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Cornel West slams ‘counterfeit’ Obama’s presidency

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Re-printed from RT.

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Published time: August 25, 2014 16:45

Cornel West, activist and professor at Union Theological Seminary, ripped Barack Obama’s “Wall Street presidency,” calling him another neoliberal “counterfeit” after posing as a progressive in his initial campaign for the White House in 2008.

“We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency, a national security presidency,” West told Salon.com’s Thomas Frank.

“The torturers go free. The Wall Street executives go free. The war crimes in the Middle East, especially now in Gaza, the war criminals go free. And yet, you know, he acted as if he was both a progressive and as if he was concerned about the issues of serious injustice and inequality and it turned out that he’s just another neoliberal centrist with a smile and with a nice rhetorical flair.”

Public intellectual West lamented Obama’s failure – or refusal – to attempt a revival of democratic principles at a time of “an empire in decline.”

“Our culture is in increasing decay. Our school systems are in deep trouble. Our political system is dysfunctional. Our leaders are more and more bought off with legalized bribery and normalized corruption in Congress and too much of our civil life. You would think that we needed somebody—a Lincoln-like figure who could revive some democratic spirit and democratic possibility.”

West said at a time of deep need for solutions, for a change of culture in the gilded halls of Washington, Obama was another “opportunist.”

“It’s like you’re looking for John Coltrane and you get Kenny G in brown skin.”

Looking back, West said he believes Obama’s “motus operandi” has always consisted of seeking to placate the powers-that-be and to occupy the “middle ground,” even though he acted the part of a transcendent figure during his campaign 2008, the year that saw the beginning of the Great Recession.

“And so what did he do? Every time you’re headed toward middle ground what do you do? You go straight to the establishment and reassure them that you’re not too radical, and try to convince them that you are very much one of them so you end up with a John Brennan, architect of torture [as CIA Director]. Torturers go free but they’re real patriots so we can let them go free. The rule of law doesn’t mean anything.”

West also chided US Attorney General Eric Holder for his cozy relationship with Wall Street.

“Eric Holder won’t touch the Wall Street executives; they’re his friends. He might charge them some money. They want to celebrate. This money is just a tax write-off for these people. There’s no accountability. No answerability. No responsibility that these people have to take at all.”

Looking back, West said he believes Obama’s “motus operandi” has always consisted of seeking to placate the powers-that-be and to occupy the “middle ground,” even though he acted the part of a transcendent figure during his campaign 2008, the year that saw the beginning of the Great Recession.

“And so what did he do? Every time you’re headed toward middle ground what do you do? You go straight to the establishment and reassure them that you’re not too radical, and try to convince them that you are very much one of them so you end up with a John Brennan, architect of torture [as CIA Director]. Torturers go free but they’re real patriots so we can let them go free. The rule of law doesn’t mean anything.”

West also chided US Attorney General Eric Holder for his cozy relationship with Wall Street.

“Eric Holder won’t touch the Wall Street executives; they’re his friends. He might charge them some money. They want to celebrate. This money is just a tax write-off for these people. There’s no accountability. No answerability. No responsibility that these people have to take at all.”

West said Holder will likely step down by the end of the year, as he is “concerned about his legacy as if he’s somehow been swinging for black folk ever since he’s been in there. That’s a lie. He’s been silent, too. He’s been relatively silent. He’s made a couple of gestures in regards to the New Jim Crow and the prison-industrial complex, but that’s just lately, on his way out. He was there for six years and didn’t do nothing.”

The post-Obama era will be “an America in post-traumatic depression,” West said, and the likely successor in the White House, “neo-liberal opportunist par excellence” Hillary Clinton, will be “much worse.”

“Hillary Clinton is an extension of Obama’s Wall Street presidency, drone presidency, national surveillance, national security presidency. She’d be more hawkish than he is, and yet she’s got that strange smile that somehow titillates liberals and neo-liberals and scares Republicans. But at that point it’s even too hard to contemplate.”

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Truth and the Free Press

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Glenn Greenwald has a good article on Salon.com today that needs to be highlighted:

The media’s authoritarianism and WikiLeaks

Also Digby’s latest:

More Journalistic Malpractice In Service Of The Powerful


The news media are not even trying to hide their lies and lying.

–Joe

Written by Joe Blow

December 10, 2010 at 8:18 pm

Why ONLY “Looking Forward” is Suicide

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Humboldt County any Better?

Here are three articles that touch everyone in Humboldt County, if not the North Coast. We’ve got a new Sheriff and maybe a new District Attorney. Any reason or assurances they’ll change anything?

Why would anyone want to sit on a jury and be a part of this corrupt mess?

U.S. Prosecutors: Breaking the Law for a Conviction

A six month investigation by reporters Brad Heath and Kevin McCoy at USA Today has revealed more than 200 cases where prosecutors with the U.S. Justice Department — the elite of the elite — either broke the law or ethics rules to obtain a conviction, sending dozens of innocent people to years behind bars for crimes they didn’t commit.

And the prosecutorial misconduct uncovered — condemned by judges as “outrageous” and “flagrant,” ranging from lying to juries to withholding key evidence that could free a defendant — wasn’t limited to certain corrupt pockets of the country here and there, but was widespread. And experts say it’s only the tip of the iceberg.

Read the rest…

Researchers Uncover Widespread Prosecutorial Misconduct in California

Mark Sodersten spent 22 years behind bars for a murder that the evidence suggests he didn’t commit, with a California appeals court overturning his conviction and admonishing the prosecutor in the case for witholding taped interviews with witnesses that could have exonerated him.

“This case raises the one issue that is the most feared aspect of our system—that an innocent man might be convicted,” the justices wrote after reviewing the case. Unfortunately for Sodersten, the court’s 2007 decision came too late: he had died six months prior. But despite his death, the court issued the decision anyway, saying the case’s “impact upon the integrity and fairness that are the cornerstones of our criminal justice system” required them to do so just to maintain public confidence.

Read the rest…

U.S. Dwarfs Vietnam in Reports of Police ‘Excessive Force’

Human Rights Watch issued a report last month decrying the use of excessive force by police in Vietnam, noting that 19 such incidents that resulted in 15 deaths were reported in the state-controlled press over the last year — with zero consequences for the officers involved.

“Police brutality is being reported at an alarming rate in every region of Vietnam, raising serious concerns that these abuses are both systemic and widespread,” the group’s deputy Asia director Phil Robertson said in a statement.

Yet if police brutality is “systemic and widespread” in Vietnam — and all signs are that it is — then it’s a struggle to come up with an appropriately scathing term with which to describe the situation here at home: in the first six months of 2010 alone, there have been 439 credible reports of excessive force in the United States, according to the National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project (NPMSRP), resulting in no less than 60 fatalities

Read the rest…

[Photo: Peter Stinson]

–Joe

Filibuster Unconstitutional?

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Ghost Filibuster

Is this a joke? Who says America is a country governed by law? The reality is something else!

America is ruled by the lawless. These guys, from President Obama all the way down to the most junior congressman or woman swore an oath before God and man to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.” Instead they gut it.

Is there any wonder why Americans are so totally disillusioned with the current state of governance?

1. Thomas Geoghegan on the Case for Busting the Filibuster – Democracy Now

2. The Unconstitutional Filibuster – Mother Jones

— By Kevin Drum | Mon Jan. 11, 2010 10:32 AM PST

3. Hertzberg on the Constitutionality of the Filibuster 

[Referenced article in The New Yorker magazine]

 Here’s the interview with Thomas Geoghegan on Democracy Now on “the Case for Busting the Filibuster.”

Continue Reading

The “Torture” Debate

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UPDATED BELOW – UPDATE II

Glenn Greenwald says and we quote in part. You can read his blog here.

Three key rules of media behavior shape their discussions of “the ‘torture’ debate”

(3) The single most sacred Beltway belief is that elites are exempt from the rule of law.  Amidst all the talk about how prosecutions would destroy post-partisan harmony and whether torture “works,” it is virtually impossible to find any media star discussions about the fact that torture is illegal and that those who order, authorize or engage in torture are committing felonies.  That is because — other than for fun sex scandals and other Blagojevich-like sensationalistic acts — the overriding belief of the political class is that elites (such as themselves) have the right to break the law and not be held accountable.

Amazingly, when it comes to crimes by ordinary Americans, being “tough on crime” is a virtually nonnegotiable prerequisite to being Serious, but when it comes to political officials who commit crimes in the exercise of their power, absolute leniency is the mandated belief upon pain of being dismissed as “shrill” and extremist.  Can anyone find an establishment media pundit anywhere — just one — who is advocating that Bush officials who broke the law be held accountable under our laws?  That view seemsactively excluded from establishment media discussions.

The OLC memos that were released last week reflect a deeply corrupted, criminal and morally depraved political class (see this video clip for a strangely affecting demonstration of that fact –linked fixed), but our media stars are a vital reason why that has happened.  It cannot be overstated the extent to which they are nothing but appendages of, servants to, political power (as one Twitter commentator said today about this painfully vapid videofrom the painfully vapid David Gregory:  when media stars say “my reporting,” what they usually mean is: “this is what I was told to repeat”).  These three media rules repeatedly shape how they talk about government actions, and these rules are particularly pronounced as the establishment media now is finally forced to discuss what to do about the fact that our highest political leaders repeatedly broke our most serious laws.

Be sure and read the complete article – The Sacred Elite and SoHum, CA.

That elite-protecting consensus is the central affliction of America’s political culture.  It explains not only how we continuously shield our elites from the consequences of their crimes, but also explains the reason such crimes keep happening.  If you constantly announce to a small group of people that they will be able to break the law with impunity, you are rendering inevitable future rampant criminality. That’s just obvious.

It’s not just “the central affliction of America’s political culture.” It’s the central affliction of America”!

UPDATE :: Friday, April 24, 2009

Here’s a link to  local blog SoHum Parlance II that has a thoughtful and meaningful comment that’s worth reading. Now lets see if these worthless Democrats have the guts to prosecute these high-ranking criminals. Of course Obama put the screws to that when he became complicit with his first foray into Pakistan.

UPDATE II

Democratic complicity and what “politicizing justice” really means

UPDATE:  Just to underscore how continuously Democrats are complicit in thwarting the rule of law in the United States:   one of Obama’s most impressive and rule-of-law-defending appointees, Dawn Johnsen, has had her nomination as OLC Chief blocked for months by the Right, and the office of a key Democratic Senator — Ben Nelson — just told Greg Sargent that Nelson “is all but certain to vote against Johnsen,” substantially increasingly the GOP’s chances of preventing her from becoming head of the OLC.  That’s our bipartisan Washington establishment in a nutshell:  key Bush torture architects such as John Rizzo and Bush intelligence policy defenders such as John Brennan are able to remain in positions of high power in the Obama administration, while those, like Johnsen, who want accountability for government crimes are considered fringe, extremist and unfit for office.

Read the complete commentary.

–Joe

Is This THE Obama You Voted For?

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barackobama_changeIf so, then you’ll want to read Glenn Greenwald’s article on Salon for SATURDAY APRIL 11, 2009 08:41 EDT:

Obama and habeas corpus — then and now

Greenwald’s concluding comments: “So that Barack Obama — the one trying to convince Democrats to make him their nominee and then their President — said that abducting people and imprisoning them without charges was (a) un-American; (b) tyrannical; (c) unnecessary to fight Terrorism; (d) a potent means for stoking anti-Americanism and fueling Terrorism; (e) a means of endangering captured American troops, Americans traveling abroad and Americans generally; and (f) a violent betrayal of core, centuries-old Western principles of justice. But today’s Barack Obama, safely ensconced in the White House, fights tooth and nail to preserve his power to do exactly that.”

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Who Is the Real Barack Obama?

“I’m not searching for ways to criticize Obama. I wish I could be writing paeans celebrating the restoration of the Constitution and the rule of law. But these actions — these contradictions between what he said and what he is doing, the embrace of the very powers that caused so much anger towards Bush/Cheney — are so blatant, so transparent, so extreme, that the only way to avoid noticing them is to purposely shut your eyes as tightly as possible and resolve that you don’t want to see it, or that you’re so convinced of his intrinsic Goodness that you’ll just believe that even when it seems like he’s doing bad things, he must really be doing them for the Good. If there was any unanimous progressive consensus over the last eight years, it was that the President does not have the power to kidnap people, ship them far away, and then imprison them indefinitely in a cage without due process. Has that progressive consensus changed as of January 20, 2009? I think we’re going to find out.”

Read the complete article on Salon. Or continue,

It was once the case under the Bush administration that the U.S. would abduct people from around the world, accuse them of being Terrorists, ship them to Guantanamo, and then keep them there for as long as we wanted without offering them any real due process to contest the accusations against them.  That due-process-denying framework was legalized by the Military Commissions Act of 2006.  Many Democrats — including Barack Obama — claimed they were vehemently opposed to this denial of due process for detainees, and on June 12, 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court, in the case of Boumediene v. Bush, ruled that the denial of habeas corpus rights to Guantanamo detainees was unconstitutional and that all Guantanamo detainees have the right to a full hearing in which they can contest the accusations against them. Read the rest of this entry »

Choice and the U.S. Constitution

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ronpaul190When you read this from Ron Paul ask yourself why would local businessmen and women in Humboldt County NOT want the marijuana laws repealed. Here’s a link to Ernie Branscomb’s blog for a good example. He also posted this tongue-in-cheek back Saturday, August 9, 2008: And you thought Marijuana was harmless…

End the War on Drugs – Ron Paul

We have recently heard many shocking stories of brutal killings and ruthless violence related to drug cartels warring with Mexican and US officials. It is approaching the fever pitch of a full blown crisis. Unfortunately, the administration is not likely to waste this opportunity to further expand government. Hopefully, we can take a deep breath and look at history for the optimal way to deal with this dangerous situation, which is not unprecedented.

Alcohol prohibition in the 1920’s brought similar violence, gangs, lawlessness, corruption and brutality. The reason for the violence was not that making and selling alcohol was inherently dangerous. The violence came about because of the creation of a brutal black market which also drove profits through the roof. These profits enabled criminals like Al Capone to become incredibly wealthy, and militantly defensive of that wealth. Al Capone saw the repeal of Prohibition as a great threat, and indeed smuggling operations and gangland violence fell apart after repeal. Today, picking up a bottle of wine for dinner is a relatively benign transaction, and beer trucks travel openly and peacefully along their distribution routes.

Similarly today, the best way to fight violent drug cartels would be to pull the rug out from under their profits by bringing these transactions out into the sunlight. People who, unwisely, buy drugs would hardly opt for the back alley criminal dealer as a source, if a coffeehouse-style dispensary was an option. Moreover, a law-abiding dispensary is likely to check ID’s and refuse sale to minors, as bars and ABC stores tend to do very diligently. Think of all the time and resources law enforcement could save if they could instead focus on violent crimes, instead of this impossible nanny-state mandate of saving people from themselves!

If these reasons don’t convince the drug warriors, I would urge them to go back to the Constitution and consider where there is any authority to prohibit private personal choices like this. All of our freedoms – the freedom of religion and assembly, the freedom of speech, the right to bear arms, the right to be free from unnecessary government searches and seizures – stem from the precept that you own yourself and are responsible for your own choices. Prohibition laws negate self-ownership and are an absolute affront to the principles of freedom. I disagree vehemently with the recreational use of drugs, but at the same time, if people are only free to make good decisions, they are not truly free. In any case, states should decide for themselves how to handle these issues and the federal government should respect their choices.

My great concern is that instead of dealing deliberatively with the actual problems, Congress will be pressed again to act quickly without much thought or debate. I can’t think of a single problem we haven’t made worse that way. The panic generated by the looming crisis in Mexico should not be redirected into curtailing more rights, especially our second amendment rights, as seems to be in the works. Certainly, more gun laws in response to this violence will only serve to disarm lawful citizens. This is something to watch out for and stand up against. We have escalated the drug war enough to see it only escalates the violence and profits associated with drugs. It is time to try freedom instead.

So what’s wrong with trying Ron Paul’s version of freedom?

Joe had to smile to himself when he read this:

Think of all the time and resources law enforcement could save if they could instead focus on violent crimes, instead of this impossible nanny-state mandate of saving people from themselves!

Sounds like something Joe stood for the last 50 years. Maybe it’s time to throw off the “mandate.” Be responsible and demand accountability while you still can.

But then, no one would make any money off your slavery, would they?

–Joe

Compliments of Kenny’s Sideshow
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