Archive for category Egypt

The War Power, The Sergeant, the Senator: Treason or Heroism

The Sergeant who some years ago left his post in that unnecessary and unwinnable war in
Afghanistan is either a hero, a traitor, or just a terribly young man in the wrong war at the wrong time. He spent terrible years of torture and probably said things he didn’t really mean.

Some years ago in Vietnam, Senator McCain was shot down over Vietnam, another unconstitutional war, and equally unwinnable war, confessed repeatedly to things he later recanted, once safely in the United States, and is, quite rightly regarded, despite his confessions to American war crimes, a hero. The two cases are not quite completely on all fours, as we say in the law. But the similarity is sufficient to compare with each other and with the undergirding of law.

Presidents, from George Washington to Barack Obama, who are visited by war, either their own or, like Obama, inherited from another (in Obama’s case two other) fools who preceded them, have always had this power. While not yet president, and without this act may well not have become president, Ronald Reagan communicated with Iran, telling them, in effect, just to refuse to deal with Carter on releasing our citizens from the U. S. Embassy in Iran, and await his presidency. Their deal (which killed Jimmie Carter’s hope for a second term and by the way was treason, meriting a firing squad.)

The 30, 60, 90 day notification of Congress is also unconstitutional, but not for the reasons the Republicans and Democrats alike, trumpet. Saint Paul, as I recall, said “this trumpet has an uncertain sound.” And I know he said that some leaders have “zeal without knowledge.” This is Republican and Democratic leaders on steroids, just like my former wife.

The reason the War Powers Act is unconstitutional is not what is now said by either Republicans or Democrats, as I told Joe Biden when he was both Minority Senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate and when he was chair. I testified before his committee a few times, and he called me at the law school sometimes to chat about this. The reason is simple. Due to both a few but very senior Democrats and almost all Republicans, Congress forced the Demo’s to give the president 30, 60, or 90 days to play with Congress’ army while he picked his nose. War has not been officially declared since FDR did it in WW2. George Bush (the first) and Colin Powell, in my opinion, got it right, constitutionally, by voting 50-50 in the Senate, and then the Dark Lord, Vice President Cheney, broke the tie and we went to war in Iraq the right way by law; and they had the smarts to stop when their limited mission was accomplished. And until this time, the President, as Commander in Chief, has no constitutional power to use the United States armed forces, save self-defense.

In the Framers’ mind that means only when the United States of America, not our allies, are attacked. For Utahns, the reason J. Reuben Clark, my hero and a great patriot, a rock-ribbed Republican who served under many Republican presidents, served variously as chief legal adviser to the Department of State (then, as an deputy Attorney General on loan from Justice to State,,,,,,now called Legal Adviser to the State Department; and Vice Secretary of State, and Ambassador to Mexico; and advised many presidents between world wars one and two, on all arms control treaties between those to dreadful wars) opposed NATO was because it delegated the war power to a generation not yet born and for the defense of people, and nations, not yet born. Neither the United Nations (Korean War) nor NATO (Ukraine?) can declare war for the United States of America. This is the statement of law, the War Clause, that makes this beyond debate. Remember, that it is also the sole right of Congress: not the President of the United States, nor NATO, nor the United Nations, that decides what constitutes International law, as well. So, both Constitutional Law and International Law, save an attack on the United States, inform us that Congress, not the president or these international bodies, who determines for war or peace.

So screw the people and the Congress and president now living. When the president, any president, has this army to use, that army will never return to Congress’ care. This is unconstitutional because it is an illegal attempt to delegate to the President a plenary power, given exclusively, textually, to the Congress. Like the power over interstate commerce (the road by which most civil rights legislation is constitutional), along with the equal protection and due process of law clauses of the 5th and 14th amendments. It’s as if Congress were to say to Obama, “Say, friend, we’re so damned tired of life in Washington, despite the cherry blossoms, we will do what the Supreme Court does, and reconvene when good weather returns. We’re going to go to Balboa Island, California, where it’s nice and sunny, in ocean or on the beach, and pick our nose and scratch our butts. And better yet, we have one in eight chances not to pick both with the same finger. Even though we’ve proven, time out of mind, that we in Congress cannot chew gum and pick our nose, simultaneously (a great blessing). So, pres., you now have the taxing and the spending power, and we’ll sweeten the loaf by throwing into the pot, since you do have to stick around in this shitty weather, and give you the power also to fund and provide for the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Navy. And don’t sweat it about financing things by the provision in the Constitution that spending bills begin in the House. Since you already have the taxing and spending power, do all this in the White House. P.S. please instruct the Treasury Department to deliver our checks, our salaries, and all the REALLY big bucks from the armaments industry and all those other lobbyists. We really have earned this right by selling our souls to the devil. Have a good life.

I say that both Senator and Soldier are bona fide heroes. Ed Firmage xoxox

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Romney’s Total Neocon Meltdown

Romney's self-satisfied smirk

The Romney-Ryan campaign achieved a new low on September 11. Willard (“Mitt”) Romney attempted to suggest that President Obama is in league with Arab terrorists, and implied that “American values” include bigotry and hatred based on religious differences. He left the press conference with a self-satisfied smirk reminiscent of the last Republican president. Indeed, Romney’s irresponsible reaction to violence in Libya and Egypt is the surest indication that he plans to repeat the mistakes of George W. Bush.

Because Romney has had almost nothing to say about foreign policy, not enough attention has been focused on who he would appoint to key positions in the White House, Pentagon, and State Department. Of Romney’s forty identified foreign policy advisers, more than 70 percent worked for Bush. John Bolton and other rabid neocons head the list.

Bolton is one of eight Romney advisers who signed letters drafted by the Project for a New American Century, an influential neoconservative advocacy group founded in the 1990s, urging the Clinton and Bush administrations to attack Iraq. PNAC founding member Paula Dobriansky, leading advocate of Bush’s ill-fated “freedom agenda” as an official in the State Department, recently joined the Romney campaign full time. Another PNAC founder, Eliot Cohen, counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice from 2007 to 2009, wrote the foreword to the Romney campaign’s foreign policy white paper, which was titled, perhaps not coincidentally, “An American Century.” Cohen was a tutor to Bush administration neocons. Following 9/11, he dubbed the war on terror “World War IV,” arguing that Iraq, being an “obvious candidate, having not only helped Al Qaeda, but…developed weapons of mass destruction,” should be its center. In 2009 Cohen urged the Obama administration to “actively seek the overthrow” of Iran’s government.

…Romney’s team is notable for including Bush aides tarnished by the Iraq fiasco: Robert Joseph, the National Security Council official who inserted the infamous “sixteen words” in Bush’s 2003 State of the Union message claiming that Iraq had tried to buy enriched uranium from Niger; Dan Senor, former spokesman for the hapless Coalition Provisional Authority under Paul Bremer in Iraq; and Eric Edelman, a top official at the Pentagon under Bush.

There is plenty to criticize in President Obama’s foreign policy, including his conduct of the war in Afghanistan, the failure to close Guantanamo and end preventive detention, the out-of-control drone war in Pakistan, Yemen and other countries, the Libya intervention without congressional authorization, and his attempt to retain military bases in Iraq. However, short of starting a war with Iran, it would be hard to imagine how Obama could do as badly as Bush. America’s allies around the world (with the possible exception of Netanyahu’s Israel) see the Obama administration as an improvement. Our relations with Russia and China have gotten better, too.

Michael Tomasky:

Far from creating his own crisis as Bush did, Obama was hit with one, the Arab Spring. We can’t know how all that will turn out, and things certainly look bleak at this moment in Egypt and Libya. But Obama did the only things that could be done at the time. Can you imagine the United States siding with Hosni Mubarak against those people in Tahrir Square, or permitting the pre-advertised massacre of thousands in Benghazi?

The world is the world. Obama can’t wave a wand at it. But he can do what he has done, which is to run a sober and responsible foreign policy, not one based on theories developed in think-tank seminars underwritten by some hawkish Israeli billionaire. Obama’s approach to foreign policy is the one that has guided this country at its best moments (which have not, alas, been as frequent as we’d like), and it’s the foreign policy most Americans want.


UPDATE:
Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) says President Obama “is apologizing because he didn’t like America.” With friends like Akin, Romney doesn’t need enemies.

UPDATE: Bob Cesca: Mitt Romney Kneejerks Into Another Colossal Blunder (Given an opportunity to look presidential, Romney decided to channel Rush Limbaugh instead)

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A Novel And Movie That Are Too Big To Fail

To Kill A Mockingbird is – in my opinion – a perfect description of Americas struggle to end inequality.

I think Gregory Peck knew he was portraying a man greater then himself, but the result caused people to think about themselves in a different way.

I watched this movie and read the novel when I was very young, but when I saw it again last night, I was stunned by the relevance to recent events.

Poor Black people, Hispanics, Whites and others in our country can only be seen as dealing with oppression in a peaceful way, but poor is a relative word.

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Free Bradley Manning!

I really hate associating myself with Michael Moore or Bradley Manning with an insignificant post, because I’m not anywhere near worthy, but:

From Michael Moore:

A Man in Tunisia, a Movement on Wall Street, and the Soldier Who Ignited the Fuse

Protesters chant slogans against the political party of former President Zine el-Abedine Ben Ali in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia, on January 21, 2011. The city was where Mohamed Bouazizi, a fruit seller, had a confrontation with a municipal inspector that eventually led to his self-immolation in front of the governor’s office in protest. The act fatally burned Bouazizi and is said to have sparked the protests that toppled President Zine el-Abedine Ben Ali’s government.

It’s Saturday night and I didn’t want the day to end before I sent out this note to you.

One year ago on December 17th, Mohamed Bouazizi, a man who had a simple produce stand in Tunisia, set himself on fire to protest his government’s repression. His singular sacrifice ignited a revolution that toppled Tunisia’s dictator and launched revolts in regimes across the Middle East.

Three months ago on December 17th, Occupy Wall Street began with a takeover of New York’s Zuccotti Park. This movement against the greed of corporate America and its banks — and the money that now controls most of our democratic institutions — has quickly spread to hundreds of towns and cities across America. The majority of Americans now agree that a nation where 400 billionaires have more wealth than 160 million Americans combined is not the country they want America to be. The 99% are rising up against the 1% — and now there is no turning back.

Twenty-four years ago on December 17th, U.S. Army Spc. Bradley Manning was born. He has now spent 570 days in a military prison without a trial — simply because he allegedly blew the whistle on the illegal and immoral war in Iraq. He exposed what the Pentagon and the Bush administration did in creating this evil and he did so by allegedly leaking documents and footage to Wikileaks. Many of these documents dealt not only with Iraq but with how we prop up dictators around the world and how our corporations exploit the poor on this planet. (There were even cables with crazy stuff on them, like one detailing Bush’s State Department trying to stop a government minister in another country from holding a screening of ‘Fahrenheit 9/11.’)

The Wikileaks trove was a fascinating look into how the United States conducts its business — and clearly those who don’t want the world to know how we do things in places like, say, Tunisia, were not happy with Bradley Manning.

Mohamed Bouazizi was being treated poorly by government officials because all he wanted to do was set up a cart and sell fruit and vegetables on the street. But local police kept harassing him and trying to stop him. He, like most Tunisians, knew how corrupt their government was. But when Wikileaks published cables from the U.S. ambassador in Tunis confirming the corruption — cables that were published just a week or so before Mohamed set himself on fire — well, that was it for the Tunisian people, and all hell broke loose.

People across the world devoured the information Bradley Manning revealed, and it was used by movements in Egypt, Spain, and eventually Occupy Wall Street to bolster what we already thought was true. Except here were the goods — the evidence that was needed to prove it all true. And then a democracy movement spread around the globe so fast and so deep — and in just a year’s time! When anyone asks me, “Who started Occupy Wall Street?” sometimes I say “Goldman Sachs” or “Chase” but mostly I just say, “Bradley Manning.” It was his courageous action that was the tipping point — and it was not surprising when the dictator of Tunisia censored all news of the Wikileaks documents Manning had allegedly supplied. But the internet took Manning’s gift and spread it throughout Tunisia, a young man set himself on fire and the Arab Spring that led eventually to Zuccotti Park has a young, gay soldier in the United States Army to thank.

And that is why I want to honor Bradley Manning on this, his 24th birthday, and ask the millions of you reading this to join with me in demanding his immediate release. He does not deserve the un-American treatment, including cruel solitary confinement, he’s received in over eighteen months of imprisonment. If anything, this young man deserves a friggin’ medal. He did what great Americans have always done — he took a bold stand against injustice and he did it without stopping for a minute to consider the consequences for himself.

The Pentagon and the national security apparatus are hell-bent on setting an example with Bradley Manning. But we as Americans have a right to know what is being done in our name and with our tax dollars. If the government tries to cover up its malfeasance, then it is the duty of each and every one of us, should the situation arise, to drag the truth, kicking and screaming if necessary, into the light of day.

The American flag was lowered in Iraq this past Thursday as our war on them officially came to an end. If anyone should be on trial or in the brig right now, it should be those men who lied to the nation in order to start this war — and in doing so sent nearly 4,500 Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis to their deaths.

But it is not Bush or Rumsfeld or Cheney or Wolfowitz who sit in prison tonight. It is the hero who exposed them. It is Bradley Manning who has lost his freedom and that, in turn, becomes just one more crime being committed in our name.

I know, I know, c’mon Mike — it’s the holiday season, there’s presents to buy and parties to go to! And yes, this really is one of my favorite weeks of the year. But in the spirit of the man whose birth will be celebrated next Sunday, please do something, anything, to help this young man who spends his birthday tonight behind bars. I say, enough. Let him go home and spend Christmas with his family. We’ve done enough violence to the world this decade while claiming to be a country that admires the Prince of Peace. The war is over. And a whole new movement has a lot to thank Bradley Manning for.

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And here I just ordered a new irony meter.

Avi Asher-Schapiro reports for Salon that the Egyptian military is using teargas made by an American company, CSI, based in Jamestown, Penn.

So, to sum up the irony: We invade a country in the middle east, Iraq, because they had nothing to do with a terrorist attack made, at least partly, because many people felt America is an imperial power, and has too much military influence. Since we know they had nothing to do with the attack, we have to add talk about “spreading democracy” into the mix. We don’t actually spread democracy, rather we bomb a couple hundred thousand Iraqis into the next world. This is totally not an example of the afore mentioned military influence or imperial behavior. Just sayin’.

Read the rest of this entry »

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OWS Movement Imported From Spain But Made in America

When the Wall Street banks collapsed under the Bush/Rove/GOP, it sucked the wind out of the industrialized economies and quickly bled out to across the globe.  If you watched anything other than Beck/O’Reily/Hannity et. al. you will remember the first major protests took place in Iceland.

Meanwhile back at home, a suppressed albeit deeply, cherished, American tradition called racism was reignited when Empire Murdock planted the first images of two adorable, little, chocolate-colored girls playing in the Lincoln Bedroom into the collective brains of pasty White America some of whom in turn, strapped guns to their hips and took to the streets in costumes reminiscent our racist forefathers.

God forgive us for being distracted while the rest of the world began to burn.

The OWS movement came to the western world through Spain.  By early 2011, unemployment in Spain was approaching 21% (46% among youth) as the Arab Spring hit Egypt.  On May 15, 2011 a series of protest, coordinated through Twitter and Facebook, unfolded in 58 Spanish cities.

By now you’ve heard of the New York City General Assembly. They began this summer as a series of meetings “on the fourth floor of 16 Beaver Street, near Wall Street. In addition to New Yorkers, there were also Egyptians, Spaniards, Japanese and Greeks.  Dick Army was not among them.

Due to the lack of centralized coordination its hard to know for sure but as this writing there are an estimated 300 OWS protests in the US alone, over 3,000 arrests.  So far, no sign of the tea party.

Here’s the map.

One of the several Salt Lake OWS Facebook page is approaching 9000 members. You will not find a larger Facebook group specific to Utah. Here’s the local website

The biggest camp is at Pioneer Park downtown (map). Here’s a good video Larry found.

If you can’t camp, please at least go there and take them food (there is a full time kitchen) and warm weather supplies

&

Thanks George W. Bush. Your stumbling incompetence may have changed the world for the better.

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In Light of Egypt Today!

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Why Egypt Is Totally Unlike the USA

Miss USA - Egypt

Recently on firedoglake, Glenn W. Smith opined:

There are very few people around the globe who are not moved by the solidarity and passion of the Egyptian people as they unite to topple their bullying, authoritarian leader, Hosni Mubarak. Here in America, there’s an egocentric temptation to think the Egyptian freedom fighters want to be like us. It’s no longer “they hate us for our freedoms,” it’s “they want to emulate us because of our freedoms.” Both self-centered notions are dead wrong.

…Egyptians don’t want to become like us. They already are like us, and like everyone else, too.

Of course, the consistent media narrative we are exposed to day in and day out tells us that Egyptians are not like us, and our country — America The Exceptional — is not the least bit similar to Egypt. Why, just look at the glaring contrasts!

Egypt is governed under an emergency law that gives its government extraordinary powers in the name of fighting terrorism. This “temporary” law was renewed last May for another two years. The U.S. government has nothing like that, and never will. [See update below]

Egypt is an oligarchy, and everyone knows oligarchies are bad for democracy. In completely unrelated news, Jeb Bush may be running for President next year, and Hillary Clinton might run in 2016.

In Egypt, according to The New York Times, “Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt has long functioned as a state where wealth bought political power and political power bought great wealth.” That could not possibly happen in America.

Glenn Greenwald had some fun with this on Monday:

One would never, ever find in The New York Times such a sweeping denunciation of the plutocratic corruption and merger of private wealth and political power that shapes most of America’s political culture. Just like “torture”– which that paper has no trouble declaring is used by Egypt’s government but will never say is used by ours — such systematic corruption can exist only elsewhere, but never in America. That’s how this genre of Look Over There reporting is not just incomplete but outright misleading: it actively creates the impression that such conditions are found only in those Primitive Foreign Places, but not here.

Unlike Egypt, in the USA you won’t find any election fraud, media censorship, massive unemployment, real estate bubbles, over-spending on the military, or religious fundamentalism. Income inequality is unknown in America — you might as well look for deserts or pyramids.

UPDATE: Maybe I should have dialed back my cynicism about the USA PATRIOT Act extension. There were 26 House Republicans who broke with their party, enough to stall re-authorization of key provisions of the Act set to expire at the end of this month.

UPDATE: USA PATRIOT Act cynicism back on. Out of the 52 members of the House Republican Tea Party Caucus, 44 voted to extend the Act’s Constitution-shredding provisions. That means only 15 percent voted to uphold the Constitution – Tea Party FAIL. Utah Rep. Rob Bishop voted against re-authorization, but not fellow Republican Jason Chaffetz or Democrat Jim Matheson.

Also, Steve Benen notes:

For Patriot Act critics, this was a pleasant surprise, but the satisfaction will very likely be short-lived — the reauthorization will come back to the floor later this month under regular order, and will need only a simple majority to advance to the Senate.

UPDATE: Looks like Mubarak is going to step down, with a military-run interim government taking over Egypt.

UPDATE: In his speech on Egyptian TV, Mubarak indicated he plans to keep his title as President but transfer power to the Vice President, Omar Suleiman. “Angry crowds are chanting as Tahrir Square erupts following the Mubarak’s refusal to step down.”

UPDATE: After yesterday’s false start, today it was announced that Mubarak is out and the Supreme Military Council will run Egypt at least for now. “The euphoria is unimaginable,” writes Spencer Ackerman.

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The Truth Just IS

revolution comparison

When I logged on to BradBlog.com a few minutes ago, I saw this photographic comparison of present and past events. We all remember the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s statue in Bagdad, because we all saw it a billion times. Since I was getting my news from reliable sources at the time, I already knew the true scope of that event, but seeing it combined with this picture of current events is a little like bumping your head on a metal beam.

For those of you who may not know; the bottom picture is an actual Reuters News Service photo taken from a revealing vantage point DURING the event where Saddam’s statue was pulled down. The insert is a closer shot.

Makes you proud to be a American, doesn’t it? :(

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