The Open Dimension

Commentary on social issues; politics; religion and spirituality

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I am a semi-retired psychotherapist/psychiatric social worker and certified hypnotherapist. Originally a practicing attorney, I changed careers during the 1980's. My interests include history, constitutional law, Hindustani classical music, yoga, meditation and spirituality.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014



Sufi Saying

   
September 16, 2014, OpEdNews

An Unbearable and Choking Hell: The Loss of Our Freedoms in the Wake of 9/11
 
 
By John Whitehead

What a strange and harrowing road we've walked since September 11, 2001, littered with the debris of our once-vaunted liberties. We have gone from a nation that took great pride in being a model of a representative democracy to being a model of how to persuade a freedom-loving people to march in lockstep with a police state.
"I tell you, freedom and human rights in America are doomed. The U.S. government will lead the American people in -- and the West in general -- into an unbearable hell and a choking life."--Osama bin Laden (October 2001), as reported by CNN

What a strange and harrowing road we've walked since September 11, 2001, littered with the debris of our once-vaunted liberties. We have gone from a nation that took great pride in being a model of a representative democracy to being a model of how to persuade a freedom-loving people to march in lockstep with a police state.

What began with the passage of the USA Patriot Act in October 2001 has snowballed into the eradication of every vital safeguard against government overreach, corruption and abuse. Since then, we have been terrorized, traumatized, and tricked into a semi-permanent state of compliance. The bogeyman's names and faces change over time--Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and now ISIS--but the end result remains the same: our unquestioning acquiescence to anything the government wants to do in exchange for the phantom promise of safety and security.

Ironically, just a short week after the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, we find ourselves commemorating the 227th anniversary of the ratification of our Constitution. Yet while there is much to mourn about the loss of our freedoms in the years since 9/11, there has been little to celebrate.
The Constitution has been steadily chipped away at, undermined, eroded, whittled down, and generally discarded to such an extent that what we are left with today is but a shadow of the robust document adopted more than two centuries ago. Most of the damage has been inflicted upon the Bill of Rights--the first ten amendments to the Constitution--which historically served as the bulwark from government abuse.

Set against a backdrop of government surveillance, militarized police, SWAT team raids, asset forfeiture, eminent domain, overcriminalization, armed surveillance drones, whole body scanners, stop and frisk searches, roving VIPR raids and the like--all sanctioned by Congress, the White House and the courts--a recitation of the Bill of Rights would understandably sound more like a eulogy to freedoms lost than an affirmation of rights we truly possess.

From commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Constitution_of_the_United_States,_page_4.jpg: Constitution of the United States

As I make clear in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, the Constitution has been on life support for some time now. We can pretend that the Constitution, which was written to hold the government accountable, is still our governing document. However, the reality we must come to terms with is that in the America we live in today, the government does whatever it wants, freedom be damned.

Consider the state of our freedoms, and judge for yourself whether this Constitution Day should be a day of mourning, celebration or a robust call to action:

The First Amendment is supposed to protect the freedom to speak your mind and protest in peace without being bridled by the government. It also protects the freedom of the media, as well as the right to worship and pray without interference. In other words, Americans should not be silenced by the government. Yet despite the clear protections found in the First Amendment, the freedoms described therein are under constant assault. Increasingly, Americans are being arrested and charged with bogus charges such as "disrupting the peace" or "resisting arrest" for daring to film police officers engaged in harassment or abusive practices. Journalists are being prosecuted for reporting on whistleblowers. States are passing legislation to muzzle reporting on cruel and abusive corporate practices. Religious ministries are being fined for attempting to feed and house the homeless. And protesters are being tear-gassed, beaten, arrested and forced into "free speech zones." But to the founders, all of America was a free speech zone.

The Second Amendment was intended to guarantee "the right of the people to keep and bear arms." Yet while gun ownership has been recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court as an individual citizen right, Americans remain powerless to defend themselves against government agents armed to the teeth with military weapons. Police shootings of unarmed citizens continue to outrage communities, while little is being done to demilitarize law enforcement agencies better suited to the battlefield.

The Third Amendment reinforces the principle that civilian-elected officials are superior to the military by prohibiting the military from entering any citizen's home without "the consent of the owner." With the police increasingly posing as military forces--complete with military weapons, assault vehicles, etc.--it is clear that we now have what the founders feared most--a violent standing army on American soil. Moreover, as a result of SWAT team raids where police invade homes, often without warrants, and injure and even kill unarmed citizens, the barrier between public and private property has done away with this critical safeguard.

The Fourth Amendment prohibits the government from conducting surveillance on you or touching you or invading you, unless they have some evidence that you're up to something criminal. In other words, the Fourth Amendment ensures privacy and bodily integrity. Unfortunately, the Fourth Amendment has suffered the greatest damage in recent years and been all but eviscerated by an unwarranted expansion of police powers that include strip searches and even anal and vaginal searches of citizens, surveillance and intrusions justified in the name of fighting terrorism, as well as the outsourcing of otherwise illegal activities to private contractors.
   
The use of civil asset forfeiture schemes to swell the coffers of police forces has continued to grow in popularity among cash-strapped states. The federal government continues to strong-arm corporations into providing it with access to Americans' private affairs, from emails and online transactions to banking and web surfing. Coming in the wake of massive leaks about the inner workings of the NSA and the massive secretive surveillance state, it was recently revealed that the government threatened to fine Yahoo $250,000 every day for failing to comply with the NSA's mass data collection program known as PRISM.

The technological future appears to pose even greater threats to what's left of our Fourth Amendment rights, with advances in biometric identification and microchip implants on the horizon making it that much easier for the government to track not only our movements and cyber activities but our very cellular beings. Barclays has already begun using a finger-scanner as a form of two-step authentication to give select customers access to their accounts. Similarly, Motorola has been developing thin "digital tattoos" that will ensure that a phone's owner is the only person who may unlock it. All of this information, of course, will be available to the spying surveillance agencies.

The Fifth Amendment and the Sixth Amendment work in tandem. These amendments supposedly ensure that you are innocent until proven guilty, and government authorities cannot deprive you of your life, your liberty or your property without the right to an attorney and a fair trial before a civilian judge. However, in the new suspect society in which we live, where surveillance is the norm, these fundamental principles have been upended. And now the National Defense Authorization Act, signed into law by President Obama, allows the military to arrive at your door if the president thinks you're a terrorist (a.k.a. extremist), place you in military detention, jail you indefinitely and restrict access to your family and your lawyer.

The Seventh Amendment guarantees citizens the right to a jury trial. However, when the populace has no idea of what's in the Constitution--civic education has virtually disappeared from most school curriculums--that inevitably translates to an ignorant jury incapable of distinguishing justice and the law from their own preconceived notions and fears.

The Eighth Amendment is similar to the Sixth in that it is supposed to protect the rights of the accused and forbid the use of cruel and unusual punishment. However, the Supreme Court's determination that what constitutes "cruel and unusual" should be dependent on the "evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society" leaves us with little protection in the face of a society lacking in morals altogether. For example, if you are thrown into a military detention camp, then what constitutes cruel and unusual punishment is up to your jailers.

The Ninth Amendment provides that other rights not enumerated in the Constitution are nonetheless retained by the people. Popular sovereignty--the belief that the power to govern flows upward from the people rather than downward from the rulers--is clearly evident in this amendment. However, it has since been turned on its head by a centralized federal government that sees itself as supreme and which continues to pass more and more laws that restrict our freedoms under the pretext that it has an "important government interest" in doing so. Thus, once the government began violating the non-enumerated rights granted in the Ninth Amendment, it was only a matter of time before it began to trample the enumerated rights of the people, as explicitly spelled out in the rest of the Bill of Rights.

As for the Tenth Amendment's reminder that the people and the states retain every authority that is not otherwise mentioned in the Constitution, that assurance of a system of government in which power is divided among local, state and national entities has long since been rendered moot by the centralized Washington, DC power elite--the president, Congress and the courts. Indeed, the federal governmental bureaucracy has grown so large that it has made local and state legislatures relatively irrelevant. Through its many agencies and regulations, the federal government has stripped states of the right to regulate countless issues that were originally governed at the local level. This distinction is further blurred by programs such as the Pentagon's 1033 program, which distributes excess military hardware to local police stations, effectively turning them into extensions of the military.
If there is any sense to be made from this recitation of freedoms lost, it is simply this: our individual freedoms have been eviscerated so that the government's powers could be expanded. In this regard, ironically, Osama Bin Laden was right when he warned that freedom and human rights in America are doomed, and that the U.S. government would be responsible for leading us into an "unbearable hell and a choking life."

The choices before us are simple: We can live in the past, dwelling on what freedoms we used to enjoy and shrugging helplessly at the destruction of our liberties. We can immerse ourselves in the present, allowing ourselves to be utterly distracted by the glut of entertainment news and ever-changing headlines so that we fail to pay attention to or do anything about the government's ongoing power-grabs. We can hang our hopes on the future, believing against all odds that someone or something--whether it be a politician, a movement, or a religious savior--will save us from inevitable ruin.

Or we can start right away by instituting changes at the local level, holding our government officials accountable to the rule of law, and resurrecting the Constitution, recognizing that if we follow our current trajectory, the picture of the future will be closer to what George Orwell likened to "a boot stamping on a human face--forever."



Submitters Bio:

John W. Whitehead is an attorney and author who has written, debated and practiced widely in the area of constitutional law and human rights. Whitehead’s aggressive, pioneering approach to civil liberties has earned him numerous accolades and accomplishments, including the Hungarian Medal of Freedom. His concern for the persecuted and oppressed led him, in 1982, to establish The Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit civil liberties and human rights organization in Charlottesville, Va. Whitehead serves as the Institute’s president and spokesperson. His thought-provoking commentaries call people to action and address a wide range of contemporary issues from faith to politics and television to constitutional rights. He is also a frequent commentator on a variety of issues in the national media, as well as the editor of the award-winning pop culture magazine, Gadfly. Whitehead's book A Government of Wolves will be published in June 2013. Please visit On Target to view Whitehead's weekly video commentaries. He also blogs daily about the emerging police state at http://agovernmentofwolves.com/

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

View of the Alhambra


Sufi Saying



   
September 15, 2014, OpEdNews

Lawless Law Enforcers: America's Terrorists
 
By Linn Washington

Abuses by police, that authors persistently dismiss as isolated incidents, have an ugly history in America inclusive of persistent denial by the very authorities charged with correcting lawlessness by law enforcers.
Two acts of ugly terrorism occurred in Birmingham, Alabama on September 15, 1963.
One act was widely abhorred. The other act ignored.

Many across America know about the 9/15/63 Birmingham murders of four little girls slain in the bombing of a black Baptist church 18-days after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his stirring "I Have A Dream" speech.

However, few know about the Birmingham murder of Johnny Robinson, a 16-year-old shot in the back by a policeman hours after that church bombing.

If the deaths of those four children inside that Birmingham church catalyzed the 1960s-era Civil Rights Movement contributing to the racial progress America now praises itself for achieving, the death of Johnny Robinson represents yet another instance of the regression across America on the issue of effectively addressing lawlessness by law enforcers -- lawlessness that most often evades legal accountability.

Historically, America has a history of downplaying brutal behaviors by police.

From opednews.com/populum/uploaded/woman-police-abuse-20120505-4.jpg: US experiencing militarization of its police

Police abuses -- from fatal shootings through false arrests and use of foul language -- are dismissed as isolated acts of a 'few bad apples' instead of an endemic scourge historically impacting minorities and increasing impacting non-minorities. Top policy makers down through much of the public embrace this dismissal dynamic.

The policeman who fatally shot Johnny Robinson during disturbances that erupted in the wake of that murderous church bombing never faced criminal prosecution because all-white grand juries (state and federal) excused his shotgun slaying.

That Birmingham policeman who blasted Robinson with a shotgun, like the men who bombed that city's Sixteen Street Baptist Church, staunchly opposed ending America's system of legally sanctioned racial segregation. Officer Jack Parker, then the head of Birmingham's police union, publicly opposed integrating that city's police department.

"We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality." Dr. King declared during his iconic 1963 speech where he twice decried police abuses.
Today most Americans extoll the vision King articulated during that speech while continually ignoring the nightmares he detailed as injustices that drove the need for his 'Dream.' Police abuses remain core elements of the nightmare too many across America encounter daily.

A dozen years before King's 'Dream' speech a black union leader criticized police brutality during his keynote address at labor convention in Cincinnati. "We are horrified to hear of the many police killings of Negroes from New York City to Birmingham, Alabama," William R. Hood said in October 1951.

The same year Hood linked discrimination in the workplace with racist deprivations across American society, an interracial group of Americans delivered a petition to the United Nations charging the American government with committing genocide against African-Americans.
"Once the classic method of lynching was the rope. Now it is the policeman's bullet," that seminal yet forgotten petition asserted. "We submit that the evidence suggests that the killing of Negroes has become police policy in the United States and that police policy is the most practical expression of government policy."

Typical of America's history of denial on police brutality, federal government leaders viciously attacked those behind the petition instead of the police abuse and other problems highlighted in their petition. Top federal authorities, for example, pulled the passports of petition signers who were scheduled to travel to Europe to meet with U.N. representatives and even enlisted the widow of President Franklin Roosevelt to convince U.N. officials that charges in that petition were exaggerated.

Many of those who protested the early August 2014 fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a policeman in Ferguson, Missouri believed that the killing of blacks and other non-whites is accepted police policy across America.

Bracketing the slaying of Michael Brown was the police chokehold death of Eric Garner in New York City and the fatal shooting of John Crawford inside a Wal-Mart store in a town north of Cincinnati.

One month before the death of Brown in Ferguson the District Attorney of bucolic Sonoma County California announced that the policeman who fatally shot a 13-year-old Mexican-American boy months earlier would not face prosecution for that controversy sparking slaying.

D.A. Jill Ravitch based her decision not to prosecute Deputy Erick Glehaus for the death of Andy Lopez on a report that absolved Glehaus prepared by an expert Ravitch hired for his "independence." But that expert has a history of consistently siding with police accused of wrongful deaths. Ravitch withheld release of that report until after her reelection.

In 2000, a report prepared for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights harshly criticized the then D.A. and police officials in Sonoma County for excusing each of eight fatal police shootings from April 1995 to September 1997.

The investigative committee that prepared that 2000 report was "appalled at the number of deadly incidents." The report urged Sonoma's District Attorneys office to conduct reviews of fatal police shootings that were "fair and impartial" -- a suggestion that current DA Ravitch did not follow in the Lopez shooting critics charge.

That 2000 report recommended the creation of a citizen review board to monitor police. Sonoma authorities never implemented that recommendation for the county located sixty miles north San Francisco known for its wines (and 'weed').

That report also assailed authorities for the practice of seeking ""to criminalize their victims and marginalize their critics""

Sonoma authorities, defending Deputy Glehaus, faulted Lopez for having marijuana in his system. (Authorities in Ferguson, Missouri quickly portrayed Brown as a robber for allegedly snatching a few cigars before his fatal shooting.)

As that 2000 report from the California Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights noted, when police commanders and officers "separate from the greater community to protect individual officers who have transgressed they also become part of the problem."

Today, politicians, press pundits and preachers across America, portray terrorists with a foreign face. Yet, for far too many across America, the terrorizers that they encounter daily are police.

Linn Washington is a founding member of the investigative reporting/commentary news site: This Can't Be Happening.net



Submitters Bio:

Linn Washington is a weekly columnist for the Philadelphia Tribune and This Can't Be Happening. Washington writes frequently on inequities in the criminal justice system, ills in society and failings of the news media. He teaches multi-media urban journalism at Temple University.

Monday, September 15, 2014





September 15, 2014, OpEdNews



Sacrificing the Vulnerable, From Gaza to America

 
By Chris Hedges

Israel's indiscriminate use of modern, industrial weapons to kill hundreds of innocents, wound thousands more and make tens of thousands of families homeless is not a war. It is state-sponsored terror. The tinder of revolt is piling up. No person or movement can ignite this tinder. No one knows when the eruption will take place. But it is certain that a popular revolt is coming.
Cross-posted from Truthdig

From flickr.com/photos/35400761@N05/3388472910/: Destruction of Gaza
Chris Hedges gave this speech Saturday at the Sauk County Fairgrounds in Baraboo, Wis., before a crowd of about 2,000. His address followed one there by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont Independent who seems to be preparing to run in the Democratic presidential primaries. The Fighting Bob Fest, the annual event at which they appeared, brings together progressive speakers from around the country and honors Robert "Fighting Bob" La Follette (1855-1925), a U.S. senator from Wisconsin who opposed the United States' entry into World War I. Parts of this talk were drawn from Hedges' past columns.

I would like to begin by speaking about the people of Gaza. Their suffering is not an abstraction to me. I was the Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times. I spent seven years in the region. I speak Arabic. And for much of that time I was in Gaza, including when Israeli fighter jets and soldiers were attacking it.

I have stood over the bodies, including the bodies of children, left behind by Israeli airstrikes and assaults. I have watched mothers and fathers cradle their dead and bloodied boys and girls in their arms, convulsed by an indescribable grief, shrieking in pitiful cries to an indifferent universe.

And in this charnel house, this open-air prison where 1.8 million people, nearly half of them children, live trapped in an Israeli ghetto, I have witnessed the crimes of occupation -- the food shortage, the stifling overcrowding, the contaminated water, the lack of health services, the crippling poverty, the endemic unemployment, the fear and the despair. As I have witnessed this mass of human suffering I have heard from the power elites in Jerusalem and Washington the lies told to justify state terror.

An impoverished, captive people that lack an army, a navy, an air force, mechanized units, drones, artillery and any semblance of command and control do not pose a threat to Israel. And Israel's indiscriminate use of modern, industrial weapons to kill hundreds of innocents, wound thousands more and make tens of thousands of families homeless is not a war. It is state-sponsored terror and state-sponsored murder.

The abject failure by our political class to acknowledge this fact, a fact that to most of the rest of the world is obvious, exposes the awful banality of our political system, the cynical abandonment of the most vulnerable of the earth for campaign contributions. Money, after all, has replaced the vote.

The refusal to speak out for the people of Gaza is not tangential to our political life. The pathetic, Stalinist-like plebiscite in the [U.S.] Senate, where all 100 senators trotted out like AIPAC windup dolls to cheer on the Israeli bombing of homes, apartment blocks, schools -- where hundreds of terrified families were taking shelter -- water treatment plants, power stations, hospitals, and of course boys playing soccer on a beach, exposes the surrender of our political class to cash-rich lobbying groups and corporate power. The people of Gaza are expendable. They are poor. They are powerless. And they have no money. Just like the poor people of color in this country whose bodies, locked in cages, enrich the prison-industrial complex.

When you are willing to sacrifice the most vulnerable for political expediency it becomes easy, as Barack Obama and the Democratic Party have amply illustrated, to sacrifice all who are vulnerable -- our own poor, workers, the sick, the elderly, students and our middle class. This is a Faustian compact. It ends by selling your soul to Goldman Sachs and ExxonMobil. It ends by deifying a military machine, now largely beyond civilian control, that, along with our organs of state security, has established surveillance and a security state that make us the most spied-upon, eavesdropped, monitored and photographed populace in human history. It is impossible to describe yourself as free when you are constantly watched. This is the relationship of a master and a slave.

Politics, if we take politics to mean the shaping and discussion of issues, concerns and laws that foster the common good, is no longer the business of our traditional political institutions. These institutions, including the two major political parties, the courts and the press, are not democratic. They are used to crush any vestiges of civic life that calls, as a traditional democracy does, on its citizens to share among all its members the benefits, sacrifices and risks of a nation. They offer only the facade of politics, along with elaborate, choreographed spectacles filled with skillfully manufactured emotion and devoid of real political content. We have devolved into what Alexis de Tocqueville feared -- "democratic despotism."

The squabbles among the power elites, rampant militarism and the disease of imperialism, along with a mindless nationalism that characterizes all public debate, which Bob La Follette denounced and fought, have turned officially sanctioned politics into a carnival act.

Pundits and news celebrities on the airwaves engage in fevered speculation about whether the wife of a former president will run for office -- and this after the mediocre son of another president spent eight years in the White House. This is not politics. It is gossip. Opinion polls, the staple of what serves as political reporting, are not politics. They are forms of social control. The use of billions of dollars to fund election campaigns and pay lobbyists to author legislation is not politics. It is legalized bribery.

The insistence that austerity and economic rationality, rather than the welfare of the citizenry, be the primary concerns of the government is not politics. It is the death of civic virtue. The government's system of wholesale surveillance and the militarization of police forces, along with the psychosis of permanent war and state-orchestrated fear of terrorism, are not politics. They are about eradicating civil liberties and justifying endless war and state violence. The chatter about death panels, abortion, gay rights, guns and undocumented children crossing the border is not politics. It is manipulation by the power elites of emotion, hate and fear to divert us from seeing our own powerlessness.

As long as most citizens believe in the ideas that justify global capitalism, the private and state institutions that serve our corporate masters are unassailable. When these ideas are shattered, the institutions that buttress the ruling class deflate and collapse. The battle of ideas is percolating below the surface. It is a battle the corporate state is steadily losing. An increasing number of Americans are getting it. They know that we have been stripped of political power. They recognize that we have been shorn of our most basic and cherished civil liberties. They know that nearly half the country lives in poverty or a category called "near poverty." Many of the rest of us, if the corporate state is not overthrown, will join them. These truths are harder and harder to hide.

It appears that political ferment is dormant in the United States. This is incorrect. The ideas that sustain the corporate state are swiftly losing their efficacy across the political spectrum. The ideas that are rising to take their place, however, are inchoate. The right has retreated into Christian fascism and a celebration of the gun culture. The left, knocked off balance by decades of fierce state repression in the name of anti-communism, has yet to rebuild itself and turn on a feckless liberal class that has sold its soul to a bankrupt Democratic Party.

The tinder of revolt is piling up. No person or movement can ignite this tinder. No one knows when the eruption will take place. No one knows what form it will take. But it is certain that a popular revolt is coming. The refusal by the corporate state to address even the minimal grievances of the citizenry, the continued pillaging of the nation and the ecosystem, remind us that, as Karl Marx pointed out, unregulated, unfettered capitalism is a revolutionary force. It commodifies everything. Human beings and the natural world become commodities that are exploited until exhaustion or collapse. This is why the economic crisis is intimately twined with the environmental crisis.

The corporate state -- a system described by the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin as "inverted totalitarianism" -- is incapable of a rational response to the crisis. A rational response, especially after your uprising in Madison and the Occupy movement, would at a minimum include a moratorium on all foreclosures and bank repossessions, a forgiveness of student debt, universal health care for all and a massive jobs program, especially targeted at those under the age of 25. But the corporate state, by mounting a coordinated federal effort led by Barack Obama to shut down the Occupy encampments, illustrated that the only language it will speak is the language of force.
Revolutions, when they erupt, appear to the elites and the establishment to be sudden and unexpected. This is because the real work of revolutionary ferment and consciousness is unseen by the mainstream society, noticed only after it has largely been completed. Throughout history, those who have sought radical change have always had to first discredit the ideas used to prop up ruling elites and construct alternative ideas for society, which [today] means the articulation of a viable socialism as an alternative to corporate tyranny.

By the time ruling elites are openly defied, there has already been a nearly total loss of faith in the ideas -- in our case free market capitalism and globalization -- that sustain the structures of the ruling elites. And once enough people get it, a process that can take years, "the slow, quiet, and peaceful social evolution becomes quick, militant, and violent," as Alexander Berkman wrote. "Evolution becomes revolution."

This is where we are headed. I do not say this because I am a supporter of revolution. I am not. I prefer the piecemeal and incremental reforms of a functioning democracy. I prefer a system in which our social institutions permit the citizenry to nonviolently dismiss those in authority. I prefer a system in which institutions are independent and not captive to corporate power. But we do not live in such a system. Revolt is the only option left.

Ruling elites, once the ideas that justify their existence are dead, resort to force. It is their final clutch at power. If a nonviolent popular movement is able to ideologically disarm the bureaucrats, civil servants and police -- to get them, in essence, to defect -- nonviolent revolution is possible. But if the state can organize effective and prolonged violence against dissent, it spawns reactive revolutionary violence, or what the state calls terrorism. And our backlash, if we on the left do not regain the militancy of the old anarchists and socialists, could be a right-wing backlash, a species of Christian fascism.

The people in Gaza deserve to be free. So do we. But do not look to our political mandarins for help, or expect anything but vaudevillian smoke and mirrors from the billions poured into our campaign circus.

Look within.

We too are powerless. We have undergone a corporate coup d'etat in slow motion. It is over. They have won. If we want to wrest power back, to make the consent of the governed more than an empty cliche, we will have to mobilize, to carry out sustained acts of civil disobedience to overthrow -- let me repeat that word for the members of Homeland Security who may be visiting us this afternoon -- overthrow the corporate state. And maybe, once we have freed ourselves, we can free the people of Gaza.



Submitters Bio:

Chris Hedges spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years.
Hedges was part of the team of reporters at The New York Times awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for the paper's coverage of global terrorism. He also received the Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism in 2002. The Los Angeles Press Club honored Hedges' original columns in Truthdig by naming the author the Online Journalist of the Year in 2009, and granted him the Best Online Column award in 2010 for his Truthdig essay "One Day We'll All Be Terrorists."
Hedges is a senior fellow at The Nation Institute in New York City and has taught at Columbia University, New York University and Princeton University. He currently teaches inmates at a correctional facility in New Jersey.
Hedges began his career reporting the war in El Salvador. Following six years in Latin America, he took time off to study Arabic and then went to Jerusalem and later Cairo. He spent seven years in the Middle East, most of them as the bureau chief there for The New York Times. He left the Middle East in 1995 for Sarajevo to cover the war in Bosnia and later reported the war in Kosovo. Afterward, he joined the Times' investigative team and was based in Paris to cover al-Qaida. He left the Times after being issued a formal reprimand for denouncing the Bush administration's invasion of Iraq.
He has written nine books, including "Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle" (2009), "I Don't Believe in Atheists" (2008) and the best-selling "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America" (2008). His book "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning" (2003) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction. His latest book is "Death of the Liberal Class" (2010)
Hedges holds a B.A. in English literature from Colgate University and a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard University. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, Calif. Hedges speaks Arabic, French and Spanish and knows ancient Greek and Latin. In addition to writing a weekly original column for Truthdig, he has written for Harper's Magazine, The New Statesman, The New York Review of Books, Adbusters, Granta, Foreign Affairs and other publications.

Friday, September 12, 2014



    
September 12, 2014, OpEdNews

Monsters' Endgame
 
By lila york

Who are these people, these monsters who rule the world - and what is their endgame. Are they mutants or is this just what humanity has devolved into. We call them psychopaths and sociopaths, but they are much lower on the scale of depravity


chessboard by By Hello32020 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


All of us fully human people want the same thing -- to live in peace and create a better world for our children. Instead we have endured twenty years of gratuitous wars and grand theft, brought to us by Wall Street. We have stood still while voracious bankers and slimy politicians robbed us -- not only of our money, which could have raised our standard of living and bought us a sound infrastructure, education, healthcare-- but of our futures and our peace of mind. Twenty years of bogeyman fear tactics and false flag attacks and bombing whole nations into ruin and discord. Obama won a landmark election and had the chance to stop the satanic forces -- at least to slow them down. Instead he joined up.

Who are these people, these monsters who rule the world - and what is their endgame. Are they mutants or is this just what humanity has devolved into. We call them psychopaths and sociopaths, but they are much lower on the scale of depravity. They are obscenities, cancerous tumors, puss-filled boils on the face of humanity, cannibalizing the rest of us without regard or remorse. They have ripped morality, decency, conscience, and fairness from any role in human interaction or world affairs. They always win, because they are willing to annihilate whole populations and the natural earth for monetary gain, and we are not. They are our bankers and politicians, corporate owners and Wall Street gamblers -- Syphilis-ridden whores who auction themselves for privilege to any scum with a bag of coin. We know their names. I would list them but it would get me a visit from one of their contract killers, and I am not done yet. They no longer need our labor or our creativity. They have microchips to do their deeds. They see the world as a game board that is rigged in their favor. We fully human humans have no role or purpose, except as victims of their grand theft. There are too many of us on the planet anyway, and we should all be eliminated -- the sooner the better. Ebola, AIDS, SARS, depleted uranium, mercury, GMO pesticides, poisoned ground water, floods, droughts, nuclear radiation, rising oceans, melting glaciers - whatever is handy.

This is the stuff revolutions are made of, but there is no revolution in sight. We talk of torches and pitchforks but we don't see them in our streets. Instead we roll over and die from their poisons and homicidal policies; we move into parking lots and sewers when they steal our homes and our livelihoods; we heave a sigh and get a third menial job when they steal our savings and the fruits of our labor. We see them for what they are, but we do not fight them. The political process no longer exists. It is no longer available to us as a route to change. George Carlin had it right. We have owners, and they don't care about us at all- At All -- AT ALL. Jefferson had it right too. There are no other options but revolution once the Republic has been vanquished.

In a press conference, the new Prime Minister of the Donetsk People's Republic, Aleksandr Zakharchenko, said this "We don't deserve to be annihilated just because there is natural gas under our feet". He stood up. He said no. He grabbed a gun and fought alongside his countrymen. Why can't Americans figure out that what is happening in Eastern Ukraine is happening here. now. Human life in America has no value. We are all disposable wherever we stand in the way of profit; and we will be flattened, like Rachel Corrie in front of that Israeli bulldozer. Survival in the US of A depends upon staying out of the path of their profit juggernaut.

So what is their endgame? It is to kill us; all of us. That is it. The less evil interpretation might be that they just don't care if we live or die so they will let us die, but still - they would prefer that we were just not here. There is no point to petitioning our government for relief or jobs or clean air, for ending fracking or stopping the pipelines. They don't care what we want because they would prefer we all died. And unless we look that in the eye, accept it as truth and come up with some battle plan for defeating them, replacing them with fully human souls and establishing a republic, that is what is going to happen.




Supernova Remnant Puppis A

Image Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/IAFE/G. Dubner et al., ESA/XMM-Newton
Infrared: NASA/ESA/JPL-Caltech/GSFC/R. Arendt et al.
 
Explanation: Driven by the explosion of a massive star, supernova remnant Puppis A is blasting into the surrounding interstellar medium about 7,000 light-years away. At that distance,this remarkable false-color exploration of its complex expansion is about 180 light-years wide. It is based on the mostcomplete X-ray dataset so far from the Chandra and XMM/Newton observations, and infrared data from the Spitzer Space Telescope. In blue hues, the filamentary X-ray glow is from gas heated by the supernova'sshock wave, while the infrared emission shown in red and green is from warm dust. The bright pastel tones trace the regions where shocked gas and warmed dust mingle. Light from the initial supernova itself, triggered by the collapse of the massivestar's core, would have reached Earth about 3,700 years ago, though the Puppis A supernova remnant remains a strong source inthe X-ray sky.



See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.
apod.nasa.gov

Tuesday, September 09, 2014



   
September 8, 2014, OpEdNews

Driving American Politics Underground
 
By Chris Hedges

The squabbles among the power elites, rampant militarism and the disease of imperialism, along with a mindless nationalism that characterizes all public debate, have turned officially sanctioned politics into a carnival act. Politics in the hands of the corporate state is anti-politics. It is designed to denigrate and destroy the values that make a liberal democracy and political participation possible.

Cross-posted from Truthdig
From youtube.com/watch?v=bquQ5jO1VW0: Thousands of workers at McDonald's and other fast food outlets across the United States went on strike Thursday in a growing movement for higher wages.
 
Politics, if we take politics to mean the shaping and discussion of issues, concerns and laws that foster the common good, is no longer the business of our traditional political institutions. These institutions, including the two major political parties, the courts and the press, are not democratic.

They are used to crush any vestiges of civic life that calls, as a traditional democracy does, on its citizens to share among all its members the benefits, sacrifices and risks of a nation. They offer only the facade of politics, along with elaborate, choreographed spectacles filled with skillfully manufactured emotion and devoid of real political content. We have devolved into what Alexis de Tocqueville feared -- "democratic despotism."

The squabbles among the power elites, rampant militarism and the disease of imperialism, along with a mindless nationalism that characterizes all public debate, have turned officially sanctioned politics into a carnival act.

Pundits and news celebrities on the airwaves engage in fevered speculation about whether the wife of a former president will run for office -- and this after the mediocre son of another president spent eight years in the White House. This is not politics. It is gossip. Opinion polls, the staple of what serves as political reporting, are not politics. They are forms of social control. The use of billions of dollars to fund election campaigns and pay lobbyists to author legislation is not politics. It is legalized bribery.

The insistence that austerity and economic rationality, rather than the welfare of the citizenry, be the primary concerns of the government is not politics. It is the death of civic virtue. The government's system of wholesale surveillance and the militarization of police forces, along with the psychosis of permanent war and state-orchestrated fear of terrorism, are not politics. They are about eradicating civil liberties and justifying endless war and state violence. The chatter about death panels, abortion, gay rights, guns and undocumented children crossing the border is not politics. It is manipulation by the power elites of emotion, hate and fear to divert us from seeing our own powerlessness.

"Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country," Edward Bernays observed in his 1928 book, "Propaganda." "We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of."

Politics in the hands of the corporate state is anti-politics. It is designed to denigrate and destroy the values that make a liberal democracy and political participation possible. It is a cynical form of mass control. Corporate money has replaced the vote. Dissent is silenced or ignored. Political parties are Punch and Judy shows funded by corporate puppeteers. Universities, once the epicenter of social change, are corporate headquarters, flush with corporate money, government contracts and foundation grants. The commercial press, whose primary task is attracting advertising dollars, has become an arm of the entertainment industry. It offers news as vaudeville.

Genuine political activity, the organizing work needed to protect citizens from the abuses of power, exists only on the margins of society. Politics in America has gone underground.
The political philosopher Sheldon Wolin, who coined the term "inverted totalitarianism" to describe our corporate state, asks an essential question in his book "Democracy Incorporated." He writes: "Can the citizen relearn the demands that democracy places on its highest, most difficult office -- not, as commonly supposed, on the office of the president, but on that of the citizen? And that question has a practical corollary: the reinvigoration of citizenship requires more than a civics lesson. It would necessitate a reordering of basic power arrangements and a different understanding of civic commitments from that of spectator."

The relearning will be done in defiance of the established systems of power. The purported liberal democratic institutions, including the Democratic Party, are vehicles used to stymie rather than promote democratic reform.

Tocqueville in "Democracy in America" wondered what sort of despotism democratic nations should fear. He was prescient about our demise. He wrote:

"I see an innumerable crowd of like and equal men who revolve on themselves without repose, procuring the small and vulgar pleasures with which they fill their souls. Each of them, withdrawn and apart, is like a stranger to the destiny of all the others: his children and his particular friends form the whole human species for him; as for dwelling with his fellow citizens, he is beside them but he does not see them. ...
"Above these an immense tutelary power is elevated, which alone takes charge of assuring their enjoyments and watching over their fate. It is absolute, detailed, regular, farseeing, and mild. ... It seeks only to keep men fixed irrevocably in childhood. ... It provides for the citizens' security, foresees and secures their needs, facilitates their pleasures, conducts their principal affairs, directs their industry, regulates their estates, divides their inheritances; can it not take away from them entirely the trouble of thinking and the pain of living?

"Thus after taking each individual by turns in its powerful hands and kneading him as it likes, the sovereign extends its arms over society as a whole; it covers its surface with a network of small, complicated, painstaking uniform rules through which the most original minds and the most vigorous souls cannot clear a way to surpass the crowd; it does not break wills, but it softens them, bends them, and directs them; ... it does not destroy, it prevents things from being born; it does not tyrannize, it hinders, compromises, enervates, extinguishes, dazes, and finally reduces each nation to nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals of which the government is the shepherd."

There are groups on the front lines of economic, racial and environmental distress that are engaging in what Wolin and Tocqueville would describe as politics. They are not spectators. None of them is allied with a mainstream party or movement. Their voices are not heard on any of the major broadcast networks or in the mainstream press. They have little financial support. And their activists know that jail time comes with the job description. Any engagement in the actual political life of the nation will be through them. To invest energy in what the state defines as politics, including presidential campaigns, is a waste of time.

The call by the Climate Justice Alliance for a week of direct action, Sept. 17 through 24 -- coinciding with the gathering of world leaders at the United Nations summit -- is politics. The coordinated activities during the same week known as Flood Wall Street are politics. The campaign by fast food workers for a livable wage is politics. The effort to block the Keystone XL pipeline is politics. The building of local food initiatives is politics.

And there are many others. We must seek them out. We must embrace these groups to relearn what it means to be citizens and to participate in democracy. We must discredit and disrupt the system of faux politics that characterizes the corporate state. If we engage as citizens, rather than as spectators, if we reclaim politics, we might have a chance.



Submitters Bio:

Chris Hedges spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years.

Hedges was part of the team of reporters at The New York Times awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for the paper's coverage of global terrorism. He also received the Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism in 2002. The Los Angeles Press Club honored Hedges' original columns in Truthdig by naming the author the Online Journalist of the Year in 2009, and granted him the Best Online Column award in 2010 for his Truthdig essay "One Day We'll All Be Terrorists."


Hedges is a senior fellow at The Nation Institute in New York City and has taught at Columbia University, New York University and Princeton University. He currently teaches inmates at a correctional facility in New Jersey.

Hedges began his career reporting the war in El Salvador. Following six years in Latin America, he took time off to study Arabic and then went to Jerusalem and later Cairo. He spent seven years in the Middle East, most of them as the bureau chief there for The New York Times. He left the Middle East in 1995 for Sarajevo to cover the war in Bosnia and later reported the war in Kosovo. Afterward, he joined the Times' investigative team and was based in Paris to cover al-Qaida. He left the Times after being issued a formal reprimand for denouncing the Bush administration's invasion of Iraq.

He has written nine books, including "Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle" (2009), "I Don't Believe in Atheists" (2008) and the best-selling "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America" (2008). His book "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning" (2003) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction. His latest book is "Death of the Liberal Class" (2010)

Hedges holds a B.A. in English literature from Colgate University and a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard University. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, Calif. Hedges speaks Arabic, French and Spanish and knows ancient Greek and Latin. In addition to writing a weekly original column for Truthdig, he has written for Harper's Magazine, The New Statesman, The New York Review of Books, Adbusters, Granta, Foreign Affairs and other publications.

Sunday, September 07, 2014


 

Dudjom Sangyum, Kusho Rigdzin Wangmo Enters "Thug dam"

 

Kusho Rigdzin Wangmo. From dharmawheel.net.
 

Kusho Rigdzin Wangmo and Dudjom Rinpoche. From dharmawheel.net
 
Kusho Rigdzin Wangmo (1925–2014) was the consort and second wife of HH Dudjom Jigdral Yeshe Dorje, a high lama of the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. She spent many years with Rinpoche establishing Dharma centers in India and the United States and helping to propagate the Nyingma Buddhist Dharma. Together they had two daughters and one son, Shenphen Dawa Norbu Rinpoche, who upholds the Dudjom Tersar lineage through his own teaching activities.
 
Kusho Rigdzin Wangmo was considered a wisdom dakini. HH Dilgo Khytentse Rinpoche wrote a longevity prayer for her in which he refers to her as an emanation of Yeshe Tsogyal, the consort of Guru Rinpoche. She was also recognized as an emanation of White Tara. Dakinis would visit her in dreams as well as grant her prophecies that would instruct on methods for extending Dudjom Rinpoche’s and other high-ranking Tibetan lamas’ life force. She was also considered gifted in the art of divination, and was active in the role of recognizing many tulkus, or incarnate lamas.
 
Sangye Khandro, in an interview in the book Dakini Power, said she thought of Sangyum Kusho as one of her root teachers. “She was Dudjom Rinpoche’s source of everything, giving Rinpoche the energy he needed to benefit beings. As a wisdom dakini, she extended his life. As an aristocrat, she is very proper and formal, completely unique. She always looks immaculate, very beautiful and feminine, wearing the finest jewels and silks. . . . if there is any woman on the planet who I admire most and want to be like, it’s her” (Haas 2013).
 
After Dudjom Rinpoche’s passing in 1987, Kusho Rigdzin Wangmo spent the last 20 years of her life in New York City, in a strict retreat in her brownstone house. She would not leave the house, but instead chose to spend her time engaged in spiritual practice. She said that when she passed there should be no elaborate ceremonies performed to honor her or on her behalf, nor should high lamas trouble themselves by visiting her body. In this way, she showed great humility in not wanting to trouble anyone.
 
On 27 August at 5:55 pm EST, at the age of 89, Dudjom Sangyum, Kusho Rigdzin Wangmo passed into the state of thug dam. Thug dam is a state of meditation that realized masters enter as they leave this world and their human bodies. During thug dam, the consciousness of the meditator enters the heart center, and while the rest of the body grows cold in rigor mortis, the heart center itself will stay warm. At this point they have not entered the bardo, nor are they alive in a conventional sense; instead they are absorbed in meditation upon the ground luminosity of being. Usually, the meditator will remain sitting upright in meditation posture during the entire duration of the thug dam, which can last three days or longer depending on the meditator’s capacity to maintain meditative absorption within the ground luminosity.
 
Kusho Rigdzin Wangmo not only practiced the Dharma completely, serving a holy master intimately, but also illustrated the most profound manner of passing from this world, directly exemplifying the great meditative power that Buddhist practitioners are capable of displaying at the time of death.


Clinton Fans --- Think Again !


Sept. 5 2014 2:52 PM, slate.com

Hillary Clinton Calls Henry Kissinger a Friend, Praises His Commitment to Democracy

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Hillary and Henry.
Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
 

Hillary Clinton has written a review of Henry Kissinger's new book World Order for the Washington Post; it's mostly boilerplate, but there are a few interesting lines:
Kissinger is a friend, and I relied on his counsel when I served as secretary of state. He checked in with me regularly, sharing astute observations about foreign leaders and sending me written reports on his travels. Though we have often seen the world and some of our challenges quite differently, and advocated different responses now and in the past, what comes through clearly in this new book is a conviction that we, and President Obama, share: a belief in the indispensability of continued American leadership in service of a just and liberal order.
                        
Clinton also approvingly quotes a passage in Kissinger's book about “respecting national sovereignty” and “adopting participatory and democratic systems of governance.”
 
Biographer Walter Isaacson and former Slate contributor Christopher Hitchens are among those who have written that Kissinger leaked information about duly elected President Lyndon Johnson's Vietnam peace talks to presidential candidate Richard Nixon, who sabotaged the talks in an effort to improve his chances of winning the election. Kissinger is also infamous for advocating and planning the overthrow of democratically elected Chilean President Salvador Allende. There's also the fact that the president with whom Kissinger worked most closely—Nixon—is the only president in the 238-year history of our country to have resigned in shame after being caught urinating on the Constitution.

 And Clinton wants us to know that this is someone whose conception of democracy she shares!

Thursday, September 04, 2014


Quotes from George Orwell ( 1903 - 1950 )


In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
 

Political language … is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give the appearance of solidity to pure wind.


Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.


War against a foreign country only happens when the moneyed classes think they are going to profit from it.


The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.
 

The very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. Lies will pass into history.



   
September 3, 2014 OpEdNews

The American Delusion: Distracted, Diverted and Insulated from the Grim Reality of the Police State
 
By John Whitehead

So much has happened in the year since Edward Snowden first appeared on the national scene that it's understandable if the average American has a hard time keeping up with all of the "events," manufactured or otherwise, which keep us distracted, deluded, amused, and insulated from the reality of the American police state.

Caught up in the uproar over this year's latest hullabaloo--militarized police in Ferguson, tanks on Main Street and ISIS--Americans have not only largely forgotten last year's hullabaloo over the NSA and government surveillance but are generally foggy about everything that has happened in between.

Then again, so much has happened in the year since Edward Snowden first appeared on the national scene that it's understandable if the average American has a hard time keeping up with all of the "events," manufactured or otherwise, which keep us distracted, deluded, amused, and insulated from the reality of the American police state.
 
This is not to say that many of these events are not critical or important. However, when we're being bombarded with wall-to-wall news coverage and news cycles that change every few days, it's difficult to stay focused on one thing--namely, holding the government accountable to abiding by the rule of law--and the powers-that-be understand this.

In fact, Professor Jacques Ellul studied this phenomenon of overwhelming news, short memories and the use of propaganda to advance hidden agendas. "One thought drives away another; old facts are chased by new ones," wrote Ellul. "Under these conditions there can be no thought. And, in fact, modern man does not think about current problems; he feels them. He reacts, but he does not understand them any more than he takes responsibility for them. He is even less capable of spotting any inconsistency between successive facts; man's capacity to forget is unlimited. This is one of the most important and useful points for the propagandists, who can always be sure that a particular propaganda theme, statement, or event will be forgotten within a few weeks."

Consider if you will the regularly scheduled trivia and/or distractions that have kept us tuned into the various breaking news headlines and entertainment spectacles and tuned out to the government's steady encroachments on our freedoms:

In late August / early September, we were treated to James Foley's carefully staged beheading, Robin Williams' unfortunate suicide, the riots in Ferguson over the police shooting of an unarmed black man, growing threats from ISIS, and the ALS ice bucket challenge sensation.
That was preceded by reports of immigrant children flooding over the border, Israel and Hamas' on-again, off-again fighting, Germany's victory in the World Cup, Ebola breakouts in West Africa, the Malaysian Airlines passenger jet crash in Ukraine, and the exchange by the U.S. of five Taliban prisoners for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.
  
Before that, there was the shooting at the Fort Hood Army base, the uproar over Donald Sterling's racist remarks, the Veterans Administration's failure to provide timely care to vets, the tug of war over control of Crimea, the disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines flight, the 2014 Winter Olympics, and Gov. Chris Christie's role in the George Washington Bridge lane closings scandal.
No less traumatic and distracting were the preceding months' newsworthy events, which included a devastating typhoon in the Philippines, France and Germany's displeasure over NSA spying, the U.S. government's 16-day shutdown over Obamacare, public opposition to President Obama's plans to take military action against Syria, another shooting--this time at the Washington Navy Yard, Russia's granting of asylum to Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning's announcement that he is in fact Chelsea Manning, which came a day after he was sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking classified documents, George Zimmerman's acquittal of murdering Trayvon Martin, and Edward Snowden's leaking the first of what would turn into a more-than-yearlong series of revelations about the government's illegal surveillance programs.

As I point out in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, this sleight-of-hand distraction and diversion is how you control a population, either inadvertently or intentionally, advancing your agenda without much opposition from the citizenry. But what exactly has the government been doing while we've been so cooperatively fixated on whatever current sensation happens to be monopolizing the mainstream "news" shows?
 
If properly disclosed and consistently reported on, the sheer volume of the government's activities, which undermine the Constitution and dance close to the edge of outright illegality, would inevitably give rise to a sea change in how business is conducted in our seats of power.
 
Surely Americans would be outraged over the government's plan to turn our most casual statements into hate crimes using Truthy, a $1 million online database being created to track "misinformation" and hate speech on Twitter, as well as "detect political smears, astroturfing, misinformation, and other social pollution." Or that the Pentagon is spending millions to find ways to put down social unrest, starting with lawful First Amendment free speech protests.
 
Parents would be livid if they had any inkling about the school-to-prison pipeline, namely, how the public schools are being transformed from institutions of learning to prison-like factories, complete with armed police and surveillance cameras, aimed at churning out compliant test-takers rather than independent-minded citizens.
 
Taxpayers would be up in arms over the government's end-run tactics to avoid abiding by the rule of law, whether by outsourcing illegal surveillance activities to defense contractors or outsourcing inhumane torture to foreign countries.
 
And one would hope American citizens would be incensed about being treated like prisoners in an electronic concentration camp, their every movement monitored, tracked and recorded by a growing government surveillance network that runs the gamut from traffic cameras and police body cameras to facial recognition software and the armed surveillance drones that will soon blanket American skies.

Unfortunately, while much of this information can be discovered through a focused study of alternative media reports, it does require quite a bit of digging and even more determination on the part of the citizenry to take an active role in their governance--which, of course, is the key to maintaining freedom.
 
So where does that leave us?

As legendary television journalist Edward R. Murrow warned, "Unless we get up off our fat surpluses and recognize that television in the main is being used to distract, delude, amuse, and insulate us, then television and those who finance it, those who look at it, and those who work at it, may see a totally different picture too late."



Submitters Bio:

John W. Whitehead is an attorney and author who has written, debated and practiced widely in the area of constitutional law and human rights. Whitehead’s aggressive, pioneering approach to civil liberties has earned him numerous accolades and accomplishments, including the Hungarian Medal of Freedom. His concern for the persecuted and oppressed led him, in 1982, to establish The Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit civil liberties and human rights organization in Charlottesville, Va. Whitehead serves as the Institute’s president and spokesperson. His thought-provoking commentaries call people to action and address a wide range of contemporary issues from faith to politics and television to constitutional rights. He is also a frequent commentator on a variety of issues in the national media, as well as the editor of the award-winning pop culture magazine, Gadfly. Whitehead's book A Government of Wolves will be published in June 2013. Please visit On Target to view Whitehead's weekly video commentaries. He also blogs daily about the emerging police state at http://agovernmentofwolves.com/