The Truthers have one solid point. We are not being told the truth about the events that occurred on Sept 11th. Let’s take a look at the event and ask a few hard questions.
On Sept 11th 2001, 19 men hijacked four airliners for the purpose of destroying preselected targets. The First thing I would like to know is why they were not stopped by airport security? They were in the airports, praying loudly and carrying on like it was their last day on earth. Yet, Security did not investigate them. If the Truthers are to be believed, this is proof of some sort of high reaching conspiracy. Unfortunately, we are not going to know why security did not intervene until there is an actual investigation. I cannot believe the Truther contradictory claim that Security was ordered to leave them alone. Personally, I think it was the American taboo against disrespecting religion. The hijackers were praying, and security did not want to look like a bunch of bigots by disturbing them.
I would also like to know what were our government was doing while the 19 hijackers were bound for glory? According to the newspapers, the FBI and the CIA were trying to warn President Bush and Condileeza Rice that it was going to happen. According to one intern, Bush refused to hear an FBI report regarding the hijacking. Daniel Ellsberg reported that Rice had CIA director Tenent tossed out of her office. French Security, the KCIA, Britain, Switzerland, and even the Mossad tried to warn our government that something big and bad was heading for us. It all fell on deaf ears.
Any legitimate inquiry on Sept 11th needs to ask why did the Bush Administration ignored their own security services as well as the security services of other countries. It could be that Sept 11th was allowed to happen. Bush and his cronies wanted the war in Afghanistan. They knew about all the oil and mineral wealth there even if the rest of us forgot the reasons behind the Russian occupation. Allowing the attack to occur would be the perfect excuse to send in the troops to secure the oil. A government that allows outsourcing of jobs and homelessness is perfectly capable of allowing the murder of Afghan citizens.
On the other hand, The Bush administration and everybody connected to it is as dumb as a sack full of hammers. September 11th could have happened out of pure stupidity. Being themselves the ultimate ugly Americans, they were too arrogant to believe that a bunch of Arabs could actually hurt the United States. The Afghanistan war could be the result of a carefully orchestrated conspiracy or it could be the panicked reaction of an utter moron. Only a real commission will bring the truth to light. This commission will not happen as long as the public keeps asking stupid questions.
Ironically, I think that the 9/11 Truth Movement is the government conspiracy. I also think that the same Public Relations firms that orchestrate the Intelligent Design movement orchestrate the Truthers. The M.O is identical. Intelligent Design denies evolution by concentrating on specific branches of science while ignoring others. They will harp on the gaps in the fossil record and ignore the genetic evidence. The Truthers concentrate on Newtonian physics while ignoring Einstein. I think the government is hiding the reasons why the hijackers did it. Don’t try telling me it was because they were promised 72 virgins. That’s pure propaganda. The hijackers killed themselves for political reasons. If we are going to prevent more tragedies and loss of lives, we are going to have to find out why they did it and address it.
Any sane commission on Sept 11th is going to have to concentrate on US Middle Eastern policy. They are going to have to look at how American based oil companies treat oil field workers. What roles do mercenary companies like Xe play in the Saudi and Syrian regimes? If we learn why the hijackers did it, we will know everything we need to know about Sept 11th. The Truthers are the number one reason these important questions are not being asked.
In the next post we will take a look at the blatant ugly antisemitism in the Truth movement and how it got there. Then in the last part we will look at how the media and how the government uses it to encourage conspiracy theories.
People who know me will be shocked that I have rejoined the Green Party. I had major personal problems with some of the early organizers. They are no longer with the Greens, and the party has grown beyond them. I have grown up a little bit too. For many years I have supported the DSA, but the DSA will not give up the idea that the Democrats can be radicalized. Since it hasn’t happened after 30 years of trying, we run into Einstein’s definition of insanity. We keep doing the same things the same way and expect different results. There are many other parties I can join or support, but none of them have the national network that the Greens built in under 30 years. The Green Party is America’s best chance to end Corporate control of our government. I would be a fool to hold onto a twenty five year old grudge.
During the last twenty five years, the Democrats silently supported everything the Republicans wanted. If you check the Project Vote Smart web site you can see that the Democrats voted for all the financial reforms that led to our economic collapse. It was Bill Clinton who allowed outsourcing when he had a Democratic majority in Congress. Under Bush the Democrats supported both illegal wars, Homeland Security, and illegal wiretapping. Under Obama, the Democrats have allowed the illegal existence of Guantanamo and continue to toss gay rights under a bus.
Obama could not have expanded the illegal Afghanistan war into Pakistan if he did not have the support of the Democrat majority. I am appalled at the Democratic voters who embraced both illegal wars after Obama took office. The wars are no more legal under Obama and it is still murder when a Democrat gives the orders. Despite all the cheering from Democratic pundits, our tax money is going to pay for the mercenaries holding Iraq.
To add insult onto injury, there is the passage of the so called “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act”, which is more properly called the “Screw Over the Disabled and Elderly for Fun and Corporate Profits Act”. The Democratic pundits and true believers tout this as a leftist victory. In reality, this piece of crap legislation reduces the quality of Medicare. It allows economic discrimination, and it does not do anything to make care affordable. True, the insurance companies have to accept people with preexisting conditions, but there is no limit to premiums.
You cannot fool all of the people all of the time, and this is true for the people who voted Democrat last election. Poor people have caught wise to the health care reform. Environmentalists are appalled that he protected BP instead of prosecuting them. Anti-war activists call him “The Obamanation” for his drone tactics. The Democrats have lost their core supporters. Few are going to vote third party this coming election and most are staying home.
In 2008, the Democrats attracted liberal and progressive voters with vague promises of hope and change. We are not even getting that during the 2010 midterms. We are being threatened with the Tea Party instead. What will happen if the Tea Party wins? Will the Tea Party start killing innocent women and children with drones? Maybe they will go to court to reinstate DADT? Should we be afraid that they might put more people in Guantanamo? Wait, the Democrats have already done this. Unless you are afraid that Christine O’Donnell is going to cast a spell on you, I see no reason to be afraid of the Tea Party. They will vote according to Wall Street just like the Democrats.
When pushed into a corner, the Democrats will say that we only have two choices, them or the Republicans. If this is true, why was Green gubernatorial candidate Lauren Wells arrested at the California debate last week? It’s because both parties are afraid of the Green Party. The Greens have made tremendous progress on the local level. Richmond and Fairfax California are just two of the cities with a Green majority on their city councils. Greens can be found amongst aldermen, school board members, and there are even a few Green mayors. There are Greens in state legislatures. The Democrats are telling still another lie when they say there are only two choices. If the Greens can be elected in local and state governments, they can be elected to national offices as well.
The Commercial Bubble will burst any day now. With the banks and Wall St. teetering on the edge of collapse there will never be a better time to support a truly progressive party. Don’t let Democratic lies depress you into staying home this coming election day. Don’t let Tea Party Paranoia scare you into voting for the corporatist Democrats. Please join me in voting Green this election. It will shock the hell out of Wall Street, and it will be a first step in creating a better future.
Scott Adams wrote a few cartoons where his character Dogbert had a taser, and he used it on everybody who annoyed him. Sometimes I wish I lived in that world. That way the next time somebody quotes Benjamin Franklin out of context, I can zap him with the taser until smoke pours out his ears. Maybe then people will learn that they will never win a point by quoting somebody out of context. Ben Franklin was speaking of standing armies when he said, “he who would sacrifice a little bit of liberty for a little bit of security, will lose both and deserve neither.” Franklin was against standing armies while other delegates to the Constitutional Convention were very much in favor of them. Like all of Franklin’s other Constitutional ideas, it was ignored.
In the last few years I have seen that quote applied to such diverse matters as cameras at stop-lights, the enforcement of libel laws, September 11th conspiracies, breaking the media monopolies, health care, weapons of mass destruction, cell phones, and the income tax. Not once has anybody applied that quote to standing armies. It has become the all purpose response when there is no other argument. When shown proof that cameras at stop-lights reduce traffic fatalities, out comes the quote. When presented with an idea that journalistic standards and ethics be enforced again, there is always the quote. I have no idea what Franklin would say about national health, but I hardly think he would equate it with standing armies. Suggesting that September 11th conspiracists should take their medications becomes a threat to liberty. The quote has become an internet meme which has completely lost any meaning. It is another way of covering your ears and singing, “la la la, I can’t hear you.”
Nor has this become the sole example of quoting out of context. Recently Glenn Beck has been trotting out Thomas Paine in support of the tea baggers. Paine was part of a social movement called the Populists. He advocated a progressive tax on wealth, welfare, subsidized farm loans, and representative democracy. He even declared health to be a basic human right. It just goes to show you that any point can be won if the person being quoted is dead. Paine was an anti-federalist who strongly advocated for the original American Confederacy of 1780-1790. Upon his return to the United States in 1802, he lived in obscurity for seven years and his funeral was ignored. Once he was dead, he immediately became the darling of the nation. Great monuments were built in his honor, and Common Sense has been quoted out of context by public school teachers for over a century.
In a recent interview, former pro-wrestler turned politician, Jesse Ventura, criticized the Democrats and the Republicans for not working together. I will be the first to admit it when Ventura says something intelligent. It happens so rarely. Then Ventura had to ruin it by quoting the founding fathers out of context. He said that George Washington, John Adams and others warned us against the dangers of political parties. If I lived in Scott Adams’ world, I would zap Ventura with my taser until lightning came out of his nose. The founders liked the two party system just fine. It was the many political parties being formed in England they were scared of. Different factions were creating their own political parties and having them elected to Parliament. In order to get anything done, the different factions had to work together to create a compromise. This is the foundation of Parliamentary Democracy. The delegates, Ministers of Parliament, Congresspeople, whatever you want to call them, directly represent their constituents and get them the best deal possible. That was what our founding fathers were worried about. They wanted to make sure their people stayed on top.
The Constitution represents a naked power grab by a faction in government whom we now call the Federalists. Had the revolution not happened, George Washington would have been jailed by Britain for his shady land deals. Alexander Hamilton was very well connected to the American and British financial industry. He and his relative by marriage, Robert Morris, worked together on a bond scam that defrauded the Revolutionary enlisted soldiers of their back pay. Even the leader of the anti-federalist movement, Thomas Jefferson, was a wealthy landowner as well as a slave owner who held his own children as property. These were not people who particularly cared about the rights of other people. When Jefferson became president, he continued the Federalist system and liked it.
Our Federalist founders created a system which imitated the British court of the time. Our president has the exact same powers as the Constitutional Monarch. He is the head of the army, disperses funds, oversees the execution of the law, industry, diplomacy, etc, through his cabinet. Originally the Senate was appointed by the state governments. There are no term limits for the Supreme Court, and British common law gives any American judge the same power as a British duke. Alexander Hamilton created a taxation system where the wealthy were barely taxed and the poor and lower middle class maintained most of the tax burden. Washington selected his cabinet from industrialists and landowners. You did not find Patrick Henry or Herman Husband amongst his closest advisers. To this day the cabinet is selected from the wealthy to serve the interests of the wealthy, and the Supreme Court Justices are selected by their loyalty to the monied interests.
Due process in law has always been at the whim of our government. Four years after the Constitution was ratified, Washington’s Attorney General declared that the Constitution did not apply to anyone accused of rebelling against the United States. Suspects in the Whiskey Rebellion were arrested without warrant. They were paraded down Market Street in Philadelphia as traitors, and tossed into an unheated cell without food or light. This was a precedent John Yoo turned to in his torture memos. In a foreshadowing of Guantanamo, all twenty men were found not guilty, even though the judges gave instructions to enter a verdict of guilty. Over the years due process has also been denied to freed slaves, European immigrants, and anyone else without the funds to buy due process.
Those tea baggers, and anarchist libertarians who talk about freedom within the Constitution have no idea what they are talking about. The United States was never a representative democracy. Our president is chosen by the electoral college, so I don’t even know why we bother with the popular vote. It’s all show anyway. Our Congress and Senate are representatives of military industrial complex, just as our federalist founders wanted it. There has never been a time when the wealthy paid their share in taxes, and a poor man has rarely won against a rich man in court. That is how our legal system is set up. The Bill of Rights was a major concession won by the few populist delegates to the Constitutional Convention, but even the Bill of Rights is interpreted through the Supreme Court, which historically championed Jim Crow.
When Libertarians prattle on about a return to the Constitution, I wish I was Dogbert so I can tase them until they do the Monster Mash. The America they talk about never existed in the real world. Maybe if they walked through a wardrobe and traveled through Narnia, Aslan might direct them to it. We are living in the exact America the Federalists wanted. A return to the Constitution is only going to cement corporate control over this country. If we want to change the country, we need to look to the future. Trying to return to the past never works. The clock never ticks backwards, and trying to solve today’s problems with yesterday’s solutions only makes things worse. Look at what happened to Germany when they tried it.
(Author’s note. The original head photo was John Adams. This composite sketch was lent to me courtesy of http://wethepeoplegame.com/ and Bob Snizek. They hold all legal rights to it.)
His hair was unkempt for it had not been brushed in years. His clothes were tattered and mended; they were meant for farm work and not for addressing the members of the Pennsylvania Assembly. Yet he stood before the assembled leaders of colonial Pennsylvania and he preached fire and brimstone. He called down the wrath of God upon the crowned heads of Europe and the land speculators in New York. He preached the New Jerusalem on the American Continent. His America was one that Superman would be proud of for it was founded on Truth and Justice. Staring at his audience, no, his congregation, with eyes of fire, he preached the damnation of slaveholders, and condemned those who abused the natives to eternal hellfire. When he was finished, his audience rose to applaud their hero. His name was Herman Husband. His detractors called him the Mad Man of the Mountains, but his fellow members of the Pennsylvania assembly called him a man of God.
Born to a wealthy family in Maryland, Husband got religion from working for his tavern keeper uncle. That same uncle also taught him the value of hard work. Those lessons were so well learned that young Herman could not readjust to the frivolous life of a Maryland plantation owner’s son. He found their vapid imitation of British court life sinful, and he could not abide slavery. He soon moved away and bought his own plantation. He left the Anglican Church, which he felt was the home of the antichrist, and joined the Quakers. Proving that there was no fanatic quite like a convert, Husband became the most dedicated of Quakers. Forsaking all vanity, he refused to brush his hair and wore only work clothes. Even though his plantation and business interests made him a very wealthy man, he lived as frugally as a pauper. Despite his frugality and his uncompromising religious beliefs, his children adored him, and all three of his wives felt he was the world’s greatest mate.
His first wife gladly converted to the Society of Friends, his second wife joined him in exile when the Quaker elders banished him, and his third wife and all his children helped him escape when King George had a price on his head. Husband refused to compromise when it came to religion. It was his firm belief that God spoke to each and every human being regardless of race or gender. When he criticized the Quaker elders for forbidding revelation contrary to Quaker doctrine, the elders banished him. Husband could care less. His church was the invisible church on the right hand of God. No earthly authority had the right to tell him he wasn’t one of the elect.
Husband joined with fellow banished Quakers, angry Baptists, defrocked Methodists, and other heretics who became what is known as the Regulators. They did not earn that name for their religious beliefs. On the contrary, religion was the most unregulated thing about them. To them, accepting Jesus as their lord and savior automatically made them the equals of any popes or bishops. They could not care less about historic inaccuracies in the Bible. To them, the book was a divination tool. The will of God was revealed through relating the Bible stories to the modern world. It mattered not to them that there was no historic Moses, the Ten Commandments were still God’s own truth.
While the Regulators could not agree on dogma or ritual, they did agree on politics. Amazingly, the Regulators were in total agreement that God wanted a progressive tax on wealth. It also came to a surprise to George Washington that God hated land speculators and wanted title given to the people who actually developed the land. Alexander Hamilton was not amused to hear that God demanded low interest loans to farmers. Imagine Thomas Jefferson’s outrage when he discovered that the Almighty not only wanted him to free his slaves, but to pay reparations for the indignities of being owned. The Regulators also felt that Africans and Native Americans had equal rights in the eyes of God and both should enjoy full civil rights on earth.
The name Regulators came from their belief that good government was government that protected the rights of the poor from the depredations of the wealthy. Laws should be passed to assure everybody of equal opportunities, and that everybody had an equal voice in government. Back when George Washington was still having tea with the Royal Governor of Virginia, and John Adams was campaigning for a British peerage, the Regulators were calling for an America free of European tyranny. The King was not happy, nor were the governors of Maryland and Virginia. It was not long before the Regulators became an illegal organization and Herman Husband fled into the mountains of Pennsylvania.
Husband the fugitive came to settle in the Allegheny Mountains. Known only as the Quaker, he worked amongst the the trappers and hunters who settled around Pittsburgh. Eventually he built a homestead where his wife and children joined him. His neighbors respected him not just as a farmer but as a preacher. He shared his vision of the American West as a new Jerusalem, and his dream of welcoming the reign of Christ through establishing just laws. In those days before the Rapture became dogma, Christians believed that the reign of Christ could be brought into existence through the efforts of human beings. Husband had a vision of the New Jerusalem ruled through a complex legislature based on strict term limits. His neighbors so loved his vision that they elected him to the Pennsylvania legislature twice.
There was no greater champion of the American Revolution than Herman Husband. To him, George Washington was a latter day Joshua, bringing down the walls of the British Jericho. Later, Husband would be shocked and dismayed by his hero. Not only was Washington an absentee land owner in Husband’s own beloved Alleghenies, but Washington’s presidency was a repudiation of everything Husband lived and worked for. The grand old man of the Regulators saw the Constitution as a work of Satan, and a means for the rich to exploit and abuse the poor. Having the general who led the revolution as the first president under that Satanic document almost shattered Husband’s belief in God.
Almost, but not quite. Despite the unfair taxation that exploited his neighbors, and laws that protected land speculators from prosecution from their tenants, Husband continued to believe. He continued to preach his New Jerusalem based on the equality of man. He continued to preach a progressive tax against wealth, civil rights for all, and an end to the damnable institution of slavery. When his neighbors rebelled against the Federal Government over Hamilton’s Whiskey Tax, which provided the likes of George Washington with a lucrative monopoly, Herman Husband was the first to join in.
He was also to be the first of many to be arrested without due process and the only one to be prosecuted for the crime of sedition. There were many Federalists who heard him preach against a government that forced hard working farmers off their land, and imposing taxes that sent working men into the poor house. Worse of all, he preached against slavery, and in the early days of the US government, that was a constitutional violation. Out of the 28 people to be prosecuted for the Whiskey Rebellion, Herman Husband was one of two to be found guilty. The rest were found not guilty despite judge’s orders to enter a guilty verdict. Washington, adroit politician that he was, pardoned him so he would not become a martyr to the anti Federalist cause. The pardon didn’t come a minute too soon. Herman Husband contracted pneumonia from being kept in an unheated cell in December and died soon after being released.
Poor Herman Husband never lived to see his American Jerusalem and was betrayed by the very heroes he prayed for. The religious movement he helped to found transmuted into today’s religious right. The social movement he helped start continued after his death, and later influenced such thinkers as Karl Marx and Charles Dickens. I find it funny that the only founding father I have any affection for was the great-grandfather of today’s born again movement. If there was any Christian who truly deserved heaven, it was Herman Husband, because it was he and not Washington or Jefferson, and especially not Hamilton, who embodied the American spirit of Liberty and Equality. Only Herman Husband embodied the best qualities of the religious and of the socialist. May his memory be restored as an example to us all.
Sixteen protesters and 25 cops showed up at the John Yoo Torture Memos protest on Feb 11th. There were only sixteen protesters. It took 25 cops to protect Yoo from us. One of us was using a wheel chair. Another of us was 76 years old. I have a bad back and my wife and I both have arthritis. That effectively left 12 potential rioters against 25 armed peace officers. I suppose it was worth the taxpayer’s money so John Yoo would feel safe from us. Wait, I’m wrong. One of my wife’s friends from her Code Pink group is also disabled and sat in a camp chair. Another was wearing a fifty pound John Yoo bobble head. So there were effectively 10 potential rioters against 25 armed cops. It’s a good thing that some of them were from the SWAT team.
To the officers’ credit, they were the most professional police force on earth. They took their job damned seriously. If there was going to be an actual attempt to harm Yoo, they were ready. They were also smart enough to know that we constituted no danger. Also to their credit, they stood up for our First Amendment rights. They did not force us to disperse. They did not force us into a “Free Speech Zone” two miles away. Traffic flow and liability were their main concerns. They saw to it that traffic flowed smoothly and that John Yoo would have to go past us in order to leave.
It doesn’t look good for Dr. Yoo. Britain is giving its infamous MI5 security agency a public reaming for the torture of British citizens in Guantanamo. Yes, Virginia, there are people named Mohamad who are British Citizens, and England is pissed. It looks as if secret documents are going to be made public as MI5 agents are tried for not informing their government.
Meanwhile Dick Cheney is working his motormouth on television. Cheney confirmed that Yoo co-wrote the Torture Memos to rationalize the use of torture. Cheney wanted torture so Yoo told him what he wanted to hear. What’s worse, what is the absolute bitter end, is that Cheney also admitted to ordering three people tortured.
He ordered three people tortured? Who was he to order three people tortured? Hell, since when can the vice president order anything except a pizza? What happened to the days when one brother goes to sea while his other brother becomes vice-president, and nobody ever hears from either of them again? Since when does the vice president order anybody tortured? Not only is Big Mouth Cheney admitting to torturing people, but he’s admitting that the executive office ignores the constitution. The vice presidency is traditionally the golden road to political obscurity. I wonder if it was John Yoo who told Cheney he had the right to order people tortured?
So Yoo must know that the jig is up. He knows that he can run and cannot hide. If he had a brain in his head he would be fleeing to Argentina about now. He is being sued by somebody who was wrongfully tortured in Guantanamo. MI5 is being placed on public trial for allowing British Citizens to be tortured. Now his former boss is spilling the beans to the press. Even Holder’s gutless Justice Department is saying he showed “poor judgment.” The weasel is completely and totally screwed, and now he is just wiggling around trying to justify his actions.
I hoped to post a link to his book tour, so people could find out where he is going to be speaking, and stage their own protests. Guess what? He didn’t publish his itinerary. John Yoo is conducting the country’s first clandestine book signing tour. He has become a man of mystery. Nobody knows where he will show up next. Today a country club in Taos New Mexico. Tomorrow a luncheon with the Young Republicans in Chicago. Each time he strikes, he leaves his autograph in a few of his books, which justifies torture by rationalizing the high handed presidents of the past. Like Waldo, it takes highly developed powers of observation to find him. If you do find him and are going to hold a protest, I will be glad to send you the songs and chants Code Pink has been using. It’ll make him feel at home.
Yoo complains that all this protesting is intimidating him. Why? Is he afraid we’re going to waterboard him? Is he afraid that we are going to pull him off the street and hide him in an undisclosed location? Of course not. Unlike Yoo, we believe in rule by law. We are demanding due process for Yoo, which is more than the people he is responsible for torturing get. This is why UC Berkeley will not disclose where he is lecturing. This is why his book tour is being treated like a ninja assault. This is why he hid on his way out of the Poplar Creek Golf Club.
I was standing at a funny angle so I saw him when he left the golf club. He got into a green SUV with tinted windows. A blond woman was at the wheel. Before they reached the exit, he hunkered down in the front seat so we could not see him. I knew he was in that vehicle, so I shouted “John Yoo is a wuss!”
Thank you, everybody who has worked to bring John Yoo to justice. For those of you who are unaware of what has been going on, John Yoo is the author of the so-called “Torture Memos”. Yoo was a special council to the White House, and his torture memos were the excuse that the Bush Misadministration used to justify torturing prisoners in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo. In other words, according to John Yoo, sexual humiliation, beatings, water boarding, starvation, and sleep deprivation are neither cruel nor unusual.
What’s that you say? The Constitution protects us from cruel and unusual punishment? To this I ask you, what the hell constitutes cruel and unusual punishment? What is the definition of the word cruel as used in the Constitution? What is the constitutional definition of the word unusual? How are those words to be defined in court? According to John Yoo, water boarding is neither cruel nor is it unusual. So what is to keep the county jail from water boarding a suspect into admitting he sold a quarter ounce of pot?
The Constitution was never a planned document. The Founders of this nation envisioned a confederacy. When the confederacy broke down in under ten years, the delegates to the Constitutional convention had little time to create a central government with the powers to enact and enforce treaties as well as the power to levy taxes. This is why there are so many loopholes in the document. This is why cruel and unusual or reasonable were never defined. One delegate would say something, we need protections from unreasonable search and seizure. Another delegate would ask what constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. Then a third delegate would say, let the courts worry about it later. We need to start raising taxes so we can pay off France.
Thus was born the most confusing and expensive legal system that was ever invented. The Constitution contains language as vague as the I-Ching, and holds as many contradictions as the New Testament. John Yoo presented an opinion that specific acts of torture were not cruel and unusual. This opinion is not unconstitutional because the terms cruel and unusual are not defined. Yoo’s opinion has the force of law until such time as it is challenged by the courts. Lynndie England’s court martial adds sexual humiliation to the definition of cruel and unusual, but water boarding is still perfectly legal.
That’s right, torture is legal and will remain legal until the Supreme Court says otherwise. Torture can remain legal as long as the Supreme Court ignores the situation. After all, the Supreme Court can pick and choose which cases it wants to hear. The Court ignored Jim Crow laws until public opinion became so outraged that the court had no choice but to overrule them.
Public outrage is the only way we are going to stop the United States from committing torture. Protests at UC Berkeley and in front of Yoo’s home forced the attorney general to order an investigation of Yoo and the Torture Memos. Holder has proven himself as loyal a neocon as Alberto Gonzales. The results of this investigation were recently leaked to Newsweek Magazine, and the results were that John Yoo exercised poor judgment but did not commit any wrong doing.
Yoo’s “bad judgment” resulted in the torture of hundreds, if not thousands, of human beings. John Yoo opened the door to the worst barbarisms of the Bush Misadministration. For those of you who value money over human rights, torture has produced no usable information. The question we should be asking the government is, why are we still torturing people? If John Yoo exercised poor judgment, why is Obama still following his advice?
If John Yoo exercised “poor judgment,” then why is he still teaching at UC Berkeley Boalt Hall, the most prestigious law school in California? How competent a teacher can he be if his opinions sparked an investigation that accused him of “poor judgment”? For that matter, why are the regents treating this semi-competent shyster like a rock star? They protect him by keeping his lecture locations a secret. His students find out where he is teaching by secure email. Yoo didn’t even lecture this semester. While protesters and students alike were waiting for his first lecture, Yoo was out promoting that sack of neocon bullshit he calls a book. At the same time, he is still drawing a salary from the California tax payer.
John Yoo is certainly not behaving like somebody accused of poor judgment. He’s out promoting the imperial presidency like it was a fact. As far as I’m concerned he’s the biggest nut since Torquemada. Just as the head inquisitor believed in the ultimate authority of the Pope, Yoo believes in the ultimate authority of the president. That ass-kisser needs to be stopped.
Public outrage forced an investigation and conclusion of “Poor Judgment”. This is not a defeat. We forced the Attorney General’s office to admit that torture was a bad idea. This can be built on, but we have to crank up the volume. We need more and louder protests. We need to send petitions to the UC regents telling them to fire the bastard. We need to get so outrageous that the Supreme Court will have no choice but to ban torture just as they banned Jim Crow. Poor judgment is just the beginning. We won that much, we can win more.
Torquemada Yoo will be doing a book signing in San Mateo, California tomorrow, Thursday, Feb, 12 at Poplar Creek Golf Course from noon to one thirty PM. Code Pink is sponsoring a protest. Be there, be loud, and be angry. Let the Department of Justice know that we don’t want Yoo’s poor judgment to be government policy, and let the UC regents know that anyone who’s judgment is so poor has no place in our university system.
The scariest thing about libertarians is that they can vote. As a general rule they cannot tell the difference between The Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and The Federalist Papers. They are so gullible they actually believe the income tax is illegal and so ignorant that there is no way to explain it to them. As Glen Cook puts it, they fell out of the stupid tree and hit every branch on the way down. Unfortunately for us and the rest of the world, there are no IQ provisions for citizenship. Libertarians can vote. Small wonder the economy is tanking around us.
In Libertarian Land, I think the American Revolution went down something like this. Little Tommy Jefferson went into their clubhouse (with the no icky girls allowed sign on the door.) and said, “That George III is a real poophead. I don’t want to play with him anymore.”
And little Al Hamilton replied, “Me too. Let’s get rid of him.”
Georgie Washington added “I’m tired of playing with this hatchet. Let’s have a revolution instead. You got book learnin’, Tommy. Why don’t you write him a letter and tell him to go soak his head?”
In the real world, the founders of America were a very diverse group. Many shared a common tie with the Masons, which only reaffirms the Mason’s mission of bringing different people together. Jefferson and Washington spoke for the southern agrarian plantation owners. Alexander Hamilton was the most progressive of the founders, but even he spoke primarily for the northern industrialists. Then there were other founders such as John Adams and John Jay who were determined to see to it that the wealthy had the same special privileges as they had under England. All these people were brought together out of a common need to escape British rule. Jefferson wanted an agrarian utopia while Adams wanted a hereditary Senate in imitation of the British House of Lords, but all put aside their differences to achieve a common goal.
The Declaration of Independence was a legal document telling the British Monarch that the colonies were demanding independence. It has no standing in American Law. It was an inspiring piece penned by the inimitable Jefferson. It had the effect of winning the loyalty of those who were going to die in the upcoming war. Still, the Declaration of Independence was written in the proper legal language of the time. When they said “All Men are created equal”, it was not the generic term as it is generally used. Men was defined as people of substance with money or property. It did not include women who were still chattel. It did not mean slaves or children. They were legally chattel as well. Men meant upper class white males.
By the end of the revolution, African slavery was still an accepted institution. Children were still sold into apprenticeship and adults could still sell themselves into indentured servitude. You could still be jailed for your debts and most of the thirteen states limited the vote to people above a certain income level. In the State of Maryland you had to be both wealthy and Catholic to vote. In Massachusetts you were only allowed to vote if you were a Congregationalist. Each state was autonomous and sent representatives to Philadelphia mostly to negotiate trade. Britain was killing the colonial industries by supplying finished goods at prices local craftsmen would not beat. The south still sold its cotton to England but at much lower prices. New York and New Jersey went to war over access to New York Harbor. The Free Market reigned supreme and the only one happy about it was England.
Thirteen independent nations were being eaten to death by England and internal rivalry. Free Market capitalism was tearing the fledgling US into shreds and leaving the door open to England walking in and taking America back without a shot being fired. This is why there is a Constitution. This is why we are not the Confederated States of America. The wealthiest and most influential men in the new nation joined together to create a more perfect union. That is why they needed the Federalist Papers.
Keep in mind there was a lot of resistance to a Constitution. On the whole the southern states wanted it. They needed protection from England purchasing their cotton for too little money. On the other hand, the northern states had influential citizens who were making a fortune by buying cheap finished goods from Europe and a tariff would cut into their trade. So Madison, Hamilton, and Jay got together and wrote newspaper articles in favor of the Constitution. Put together, the Federalist Papers are a fascinating document. It outlines the philosophy behind the Constitution. It explains the economic and political conditions of the day. It has little to do with the Constitution itself.
You will find nothing inspiring in the Constitution. This is why the libertarian propagandists rarely quote it and libertarians never read it. It is as bland as oatmeal and as exciting as watching hot grannies knit sweaters. Alexander Hamilton did not conceive it after a night of peyote buttons and cheap tequila. The Constitution of the United States was written by a committee. Many people worked on the Constitution, and the finished document had little in common with the hopes of the Federalist Papers. Alexander Hamilton fought against the Bill of Rights. Jay must have cursed when the rabble were awarded the vote, but managed to slip in the electoral college anyway. The south was happy to get a central government which could both ratify and enforce treaties with Europe. The north was pissed because the new Federal Government could impose and enforce tariffs, ending England’s domination of American trade. More to the point, the new Federal Government had the right to impose and collect taxes. How and when the Federal Government can regulate business is written into the Constitution, even though Hamilton and Madison both argued against it.
The most frustrating thing about the Constitution is its vagueness. It was a document that was designed to change with the times. You can peruse the constitution all your life but you will not find one word that enshrines capitalism as our only possible economic system. There is no clause that makes the income tax illegal. There is nothing that says we have to vote for either Democrats or Republicans. The people who joined together to create the Constitution understood that conditions change. They expected their tomorrow to be different than their today, and they left it to us as to how we wanted to interpret the Constitution. The Constitution shall not fall because we voted for the single payer system. There is nothing unconstitutional about unions.
The libertarians have forgotten that the American Revolution was more than the hand full of dead statesmen they canonized into their lords and saviors. They forgot that Jefferson had very little influence on the Constitution. Alexander Hamilton created the first American Tax, and that Washington lead troops to put down the Whiskey Tax rebellion. They are like Christianoids and the Bible. They have no idea of what the Constitution says or represents but parrot any damned babble that their leaders tell them. Laws that protect American industries, impose taxes, and impose limits to unacceptable behavior are written in the Constitution. Libertarians can hold their breath and kick their heels all they want, and it will still not change the fact that they are the greatest threat to the Constitution since George III.
Writing these blog posts has been difficult. It has forced me to look at 25 years in sales and ask myself If I have been doing the right thing. Working for Aames was not the right thing to do, and I wonder why I never realized that before. The biggest wrong I committed, while working for Aames, was convincing myself that I was helping people. Any help I may have given my customers was purely short term assistance. Many of my customers who were granted lower interest rates were given three years fixed mortgages. After three years, their interest rates went variable. Very few of those loans had ceilings. The logic behind this was it gave them a chance to fix their credit so they could refinance again before their mortgage rates went through the roof. In actual fact we were being too optimistic. Between outsourcing and salary stagnation, chances were that in three years those people’s credit were in worse shape than ever. Then after three years their mortgages went through the roof.
Belief is a very strong factor in any sale. If the salesperson does not believe in the product, neither will the customer. There were just too many reps who did not believe in what they were selling. That should have warned me that something was wrong. I knew one salesperson who sold through intimidation. He specialized in single female home owners, and subtly threatened them into signing. Then he grabbed the commission check and ran to another company before the hammer came down. I knew another salesperson who specialized in single male homeowners. Her usual working clothes was a leather mini split up to the waist at the side, and a very low cut top.
Despite these signs that things were totally wrong, I continued to believe in what I was doing. Conviction is more than half of sales. An effective salesman believes in what he is selling or is a good enough actor to truly make the customer believe in what he is doing. It occurs to me that there are many more actors in sales than I originally thought.
Conviction was the difference between getting the application and credit report or not getting the application and earning the wrath of Aames. Aames had a lot of really idiotic rules, but one of the worst was their insistence on running credit reports for all customers. I had more than one customer offer to fax or email me their most recent credit report. Later, I would work for companies that were fine with customers faxing their credit reports. However to complete an application for Aames you had to run the credit report, and in order to do that you had to get the customer’s social security number.
To this day I am amazed at the amount of people who gave me their social security numbers over the phone. I always left the social security number for last. I would get the customer on the phone and we would talk a little bit and I would talk him into giving a phone application. I specialized in calling people with high interest variable loans, and they were desperate to get out from under. It was easy for me to get them to apply. The biggest objection I had to overcome were the people who had tried over and over again and kept getting turned down. I usually gave them a pep-talk. I encouraged them to take one more chance while mentioning all the people with shaky credit that Aames managed to help.
I always started with the basics. I would ask their names and addresses and get them talking about their homes and their mortgage woes. I would make appropriately sympathetic sounds as they volunteered the information I needed to put on the form. Once in a while I had to give them a little help. Older people had no idea of the market value of their homes. Generally they made me put a too low value on it. By the time I reached the end of the application, I was an old friend. That’s when I asked for the social security number.
About one in three just gave it to me. Not only did they give it to me, but called their spouses at work to get his or her social security number since I needed to pull a joint credit report About two out of three customers gave me a hard time. This is where belief comes in. I promised them that they were in no danger, their credit scores would not go down and their identities were safe. When I realized that too many credit hits would bring down a customer’s credit scores, I stopped promising that. I would estimate a safe time to pull their credit scores and schedule them for a call back at that time. You would not believe the amount of crap I had to live through when I was caught doing it. The Regional or district manager who caught me backing out on an application would lecture me mercilessly. My job was to get the application and not to worry about the state of the customer’s credit. So when I got the occasional person who was just not going to give me his social security number, I made it a point to argue with them when the brass was listening. It made me look good.
I was very careful with personal information. I would shred my notes and make sure that my copies of the applications were put safely away where nobody could get them. I was the only one. Everybody else just put their notes in the trash and old applications and notes were available for anybody to rifle through and pull out and use. These notes not only included the social security number but birthdays and addresses. Everything you needed for full scale identity theft was in that office. It only recently occurred to me that there was an entire room full of filing cabinets which was never locked and anybody could go through and pull out whatever information they wanted.
That was what I did for Aames Home Loan for a forty hour six day week. Most of my applications were rejected for various reasons. The most common was bad credit. Unlike other companies, Aames was very careful of the credit scores of the loans they accepted. That meant that most of Aames’s customers could have gotten a better deal elsewhere So the beginning of my month would see about two dozen loans in my pipeline but on a really good month, only two or three would fund. Somehow that was my fault for finding the wrong customers. In Aames Home Loan, failure was always an underling’s fault.
Throughout World War One and into the Depression, Will Rogers was a voice of the American people. The American people are too complex to have a single voice. Chris Rock, George Carlin, and Lenny Bruce could all be said to be the voice of different aspects of America. Will Rogers managed to be the distilled voice of all America. He was not the voice of what we were. He was the voice of what we wanted to be. “America doesn’t want a new deal as much as we want a fair deal,” is a statement that echoes within us all.
Born of a Native American mother and a European father, Will Rogers started out as a ranch hand, which was the best a Native American “half breed” could hope for in those days. He rose above his class and ancestry through the lecture circuit. He began writing for local newspapers and speaking for local organizations. He interspersed his lectures with fancy cowboy rope tricks and a really offbeat way of looking at the world and at language. “If the opposite of pro is con, what’s the opposite of progress?” Rogers would ask. (The answer, of course, is Congress.)
Radio was Will Rogers’ medium. The audience could not see his rope tricks, but they loved his Oklahoma accent and his wit. Rogers also had a sense of fun about him that the audience responded to. He could play straight man to Gracie Allen as easily as he could trade quips with Charlie McCarthy. The most remarkable thing about Will Rogers is that he could tell the truth without being offensive. George Carlin went for controversial as he told us about the seven words you can’t say on television, which stirred things up and got everybody upset. Rogers said things like, “American foreign policy is an open book–a check book,” which would be endlessly repeated all over America. America may love controversy, but Americans love the truth even more.
Will Rogers became America’s best friend in every sense of the word. A friend is somebody who tell you the truth no matter how much it hurts. Rogers told the truth and America’s pain was expressed in laughter. Yet his truths were told so gently and so supportively that he managed not to offend anybody. His reputation and celebrity grew to the point where his presence was demanded at White House dinners, where he entertained heads of state. Rogers raised himself from being an Oklahoma ranch hand to being the conscience of Washington. He was Jiminy Cricket who guided Washington with a kind and gentle voice. One day he called on President Herbert Hoover and said, “Mr. President, I’m going to bring you up to date on all the political jokes.” Hoover replied, “I already know them all. I appointed most of them.”
In these days of Wall St. CEOs pretending to be statesmen, we don’t have a Will Rogers to tell our leaders the truth. We don’t have a tall guy with a cowlick to dazzle them with fancy rope tricks while telling them about themselves. We don’t have a man who would speak at a NAACP dinner on Tuesday night, and tell Elenore Roosevelt about the plight of the American Negro on Thursday night. The sad fact is that Wall St. CEOs are notoriously deaf when it comes to the truth. Men Like G.W. Bush, Ken Lay, and Dick Cheney are infamous for hearing only what they want to hear. They would refuse to listen if Will Rogers came back from the grave and warned them; “you can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time”.
When you come down to it, Will Rogers was a philosopher. He applied logic and reason to his observations about the world and everybody in it. Then he distilled it into humor, homilies, and folksy observations. Today some of his work would be seen to be corny, but Will Rogers was the first to coin the phrase “What goes around comes around.” When I look in the newspaper and see that the world has returned to 1929, I think of Will Rogers. When I read about the tent cities going up in Nevada, I remember his words of wisdom. Whenever I stop to think about all the decent people who lost their homes and livelihoods while the crooks who stole them are not prosecuted, I remember these words:
“If stupidity got us into this mess, then why can’t it get us out?”
Your Most Gracious Majesty,
It has surely come to your attention that once again, your North American Colonies caused another worldwide stock market crash. We realize this is the second time in eighty years that we have done this, and we are very embarrassed about it. We sincerely hope that it has not caused you any inconvenience. Our thanks to the Bank of England for lending us over 80 billion dollars to pull our economy out of a hole of our own digging. Please extend our kindest regards to your loyal subjects in the Bank of England. We would have been in a considerable amount of trouble without them.
As we are on the subject of embarrassing mistakes, we would like to make amends for a blunder we made about 230 years ago when we rebelled against His Majesty George III. In hindsight we understand this to have been a very bad idea. We were not capable of self rule in 1776, and we have failed to become competent in the last two and a third centuries. Perhaps we in the Colonies suffer from a form of cultural Attention Deficit Disorder. Maybe we suffer from massive brain damage due to our low air pollution standards. Whatever the reasons, we keep ruining things for the rest of the world.
It is not as if we deliberately keep destroying the world economy. We have the very best intentions. You see, our present leaders promised us prosperity. They told us an unregulated market would create a stronger economy. They promised us better paying jobs, the sun, the stars, and the pretty moon. They even told us an unregulated market would be best for the whole world. It seemed they were telling us the truth, until the Tech Bubble burst in 2000. Next came the mortgage meltdown, and now the stock market crash. We just can’t seem to do anything right.
Of course, one of the problems is the leaders we keep choosing. I am sure Your Majesty can tell us a few stories about Lyndon Johnson’s gallbladder and Richard Nixon’s drinking. I can just imagine how difficult it was for you to make small talk with poor Mr. Reagan. People with Alzheimer’s do ramble on so. Let us take this opportunity to apologize for young Mr. Bush. We do hope your roses have recovered from him landing his helicopter on them.
Looking at Europe, it seems like you have grown since the last great war. You have socialized medicine and and a minimum standard of living. Meanwhile the United States keeps falling back to 1929. Your World Court has guaranteed civil rights for gays, lesbians, and trans people, but American gays still fear for their lives in many parts of the country. Your subjects enjoy all these benefits, and yet you have the prosperity to save the failing American economy.
There is no doubt about it. We Americans are not capable of self rule. We should not even let ourselves out of our homes without a keeper. Your Most Gracious Majesty, we most humbly beg you to save us from ourselves and take us back as a crown colony. We are most terribly sorry about the misunderstanding in 1776. We will officially change its name from the Revolutionary War to the Failed Rebellion. We will posthumously try Ben Franklin, George Washington, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson for treason and symbolically hang them in the Washington Mall, which will be renamed the Cornwallis Memorial Park. We will rename Washington, DC “Arnold” after Benedict Arnold, and place a statue of him on the White House Lawn. The White House will be renamed the Lord Governor’s Residence. We will even pay for the tea we so rudely dropped into Boston Harbor.
Please take us back. We’re sorry. We’ll be good. We’ll never do it again.
The American Colonists