Tag: Politics

Due process sure ain’t what it used to be

| March 6, 2012 | 4 Replies
Due process sure ain’t what it used to be

Attorney General Eric Holder gave a speech this week, a speech which is the only known public justification for the administration’s policy of assassinations of American citizens. The speech may be read in its entirety here. The real justifications are too secret to tell you about, so Holder had to summarize the complex legal arguments and distill them down to their legal essence.

For those of you who don’t have the time to read the whole speech, allow me to distill the arguments further. Holder’s weighty legal analysis boils down to this: “we can do whatever we want, and nobody can tell us otherwise.”

[More . . . ]

Share

Read More

Areas of agreement with the Tea Party

| October 19, 2011 | 9 Replies
Areas of agreement with the Tea Party

I was excited to see the new Tea Party’s birth. Watching the corruption of our government become more and more brazen, it was only a matter of time before counter-movements began to spread. Both the Tea Party and the #Occupy movements were born of this impulse. The original patriots of the Tea Party movement formed in opposition to the bank bailouts. I think it became apparent rather quickly, however, that their admirable movement had been co-opted into another arm of the Republican machine. I don’t say this to cast aspersions though, as I do want to keep this post exploring our common ground rather than emphasizing our differences. The #Occupy/99% movement is actively resisting attempts to co-opt its message by the Democratic party and other left-leaning organizations, so let’s keep exploring our similarities.

Here then, is the 15-point “non-negotiable core beliefs” which I found on teaparty.org:

Share

Read More

#Occupy movement sweeping the nation, now including Omaha!

| October 19, 2011 | 2 Replies
#Occupy movement sweeping the nation, now including Omaha!

I was at our local #occupy protests on Saturday for what organizers were calling a “Global day of action”. This week marks one month since #occupywallstreet began their occupation in New York City, and have proven to be an inspiration to people around the globe.

Omaha is not exactly known as a hotbed of radical activism or sentiment. Protests here regularly turn out a half-dozen or so committed activists, but rarely much more than that. My wife and I decided that the time had come for us to express our discontent with the existing socio-political environment here, and so we headed out to #OccupyOmaha on Saturday morning. Expecting low numbers, we were surprised when we could see people streaming towards the meeting site from blocks away.

Share

Read More

Meet the protesters of Occupy St. Louis – October 14, 2011

| October 15, 2011 | 10 Replies

I occasionally listen to Rush Limbaugh’s radio show because I consider it important to understand how it is that my views differ from those of people who oppose my views. Two days ago, I listened to Limbaugh bloviating about the people who are participating in the Occupy Protests springing up all over the United States.  By  some reports, there are more than 1,000 such protests ongoing, and they are actually occurring all over the world.   Limbaugh announced, without hesitation, that these protesters are mostly unemployed, lazy, dirty, amoral, socially irresponsible and ignorant young people. Those who rely on Rush Limbaugh for their facts might thus be highly likely to object to these protests (including Occupy Wall Street) based on Limbaugh’s description of the protesters.  But is the description he gave to his many (though dwindling number of) listeners accurate?  I had an opportunity to check this yesterday at the Occupy St. Louis protest in my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri.

Over the past few days, I’ve been quite occupied at my day job, and it was only while walking back to my law office from the federal courthouse at 4 pm yesterday that I spotted an organized march coming down Market Street in downtown St. Louis.  I would estimate that there were almost 1,000 people marching.  I didn’t have my video camera with me, but I did have my Canon S95 pocket camera, so I got to work taking hand-held video and still shots of the protesters.  Here’s the finished product, which will allow you to actually meet the types of people who are participating in the Saint Louis Occupy protest.  You can now be your own judge of what these protesters are like:

As you can see from the parade route pans and the interviews, none of these people fit the description given by Rush Limbaugh.  Off camera, I asked most of the protesters about their “day jobs,” and all of them indicated that they were gainfully employed, and in a wide variety of challenging fields.   These “young” protesters of Occupy St. Louis ranged in age from 20’s to their 80’s.   The on-camera statements of the people I interviewed show that they are well-informed, thoughtful, highly articulate and good-hearted.  Many of the people I spoke with indicated that they are not going away.  They have been waiting for a good time and place to express their deep concerns about the way our government works, and they have finally found what they’ve been looking for.

In case anyone is concerned that I intentionally skewed my sampling regarding who I interviewed, this was my method:  I simply walked up to someone nearby and asked whether he or she would be willing to give a short statement about why they were attending the protest.   I approached 12 people.  One woman sympathetic to the protest apologized and said she couldn’t talk on camera because she was a member of the news media. One man said that he supported the protest, but he’d rather not go on camera.  Another man said he had never been part of a protest before, but he read about this protest recently and then said to himself, “Yeah, these people are right on these issues.”   The other nine people I approached agreed to give statements on camera.  I’d like to thank each of these folks for taking the time to talk (I’ve listed their names in the order in which they appear in my video):

  • Al Vitale
  • Fred Raines (a retired economics professor, who said that he compiled the statistics displayed on one of the signs appearing on the video)
  • Apollonia Childs
  • Chrissy Kirchhoefer
  • Curtis Roberts
  • Michel Kiepe
  • Jeff Schaefer
  • Matt Ankney, and
  • Frances Madeson

Based on the above video, there is no lack of intellectual moorings for this protest. The focus is that our government, including politicians of both major parties, has been substantially bought by big business, and many destructive things are flowing from the consequent misuse of government power.

About a dozen protesters have have formed a camp in Kiener Plaza, a public gathering spot across the street from the towering downtown headquarters of Bank of America. I was told by several protesters that some of the camping protesters had been evicted from the camp over the past week, but that the intent is nonetheless maintain a presence in Kiener Plaza indefinitely. The Bank of America building has been the geographical focus of other recent protests, including this one in August, 2011. (A payday loan protest by a group called GRO occurred at this same bank last year–here’s video).  I should note that most of the people who work in the huge Bank of America building work for companies other than the Bank of America, yet the building remains a symbol of what has gone so very wrong with the political process.

I’d also like to mention that the St. Louis Police, who were out in the hundreds, were courteous and professional.   The protesters were there merely to protest-to get their message out.  There were no untoward incidents that would distract from the central message of the protests.

For more on yesterday’s protest, see this description by St. Louis blogger Gloria Bilchik at Occasional Planet. See also, this post by another St. Louis blogger, Adam Shriver at St. Louis Activist Hub.

Share

Read More

Barack Obama continues to deceive– but will you still vote for him?

| August 3, 2011 | 6 Replies
Barack Obama continues to deceive– but will you still vote for him?

If you supported candidate Barack Obama for President back in 2008, you probably got an email like the one journalist Glenn Greenwald received. Provided one was willing to kick in a mere $5 to Obama’s re-election campaign, one could potentially win one of four spots to sit down and have an intimate dinner with the president. Greenwald excerpted the email:

Most campaigns fill their dinner guest lists primarily with Washington lobbyists and special interests.

We didn’t get here doing that, and we’re not going to start now. We’re running a different kind of campaign. We don’t take money from Washington lobbyists or special-interest PACs — we never have, and we never will.

We rely on everyday Americans giving whatever they can afford — and I want to spend time with a few of you.

So, those words sound good, don’t they? Promises about no lobbyists or special interest having a seat at the table are cheap. Three days before Greenwald published his post, the New York Times published an article titled “Obama seeks to win back Wall Street Cash“. The article notes that Obama had more than two dozen Wall Street fat-cats over to the White House for a couple of hours to discuss whatever hot-button issues they wanted to discuss. Those who couldn’t make the meeting received a personal follow-up call from the President. All part of the President’s plan to get re-elected by pandering to Wall Street executives.

Share

Read More

On the death (again) of Osama bin Laden

| May 4, 2011 | 40 Replies
On the death (again) of Osama bin Laden

Those who are uncomfortable with cognitive dissonance or so-called conspiracy theories might be better off skipping this post. Those who seek to understand the machinations of our government however, are encouraged to read on.

Firstly, let me clearly state that I disapprove of the manner of this killing. Extrajudicial assassinations are an anathema to a society that claims to live by the rule of law. Numerous voices are loudly praising this decision to kill bin Laden rather than capture him, supposedly to save the fragile American public from the rigors of a trial. They claim that a trial would have been “too controversial”, as if that had anything to do with the law or its application. Either we believe that laws matter or we don’t. Either we believe that there is justice available under our system of laws, or we do not. In this case, it’s clear that we do not trust our own system of justice to arrive at the “right” conclusion. Implicitly, this suggests that we are hoping for a kangaroo court, already convinced of the guilt of the accused based upon the mere say-so of our government. When the president can order someone to be killed, with no oversight or evidence presented, we no longer a democratic system of checks and balances. We have an emperor, a tyrant, relatively benign though he may appear to be. I argued much the same in the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed last year.

[More . . . ]

Share

Read More

Happy Ponzi Day!

| March 3, 2011 | 4 Replies
Happy Ponzi Day!

Charles Ponzi was born 129 years ago today, so I guess that makes it Ponzi Day today. The man for whom the pyramid scheme was named though, was a chump. Today’s schemers have been many times more successful. By the time Ponzi’s scheme peaked in 1920, Wikipedia notes that “he had made $420,000 ($4.59 million in 2008 terms).” See what I mean? $4 and half million isn’t even enough for today’s ponzi artists to get out of bed.

For example, let’s look at the currently best-known ponzi artist, Bernie Madoff. The amount missing from Madoff clients’ accounts was nearly $65 billion, although that includes fabricated money– actual losses total about $18 billion. Even at $18 billion though, that’s still almost 4,000 times the ponzi scheme than Ponzi himself. Madoff made headlines again this week, saying that “It’s unbelievable, Goldman … no one has any criminal convictions. The whole new regulatory reform is a joke. The whole government is a Ponzi scheme.” And who better to know Ponzi schemes than the man who bested Ponzi?

Share

Read More

Military Psy-ops, this time illegally directed at Congress

| February 24, 2011 | 3 Replies
Military Psy-ops, this time illegally directed at Congress

Keep President Eisenhower’s warning in mind as you read this post (see video below).

The U.S. Department of Defense defines “Psychological Operations” or “Psy-Ops” as “Planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign government, organizations, groups, and individuals.”

Such operations may be based upon truth or based upon deception, but the goal is the same: to alter perceptions and “ultimately the behavior” of others. As a matter of law, such actions are supposed to be directed against the “foreign hostile groups”, or at least not against Americans. Unfortunately, this law is routinely ignored:

  • In 2009, the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) awarded a multi-million dollar contract to General Dynamics to wage a psy-ops campaign aimed at France and Britain. The goal of the campaign was to create “influence websites” to build support for the Global War on Terror.
  • Share

Read More

Greatest health care system in the world?

| November 17, 2010 | Reply
Greatest health care system in the world?

In Mark Tiedermann’s post “The GOP Should Rename Itself As The Where’s Mine Party“, we learn of a newly elected Representative’s outrage at not being covered immediately by his new health insurance. Will that prompt true reform? If history has shown us anything, it’s not likely. So here’s another nugget to think about:

I received an Explanation of Benefits yesterday for two antibiotic prescriptions. My insurance was billed $107.43 for each set of 20 pills. Only $7.55 was allowed which included my $3.00 co-pay, which means…well…

My oldest son is currently unemployed (not by choice) and without health insurance (also not by choice and not yet able to take advantage of the new health laws that should allow him coverage under my insurance – even though he’s younger than 26 – due to my insurance being regulated by a different act…whew!)

He would have had to pay $214.86 for something my insurance felt was valued at only $15.10. About 7% of what was billed.

Yep. Greatest health care system in the world. Forgive the source of the quote, but I didn’t want folks complaining I pulled it from a “liberal” site, and we do want it fair and balanced. Although, I have a hard time respecting any elected official that feels the need to use a deliberately partisan inflammatory label such as “Obama Care”.

Where’s your outrage now?

Share

Read More