If liberals are good for anything, it is being outraged about all the wrong things. If one were to measure the amount of media debate in the past week, the conclusion might be that a law student being called a slut was the worst thing happening in the nation and the world. Liberals can’t be bothered to protest against war, even if they did so during the Bush administration, or indefinite detention, or targeted killings, or drone strikes, or the destruction of Libya or Somalia.
Rush Limbaugh, a man who would have to have been invented if he didn’t exist, called law student Sandra Fluke, a “slut” and a “whore” after she testified in favor of religious institutions being required to include contraception in their health care plans.
The liberals then lost their collective minds. There was no limit to their ire. One would have thought that Rush Limbaugh was killing Afghan children with drones, or torturing black Libyans, or planning to attack Iran. Of course, Limbaugh has absolutely no power to do any of those things. He is a celebrity, a media personality who advocates the right wing point of view. He is a sexist and a racist, but he has no power to take anyone’s life. That is Barack Obama‘s job.
Obama, like all American presidents, is among the slickest politicians of all time, but he is certainly no fool. He knew that Limbaugh handed him a political gift and he ran with it. Obama personally telephoned the aggrieved young woman while his liberal sycophants demanded that advertisers drop Limbaugh’s program. Republicans joined in the beat down and admonished the erstwhile standard bearer for his offensive language. Limbaugh was political toast, and Obama was king.
What could happen if these same people used as much energy opposing policies that literally kill thousands of people around the world? Quite a lot would change, but they don’t take actions against people in power because they don’t really care about what they do.
At the same time that these angry and outraged citizens were claiming victory against a radio personality they ought to be ignoring, the attorney general of the United States publicly claimed that the president of the United States has the right to kill at will whenever he feels like it.
Eric Holder traveled to an august educational institution, Northwestern University, and told a group of law students that they should get any crazy ideas about civil liberties out of their little heads. Holder asserts that the president can in fact decide to kill anyone he wants, as long as he claims that person is a terrorist. He doesn’t have to bother with indictments, charges, court rooms and other such old fashioned notions. Anwar al-Awlaki and his teenage son were both American citizens and were both killed by their president because he and a secret panel said they should die.
In making the case against the constitutional requirement for due process, the chief law enforcement officer in the country says that, “Due process and judicial process are not one in the same.” If that statement seems strange, it is because it is a bold faced lie. Never before, not even in the Bush administration, did lawyers make such bizarre arguments.
Despite being the attorney general, Holder is like middle level managers everywhere, saying that black is white or up is down if his boss says so. If his boss says that a person is a terrorist, then that person is dead and the rules will be changed to make it all very legal.
It is too bad that no one leapt to the defense of the Northwestern University law students who were forced to hear Holder’s offensive statements. There was no Sandra Fluke treatment for them. No one will call them and sympathize because they were exposed to vile language. In this case the offensive language came straight from the top, so if anyone was offended, well it is just too bad.
Perhaps liberals are sluts and whores. They are people of easy virtue, they don’t really have any principles and they sell themselves pretty cheaply. If Eric Holder isn’t a whore, then who is?
The same can be said for his boss too. No one becomes president without making the rounds on many a casting couch, the rich people’s casting couch. If they give the thumbs up, then the presidency is within reach. No one should be called a whore merely because they are sexually active. Selling oneself in order to be the head killer in chief on the planet is another matter. That is slut work of the very highest order.
Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.
There is a constituency for the right to assemble and protest in this country, but it appears as if that constituency has very little representation in the U.S. Congress. The Senate unanimously passed a law that has significant ramifications for the Occupy movement or anyone else that wants to exercise their First Amendment rights. H.R. 347 is also known as the Trespass Bill. Only three members of the House voted against it, all of them Republicans, including presidential contender Ron Paul. None of the major civil liberties organizations raised a fuss, either, but the silence will surely come back to haunt us.
The bill makes it a federal crime punishable by a year in prison for “trespassing” on places where someone under protection of the Secret Service is also present, and up to ten years if a weapon is involved, or someone is seriously injured. The restrictions cover not just the president, but also presidential candidates and foreign dignitaries and heads of state. The new version of the law makes protesters subject to felony prosecution even if they were unaware that people protected by the Secret Service were in the area. Rather than demonstrators freely congregating to protest the presence of their least favored presidential politicians, or to loudly demand that visiting foreign leaders go back home, would-be protesters would be best-advised by their lawyers to stay as far away as possible or face a long stretch in prison. Surely, that stands the right to peacefully assemble on its head.
Even more ominously, the new law allows the Department of Homeland Security to designate whole areas as part of a so-called National Security Event Zone, off limits to protest. The United National Anti-War Coalition and others that are planning to demonstrate at the meeting of NATO nations, in Chicago, in late May, will almost certainly be confronted with, not only Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s aggressive protest containment policies, but a Homeland Security declaration putting large areas under a federal protective bubble, with even more serious criminal consequences. In the real, often chaotic whirl of mass outdoor protest, with police pushing crowds from place to place, and protesters trying to make themselves heard, large numbers of demonstrators could find themselves in a federal no-go zone. Under the old rules, the harshest penalties could be imposed only on those who “willfully” crossed into a National Security Event Zone. The new Trespass Bill omits the word “willfully,” so that anyone who is caught “trespassing” in the Zone, whether they knew it was restricted or not, is liable for felony prosecution. This brings to mind the mass arrests of Occupy demonstrators on Brooklyn Bridge, last year. Many in the crowd thought they were being escorted across the bridge by police, and were not willfully trespassing. Under the federal bill, lack of willfulness is no excuse.
What is more disturbing than the potential Bill of Rights-eroding aspects of the legislation, is the Congress’s cavalier attitude towards civil liberties. There was no debate. The only No votes came from Tea Party Republicans. Democrats behaved as if nothing important was happening, just as when President Bill Clinton first came up with the idea National Security Event Zones – where the public, by law, has nothing to say.
Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
- One year after FBI subpoena, civil liberties protections in US frighteningly eroded even further (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Goodbye, First Amendment: ‘Trespass Bill’ will make protest illegal (alethonews.wordpress.com)
While all the incessant warmongering directed toward Iran at the annual AIPAC policy conference in Washington was grabbing the headlines, the momentum for Western intervention into Syria continued to steadily build. All those neo-con “real men,” it appears, just might prefer to go to Tehran via Damascus.
Taking to the Senate floor on Monday, Arizona Senator John McCain, one of the first supporters of arming the Free Syrian Army, upped the ante by calling for a U.S.-led air campaign against Syrian military targets. McCain deemed such an escalation necessary to establish “humanitarian corridors.”
“The United States should lead an international effort to protect key population centers in Syria, especially in the north, through airstrikes on Assad’s forces,” the intervention-hungry McCain declared.
And as the Washington Post reported in late February, Obama administration officials have made it clear that “additional measures” might still be considered in order to oust Assad. That favored refrain of all options being on the table appears to be in effect in regards to Syria.
Indeed, for according to CNN, the Pentagon has already composed “detailed plans” for military action inside Syria. As the network reported, the Pentagon has especially focused on securing Syrian chemical weapons sites, with one scenario in particular calling “for tens of thousands of troops to potentially be used for guarding the installations.”
Although, according to a December email recently published by Wikileaks from the U.S. global intelligence firm Stratfor (known as a private C.I.A.), special operations forces from the U.S., U.K., France, Jordan, and Turkey are already on the ground in Syria. And as the email states, these forces are actively “training the Free Syrian Army.” Additional measures indeed!
Not wanting to be left behind in any march on Syria, the U.S. corporate media has largely begun to join the ranks of the recently ascendant intervention hawks.
In an editorial on Friday, the New York Times, although ruling out military force, called for providing greater tactical assistance to the Free Syrian Army. As the paper wrote: “The United States and its allies should consider providing the rebels with communications equipment, intelligence and nonlethal training.” Of course, a mission providing such tactical support would ultimately transform into more explicit military involvement.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post also editorialized on Friday for a more credible threat of force against Assad. As the paper wrote:
The Obama administration’s public arguments against the use of force in Syria are simply encouraging a rogue regime to believe it can act with impunity. Until he is faced with a credible threat of force, from the opposition or outsider powers, Mr. Assad’s slaughter will go on.
The Christian Science Monitor has likewise called for the U.S. to help “forcefully” end Assad’s rule.
Of course, the driving force behind such intense Western interest in Syria is Iran. Let there be no doubt, the ouster of Assad is not driven by some great humanitarian impulse, or “responsibility to protect.” Nor does the bloodletting and slaughter inside the country disturb U.S. elites. After all, the U.S. had no qualms with laying siege to Fallujah. Rather, all the contrived moralizing is being utilized in an attempt to garner support for imposing Syrian “regime change,” which would deal a strategic defeat to Tehran. It’s all nothing more than realpolitik. The Syrian people and their revolution are being cynically recruited as means to imperial ends, and thus would be wise to resist all foreign intervention.
For instance, when the Atlantic’s Jeffery Goldberg stated in a recent interview with President Obama, “But it would seem to me that one way to weaken and further isolate Iran is to remove or help remove Iran’s only Arab ally,” the president responded, “Absolutely.”
Similarly, former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy has argued, “The current standoff in Syria presents a rare chance to rid the world of the Iranian menace to international security and well-being.”
It’s target Iran, albeit on a Syrian battlefield. Therefore, that anti-Iran propaganda machine that is the U.S. media revs up.
Writing in the Washington Post, stenographers Joby Warrick and Liz Sly reported over the weekend that:
U.S. officials say they see Iran’s hand in the increasingly brutal crackdown on opposition strongholds in Syria, including evidence of Iranian military and intelligence support for government troops accused of mass executions and other atrocities in the past week.
The Post’s report was, of course, based solely on three anonymous U.S. officials. And as Warrick and Sly even admit in their piece, “such accounts are generally difficult to verify independently.” Thus they don’t.
On Monday, though, a similar piece of propaganda appeared at CNN. Penned by CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr, it also reports of Iranian infiltration into Syria, although Starr only relies on two anonymous U.S. officials. What hay a seasoned propagandist can make with such limited sources!
Yet amidst this mounting drive for Western intervention into Syria, President Obama spoke on Tuesday in an apparent attempt to tamp down all such notions, going so far as to call military intervention a “mistake.” As the president went on to state, “the notion that the way to solve every one of these problems is to deploy our military, that hasn’t been true in the past and it won’t be true now.”
Such reassurances aside, actions do, as the president himself implored in his AIPAC speech over the weekend, speak louder than words. And so while the president publicly posits that military intervention would be a mistake, his military readies for intervention into Syria, while continuing its larger ongoing build-up in the region.
The march towards Syria with eyes cast towards Iran continues on. For as Albeit Einstein once remarked, “You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war.”
Ben Schreiner is a freelance writer living in Salem, Oregon. He may be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Israel’s No.1 asset in the Senate calls for airstrikes against Syria (alethonews.wordpress.com)
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder this week attempted to explain how the U.S. Constitution allows the American president to be a law unto himself – to be judge, jury and executioner. Those are the powers that President Obama claims are inherent in his office: the right to kill at will, based on evidence only he is fit to examine and assess. This is a system of law without courts, without evidence that either the public or the condemned person has a right to see, or to contest. One man, with the power of life and death over any inhabitant of the planet, including citizens of the United States.
They used to call such people kings. But even the English kings of old – at least since the signing of the Magna Carta 800 years ago – were compelled to recognize the principle that free men could only be punished based on the law of the land. The United States Constitution is rooted in the principle of due process of law, with the courts as final arbiters of whether the law has been served.
With the passage of preventive detention without trail or charge, and President Obama’s claim to have sole power to target any human being for death, the rule of law has been eviscerated, abolished by presidential decree and congressional acquiescence. A pillar of civilization has been toppled, but most people in the United States appear not to have noticed.
It turns out that due process of law is not what we thought it was, these last two centuries. Attorney General Holder defended the president’s authority to summarily execute, without sanction of the courts, or formal charges, or even evidence of crime, persons designated by him as enemies of the United States. You can’t get more king-like than that. Holder acted as if he’d found a previously undetected loophole in the Constitution. “‘Due process’ and ‘judicial process,’” he said, “are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security.” According to Holder, “The Constitution guarantees due process,” but it does not guarantee judicial process. In other words, the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee people access to the courts, even if they are targeted for execution. If that were true, it would be a worthless Constitution, but the U.S. Supreme Court has convincingly ruled, in a 2004 case, that citizens who are detained as enemy combatants have a right to confront the government on the facts of the matter “before a neutral decision maker” – that is, before a court of some kind. Certainly, such rights would apply to someone the president wants killed.
Ah, but this is war, says Eric Holder, and different rules apply. We could ask the rhetorical question: When does this war end? But Obama is clearly claiming to have rights that are inherent in the president’s national security powers. War is…whatever he says it is. Or, whatever President Romney or President Santorum say it is.
The Attorney General ultimately justifies the trashing of the Constitution on national security grounds. We have reached our national “hour of danger,” he says.
Holder is right about that. The danger is upon us, and it emanates from the White House. There’s a name for the danger: it’s called fascism, which happens when militarists and the worst capitalists get together and abolish due process and the rule of law – which the First Black President of the United States has already done.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
- Obama’s Kill Policy (jonathanturley.org)
- Eric Holder: U.S. Government Can Kill U.S. Citizens if the Threat is Serious and Capture “isn’t feasible” (reason.com)
- Holder’s Regressive Defense of Targeted Killings (dissenter.firedoglake.com)
“I don’t know how they got it, this is all private, we should have, this has all been deleted, we have to delete all this stuff” – Danny
SyriansWorldwide | March 1, 2012
Video: Classic war propaganda – complete with staged-gunfire off camera and the intrepid actor “Danny” relaxed and joking before getting into character to give a hysterical “casualty report” to his co-star, CNN’s Anderson Cooper – just one of many he regularly gives to Western media networks.
Gasoline and heating oil prices are ratcheting up. In California, some motorists are paying over $5 per gallon. President Obama declared that “there is no quick fix” for this problem. Meanwhile, the hapless but howling Republicans are blaming him for the fuel surge as if he is a price control czar.
Indeed, President Obama has some proper power to cool off retail petroleum prices. David Stockman, President Ronald Reagan’s Budget Director, said it plainly on CNN last week, “Stop beating the war drums right now [against Iran], and Obama could do that, and he could say the neocons are history.” Having done his stint on Wall Street, Stockman knows that war talk by the war hawks inside and outside of our government is just what the speculators on the New York Mercantile Exchange want to hear as they bid up the price. Your gasoline prices are not charging up due to strains between supply and demand. Speculation, with those notorious derivatives and swaps, is what is poking larger holes in your fuel budget, according to Securities and Exchange Commission enforcement lawyers. The too-big-to-fail Wall Street gamblers – Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, and Morgan Stanley – are at it again.
Dr. Mark Cooper of the Consumer Federation of America documented that speculation added $600 to the average family’s gasoline expenditures in 2011. Earlier, the head of Exxon/Mobil estimated that speculation was responsible for over $40 per barrel in price increase at a time when oil was more than $100 per barrel.
Last June, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Chairman, Gary Gensler, declared in New York City that “huge inflows of speculative money create a self-fulfilling prophecy that drives up commodity prices.”
Mr. Gensler and the CFTC received more legislated authority to police these Wall Street gamblers, but key members of Congress refused to give him a budget to, in his words, “be a more effective cop on the beat,” at a time of sharply-increasing trading volume. Congressional campaign budgets are being swelled by campaign contributions from those very Wall Street gamblers. This is called “cash-register politics.” Meanwhile, you the people pay and pay at the pump and wonder why no one is doing anything about it.
But an inadequate budget only explains part of Mr. Gensler’s problems. He is continually undermined by other CFTC Commissioners who do not want real enforcement action. He also seems to be wearing down under the pressure.
Back in the 1970s, a sudden increase in gasoline prices – even a few cents – led to an uproar among consumers and demands for regulation, price controls and other government action. Now that the New York Mercantile Exchange, with its big banking and hedge fund speculators loading up on fat profits and bonuses is right here in the U.S., officials are throwing up their hands saying “there are no quick fixes.”
Yet by the constant Israeli-Obama-Hillary Clinton-Congressional-AIPAC belligerent talk about Iran developing a capability to produce nuclear weapons is provoking Tehran’s warnings about the Straits of Hormuz, and the oil price speculators are having a field day with your gas dollars.
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) regularly demands that that Obama’s regulators impose limits on oil speculations. He asserts that the “skyrocketing price of gas and oil has nothing to do with the fundamentals of supply and demand.” Even Goldman Sachs analyst, David Greely, claimed Wall Street speculation in the futures market is driving up oil prices.
In response to such clamorings, President Obama announced in April 2011 a new inter-agency working group to combat fraud. Don’t hold your breath waiting for any action here.
So why doesn’t President Obama invite the various industries such as the trucking and airline companies that are hurt by spiraling oil prices, together with consumer groups, motorist organizations, such as AAA and Better World Society, and the relevant government agencies to generate the pressure on Congress and the recalcitrant members of the CFTC to stop fronting for the Wall Street casino giants?
Mr. Obama and Energy Secretary Chu keep saying that there is enough oil in world markets and that speculatively-driven higher oil prices are undermining the U.S. economic recovery. Yet Mr. Obama seems unwilling to fully use his administration’s existing authority to crack down on the surging speculation.
There is much more action possible under current statutory authority for the regulators to use and earn their salaries. They need to hear louder rumblings from the people. While the people need, whenever possible and safe, to walk short distances instead of drive there, if only to stiffen their determination to fight back in more than one way.