Ralph Nader: President Obama’s a ‘war criminal’
posted by Keito
2012-09-26 20:53:26'It’s no surprise that Ralph Nader isn’t a fan of former President George W. Bush. After all, the longtime activist ran against him in both 2000 and 2004. But Nader’s even less a fan of President Barack Obama, if only because he thinks Obama was capable of so much more.
On issues related to the military and foreign policy, Obama’s worse than Bush, “in the sense that he’s more aggressive, more illegal worldwide,” Nader told POLITICO, going so far as to call Obama a “war criminal.”
“He’s gone beyond George W. Bush in drones, for example. He thinks the world is his plate, that national sovereignties mean nothing, drones can go anywhere. They can kill anybody that he suspects and every Tuesday he makes the call on who lives and who dies, supposed suspects in places like Yemen and Pakistan and Afghanistan, and that is a war crime and he ought to be held to account.”
Nader called Obama “below average because he raised expectation levels. What expectation level did George W. Bush raise?… He’s below average because he’s above average in his intellect and his knowledge of legality, which is violating with abandon.”
“I don’t know whether George W. Bush ever read the Constitution,” said Nader. “This man taught the Constitution, and this is what we got.”
Nader gave Obama this much: He’s the lesser of two evils when compared to GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. But he said Obama is “the more effective evil because he brings credibility, he brings the democratic heritage to it, he has legitimized the lawless war-mongering and militarism abroad of George W. Bush.”
When asked to highlight some positives about Obama’s presidency, Nader said, “I like the way he’s emphasized renewable energy, even though he still supports nuclear and fossil fuels, as if they’re all the same, all of the above. But he does speak more about renewables than any president perhaps since Jimmy Carter.” (Nader will be speaking at the Green Festival in Washington, D.C., later this month.)
And: “He wanted to have a public works program, he really did want to have a jobs program and the Republicans crushed it and that would have created a lot of jobs that couldn’t be exported to China.”
Nader doesn’t let Republicans off easy, either, calling them “the worst Republican Party in history.”
“We’re dealing with a real sick, decaying Democratic Party that can’t defend the country against the cruelest, most ignorant, most anti-worker, most war-mongering, most Wall Street–indentured Republican Party in its history, since the 1850s.”
As for Romney, Nader said “he’s not the old Romney, governor of Massachusetts. He’s had a character and personality makeover. He’s just bought into the extreme right wing of the Republican Party, represented by Paul Ryan, and I don’t think he’s going to be able to shake that. He’s basically a corporation running for president masquerading as a human being.”
For the first time in a long time, Nader is not running for president this year. From the way he puts it, he may be through with such campaigns.
“I’ve run several times and we’ve documented the two-party tyranny, which means they’re very adept at excluding, with a whole variety of ways, third parties.”
It’s not, however, because he’s been billed by some as a political spoiler.
“That’s a politically bigoted words, as if we’re second-class citizens,” said Nader. “Since we’re all trying to get votes from one another, either we’re all spoilers of one another or none of us are spoilers.”'
How Do You Take Your Poison?
posted by Keito
2012-09-25 21:32:48'We will all swallow our cup of corporate poison. We can take it from nurse Romney, who will tell us not to whine and play the victim, or we can take it from nurse Obama, who will assure us that this hurts him even more than it hurts us, but one way or another the corporate hemlock will be shoved down our throats. The choice before us is how it will be administered. Corporate power, no matter who is running the ward after January 2013, is poised to carry out U.S. history’s most savage assault against the poor and the working class, not to mention the Earth’s ecosystem. And no one in power, no matter what the bedside manner, has any intention or ability to stop it.
If you insist on participating in the cash-drenched charade of a two-party democratic election at least be clear about what you are doing. You are, by playing your assigned role as the Democratic or Republican voter in this political theater, giving legitimacy to a corporate agenda that means your own impoverishment and disempowerment. All the things that stand between us and utter destitution—Medicaid, food stamps, Pell grants, Head Start, Social Security, public education, federal grants-in-aid to America’s states and cities, the Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program (WIC), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and home-delivered meals for seniors—are about to be shredded by the corporate state. Our corporate oligarchs are harvesting the nation, grabbing as much as they can, as fast as they can, in the inevitable descent.
We will be assaulted this January when automatic spending reductions, referred to as “the fiscal cliff,” begin to dismantle and defund some of our most important government programs. Mitt Romney will not stop it. Barack Obama will not stop it.
And while Romney has been, courtesy of the magazine Mother Jones, exposed as a shallow hypocrite, Obama is in a class by himself. There is hardly a campaign promise from 2008 that Obama has not broken. This list includes his pledges to support the public option in health care, close Guantanamo, raise the minimum wage, regulate Wall Street, support labor unions in their struggles with employers, reform the Patriot Act, negotiate an equitable peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, curb our imperial expansion in the Middle East, stop torture, protect reproductive rights, carry out a comprehensive immigration reform, cut the deficit by half, create 5 million new energy jobs and halt home foreclosures. Obama, campaigning in South Carolina in 2007, said that as president he would fight for the right of collective bargaining. “I’d put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself, I’ll … walk on that picket line with you as president of the United States of America,” he said. But when he got his chance to put on those “comfortable pair of shoes” during labor disputes in Madison, Wis., and Chicago he turned his back on working men and women.
Obama, while promising to defend Social Security, also says he stands behind the planned cuts outlined by his deficit commission, headed by Morgan Stanley board member Erskine Bowles and former Sen. Alan Simpson, a Wyoming Republican. The Bowles-Simpson plan calls for cutting 0.3 percentage points from the annual cost-of-living adjustment in the Social Security program. The annual reduction would slowly accumulate. After a decade it would mean a 3 percent cut. After two decades it would mean a 6 percent cut. The retirement age would be raised to 69. And those on Social Security who continued to work and made more than $40,000 a year would be penalized with further reductions. Obama’s payroll tax cuts have, at the same time, served to undermine the solvency of Social Security, making it an easier target for the finance corporations that seek to destroy the program and privatize the funds.
But that is just the start. Cities and states are frantically staving off collapse. They cannot pay for most pension plans and are borrowing at higher and higher interest rates to keep themselves afloat. The country’s 19,000 municipalities face steadily declining or stagnant property tax revenues, along with spiraling costs. Annual pension payments for state and local plans more than doubled to 15.7 percent of payrolls in 2011 from 6.4 percent a decade ago, according to a study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. And local governments, which made some $50 billion in pension contributions in 2010, face unfunded pension liabilities of $3 trillion and unfunded health benefit liabilities of more than $1 trillion, according to The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government. State and local government spending fell at a rate of 2.1 percent in the second quarter of this year, according to the Commerce Department. It was the 11th consecutive quarterly reduction in expenditures. And in the past year alone local governments cut 66,000 jobs, mostly those of teachers and other school employees, reported The Wall Street Journal, which accumulated this list of grim statistics.
The costs of our most basic needs, from food to education to health care, are at the same time being pushed upward with no control or regulation. Tuition and fees at four-year colleges climbed 300 percent between 1990 and 2011, fueling the college loan crisis that has left graduates, most of them underemployed or unemployed, with more than $1 trillion in debt. Health care costs over the same period have risen 150 percent. Food prices have climbed 10 percent since June, according to the World Bank. There are now 46.7 million U.S. citizens, and one in three children, who depend on food stamps. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency under Obama has, meanwhile, expelled 1.5 million immigrants, a number that dwarfs deportations carried out by his Republican predecessor. And while we are being fleeced, the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve Bank has since 2008 doled out $16 trillion to national and global financial institutions and corporations.
Fiscal implosion is only a matter of time. And the corporate state is preparing. Obama’s assault on civil liberties has outpaced that of George W. Bush. The refusal to restore habeas corpus, the use of the Authorization to Use Military Force Act to justify the assassination of U.S. citizens, the passing of the FISA Amendments Act to monitor and eavesdrop on tens of millions of citizens without a warrant, the employment of the Espionage Act six times to threaten whistle-blowers inside the government with prison time, and the administration’s recent emergency appeal of U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest’s permanent injunction of Section 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act give you a hint of the shackles the Democrats, as well as the Republicans, intend to place on all those who contemplate dissent.
But perhaps the most egregious assault will be carried out by the fossil fuel industry. Obama, who presided over the repudiation of the Kyoto Accords and has done nothing to halt the emission of greenhouse gases, reversed 20 years of federal policy when he permitted the expansion of fracking and offshore drilling. And this acquiescence to big oil and big coal, no doubt useful in bringing in campaign funds, spells disaster for the planet. He has authorized drilling in federally protected lands, along the East Coast, Alaska and four miles off Florida’s Atlantic beaches. Candidate Obama in 2008 stood on the Florida coastline and vowed never to permit drilling there.
You get the point. Obama is not in charge. Romney would not be in charge. Politicians are the public face of corporate power. They are corporate employees. Their personal narratives, their promises, their rhetoric and their idiosyncrasies are meaningless. And that, perhaps, is why the cost of the two presidential campaigns is estimated to reach an obscene $2.5 billion. The corporate state does not produce a product that is different. It produces brands that are different. And brands cost a lot of money to sell.
You can dismiss those of us who will in protest vote for a third-party candidate and invest our time and energy in acts of civil disobedience. You can pride yourself on being practical. You can swallow the false argument of the lesser of two evils. But ask yourself, once this nightmare starts kicking in, who the real sucker is.'
Metapunditedgy from reddit talks about voting in the upcoming US elections...
posted by Keito
2012-09-25 21:22:28"I'm a former Obama voter. I asked myself:
1) Did Obama stand up for regular Americans? No.
2) Did Obama fight for what he promised? No.
3) Did Obama sell out to the corporate and military interests? Undeniably.
4) Is Obama REALLY that different from Bush? Not in so many ways that matter.
5) Even if the spin is true, do I want to vote for the gradual decline of my country? No.
But the real kicker for me is:
6) Do I believe that Obama would do a better job than Stein (or other true liberals)? No.
I don't understand the point of voting for someone that you think has betrayed you. If you think Obama has done a great job for you, then great, vote for him. Otherwise vote for what you believe in.
ALSO... true liberals don't have to win the election. Winning influence is a good start."
Chronicle of a death foretold
posted by Keito
2012-09-23 20:48:09Guantanamo Bay prisoner Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif died without having ever been charged with a crime.
"I am happy to express from this darkness and draw a true picture of the condition in which I exist. I am moving towards a dark cave and a dark life in the shadow of a dark prison. This is a prison that does not know humanity, and does not know anything except the language of power, oppression and humiliation for whoever enters it. It does not differentiate between a criminal and the innocent."
~Guantanamo inmate Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif in a letter to his lawyer, dated December 26th, 2010
Two weeks ago, the Pentagon quietly released a statement that another Guantanamo detainee had died in custody, the ninth since the prison was opened in 2001. Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif, a 32-year-old man from Yemen who had spent eleven years incarcerated, was found dead in his cell on September 8.
The cause of his death has been recorded as unknown and may never truly be known, but Latif had long suffered from feelings of extreme depression during his time in jail, having made several suicide attempts in the previous years.
Latif had long complained of abuse by prison staff and of his deteriorating physical and mental condition during his imprisonment. Two years earlier, he had written that guards "entered my cell on a regular basis. They throw me and drag me on the floor... they strangle me and press hard behind my ears until I lose consciousness". In 2009 he slit his wrists in an attempt to end his life, writing about the incident later to his lawyer to say that his circumstances in Guantanamo "make death more desirable than living".
Latif was initially captured by Pakistani bounty hunters in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks when a mixture of confusion and desire for vengeance resulted in the effective labelling of any military age Arab males found in Afghanistan and Pakistan as potential terrorists.
"They throw me and drag me on the floor... they strangle me and press hard behind my ears until I lose consciousness."
~Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif
He had been receiving medical care in Amman, Jordan for chronic injuries he had received from a car crash in Yemen that had fractured his skull and caused permanent damage to his hearing. Lured to Pakistan by the promise of cheap healthcare, once the war started he ended up caught in the dragnet of opportunistic bounty hunters who detained him, proclaimed him a terrorist and handed him over to the US military in neighbouring Afghanistan.
Later it would come out that such bounty hunters had been unscrupulous, detaining individuals and labelling them as terrorists baselessly in order to collect large cash incentives from the US military for their handover. No evidence was ever found connecting him to terrorism or violent militancy of any kind, and later medical examinations taken of him upon intake into military custody would corroborate his story regarding the nature of the head injuries he had come to Pakistan to treat. Indeed, when he was apprehended he was found not to be in possession of weapons or extremist literature of any kind - what he had with him were copies of his medical records.
While during all his years in custody Latif has never been charged with nor convicted of any crime related to terrorism or any other offence, his death now is made even more tragic due to the fact that he had been recommended for release from Guantanamo by the Department of Defence since as early as 2004, and again in 2007, which said at the time that it had determined that he "is not known to have participated in any combatant/terrorist training". In 2009 a special task force commissioned by the Obama administration also ruled that Latif should be released, a decision which its internal mandates specified could only be reached by the unanimous consensus of all US intelligence agencies. However despite being cleared for release he remained in military custody as a decision had been made not to repatriate any prisoners to Yemen due to ongoing political instability in the country, effectively leaving him and others like him in a state of indefinite detention.
Despite this, Latif fought his own long legal battle through the civilian court system, taking his case all the way to the Supreme Court in order to prove his innocence and win his release. Finally after years of legal challenges in 2010 an order for Latif's immediate release was given by US District Judge Henry Kennedy, who called the allegations against him "unconvincing" and in a 32-page order ruled that the government had failed to provide evidence that Latif had been part of al-Qaeda or any other militant group and ordering it to "take all necessary and appropriate diplomatic steps to facilitate Latif's release forthwith".
Despite this, the Department of Justice successfully appealed the judges' decision, and in a 2-1 ruling that Latif's release order was rescinded; effectively on the grounds that the allegations against him must be taken as accurate if they are claimed to be so by the government. The dissenting opinion lambasted the ruling as rigging "the game in the governments favour", with the ultimate result being to once more snatch away the prospect of freedom from Adnan Latif. Latif had placed his faith in the fairness and impartiality of the US legal system and it failed him utterly, inventing new grounds to keep him incarcerated and in the words of the dissenting judge, "moving the goalposts" in order to ensure that no matter what evidence existed regarding his innocence he would remain behind bars.
Throughout this time, almost a decade of his young life, Adnan Latif remained in Guantanamo Bay. He was interrogated hundreds of times and by his own account suffered frequent physical abuse and degradation at the hands of his captors. In a poem, he described the prison guards who were his warders as "artists of torture, pain, fatigue, insults and humiliation". He joined other prisoners in a hunger strike in protest of their continued imprisonment, being forcibly tied to a special restraining chair and force-fed liquids through his nose twice a day for years. Despite describing the pain of the feeding as being like "having a dagger shoved down your throat", Latif continued to remain on strike and continued his strike up to the time of his death. In the words of his lawyer David Remes, "This is a man who would not accept his situation... He would not accept his mistreatment. He would not go gently into that good night."
As the years dragged on and the prospect of him ever being released began to grow more remote, Latif's mental and physical condition continued to markedly deteriorate. During his incarceration, he wrote an abundance of letters and poetry which offer a window into the utter despair and hopeless into which his life had come; seemingly forever confined to a prison his writings described as "a piece of hell that kills everything, the spirit, the body and kicks away all the symptoms of health from them".
Locked for nearly 10 years in an island prison thousands of miles away from his home, away from his loved ones and from everything which one would find familiar and comforting in life, Latif sank deeper into depression and hopelessness as the futility of the legal efforts towards winning his freedom became clear. In one of his last letters to his lawyer he tells him: "Do whatever you wish to do, the issue [of my defence] is over", and includes with it a message of farewell written both to him personally as well to the world at large: "With all my pains, I say goodbye to you and the cry of death should be enough for you. A world power failed to safeguard peace and human rights and from saving me. I will do whatever I am able to do to rid myself of the imposed death on me at any moment of this prison... the soul that insists to end it all and leave this life which is no longer anymore a life."
Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif died on September 8, 2012. He was described by those who knew him at Guantanamo as a slightly built man with a sensitive demeanour who was tormented by the circumstances of his life and the inescapable nightmare he found himself trapped in.
The booking photograph taken of him by military officials in prison show a young man whose pain is not sublimated but clearly written on his face; a visceral expression of sadness and torment.
He died without ever having been charged with a crime, and while we may never know the exact circumstances of his death, whether he took his own life, whether he died as the result of physical abuse by his captors - as many other detainees are believed to have - or whether his body simply collapsed after years of stress, his attorney offered his own perspective: "He was so fragile, he was so tormented that it would not surprise me if he had committed suicide... However you look at it, it was Guantanamo that killed him."
His own words paint the picture of a man who had lost faith in a society which had treated him with unrelenting malice and cruelty: "I have seen death so many times... Everything is over, life is going to hell in my situation... America, what has happened to you?"
Richard M Stallman: "Jill Stein for President"
posted by Keito