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Moral Compass

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Member since: Thu Apr 30, 2009, 11:22 AM
Number of posts: 881

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Our Manchurian President

We've been waiting for the final term of the Obama administration. When it came it started off well. Even though he had to deal with a Republican Congress and Senate he started issuing executive orders when nothing else was getting done. Immigration? Check. Opening relations with Cuba? Check. A full throated defense of the ACA? Check. Women’s rights? Check.
But then things started getting wonky. There was this thing called the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) and it had been classified so that even members of the appropriate legislative committees could only read the draft provisions of the agreement but were legally enjoined from revealing anything about them. The groups drafting the TPP were composed of representatives of the largest corporations in the world and represented virtually every industry from pharmaceuticals to oil and gas.
It was very strange indeed.
Then Obama started pushing for fast track authority on the TPP (it will extend to other agreements as well). Hard. Harder than he ever pushed for anything.
He wanted fast track authority that would allow him (or his successor) to push through the TPP without modification of any kind. No amendments. No nothing.
When the Democratic leadership balked because of some of the details on extra-national tribunals, intellectual property rights, and a complete lack of anything to compensate those that will most likely lose their livelihoods if the TPP is enacted (if you thought there was a giant sucking sound when NAFTA was enacted wait until the TPP)—well he joined up with John Boehner and Mitch McConnell. Yesterday, 6/23/15 it looks like Obama got his fast track authority.
Which brings me to my central metaphor—Obama is the Manchurian Candidate made flesh. But the plot is not by the Communists. It is being run by the corporatists. If you look back at the last 50 years it has been the large corporations that have been pushing for everything from financial deregulation to the granting of constitutional rights to corporations.
I always thought that it was awfully damn easy for Obama, a freshman Senator from Illinois, to ascend to the Presidency. The national media (owned by a small handful of the largest corporations) got behind him. The Republicans ran a completely inept campaign that was doomed once Sarah Palin was selected as McCain’s running mate. The most powerful people in the land jumped on board without hesitation. The election was a complete rout. And so was the next.
Throughout it all the Republicans played the heavies--fighting Obama tooth and nail on everything—even the things they agreed with him on.
If Obama was for it they were against it.
The ACA was patterned on a plan put forth by the Heritage Foundation that was actually implemented by Romney in Massachusetts. The outrage—the vitriol and bile heaped on Obamacare was (and still is) unrestrained.
Mitch McConnell publicly said that his number one goal was to ensure that Obama did not serve a 2nd term and worked hard on delivering that. Boehner , well he’s like Mikey, he hated everything that Obama ever did.

Until the last couple of weeks. Suddenly, he and Mitch and Obama well…they’re working together now to get that fast track authority and then the TPP. Boehner, who has tolerated all sorts of bad behavior from his tea party crew dropped the hammer on three of the most uncooperative and yanked them off their committees. Obama all of a sudden looks like LBJ on this issue—twisting arms and making late night phone calls. McConnell, who has never met a filibuster he didn’t like especially if it is to stop something that Obama wants to do—well, he’s helping line up his entire caucus and helping line up Democratic votes.
It makes me wonder… what if it was all just theater all along?
The TPP, based on the little I’ve been able to get to, allows for the creation of an extra national power structure that can sue and win against national governments if a corporation’s ability to make profits is constrained.
The ruling body will be extra judicial. The proceedings will be binding to the signatories. The proceedings will also be secret.
Intellectual property rights will be vastly expanded and lengthened. Patents on drugs will be extended with ease if small modifications are made to the existing formula. If local regulations and law get in the way they can be challenged in a secret tribunal—a tribunal whose rulings are binding on signatories.
Barriers between countries will be erased.
The little I know about the TPP leaves me with the impression that the largest global corporations in the world were given a seat at the table and they have written a draft that is the wish list of every corporation in the world. This is an agreement that could fundamentally alter the balance of power between governments and large, globe spanning corporations.
The TPP did not just start this year or the year before. This has been going on a long time.
What if this was the end game all along? What if this was Obama’s primary task—to make sure that this became solid reality. What if that is why his way into the White House was so smooth and his inauguration almost a coronation? What if all that happened after that was to distract us from what has really been the goal all along—cementing globalism into place?
I feel that sickening feeling that tells me that the other shoe is dropping. Based on the little I know I see a global, corporate based hegemony being established. This hegemony will exist completely independently from the nation states that have negotiated it into existence. I believe that we are seeing to creation of global corporate governance that will render much of our law, customs, and traditions moot.
What if this is what was planned all along and Obama was our Manchurian Candidate?
That’s sure what it looks like from here.
Posted by Moral Compass | Wed Jun 24, 2015, 09:36 PM (1 replies)

A discordant note in the national dialogue...

Cruz, my junior Senator, continues to say things that are strange by even Republican standards.

He is an odd one by any measure. Obviously filled with a smug sense of superiority that he can't help but project.

When he tries to be a regular guy it always seems to fall flat.
Posted by Moral Compass | Mon Jun 22, 2015, 03:41 PM (0 replies)

Not even entirely competent

Jeb Bush has shown himself over the years to be corrupt, misogynistic, an abuser of power--but ultimately he has shown himself to be essentially incompetent.

The botched roll-out of his campaign for President is in keeping with most of what he has done in his past. He personally promoted a corrupt water pump company in Nigeria. He decided to hitch his wagon to the Schiavo case where a decision that was intensely private was turned into a political football. He promoted a Scarlet Letter law in Florida where women who had babies out of wedlock were publicly shamed by having their names published in the local papers.

But where he really screwed up was in not bringing home the goods during his brother's campaign for President in 2000. He was tasked with purging voter rolls so that his brother could count on Florida. He failed. Utterly. This turned into an incredible cluster fuck and forced the Supreme Court to manufacture case law so that George W. Bush could be anointed President when it was pretty obvious that Al Gore was going to win in the end.

If you are going to elect someone corrupt and completely flawed as President that person should be at the very least competent.

Jeb is not even that.
Posted by Moral Compass | Mon Jun 15, 2015, 07:10 PM (0 replies)

And so, they shot him...

And so, they shot him…

We are all familiar with the way some classic fairy tales end, “And they lived happily ever after.”…

In the real world, in the 21st century, in the United States of America—we are seeing many real stories about citizen interactions with their local police that have a different ending. It goes more like this,“And so, they shot him.”

The stories have certain attributes in common: the person shot is not white or is of immigrant origin; the person is either mentally ill or has ingested something which is causing them to be agitated or unable to fully comprehend whatever instructions are being screamed at them; when they are violently assaulted by the police using fists, feet, Tasers, batons etc. the police perceive them as resisting (even when that resistance is involuntary writhing or thrashing in pain); they are unarmed; at the end of it all they end up dead.

Oh, and one more thing—even when charges are preferred against the officers who admittedly gunned down an unarmed man or woman the officers are either not indicted or are subsequently acquitted (in spite of evidence that would assuredly but you or me in prison for a long, long time). They are then allowed to go forth and protect other victims.

Here are a few links to peruse if you want some concrete examples: http://www.rawstory.com/2015/06/star-student-killed-by-long-beach-police-was-going-to-change-the-world-sister/; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Freddie_Gray;
The sad thing about accumulating these links is multifold: it took no time at all; and since I initially wrote this short piece there have been quite a few more suspect police shootings. I can’t keep up with it. I also found that I forgot to include one of the worst. In this one a police office was quoted as saying, “We don’t have time for this!” right before shooting a mentally ill teenager (in his own home) in the chest during an altercation that involved a screwdriver. Keith Vidal had already been tased but was still resisting. At least in this case the cop has been charged. Link is an update on the progress towards a trial (http://stateportpilot.com/topstory/article_6a739198-9680-11e4-b2d5-f39b55c54548.html).

These incidents are happening in every region of the country. This isn’t something restricted to some cultural backwater.

Here is the answer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graham_v._Connor. This article is long and technical but, it is utterly meaningful and very, very important. This case is what allowed the incredibly loose and liberal use of force policies that all police forces train to.
The funny thing is that this case only involved your basic police brutality and did not involve any shooting. Yet from this poison branch has fallen some very poisonous fruit.

The get-of-jail-free card that you’ll find in every single one of these cases is the word “feel” or “felt”. If the officer feels that he or she is threatened then it is open season. It matters not that they were very, very wrong. What matters is that they felt threatened.

The notion that a suspect has to be armed to justify a police shooting went right out the proverbial window once the Graham v. Connor decision was rendered.

In and spite of there being no use of a weapon in this case Graham v. Connor established a standard by which all police use of force is measured and judged: if there is a reasonable feeling on the part of the police officer(s) that they are in danger they can use force up to and including deadly force (sic).

I put (sic) there, because that is my distillation of the decision.

This case was the case that opened up a Pandora’s Box of bad policing. Every cop in any U.S. police force serving today is trained to this standard. They are told by their trainers that their number one goal every day is to return home to their families safely and that they are free to use whatever level of force they feel is necessary. So, the standard is purely subjective. The objective requirement that existed in the past that there be a weapon such as a gun or knife involved hasn’t been in place since 1989.
So, we have one case after another where the officer testifies under oath that they felt that their lives were in danger and charges are either dismissed, not brought at all, or the officer in question is acquitted in court. And so, we now have cases like this http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/24/us/michael-brelo-cleveland-police-officer-acquitted-of-manslaughter-in-2012-deaths.html?_r=0; http://time.com/3833489/dallas-screwdriver-police-shooting-grand-jury/;http://www.cbsnews.com/news/video-dallas-police-shoot-kill-mentally-ill-man-with-screwdriver/;http://www.inquisitr.com/2134902/pastor-killed-by-police-during-rescue-gone-wrong-wife-demands-to-see-dashcam-footage/.

The genie is truly out of the bottle on this one. Until we fix this there will be one story after another. Many will be truly egregious, unwarranted uses of deadly force. Often the officer will pay with their job—but in many other cases there will be no repercussions. Occasionally, there will actually be criminal charges that stick.

Until this case is replaced by a new standard nothing will change. It will remain unsafe to call the police if you have a relative that is experiencing a mental illness episode. You cannot safely even argue with the police if they are beating the hell out of you for no discernible reason. We will all have to understand that the police are now an occupying force and you and your safety and security are not a priority.

What changed in 1989 is that no one on any police force has any duty to deescalate any situation. Rather they can go to full violent mode if they feel threatened.

Until there is a case that reestablishes some sort of requirement that there be an actual credible threat nothing will change. There will be the drip, drip, drip of one story after another where the police feeling threatened open fire. They are trained to do this. This standard has turned much of the nation’s police into jumpy, frightened Barney Fifes.

Posted by Moral Compass | Sun Jun 14, 2015, 02:08 PM (3 replies)

Why is Bernie surging?

Why is Bernie surging? The national media is doing everything they can to not give him air time or column inches. He is, after all, screwing up the pre-written narrative of Hillary Clinton’s coronation. The 1st female President triumphantly ascending to the Oval office after the first African-American President. This is just good television. It works, dammit! And this old New York Jew shows up and is creating a hell of a disturbance. Why? Why is anybody listening to him in spite of NPR, the New York Times, the Washington Post, FOX, CNN all doing their best to paint him as a wild-eyed, frothing radical leftist?
Well, for a whole host of reasons. Bernie Sanders is not to the left of Dwight D. Eisenhower or Richard Nixon. He is, however, to the left of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. And therein lies the rub.
His ideas resonate. They do not sound either radical or impractical. He believes in many of the same things that the Tea Party believes in. He is not a corporatist.
What he is--is fundamentally honest. He is speaking from a mind informed by his heart. He believes what he is saying. He is a very, very dangerous man. When he talks I have no sense that he is trying to blow smoke up my metaphorical skirt. His message is not calibrated nor is there some democratic equivalent of Frank Lutz standing behind him telling him what words to use. This guy is the real deal and his populist message is being drunk in by the thirsty masses. I have a sense that this is one of those times where the events will get out ahead of the media and they will have to revert to what they should be doing—reporting not editorializing. Rather than defining the narrative they will be left to try and keep up with it.
It is possible that this old man might be the leader that we hoped Barack Obama would be.
Our so very well entrenched power structure (which I assure you is deeply bipartisan) is being made very nervous by this gentleman. He has nothing to lose. He cannot be bought.
The attacks against him will only increase from here on in.
Posted by Moral Compass | Sun Jun 14, 2015, 12:19 PM (1 replies)

The injuries and the subsequent death are themselves evidence of excessive force

The police who are always allowed to investigate themselves will always exonerate themselves.

Until we have citizen staffed boards of inquiry this will go on and on and on... And even then I'm not sure the problem would not remain.

Juries of citizens routinely exonerate the police in the most egregious cases.

The police are trained to instantly escalate when encountering any resistance. Resistance is to be met with overwhelming force.

He resisted. They met this with incapacitating force.

The video starts once they'd cuffed him. What happened before that? He was clearly taken down very, very hard and was already badly injured. There is no video of what happened in the van when he was most likely struggling in his restraints due to his agony. So, they stopped and forcefully further restrained him. I can imagine he might have been screaming so that a nice quick punch to the throat to shut him up might have been in order.

Again, the injuries themselves show that excessive force was used. To contend otherwise is absurd.

Posted by Moral Compass | Tue Apr 21, 2015, 06:43 PM (0 replies)
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