Archive for January, 2012
As the Republican presidential candidates challenge President Obama with competing visions for how to improve the struggling U.S. economy, a new documentary questions the amount of money this country spends on the so-called “war on drugs.” Over the last 40 years, more than 45 million drug-related arrests have cost an estimated $1 trillion. Yet drugs are cheaper, purer and more available today than ever. The documentary is called The House I Live In. It examines the economic, as well as the moral and practical, failures of the war on drugs and calls on the U.S. to approach drug abuse not as a war, but as a matter of public health.
The House I Live In won the Grand Jury Prize for U.S. Documentary this past weekend at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, the largest independent film showcase in the country. Democracy Now! was there earlier in the week, and I spoke with the film’s director, Eugene Jarecki, along with one of his main characters in the film, Nannie Jeter, about what inspired him to look at the war on drugs.
Here’s how Barack Obama’s Defense Secretary (and former CIA chief) Leon Panetta attempts to justify secret American executions of American citizens without any judicial proceedings. You will never hear more circular reasoning. Here’s my take-home on Panetta’s “explanation”: In these modern times, all you need to do is convince the President to mutter the code word “terrorist” and then you start the killing.
The President of the United States has become judge and jury, but you won’t find permission for this conduct anywhere in the United States Constitution. This approach is part of the modern “terrorism” exception large swaths of federal and state law. Declaring someone a “terrorist,” despite the incredible vagueness of the term, trumps all other laws. “Terrorism” is a term that is waved around to justify anything at all and to simultaneously compel anyone who questions its use to shut up lest they be accused of also being “terrorists.” It is the battle-cry for the modern witch hunt that seeks to muzzle journalists and concerned citizens, in order to facilitate intoxicated U.S. warmongering. “Terrorism” is also a code-word for pretending to explain why we are ignoring most of our domestic needs. The unbridled use of the word “terrorism” is supported by a cottage industry of absurdly unqualified “terrorism” experts.
The Obama Administration’s reprehensible approach to lawless enforcement is a dangerous power grab that knows no bounds. Who will be declared a “terrorist” next? Someone who vigorously protests U.S. warmongering? A journalist who is working to expose U.S. military abuses and cover-ups? How wide is this circle? Does it include those who might be accused of “sympathizing” with “terrorists” in that they publicizing why it is that some groups who have been labeled “terrorists” are undeniable victims of the actions and policies of the United States and its surrogates?
Glenn Greenwald dissects this incredibly disingenuous statement. As he so aptly points out, where is the outcry from Democrats? When George W. Bush was pulling less-reprehensible stunts, there was intense criticism.
This is one of the towering, unanswerable hypocrisies of Democratic Party politics. The very same faction that pretended for years to be so distraught by Bush’s mere eavesdropping on and detention of accused Terrorists without due process . . . The way the process normally works, as Reuters described it, is that targeted Americans are selected “by a secretive panel of senior government officials, which then informs the president of its decisions”; moreover, “there is no public record of the operations or decisions of the panel” nor “any law establishing its existence or setting out the rules by which it is supposed to operate.” So, absent a fortuitous leak (acts for which the Obama administration is vindictively doling out the most severe punishment), it would be impossible for American citizens to know that they’ve been selected for execution by President Obama (and thus obviously impossible to assert one’s due process rights to stop it).
Hell-bound Michael Morris has been working hard at Funmentionables. In his most recent article, he lists seven theme park rides you won’t find at the upcoming Kentucky bible-theme park, which is getting $43 million in tax breaks.
Here are the categories:
2. The Undead Jamboree
3. Everybody Must Get Stoned
4. Ye Old Testament Sideshow
5. Tamar’s Wild Ride
6. The All New Testament Sideshow, and
7. Noah’s Post-diluvian Carcass Roundup
Glenn Greenwald points out that the severe sanctions against Iran are bringing the U.S. to the brink of war. His article embeds a video featuring Iran expert Vali Nasr, who indicates that President Obama has never yet been serious about negotiating with Iran, and will not likely engage in diplomacy in this election year. The heightened tensions are going to make an “accidental” war with Iran likely.
In the meantime, our so-called media is increasingly engaging in “stenographic journalism,” sounding the drumbeat for war using techniques that are pathetically predictable.
OK Cardinals fans. Now that we’ve won our 11th World Series and Tony La Russa has retired, it’s time to look after the future of America. I know we’re concerned about whether losing Albert will sink us in the NL Central Division as well as Matheny as the new manager and all the other player issues. Some issues are just for us as Cardinal Nation. Cardinal Nation has a call to duty for the rest of America which needs to be done first. I mean, we aren’t the best baseball town in America for nothing, eh?
We’ve had our tussles with proposed constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage and to keep the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. Before the GOP brings up another proposed constitutional ban of flag burning or to punish children born to illegal aliens and foreign visitors, I say it’s time to for Cardinal Nation and the rest of America us take up the fight against the greatest threat to American values which MUST be stopped—we have to pass a US Constitutional amendment to ban foreign teams from winning baseball’s World Series.
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To what extent do the banks own Congress? Paul Blumenthal reports at Huffpo:
When Washington puts policy on the auction block, bankers are consistently the highest bidders. The industry’s most striking victory has been the watering down of post-financial crisis reforms, to the point that banks are now bigger than ever and the bonuses keep flowing. But Wall Street’s campaign spending and lobbying power is so intimidating that banks have repeatedly stuck the public with the tab for their losses and no one in Washington stops them.
Why hasn’t the government done something about outrageous ATM fees? Or credit card interest rates up to 30 percent? Bankers’ clout is such that common-sense pro-consumer legislation is presumptively dead on arrival at Capitol Hill if it threatens banks’ revenue streams.