematic disenfranchisement and electronic vote theft are the cornerstones of that power.

Until we have money out of politics, abolition of the Electoral College, universal automatic voter registration and universal hand-counted paper ballots, there is no hope for real democracy in this country. ”

3. First mention I’ve ever seen of a U.S./Russia/Iran Alliance, with Israel and France the big losers. Finally!

“The Sore Losers of the Syrian Crisis”

4. ” Euphemisms Away!

A World in Which Truth is a Dying Species

Hidden away somewhere within the labyrinth of the Pentagon there must be a top secret euphemism department engaged in the invention of the Orwellian surrogate words that have crept surreptitiously into the American English vocabulary and from there translated into many other languages. In my mind I see a unit of studiously serious executives, coffee mugs in their hands and their neckties awry, devising senseless terms for terrible things and used unthinkingly by people today from New York to California, from Maine to Texas. The goal of my imaginary secret unit is to render ugly terms meaningless or to transform them into their opposite. To quote the perceptive Scottish writer, Candia McWilliam, “plain words are always under threat.” There are words that don’t say what they mean and there are words that say what they don’t mean.

Intensified or enhanced interrogation sounds oh so much more genteel than the hideous word TORTURE. Collateral damage goes down quite well instead of the savage bombing and strafing of a funeral procession or a wedding party. Military leaders themselves have come to love the suggestive word “footprints” to indicate the evidence of America’s powerful presence throughout the world: “We were here and we leave this little sign with you.” A little footprint, maybe a fleet of super bombers or Predator drones.

The point to keep in mind is that the names of things, issues, objects of life change, but the substance of the object itself remains—torture will always be torture, no matter what the gnomes propose and the media parrot.

The USA is again facing the same old conundrum. The US military believes that America must maintain its advantage as Russia and China start to expand their own military. Both are starting from a base a tenth the size of the US military without all the overhead of the cold war infrastructure. But America can’t afford the military machine it maintains today. Meanwhile Neocon gnomes have convinced Americans that they have a divine right to protect their selfishly affluent lifestyle and the global corporate interests on which it depends—but that Russia, spiritual, messianic Russia, stands in the way to freedom and “our way of life”, the never-ending American dream, which must be preserved at any cost. “Freedom”, “democracy” and “our way of life” (selfish and unsustainable)—all lies in the service of American Empire.”


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