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Posts Tagged ‘constitution

Sarah Palin’s Reflection, as Seen from the Abyss

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Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you. — Friedrich Nietzsche

Many of us have been wishing for just a modicum of news coverage on Joe Biden, whose presence on the national stage has been dwarfed to near non-existence by the paparazzi-style coverage of Sarah Palin– our media’s latest flash-in-the-frying-pan darling, who has stepped into the shoes previously occupied by such notables as Paris Hilton, Brittney Spears and Anna Nicole Smith. 

Be careful what you wish for. Joe Biden finally got some news coverage this past Thursday, as he was “interviewed” by Barbara West, an anchor for Florida station WFTV (see video, below), who regaled Biden with a series of classic “when did you stop beating your wife” questions on Marxism. 

This interview needs to be preserved in the annals of American history, so that future generations can see, firsthand, how fearmongering and demagoguery work. For historical perspective on how this has played out in America over the past 300+ years, read on. Otherwise, just vote. For cripe’s sakes, vote — and urge everyone you know to vote. And if, by chance, on November 4th, you find you’ve been caged or purged or challenged – call Election Protection at 1-(866) OURVOTE (1-866-687-8683). Click here for more info on protecting yourself from voter fraud.

HAS IT BEEN ONLY 316 YEARS?

From June through September of 1692, nineteen men and women, all having been convicted of witchcraft, were carted to Gallows Hill, a barren slope near Salem Village, for hanging. Another man of over eighty years was pressed to death under heavy stones for refusing to submit to a trial on witchcraft charges. Hundreds of others faced accusations of witchcraft. Dozens languished in jail for months without trials. Then, almost as soon as it had begun, the hysteria that swept through Puritan Massachusetts ended. — “An Account of Events in Salem,” from the University of Missouri — Kansas City website

As years passed, apologies were offered, and restitution was made to the victims’ families. Historians and sociologists have examined this most complex episode in our history so that we may understand the issues of that time and apply our understanding to our own society. The parallels between the Salem witch trials and more modern examples of “witch hunting” like the McCarthy hearings of the 1950’s, are remarkable. — from the Salem Witch Museum website

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 HAS IT BEEN ONLY 60 YEARS?

Below is a video with clips of various anti-communist footage, produced by the U.S. government during the McCarthy era, and designed to red-scare the bejeebers out of Americans. The Sarah Palin speech (see video at end of post) is a modern version of the same, just not yet whipped into the full frenzy that this sort of fearmongering ever-threatens to incite.  

HAS IT BEEN ONLY 7 YEARS?

In the wake of 9-11, the Bush Administration exploited our justifiable fear of terrorists to both squelch American dissent over their agenda, and to strong-arm Congress into approving all the legislation they enacted (e.g. the Patriot Act, FISA, extraordinary rendition and related torture laws), all of which were designed to sidestep both the spirit and letter of Constitutional law. Over the past 7 years this legislation has, word by word, dismantled our U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. These documents have yet to be restored to the former integrity they held for over two centuries. While these fundamental changes to our democracy affect each and every American, we’ve fortunately been spared, thus far, some of the worst outcomes potential to this legislation, even as this potential will continue to loom over us until our Constitution and Bill of Rights are restored to their pre-Bush Administration integrity. We’ve been fortunate. Some, such as Maher Arar have not been so fortunate: 

For more on this case, see the full Congressional hearing (1 hour, 28 minutes) on this case, held in October 2007, here, which includes Maher Arar’s testimony. Also, see footage here (7 minutes) from a related hearing, in which an outraged Sen. Patrick Leahy demands answers from Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales regarding the extraordinary rendition and torture-outsourcing in the Maher Arar case. 

  

HAS IT BEEN ONLY 1 DAY?

In the above video, Sarah Palin resurrects the ghosts of Salem and the McCarthy era, as she weaves a scary tale of lies to suggest that Obama’s tax plan will turn American into a nightmare communist state. Inherent to this accusation is a promise to carry the torch of the Bush-Cheney Administration’s legacy of fearmongering, persecution and lawlessness.  History bears this out: certain people in America live in a constant state of fear. All they need is someone to take the stage and tell them, exactly, what it is they’re so afraid of: Witches? Socialists? Blacks? Muslims? Communists? The McCain Palin campaign is telling them exactly what they want to hear. 

dem·a·gogue: One who will preach doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots — H.L. Mencken

  

WILL IT BE ONLY 9 DAYS?

Vote on November 4th. And do everything in your power to make sure that vote isn’t stolen from you. So much depends on this, with such a tremendous degree of voter fraud taking place by both Republicans and the Christian right. The extent of this fraud can only be known after the fact, when it’s too late to do anything about it.

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Sarah’s Job Description for Vice-President, Part II (Checkpoint Chickie Rides Again)

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In my August 30th post, where I first described, for the sole benefit of Sarah Palin, the job description for the Vice-President of the United States, I told her, “While there is no precedent in modern U.S. history for a person of your credentials serving as Vice President, it is theoretically possible for a third-grader to perform the actual duties of Vice-President. Your lack of education and/or experience with constitutional law shouldn’t be much of an impediment to serving, so long as the President doesn’t die or resign.” 

I was wrong. Either she never bothered to read the job description, or she simply didn’t comprehend it. Either way, it turns out that Sarah Palin’s lack of education and/or experience does present a serious impediment to the job for which she is applying. And  you’d have to be a simpleton, a die-hard racist, or the most tenacious of Republicans to have not realized this by now.

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For those who missed it, here is Sarah Palin’s answer to second-grader, Brandon Garcia, who asked “What does the Vice-President do?”

[T]hey’re in charge of the U.S. Senate so if they want to they can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes that will make life better for Brandon and his family and his classroom.

EARTH TO CHECKPOINT CHICKIE:

Here again — for your edification, Sarah Palin — are the job duties for the Vice-President as specified in the U.S. Constitution. I’ve taken the liberty of translating the legal gobbledygook into terms so simple that even a third grader could understand them.  This way, if you’re ever again confronted with another of those third-grade “gotcha” questions, you can answer without fear of sounding inordinately ignorant and thereby causing the rest of us to keel in horror and/or fits of maniacal laughter. 

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THE GOBBLEDYGOOK: In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President. (25th Amendment, clarifying Article II, Section 1)

TRANSLATION: If John McCain died, resigned or was impeached, you’d become President.

THE GOBBLEDYGOOK: The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no vote, unless they be equally divided. (Article I, Section 3)

TRANSLATION: While your official title is “President of the Senate,” you would actually have no power whatsoever in the Senate except to cast a tie-breaking vote, in the event of a deadlock.

THE GOBBLEDYGOOK: The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates, and the votes shall then be counted. The person having the greatest number of votes shall be the President…. (Article II, Section 1)

TRANSLATION: On January 7, 2013, in front of the Senate and House of Representatives, you would open the sealed, certified tallies of electoral ballots (cast the previous November for president/vice president) so that the total votes could be officially counted. 

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EARTH TO McCAIN-PALIN CAMP, SUPPORTERS & SURROGATES:

The $150 million dollars that Barack Obama’s campaign received during the month of September is not evidence of some secret al Qaeda terrorist plot to elect Obama, but is what you might call a preponderance of tangible evidence that there are millions of U.S. citizens out here who are scared shitless over the uniquely dangerous combination of, uh, qualifications shared by both John McCain and Sarah Palin. These donations can also be interpreted as an outright rejection of the lying, the cheating and the hatemongering vitriol of your campaign.   

Here I could almost wish that there were… I don’t know…. a Congressional bill of some sort that would bar presidential or vice-presidential candidates and other leaders from, say,  “adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change.”

 

But wait. Such a bill* already exists, having been passed one year ago this week, designed to interface with all the other laws passed over the past 8 years to address “homegrown terrorists.” Of course, these laws don’t apply to leaders who might abuse and exploit their powers to terrorize the citizens of this country. No, they apply only to the citizens would protest (or even think about protesting) against such laws and such leaders.  Lucky for us, these particular laws are being overseen by Attorney General Michael Mukasey**, the same Bush-Cheney henchman who the Obama campaign recently wrote, requesting an investigation into the voter fraud campaign being conducted by the Bush Administration and the Republican Party to steal the votes from Democrats who would vote for Barack Obama.
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In this light, the only hope for this country is that Obama will be elected by such a overwhelming landslide that, for the first time in 8 years, all the cheating, lying and dirty tricks in the world won’t be enough for the Bush-Cheney gang to again subvert that very democratic process that has sustained this country for over two centuries — ever since our forefathers authored our now-ravaged Constitution and Bill of Rights, those very documents that are apparently of so little importance to Vice-Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, that she has yet to even bother reading them. 
  
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by Mantis Katz for the canarypapers
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** For more info on Mukasey, simply google “Bush Cheney Mukasey” and you”ll find a wide and well-marked trail of sourced detailing the cover-ups, legal sleights-of-hand, cronyism and other abuses of power committed by the Bush-Cheney-Mukasey gang.
 

Sarah Palin Hurls William Ayers: A Molotov Cocktail with a Twist of Lies

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Trickery and treachery are the practices of fools that have not the wits enought to be honest. — Benjamin Franklin

In 1972 — back when Sarah Palin was in, like, 2nd grade, and Barack Obama was in 5th grade — William (Bill) Ayers was a militant Vietnam war protester, involved in those most notorious activities that are now being used to smear Barack Obama’s good name.

It was to be another 23 years before the two men’s paths would actually cross. By that time, Ayers had been married with two children for nearly two decades. The charges against him for the violent protests he waged while a member of the Weathermen had long ago been dropped. He’d since earned his Masters in Early Childhood Education, followed by a Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction, in 1987.  Ayers is currently a professor in the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, holding the honor of Distinguished Professor.

By the time Barack Obama first met him in 1995, William Ayers had spent the previous two decades channeling his energies into early childhood education issues, with emphases on urban education reform and poverty & social justice. With both men actively working on the same issues, in the same town, it was only inevitable that their paths would cross. 

A CORRECTED HISTORY: Who, Why, When, Where, What & How

Barack Obama and William Ayers first crossed paths in 1995, as the two men served on the board of an educational organization, called The Chicago Anneberg Challenge, which has been described as “the largest public/private endeavor in U.S. history dedicated to improving public schools.” During this same year, Ayers and his wife held a “meet-and-greet” in their Hyde Park home, at which time State Senator Alice Palmer introduced Barack Obama as her chosen candidate for the 1996 Democratic primary. Obama’s and Ayer’s paths again crossed in 1999, as both served on the board of The Woods Fund, an anti-poverty grantwriting group in Chicago. According to Deborah Harrington, the president of the The Woods Fund, the two men were selected for the board because of their solid academic credentials and passion for social justice. In 2001, William Ayers contributed $200 to Barack Obama’s re-election campaign. Regarding any untoward motives involved with this donation, Harrington commented:

This whole connection is a stretch. Barack was very well known in Chicago, and a highly respected legislator. It would be difficult to find people round here who never volunteered or contributed money to one of his campaigns.

Regarding any untoward connections between the two men, Obama campaign spokesman, Bill Burton, said:

Senator Obama strongly condemns the violent actions of the Weathermen group, as he does all acts of violence. But he was an eight-year-old child when Ayers and the Weathermen were active, and any attempt to connect Obama with events of almost forty years ago is ridiculous.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: I’ve been involved in the arts and local theater in my own town. I wonder, were I to ever run for public office, would I be indicted for some notorious decades-old activities of a fellow thespian or artist? ]

Obama’s and Ayers’ paths crossed again, quite literally — and for the last time — in 2007, as described by an Obama campaign spokesman this past August: 

“The last time Obama saw Ayers was about a year ago when he crossed paths with him while biking in the neighborhood. The suggestion that Ayers was a political adviser to Obama or someone who shaped his political views is patently false.”

A fact that should be mentioned here is that the above-mentioned Chicago Annenberg Challenge, headed by the same William Ayers, would not have been possible without the generous support of Walter Annenberg, a staunchly conservative Nixon appointee, major GOP donor and longtime friend of Ronald Reagan.  In fact, Walter Annenberg was President Nixon’s Ambassador To Great Britain From 1969-1974, and, in 1986, President Ronald Reagan awarded him the nation’s highest civilian honor, The Presidential Medal of Freedom.

As if that weren’t endorsement enough, Walter Annenberg’s widow, Leonore Annenberg ( the current president of the Annenberg Foundation) is on John McCain’s recently released list of 100 former ambassadors endorsing McCain’s candidacy.

Hardly what you could call, “palling around with terrorists”

But, then, Sarah Palin is hardly what you’d call a politician who “pals around with the truth.” In her Ayers-smears against Obama, Sarah Palin is not only guilty of taking malicious liberties with the facts, but she is also guilty of a profound ignorance of these facts, particularly with respect to their historical context. This would be harmless enough, coming from an everyday hockey mom, but for a politician aspiring to be vice-president (and back-up president)  of the United States, her ignorance is also profoundly dangerous. It is one thing to own a rote memorization of the facts. It’s another thing, entirely, to own an  understanding of those facts.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I once had a friend whose parrot could say “shit.” While the bird had no idea what the word meant, it nonetheless spent its days repeating, “shit” (along with “open the door” and “what’s up?”) daylong, come rain or come shine. 

Sarah Palin has proven that she can deliver a script, a bumper-sticker slogan or a phrase, such as the zinger she hurled yesterday in her smear against Obama when she said: “Our opponent… is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough, that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country….This is not a man who sees America as you and I do.”

Just who are the “you and I” in this equation? They are, of course, the good guys and the bad guys. In Sarah-world, the good guys love America, and the bad guys hate America. It’s that simple. All we really need is a pep talk for the good guys, and a few stern warnings about the bad guys, and we’ll all be okay. Problem is, the world is an infinitely more complex place than that bean-brained vision inside Sarah Palin’s head. 

This is as true today as it was 232 years ago when our country was founded by a handful of dedicated people (John Hancock, Paul Revere, John Adams, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin…) who understood that imperfection is as much the nature of government as dissent is the means to perfecting that government. Perhaps this is what inspired Thomas Jefferson to pen the following words, which were immortalized in our Declaration of Independence:

Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government — Thomas Jefferson

Our American founders are surely roiling in their graves over the state of our union, in much the same spirit as the millions of living, breathing Americans who’ve spent the past 8 years watching helplessly as the Bush Administration systematically dismantled the very foundations or our country — playing reckless with our economy, cooking intelligence to take us to war, chipping away at our Constitution, staining our relationships with our allies and otherwise wrecking the integrity of our country. Barack Obama is not alone in his observation that we find ourselves in a less-than-perfect place.

 

But what does this have to do with William Ayers? Um. Nothing. 

But this surely won’t stop politicians like Sarah Palin and John McCain from playing these filthy, dirty political games for the next 29 days, even as our country is teetering on the brink of collapse. Apparently, this is the best hope they have to offer our country: throwing gasoline onto the fire in the hope of saving their campaign. Here, their methods aren’t so different than William Ayers’ methods.  Hopefully, the majority of Americans today are wiser than they were 8 years ago. Hopefully, enough of us have learned the difference between the real thing and a cheap imitation of a patriotic American.

On the Occasion of the 7th Anniversary of 9-11….

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On the occasion of the 7th anniversary of September 11th, a call for mourning: A call for mourning for the lives lost, a call for remembrance of all that was lost that day; a call for questions to be asked, and for questions to be answered; A call for 9-11 to no longer be exploited by any political party or person for political gain.

On the occasion of the 7th anniversary of September 11th, a wake up call: a call for mourning, a call for remembrance, a call for truth.

 

The Elephant in the Room – Part 1 of 10

Winner: Best Documentary – London Independent Film Festival. 2008

 The Elephant in the Room is a documentary following British filmmaker Dean Puckett through his journey into the 9/11 Truth Movement: a global movement of ‘conspiracy theorists’ who believe that the official explanation about what happened on 9/11 is totally or partially inaccurate. The filmmakers travel from middle England, across Europe and to New York for the six year anniversary of the attacks, where the film takes one final twist as we are introduced to the 9/11 first responders who are suffering from various grave health difficulties due to the toxic dust that they breathed in trying to help their country during the weeks after this tragic event. Told with a personal hands on approach that avoids advancing any one position, the film asks the question: are these crazy conspiracy theorists? Or is 9/11 Truth a credible political movement?

The Elephant in the Room – Part 2

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The Elephant in the Room – Part 3

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The Elephant in the Room – Part 4

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The Elephant in the Room – Part 5

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The Elephant in the Room – Part 6

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The Elephant in the Room – Part 7

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The Elephant in the Room – Part 8

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The Elephant in the Room – Part 9

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The Elephant in the Room – Part10 of 10

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Other films related to 9-11 and truth 

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An upcoming film: Zeitgeist will premiere on October 2nd, 2008 at the 5th Annual Artivist’s Flim Festival in Los Angeles Film Festival. See trailer and high-definition, 2-hour film (available online thru Oct 3rd) here

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Loose Change 9-11   See full-length film here.

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Check out this website: The FeelGood Foundation works to assist and improve the lives of the 9-11 first reponders and their families. Learn more about them here, where you can also browse their shop and/or make a tax-deductible donation. Below is their mission statement: 

The primary mission of the FealGood Foundation, a non-profit organization, is to spread awareness and educate the public about the catastrophic health effects on 9/11 first responders, as well as to provide assistance to relieve these great heroes of the financial burdens placed on them over the last five years. A secondary goal of our Foundation is to create a network of advocacy on 9/11 healthcare issues. We not only advocate for Ground Zero workers, but show others how they can advocate for themselves and help others through grassroots activism.

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A REVIEW OF THE BIG SPEECH: When is a little knowledge dangerous? When it’s Sarah Palin.

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The talking heads are unanimous: Sarah Palin gave a command performance last night. Truly, she did — if you’re the sort who likes your scripts well-delivered, on-cue, by a skilled actress. Our local theatre group has many such talents.

Sarah is to be commended for her seamless delivery of this one-man act, peopled as it was with such a diversity of characters: plucky, all-American hockey-mom of five (being unfairly persecuted by the elite liberal media) who rose to be mayor of Wasilla (a small town, whose size is being disrespected by the elite, liberal media), and who then rose to become governor of Alaska (a state which, if you elect Sarah Palin,  promises to give us cheap gas and oil, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and staunch terrorism everywhere), whereby she proved her skills as a maverick politician, bucking a corrupt, good-old-boy system to restore truth and transparency to Alaskan politics (pay no mind to the man behind the curtain) and will do the same for the corrupt, good-old-boy system in Washington (which is run by politicians whose job skills pale in comparison to hers) because, for one thing, she represents ‘real’ Americans, (not those bitter, unpatriotic ones who aren’t proud of their country in both good and bad times, such as when that country lets its citizens fall, en masse, through the cracks into joblessness and financial despair, while paying $16 billion per month for two wars, while its leadership has become the scorn and ridicule of the world, for its lawlessness and bullying) not those liberal, elist democrats, who know nothing about fiscal responsibility, and just want to spend, spend, spend and run our lives through big government (that’s $140 per bitter household, per month, to fund the two wars) and, for another thing, she is better qualified to be vice-president than Barack Obama and Joe Biden rolled together (her qualifications, by now, should be self-evident to all, unless you’re with the liberal, elitist media) and, plus, she can ‘hold her own’ against the big boys (careful on your attacks, angry elitist liberals, or they’ll pull the sexism-card) as we saw in the sarcastic, condescending, disrespectful attacks she so skillfully waged, and with such relish, on Obama and Biden (as their class act — evidenced in the constant, outward respect they’ve shown for Sarah and her family this week — was lost on her, which I guess makes Obama and Biden weak on terror), proving that Sarah Palin is therefore tough enough to stand up to the terrorists and terrorist nations in the world (how, exactly, do you pronounce all these crazy Islamic terrorist words?)  and ready to carry the maverick mantle with her running-mate, John McCain (did I mention he’s a POW?) all the way to the White House, where she is prepared, on day one, to be vice-president, a mere heartbeat from the presidency (“What is it, exactly, that the VP does every day?”)

The problem is — the same as it was before she delivered her speech celebre — Sarah Palin can only aspire to *act* as if she had command of the facts, can only aspire to *act* as if has the depth of experience to qualify her to competently hold high office, can only aspire to *act* presidential. And she can only aspire to maintain this act, so long as there is a crew of players behind the scenes to arrange the sets and feed her the lines. 

This was the very problem from which George Bush (and, by extension, all of us) suffered for the past 8 years. He brought to the White House a college degree in business, a term as governor, and a set of ideals borrowed from his father. He brought little else in the way of credentials, unless you count his bull-headed insistence that he knew what he was doing, despite his profound ignorance of constitutional law and political science, and a perplexing lack of curiosity over the goings-on in his administration. Here, he was ready-made to be the very leader he became: a hapless, button-eyed puppet to a man named Dick Cheney who did, indeed, own an impressive command of the facts — not to mention a shrewd eye for business, as CEO of a corporation whose life blood is war and oil, and a shrewd team of lawyers, such as David Addington, who exploited and tinkered with the the Constitution to give Dick Cheney unprecedented power.

The State of the Union

In the wake of this malignant tinkering, our government body, our Constitution and our Bill of Rights have undergone radical changes over the past 8 years, the likes of which most Americans are unaware and would be incredulous to believe. In the course of this change, the checks and balances in our Constitution — designed to protect us from such an invasion from within — were exploited by Cheney and Addington to render powerless any attempt to cut such a malignancy from the government body. When people say that Dick Cheney is the most powerful man in the world, it is no hyperbole. And when people say that Dick Addington is the most powerful man you’ve never known, they are not kidding. For evidence, one need look no further than the powerlessness of our lawmakers on Capitol Hill, despite that some have fought tooth and nail to stop this seemingly unstoppable force that has undermined our Constitution and our democracy.

The video, below, gives about as succinct an example as you could find. Here, in the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing this past June, committee members sought answers to a simple question: “Could our president order the torturing of the children of terrorist suspects, or the live burial of terrorist suspects, to extract information?” In the skilled hands of Cheney attorneys, Addington and Yoo, it is possible to dodge answers and stonewall the hearings, through clever semantics, legal “sleights of hand,” and stalling to run-out the clock on the 5-minute time limit on testimony. Most Americans are oblivious to the existence of such hearings, which makes all the more concerning the blind acceptance many Americans have extended to Sarah Palin’s thin credentials. This shows a lack of understanding, an ignorance of the real-time issues a president confronts in the course of his or her job — issues that are layered in myriad nuances, that require specific skills and depths of experience. These credentials are sorely lacking in Sarah Palin. Her ridicule of Barack Obama during her speech, when she jeered that he is the sort who would stand up for the rights of terrorist suspects, demanding they be read their rights, reveals a proufoundly dangerous way of thinking for a leader of a democratic society. Granted, there are many, many Americans who would advocate and cheer-on the hanging death of terrorist suspects, without due process or a trial to prove or disprove their innocence. Those who believe it is fair for an innocent human being to be punished for the actions of others, are no different from those very terrorists we claim to abhor.

Americans wave the flag as vigorously today as they did 8 years ago, even as the democracy over which that flag unfurls has become a shadow of its former self. Constitutional law may not be as sexy as mooseburgers, assault rifles and hockey moms but, when it comes to maintaining a democracy, the Constitution has proven itself to be indispensible for over 200 years. What this country needs, first and foremost, is a strong leader with an eye toward restoring our moral compass, and with the knowledge, experience and ability to work with our other lawmakers to restore our Constitution. Without this, the flag we honor represents a democracy that no longer quite exists, except in myth. 

Substance vs. Subtext

There are many in this country who felt a certain gratitude this past May, when Sen. Obama announced one of the goals he intends to accomplish during his first 100 days in office: “I would call my attorney general in and review every single executive order issued by George Bush and overturn those laws or executive decisions that I feel violate the constitution.” Being a Harvard law school graduate, and serving as the president of the Harvard Law Review, and teaching constitutional law for 12 years affords him the credentials to not only aspire to such a task, but to undertake it with some competency. Indeed, some would rightfully claim that the six years Obama served in the Illinois State Senate, followed by nearly 4 years in the U.S. Senate, only add these credentials. There is little doubt that he would receive a wide round of applause from his fellow lawmakers in Congress for undertaking this necessary and most patriotic task to restore our Constitution to its pre-Cheney integrity. This is but one step, and a tiny one at that, given the enormity of change our country has seen over the past 8 years — change that could never have taken place in the open, but which thrived in dark secrecy, which is why so few Americans appreciate the urgency of what lies before us.   

Sarah Palin said it best near the end of her speech: “For a season, a gifted speaker can inspire with his words.”

Sarah Palin may very well be a woman deserving of a mother-of-the-year award and an award for the most popular governor in the country. She would make an inspiring spokesperson for pro-lifers, and a powerful role model for business women everywhere. She needn’t be vice-president to deliver Alaskan oil to the American people. She needn’t be vice-president to address the ongoing need to erase sexism in this country. She can develop this role in her current position as governor of Alaska. 

But Sarah Palin is not ready to be leader of this country, particularly as we emerge from such a dark chapter in the history of our democracy. She gives a great speech, but owns such a shallow command of the facts, as to be dangerous. Here, Sarah Palin is ready-made to be just the leader she’s being groomed to be: a walking, talking PR campaign, whose job is to deliver scripted pep talks, to inspire the uninspired into believing there’s nothing wrong with this country that can’t be fixed with some good old-fashioned, Sarah Palin-style Alaska politics because, godknows, there surely couldn’t be millions of others out here who, given license, could parade out onto a stage and speak with such authority over events of which they know next-to-nothing, thereby insulting an entire country of thinking, intelligent people — men and women alike, but especially women, and most especially those women truly qualified to the vice-presidency. I’d like to think, anyway, that few would embarrass us, as she did, by the cheap relish she enjoyed while hurling the sarcastic, condescending insults she was scripted to wage at her opponents. 

I Feel a Gag Order Coming On

In this vein, we are going to see, in the coming days, the media coerced into silencing the voices of dissent against Sarah Palin. Or, at the very least, softening the criticism. After all, she’s a woman. The media will comply, of course. After all, they’re a business. They’ll bend over backward to avoid getting stuck again with that damned sexist label and being shut-out by the McCain campaign. Maybe 10, 20 years down the road, women will rise again, demanding not only the same rights as men, but the same treatment and the same expectations. For now, chin up, America. Sarah’s got your back. The show must, the show will go on. And, with your help, Sarah Palin is ready to step into George Bush’s shoes and reprise the role of hapless, albeit more glamorous, button-eyed puppet to the Cheney agenda for war and oil, rot and ruin. The American public believes otherwise at their own peril.

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by Mantis Katz, for the canarypapers

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Dick Cheney: The Eight Most Dreaded Words in The English Language

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A film by Robert Greenwald: “Unconstitutional – The War on Our Civil Liberties”

Joe Biden said it best: “For every American who is trying to do the right thing, for all those people in government who are honoring their pledge to uphold the law and respect our Constitution, no longer will the eight most dreaded words in the English language be: ‘The vice president’s office is on the phone.'”

Truly, Biden’s words last night flew by so fast — and coming, as they did, seemingly out of nowhere — that we almost missed them. But these words were, perhaps, the most important words spoken at the convention last night. For those of us who have been paying attention — really paying attention to just what in the hell has happened to our country over the past 7 years — we know that Joe Biden hit the nail on the head: Dick Cheney.

It was Dick Cheney and his henchmen, David Addington and John Yoo, who orchestrated the assault on our Constitution and Bill of Rights; Dick Cheney who orchestrated the cooking of intelligence to go to war in Iraq. It was Dick Cheney who orchestrated the transfer of power in this country from the people’s voice to corporations, so that his corporate cronies could rake in billions upon billions of dollars in the U.S. wars for oil all over the world — from Afghanistan and Iraq, to the more recent war-by-proxy in Georgia (not to mention the other covert wars throughout the Caucuses, Latin America and all of Africa ). 

It was Dick Cheney and his henchmen who orchestrated a system of laws that would legalize torture, secret prisons, extraordinary rendition, illegal detention, the loss of habeas corpus for anyone deemed a terrorist suspect — up to, and including, American citizens, who have been relentlessly spied on over the past 7 years for evidence that they, themselves, might be deemed “rebellions” or “homegrown terrorists” or “terrorist sympathizers” or  “terrorist suspects” or “enemy combatants” for being so bold as to have an opinion on peace, on war, on animal rights, on human rights. 

And it was Dick Cheney and henchman, such as Karl Rove, who orchestrated the fearmongering to feed their “war on terror” — not to protect America from the bad guys, but to scare the hell out of us. It was Dick Cheney who groomed those fears, then exploited them to strong-arm our entire country into gladly surrendering our rights and our laws and, with them, the soul of our country, which has stained our integrity throughout the world. It is Dick Cheney who is a war criminal. It is Dick Cheney who is guilty of myriad impeachable offenses, yet is so powerful that not even the laws of the land dare touch him. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Make no mistake: When Joe Biden referred to “the eight most-dreaded words in the English language,” he wasn’t kidding.

Which makes it all the more important that we pay attention — really pay attention — in the coming months and years because there is nothing to stop the force that is Dick Cheney, save the overwhelming protest of the American people, all the way to Capitol Hill. And even that may not be enough. Remember these things, come election day, when the voting machines malfunction, and the ballots are all screwed up, and hundreds of thousands of people discover their names have been deleted from the lists of registered voters, and the lines at *certain* polls are 8 hours long. Remember this during the months after inauguration, as you discover that — despite all the campaign rhetoric and promises — our leaders on Capitol Hill still seem incapacitated to doing “the right thing.”

Ain’t no election gonna change the fact that some of the most powerful people in the world bow to the sound of those words, and will long continue to do so, even when the words have been reduced to only five: Dick Cheney’s on the phone.

CBC News Documentary: Dick Cheney: the Unauthorized Biography

 

Why Are the FBI and Attorney General Mukasey in Cahoots with Barney Fife?

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Earlier this week, while America’s attention was fixated on the Olympics, John Edwards’ love child, and the Georgia-Russia war (necessarily in that order) this tidbit quietly slipped into the headlines: FBI to get freer rein to look for terrorism suspects. Herein, Attorney General Michael Mukasey announced that the FBI and the Department of Justice have formed a brand new front in the war on homegrown terror. Working with the existing Joint Terrorism Task Force, this new effort will borrow what little is left of our constitutional rights, and hand them to the care of, say, your local Barney Fife.

Reading the above-mentioned article, it takes a little doing to get to the facts, because — if there’s one thing this administration does well, it’s cloaking outrageous truths in the most innocuous language possible. It takes either a skilled translator or a patient researcher to glean facts from the language of this administration — seeded as it is with vague euphemisms and benign jargon.

Here is one example, pertinent to the article. The word ‘agent’ was repeatedly used, in reference to those specific individuals, who will be empowered with violating our constitutional rights, while tracking terrorists. While the term ‘agent’ is nothing new, the word drew our attention after its ninth mention in the article. Just to be sure, we decided to check on the official meaning of the word, ‘agent’ with specific regard to our government’s work in tracking terrorists.

The answers can be found in White House press releases from 2001-2008, along with various documents from the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the Joint Terrorism Task Force, and the Department of Justice. As it turns out, until 2005, the word ‘agent’ referred to only federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement officials. Beginning in 2005, however, the language morphed to federal, state, local, tribal and private sector officials. Just to be sure, we decided to check on the official meaning of the term, ‘private sector.’

Are You a Terrorist? Only Your Hairdresser Knows for Sure

Turns out, a ‘private sector’ agent can be most anyone. All that’s needed is a keen eye for spotting terrorists and the opportunity to spot them. Is your neighbor a computer specialist? A department store security guard? A meter maid? A city sanitation worker? A private eye? A sheriff’s deputy? A dog catcher? A beautician? An unemployed mama’s boy? An ex-con? A murderer? He or she may have a keen eye for spotting terrorists.

Or maybe you, yourself, have a keen eye for spotting terrorists. If so, the FBI will pay you royally to work as an informant. How about your co-worker? Your ex-spouse? Your ex-spouse’s lover? Any of these people have a grudge against you? They could become a paid informant. What about your meter reader, the cable guy, the garbage man, the clerk at city hall? Have any neo-Nazi friends? Know anyone who needs a few extra bucks? If so, they can become a paid informant and finger you to a keen-eyed official, who has the authority to deem you a terrorist suspect, then launch an investigation — tapping your phone, monitoring your computer and cable TV habits, and physically spying on you. You may even get to be the focus of a real live sting operation! Naturally, there are many in this country who wouldn’t feel the least bit threatened to investigated as a terrorist suspect, because they know they’re not terrorists and, besides, as President Bush often reminds us, eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.

Are You Sure You’re Not a Terrorist?

So you think the FBI could never accuse you of being a terrorist? Before taking that leap of faith, it’d be good — just to be sure — to make sure you know the offical definition of a ‘terrorist suspect.’ (<—- our apologies for the source, but this was the clearest copy we could find on the fly).

You May Be A Terrorist, and Not Even Know It

The reality is, just because *you* know that you’re not a terrorist suspect, doesn’t mean that *they* will also know. For instance, if you write a letter-to-the-editor speaking out against cruelty to animals, or in defense of free speech or environmental issues, or if you are a vegan, or a peace activist, or a protester, or have a bumper sticker related to any of these issues, the FBI (via local law enforcement or a tip from a keen informant) may deem you a domestic or homegrown terrorist. Alternately, your name (and the names of your friends & associates) may be entered into the FBI’s terrorist database. Do you wear certain ethnic clothing, or associate with certain ethnicities, or are you a black activist, or do you resemble one, or are you a Muslim, or do you resemble a Muslim? You may be a terrorist suspect.

 

 

Do you have fingerprints? You may be a terrorist suspect.

And what if you’re some (or none) of the above, yet get stopped for a speeding ticket by the local Barney Fife….? Are you wearing bulky clothing? Did you forget your driver’s license? Are you alone and nervous? You may be a terrorist suspect.


Of course, the Bush Administration has been using these tactics for years now. But as the FBI, the CIA and Department of Justice reach further into our lives, who’s to say any one of us couldn’t be shoe-horned into their profile? We, here at the canarypapers, are free-thinkers. We disagree with nearly everything. We especially disagree with everything the Bush Administration has ever done. So I guess you could say we’re defenders of the Constitution. We certainly make enough references to it in our rantings on the Bush-Cheney regime. We’re vegans too, which is another strike against us but, fortunately, we’re too anti-social (woops) to attend vegan potluck dinners. Of course Zeus — darn him to heck — insists on using his nickname, which is another strike against him and, by association, me.

We’d like to think that justice would prevail if our viewpoints were ever used as evidence to accuse us of heinous crimes we didn’t commit. Better still, we’d like to think we live in a country where something like this could never happen. But the truth is, justice doesn’t always prevail.

“If all that Americans want is security, they can go to prison. They’ll have enough to eat, a bed and a roof over their heads. But if an American wants to preserve his dignity and his equality as a human being, he must not bow his neck to any dictatorial government.”

–Dwight D. Eisenhower
 
 
 
 

 

The power to arbitrarily brand people as terrorist suspects is serious business. It becomes dangerous business when placed in the hands of the wrong person, even if that person happens to be the Attorney General of the United States. This sort of power belongs in corrupt dictatorships, not democratic societies.

This would be a good time to call and/or write your state representatives and any other member of Congress inclined to respond to such issues. Protest this dangerous intrusion into our constitutional rights. Tell your representative you are AGAINST implementing Attorney General Mukasey’s 5 new guidlines to transform the FBI/Department of Justice anti-terrorism unit into an elite national security organization, as announced on August 13th.

Tell ’em Checkpoint Chickie sent you.

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