Archive for category Authoritarianism
Via Media Matters, the funniest thing I’ve seen today. I don’t watch the Faux News Channel, but sometimes it can be very entertaining.
Sean Hannity is warning that data mining and surveillance are “very clear violation[s] of the Fourth Amendment,” a drastic change for the Fox News host, who was a loud defender of National Security Agency surveillance during the Bush administration.
To be fair, some Democrats have also switched positions out of pure partisanship: Mika Brzezinski: ‘I’m Probably Guilty’ Of Hypocrisy Over NSA.
Seriously, every President takes an oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Doesn’t matter who the President is — the job is the same. Some have claimed that widespread surveillance of Americans is OK now under President Obama because the FISA Court issued a warrant. But the Fourth Amendment does not allow a blanket warrant to search everybody for everything.
Posted by Glenden Brown in 9/11, Abu Ghraib, Activist groups, al Qaeda, American History, American People, Authoritarianism, Bush Administration, Bush Failures, Condolezza Rice, Conservative, Crimes, Dick Cheney, Disgrace to the Military, George W. Bush, Guantanamo, Harriet Miers, Iraq, Karl Rove, Liars (politics), Lying, Mental health, Neocons, Political Corruption, Proof Bush Lied, Republicans, Rumsfeld, Taliban, Terrorism, The Constitution, This Blog, Tribalism & Blind Obedience to Authority, War Crimes, Wiretapping on March 19, 2013
I hate looking back. Ten years ago today the US invastion of Iraq began.
The push for war with Iraq felt like a time of public madness. The American media has never been less absolutely incompetent than in those months. Yeah, the media pretty much sucks now, but back then they were awful beyond the telling of it. The largest peace rallies in history got no coverage. American media has spent the last decade hoping no one reminds them how bad they were, how gullible, how insanely biased for the Bush administration they were and how they mindlessly lapped up any lie they were told. Read the rest of this entry »
Conservative Patriot Gives In: “As half the nation is in sheer awe of this American Idol “rockstar” presidency.”
I’ve followed this Facebook page for several months. Its one of the best in it’s genre; an excellent reference for study of the authoritarian mind and an excellent resource for tracking the Tea Party memes since 2010.
Its run, and run well, by a single person. Id love to speak with him and find out how I’ve been “dumbed-down.”
He posted the following today:
Conservative Patriots of America: Folks, I cannot do this any longer, it is of NO use. As half the nation is in sheer awe of this American Idol “rockstar” presidency, and the mainstream media is further enabling the STUPIDITY & NONSENSE with the dumbing-down of the citizens, Obama has just played his 115th round of golf — lucky he, huh? Well, how about that UNEMPLOYMENT RATE, or the fact that he met with his now defunct “Jobs Council” only FOUR TIMES before dissolving it — or that National Debt, or that China owns us — I mean, REALLY, WHERE do I begin??
I have sat at my computer for nearly THREE YEARS wasting my time & energy on a matter that cannot be resolved. We are less than one month into the second term, and if any of you have any “foresight,” methinks you will agree with me that NOTHING is going to get done, NOTHING is going to get better, and NOTHING can be done about it. I’ve done what I can & that’s about it, there is nothing more I can do or say. I’ll be hanging Old Glory upside-down for the next four years.
Oh, and to the Trolls, P.S. Do NOT talk about Bush’s vacations, the world was a MUCH different place during Bush’s 2 terms — find something else to bring to the table on this presidency. Join us at: Conservative Patriots of America — on facebook.
Here’s a picture from his page that almost made me want to join up with them “patriots.”
I sent him a Tweet asking him to contact me through Facebook. I hope he’ll give me an interview.
If you’ve read Chris Mooney’s The Republican War on Science, it will come as no surprise that Republicans in Congress are trying to stifle and defund government efforts at objective research. From Moshe Marvit:
Just before the November election, news leaked that the Congressional Research Service had been strongarmed by Senate Republicans into withdrawing a report that analyzed the last six decades of economic data and found, contrary to deeply held Republican dogma, that there was no correlation between top marginal tax rates and economic growth. Six weeks later, after the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, we were reminded that 15 years ago the National Rifle Association successfully lobbied to kill all federal funding of gun research, leaving the public without solid information with which to debate gun control.
Now, as House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has begun calling for an end to federal funding for social science research, Paul Krugman has labeled the modern GOP “the ignorance caucus.”
“These days [Cantor's] party dislikes the whole idea of applying critical thinking and evidence to policy questions,” writes Krugman, who identifies an epistomelogical divide between the parties: “One side believes, at least in principle, in letting its policy views be shaped by facts; the other believes in suppressing the facts if they contradict its fixed beliefs.”
There’s an old line that facts have a liberal bias. So Republicans have decided to declare war on facts.
There’s a deeper problem here, of course. By depriving government agencies and government itself of research, Republicans are crippling the ability of government to make and implement good policy. Research showing no correlation between top marginal tax rates and economic growth strikes at Republican dogma. It also has the power to reshape public debate on the issue. It makes it harder for both sides to make good policy. It turns government into nothing more than a faith-based enterprise. It’s appalling. And it hurts us in both the short and long term.
Somebody has leaked a 16-page “white paper” (PDF) to NBC News’ Michael Isikoff. Prepared by the Obama administration’s Department of Justice, it tries to justify President Obama’s claim that he has the power to target even Americans for assassination without due process. This is not the primary Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) memo justifying Obama’s kill list – that is still classified – but it appears to track the reasoning of that memo as anonymously described to the New York Times in October 2011.
This new memo is entitled: “Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed Against a US Citizen Who is a Senior Operational Leader of Al-Qa’ida or An Associated Force”. It claims its conclusion is “reached with recognition of the extraordinary seriousness of a lethal operation by the United States against a US citizen”. Yet it is every bit as chilling as the Bush OLC torture memos in how its clinical, legalistic tone completely sanitizes the radical and dangerous power it purports to authorize.
According to the “white paper,” if the US government simply asserts without evidence or trial that someone is a terrorist, then they are assumed to be, and they can then be punished as such – with indefinite imprisonment or death. The paper states that presidential assassinations are justified when “an informed, high-level official of the US government has determined that the targeted individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the US.”
What is “an imminent threat”? The paper expressly states that it is inventing “a broader concept of imminence” than is typically used in domestic law. Specifically, the president’s assassination power “does not require that the US have clear evidence that a specific attack… will take place in the immediate future.”
Basically, the Obama administration has asserted the power to kill anyone (including American citizens) anywhere, for any reason (or no reason – how do we know, because the decision is secret?), anytime they want to. And they are claiming that this is constitutional and legal.
I’m encouraged that not all Americans are buying this outrageous claim. A recent poll from Fairleigh Dickinson University found 48 percent of Americans think it is illegal to “target US citizens living in other countries with drones,” while 24 percent think it is legal. But the same poll found majority approval for the use of drone attacks against “people and other targets deemed to be a threat to the US” whether carried out by the CIA or the military, as long as those targets are not American citizens.
Ever since George W. Bush took power as a “unitary executive,” it seems that federal law, our Constitution and Bill of Rights have been all been subject to repeal via secret OLC memos. Illegal government actions became routine, mostly carried out in secret but sometimes we find out about them. The Obama administration hasn’t done much if anything to restore the rule of law, and they have instituted an unprecedented crackdown on whistle-blowers.
The trend is toward more illegality and less transparency.
Via Glenn Greenwald:
Massachusetts’ U.S. attorney Carmen Ortiz and assistant U.S. attorney Stephen Heymann are under fire for their office’s abusive conduct in the two-year prosecution of Aaron Swartz, a 26-year-old Internet activist who killed himself last Friday. Just before his death, prosecutors rejected a plea offer and threatened to take Swartz to trial on 15 trumped-up felony counts, carrying a maximum penalty of 50 years in federal prison. What did he do? He was accused of retrieving over four million academic journal articles from the JSTOR database (he was allowed to access JSTOR, but not to perform a bulk download). That doesn’t even meet the definition of computer hacking – it was a terms of service violation at most.
Swartz’s girlfriend, Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, told the WSJ that the case had drained all of his money and he could not afford to pay for a trial. At Swartz’s funeral in Chicago on Tuesday, his father flatly stated that his son “was killed by the government.”
…A petition on the White House’s website to fire Ortiz quickly exceeded the 25,000 signatures needed to compel a reply, and a similar petition aimed at Heymann has also attracted thousands of signatures, and is likely to gather steam in the wake of revelations that another young hacker committed suicide in 2008 in response to Heymann’s pursuit of him (You can [and I hope will] sign both petitions by clicking on those links; the Heymann petition in particular needs more signatures).
…This is not just prosecutorial abuse. It’s broader than that. It’s all part and parcel of the exploitation of law and the justice system to entrench those in power and shield themselves from meaningful dissent and challenge by making everyone petrified of the consequences of doing anything other than meekly submitting to the status quo.
In a bill called “Aaron’s Law,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) aims to amend the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), which Massachusetts prosecutors used to charge Swartz… In a statement on Reddit, Rep. Lofgren said she wants to reform the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) in order to “prevent what happened to Aaron from happening to other Internet users.” Lofgren, who represents Silicon Valley, is an outspoken voice on technology issues in the U.S. Congress.
Today while waiting for my daughter after school I listened to three concerned young girls discussing how horrible it was that Obama was reelected. The reason they discussed was how “sad it is that now that he is back in he will cut military pay, starting with the navy. My brother is in the navy. He is going to get a pay cut. That is why we should have elected an American.”
Read the rest of this entry »
Utah State Senator Stuart Reid recently floated a proposal that would create a program to educate parents about sexuality in the belief they would turn around and teach their children at home.
“My belief is the discussion really should be about parental responsibility,” said Sen. Stuart Reid, R-Ogden, who plans to sponsor the bill. “Our first instinct shouldn’t be to turn this over to the education community … It should first start in the home.”
Reid said it’s not that parents don’t understand sex, it’s more that they don’t know how to teach certain concepts to their kids or at what ages to begin. Reid said he envisions the State Office of Education holding training sessions across the state once or twice a year where parents would be given codes to access the online program. Reid said Monday he did not yet know how much it would cost the state to implement such a program.
There’s much to laud in Reid’s proposal. One of the major challenges facing parents is a lack of confidence and skill in discussing questions of sexuality with their children. Empowering parents with education and specific techniques is a good idea, especially since so few adults actually received good comprehensive sexuality education as young people. While I can foresee a host of problems in the way the adult program could be created and implemented (this being Utah with its attendant hangups about sexuality) nevertheless, the policy itself is a potential step in the right direction. Emphasis should be placed on the potential since Reid is operating from flawed knowledge of history and a serious misreading of current events.
John Stuart Mill famously pointed out that there was a ‘sufficient but not necessary’ issue in conservatives politics. He claimed that while is was not true that all conservatives were stupid, it was true that the vast majority of stupid people were conservatives.
…now we have numbers on that.
Read the rest of this entry »
Was Alec Baldwin in Salt Lake? I didn’t hear anything on the news.
He/she/it wouldn’t give a single interview to the press and prefer to remain unknown. How many freedoms did we lose this week?
One of those things that everyone knows is true, but turns out not to be true after all, is that the GOP is the party of fiscal responsibility. It doesn’t take a genius to see that this “truth” is questionable at best, but finally people seem to be waking up to the fact. Thinkprogress points out that:
A survey of forty economists from across the ideological and partisan spectrum has concluded that on some of its most cherished issues, the Republican Party has simply taken leave of economic reality. For instance, economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers noted that one of the results from the survey — run by the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, which is hardly known for a left-wing slant — is an overwhelming agreement that the 2009 Recovery Act (i.e. the stimulus) brought down unemployment. But GOP leaders have spent years roundly denouncing the stimulus as a failure.
Utah NSA data center
Via Raw Story:
Three National Security Agency whistle blowers told Viewpoint host Eliot Spitzer on Monday that the agency was gathering information on every person in the United States.
The FISA Amendments Act (FAA) of 2008 gave the NSA broad powers to monitor international phone calls and emails, and granted legal immunity to telecommunication companies that had participated in the Bush administration’s wiretapping program prior to 2008. But former senior official Thomas Drake, former senior analyst Kirk Wiebe, and former technical director William Binney said the NSA was not only monitoring international communications — the agency had been spying on “the entire country.”
Drake said there was a “key decision made shortly after 9/11, which began to rapidly turn the United States of America into the equivalent of a foreign nation for dragnet blanket electronic surveillance.”
Widespread domestic electronic surveillance without a warrant violates the U.S. Constitution. The secret FISA court established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act may issue warrants, but the Constitution clearly prohibits the issuance of blanket warrants.
The Fourth Amendment states, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
The NSA simply does not have the authority to do what they are doing. Who can stop them?
UPDATE: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals answered my question. The warrantless surveillance of Americans is accountability-free. Even if you can prove you were under secret government surveillance (which is almost impossible), your case can still be thrown out of court using the so-called “state secrets privilege.”
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