Monthly Archives: June 2015
Two stories have dominated the mainstream and social media recently. One is the tragic shooting in Charleston. The other is the Supreme Court’s decision regarding gay marriage. Meanwhile, of course, while few were looking, our always gutless Congress caved in and gave President Obama fast track authority for the despicable Trans Pacific Partnership deal.
Traditionally, “liberal” meant someone who was open-minded, tolerant, desirous of reform, and sympathetic towards the downtrodden and underdogs of society. For example, liberals of past generations wanted to end slavery, child labor, grant females the right to vote, etc. In all those instances, they were attempting to either expand the rights and privileges granted to some to everyone, or either to stop the exploitation of helpless youngsters. The only people who were at risk of conceivably losing anything through their efforts were those who were exploiting others for their own gain, whether they were slaves or children forced into hard labor. One of the most famous liberals of his time was Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson has been so vilified in recent years that it hardly came as a surprise when earlier this week CNN’s Ashley Banfield suggested that statues of him should be taken down because he owned slaves.
Today’s “liberal” is primarily concerned with taking away rights or privileges from their political enemies. For instance, the ongoing crusade to remove the Confederate flag not only from the South Carolina state capitol, but from all of American society. In the minds of modern “liberal” activists, this will somehow benefit present-day black people. And their hypocrisy has never been more evident than in the two cases presently dominating mainstream news coverage. While the campaign to remove the Confederate flag is based exclusively on how offensive it is towards black Americans, “Liberal” support for gay marriage doesn’t consider the fact that it is just as offensive to old-fashioned Americans of all races.
To the modern “liberal,” only certain groups and certain philosophies have the right to be offended. One of the groups most often claiming to be offended by various social changes are traditional Christians. Their sensibilities don’t matter to “liberals.” They must learn to be “tolerant” and “inclusive.” Meanwhile, favored groups of the new “Left” are encouraged to claim offense over virtually anything. “Liberals” now have accomplished the difficult feat of being the most intolerant among us, with their intolerance being directed at those they allege are the intolerant. They have become experts at hating the so-called “haters.”
Today’s “conservatives” are hardly any better. The idea that they even refer to themselves as such is ridiculous. Just what is there about our corrupt and crumbling civilization that is worth “conserving?” Once concerned with promoting an ethical, responsible philosophy that sought to limit the size and power of government and abide by the Constitution, they have largely abandoned all this for an unprincipled “Looking Out For Number One” mentality. “He who dies with the most toys wins.” They are devoted to the writings of Ayn Rand, and her notion that greed and selfishness were virtues.
Thus, “Conservatives” advocate cutting what few social safety nets still exist in America for our poorest citizens. They are preoccupied with who’s buying what with their food stamps, what kids are getting a putrid free lunch in school, and how their taxes are being wasted on lazy ingrates. Their “big government” concerns became a thing of the past, once the monstrous, unconstitutional Homeland Security department was created under George Dubya Bush. They have nothing to offer the American people but more calls for austerity, raising the retirement age for Social Security, and perpetual pleas of “sacrifice.” Their entire existence now revolves around this endless, mindless “war on terror,” which is being waged against a largely unknowable, unseen enemy that seems to be increasingly evolving into those who oppose their actions.
We have no choice here. “Liberals” will destroy us with their insidious authoritarianism that is built upon the wildly inconsistent tenets of political correctness. They seemingly exist only to monitor what they consider to be offensive speech and thought, with the goal always of getting someone fired and ruining their life. Meanwhile, “Conservatives” worship at the alter of our corrupt marketplace, and appear to want to outsource every non- management job in the country. Their “trickle up” economics approach has succeeded in consolidating the wealth to almost an unimaginable extent. They are undoubtedly overjoyed with the reports that, if present trends continue, their vaunted One Percent will have more wealth than the remaining 99 percent of us by 2016.
On all issues of real importance, “Liberals” and “Conservatives” agree. Thus, the deadly Trans Pacific Partnership was inevitably going to pass, because both groups really wanted it. For “Liberals,” it means more “diversity” in terms of foreign workers, and their faith requires them to support that, despite the crushing impact it will have on the already staggering American workforce. For “Conservatives,” it means more cheap labor, and that’s all that counts. Thus, both sides always want more immigration. For “Liberals,” they represent more perceived voters, and for “Conservatives,” they represent a further depression of American blue-collar wages, as well as a dissolution of what few benefits they still enjoy.
And so the “Left” and “Right” paradigm continues to play out. The mainstream media trumpets the debate over gay marriage, or the Confederate flag, as if these are the pressing issues of the moment. But free trade, immigration and continuous political corruption are scoffed at, and relegated to the world of “conspiracy theorists.” Our professional “journalists” would rather talk about Bruce Jenner’s transformation into Caitlyn. We have become a veritable Idiocracy, but unlike the world envisioned by Mike Judge, there is an unscrupulous elite ruling over the madness, for their own nefarious purposes.
I believe that populism is the only answer to the massive problems we face. Populists are for the little guy, and against too much concentrated power anywhere, by an individual or a group. Thus, big business is just as bad as big government. Don’t be satisfied with another laughable charade of an election. What thinking person would want to pay the slightest attention to either Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush? Are we really satisfied with such “choices?” Don’t buy into the phony Fox News vs. MSNBC game.
In all reality, we have very few civil libertarians left in this country, at least ones who have any sort of public platform. The desire seems to be to throw even more Americans into prison, utilizing any new unnecessary and unconstitutional law our horrific representatives can devise. The drumbeats for more war, more incivility, more austerity and draconian measures, is becoming incessant throughout officialdom.
But it’s all okay. Caitlyn Jenner is a hero. Gay marriage is legal now. And the Confederate flag seems on the verge of being banned altogether. There may eventually be demands that those who possess one join the record number of Americans already behind bars. Maybe those who dare to whistle “Dixie” should be jailed, too. And the Trans Pacific Partnership will make everything even better.
Both “Liberals” and “Conservatives” agree that the unemployment rate is a non-threatening 5-6%. They also agree that some 90-100 million American adults are out of work. You do the math. And both sides want to add millions of illegal immigrants into the mix, to compete with all the unemployed citizens for jobs.
At what point are the majority of Americans going to awaken from their stupor? To finally acknowledge that none of these emperors are wearing any clothes?
Recently, twenty one year old Kalief Browder, who spent three years in jail without even being charged with a crime, finally succeeded in killing himself. Browder was arrested in 2010 for stealing a backpack, and steadfastly maintained his innocence, refusing to accept the plea-deal arranged by his court-appointed attorney. Browder was subjected to brutal beatings by guards at Rikers Island (one of which was caught on surveillance video and garnered national attention), and all told spent some 400 hours in solitary confinement during his time there. Solitary confinement for stealing a backpack? Which, of course, he denied.
Kalief Browder’s tragic case illustrates all too clearly just how wholeheartedly America has bought into what The Weekly Standard referred to a few years ago as “Authoritarian Chic.” Just in the past few days, it was reported that Khairullozhon Matanov, who was merely a casual acquaintance of the alleged Boston bombers, had been criminally charged with deleting his browser history. Terrified of what has become a tyrannical legal system, Matanov pleaded guilty in the hopes of receiving a thirty month sentence. For deleting his browser history? Do such punishments really fit these “crimes?”
Heather Hironimus was jailed for objecting to the circumcision of her four year old son. James Evans was thrown into jail for the “crime” of posting lyrics from thrash metal band Exodus on Facebook. Virginia’s Kristin Holmes was charged with the “crime” of posing for a selfie on Facebook while holding a handgun. As if that wasn’t ridiculous enough, the Fraternal Order of Police declared that one could be charged for this same “Facebook Thugging” offense for merely swearing. Their spokesman, exemplifying the new authoritarianism, told NBC that there is “no such thing as a petty crime.” The misdemeanor charge against Holmes carries a maximum prison sentence of one year. A New York teen was recently arrested for using “threatening” emojis on Facebook. Indeed, when was the last time anyone even heard the expression “victim-less crime,” which was quite prevalent in the 1970s?
A Massachusetts man was arrested after people alerted the police to his Facebook post that read “Put wings on pigs.” Idaho’s Matthew Townsend was arrested and jailed for standing on the sidewalk near a Liberty Tax Service, holding a sign that read “Taxes fund terrorism.” After his initial hearing, Townsend was arrested a second time, when police banged on his door late at night, and charged him with making a “terrorist threat” in a Facebook post two nights earlier. There was nothing “threatening,” and certainly nothing “terrorist” in Townsend’s Facebook rant, which understandably outlined his frustrations over his rights being violated. An immature teen posted a photo of himself in a sexual pose with a statute of Jesus on Facebook, and was charged with desecration of a venerated object. People have been fired from their jobs for simply posting “I hate my boss” on Facebook.
A California prosecutor was actually going to charge rapper Brandon “Tiny Doo” Duncan with nine counts of “criminal gang conspiracy,” not for any actions he took, but for the content of his rap lyrics. Duncan could have potentially faced twenty five years to life for his “crime.” Fortunately, one of the rare reasonable judges who run our courts threw the charges out in March of this year. Another rapper, Deandre “Laz Tha Boy” Mitchell, was indicted on charges stemming from two gang-related murders. There was no actual evidence tying Mitchell to the murders, just the lyrics in his music. Former Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson glowingly referred to the ability of rap lyrics to “invade and exploit the defendant’s true personality.”
If anything, what passes for the Left these days is even more enamored with authoritarianism. Rochester Institute of Technology professor Lawrence Torcello, for instance, advocates imprisonment of those who deny climate change, declaring that they “ought to be considered criminally negligent.” Kent Hovind, imprisoned since 2007 for the “crimes” of opposing the concept of evolution and preaching a “young earth” philosophy, is in danger of serving one hundred years behind bars. The whole concept of “hate crime” and “hate speech,” not to mention “political correctness,” ought to be anathema to anyone who believes in the Bill of Rights. All violent crime is, by its nature, “hate” to one degree or another, and if anything is universally judged to be politically “correct,” that contradicts the entire notion of political discourse. As for “hate speech,” one either believes in the First Amendment or one doesn’t.
Since 9/11, the Justice Department has prosecuted more than 500 “terrorism” cases. One such case involved American-born Tarek Mehanna, whose primary “crime” was being a devout Muslim who vigorously objected to the way U.S. foreign policy was being conducted. After being tailed by the FBI for a few years, Mehanna was eventually charged with providing material support for terrorism, which Mehanna claimed was in retaliation for his refusal to become a government informant. Despite the lack of any evidence outside his widely-expressed political beliefs, Mehanna was sentenced to seventeen and a half years in prison.
Increasingly, anti-government activists have been targeted for harassment and prosecution by our authoritarian state. Aaron Swartz was either hounded into killing himself, or actually murdered, because of his outspoken beliefs and the ostensible “crime” of downloading academic articles from MIT. Jeremy Hammond was sentenced to ten years in prison for participating in an anonymous hack of private intelligence firm Stratfor. Journalist Barrett Brown was sentenced to sixty three months for simply linking to hacked material. Maintaining his sense of humor in the midst of such tyranny, Brown quipped, “They’re sending me to investigate the prison-industrial complex.” As Swarz’s family described it, their son’s ordeal was “the product of a criminal-justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach.”
Silk Road operator and outspoken critic of the war on drugs Ross Ulbricht was sentenced to life without parole; the extremely harsh sentence almost certainly being more a reflection of his dissenting views rather than his participation in the drug trade. The failed war on drugs is the biggest reason for the explosion in America’s prison population. As The Economist once put it, “America locks up too many people for too many things.” America has the largest prison population in the world, and with the growth of private prisons in recent years, along with the unwavering support for authoritarian measures by our political leaders, there is no reason to believe that it won’t continue to increase. When proportioned for population, there are four times as many Americans in prison today than there were as recently as the 1980s. Can there really be four times as many American “criminals” as there were just thirty years ago?
Our rate-of-imprisonment tops the world, with over 700 prisoners for every 100,000 residents, or one out of every 104 American adults. We’re number one! According to statistics from 2013, if present tends continue, one in three black males will go to prison at some point in their lifetimes. Prison sentences for black males are nearly 20 percent longer than for whites charged with the same crimes. As The New York Times described it, “Americans are locked up for crimes- from writing bad checks to using drugs- that would rarely produce prison sentences in other countries. And in particular they are kept incarcerated far longer than prisoners in other nations.”
Despite the abuse of excessive measures like solitary confinement, polls show that many Americans think prison life is “too easy.” They also believe that, in spite of the fact over sixty percent of American prisoners were convicted of non-violent offenses, the main purpose of our penal system is to remove violent criminals from our streets. No politician ever has been elected on a “soft on crime” platform. There are lots of people in this country who would like our justice system to emulate those in some Third World nations; to castrate rapists, or cut off the hands of thieves, for instance. Many of these harsh, draconian “three strikes, you’re out” and mandatory sentencing laws were passed during the 1990s, while the “liberal” Bill Clinton was in office.
Overall, Americans today seem fine with our harsh, authoritarian justice system. In the past, we all seemed to recognize that prison was a place reserved for the truly worst among us, those who were too out of control and violent to be allowed to remain at large in society. As we can see from the myriad of videos online capturing the overreaction and brutality of police officers all across the country, those who enforce the law appear to be focusing on trying to turn normal human behavior into something criminal. Their “shoot first, ask questions later” policy appears to mesh perfectly with the iron-handed approach of prosecutors and judges who think nothing of taking away years, even decades, of someone’s life for things that wouldn’t have been considered “crimes” even twenty five years ago, and shouldn’t be considered “crimes” now.
We can only imprison so many people. Even with the dearth of jobs available for Americans, someone has to run our civilization while the elite count their riches and the prisoners break their rocks. No one with a public platform appears to be concerned about civil liberties at this point. With the decreasing level of empathy so many Americans seem to hold for those less fortunate than them, I realize that I’m going against the grain here, as I nearly always do. Those who are enamored of this new authoritarianism would obviously change their tune if they or someone they love ran afoul of those who are enforcing it. When their own interests are involved, everyone wants a lenient judge, an understanding prosecutor and a sympathetic jury. No one wants the book thrown at themselves, or those who are dear to them.
I think it would be very useful, and potentially revolutionary, to have all prospective police officers, prosecutors and judges spend a month or so in a maximum security prison. They wouldn’t have to go to the only “Supermax” prison presently in the United States; maximum security would serve just fine, to give them a first-hand experience within the system they are sending others to endure. My guess is that they’d be transformed by just this bit of time behind bars, and perhaps become more enlightened and more thoughtful in how they approach the prosecution and sentencing of their fellow citizens.
Every time a new law is passed, new potential criminals are created. We already know from the work of Project Innocence and other organizations that there are an untold number of totally innocent Americans behind bars, some of them serving very lengthy sentences. Considering the visible evidence of police abuse that we see on new tapes posted online daily, and the “win first” mentality of prosecutors under our adversarial system of justice, any juror should have to be presented with irrefutable evidence of an individual’s guilt in order to responsibly determine their fate. You know, like the documented beating death of homeless Kelly Thomas. That entire crime at the hands of police officers was caught on tape. And yet the jury found the officers not guilty. If those officers weren’t guilty, then not a single person in our prison system should have been convicted.
Ultimately, we get the kind of system we deserve. Decades of “hard on crime” rhetoric have finally caught up with us. Since this is evidently what most of us wanted, the system has become more “hard” than ever. The only time you ever even hear “innocent until proven guilty” now is when a celebrity or some other rich individual is being accused of something. For the common riff-raff, it’s five minutes or less with a court-appointed public defender, whose only concern is working out a plea bargain. Don’t bother to even maintain your innocence, unless you can afford a real legal defense team.
Our justice system should logically be about….justice. The fact that most of us fear interacting with it, on any level, tells you all you need to know about how “cool” authoritarianism is. Thousands upon thousands of tragic examples exist, or once existed, of innocent individuals who became ensnared in an unshakable set of circumstances, and lost their freedom because of the corrupt machinations of our legal system. We all ought to remember the Golden Rule, as well as its compatriot “There but for the grace of God go I.” When was the last time you heard someone quote that timeless chestnut?
Authoritarianism has become so entrenched in this country that is has become impossible to satirize. Barney Fife was a wonderful character on The Andy Griffith Show, and much of the humor was derived from his absurd “by the book” response to law enforcement. But now that we can see such overreaction first-hand, by real law enforcement officers, it isn’t so funny. Saturday Night Live featured a great skit about police during its first year, with the punchline “stop or I’ll shoot” being yelled just after the cops had fired their guns. SCTV had a wonderful sketch about the “Library Police” going after those with overdue books. In recent years, however, we’ve read stories about real people with overdue books being visited by the police.
“Click it or ticket” campaigns to enforce a law that wasn’t on the books until twenty five years or so ago, “piracy” charges against people downloading files being shared willingly by others, unconstitutional roadblocks- what is next? Shooting litterers? Life sentences for jaywalkers? Felony charges for being annoying? If they keep inventing new laws, and meting out harsher sentences, few of us will be left in the outside world. Maybe that’s the eventual goal; a world full of literal prisoners, who must do what the robots can’t, for the pittance incarcerated workers typically receive.
The new authoritarianism is emblematic of just how wrong a turn America has taken. It’s laughably ironic that so many Americans still see Orwell’s 1984 as an important, cautionary tale. Even Orwell, I think, would be astonished at the modern world. Is this really the kind of world we want?
We all remember the rallying cry of patriots during our War for Independence; “No taxation without representation!” For a very long time now, only the wealthiest, most influential Americans have been truly represented in Congress. The rest of us, like the revolutionary era colonists, are taxed without representation.
Each national poll taken in recent years, that measures the approval rate of Congress, has shown Americans to be completely fed up with their representatives. They are invariably in the single digits in approval rate at this point. And yet, in the last election, 96 percent of congressional incumbents were re-elected. How do we explain such a mind-boggling dichotomy? Are American voters really that stupid, so willing to return to office the elected officials that they tell pollsters they overwhelmingly disapprove of? Or are the votes simply not being counted? As I covered extensively in my book Hidden History, we have strong reasons to doubt that the electoral system is honest, and that the vote totals actually reflect the will of the people.
I am aware that the standard response to the near impossibility of an incumbent being defeated for re-election is: “Most people hate congress, but like their own representative,” or that the incumbent has a huge advantage in raising money. Neither of these excuses makes sense. Who likes their own representative? What has your congressperson done for you? Michael Grimm was re-elected to Congress in 2014 despite a twenty count criminal indictment pending against him. Alcee Hastings was impeached while serving as a judge in Florida, but has been serving in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1993. Recently, Hastings, unashamed of his own criminal past, boldly declared that Congress deserved yet another pay raise. Do these kinds of always re-elected representatives, and many others like them, sound likable in any sense of the word?
As for an advantage in raising campaign funds, this is undoubtedly true, as is the unlimited franking privileges, which permit incumbents to flood their constituents with glossy mailings boasting about their wonderful achievements. But unless the voter is sound asleep, he or she must realize that there are no real wonderful achievements to boast about. How is the amount of money an incumbent spends stopping a voter from pulling the lever of his opponent? You might have a good case here if the incumbents were sending each potential voter a substantial amount of money, in effect buying their vote. But that obviously doesn’t happen, so other explanations will have to be devised. Incredibly, often incumbents run unopposed. So in those cases, the voter literally has no choice. The fact that a “None of the Above” campaign has garnered support tells you all you need to know about the quality of our candidates.
When the Republicans took over the House in 1994 for the first time in forty years, they promised a number of reforms, popularized by the so-called Contract With America. One of those reforms was term limits, something we’ve desperately needed for a very long time. Republicans who ran expressly on a platform advocating strict term limits for Congress later rescinded their support, once they tasted the trappings of power, and the incomparable benefit package our representatives receive. George Nethercutt was only one of these, and despite supposedly infuriating the voters with his turnabout, he was easily re-elected to two more terms. Rep. Dan Benishek is a more recent hypocrite, breaking his vow to serve only three terms by announcing plans to run again in 2016. It is impossible to imagine that he won’t still be re-elected.
The Trans Pacific Partnership, the new monstrosity of a trade deal, which I covered in more depth in a recent blog entry, was approved for so-called “Fast Track” status by the U.S. Senate recently, by a vote of 62-38. “Fast Track” simply means an absence of debate, which was already reflected in the draconian measures taken to stop those voting on it from actually reading it. Here we had “liberal” President Barack Obama joining forces with Mitch McConnell and other Republican “opponents” to ram this odious bill through without any delay. House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise and Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions both refused to acknowledge whether they’d bothered to read the massive piece of legislation, but still declared that they were going to support their alleged “opponent” Obama’s request to fast track the deal, which doesn’t bode well for the House’s chances of blocking it.
Prominent Republican Senators Marco Rubio, John Boehner and Lindsey Graham also refused to reveal if they read the documents in the “secret room” of the Capitol basement, before nevertheless feeling comfortable in voting for it. Hillary Clinton has danced around the issue, and her campaign chief, longtime insider John Podesta, was caught privately telling donors, “Can you make it go away?” Considering Hillary’s career allegiance to the global establishment, and the fact the devastating NAFTA agreement was pushed through during her husband’s administration, it should be obvious just where she really stands.
Bernie Sanders, one of the TPP’s most high-profile opponents, wrote in The Guardian, “The TPP is simply the continuation of a failed approach to trade – an approach which benefits large multinational corporations and Wall Street, but which is a disaster for working families. The TPP must be defeated.” Polls have shown that the public is strongly opposed to TPP, especially approval for any “Fast Track” status. The horrific impact that NAFTA and other trade bills have had upon American industry is obvious to everyone outside the rarefied air of the One Percent. To push through a disaster like TPP, in the worst economy this country has seen since the Great Depression, is about as wrong-headed as anything could possibly be.
But this is standard operating procedure for “our” elected representatives. Recall that, in 2008, over 90 percent of Americans were opposed to the banker bailout in all polls. And yet, every high profile leader supported it. There is a disconnect between the will of the people, and those who run this republic, that is widening each day. Polls show that Americans overwhelmingly oppose any amnesty for illegal immigrants, but this didn’t stop Barack Obama or any of his most notable “opponents” in the other party from passionately supporting it. Polls even reveal that only a small number of Americans believe that Congress listens to its constituents. I think it’s pretty clear at this stage that they don’t listen to anyone outside of powerful lobbyists and the wealthy elite.
The aforementioned Lindsey Graham, kicking off his 2016 presidential bid, outright declared that if someone was “tired of war,” then “don’t vote for me.” What an appealing campaign message! War monger extraordinaire John McCain has constructed a long career in Congress out of this same, unswerving report for foreign interventionism. The last true “peace” candidate to win anything was George McGovern, who was crushed by Richard Nixon in the 1972 presidential election. Either Americans really do want all war, all the time, or the two “competing” parties we have to choose from simply won’t let anyone who isn’t devoted to their war machine become a national figure. This is undoubtedly why Dennis Kucinich, for example, was always mired in that 1-2 percent range in all those endless, manipulative pre-election polls when he attempted to get the Democratic Party nomination.
At any given moment, there are no more than a handful of decent representatives in Congress. Ron Paul is gone now, and so are Cynthia McKinney and Dennis Kucinich. The growing discontent in the country really has no voice in Congress. Elizabeth Warren says some nice things, but she voted against auditing the Federal Reserve. Exactly how does that equate with being anti-Wall Street? Bernie Sanders voted to make key provisions of the Patriot Act permanent and supported Bill Clinton’s pointless bombing of Kosovo. Rand Paul was courageous in filibustering against the extension of some key provisions of the Patriot Act recently, but he appears to be playing politics too much for my liking, and hardly sounds like his father much of the time. Warren, Sanders, and Paul, like all other political leaders, avoid any “conspiracy theory” like the plague. Thus, all of them buy the official story of 9/11, which is solely responsible for this endless “war on terror” that they frequently criticize.
Why are American politicians so willingly accepted as laughingstocks? Recall all the jokes about them, from the time of Mark Twain, to Will Rogers, to the nightly monologues we hear on present-day talk shows. John T. Flynn wrote a book excoriating them in 1944, called Meet Your Congress. If you watch the proceedings of Congress on C-SPAN, it’s often embarrassing to consider that these are our leaders, and the people we depend upon to guard our liberty and security. They will inject absurd, long-winded statements into the record, lauding a local sports team in their area, for instance, as if such trivialities have any place in a representative body.
Congress could, all by itself, solve many of the most difficult problems we face in America. They could hold hearings on crucial issues like the true nature of our fractional banking system, and expose it for the deadly, counterfeit fraud it is. They could hold hearings on the epidemic of police brutality across this country, grilling the police officials who have refused to punish even the most blatant offending officers. They could launch an independent investigation into the events of 9/11, and expose the official narrative for the fairy tale it is. And they could, simply by exerting their constitutional authority, prevent any imperial presidency or activist judiciary, instead of abrogating their role under the separation of powers.
As has been observed, the people are never safe while Congress is in session. Fortunately, they give themselves a good deal of time off. The fact that most legislation makes matters even worse for the majority of Americans probably goes a long way in explaining the popularity of libertarians and even anarchists. That’s the prevailing opinion among all the non-voters out there, whose apathy is largely the result of political corruption and ineptitude. It’s a pretty sad reflection on our leadership, that despite all the problems that cry out for solutions, often our best option is simply to hope that the two parties block each other from doing any more harm. That could be a catchy slogan; “Leave us alone- inaction now and forever!” Bring back Calvin Coolidge.
We really ought to have much higher expectations in terms of political leadership. Does anyone really believe that Barack Obama, any Bush, any Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Charles Schumer, Harry Reid, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, Sheila Jackson Lee, Luis Gutierrez and countless others are the best we can do? That they are the most qualified, the best and the brightest among us?
No matter how “mad as hell” the voters allegedly are, or how many term-limit campaigns, or “Clean House and Senate, Too” type of slogans are devised, the reality is Congressional representatives are virtually unbeatable, if they choose to run for re-election. Whether this is because of widespread voter ignorance or systematic voting fraud, it is a reality. And considering the kind of “representation” we receive from them, it is a frightening thought to ponder. In 1988, a typical election year, the turnover rate for Congress was less than that of the Soviet Union’s Politburo. That is something every American ought to be utterly ashamed of.
At this point, I can’t urge anyone to vote. As the old saying goes, “Don’t vote- it only encourages them.” But I usually do. The fact that we can’t even get a Third Party, let alone a multitude of choices politically, is a reflection of just how narrow the parameters of political discourse are in America. One good suggestion, which I originally saw in The People’s Almanac decades ago, is to change the House of Representatives to a lottery system, in which random citizens would be selected to serve a single two year term. That would at least ensure real diversity, and that all Americans were truly represented in Congress. But such radical proposals only seem attractive because of the glaring reality that those who are firmly entrenched in Congress are by and large simply awful excuses for leaders.
Not only are we ill-served by these “representatives,” once they retire we provide them with the most lucrative pensions imaginable. There’s an irony for you; taxpayers, an increasing number of whom have zero pensions outside Social Security, providing for the warmth and security of career political hacks whose almost every move was in diametrical opposition to the interests of their constituents. And whose only answer to the Social Security crisis, as can be seen by recent comments from various politicians, is to keep raising the retirement age. Let me know when you hear one of them talk about strict means testing for Social Security recipients, or for taxing all income, not just the first $100,000, as is done under the terribly regressive present system.
I don’t have an answer to this problem. Obviously, we should vote all the bums out, but either the majority of the people just can’t bring themselves to do that, or our votes aren’t being counted. At least we can focus on the overt deficiencies of these politicians masquerading as statesmen, and stop encouraging them. Do any of them really deserve your applause? We can also educate ourselves about voting fraud, which began well before the 2000 election, as illustrated by the late Collier brothers wonderful book Votescam.
If you truly do like your congressional representative, I’d love to hear from you. None of mine have ever been responsive to me, and most of the votes they’ve cast have supported war, senseless trade agreements, and restrictions on our liberties. If John F. Kennedy was alive today, and wanted to update his Profiles in Courage with new examples, he certainly couldn’t find any in the halls of Congress.
It would impossible to find any cross-section of Americans, regardless of their educational level, who couldn’t do a better job of leading us. The state of Congress, like the state of our union, is a disgrace, and it’s time we at least started admitting it. Perhaps the sad truth is that “None of the Above” is the best we can hope for.
On December 14, 2012, twenty elementary school children and six adults were reportedly killed by a deranged shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The fact that I use the qualifier “reportedly” is an indication of just how murky and unsettled this whole story remains.
I became interested in the Sandy Hook incident primarily because of the excellent work of many on the internet, who as always asked the questions and did the investigating that professional journalists don’t. I was particularly astounded by the helicopter footage taken that day, during the time period when there should have been signs of real pandemonium, which instead revealed a rather lackluster scene. No ambulances, no parents rushing about hysterically, no school officials or police running about trying to establish order. And no signs of the mass evacuation of the school, and its estimated 450-650 students (the estimates vary quite a bit in accounts). In short, there appeared to be nothing unusual going on at Sandy Hook Elementary School on the day of the alleged shooting.
I was also drawn to the many videos analyzing the media appearances of one Gene Rosen. Even without dissecting his testimony, Rosen appeared to be a very unique character. Rosen reported that six children had managed to escape from the clutches of purported shooter Adam Lanza and find their way to his home. What was obvious right away was not only Rosen’s histrionic demeanor, but the ever-changing details in his account. He claimed that he first saw the children sitting on his lawn after feeding his cats and preparing to go to breakfast, for example, but in another version he encountered them upon returning home from breakfast at a local diner.
Rosen claimed that a bus driver had dropped the children off at his home. Needless to say, it is impossible to imagine this still unidentified bus driver (described in various interviews as both a man and a woman) leaving children in the custody of a single elderly male, who wasn’t related to any of them. How did the bus driver pick the children up at such an unscheduled hour? Rosen lived practically next door to the firehouse where all the parents and children were supposedly being taken in the aftermath of the shooting. So why not drop them there? There is so much more to the Gene Rosen story alone, but suffice to say a truly independent media, filled with skeptical reporters, would not have treated Rosen as some kind of “hero” for inviting the children into his home and giving them juice, as they played with his extensive stuffed animal collection.
The public is asked to believe that no medical personnel went inside Sandy Hook Elementary School that day. In other words, there wasn’t even an effort to treat any of the shooting victims. Is this remotely believable? Wouldn’t the personnel at least have gone inside and checked out what was going on? As we can see from the helicopter footage that day, even if they’d wanted to, the ambulances were blocked from even going down the path that led from the firehouse to the school. That is another subject, for an extensive investigation- the curious manner in which all vehicles, including the few emergency ones that can be seen, were parked.
A telling aspect of the Sandy Hook case has been the unprecedented amount of secrecy surrounding it. Why would the FBI consider a school shooting classified? Wolfgang Halbig was warned by police in his home state of Florida to drop his investigation into the alleged events at Sandy Hook, and Connecticut police blocked the entrance to the Newtown branch of the United Way when he attempted to inquire about indications that the group had initiated a Sandy Hook relief fund prior to the alleged shootings.
The questions are endless. Why were port-a-potties on the scene? Why were refreshments seemingly being served at the firehouse in the aftermath of the event? Why were the names, ages and sexes of the alleged victims not included in the state of Connecticut’s official report on the investigation? Why weren’t any death certificates released to the public? Why was normal protocol violated here; for instance, why was no triage area set up? Why weren’t the newly installed surveillance cameras at the school working? Why weren’t at least some of the parents allowed to view their child’s remains? Why did the Newtown Bee publish a report that featured quotes about the shooting from Principal Dawn Hochsprung, who was allegedly one of the victims?
Halbig and others have been unable to discover the identity of the certified environmental bio-hazard decontamination company contracted by Newtown Public Schools to remove the estimated 50 gallons or more of blood, body debris, damaged carpets, etc. from the crime scene. Why shouldn’t that be information that is public knowledge? As happens routinely now with all high- profile crime scenes of this nature (Waco, Oklahoma City, etc.), Sandy Hook Elementary School was completely demolished afterwards, at a cost of some $50 million to taxpayers.
I won’t go too far down the rabbit hole here, and analyze the arguably bizarre behavior of many of the parents connected to the events at Sandy Hook. I did email local reporter Andrea McCarren, who interviewed the Sandy Hook school nurse, and described in detail her comments about alleged shooter Adam Lanza’s mother being a “great kindergarten teacher” at the school. As it turned out, of course, all the early reports about the mother being a teacher at the school were unfounded. She was not connected to Sandy Hook Elementary School at all. So I asked McCarren about that. She admitted to being curious at first, too, but at length wrote, “There is no conspiracy here.” I never mentioned conspiracy; I simply wondered about this startling contradiction.
I also won’t explore all the reasons why Adam Lanza couldn’t have been the shooter, if there was a shooter. In my view, the most basic aspects of the crime scene are not consistent with a real event, but instead convey the impression that some kind of drill was going on. This is perhaps best demonstrated by the fact that the state of Connecticut’s official web site listed a drill, “Planning for the Needs of Children in Disasters,” as being scheduled on their calendar for the very date that the Sandy Hook shooting allegedly took place, at a location only fourteen miles away from the school.
More questions; what about the early interview, later disappeared into the memory hole, with a local Catholic priest, where he can be heard audibly laughing as he speaks about the horrifying events at Sandy Hook? What about the bullet holes in substitute teacher and alleged shooting victim Lauren Rousseau’s car, one of which had all the earmarks of an exit hole, but was in the top of the interior portion of the door? Why did early reports state that Lanza had also shot his father, and included the details about finding a body in his home? What can we make of medical examiner Wayne Carver’s animated performance at a heavily scrutinized press conference? It absolutely must be seen to be believed, and certainly helped fuel all the rumors that the event was a hoax.
The mainstream media has succeeded in demonizing those who question the dubious narrative of Sandy Hook as being ghoulish, reckless and insensitive to the families who lost loved ones there. My heart goes out to anyone who loses a child so suddenly, but these are all legitimate questions. It isn’t being disrespectful to parents, or the memory of any children, to ask why no emergency personnel entered Sandy Hook Elementary School that day, or why no signs of any ongoing crisis were captured during hours of helicopter footage, or why there has been so much secrecy connected to every aspect of this case, or why nearly everyone who isn’t a so-called “truther” seems to resent any questions at all being raised.
Sandy Hook is ultimately like all the events I covered in my book Hidden History, in its implausibility and the slew of unanswered questions surrounding it. This alleged tragedy has been used to further an agenda not only to control guns, but to tighten security everywhere and erode our personal liberty. As we have seen increasingly in recent years, “live shooter” drills have become frighteningly commonplace in our schools, as has an increased police presence that often fosters a prison-like atmosphere.
The official narrative of the Sandy Hook shooting is unconvincing, to say the least. It should be the duty of any self-respecting journalist to investigate themselves, instead of automatically assuming that those who are asking the questions are irresponsible and denigrating the memory of the children.