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In Us We Have to Trust

The official default is to lie

 

“If people can't trust not only the executive branch but also don't trust Congress, and don't trust federal judges, to make sure that we're abiding by the Constitution with due process and rule of law, then we're going to have some problems here.”

-- President Barack Obama
 

While President Obama used the right words in this quote, he clearly is taking the public for idiots.
 
Because as he surely is aware, we do have some big problems. They are not caused by misguided citizens who foolishly mistrust their government, though. Rather, our problems stem from the fact that our leaders, including him, have consistently lied to us, been corrupted by big money and have acted to benefit corporate interests to the detriment of the commonweal.

On March 12 of this year, when Obama's National Intelligence Director James Clapper told a congressional inquiry that the government does not wittingly conduct surveillance of Americans, he was lying. He was deliberately deceiving the very people upon whom we're told to rely to exercise oversight and safeguard our rights. When caught out in his lie by the disclosures of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, Clapper additted his prevarications, saying he had tried to give “the least untrue answer” he could come up with.

Obama himself too, subsequent to Snowden’s disclosures of the NSA’s nationwide vacuuming up of all electronic communications of all Americans, has radically changed his tune about the surveillance techniques which he criticized under President Bush but has now embraced fully.

At this point, when it comes to our elected and appointed leaders, we can trust only that their words are untrustworthy.

Trust Congress? Venal, corrupted, pawns of their powerful financial contributors, feckless posturing maintainers of the status quo; not too much to trust there.

How about the courts? How much trust can we gin up for the brilliant black robed justices who have anointed corporations with personhood? When they go duck hunting with a torture advocating Vice President one day, and rule on the constitutionality of his draconian national security laws the next, how much trust do they inspire?

No Mr. President, the problem is not with us, it is squarely with you and the National Security State that preceded you and that you have continued to further expand and empower.
Who're we gonna believe, our leaders or our lying common sense?Who're we gonna believe, our leaders or our lying common sense?

A Nation's Betrayal

Making the hero pay:

 

This week, the government began their assault against private Bradley Manning. Even though he has already plead guilty to misusing classified documents and faces twenty years in prison, prosecutors want him branded as having aided the enemy, with a life sentence to go along.

The government is incensed that this lowly private would take his oath to protect and preserve the Constitution seriously enough to expose illegal and unconstitutional acts by our government. They are furious that Manning's leaks gave the world video proof of some of the American military's war crimes. They want vengeance because the callous, supercilious, erroneous and ignorant acts by government officials in dealing with international affairs have been revealed to all through the leaked cables. They are embarrassed that they have been exposed as the lying liars that the public generally assumes them to be. They are mortified that some citizen or news organization will draw peoples' attention to the fact that the government is over-classifying documents at conspiratorial levels.

So, reminiscent of the best of Stalin or Kafka, they have put Bradley Manning “on trial” for his crimes. They will rely on secret evidence to make their case. They will not give Manning's defense full access to this evidence. And they will prevent him from being able to shine the spotlight on what should really be on trial here: the illegal and immoral actions of the United States government and military. Even Fulgencio Batista, the military dictator of Cuba, allowed Fidel Castro to speak in his own defense without censoring him while he was being tried for an armed assault on a Cuban military installation. Of course, Batista would soon be driven from power by Castro, and the oligarchy that runs America doesn't want to make the same mistake. So they will stack the deck against Manning, bring the media on board with tantalizing but vague claims of national security threats and then concoct some sort of narrative that casts the Private as a troubled, unstable soul, or perhaps a misguided and vindictive one that will explain away the why of the crime and the erase the significance of anything unearthed in the leaked documents.

Let's take a moment to consider some of the conduct of our most recent leaders and the outcomes of that conduct. Lyndon Johnson lied about a naval incident in the Gulf of Tonkin in order to initiate combat in Vietnam. Nixon lied to the American people about a secret plan to end the war while he was actually using intermediaries to delay peace talks to help his election chances. More than one million Vietnamese and 58,209 Americans perished in that senseless war. America's prestige was exposed as a fraud and we are still exacting a price from homeless veterans, Agent Orange survivors and PTSD victims, not to mention the decades it has taken in restoration efforts in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.
Pvt. Bradley Manning, a hero betrayed by his own commander in chiefPvt. Bradley Manning, a hero betrayed by his own commander in chief

Andre Vitchek's 'Point of No Return'

Book Review:

 

Point of No Return, a mixture of novel and autobiography, is an engaging story of an intrepid war correspondent who resembles a saucy crime detective. It is superb story-telling.

Andre Vltchek’s just re-released Point of No Return is a revised third edition. First published in 2005, the French edition was widely praised, with one French critic compared the authors writing with that of Malraux and Hemingway.

The hero is Karel, who has covered dozens of foreign wars and internal liberation struggles. Most of the book concerns Israel-Palestine and Latin America, especially Peru. Indonesia’s aggression against East Timor and Egypt also play important roles. There are also stops in Paris, New York and Japan.

The author Andre has traveled to three-fourths of the world’s countries over two decades, communicating to whomever he can reach about the state of the world. He has written a score of non-fiction, fiction and poetry books. He is also a photographer and documentary film-maker.

The robust story flows rhythmically, sensually, enticingly. It is a sad reality that the veteran war correspondent encounters sometimes sickening things, which are just a reality of living and dying for three-fourths of the world’s seven billion people.

In Andre’s own words:

“Politicians and economists are blurring the whole picture…A small group of historically aggressive nations is still ruling the world. The economic system which it promotes has nothing to do with humanism, with solidarity, compassion, willingness to share. We have billions of people rotting in gutters all over the world; hundreds of millions of people dying from curable or at least controllable diseases. The rich world is still plundering the rest of the planet; stealing raw materials, employing people for a pittance.... If poor nations resist, the rich world stages coups or something worse.... And it is all legitimized through the United Nations, which was sidelined, made truly impotent...”
Author Andre VitchekAuthor Andre Vitchek

Destroying Ourselves

Heading towards a police state

 

Has the "land of the free and home of the brave" decided to roll over and concede defeat to terrorism?

George Bush's “war on terror,” supinely backed by a cowed Congress of Democrats and Republicans, re-introduced torture to the American playbook, finished what Bill Clinton started in taking away our right to habeus corpus, made illegal wiretapping routine and built a culture of fear in our national psyche in order to keep us from rising up against these assaults on our Constitution. Barack Obama has continued these practices and gone further with his obsession with drone attacks worldwide, including strikes that murder American citizens without even bothering with indictments, let alone trials, and with his further expansion of wiretaps, secret government and police spying and repression of Constitutionally protected protest.

Now, in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing and subsequent manhunt, we're being told that there are a couple of new aspects to this “new normal” that we'll just have to get used to. Functional martial law--the shutting down of an entire metropolitan region -- has now happened without even an official declaration from the governor or the president. Our 4th Amendment right protecting us from unwarranted search and seizure no longer has any meaning if the powers that be deem it inconvenient. And the right to be told that we can remain silent rather than incriminate ourselves under interrogation is now optional, again at the discretion of the police authorities.
 
Let's examine these two new nails in the Constitution's coffin. During the manhunt, Boston and federal authorities, backed by National Guard troops and possibly private mercenaries (who were observed, though never officially acknowledged, working at the scene of the marathon), locked down the city, ordering residents to stay inside while police officers ignored the fourth amendment and entered any house at will in their search.

 Stay inside, don't question police, and you probably won't get hurt...Welcome to the new America: Stay inside, don't question police, and you probably won't get hurt...

Can Working from the Inside Change the Democratic Party?

True Blue Democrats:

 

Occupy Wall Street’s dynamic grass roots movement is quiescent and may or may not return. Its respite or demise is due to a combination of deliberate and apparently nationally directed police violence and federal, state and local government spying, as well as to its own lack of political direction. It remains a political space to focus tremendous energy and passion, and draw to it many millions of the 99%.

Many sympathetic to OWS maintain that it needs a political party. One of them is Patrick Walker, a native of the gritty industrial city of Scranton in northeastern Pennsylvania. Walker participated the OWS movement as part of Occupy Scranton. He has also joined in anti-fracking activism via the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition and End Gasocracy Now, which put him under the watchful eye of Homeland Security.

Following a move to Georgia, Walker now seeks to gain political traction by focusing his efforts on progressive Democrats within the Democratic Party (D.P.), hoping to bring the party “back” to the 99%. He does not seek D.P. permission as do many other insider party reform efforts.

Walker began his effort—which he calls Start a True Blue Democrat Progressive Revolt—on two websites:
RuckUs and at True Blue Democrats: A Progressive Revolt

"We need to take our political system back from Big Money. I offer this as a promising strategy idea for making that happen,” Walker says.

As he sees it, “The people in Washington and our statehouses -- Republicans and Democrats -- are already too bought off by (or scared of) Big Money to listen to ‘We the people’.”

Can the passion of the Occupy Movement be turned to taking over the Democratic Party?Can the passion of the Occupy Movement be turned to taking over the Democratic Party, or is the Democratic Party a lost cause?

Support Your Local Bookstore

No Shushing Here:

 

I am a Los Angeles resident who has spent most of my life on the west side of the city. After leaving Long Island, New York in 1963 and moving to San Diego for a year, I’ve lived in Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Pacific Palisades and Westwood with six months off for good behavior in Kona in 2009 and a total of two years in France during the 1970’s. Those were the best ! My life has been mostly about writers, theatre and books. From 1967 on, I covered small theatre, poetry and literary profiles for the LA Times. At my best I reviewed and rediscovered John Fante in 1978 and introduced him to Charles Bukowski that same year . The John Fante tapes from five different meetings are available online in text and audio from 3 Am Magazine thanks to Susan Tomaselli, editor. That’s something books can’t do unless they contain CD’s. In the sixties, I wrote a piece on Bukowski for the Free Press when we were both employed there. It was a Symposium on LA writers taped live at the newspaper. Steve Richmond, Ron Koertge and Gerald Locklin chimed in. It was fun. Bukowski did drawings to match.

Each time I worked on a piece for the Times or the Free Press or Reader, I was in and out of bookstores. It was a place to check up on facts, from the owners like Ken Hyre and Phil Mason, to the readers and writers who congregated there. “Do you have a copy of The Green Hat?” Phil Mason had several. Later, when I did pieces for Los Angeles Magazine on Bukowski the week he died and on Fante long after he was dead, I went to Larry Edwards on Hollywood Blvd. and Williams in San Pedro. The owners had the books I needed and they had met either Fante or Bukowski. And then there was always Vromans in Pasadena, the town where Bukowski’s father was born. They’ve been there for more than a hundred years!

Every time I took on a controversial subject, I checked in at bookstores. If Phil Mason didn’t have the info I needed at Yesterday’s books, say on Mencken and Fante, he knew someone who did. Like Ken Hyre or Jake Zeitlin.

An Evening of Lines and Words Featuring Ben Pleasants and Rafael Bunuel. Parts I and IIAn Evening of Lines and Words Featuring Ben Pleasants and Rafael Buñuel (in two parts -- click the image for Part I. Links to Part I and Part II are in the text below)

Too Big to Jail

Not Too Big to Resist

 

Corporate America just received the confirmation that they've been waiting for.
 
The attorney general of the United States has now admitted that the biggest American financial corporations have created such a labyrinth of their structures and practices that the Justice Department has given up trying to police them in matters ofcorruption or criminal malfeasance, saying that bringing down any of these mega-banks or businesses could cause crash the economy.
 
In 2008, the Justice Department announced a shift in policy, deciding to be cooperative with the big banks, and to encourage self-policing and self-reporting by the corporations, rather than vigorously prosecuting lawbreaking. After all, according to a DOJ directive of August of that year, “federal prosecutors and corporate leaders typically share common goals.”
 
As Elizabeth Warren pointed out this week in a Senate hearing with Treasury department officials, even though HSBC bank has admitted laundering over 800 million dollars for drug cartels, not one of their bankers has even been charged, let alone convicted for the crime; “If you're caught with an ounce of cocaine, the chances are good you go to jail. If you're caught repeatedly, you can go to jail for life. Incidentally, if you launder nearly a billion dollars in drug money, your company pays a fine and you go home and sleep in your own bed at night.”

And it's not just banks. Corporate America has successfully engineered a coup d'etat under our noses without firing a shot. They have paid Congress and the Executive branch to enable this unprecedented power grab through tax laws, finance policy and the gutting of traditional concerns for the welfare of the common citizen. They have enjoyed the collusion of the courts, culminating in the Supreme Court'spreposterous Citizens United ruling that corporations are "people" in the "original intent" of the Constitution. NOW, even the regulators have come out and admitted that they are no longer really in the game.

 world's biggest drug money-laundering institution, but too big to prosecuteHSBC: world's biggest drug money-laundering institution, but too big to prosecute

But Obama is the Worst US President Ever

True, He's the First Black President

 

Yes, I mean it: the worst ever!

We’ve had James Monroe and his doctrine of supremacy over Latin America. We’ve had Theodore Roosevelt and his invasion of Cuba; Nixon, Reagan, Bush-Bush and their mass murder, and all the war crimes and genocide committed by most presidents. Yes, but we never had a black man sit on the white throne of imperialism committing war crimes.

And there he is, murdering even more people in Afghanistan than Bush, backing coups in Latin America, continuing to undermine Iraq, sending drones, mercenaries, saboteurs to Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Uganda, Libya and now Syria. He bores deeper into several African countries, rich with oil and minerals, than his white predecessors, Democrats and Republicans. The US is eliminating the few secular governments that there were in the Middle East and North Africa.

Obama is busier fulfilling total USAmerican world domination than even Bush, Reagan and Nixon.

He is the president for US corporations. With his black Kenyan roots he can walk into Africa’s rich parlors and black "White Houses" and communicate with these butchers better than any of the capitalist class’ earlier presidents, all of them white.

Obama is worse than them, precisely because he betrays all his black “brothers and sisters” in the US, all except a few rich and opportunistic ones. He was the hope; he would improve their lot, and that of the poor, the working people. But he has done nothing of the sort. Instead, he takes from them to give to the rich, the worst criminals on Wall Street, the war industry, the oil and mineral industries. Virtually all of his economic advisors hail from Wall Street and in many cases were central figures in the enormous economic crimes of the last few years that have stolen hundreds of billions, even trillions of dollars from the poor and the middle class. His top militarists, Homeland Security thugs, and CIA killers are some of those that Bush used -- most of them Republicans.

Obama's drones have killed nearly 200 children since he won his Nobel Peace PrizeObama's drones have killed nearly 200 children since he won his Nobel Peace Prize

The US and the M Word

Droning On:

 

‘If the President Does It, It Isn’t Illegal’
-- Richard M. Nixon

 

Drones are finally coming out of the closet. During John Brennan's confirmation hearings for C.I.A. director, we started to learn a little more about the use of deadly drones by the U.S. government. Brennan's testimony acknowledged the the use of drones, including attacks that targeted an American citizen. Mainstream media outlets like NPR have even been talking about U.S. drone policy and its place within the framework of U.S. and international law.

Currently, drones are being used as surveillance vehicles armed with cameras, and as killing machines armed with one or two 100-pound Hellfire guided missiles. As we learned earlier this year, every Tuesday morning, the president and his national security team regularly go over the list of current bad guys and decide if they want to kill any of them.

Many of these “kills” are located in countries where we have to rely on sketchy intelligence provided by people with agendas of their own. Many of the “bad guys” are not bad; they are just unlucky enough to have the same name as a bad guy, or a bad guy as a brother or cousin. ("Bad" is also in the eye of the beholder. Many deemed "bad" by US officials see themselves, or are seen by locals as "freedom fighters" against an unwanted occupier.)

If any male (technically any male older than sixteen, but the US isn't asking for birth certificates) is in the vicinity of a "bad guy," then in the US view, he is a terrorist by association and his death gets to be counted in the tally of enemy dead, as opposed to being another unfortunate number in the collateral damage column. It resembles the Vietnam War, when all the dead in a search-and-destroy mission were counted as “VC kills.”

How hard we have worked to develop an appropriate vocabulary to describe death dissemination!

Mother and two kids, victims of US drone attack in Pakistan. Enemy combatants in the Pentagon's accounting.Mother and two kids, victims of US drone attack in Pakistan. Enemy combatants in the Pentagon's accounting.

'Financial Crime'

A new video by Class War Films

 

Class War Films, the brainchild of three filmmakers, Lanny Cotler, and Paul and Jason Edwards, has offered to provide ThisCantBeHappening! with occasional short videos on topics like this, military spending, political fraud, financial crime, etc. They are working on creating a website, which will be called ClassWarriors.org, which should be functioning "soon" we are informed.

We're happy here at TCBH! to be able to help get their films out to a wider public.
 

Click on the image to play the videoClick on the image to play the video

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by Dr. Radut