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Saturday August 9, 2014
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Fri Dec 09, 2011 at 07:35 AM PST

Try Not to Think of a Newt

by David Swanson

The current President and Congress are destroying our Constitutional rights, our planet's climate, and the vestiges of a social safety net, and you are obsessing over a freak show of self-hating homosexuals and anti-intellectual intellectuals jumping through hoops in a corporate media circus with Ringmaster Donald Trump. Is this a good use of your time?

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Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 10:10 AM PDT

The Divided Left

by David Swanson

The Satan Sandwich budget deal seems to have been left lying on the table in some television green rooms. Dylan Ratigan has begun cursing both political parties, even while still fantasizing about the President saving us. Keith Olbermann and Al Gore want a Tahrir Square in Washington, even while ignoring the actual preparations for it that are going on. Cornel West and Tavis Smiley, who are part of those preparations, were permitted onto CNN momentarily -- only to be informed that they should calm down about the wealth gap since poor people "even have refrigerators!" (The refrigerators are empty, but they look good in the kitchen!)

More and more people are fed up. Press releases and email alerts are reaching absurd extremes. With Congress reduced to a 12-member committee that will set our budgetary priorities for years to come, organizations are politely asking that the committee include one or two humane individuals, or that the committee's meetings be live-streamed or its decisions be posted publicly for 72 hours prior to being rammed down our throats. These absurd proposals come out of a divided left, one side of which is not ready to admit that nonviolent resistance is required or that Democrats ought to be held to the same standards as Republicans.

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I Want Bernie Sanders to Run for President of the United States in 2012

Sign the petition at http://draftberniesanders2012.org

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I recently sat down for 90 minutes to speak with six Afghan judges, all of them women, and an English-Dari interpreter, a man.  They spoke to me as individuals.  They aren't preparing any investigations or indictments.  The relevance of their being judges is that they know the law.  They've studied international law, and they were visiting the United States to learn about our legal and political systems.  They believe the United States is guilty of war crimes.

I was the one who raised the subject.  I pointed to Italian convictions of CIA agents for kidnapping, Spanish investigations of U.S. officials for torture, etc., and asked what these judges' views were on international law violations, universal jurisdiction, and what appear to be clear crimes committed by the United States in Afghanistan.

The first judge to reply spoke of the horrors of the Taliban, and of the initial gratitude for the U.S. overthrow of the Taliban 10 years ago.  But, she said, the mission changed to one of fighting terrorism, and through that "we lost all of our civil rights."  She described U.S. troops kicking in doors of houses at night with women and girls asleep in their beds.  She described disappearances and accounts of torture.  What the United States and NATO are doing, seizing people, locking them up, disappearing them, and torturing them is clearly illegal and against international law, she said.  According to international treaties, she went on, when one country occupies another, the host country does not lose its sovereignty, and yet all decisions are now being made by the occupying country without any say by the Afghan government.

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The wealthiest nation on earth is not actually obliged to starve our senior citizens.  We don't need a military 670% more expensive than the next largest one on earth.  We don't need to fund health insurance corporations instead of healthcare.  And we don't need tax breaks for billionaires.  In fact, we don't need billionaires.  That's the message RootsAction is taking to Congress.

Forbes magazine has been listing the 400 wealthiest Americans every year since 1982. Thirteen billionaires appeared on the original Forbes list. Now all 400 rate billionaire status. These 400, collectively, possess more wealth than the poorer half of America's population put together.  Sam Pizzigati explains how we got here.

The United States now has a level of inequality that shocks much of the world.  If Washington wants to balance its budget, it should do so on the backs of these 400 people, not the hundreds of millions of us who can't afford it.  Tax these billionaires into non-billionaires, and Washington's financial worries -- and our economic worries -- will be gone for generations to come.  The vast majority of us favor this approach.

Only 1 percent of us are millionaires, with an "m".  Each billionaire has a thousand times that much money, or more.  Sixty-six percent of senators are millionaires, as are 41 percent of House members, but they aren't billionaires.  They just work for them.

Last year a list was leaked of attendees of an important rightwing planning conference organized by Koch Industries.  This is an annual meeting at which the servants of plutocracy plot its further entrenchment.  Eleven members of this year's Forbes 400 were on the list.  These are the hardcore plutocrats.  These are the people who personally take the time to destroy our political system for their own short-term gain -- and that of their families if their aristocracy of wealth is allowed to continue.  These 11 people pay a fraction of the rate you pay on your income into Social Security and Medicare.  They have no need for Social Security or Medicare.  And they participate in a political movement that is trying to dismantle those programs.  Meet your masters, fellow Americans.

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Thu Jul 14, 2011 at 06:48 AM PDT

Mudoch Has Blood on His Hands

by David Swanson

Nailing Rupert Murdoch for his employees' phone tapping or bribery would be a little like bringing down Al Capone for tax fraud, or George W. Bush for torture.  I'd be glad to see it happen but there'd still be something perverse about it.

I remember how outraged Americans were in 2005 learning about our government's warrantless spying, or for that matter how furious some of my compatriots become when a census form expects them to reveal how many bathrooms are in their home.  

I'm entirely supportive of outrage.  I just have larger crimes in mind.  Specifically this:

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights:
"Article 20
"1. Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law."
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112th CONGRESS
1st Session
To highly resolve that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the United States of America.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
July 12, 2011
A BILL

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the Start Doing Our Damn Jobs Act of 2012.

SEC. 2. STOP KILLING PEOPLE

(a)    The combined appropriations of the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and all military appropriations made through the Department of State, the Department of Energy, and all other military appropriations shall never be more than twice the funding, in absolute dollars, spent on its military in the previous year by the highest military-spending nation on earth other than the United States of America.

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"The fiscal good has to outweigh the pain," a nameless Democrat told the Washington Post regarding President Obama's latest proposal to massively cut Social Security, against the wishes of the vast majority of Americans, in order to fund a military 670% larger than the next largest in the world, keep in place tax cuts for billionaires, fail to tax corporations or estates or investments or carbon, and balance a budget that nobody gives a rat's ass about balancing when Wall Street comes asking for handouts.

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On Friday I read in the New York Times that President Obama would be happy to cut $200 billion out of Medicare in order to inflict pain on his Democratic base, part of an imagined tradeoff in which the two parties inflict pain on their imagined bases in order to reduce the deficit without imposing sensible taxes on billionaires or shrinking military spending to sane levels.  Also on Friday I got an Email from True Majority asking me to celebrate Obama's defense of Medicare.  

We've progressed from "I feel your pain" to "I inflict your pain," and we're being told to like it.

"President Obama: If you stand up to the Republican hostage-takers and protect Medicare," it says on MoveOn.org's website, "we will have your back." Or, of course, even if you don't do that, President Obama, even if the whole idea of it is based on myths about who is on whose side, MoveOn and most other online groups that don't have the back of the Republican Party will have yours.  That's the way this game works.  Except that it hasn't been working.

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Am I the only one who noticed that ex-Nixon lawyer John Dean's article "John Dean Knows How to Get Rid of Clarence Thomas" concludes thus: "In short, nothing is going to happen to Clarence Thomas."  Talk about false advertising!

But Dean left out of consideration one strategy, the same one that five years ago he argued against pursuing with Bush and Cheney, whom many of us at that time wanted removed from office.  The strategy is the one now being advanced by RootsAction: Impeach Clarence Thomas.

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Tue Jun 28, 2011 at 11:49 PM PDT

Memoirs of Torturers

by David Swanson

On September 18, 2009, seven former heads of the CIA publicly told President Barack Obama not to prosecute CIA torturers.  On April 16, 2009, Obama had already publicly told Attorney General Eric Holder not to prosecute CIA torturers.  On September 18th, Holder publicly reassured the CIA.  

The coast was clear.  The books started flowing.  George W. Bush and John Yoo put their books out in 2010, Donald Rumsfeld in 2011, and Dick Cheney's also later this summer.

Just as the torture techniques drifted down the chain of command from these dealers in death to the rank and file, so too the book contracts.  The cogs in the machine are now documenting their bit parts in the past decade's torture epidemic with pride and publishing deals.

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