Bjorn Against's Journal
Member since: Mon May 22, 2006, 07:07 PM
Number of posts: 10,571
Number of posts: 10,571
Dear Mr. Kline,
After last night's vote you can no longer call yourself a person who loves America, because last night you betrayed millions of Americans. Because of you and your fellow Republicans hundreds of thousands of people are now without work, vulnerable people are without assistance, and the economic uncertainty you have created will hurt the pocketbooks of millions of Americans.
You can try to act innocent, you can try to pretend that the mean old Democrats are refusing to compromise, but you know damn well that you never offered any compromise. When a two year old throws a temper tantrum because they can't get the biggest toy in the store that two year old does not suddenly become a person willing to compromise when they throw a new tantrum demanding a slightly smaller toy.
You have clearly shown that you care far more about the opinion of the extremists in your party than you care about the American people. You are a shame to this district and you and all the other extortionists in your party should resign from office immediately as you have no business continuing to pretend to represent the people of your district, because I can assure you that you sure as hell don't represent me. You are a douchebag and the only people you represent are your fellow douchebaggers, you can call me impolite and throw this message away because I called you a bad name but at the end of the day you will be the one who actually harmed the American people and I will merely be one of the many people who called you out on it.
You are a disgrace to your nation, please resign from office now and hang your head in disgrace. I know you won't take my advice, but you better believe that if you don't leave office on your own we will have plenty of people working to kick you out.
One of the hundreds of millions of Americans who you have betrayed
Posted by Bjorn Against | Tue Oct 1, 2013, 09:05 PM (3 replies)
We are told that we need to go into Syria for humanitarian reasons, this is certainly not the first time that war has been sold to us on humanitarian grounds and in fact I can't remember the last war that was not sold to us on humanitarian grounds.
Before every war we always hear about how horrible the people have it in the country we are about to bomb. Most recent wars we have been involved in have been waged against countries with less than stellar human rights records so there is usually some truth to the stories about human rights atrocities that we hear before a war, but when people try to use these atrocities as an excuse for leading us into a war that will inevitably lead to even more atrocities then they need to be called out on their hypocrisy.
If the people selling war were truly concerned about the humanitarian condition of the country they were going to bomb then they would be concerned about all the people killed in their wars, not just the Americans but they would show deep concern for the lives of the people living in the countries that we were bombing as well.
Yet after every single war that is sold to us on humanitarian grounds the people who pushed war on the basis that they supposedly cared about the people of that country seem to go to great lengths to completely ignore the civilians who died in that war. The media will report Americans that are killed, but civilians are rarely even worthy of a mention. Anyone that truly cared about the people of a country would mourn their dead as well, when they turn their heads and look away from the deaths of civilians and the shattered lives of the survivors then it is extremely difficult to believe they were ever genuine when they advocated war on humanitarian grounds.
I hope that the people advocating war in Syria will prove me wrong, I hope that after the bombs start dropping they will be posting threads mourning the civilians killed by those bombs, but I am skeptical that we will see that. I am skeptical because I never hear advocates of war mourn the civilian casualties of the wars they support, maybe there are some rare exceptions to this rule out there but most of what I have seen is people who use the victims of human rights abuses to sell their war but then immediately forget those people the moment they are killed by an American bombs.
I don't often see war supporters advocate against using weapons such as Depleted Uranium or cluster bombs that can pose threats to civilians even long after war ends. If there was a genuine concern for the lives of the people we are supposedly going to war to support then it seems that they would avoid weapons with Depleted Uranium which are known to cause long term health problems especially among newborn babies and infants.
I am sick of the victims of human rights abuses being exploited as an excuse to go to war only to have backs turned on them the moment the war begins, I have seen human rights used as an excuse to go to war far too many times and I do not believe for one second that the people who insist this is about human rights are truly as concerned about human rights as they are concerned with flexing their military muscle.
Posted by Bjorn Against | Wed Sep 4, 2013, 08:56 PM (0 replies)
It does not matter who the President is, the Pentagon is totally out of control and has been out of control for decades. Every few years we get sucked into another one of their misadventures, thousands of people die, billions of dollars of treasury are depleted, and millions of families are broken.
And what do we get for it? A global community that thinks we are nuts? More jobs in the funeral industry? Crumbling infrastructure and cuts to our most vulnerable citizens? War profiteers like Halliburton and Lockheed Martin getting billions of our tax dollars funneled to their corporate suites?
Many will try to make this about Presidential politics, but this is not about the Presidency this is about a war economy that has spiraled out of control. Some will try to say that Obama is just like Bush and others will say that such a suggestion is totally absurd, but the reality is that both of those opinions hold a lot of truth despite seeming contradictory. As a person and as a leader Obama is far different than Bush, but the elephant in the room is the massive thing that they do have in common, they both worked or are working under the same exact system of government. You can sit and debate the personal failings of individual Presidents all you want, but when we focus on the individual failings we miss the much bigger picture. We need to realize that this is not about any individual President, this is about a Pentagon that has grown way too powerful and needs to reined in.
We invest hundreds of billions of dollars every year in propping up an organization that is directly responsible for millions of deaths, that is not hyperbole that is a fact that can not be disputed.
Do you think any President is going to be able to stand up to a Pentagon that has built itself to nearly invincible status with the trillions of dollars it has received over the years? No single person can stand up to a multi-trillion dollar institution even if they are the President, the Pentagon is arguably the single most powerful institution in the entire world and it is bigger than any President. The powers that be want us focusing on the President because they know damn well that no single person can take them down, if they can distract us by making us fight over that single person however then they can continue to operate in the background knowing that no matter who gets elected they will not be seriously challenged.
We could elect the most morally pure person in all of human history to be President and that President would still have to work under the system that was established long before they took office, when that system has become totally corrupt then even the most morally pure person will not be able to resist it because it is so much larger than any single human being.
If we really want to change the system we can not rely on the President, the people need to rise up and speak out collectively to say that we no longer support our money going to prop up this corrupt system. It will take grass roots activism, it will take protests, and it will take time, but we need to stand up and say that elections are not bringing about the change that is needed and we need citizen activism that will not merely replace faces but also bring about real and lasting change in the political system.
I have seen too many wars in my still young life, the system that has brought us all this death and destruction needs to finally be reined in.
Posted by Bjorn Against | Thu Aug 29, 2013, 09:38 PM (21 replies)
The Zimmerman defenders are out in full force insisting to us that Zimmerman was justified in shooting an unarmed black kid and if any of us try to say otherwise then we are ignoring the evidence that shows he may be innocent.
Sorry, but must of us are not that fucking stupid.
The law clearly states that in order to use deadly force the situation must be such that a reasonable person would take a life. It doesn't say that the killer must believe that taking a life is necessary, it says that a reasonable person would believe that taking a life is necessary and if the killer did not act reasonably then he should be found guilty regardless of his personal thoughts.
I am sorry but a reasonable person does not call the police at the mere site of a black kid walking down the street.
A reasonable person does not then chase that black kid down and personally confront them rather than waiting for police.
A reasonable person does not shoot and kill an unarmed person over a bloody nose and a couple of scratches on the head.
A reasonable person generally is able to make it through their entire lives without even thinking of killing an unarmed person, and a reasonable person would hold a very high standard as to what justifies deadly force against a child.
This is not just a question of whether or not Zimmerman lied about what happened, I personally believe Zimmerman is a chronic liar but even if he were telling truth he would still need to convince the jury that the level of force he used was reasonable. He needs to convince the jury that it was reasonable to shoot straight for the heart and take a life rather than shooting in the leg to disable but still allow to live. Even if the jury believes his story is 100% true but also believe that he could have reasonably done more to escape the situation without taking a life, then they need to convict him.
The people who are defending the murder of an unarmed child make me absolutely sick, Zimmerman's supporters are a stain on our nation and I strongly believe that if it were a white kid that were killed in the exact same circumstances they would be calling to lock the killer up and throw away the key. There is a long history of racism in this country and those who dismiss racism are either ignorant of history or they are racists themselves.
There is nothing reasonable about George Zimmerman's actions, I hope the jury can see that and votes to convict. If the jury does not see that then it is the duty of all of us to raise hell and demand the law is changed to crack down on racist gun nuts who shoot unarmed children and then try to pretend it is self defense.
Posted by Bjorn Against | Thu Jul 11, 2013, 07:33 PM (27 replies)
We are told that a massive database with records of all of the phone calls that we make is necessary for national security reasons. We are asked to believe that this database is needed to combat terrorism, apparently just getting a warrant to tap a suspected terrorists phone is not enough for them. They need to have a database that will tell them whether or not you called your Grandmother last week, they can't fight terrorism without it. Of course they will tell you that they are only using this database to find terrorists and if you are not a terrorist they will not be looking at your private data, the massive database that holds records for damn near every last one of us is only going to be used to track down the terrorists. Trust them, they won't be spying on any union organizers or political leaders.
We are supposed to trust the NSA and just let them continue to operate in the shadows without telling us anything about what they are up to. We are told that everything they do needs to be classified, they are holding personal information on you for "national security" reasons so you don't need to know about it. No one seems to be able to explain what sort of vital national security information is held in Grandma's phone records, but we are supposed to just trust them that this is really important to keep us safe from terrorists.
Former FBI agent and whistleblower Coleen Rowley has been a vocal critic of the sort of blanket spying on American citizens practiced by the NSA. As a former FBI agent who actually investigated suspected terrorists herself she says that these sorts of blanket sweeps of information are totally ineffective for fighting terrorism. When you collect such vast amounts of data you are bound to find some suspicious patterns, but just because a pattern is suspicious does not mean there is anything actually going on. If agents end up wasting their time tracking down a false lead that means they have less time to investigate the real criminals. If there is legitimate grounds for suspicion a targeted warrant would allow them to monitor any suspected terrorist without infringing on the rights of the rest of us.
The vast majority of the American people are not national security threats and we don't need the government collecting private data on them in order to keep us safe.
Our country is facing one very real national security threat however, we have corporations that have become so large that they have the ability to take down the entire American economy. This may sound outrageous and it is, but if you think it is hyperbole I ask you to consider the financial collapse of 2008. When a few large banks imploded they nearly brought down the entire American economy, millions of people lost their jobs because of a few banks. Just think about the national security implications of that, these banks have become so large that they literally have the power to take down our whole economy. It is not only banks that hold this sort of economic stranglehold on our society, the oil industry also has made our nation's security dependent on them as well.
Just a short drive of less than ten minutes from my home exists this lovely place which is owned by the Koch Brothers...
That Koch owned facility supplies more than half the gasoline used in my state of Minnesota, nearly all of the gas we purchase in the Twin Cities comes from there. Think about the national security implications of that, we have one private corporation with a very sketchy background supplying virtually all of the gasoline in our entire Twin Cities and suburban area. We have essentially handed the Koch brothers the power to shut down our state if they want to, we have allowed them to become so big that our entire society depends on them and I don't know about you but I sure as hell don't want to be dependent on the Koch Brothers.
Make no mistake about it, this is a real national security issue. No one should ever be allowed to acquire so much wealth that they have the ability to sabotage our national economy. This is the elephant in the room that they don't want us talking about, but the concentration of wealth is one of the biggest national security threats our nation faces.
Yet instead of targeting the real national security issue our government is keeping tabs on citizens who pose no threat at all.
This is not about Obama, this is about a corrupt system that needs to face the sunlight.
Posted by Bjorn Against | Fri Jun 14, 2013, 09:39 PM (4 replies)
We will get to the NSA scandal, but first I want everyone to take a moment to think back to 2008 when a few large banks nearly brought down the American economy. Most of us remember the darkness of those days very clearly, I will never forget the day that I went to work and saw 25% our workforce laid off in a single day.
I want you not just to think about how you were affected by the crisis however, I want you to think about what that crisis means about the way our economy and our government are structured. I want you to think about how the owners of these banks have become so powerful that their failure could bring down the entire US economy.
Now think about this in terms of politics and consider what this means in terms of Presidential power. Too often we only look at what each President did, we can see that Bush was a royal fuck up in everything he did but that really does not tell us nearly as much as we often believe it does. We also can see that Obama pushed some financial stimulus that did help get the economy back on track, but that is also not the key issue here.
The key issue is that despite anything that Bush did or Obama did the same system is in place that has existed for years. The reforms that have been made to the system are pretty minimal and not a single banker was held accountable for their role in the collapse.
We have had some very heated debates on DU about the lack of prosecution of the bankers not so much because we disagree on whether or not bankers should be prosecuted, in fact most people here seem to be in agreement that they should be prosecuted. What the division always revolves around is Obama's role, we yell at each other and divide ourselves over whether or not we think Obama has handled the situation well. Yet in debating Obama's role as an individual we often miss the big picture and we fail to recognize the system that Obama stepped in to. It is also the system that Bush stepped into, it is the system that Clinton stepped into, it is the system that our nation has been building for hundreds of years now and it has lots of powerful interests invested in it.
The bankers proved to us that they were so powerful that they hold the ability to collapse the entire global economy, do you not think that might cause Obama to pause before he prosecutes any of them? If they have the ability to collapse the global economy they have the ability to do a lot of other things that we can only speculate about as well, if one of them were to be prosecuted and the others wanted revenge they could screw a lot of people over very easily.
So how does this relate to the NSA scandal? Well we are falling for the same thing again, we are debating Obama's role in the scandal rather than recognizing the larger powers that exist.
The NSA was founded in 1952 and they have always been a very secretive organization, we really don't know what they have been up to for the last sixty years because they reveal very little about their operations to us. We are only seeing the tip of the iceberg when we are talking about metadata, the NSA undoubtedly has tons of information that we don't know anything about. This is a spy agency that has been operating in the dark under several Presidents now.
A lot of people say Obama should have issued an executive order to stop this spying. I certainly wish he had the power to do that, but let's be honest about just how corrupted our government has become and consider how far back this corruption goes. The NSA has been spying on Americans for the last sixty years, they have enormous databases of who knows what kind of information and there are powerful people who no doubt use these databases to look up information for reasons that are not in any way noble. They want you to think it is all about fighting terrorism, but you would have to be pretty naive to believe they are only looking at suspected terrorists and not monitoring their political opponents. Having this massive spy network no doubt benefits some powerful people, how do you think they would react if Obama tried to shut down their operation with an executive order?
I am not trying to defend Obama nor am I trying to blame him, what I am trying to do is make us all consider how little this has to do with any of the specific individuals involved in the case and how much it has to do with a rotten system that has been built up over the years. The reality of this case is the reality of damn near every story that hits the news, wealth has been so far concentrated at the top in American society that our democracy does not work any more. We can keep electing all the Presidents we want, but no single President is going to change this because the real power brokers are the people like the bankers who nearly collapsed the economy, when a few individuals amass so much money that they can bring down the entire economy if they want to no President is going to mess with them.
That is unless we push to change the system. The focus should not be on pushing to change Obama, the focus should be pushing to change the system. It is a system that has been in place long before Obama and it is a system that will be in place long after Obama unless we push to change it.
The corporate bigwigs want us to be debating Obama because they know that divides us. What they don't want us to be doing is they don't want us to be debating the NSA's powers, they know that if we were to focus on the system rather than specific individuals we would all see how fucked up their system is and we would demand real change. They want us to believe that the only way to bring change is to elect new people to office, but they never want us to think about challenging the very system that those new people are stepping into. They want us to believe the President is all powerful because if we realized that the President is not as powerful as the corporate interests are the illusion of democracy would disappear.
Let's not fight about Obama, let's fight the real enemies.
Posted by Bjorn Against | Thu Jun 13, 2013, 09:41 PM (90 replies)
I have heard from so many politicians today both Republicans and Democrats that opening up our phone records to scrutiny is necessary for keeping safe. I am being told that we have nothing to fear then we should have no problem with people looking at our phone records, well I am sure that the people telling me this must not have anything to fear either or else they would never be advocating for such a policy.
Every election season I hear these same politicians tell me that they are men and women of principle so I am sure they will have no problem living by the same principles that they enforce on the rest of us the people.
If the politicians want to look at our phone records then I am sure that they will be more than happy to let us look at theirs, after all they have nothing to hide right?
I want to see the names of every donor and lobbyist that our politicians speak on the phone with, if they have nothing to fear then they should be willing to let us see who they are talking to should they not?
The next time your member of Congress holds a town hall ask them if they are willing to live under the same microscope they want the rest of us to live under, if they are the principled people they claim to be I am sure they will be more than happy to hand over their phone records to you.
Posted by Bjorn Against | Thu Jun 6, 2013, 09:13 PM (7 replies)
A couple of scratches.
I have suffered worse injuries than those when I cut myself shaving.
We are being told that suffering a couple of tiny scratches in a fight justifies shooting and killing an unarmed teenager. Wrap your head around that and think about just how fucked up that is.
The fact that we are even having a debate over whether or not the killing of Trayvon Martin was justified shows just how nuts the NRA and their George Zimmerman defending minions have become, any sane person should realize that suffering a scratch does not justify homicide.
I think people should have the right to defend themselves, but when people try to tell me that suffering a couple of tiny scratches justifies killing an unarmed person that shows just how insane the definition of "self defense" that the gun nuts are promoting has become.
Even if murder and perjury suspect George Zimmerman's story were completely true, I still can not possibly see how killing Trayvon Martin would have been justified. If Zimmerman's story were true I would accept shoot to wound as self defense, but I have not heard any credible reason as to why shoot to kill was necessary in the situation Zimmerman was in even if his story were true.
Yet the gun nuts insist that they should have the right to shoot to kill on the basis of suffering a couple of tiny scratches in a fight. We can not allow the gun nuts to weaken the standards for what constitutes reasonable self defense, if Zimmerman's ridiculous self defense claim holds up I hate to think of the precedent it will set.
Most people support the right to self defense, but the sane among us will never allow anyone to tell us that suffering a couple of scratches justifies shoot to kill.
Posted by Bjorn Against | Wed Jun 5, 2013, 07:30 PM (9 replies)
We have been hearing over and over for the past week that the IRS "singled out" the Tea Party for special scrutiny when they applied for tax exempt status for their "social welfare" organizations. It is an allegation that has been screamed loudly by the right-wing and the media and it has even been repeated by many on the left end of the political spectrum.
I have read a great deal about this "scandal" and I have heard the allegation that the Tea Party was "singled out" many times, but I have yet to find a single official source that confirms they actually were singled out. There have been many stories in the media that have made this claim, but I have yet to find one of these stories that was actually able to back that allegation up with a source.
Many of you may be saying, "The IRS apologized for singling the Tea Party out and the Inspector General's report confirmed they did just that." If you actually read either the apology or the Inspector General's report however neither of them actually state that the Tea Party was singled out.
Let us start out with IRS official Lois Lerner's apology; here are the words that sparked the firestorm:
So our line people in Cincinnati who handled the applications did what we call centralization of these cases. They centralized work on these in one particular group. They do that for efficiency and consistency — something we do whenever we see an uptick in a new kind of application or something we haven’t seen before. Folks might remember from back a few years ago we had credit counseling organizations and we centralized those cases. We had mortgage foreclosure cases and we centralized those cases. We do it for consistency So they went ahead and did that. How they do centralization is they have a list in their office that they give out to folks who are screening cases that says if it is one of these kind of cases and it can’t be screened it needs to go to group X. So centralization was perfectly fine.
However, in these cases, the way they did the centralization was not so fine. Instead of referring to the cases as advocacy cases, they actually used case names on this list. They used names like Tea Party or Patriots and they selected cases simply because the applications had those names in the title. That was wrong, that was absolutely incorrect, insensitive, and inappropriate — that’s not how we go about selecting cases for further review. We don’t select for review because they have a particular name.
Now that you have seen what those words say, let's think about what they do not say. Lerner says that they searched out terms like "Tea Party" and "Patriots", but she never says those are the only terms they searched for. They may have also been searching on terms like "Democratic" and "Progressive", we don't know because the IRS has yet to provide us a complete list of all the search terms that may have been used. Lerner never mentions anything at all about how left-leaning groups may have been handled by the IRS, but she was asked about it by a reporter. Here is what she said...
"I don't have any information on that."
WHAT??! This is a high level official that oversees groups seeking tax exempt status and she can tell us how Tea Party groups are flagged, but she can not provide us with even one shred of information on how left-leaning groups were flagged. As a person who is in charge of overseeing tax exempt groups it seems that she should be able to explain to us how groups are flagged, yet she only claims to have knowledge of the process they used to flag one small subset of applicants. Does anyone really find this believable? How could someone in her position have absolutely no information on the flagging process of on any left leaning groups? How are we supposed to determine that the Tea Party was singled out when we are not even given anything to compare their experience with?
The Inspector General's Report acknowledges that the Tea Party groups were not the only groups flagged for scrutiny, in fact the Tea Party only made up about 30% of the flagged groups. If you read the report however the focus is nearly entirely on the way Tea Party groups were flagged and says almost nothing about how other groups were flagged. It cites questions that were asked to Tea Party groups but were not asked to "other groups", yet it never specifies what other groups it is talking about. It is common knowledge the IRS does scrutinize some groups more than others because it has limited resources, we already knew that some groups don't get the same level of scrutiny but that is not the issue here. The issue is whether or not the Tea Party was singled out based on their political views, but the Inspector General's report does not say that left leaning groups who were flagged were not asked the same questions.
according to the IRS, a Determinations Unit specialist was asked to search for applications with Tea Party, Patriots, or 9/12 in the organization’s name as well as other “political-sounding” names. EO function officials stated that, in May 2010, the Determinations Unit began developing a spreadsheet that would become known as the “Be On the Look Out” listing (hereafter referred to as the BOLO listing), 15 which included the emerging issue of Tea Party applications. In June 2010, the Determinations Unit began training its specialists on issues to be aware of, including Tea Party cases. By July 2010, Determinations Unit management stated that it had requested its specialists to be on the lookout for Tea Party applications.
In August 2010, the Determinations Unit distributed the first formal BOLO listing. The criteria in the BOLO listing were Tea Party organizations applying for I.R.C. § 501(c)(3) or I.R.C. § 501(c)(4) status. Based on our review of other BOLO listing criteria, the use of organization names on the BOLO listing is not unique to potential political cases. 16
Interesting, the report says that they have a "Be on the Look Out" group that not only includes applications for "Tea Party", "Patriots", or "9/12", but they also flag "other political sounding names". What those "other political sounding names" are they do not tell us. They do tell us that there are groups on the BOLA listing that are not based on political cases, right after that statement we see the number 16 which indicates a footnote, let us take a look at what that footnote says.
16 We did not review the use of other named organizations on the BOLO listing to determine if their use was appropriate.
WHAT??!! There were other groups on the list that were not affiliated with the Tea Party, but the Inspector General's report did not review ANY of them? What the hell kind of report is this? How the hell are we supposed to know that the Tea Party was singled out when they don't even review the treatment of other groups that were on the exact same BOLO list that they were?
If this scandal swirls around whether or not the Tea Party was treated differently than other groups then knowing how other groups were treated is absolutely crucial information in determining whether or not there was political bias, yet the Inspector General's Report did not even review it.
Who the hell would initiate a review like this without including such crucial information as to the scrutiny placed on other non Tea-Party groups, well the report gives us the answer to that question...
TIGTA initiated this audit based on concerns expressed by members of Congress.
So members of Congress called for this report, presumably Republicans. Did these members of Congress order the Inspector General to only evaluate the treatment of the Tea Party and not look at any other groups? If so is this not an example of abusing a government investigation for partisan political purposes?
I issue my challenge again, I challenge anyone to find me a piece of evidence from an official source that shows the Tea Party was singled out. I have heard the allegation many times this week, but I have yet to find a single piece of evidence that proves the Tea Party was treated differently, all I can find is reports on how Tea Party applications were handled with silence on how the applications of non-Tea Party groups who were also flagged were handled.
Can anyone cite me a source, or can we conclude that this "scandal" is not about the Tea Party being singled out?
On edit: I want to thank Chathamization who is a relatively new DUer that pointed me to the footnote used in the Inspector General's report. The contributions Chathamization provided were invaluable.
Posted by Bjorn Against | Thu May 16, 2013, 07:44 PM (40 replies)
The admins have sent a clear message that violent rhetoric is not welcome here.
Posted by Bjorn Against | Thu May 2, 2013, 11:37 PM (152 replies)