Tag Archives | Democracy

The Return of COINTELPRO?

Picture: denis ponté

Tom McNamara, writing at Counterpunch:

“Democracies die behind closed doors” – Judge Damon J. Keith

For 15 years (1956-1971) the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) ran a broad and highly coordinated domestic intelligence / counterintelligence program known as COINTELPRO (COunter INTELligence PROgrams). What was originally deemed as a justifiable effort to protect the US during the Cold War from Soviet and Communist threats and infiltration, soon devolved into a program for suppressing domestic dissent and spying on American citizens. Approximately 20,000 people were investigated by the FBI based only on their political views and beliefs. Most were never suspected of having committed any crime.

The reasoning behind the program, as detailed in a 1976 Senate report, was that the FBI had “the duty to do whatever is necessary to combat perceived threats to the existing social and political order.” The fact that the “perceived threats” were usually American citizens engaging in constitutionally protected behaviour was apparently overlooked.

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The Prescience of Tocqueville

Alexis de Tocqueville Public Domain

Alexis de Tocqueville was amazingly observant and had an outsider perspective of American democracy. He was a deposed French Aristocrat from Normandy whose ancestors had fought in the battle of Hastings. His parents narrowly escaped the guillotine during the French Revolution. He came to America initially to study the Penal system but ended up writing his magnum opus Democracy in America, instead. He believed that democracy was providential, nonetheless, he expressed ambivalence to it. He observed then, that in contrast to his home country, America was beginning its democratic experiment with more or less a blank slate, whereas in France it had to establish itself over the legacy of aristocracy. So he often contrasted and compared American democracy with aristocracy.

I think of writers of Tocqueville’s era – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Herman Mellville – as having greater social intelligence. They seem a lot more invested than today’s writers in what they believed made individual people tick.… Read the rest

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Occupy the Debates

Picture: Flickr/DonkeyHotey (CC)

Occupy the Debates is encouraging activists and critical thinkers in every American city to organize their own events around the Presidential debates this month, fostering dialogue and dissent. Already there are events scheduled in San Diego, Denver (with political comedian Lee Camp and live music by Junkyard Empire), and here in my own beautiful San Francisco, on Mutiny Radio:

We’ll not only be live-streaming the debates in our gallery space and on the air, but we’ll also open up our microphones to the public to rebut the Master Debaters, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Both of these politicians are renowned liars, who sit in denial of the voice of the people. Get live on the air with Mutiny Radio DJs for each of the debates in October, and make your voice heard against their campaign cash machines! Discuss the issues that most likely won’t be covered by either corporate candidate: public banking, suppression of protest, discrimination, net neutrality, climate change, the NDAA, and the drone program!… Read the rest

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Baton Vs. Camera: Police Openly Hunt for Citizen Journalists (Video)

Via RT: As the consolidated corporate media machine fails in its function as the fourth estate, citizen journalists and independent press outlets are there to pick up the slack. But this important task is becoming increasingly threatened by the harsh treatment at the hands of the police force. Citizen based media is often targeted by police for reporting unfiltered truths, or they are lumped together with activists/protesters and beaten or arrested. As more and more Americans choose alternative news sources to find out what is really happening in their country, harassing those providing first hand reports muzzles the free flow of information and poses a threat to democracy. Abby Martin explores the subject for RT.
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Europeans Decide Greece Is the Laziest, Most Incompetent Nation in the EU (Greece Disagrees!)

We invented Democracy (with a capital "D"). Writes Derek Thompson in the Atlantic:
Greece is the hardest-working country in the EU! According to Greece. And only Greece. According to Britain, Germany, Spain, Poland, and the Czech Republic, it's the laziest country in Europe. Meanwhile, Germany is the most respected EU country, according to the Pew Global report, European Unity on the Rocks. And Greece appears to be living in a bizarro universe where 78% of its respondents held negative views of Germany. Three in five Greeks said their country had Europe's hardest working citizens. Half of the rest of the respondents from the other seven nations said Greece had the laziest workforce in Europe...
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Montana Wins 22 States (and Counting) Backing Over The Citizens United Fight

Seal Of MontanaFeel great if you live in the Treasure State. Reports the AP via the Guardian:

Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia are backing Montana in its fight to prevent the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision from being used to strike down laws restricting corporate spending in political campaigns.

The states led by New York are asking the high court to preserve Montana’s state-level regulations on corporate expenditures, according to a copy of a brief written by New York’s attorney general’s office and obtained by the Associated Press.

The supreme court is being asked to reverse a state court’s decision to uphold the Montana law. Virginia-based American Tradition Partnership is asking the nation’s high court to rule without a hearing because the group says the state law conflicts directly with the Citizens United decision that removed the federal ban on corporate campaign spending. The Supreme Court has blocked the Montana law until it can look at the case…

Read more here.… Read the rest

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Who Creates Jobs (and Other Critical Questions)

Help WantedTom Matlack writes on The Good Men Project:

The web is abuzz with TED’s decision not to let a former Amazon.com investor make his case for middle-class job creation. Meanwhile Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg gets ready to watch his $20 or so billion become liquid when his company opens trading this morning. The French and Greeks have elected liberal leaders who campaigned against austerity as the answer to the Euro debt crisis. And here in the United States the general election is kicking into high gear with the Romney campaign releasing this ad yesterday in key swing states.

Let’s try to get a few things straight here before resorting to mud slinging.

1) Any way you slice it we have a debt problem threatening to kill us.

Government spending here in the United States and across much of the developed world is completely out of control. As of March 2012, debt held by the public was $10.85 trillion or approximately 70% GDP, while the intragovernmental debt was $4.74 trillion or approximately 30% GDP.… Read the rest

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America Is Making Its Own Pilots Sick (Video)

F-22 RaptorDraw your own conclusions, but where active members of the military speak out, we all should be listening. As reported by 60 Minutes:
Military officers rarely speak out against their services, but in our lead story you'll hear from two elite pilots who question the safety of Air Force's most sophisticated, stealthy, and expensive fighter jet, the F-22 Raptor. Maj. Jeremy Gordon and Capt. Joshua Wilson have chosen to stop flying the F-22 because they say during some flights they and other pilots have experienced oxygen deprivation, disorientation, and worse. They are concerned about their safety in the air, as well as the long-term health consequences. The Air Force says it is doing all it can to investigate and solve the problem, and are keeping the jets in the air with careful supervision of the pilots.
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Iceberg Ahead: The Big Money That is Sinking Democracy

TitanicI keep thinking of that clear April night 100 years ago when the unsinkable RMS Titanic steamed towards New York. It was actually on its way to dock just a few blocks from where I live at what are now the Chelsea Piers. There was a sense of optimism abroad as a new record for a speedy transatlantic passage was about to be set.

There was music, dancing and fine wine. That is, until they saw that iceberg high in the water. The captain and his mates were aware that 80 percent of it was underwater and out of sight. They didn’t react in time.

Everyone knows the story—most recently recreated in 3D—but the lesson is really not just about that great ship that went down, or even the company that bypassed safety regulations, or even the hubris of the owners whose greed sent so many passengers to that legendary “watery grave.”

It was also about not seeing the dangers in front of us.… Read the rest

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