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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

America: Tyranny and Impoverishment Is Here!

It's present, hardening, and threatening to subvert all constitutional and social rights. Among others, three previous articles discussed the danger, accessed through the following links:

The first article covered post-9/11 police state laws, Executive Orders, Military Orders, as well as National and Homeland Security Presidential Directives (NSPDs and HSPDs). It addressed George Bush granting himself "Unitary Executive" authority to govern extrajudicially (a virtual dictator) in the name of national security, though no constitutional provisions permit it.

The second article discussed "Continuity of Government (COG)" authority under declared national or catastrophic emergency conditions, defined as:

"any incident (such as a terrorist attack), regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the US population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions."

COG is then defined as:

"a coordinated effort within the Federal Government's executive branch to ensure that National Essential Functions continue to be performed during a Catastrophic Emergency."

In other words, COG authority gives the president and DHS unprecedented police state powers to declare martial law without congressional approval, and be able to rule extrajudicially, free from constitutional constrains. It also lets the vice-president assume dictatorial powers:

"implemented in a manner that is consistent with, and facilitates effective implementation of, provisions of the Constitution concerning succession to the Presidency or the exercise of its powers, and the Presidential Succession Act of 1947 (3 U.S.C. 19), with consultation of the Vice President and, as appropriate, others involved. Heads of executive departments and agencies shall ensure that appropriate support is available to the Vice President and others involved as necessary to be prepared at all times to implement those provisions."

COG authority is renewed annually. Obama did it twice and will again in September, letting him govern dictatorially if he chooses.

The third article discussed how complicit Democrats and Republicans plan to destroy America's social contract to transfer maximum wealth to corporations and super-rich elites. Obama's out in front arranging it in dirty back room deals. It's a take the money and run scam, hollowing out America and impoverishing millions in the process.

Now a new threat. Paul Craig Roberts mentioned it in his article headlined, "Debt Ceiling Intransigence: Unintended Consequences," saying:

The current debt ceiling/budget cutting debate conceals a hidden issue - namely, that if resolution isn't achieved, Obama can use extrajudicial "presidential directives and executive orders in place, put there by (Bush to) declare a national emergency, suspend the debt ceiling limit, and continue to issue Treasury debt. This is exactly what would happen" to avoid default. If it occurs, it would create "a crisis beyond anything the world has ever seen."

Avoiding it extrajudicially, however, involves giving the president COG authority by other means for a different purpose. It would end congressional power, already surrendered on war and peace issues. "Now Congress would lose its power over debt, taxes, and the budget itself."

In fact, it might as well close shop and leave if it gives the president sole governing power on issues mattering most. Will it happen? Perhaps with a looming August 2 deadline, but maneuvering could extend it until September 30. The FY end may be the real drop dead date by which the debt ceiling issue must be resolved.

It will be now or weeks later. Default won't happen because the consequences would be too catastrophic. However, popular interests will be sacrificed to avoid it.

At the same time, Senate party leaders have another solution in mind, weakening constitutional power with it. Proposed by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R. KY) and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D. NV), it would establish a Super Congress, an idea a despot would love as one step from a Super President, aka a dictator.

The McConnell/Reid idea would empower 12 lawmakers, six from each party, to fast-track legislation through both Houses without amendments. In other words, Big Money-written bills would be voted on up or down, no changes. It will facilitate ending social contract protections and enact more police state enforcement laws, crushing opposition to transfer all public and private wealth to capital interests running America, making it more than ever unfit to live it.

The deal is done, perhaps with Super Congress authority, an idea House Speaker John Boehner (R. OH) endorses in two steps. In fact, multiple steps will entirely destroy America's social contract, leaving working households on their own sink or swim.

All New Deal/Great Society programs will end. Privatizing profits while socializing losses on steroids will accelerate more than ever. Poverty, homelessness, hunger, depravation and despair will grow. America will resemble Guatemala in the worst sense.

Obama's duplicitous rhetoric seduces Americans to support it, the same "shared sacrifice" baloney that's all sacrifice and no sharing. His latest July 25 monologue dripped with cynicism, asking Americans to endorse their own demise, at the same lavishing handouts on corporations and America's super-rich, omitting details to conceal them.

Last year, his National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility (NCFRF) laid the framework, the hellish Simpson/Bowles agenda, calling for:

-- ending or capping middle class tax breaks, including deductions for home mortgage interest and tax-free employer provided medical insurance;

-- taxing capital gains and dividends the same as ordinary income; long-term capital gains and qualified dividends are currently taxed at 15%;

-- lowering income tax rates dramatically to 9, 15 and 24%, down from six current brackets ranging from 10 - 35% for income over $373,650;

-- slashing corporate tax rates from the top 35% rate to 26%, combined with eliminating some deductions, but creating loopholes that more than make up the difference;

-- making permanent the research and development tax credit;

-- making deeper Medicare cuts; increasing Medicaid co-pays; slashing $54 billion from graduate medical education; and enacting "comprehensive tort reform," making it harder for aggrieved patients to file malpractice suits;

-- raising the Social Security retirement age to 69 by 2075; reducing cost-of-living increases, now based on annual inflation rates; raising the payroll tax ceiling to $200,000, letting million dollar earners off the hook like now;

-- cutting the federal work force 10% by 2015, adding to unemployment rolls;

-- raising the federal gasoline tax by 15 cents a gallon and imposing "user fees" on motorists - to have workers fund the federal transportation and highway spending program, not big monied interests profiting most from them; and

-- cutting $100 billion in military spending, including administration, inefficiencies, "unnecessary" weapons (ones Pentagon brass don't want in lieu of others they won't sacrifice), force contingents on overseas bases, and healthcare benefits for military retirees through enacted premiums and higher co-pays.

Unmentioned were the Pentagon's open-ended black budgets, supplemental Iraq and Afghanistan appropriations, added spending for Libya and other operations, and commitment to permanent imperial wars. Also that military spending will grow annually, unimpeded because America's business is war, so working people have to sacrifice to fund them.

Under COG, Super Congress, or other authority, Big Money runs America. Obama serves it dutifully as a crime boss, subservient to a higher power. A moral coward, he's also unprincipled, dishonest and corrupt, a weasel impersonating a populist, a disgrace to his people and all working Americans who deserve better.

Never on his watch. He now even abandoned taxing the rich, what he never had in mind in the first place, putting a lie to his "shared sacrifice" deception.

In Obama's America, only wealth and power interests matter, everyone else abandoned on their own. Only a Democrat could pull it off, a smooth-talking con man. Who better than a Black one.

In light of how utterly rigged our so-called "election" system is in favor of the corporate-owned Democratic and Republican parties, it is delusional to think we can vote our way out of this mess.

The only chance we have (as I've said countless times before) is for a critical mass of informed and "mad as hell" citizens to unite across both party and ideological lines behind an agreed-upon policy agenda, and that they do so for the express purpose of exerting non-stop, round-the-clock pressure on Congress to implement that agenda:

Anything short of that is guaranteed to fail.


"In politics a person is not a citizen if the person's only function is to vote. Voters choose people who, in turn, act like citizens. They argue. They establish the forms within which people live their lives. They make politics. The people who merely vote for them merely make politicians. People who argue for their positions in a town meeting are acting like citizens. People who simply drop scraps of paper in a box or pull a lever are not acting like citizens; they are acting like consumers picking between prepackaged items. They had nothing to do with the items. All they can do is pick what is. They cannot actively participate in making what should be."

-- Karl Hess, Community Technology, p. 10

"Social reform is not to be secured by noise and shouting; by complaints and denunciation; by the formation of parties, or the making of revolutions; but by the awakening of thought and the progress of ideas. Until there be correct thought, there cannot be right action; and when there is correct thought, right action will follow. Power is always in the hands of the masses of men. What oppresses the masses is their own ignorance, their own short-sighted selfishness."

-- Henry George, Social Problems, p. 242

J. Hunter O'Dell, one of [Martin Luther] King's early lieutenants in the movement, recognized the fixation with media developing among civil rights activists and lamented the consequences.

"We all recognize that technologically this is a media age," O'Dell wrote. "But it was disastrous for us to rely primarily upon these corporate forms of mass communication to get our message and analysis out to the public....In the end, it means a new kind of addiction to media rather than being in charge of our own agenda and relying on mass support as our guarantee that ultimately the news-covering apparatus must give recognition to our authority."

O'Dell's point is that the civil rights movement acquired its "authority" to articulate large political aspirations, not because network television came to Selma or Birmingham, but from the hundreds and even thousands of meetings in black churches, week after week, across the South over many years. The dramatic spectacles that appeared on TV were the product of those mobilizing sermons and dialogues, not the other way around.

The movement's organizing processes, O'Dell noted, contained all of the functional elements of a responsible political organization -- mass education and communication as well as continuing accountability between the leaders and the supporting throngs. "The power of any movement for democracy," O'Dell emphasized, "is always dependent on such reciprocal relations between the mass of people and their leadership."

These elements are missing, it seems, from much of the irregular citizens' politics that tries to emulate King's heroic model. Activists hold press conferences or arrange dramatic events to prod the political system. But patiently built reciprocal relationships between leaders and followers, the laborious tasks of education and communication, are often not even attempted. To be blunt, there is a hollowness behind many of the placards and politicians know it.

Succeeding generations of political activists, it often seems, copied the glamorous surfaces of the civil rights legacy -- the hot moments of national celebrity so well remembered -- while skipping over the hard part, the organizational sinew that was underneath.

-- William Greider, Who Will Tell the People, p. 206

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