Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Coup d’etat

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The American people have suffered a coup d’etat, but they are hesitant to acknowledge it. The regime ruling in Washington today lacks constitutional and legal legitimacy. Americans are ruled by usurpers who claim that the executive branch is above the law and that the US Constitution is a mere “scrap of paper.”
An unconstitutional government is an illegitimate government. The oath of allegiance requires defense of the Constitution “against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” As the Founding Fathers made clear, the main enemy of the Constitution is the government itself. Power does not like to be bound and tied down and constantly works to free itself from constraints.
The basis of the regime in Washington is nothing but usurped power. The Obama Regime, like the Bush/Cheney Regime, has no legitimacy. Americans are oppressed by an illegitimate government ruling, not by law and the Constitution, but by lies and naked force. Those in government see the US Constitution as a “chain that binds our hands.”
The South African apartheid regime was more legitimate than the regime in Washington. The apartheid Israeli regime in Palestine is more legitimate. The Taliban are more legitimate. Muammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein were more legitimate.
The only constitutional protection that the Bush/Obama regime has left standing is the Second Amendment, a meaningless amendment considering the disparity in arms between Washington and what is permitted to the citizenry. No citizen standing with a rifle can protect himself and his family from one of the Department of Homeland Security’s 2,700 tanks, or from a drone, or from a heavily armed SWAT force in body armor.
Like serfs in the dark ages, American citizens can be picked up on the authority of some unknown person in the executive branch and thrown in a dungeon, subject to torture, without any evidence ever being presented to a court or any information to the person’s relatives of his/her whereabouts. Or they can be placed on a list without explanation that curtails their right to travel by air. Every communication of every American, except face-to-face conversation in non-bugged environments, is intercepted and recorded by the National Stasi Agency from which phrases can be strung together to produce a “domestic extremist.”
If throwing an American citizen in a dungeon is too much trouble, the citizen can simply be blown up with a hellfire missile launched from a drone. No explanation is necessary.
For the Obama tyrant, the exterminated human being was just a name on a list.
The president of the united states has declared that he possesses these constitutionally forbidden rights, and his regime has used them to oppress and murder US citizens. The president’s claim that his will is higher than law and the Constitution is public knowledge. Yet, there is no demand for the usurper’s impeachment. Congress is supine. The serfs are obedient.
The people who helped transform a democratically accountable president into a Caesar include John Yoo, who was rewarded for his treason by being accepted as a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, Boalt school of law. Yoo’s colleague in treason, Jay Scott Bybee was rewarded by being appointed a federal judge on the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. We now have a Berkeley law professor teaching, and a federal circuit judge ruling, that the executive branch is above the law.
The executive branch coup against America has succeeded. The question is: will it stand? Today, the executive branch consists of liars, criminals, and traitors. The evil on earth seems concentrated in Washington.
Washington’s response to Edward Snowden’s evidence that Washington, in total contravention of law both domestic and international, is spying on the entire world has demonstrated to every country that Washington places the pleasure of revenge above law and human rights.
On Washington’s orders, its European puppet states refused overflight permission to the Bolivian presidential airliner carrying President Morales and forced the airliner to land in Austria and be searched. Washington thought that Edward Snowden might be aboard the airliner. Capturing Snowden was more important to Washington than respect for international law and diplomatic immunity.
How long before Washington orders its UK puppet to send in a SWAT team to drag Julian Assange from the Ecuadoran embassy in London and hand him over to the CIA for waterboarding?
On July 12 Snowden met in the Moscow airport with human rights organizations from around the world. He stated that the illegal exercise of power by Washington prevents him from traveling to any of the three Latin American countries who have offered him asylum. Therefore, Snowden said that he accepted Russian President Putin’s conditions and requested asylum in Russia.
Insouciant americans and the young unaware of the past don’t know what this means. During my professional life it was Soviet Russia that persecuted truth tellers, while America gave them asylum and tried to protect them. Today it is Washington that persecutes those who speak the truth, and it is Russia that protects them.
The American public has not, this time, fallen for Washington’s lie that Snowden is a traitor. The polls show that a majority of Americans see Snowden as a whistleblower.
It is not the US that is damaged by Snowden’s revelations. It is the criminal elements in the US government that have pulled off a coup against democracy, the Constitution, and the American people who are damaged. It is the criminals who have seized power, not the American people, who are demanding Snowden’s scalp.
The Obama Regime, like the Bush/Cheney Regime, has no legitimacy. Americans are
oppressed by an illegitimate government ruling, not by law and the Constitution, but by lies and naked force.
Under the Obama tyranny, it is not merely Snowden who is targeted for extermination, but every truth-telling American in the country. It was Department of Homeland Security boss Janet Napolitano, recently rewarded for her service to tyranny by being appointed Chancellor of the of the University of California system, who said that Homeland Security had shifted its focus from Muslim terrorists to “domestic extremists,” an elastic and undefined term that easily includes truth-tellers like Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden who embarrass the government by revealing its crimes. The criminals who have seized illegitimate power in Washington cannot survive unless truth can be suppressed or redefined as treason.
If Americans acquiesce to the coup d’etat, they will have placed themselves firmly in the grip of tyranny.

Locking Out the Voices of Dissent

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The security and surveillance state, after crushing the Occupy movement and eradicating its encampments, has mounted a relentless and largely clandestine campaign to deny public space to any group or movement that might spawn another popular uprising. The legal system has been grotesquely deformed in most cities to, in essence, shut public space to protesters, eradicating our right to free speech and peaceful assembly. The goal of the corporate state is to criminalize democratic, popular dissent before there is another popular eruption. The vast state surveillance system, detailed in Edward Snowden’s revelations to the British newspaper The Guardian, at the same time ensures that no action or protest can occur without the advanced knowledge of our internal security apparatus. This foreknowledge has allowed the internal security systems to proactively block activists from public spaces as well as carry out pre-emptive harassment, interrogation, intimidation, detention and arrests before protests can begin. There is a word for this type of political system—tyranny.

If the state is ultimately successful in preventing us from mobilizing in public spaces, then dissent will mutate from nonviolent mass protests to clandestine and perhaps violent acts of resistance. Some demonstrators have already been branded “domestic terrorists” under the law. The rear-guard effort by a handful of activists to protect our rights to be heard and peaceably assemble is perhaps the most crucial, though unseen, struggle we currently are engaged in with the corporate state. It is a struggle to salvage what is left of our civil society and our right to nonviolent resistance against corporate tyranny. This is why the New York City trial last week of members of Veterans for Peace, along with other activists, took on an importance that belied the simple trespassing charges against them.

The activists were arrested Oct. 7, 2012, while they were placing flowers in 11 vases and reading the names of the dead inscribed on the wall in New York’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial Plaza after the official closing time, 10 p.m. The defiance of the plaza’s official closing time—which appears to be enforced against political activists only—was spawned by a May 1, 2012, protest by Occupy Wall Street activists. The Occupy activists had attempted to hold a meeting in the plaza and been driven out by police. A number of Veterans for Peace activists, most of them veterans of the Vietnam War, formed a line in front of the advancing police that May night and refused to move. They were arrested.

Many of these veterans came back to the plaza on a rainy, windy night in October to protest on the 11th anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan and again assert their right to carry out nonviolent protests in public spaces. They included Jay Wenk, an 86-year-old combat veteran of World War II who served with Gen. George Patton’s Third Army in Europe. When he was arrested Wenk was beating a gong in the downpour as the names of the dead were read. During the October protest 25 people were seized by police for refusing to leave the park after 10 p.m. Twelve went to trail last week. Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Robert Mandelbaum on Friday found the dozen activists guilty. The judge, however, quickly threw out his own verdict, calling the case a “unique circumstance.” “Justice,” he said, “cries out for a dismissal.” His dismissal shuts down the possibility of an appeal.

“The legislative system, the judicial system, the whole national security state that’s invading all of our privacy are taking away our right to dissent,” Dr. Margaret Flowers, one of the defendants, told me on a lunch break during the trial. “But everything that’s happening is happening legally. It’s a slippery slope. People will look at this case and they’re going to say, ‘So what? They were in a park. There was a rule. It was closing. The police arrested them. That makes sense to me!’ And they don’t put it in the bigger context. That’s how all of this is happening. It’s all being justified. The whole system is being flipped on its head. The judicial and law enforcement system should be protecting our rights. We have the right to dissent. It’s in the Bill of Rights. The question is, can we halt that slide for a second, maybe even reverse it a little bit?”

The executive, legislative and judicial branches of government have been taken over by corporations and used to protect and promote the criminal activity of Wall Street, the destruction of the ecosystem by the fossil fuel industry, the looting of the U.S. Treasury by the banking industry and the corporate seizure of all major centers of power. The primacy of corporate profit trumps our right to a living wage, affordable and adequate health care, the regulation of industry and environmental controls, protection from corporate fraud and abuse, the right to a good and affordable public education, the ability to form labor unions, and having a government that serves the basic needs of ordinary citizens. Our voices, our rights and our aspirations are no longer of concern to the state. And if we try to assert them, the state now has mechanisms in place to shut us down.

Tarak Kauff, a 71-year-old veteran of the Army’s 111th Airborne and former professional boxer, was one of the organizers of the Oct. 7 protest. He has been on a hunger strike for more than a month to express solidarity with the hunger strikers at Guantanamo Bayand in the Pelican Bay prisonin California. He was gaunt. His skin was ashen and his cheeks sunken. He consumes 300 liquid calories a day and has lost 24 pounds. He was arrested in May and again in October.

“I saw clearly that the purpose of the arrest was not merely enforcing the 10 p.m. curfew,” he said of the May arrests, “but the purpose was very specific in restricting the right of assembly. We decided that October 7th would be a perfect day to do it. It was 11 years of war in Afghanistan. So when we came to the Vietnam Veterans Plaza that night we had four purposes. One was to call for an end to the war, the ongoing war in Afghanistan. The second was to call for an end to all U.S. wars of empire. The third was to remember and lament those who had fallen and been wounded in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, including the civilians, including the 5 million civilians in Vietnam. The fourth was to affirm our right to assemble. If we lose the right to address these issues and to organize in public places, we have absolutely nothing.”

“I’m fasting because it’s a sacrifice,” he said when I asked about his hunger strike. “I want to encourage other people in our movement of the necessity of sacrifice. If we want to establish anything, if we want to re-establish or ever establish any kind of democratic system, it’s not going to happen without sacrifice, some kind of sacrifice. And we have a choir. I want to see that choir inspired to start sacrificing more, to take risks. We have to be willing to put our bodies on the line in some way, shape, or form, nonviolently.”

According to several of the activists, some of the police officers said that they too were military veterans and disliked making the arrests but had been told by their superiors to take the demonstrators into custody to prevent another Occupy encampment.

“ ‘We can’t let you stay,’ ” Kauff said he was told by a police captain. “ ‘It sets a bad example for the Occupy movement.’ ”

“After the process of being arrested began, a police lieutenant told me the Occupy Wall Street people really screwed this up for you guys,” Sam Adams, who served in the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam, said in his courtroom testimony. “You can thank them for this.”

The trial was a tiny window into how rattled the state was by Occupy, unfortunately now in disarray. The security organs know that as conditions worsen for the majority of Americans, as austerity cuts and chronic unemployment and underemployment drive tens of millions of families into desperation, as climate change continues to produce extreme and dangerous weather, there remains the threat of another popular backlash. The problem lies not, of course, with the Occupy movement, but with the reconfiguration of the government into a handmaiden of corporations that seek to squeeze profits out of the dying carcass of empire.

The corporate state’s quest to control all power includes using the military to carry out domestic policing, which is why I sued the president over Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act. It is imperative to defend, as the activists did in New York City, what freedoms and rights we have left. If we remain passive, if we permit the state to continue to use the law to take away our right of political expression, we will have no legal protection of resistance when we will need it most.

Goodbye Full-Time Jobs, Hello Part-Time Jobs, R.I.P. Middle Class

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A fundamental shift is taking place in the U.S. economy.  In fact, this transition is rapidly picking up momentum and is in danger of becoming an avalanche.  The percentage of full-time jobs in our economy is steadily declining and the percentage of part-time jobs is steadily increasing.  This is not a recent phenomenon, but now there are several factors which are accelerating this trend.  One of them is Obamacare.  The truth is that Obamacare actually gives business owners incentive to cut hours and turn full-time workers into part-time workers, and according to the Wall Street Journal and other prominent publications this is already happening all over the United States.  Perhaps this is part of the reasons why the U.S. economy actually lost 240,000 full-time jobs last month.
In a recent article entitled "Restaurant Shift: Sorry, Just Part-Time", the Wall Street Journal explained the choices that employers are faced with thanks to Obamacare...
The Affordable Care Act requires employers with 50 or more full-time equivalent workers to offer affordable insurance to employees working 30 or more hours a week or face fines. Some companies have said the requirement could increase their costs significantly, although others have played down the potential hit.
The cost for small firms to comply with the health law will depend largely on the number of additional full-time employees that sign up for employer-sponsored coverage. Average annual premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance in 2012 were $5,615 for single coverage and $15,745 for family coverage, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. That is up from $3,083 and $8,003, respectively, in 2002.
Thankfully the implementation of this aspect of Obamacare was recently delayed, but a lot of employers are saying that it won't make a difference.  They know that it is coming at some point, and so they are already making the changes that they feel they will need to make in order to comply with the law...
Restaurant owners who have already begun shifting to part-time workers say they will continue that pattern.
"Does the delay change anything for us? Absolutely not," Mr. Adams of Subway said, explaining that whether his health-care costs go up next year or in 2015, he will have to comply with the law. "We won't start hiring full-time people."
This is very sad, because we have already been witnessing a steady erosion of "breadwinner jobs" in this country.
It is very, very difficult to support a family if you just have a part-time job or a temp job.  But those are the jobs that our economy is producing these days.
In fact, if you can believe it, the second largest employer in the United States is now a temp agency.  Kelly Services is actually the second largest employer in the country after Wal-Mart.
Isn't that crazy?
And full-time employment continues to lag far, far behind part-time employment.  The number of part-time workers in the United States recently hit a brand new all-time record high, but the number of full-time workers remains nearly 6 million below the old record that was set back in 2007.
For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled "15 Signs That The Quality Of Jobs In America Is Going Downhill Really Fast".
At this point, employees are increasingly considered to be expendable "liabilities" that can be dumped the moment that their usefulness is over.
For example, employees at one restaurant down in Florida were recently fired by text message...
It's bad enough losing your job, but more than a dozen angry employees say they were fired from a central Florida restaurant via text message.
Employees at Barducci's Italian Bistro said they lost their jobs without notice after the restaurant suddenly closed and are still waiting for their paychecks.
This shift that we are witnessing is fundamentally changing the relationship between employers and employees in the United States.  The balance of power has moved very much toward the employers.
Most employers realize that there is intense competition for most jobs these days.  If you get tired of your job, your employer can easily go out and find a whole bunch of other people who would be thrilled to fill it.
So why has the balance of power shifted so dramatically?
Well, for one thing we have allowed millions upon millions of good paying jobs to be shipped out of the country.  Now American workers literally have to compete for jobs with workers on the other side of the planet that live in nations where it is legal to pay slave labor wages.
This should have never happened, but voters in both major political parties kept voting for politicians that were doing this to us.
Now we all pay the price.
Another factor is the rapid advancement of technology.
These days, businesses are trying use machines, computers and robots to automate just about everything that they can.  The following example comes from a recent Business Insider article...
On a windy morning in California's Salinas Valley, a tractor pulled a wheeled, metal contraption over rows of budding iceberg lettuce plants. Engineers from Silicon Valley tinkered with the software on a laptop to ensure the machine was eliminating the right leafy buds.
The engineers were testing the Lettuce Bot, a machine that can "thin" a field of lettuce in the time it takes about 20 workers to do the job by hand.
The thinner is part of a new generation of machines that target the last frontier of agricultural mechanization — fruits and vegetables destined for the fresh market, not processing, which have thus far resisted mechanization because they're sensitive to bruising.
So what happens when the big corporations that dominate our economy are able to automate everything?
What will the rest of us do?
How will the middle class survive if they don't need us to work for them?
Over the past couple of centuries, we have witnessed several fundamental shifts in our economy.
Once upon a time, a very high percentage of Americans worked for themselves.  There were millions of farmers, ranchers, small store owners, etc.
But then the industrial revolution kicked in to high gear and big corporations started to gain more power.  Millions of Americans went to work for these big corporations, but it was okay because they paid us good wages to work in their factories and the middle class thrived.
Unfortunately, the big corporations have realized that things have changed and that they don't really need us anymore.  They can replace us with technology or with super cheap labor overseas.
So that leaves the rest of us in quite a quandry.  Very few of us own our own businesses.  In fact, the percentage of self-employed workers in the United States is at an all-time record low.  And the number of us that are needed by the monolithic corporations that dominate our system is dropping by the day.
All of this is very bad news for the middle class.  The only thing that most of us have to offer is our labor, and the value of our labor is continually declining.
Unless something dramatic happens, the future of the middle class looks very bleak.