Town Hall Meeting

19 Aug 2017

Sassy Trump: Fire and Fury

Filed under: — Al @ 7:48 am

This takes the fear of nuclear war down one notch, which I need at the moment.

07 Jul 2014

Mayday!

Filed under: — Al @ 9:05 am

A call for help, because our democracy is dying. Check this out and see if it doesn’t inspire you to do something…

https://mayday.us/

16 Dec 2013

Federal Judge Rules on NSA Spying Program Today…

Filed under: — Al @ 1:20 pm

…shocker, it’s likely illegal! Nice to see someone with power do the right thing.

Judge: NSA spying ‘almost Orwellian,’ likely unconstitutional

In a stinging rebuke to President Barack Obama’s surveillance policies, a federal judge on Monday branded the National Security Agency’s mass collection of Americans’ telephone data “almost Orwellian” and likely a violation of the Constitution.

Appeals Court Judge Richard Leon invoked Founding Father James Madison and the Beatles in a frequently scathing ruling. Leon, appointed by then-President George W. Bush, ordered the government to halt bulk collection of so-called telephony metadata and destroy information already collected through that program. But he suspended his order as the case works its way through the courts.

“I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval,” Leon wrote.

The judge also dealt a blow to the government’s argument that such surveillance programs — a source of controversy ever since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed their reach in a series of unauthorized disclosures — are necessary to thwarting terrorist plots.

“The Government does not cite a single instance in which analysis of the NSA’s bulk metadata collection actually stopped an imminent attack, or otherwise aided the Government in achieving any objective that was time-sensitive in nature,” he wrote.

Read the rest here.

21 Jun 2012

People of Earth

Filed under: — Al @ 9:27 am

Inspirational video posted on youtube using Charlie Chaplin’s speech from the film The Great Dictator.

The only thing I might change about the video is to include how American’s are doing the brutality and torture and are also a victim of it. The images in the video portray the problems in the speech as only belonging to other countries or peoples. Yet it appears Americans (or English speaking folks) are the intended audience.

07 May 2011

400 Have More Wealth Than 150 Million Poorest

Filed under: — Al @ 9:18 pm

That is not a typo. This was stated by Moore recently at a Wisconsin demonstration. It is true – it was fact checked by the organization Politifact. See the link below for the full explanation of how they verified it.

http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2011/mar/10/michael-moore/michael-moore-says-400-americans-have-more-wealth-/

Make sure to keep this in mind when people talk about how to deal with the deficit.

27 Jan 2011

The Weimar Republic

Filed under: — Al @ 1:41 pm

It is the name given to the parliamentary republic of Germany from the years 1918-1933. Noam Chomsky gave some interviews in 2010 to The Progressive Magazine and Chris Hedges about the risk of U.S. fascism and mentioned “the Weimar Republic was the peak of Western civilization and was regarded as a model of democracy.” He went on to explain how quickly it failed and turned into Nazi Germany, drawing parallels to current situations in the U.S. One such parallel is Germans got sick of government wrangling and their service to the powerful. A fringe movement like the Nazi’s, who had 2% of the vote in 1928, took power by 1933. And one reason they got more support is because Germans figured they couldn’t be much worse than the leaders they had so far.

I personally don’t know much about the Weimar Republic, but it sounds like an important part of world history and the history of democracy, so the more people know about it the better. Chomsky’s explanation and this youtube video seem like a decent place to start.

Chomsky’s Weimar Republic Explanation with the Progressive Magazine

Chomsky’s Weimar Republic Explanation with Chris Hedges and Truthdig

16 Jun 2010

Obama Continuing Bush’s Worst Foreign Policies

Filed under: — Al @ 7:01 pm

Many of you probably know these things already, but now “The Daily Show” has summed up some of the worst policies Obama and his Secretary of State Clinton have retained. This includes kidnapping and keeping people in jail without charging them with a crime indefinitely. Some of this has been posted on townhallmeeting.org before, most recently here and also days after Obama won the Presidency here. Anyone who has read Howard Zinn’s great book “A Peoples History of the US” will know that throughout American history, Democrats and Republicans have almost always had bipartisan agreement on foreign policy. For recent examples of bipartisan foreign policy, check out the chapter “Carter-Reagan-Bush: The Bipartisan Consensus.” But the examples go all the way back to America’s beginning, including both Roosevelts, Woodrow Wilson, Kennedy, etc. It seems scary foreigners can unite Washington, just like in Orwell’s “1984.”

03 Feb 2010

Top Intelligence Leader Admits Killing Americans is Okay

Filed under: — Al @ 4:11 pm

Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair told a House Panel today that intelligence agencies have the authority to kill Americans if they are considered a terrorist threat. Blair is infamously known for giving aid to Indonesian military officers who led the 1999 Liquica Church Massacre, while commander of U.S. Pacific Command.

We take direct actions against terrorists in the intelligence community, if … we think that direct action will involve killing an American, we get specific permission to do that.

Whether that American is involved in a group that is trying to attack us, whether that American has — is a threat to other Americans. Those are the factors involved.” Blair explained. “We don’t target people for free speech. We target them for taking action that threatens Americans.

04 Jan 2010

2009: Year in Review

Filed under: — Al @ 11:35 am

From the Inauguration, to Newspapers crumbling, to the Peace Prize, to Democrats. 2010 really is the Year of the Tiger!

Goodbye to 2009, Hello to 2010: Year of the Tiger

By ALEXANDER COCKBURN of Counter Punch

Once again hands are raised in stupefaction. How could they have missed him – meaning in this case Umar Abdulmutallab the Nigerian bomber on that flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. Why, his own father – one of the most powerful bankers in Africa – gave the US embassy in Lagos a warning! He was on the US master computer list of potential terrorists but never made it on to the watch list.

The Truthers reject the obvious answers – caution, bureaucratic inertia, buck-passing, turf fights – and say it was a plot. Obama joins Bush and Cheney in the big conspiracy. It won’t be long before David Griffin rushes out a book on the affair.

Personally, I’m not at all dismayed at evidence that intelligence gathering networks are flawed, that bureaucrats pass the buck. Hyper-efficiency in these matters indicates we have arrived at the perfect police state.

Of course there is room for common sense and elementary vigilance. In the case of the Virginia Tech killer there was plenty of evidence that Cho Seung-hui was a time bomb waiting to explode. Students talked about him as a possible shooter and refused to take classes with him. His essays so disturbed one of his teachers with their violent ravings that she arranged a secret signal in case she needed security during her tutorials.

And then was there was proof positive that the time bomb had exploded and the mass murder session began in the engineering building, the police state proved all too human in actual performance. The police cowered behind their cruisers until Cho Seung-hui finished off the last batch of his 32 victims, then killed himself. Then the police bravely rushed in and started sticking their guns in the faces of the traumatised students, screaming at them to freeze or be shot.

Read the rest here

24 Sep 2009

Bush Emergency Address to Nation 1 Year Ago

Filed under: — Al @ 11:47 am

I hope the US news companies all air this speech in its entirety today. If you don’t painfully remember, the basic theme of the speech: give money to me so I can keep the powerful from losing all their money, otherwise we are taking you all down with us. Quotes below, in chronological order, are doozies:

“Most importantly, my administration is working with Congress to address the root cause behind much of the instability in our markets”

“These are not normal circumstances, the market is not functioning properly”

“…irresponsible actions of some, to undermine the financial security of all”

“…the government’s top economic experts warn…America could slip into a financial panic, and a distressing scenario would unfold…”

“[the bailout plan will] remove risks posed by ‘troubled assets'”

“we expect that much, if not all, of the tax dollars we invest, will be paid back”

“Once this crisis is resolved, there will be time to update our financial regulatory structures. Our 21st century global economy remains regulated largely by outdated 20th century laws. Recently we have seen how one company can grow so large, that its failure jeopardizes the entire financial system.”

“democratic capitalism is the best system ever devised” (Did anyone ever get to vote for/against capitalism?!?! If not, how is it democratic exactly?)

“good luck losers, I’m retiring in two months!” (Okay, this last one was added by me)

29 Jun 2009

Change Congress In 20 Minutes

Filed under: — Al @ 3:05 pm

Larry Lessig is an honest, very intelligent person who sees what is going on in America and is fighting to fix the major problems. He has started a project called Change Congress which wants to have public financing of elections. His point is that public financing must be addressed first because all other problems are a symptom of money ruining our democracy – whether its terrible environmental law, health care law, or regulations of Wall Street. Check out this excellent video and get started!

A video used to be embedded here but the service that it was hosted on has shut down.

08 Jun 2009

Contemporary American Racism

Filed under: — Al @ 2:33 pm

This video from ABC’s 20/20 shows a glaring example of racism in America today. Sorry people, your job isn’t done – racism is far from over. Part 1 is an experiment where 3 white teenagers vandalize a car in public. Part 2 is 3 black teens doing the same thing. Just check out the reactions from the members of the mostly white, suburban community where the experiments took place.

For those who like to use the simplistic “But Obama is President” argument, doesn’t that mean by definition that the 46% who voted for McCain are racist? And the 100,000,000 people who did not vote at all, are they also racist? (voter turnout in 2008 was only 56.8%).

Part 1:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNu-WZdHzaA

Part 2:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIVgMvuCM_k

20 Apr 2009

Obama Continues Bush Policy: Deny Prisoners Habeas Corpus

Filed under: — Al @ 12:08 pm

Call me what you will, but I draw the line at habeas corpus. This can’t stand, it is so disappointing. Obama was a Professor of Constitutional Law too!

http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/04/11/bagram/index.html

I recommend reading the whole thing, but here’s my summary…The story is about how Obama is continuing Bush’s policy of NOT providing Habeas Corpus to detainees in Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan. And these prisoners are not just from the battlefield there, they are flown to this base from all over the world because they can be sent there forever. The Supreme Court said in June 2008 that prisoners in Guantanamo have a right to have a hearing to determine their guilt and challenge their detention (habeas corpus), so Bush just started sending guys to Bagram instead. Obama then in February filed a brief in federal court stating that he embraced this plan. Then a conservative federal judge, in March 2009, rejected Obama’s petition and said the Supreme Court ruling from 2008 applies to Bagram in addition to Guantanamo because the prisoners were foreign citizens caught elsewhere and just brought to Bagram to be detained. At the time of the June 2008 ruling, it was the height of the Presidential campaign, and you may recall that was when candidate-McCain called it one of the worst ruling in the history of the Supreme Court (this was laughable, try Plessy v Ferguson!). At the same time, candidate-Obama did the right thing and said the decision was great, and that it shows we can try and convict alleged terrorists using our tried and true justice system.

The most sickening part to me is how by doing this, all the lives lost fighting to get the right of habeas corpus over the centuries for all citizens are now looking like they were wasted by these actions. I highly recommend reading the “update” at the bottom of Greenwald’s report too…we can’t start saying things like: “I’m sure Obama has a good reason for it” which is exactly what Bush’s fan’s were saying all along.

23 Mar 2009

“If You Can’t Live On It, It Doesn’t Count”

Filed under: — Al @ 2:14 pm

Check out this clip from the film “The American Ruling Class” made in 1998. It’s one thing to have “full employment” as economists say, but if it includes jobs that pay less than people can live on, those jobs shouldn’t count. On some level, it is true that as long as people don’t accept a job for less than they can live on, then we will be A-OK! But desperate people do dumb things, that’s just the way life is. This is where unions come into play. They require their members to only work for so much money and for the businesses that want their members to only hire folks from their union – thus making sure nobody is able to do the desperate thing. DON’T BE FOOLED, AND DON’T BE NICKEL AND DIMED!!!

The dialogue is a little corny, but the best part of the clip is the song at the end, sing along!

13 Feb 2009

Think About Signing the Petition for Truth Commission

Filed under: — Al @ 6:27 pm

I signed it. I think its important, I hope you do too. War crimes and illegal actions must be prosecuted. Obama is totally wrong on this…a truth commission does not “look backward,” and IT IS “looking ahead,” because it means we want to show future people that your ass will be thrown in jail for this shit!

http://ga3.org/campaign/btcpetition

Peace!

31 Jan 2009

Changefest

Filed under: — Administrator @ 3:35 pm

“Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will.”
— Frederick Douglass

Thanks Daily Show for being honest. Remember, change only can come from below, not above!



Thanks G for the link!

14 Jan 2009

Dinners With Dubya

Filed under: — Al @ 11:51 am

A friend of the president’s daughter, Barbara, writes about his experiences eating at the white house, before 9/11, and after, and how his view of him changed over time. There are some amazing insights in this article, check it out.

http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2009/01/dubya-and-me200901

George Bush and Brian Smith at the White House

22 Nov 2008

Hope Really is on a Tightrope

Filed under: — Al @ 3:51 pm

Don’t all these appointments kinda make you ill? Why don’t they pick someone new? Such as for treasury, someone who has won a nobel prize for economics, like Joseph Stiglitz, or how about James
Galbraith? Obama doesn’t even seem to be trying to make his administration look like change. All this talk of hope is for a good reason, its all we have left!


Sic Transit: The Honeymoon is Looking a Bit Wan
By ALEXANDER COCKBURN

Two years without a single leak and suddenly, last week, Obama’s operation was like a sieve. That’s what happens when you pick up the phone and call one of the Clintons. Or, to put it another way, that’s what happens when someone claims you, the president elect, picked up the phone and called Mrs Clinton to ask whether she’d like to be secretary of state.

Out the window goes the sense of purposeful strides towards a new-look Administration. In comes a dreadful feeling that somehow we’ve slipped a dimension in the space-time continuum and are heading back into the Clinton era. A couple of more weeks and the Republicans will be calling for a special prosecutor.

I’ve had people try to explain to me the political logic of Obama offering his erstwhile Democratic rival a top position in his cabinet. Better to have her inside the tent. Send her off on bouts of futile shuttle diplomacy, like Condoleezza Rice.

It still doesn’t add up. Why march back briskly into Clintontime? Besides, she’d make a lousy Secretary of State. Mrs Clinton has never displayed any talent for negotiation, nor even any conspicuous appetite to find out what is going on in the world, let alone come up
with a new vision of America’s role in the 21st century. She’s an interventionist by instinct, her finger twitching over the Bomb Release lever. She voted yes on the Iraq war. She was an ardent
advocate of NATO’s onslaught on Yugoslavia. If we do get Hillary at State we may get Madeleine Albright as one of her sidekicks – the woman who said in the late 1990s that starving half a million Iraqi children was “worth it”, probably the line that the 9/11 al Qaeda hijackers were muttering to themselves when they sped on their mission of revenge towards the Twin Towers. This is change?

The answer of course is that there has to be a good deal of similarity between the Clinton and Obama administrations, because Obama is a neoliberal interventionist like Bill, and because the 45 and 50-year
old veterans of the two Clinton administrations who have been cooling their heels in law firms and think tanks for eight years make up a high percentage of those in the hiring line, particularly those who placed an early bet on Obama. To round off the symmetry he new White House counsel will be Greg Craig, who defended Clinton during his impeachment.

The young people who worked for Obama and who voted for him have been feeling wan this week, amid all the retro talk about the Clintons. And the cabinet members Obama has announced or who are being bandied about are not inspiring. They’re dull like former Democratic senator Tom Daschle getting Health and Human Services. Howard Dean, who was a doctor and who had hands-on time grappling with health insurance when he was governor of Vermont, would have been a much better choice. Janet Napolitano, the Arizona governor slated to be head of Homeland Security, horrified labor organizers at one meeting earlier this year listening to her boasting about kicking migrant workers back into Mexico. One nominee headed towards a Republican roasting in his hearings is Eric Holder, named to be Attorney General. As number 2 in Clinton’s Justice Department, Holder played a grimy role in one of the most scandalous affairs of Clinton-time, the last minute pardon by Clinton of billionaire trader and denizen of the FBI’s most wanted list, Marc Rich. (See Jeffrey St. Clair’s account of the pardons for Holder’s central role in the affair.)

Other possible appointments are not demonstrative of a resolute change of pace. The talk is of keeping Robert Gates on as Defense Secretary, although Gates has made no significant mark on the vast pork barrel beside the Potomac. The conversion of this mucky schemer of yesteryear into revered emblem of sound governance is one of the many marvels of our age. Somewhere down the road we’ll probably end up with another slimy fellow, former Navy Secretary Richard Danzig, who counts among his regular roosts CSIS and the Center for A New American Security, also decorated by the odious Robert Kaplan and Dr John Nagl.

The most significant appointment will be Treasury Secretary. On current form Obama will play it safe with the top nominees to run this Department. The trouble here is that there is no safe option and the
usual suspects will have the usual limited perspective. He’d better get this one right. A conventional appointee could doom his administration right from the start.

In sum, this looks like a standard issue, business-as-usual cabinet in the making, about as exciting as looking at one of the regular network panel shows on a Sunday morning. Can’t they find anyone under 40 who looks like they might want to do things different and shake things up?

The Golden Age of Eating was….

But first a quotation from Paul Craig Roberts:

The Korean War ended 55 years ago, and the US still has troops in Korea.

Germany was defeated in 1945, and the US still has troops in Germany.

A country that must go hat in hand to its creditors must first look to where costs can be cut. Annual military spending of $700 billion is certainly a good place to start.

But the US government has far more hubris than intelligence and is on its way to being a failed state that has to print money to pay its bills.

It is not too late for the US to save itself and the dollar standard, but it would require a rapid transition from arrogance to humility. The rest of the world can bring America down by not lending to us, in which case neither the trade nor budget deficits could be financed.

17 Nov 2008

Continuity, Not Change

The guy leading Obama’s intelligence transition team is apparently John Brennan. He says that rendition (also known as kidnapping) is not only useful but okay. We gotta nip these things in the bud if we really get “change we need” rather than this same old crap.

John Brennan Likes Extraordinary Rendition

Check out this excerpt from the interview:

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to excerpts from a December 2005 interview with John Brennan, the former CIA official now leading Obama’s intelligence transition. Brennan was interviewed by Margaret Warner on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer about his views on the Bush administration’s practice of extraordinary rendition.

MARGARET WARNER: So, was Secretary Rice correct today when she called it a vital tool in combating terrorism?

JOHN BRENNAN: I think it’s an absolutely vital tool. I have been intimately familiar now for the past decade with the cases of rendition that the US government has been involved in, and I can say, without a doubt, that it has been very successful as far as producing intelligence that has saved lives.

MARGARET WARNER: So is it—are you saying both—in two ways, both in getting terrorists off the streets and also in the interrogation?

JOHN BRENNAN: Yes. The rendition is the practice or the process of rendering somebody from one place to another place. It is moving them. And US government will frequently facilitate that movement from a country to another.

MARGARET WARNER: Why would you not, if this—if you have a suspect who’s a danger to the United States, keep him in the United States’ custody? Is it because we want another country to do the dirty work?

JOHN BRENNAN: No, I don’t think that’s it at all. Also, I think it’s rather arrogant to think that we’re the only country that respects human rights. I think that we have a lot of assurances from these countries that we hand over terrorists to that they will in fact respect human rights. And there are different ways to gain those assurances. But also, let’s say an individual goes to Egypt, because they’re an Egyptian citizen, and the Egyptians then have a longer history, in terms of dealing with them, and they have family members and others that they can bring in, in fact, to be part of the whole interrogation process.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s John Brennan, who heads up the transition team on intelligence. Mel Goodman?

MELVIN GOODMAN: Well, John Brennan is being completely dishonest there. All of the operational people I’ve talked to know that the people who were turned over to the Arab intelligence services—and remember, this is Egypt, this is Syria, this is Jordan, this is Saudi Arabia—that all of these foreign intelligence services commit torture and abuse. Now, if any of these suspects had anything to say to us that was of any utility, we would have kept them. We would have controlled these people. They would have become our sources and our assets. When we turned them over, we were turning over people who we felt had very little to offer, and we were turning over them to them, to the Arab liaison services for torture and abuse.

John Brennan has defended the warrantless eavesdropping. John Brennan has basically defended all of the violations that were committed at the CIA in the run-up to the war and in the postwar period. So the signal this sends to CIA employees who tried to get it right—and there were a few who tried to get it right—is the worst kind of signal. And if this is Obama’s judgment about a national security team, it’s very reminiscent of what Bill Clinton did in 1993, when he appointed people such as Jim Woolsey and Les Aspin and Warren Christopher and Tony Lake to the national security positions, and all of them had to be removed before the first term was over. So this is very disquieting, what
we’re learning now.

AMY GOODMAN: In fact, NPR attributed Obama’s reversal on FISA and telecom immunity to the fact that he was relying on the advice of John Brennan, an emphatic supporter of these policies.

MELVIN GOODMAN: Well, then you have to wonder who he’s relying on, in terms of advice, to keep Bob Gates at the Pentagon, which I think is another example of continuity and not change. You mean to tell me that there are no Democrats who are qualified to become the Secretary of Defense? Bob Gates has supported all of the policies that Obama said he was going to look at very carefully and seemed to oppose: expansion of NATO, bringing Georgia and Ukraine into NATO, deployment of missiles in Poland, deployment of radars in the Czech Republic, the continued acquisition of a national missile defense, which is the most expensive item in the Pentagon’s procurement project, an item that we’ve spent over $500 billion on in the last forty years. This is—again, this is not change; this is continuity.

UPDATE
Brennan is now “Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Adviser for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism.” Sigh.

24 Oct 2008

Reactions to the Capitalist Crisis

Filed under: — Administrator @ 2:58 pm

From the beaten down regular US citizen…

I tend to pick emotionally unavailable governments…So even though America steals my money to pay off gambling debts, beats me senseless, kicks my cat through a window, then goes out on power-drunken binges, bombing people, poisoning the planet, and annihilating whole civilizations — I know that, deep down, America really loves me

http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/day131008.html

From a 37 year old hedge fund manager….

The boss of a successful US hedge fund has quit the industry with an extraordinary farewell letter dismissing his rivals as over-privileged “idiots” and thanking “stupid” traders for making him rich….All of this behaviour supporting the aristocracy only ended up making it easier for me to find people stupid enough to take the other side of my trades. God bless America.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2008/oct/18/banking-useconomy

Thanks G for the links!

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