A report came over the AP wire last night that, if this were any other country in the world, would have been the top news story for days: “Multiple shots were fired inside a northern New Jersey mall shortly before closing time Monday night,” read the opening line of the report and Americans, having been through this drill before, found a cable TV talking head or pieced together facts from the ever reliable twitter and were able to learn, in short order, that a man, described by eyewitnesses as wearing “body armor, black leather pants and a motorcycle helmet,” was seen walking by Talbots in the Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, New Jersey shooting his rifle into the air.
A huge local and state police presence responded the mall went into lockdown and the incident ended when the gunman apparently took his own life in a Footlocker store. Incidents like this always bring out the defenders of our gun culture in force. “Guns don’t kill people, defenders of the homicidal gun culture are wont to say, people kill people. Except there is this: If I want to get from point A to B a car, bus or train will do the trick, because that is what they are designed to do. If I want to get in shape, a treadmill, (if I ever get on the treadmill – but enough about me) will do the trick because that is what a treadmill is designed to do. If I want to signal to the world I am sucker for branding and fashion and will pay more for an inferior products, DR. Dre’s BEATS headphones will signal this to the world. And while cars, when driven by drunk drivers; treadmills when run on by people with a heart condition, and fashion all can kill, the difference between all of those items and guns is simple: when guns kill, they have functioned as intended by their manufacture.
When car accident kills people, it is a horrible accident. When a gun kills someone, it is an example of the product functioning as intended.
At an Affordable Care Act rally President Obama was delivering a speech defending ACA (Obamacare) protesters interrupted the proceeding by shouting “Mr. President! (Inaudible)! Stop climate change! For our generation! Stop the pipeline!”
“Okay, we’re talking about healthcare today, but we will,” Obama said, as the crowd started to boo the protestors. “No, no, no it’s okay,” Obama said. Before delivering a line that drew a huge laugh: “That is the wrong rally!”
Well, Mr. Yuck-yuck in chief, here is why those kids WERE at the correct rally:
The common denominator between Keystone XL and Obamacare is the neoliberal Corporate Capitalism ball field (if you will allow a baseball metaphor today of all days) on which the game of hope change is played. On this field, change means health care equals health insurance- mandating that we give money to insurance companies that profit only when they deny service. In the extreme, this means insurance companies profits- and the profits of their stockholders, increase when people die.
That is not hyperbole that is how the game is played.
Profit, in this game, is how the players win. The players this game favors are corporations, who under the infinite sadism of our Supreme Court, have been cleared to play in this game as people, be they health insurance corporations or corporations who want to increase their bottom line by piping the dirtiest oil in the planet through the middle of our country so we can continue to destroy the earth and increase the frequency and ferocity of super storms like Hurricane Sandy so that Rock stars can sing at a benefit concert and we can feel good by can texting our donations to the red cross so they can pay their salaries and maintain their bricks and mortar while the residents of Staten Island, for example, fester and wait empty handed.
So the protesters were in the right place, Mr. Obama- because it is the rules of the game itself that need to change.
It has been said that it is no measure of health to be well adjusted in a profoundly sick society. And there is no way you can be awake and deny that we live in a profoundly sick society. So, are you well adjusted? Listen, if you live in the United States or the UK or in one of the countries where the ruling class benefits from the dominant system of global corporate capitalism, your government is either committing or enabling crimes against humanity that include, but are in no way limited to war crimes, illegal surveillance, illegal occupations, and covert government coups. THESE ARE FACTS, not hyperbole. Life is not, in the words of Forrest Gump’s mother “a Box of chocolates where you never know what you are going to get.” The global elite know what they are going to get- they are going to win and the rest of is are going to lose.
If the movie Forrest Gump teaches us anything it is that no matter the injustice or horror of the past, it is best to stay dumb, just keep plugging away, and sooner or later you will get your favorite little chocolate instead of the macadamia heath bar coconut crap that you chew twice and try and sneak back into the box before grandma can see. Sure, some of us (white people and people of color in Superpowers like the United States and our allies who play along; who present as well adjusted) benefit from the global systemic oppression and a are rewarded with nice chocolates, in other words: comparatively decent schools, nicely groomed little league fields and credit lines at Wal-Mart to buy clothes made in homicidal sweetshop conditions in a country far away from a WalMart associate who is paid so little that WalMart supercenters cost the taxpayer almost 1 million dollars each because their employees qualify for food stamps and other government programs to meet their basic needs while the six Walton heirs have an accumulated wealth matching the bottom 40%- or about 150 million- Americans, but hey, save money, live better right?
And if you are cool with all of that, you are well adjusted.
Being in the U.S. armed services is a much more extreme version of being a U.S. citizen. The code of obedience and the punishments for stepping out of line are far greater than for citizens like me. Bradley Manning, who saw the insanity of war, who released evidence of crimes the U.S. government was committing, whose truth telling ended the war in Iraq and helped spark a global revolution, and as Rainey Reitman of the Freedom of the Press Foundation says, caused “no more harm to the United States than a dentist hurts a patient when removing an abscessed tooth” was sentenced to 35 years in prison, while the architects of the illegal, immoral and blowback inducing war on terror remain free. More than that, less than 24 hours before Manning learned he would be sentenced to 35 years, Obama’s Department of Justice requested that George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and Paul Wolfowitz be granted procedural immunity in a case alleging that they planned and waged the Iraq War in violation of international law.
When President Obama declared Manning guilty in April 2011, more than two years before his trial began, how many journalists save for Kevin Goztola & Alexa O’Brien and a small handful of others were pointing out that Obama’s statement constituted an unlawful command influence, in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. You see, if you have press credentials and you parrot the narrative of the Pentagon and the White House, you are a considered a journalist. If you challenge the dominant narrative- and very few do- you are considered a terrorist.
Ask Laura Poitras, the documentary filmmaker who teamed up with Glenn Greenwald to held Edward Snowden reveal that Big Brother exists, not in an Orwell novel, but on your computer right now. Go ahead, ask her: she now lives and works in Germany because she does not feel she can safely do her work in the U.S.. Ask Glenn Greenwald, who continues to break the story of Edward Snowden’s revelations and who saw his partner David Miranda detained in an airport under a terrorism act and who had his computer, video game, mobile phone, and his memory card seized because he was traveling from Poitras to Greenwald. Ask the editor of the Guardian who saw computers and hard drives in that news office destroyed under threat of legal action by the British government. Or ask ask Michael Grunwald, Time magazine’s senior national correspondent- who last week said that he couldn’t wait to write a defense of the drone strike that takes out Julian Assange. You see, people, even journalists – pick sides. That in and of itself is no crime. What is a crime is that more journalists can’t or won’t pick the side Bradley Manning chooses: truth.
And so the dominant narrative remains that we are in a well-adjusted society, enjoying a box of chocolates. And if you continue to stay in that box, well, stupid is as stupid does.
Joel Northam, reporting for Acronym TV, states: “President Obama could have been Trayvon Martin 35 years ago, yet fortunately he was privileged enough to receive an elite education whilst being groomed by established power to become the Drone Bombing, Bank Bailing, Whistleblower Torturing, Immigrant Deporting, Civil Liberty shredding, corporate puppet that he is today. Although the Trayvon Martin tragedy still burns deep within our hearts, it is a blessing that he doesn’t have to see politicians use his death to cater to the emotions of the angry masses while they continue their business as usual of worldwide plunder of resources and exploitation of the global working class.”
This is a episode segment. To watch the full episode, click here.
It is no surprise that those who benefit from systems of oppression and racism are much less likely to see the scaffolding that continues to smother people of color. Nearly 50 years after Martin Luther King, Jr’s I have a dream speech have we come any closer to judging people by the content of their character and not the color of their skin?
The murder of Trayvon Martin by a man found not guilty by our criminal justice system, only means that justice was served if you presuppose that the criminal justice system, as it currently functions, delivers justice equally across racial barriers. To hold to that belief system requires one ignore mountains of evidence and pull the cloak of white privilege over ones head. A special report by Acronym TV reporter Joel Northam breaks down where the black bourgeois representatives of the civil rights industrial complex such as the Reverend Al Sharpton fall short. Also, I talk to people on the street in Boston about White privilege.
Also on today’s show, Hunger Strikes prepare to protest in Washington, Occupy is about to launch a debit card, Bradley Manning wins a Peace Prize, and in response to the myriad ways in which the corporate coup of the US government is driving more and more people into poverty and despair all around the globe, I am unveiling a new segment #WENEEDADEMOCRACYMOVEMENTTOFIXTHISSH*T!
President Barack Obama is set to arrive in Israel next week- and has set the bar for peace about as low as it can get, saying that he won’t be carrying in a grand peace plan for the middle east when he arrives. So, the Obama visit is a low expectations game of international charades that, depending on how cynical your point of view, is either a solidification of allies before world war three ensues or a simply friends helping each other tread water in the sea of status quo that – in the powder keg of the middle east, is as untenable as David Hasselhoff’s sobriety.
It is hard to imagine lower expectations for a presidential visit to Isreal. But our Nobel Peace prize winning Drone in chief could be, in the words of Thomas Freidman, ” the first sitting American president to visit Israel as a tourist.”
An even more cynical view was taken in a New York Times piece by Professor Rashid Khalidi of Columbia University that harshly criticizes Obama’s policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Toward the end of his first term, Mr. Obama essentially abandoned his already modest peacemaking agenda in exchange for a lull in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s campaign for war with Iran. Palestine was again sacrificed, this time to bribe a belligerent Israel for temporary good behavior.
Obama will stand in front of the cameras in Israel and say the “Two-State Model” for Israel and Palestine is the only acceptable model for cohabitation and yet still pledge unyielding loyalty to our friend- the Apartheid occupier of state that is Israel. Friends should not let other friends colonize and brutally suppress and entire people, but perhaps the USA fears being the pot calling the kettle black if we dare get serious about the Imperial reach of Isreal.
If Obama were to live up the honor bestowed upon him by the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, a group who – like US foreign policy- now seems to strike preemptively- he would not simply make his trip to Isreal a tourist trip with little or no consequence- he would say in ways public and private something along the lines of the following: Hey Bibi: Imagine a Free Palestinian people, and now make it happen- reverse your settlement drive in the west bank, Military might does not make a moral right- end the occupations now. A great mind and a deft politician of the likes we like to pretend Obama is, was or could be may even find a way to leverage this bold move of ending the Israeli occupations for a lasting peace with Iran.
What is that, I hear you saying, a nuclear-armed Iran would be catastrophic for the region and world peace? Perhaps- but putting aside the hubris of the only country in the world to ever get all Hiroshima and Nagasaki up in this joint on legislating the military morality of when where and who can swing their nuclear tipped disco sticks in the air like they just don’t care- the fact is that the claim that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons capability has as much merit, and is being pushed by the same fabricators and interpreters of so called intelligence as the “Iraq HAS Weapons of Mass Destruction” lie.
In defeating the grandfatherly Ken doll with the heart of a blood sucking vampire squid and his religiously radical running mate who claimed that a child conceived in the act of rape is a blessing from God, you might not want to gloat too much. To use a sports analogy, you did not so much win as the other guy lost. Even so, you never in your entire life have to run for public office again. What a weight off of your shoulders that must be!
So forgive me for being obtuse, but now that you have nothing to lose, why do you –- in the guise of this Grand Bargain you are talking about — want to author a plan that will gut social security, Medicare, and unemployment benefits while simultaneously protecting corporate welfare? That hardly seems like a bargain; that seems more like theft.
If you ditch this grand bargain idea of yours and adopt some of the principles outlined in the extraordinary document entitled The 99%’s Deficit Proposal, you will expose just how little our elected officials serve our interests. You will enjoy a popular support like never before — and even if you make a few enemies with the Wall Street crowd, who cares? Remember, you never have to run for office again.
Ditch The Grand Bargain and commence with Operation Trojan Horse!
On taxes: A tax of ½ percent on the sale of stocks bonds and derivate, is much less than the tax we pay on underwear, and yet this speculation tax would raise about $800 billion over the next decade. Want to add a trillion to that? Tax capitol gains at the same rates as income? Why should the profits from stocks that Mitt and Ann had to sell just to scrape by in college be taxed at a lower rate than the guy working construction to get himself through college?
On Social Security: We can have a fully funded social security for its 75-year planning period if we removed the outdated cap on wages subject to the social security tax of $107,000. Tax all wages and social security is fully funded. No bargain. No debate. You’re welcome.
On Medicare and Medicare: Dude, you don’t want to go down in history as undoing Medicare, do you? How about we cut the waste in Medicare and Medicaid. The for-profit middle man health insurance industry has created a pervasive culture of -– as Ralph Nader points out — over diagnosed, over-treated and erroneous or unnecessary procedures that come with a price tag in the hundreds of billions of dollars per year.
A single-payer, full Medicare for all system would cut present administrative costs in half. Canada’s system, which allows patients to freely choose their doctor and hospital, covers everyone for half of the $9000 per capita that Americans will pay this year. Our system leaves 50 million people uncovered of whom 45,000 will die this year alone due to lack of coverage, according to a peer-reviewed study by Harvard Medical School researchers.
You supported single-payer, President Obama, before your meteoric ride through the corrupted electoral process. But you’re done with that now. No more elections. So ditch your grand bargain and lead us to a grand new deal: one that reverses the decades long upward re-distribution of wealth. Don’t bargain with the elites who want to take away food stamps from 47 million Americans, and drive even more than the into poverty — a group that now numbers 30% of Americans now and yet shockingly, was not courted at all in the election cycle.
The effect of your Grand Austerity bargain will be this: more and more people will realize that graphs showing the wealth divide will continue to widen, their debt load will continue to grow and once the American Dream is revealed as a hoax, our streets will look like those of Spain, Greece, or worse. While I know you have a rainy day plan for this potential outcome in the form of a hyper-militarized police force and constitution busting laws like the NDAA in place, I don’t want to believe that that is part of your grand bargain.
There has been a class war going on in this country for decades, waged by the elite against the rest of us.
Now that you no longer have to raise money from those blood sucking vampire squids ever again, we are asking, President Obama, which side are you on?
It is estimated that 90 million eligible votes will sit out this election. While there are small handfuls that articulate principled stances against voting, the overwhelming majority is part of an epidemic of indifference or self-imposed impotence.
In your recently published blog post 90 Million Are Planning Not to Vote – Your Mission: Take Just One of Them to the Polls, you wisely ignore the myth of the undecided voter and aim for a voting block that can truly affect the outcome of this election. When you write:
“I want you—yes, YOU, the person reading this right now—to get ONE of your fellow Americans who would not otherwise vote to show up at the polls and support Obama.
Here’s the math: there are upwards of five million of you seeing this, via email, on my website, here on the Huffington Post and all over the Internet. There are 1.2 million following me on Twitter. I’ve got almost 700,000 Facebook friends.
I want just one million of you to convince just ONE person each—one person who’s planning NOT to vote—to go to the polls and vote for Barack Obama. That’s it. And those million extra votes could make all the difference in what will be a very tight election—and it will save us from a tragic return to the Bush years.” (Emphasis mine)
Michael, I want you, yes YOU, the real Michael Moore—not your assistant, cousin or barber—to know that you can count me among your 1.2 million twitter followers, and of 700,000 facebook friends. I just know I am one of your bestest of friends.
On top of that, I am a fan of your documentaries. Fahrenheit 9/11, Capitalism: a Love Story, and Bowling for Columbine made me weep like a menopausal hairdresser curled up on her couch with a gaggle of cats watching a double feature of Sophie’s Choice and Terms of Endearment. You are a big part of the reason I set out to make a documentary of my own. Did you know that a glowing review of my documentary on the Occupy movement, American Autumn is even published on your website. Have you seen the movie? You are in it you know—making grand pronouncements about the Wall Street criminals and praising the revolutionaries in the streets.
In the fall of 2011, Michael, you were among the highest of profiles pointing out that the Occupy movement is, again, in your own words, a “movement against the greed of corporate America and its banks—and the money that now controls most of our democratic institutions.” And that “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.”
Michael, I am sure it will come as no surprise to you that a statistically significant number (I dare say an overwhelming majority) of those who chanted at one time or another ,“We are unstoppable, another world is possible” or even, “We are the 99%!” do not see voting for Obama as part of their “rising up.” Can we agree on that much?
Now don’t get me wrong. I am not going to make a case that there is no difference between Romney and Obama. While dying peacefully in one’s sleep is more appealing than having one’s limbs torn off by flesh eating zombies, it does not make the former something devoutly to be wished for. Speaking of the politics of fear, the 90 million voters who will sit out this election are just as much a part of the corporate agenda as the selection and election of a lesser of two evils, as Chris Hedges recently made clear in his endorsement of Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Hedges also articulates the importance of aligning with third parties for those of us interested when he writes:
“All the major correctives to American democracy have come through movements and third parties that have operated outside the mainstream. Few achieved formal positions of power. These movements built enough momentum and popular support, always in the face of fierce opposition, to force the power elite to respond to their concerns. Such developments, along with the courage to defy the political charade in the voting booth, offer the only hope of saving us from Wall Street predators, the assault on the ecosystem by the fossil fuel industry, the rise of the security and surveillance state and the dramatic erosion of our civil liberties.”
In comparing a potential Romney victory to a third Bush term, you ignore some inconvenient truths about President Obama’s administration. In this, you are not alone.
Many Obama supporters do not know or willfully block out the facts that Obama has expanded the USA PATRIOT Act, claimed the legal authority to indefinitely detain US citizens without charge or trial, maintains a “kill list,” and has expanded the drone war well beyond the Bush regime. Given Obama’s history of trampling on the Constitution, the irony is that the most compelling argument I have heard to vote for him is that he will install three Supreme Court Justices. Do we really want someone who rubber-stamped the NDAA selecting the next three Supreme Court justices?
Also: Michael, the engineers of the Wall Street corporate greed that you say have hijacked our democracy have a place to occupy after they retire from Wall Street, and that place is at the highest levels of Obama’s Cabinet. The same Obama that you would have others and me try to sell to the 90 million people who are not voting this Tuesday.
Why not, in the spirit of the 99% rising up against the 1%, tell your millions of followers to convince the 90 million non-voting Americans to support Jill Stein, a candidate who has said, quite correctly:
“If public opinion really mattered in this race, we [her presidential ticket] would win. We have majority support in poll after poll on nearly all of the key issues, from downsizing the military budget and bringing the troops home, to taxing the rich, to stopping the Wall Street bailouts, to breaking up the banks, to ending the off-shoring of jobs, to supporting workers’ rights, to increasing the minimum wage, to health care as a human right, through Medicare for all. These are the solutions a majority of Americans are clamoring for.”
In addition to that, Michael, she has been so brazen as to do what Obama failed to do in any of the debates when she uttered not one, but two “C” words, coming hard upon each other: Climate Change.
Imagine if John McCain had won the 2008 election and a New York Times article revealed that McCain was sitting in the oval office lording over collection of mug shots and bios, not unlike a baseball card collection or a high school yearbook, that amounted to a kill list? A list of targets, among them teenagers and several American citizens, that the president was personally signing off and ordering their execution. These subjects have been charged with no crime, and would never receive a day in court, but with the stroke of a pen from the President, the most powerful military in the world would now draw a bull’s-eye on your back where it would remain until you were pulverized and rendered food for worms.
If those actions could be attributed to a President McCain, Nancy Pelosi would be bum rushing every MSNBC show she could get herself on apoplectic with indignation, Mike Meyers would host Saturday Night Live and do a rendition of McCain as Dr. Evil and Moveon.org would have the entire slacktivist universe signing e-petition after e-petition. A few people might even take to the streets.
President McCain, however, is guilty of no such crime, but President Barack Obama is. Even the stunning May 29th New York Times report by Jo Becker and Scott Shane would surely have taken a more condemning tone had the president been a Republican. Instead the report seems to credit Obama for finding grey areas and legal loopholes wherein he can twist rhetorical knots that both please the moveon.org crowd and leave room for him to act like gang lord whose silent nod would send hit men out into the night to snuff out a rival.
These legal grey areas are so convoluted that the White House can claim that collateral deaths, (or to put a finer point on it: innocent people killed by drone strikes in a country that has not attacked us and poses no threat to us) are in the single digits because Obama, the legal expert, has redefined combatant to mean any male of legal age within striking distance of the target. That means if Obama wants you dead, and our drone strike kills you and the ten people around you, whoosh – all of those corpses are classified as combatants, so sleep tight with a clean conscience y’all because no innocent civilians died in the never ending war on terror today.
I can’t wait to see the Presidential debate on foreign policy. Romney is gonna have to promise that the US will save the world from the impending intergalactic invasion of the Transformers, or go all defcon 5 to outdo Obama, who – on matters relating to the global war on terror- has mindfully charged well to the right of the homicidal idiot from Texas whom we all thought was as bad as it could get.
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