Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The American Taliban

A riveting take down of the GOP, delivered by Jeff Daniels as Will McAvoy on HBO's "The Newsroom."

Why Politics Suck

The following is an essay written in 2004 by Mumia Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther who was convicted in 1982 of the murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner.  He was sentenced to death, and sat on Death Row for 26 years, until a new capital sentencing hearing was called, which eventually resulted in his death sentence being changed to life imprisonment without parole in 2012.   He has written six books during his incarceration.


By Mumia Abu-Jamal

When I think of politics, I think of a politician -- an odd one, I'll admit -- and not even an American.  I think of Charles De Gaulle -- the tall, big-nosed French general who became the first president of France's Fifth Republic. Why him? Well, in truth, he barely nudges out the great political scientist, Machiavelli; but both gave us deep insights into the world of politics.

De Gaulle though, gave what seems like the best definition of a politician when he said: "In order to become the master, the politician poses as a servant." (He also wrote in a letter, the great line: "Politics are too serious a matter to be left to the politicians").

In those two, brief lines, De Gaulle provides both the problem and the solution; the problems are the politicians; the solution -- not the politicians.

I think, for millions of folks, there's the very deep feeling, maybe even the knowledge, that politicians will say virtually anything to get elected, and, once in, proceed to betray those who voted for them. I'm convinced that it is precisely that inner knowledge -- that gut knowledge -- that keeps millions -- perhaps 50+ million Americans -- from voting at all. They know better.

They know that politicians are the tools of the wealthy -- and that they spit on the poor and impoverished.

Remember those so-called 'debates?' (OK -- I use the term loosely). But wasn't it interesting that the poor, or working people, were never mentioned? How their concerns didn't even merit a mere moment during a 2-hour debate?  That's because they are invisible to the rich guys who run, or are run in, the political system. It really doesn't matter if we discuss Republicans or Democrats. It's the same.

Do you know how many folks contribute to election campaigns?Just 4%. 4%! Most political dough comes from corporate coffers. So, who do you think they serve? That's where the $4 billion bucks came from to pay for the U.S. presidential campaign in 2004. 

So -- the political system sucks. But, guess what? It was designed to suck (at least for people like us).

The rich men who wrote the Constitution hated and feared the common people, whom they called 'the Mob'; and, not surprisingly, the common folks hated them back. Consider the words of New Jersey's Governor, who, in 1765, lamented: "The Mob had set down no less than fifteen Houses... the houses of some of the most responsible persons in the Government. It has now become a War of Plunder, of general leveling and taking away the Distinction of Rich and poor" [From Jerry Fresia's Toward an American Revolution: Exposing the Constitution & Other Illusions (Boston: South End Press, 1988), at p. 28]. 

And this wasn't simply New Jersey -- such attacks took place in Boston, in Pennsylvania, in New Hampshire and beyond. They hated the rich snobs who lorded over them then -- and I'd guess it's not very different now -- it's just far less visible. We now see a government dedicated to the proposition that all rich folks matter -- and no one else. The recent election crystallized that truth.

Politics sucks today because it is, for most folks, a burden -- and a lie. It promises, every few years, to change things for the better, yet the only 'change' one gets, if from bad to worse. Thus, millions of people no longer play the game.

It sucks because people learn, even when they participate, that it's not a fair game. Votes are 'lost'; votes are stolen; voters are intimidated, and the politicians are bought and sold like stocks on Wall Street.

It sucks because people feel trapped, and want to be free.

© copyright 2004 by Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Support Mumia Abu-Jamal:

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Rage Against the Machine

Congressman Paul Ryan claims that his favorite band is "Rage Against the Machine."  Say what?  He must not be listening to the lyrics.  Here's what RATM guitarist Tom Morello had to say about this admission from Mr. Ryan:

"Paul Ryan's love of Rage Against the Machine is amusing, because he is the embodiment of the machine that our music has been raging against for two decades. Charles Manson loved the Beatles but didn't understand them. Governor Chris Christie loves Bruce Springsteen but doesn't understand him. And Paul Ryan is clueless about his favorite band, Rage Against the Machine.
"Ryan claims that he likes Rage's sound, but not the lyrics. Well, I don't care for Paul Ryan's sound or his lyrics. He can like whatever bands he wants, but his guiding vision of shifting revenue more radically to the one percent is antithetical to the message of Rage."

GOP strategy

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Rick Scott's version of transparency

This morning's Miami Herald reports that FL Gov. Rick Scott, singular proof positive that we are secretly ruled by alien lizard people in disguise, has been cooking the books when it comes to making emails public.

In the article by Toluse Olorunnipa, we learn that " Gov. Rick Scott said he was championing transparency in May when he gave the public access to his emails by posting them online for anyone to see.  But what he failed to say at his May 3 news conference launching Project Sunburst was that the emails he made public were not the emails of his official state account. The emails the public read online were from a different account used almost exclusively by conservative supporters."

If this man is not summarily drubbed in his re-election bid in 2014, it will be my state's swan song.

Monday, July 30, 2012

If ever a governor needed impeachment, its Rick Scott


According to the US Department of Justice (DOJ) in 2003, "HCA Inc. (formerly known as Columbia/HCA and HCA - The Healthcare Company) has agreed to pay the United States $631 million in civil penalties and damages arising from false claims the government alleged it submitted to Medicare and other federal health programs, the Justice Department announced today." The DOJ entitled its press release on the settlement, "The Largest Healthcare Fraud in US History."
The DOJ news release also records additional HCA civil and criminal fraud in billing the government illegally for services:
Previously, on December 14, 2000, HCA subsidiaries pled guilty to substantial criminal conduct and paid more than $840 million in criminal fines, civil restitution and penalties. Combined with today's separate administrative settlement with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), under which HCA will pay an additional $250 million to resolve overpayment claims arising from certain of its cost reporting practices, the government will have recovered $1.7 billion from HCA, by far the largest recovery ever reached by the government in a health care fraud investigation.

Rick Scott, the Republican governor of Florida, founded what became HCA and resigned as the false claims to Medicare and other federal health programs started coming to light as a result of whistleblowers (who later received a portion of the HCA settlement).
Scott is now refusing to cooperate with the Affordable Care Act, particularly in relation to Medicaid. He regularly denounces government healthcare programs, even though his for-profit healthcare firm made nearly $2 billion in profit from these same federal government payers -- fraudulently.
The governor of the Sunshine State -- if criminal justice were fair and not subject to granting the wealthy impunity -- would very possibly be serving a prison term instead of being ensconced in the Florida's governor's mansion.

Therefore, it is tragically ironic that, according to The Political Carnival, "Florida sends TB patients to $35-a-night motel," and that Rick Scott's state government is "accused of [the] covering up of the worst TB outbreak in 20 years."

Read more here.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Zombie Politics

"It is difficult to imagine that anyone looking at a society in which an ultra-rich financial elite and mega-corporations have the power to control almost every aspect of politics -- from who gets elected to how laws are enacted -- could possibly mistake this social order and system of government for a democracy."
       -- Henry Giroux, "Zombie Politics and Culture in the Age of Casino Capitalism" (2010)

Read the Truthout excerpt here.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

"Game of Thrones" Airs Visual of Decapitated GW Bush Head, HBO Apologizes

The wilders over at Game of Thrones don't have a ton of taboos—incest!, etc—but it seems they finally ran into something that displeased their overlords at HBO. Namely: defacing the image of former President George W. Bush, which no one would have noticed, except the show creators had to go and brag about it in the DVD commentary. Sci fi site io9:
If you keep your eyes peeled when King Joffrey takes Sansa Stark to gaze upon the spiked head of her dead father around 12 minutes in, you'll notice that one of the heads looks slightly familiar. Show creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss explained in their DVD commentary (from Season 1, episode 10) that the decapitated head is actually George Bush. This was discovered by redditor SidIncognito.     Read more

By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd | AlterNet

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Obama Trade Document Leaked, Revealing New Corporate Powers And Broken Campaign Promises

From the Huffington Post:

WASHINGTON -- A critical document from President Barack Obama's free trade negotiations with eight Pacific nations was leaked online early Wednesday morning, revealing that the administration intends to bestow radical new political powers upon multinational corporations, contradicting prior promises.

The leaked document has been posted on the website of Public Citizen, a long-time critic of the administration's trade objectives. The new leak follows substantial controversy surrounding the secrecy of the talks, in which some members of Congress have complained they are not being given the same access to trade documents that corporate officials receive.
"The outrageous stuff in this leaked text may well be why U.S. trade officials have been so extremely secretive about these past two years of [trade] negotiations," said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch in a written statement.

Click on the Huffington Post link above to read the whole article.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Something about Malcolm

There was always something about this guy's facile pronouncements about culture that got under my skin.  Now I know why.  This article is by Yasha Levine from exiledOnline.

Is Malcolm Gladwell America's Most Successful Propagandist and Corporate Shill?

Propaganda works best when it is not perceived as propaganda, but works more subtly. The master of this nuanced approach is Malcolm Gladwell.

 "I'm necessarily parasitic in a way. I have done well as a parasite. But I'm still a parasite." --  Malcolm Gladwell

In the vast ecosystem of corporate shills, which one is the most effective? Propaganda works best when it is not perceived as propaganda: nuance, obfuscation, distraction, suggestion, the subtle introduction of doubt—these are more effective in the long run than shotgun blasts of lies. The master of this approach is Malcolm Gladwell.  Read the rest here.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Another country?

Exclusive: National Security Agency Whistleblower William Binney on Growing State Surveillance

In his first television interview since he resigned from the National Security Agency over its domestic surveillance program, William Binney discusses the NSA’s massive power to spy on Americans and why the FBI raided his home after he became a whistleblower. Binney was a key source for investigative journalist James Bamford’s recent exposé in Wired Magazine about how the NSA is quietly building the largest spy center in the country in Bluffdale, Utah. The Utah spy center will contain near-bottomless databases to store all forms of communication collected by the agency, including private emails, cell phone calls, Google searches and other personal data. Binney served in the NSA for over 30 years, including a time as technical director of the NSA’s World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Reporting Group. Since retiring from the NSA in 2001, he has warned that the NSA’s data-mining program has become so vast that it could "create an Orwellian state." Today marks the first time Binney has spoken on national television about NSA surveillance. Watch/Listen/Read

Detained in the U.S.: Filmmaker Laura Poitras Held, Questioned Some 40 Times at U.S. Airports

The Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Laura Poitras discusses how she has been repeatedly detained and questioned by federal agents whenever she enters the United States. Poitras said the interrogations began after she began working on her documentary, My Country, My Country, about post-invasion Iraq. Her most recent film, The Oath, was about Yemen and Guantánamo and follows the lives of two past associates of Osama bin Laden. She estimates she has been detained approximately 40 times and has had her laptop, cell phone and personal belongings repeatedly searched. Watch/Listen/Read

"We Don’t Live in a Free Country": Jacob Appelbaum on Being Target of Widespread Gov’t Surveillance

We speak with Jacob Appelbaum, a computer researcher who has faced a stream of interrogations and electronic surveillance since he volunteered with the whistleblowing website, WikiLeaks. He describes being detained more than a dozen times at the airport and interrogated by federal agents who asked about his political views and confiscated his cell phone and laptop. A federal judge ordered Twitter to hand over information about Appelbaum’s account. Meanwhile, he continues to work on the Tor Project, an anonymity network that ensures every person has the right to browse the internet without restriction and the right to speak freely. Watch/Listen/Read

Whistleblower: The NSA is Lying–U.S. Government Has Copies of Most of Your Emails

National Security Agency whistleblower William Binney reveals he believes domestic surveillance has become more expansive under President Obama than President George W. Bush. He estimates the NSA has assembled 20 trillion "transactions" — phone calls, emails and other forms of data — from Americans. This likely includes copies of almost all of the emails sent and received from most people living in the United States. Binney talks about Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act and challenges NSA Director Keith Alexander’s assertion that the NSA is not intercepting information about U.S. citizens. Watch/Listen/Read
All of the above courtesy of Democracy Now. 
On every street
In the city
Well you'll get afraid
Yes so afraid

You can't see

Past the surface
of plans that I made to drive you insane
Everywhere, everyday
You won't even want to find yourself a place to hide

And you'll be hurt so many times

You'll lose your love of nursery rhymes
Get the safest room you can find
And lock the door
Find yourself another country
-- The Electric Flag