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This is Leftist

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

The history of all hitherto existing society(2) is the history of class struggles.

Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master(3) and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes. . . .

The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors”, and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment”. It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom — Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation. . . .

The bourgeoisie keeps more and more doing away with the scattered state of the population, of the means of production, and of property. It has agglomerated population, centralised the means of production, and has concentrated property in a few hands. The necessary consequence of this was political centralisation. Independent, or but loosely connected provinces, with separate interests, laws, governments, and systems of taxation, became lumped together into one nation, with one government, one code of laws, one national class-interest, one frontier, and one customs-tariff.

We thus see that the social relations within which individuals produce, the social relations of production, are altered, transformed, with the change and development of the material means of production, of the forces of production. The relations of production in their totality constitute what is called the social relations, society, and, moreover, a society at a definite stage of historical development, a society with peculiar, distinctive characteristics. Ancient society, feudal society, bourgeois (or capitalist) society, are such totalities of relations of production, each of which denotes a particular stage of development in the history of mankind.

Capital also is a social relation of production. It is a bourgeois relation of production, a relation of production of bourgeois society. The means of subsistence, the instruments of labour, the raw materials, of which capital consists – have they not been produced and accumulated under given social conditions, within definite special relations? Are they not employed for new production, under given special conditions, within definite social relations? And does not just the definite social character stamp the products which serve for new production as capital?

Capital consists not only of means of subsistence, instruments of labour, and raw materials, not only as material products; it consists just as much of exchange values. All products of which it consists are commodities. Capital, consequently, is not only a sum of material products, it is a sum of commodities, of exchange values, of social magnitudes. Capital remains the same whether we put cotton in the place of wool, rice in the place of wheat, steamships in the place of railroads, provided only that the cotton, the rice, the steamships – the body of capital – have the same exchange value, the same price, as the wool, the wheat, the railroads, in which it was previously embodied. The bodily form of capital may transform itself continually, while capital does not suffer the least alteration.

This is leftist:

Tithi Bhattacharya

Social reproduction theory, then, is crucial to understanding certain key features of the system.
1.The unity of the socioeconomic whole: It is certainly true that in any capitalist society the majority exist through a combination of wage labor and unpaid domestic labor to maintain themselves and their households. It is critical to understand both kinds of labor as part of the same process. 2.The contradiction between capital accumulation and social reproduction: Capitalism’s sway over social reproduction is not absolute. Indeed social reproduction may create the essential ingredient of production, i.e., humans, but the actual practices of reproducing life develop and unfold in tension with production. Capitalists attempt to extract as much work as possible from the worker, but the worker in turn tries to extract as much in wages and benefits as possible as ingredients that will allow her to reproduce herself, individually and generationally, for another day.
3.Bosses have an interest in social reproduction: Social reproduction should not be understood solely as the lonely housewife cleaning and cooking such that her worker husband can get to work refreshed every morning. The employer is invested in the specifics of how and to what extent the worker has been socially reproduced. In this sense, it is not simply the food, clothing, and morning readiness at the gates of capital that matter, but everything from education, “language capacities . . . general health,” even “predispositions toward work” that determine the quality of labor power available.9 Each cultural capacity is again determined by historic specificity and is open to negotiation by both sides. Labor laws, policies about public health and education, and state support for unemployment are only some of the many outcomes and constitutive sites for such bargaining.

This is why we need to sharpen our understanding of social reproduction as being performed in three interlocking ways: (a) as unpaid labor in the family increasingly being performed by both men and women; (b) as services provided by the state in the form of a social wage to somewhat attenuate the unpaid labor in the home; and finally (c) as services sold for profit by the market.

Neoliberal policies scaffolded by the rhetoric of individual responsibility sought to dismantle state services and turn social reproduction entirely over to individual families or sell them on the market. It is important to note that capitalism as a system benefits from the unpaid labor of social reproduction within the family and the limited expenditure on the social wage outside of the home. The system cannot afford to fully dispense with social reproduction “without endangering the process of accumulation” since social reproduction ensures the continued existence of the one article that capitalism needs most of all: human labor.10 Understanding this contradictory dependence of production on social reproduction is key to understanding the political economy of gender relations, including gender violence. http://isreview.org/issue/91/explaining-gender-violence-neoliberal-era

THIS is right-wing:

America needs Adam Smith, not Robin Hood
What the President fails to grasp is that the American system that rewards hard work is what made America so prosperous. What America needs is not Robin Hood but Adam Smith. In the year we won our independence, Adam Smith described what creates the Wealth of Nations. He described a limited government that largely did not interfere with individuals and their pursuit of happiness.
Over the past 4 years the President has added over $6 trillion in new debt and may well do the same in a second term. What solutions does he offer? He takes entitlement reform off the table and seeks to squeeze more money out of the private sector.

He says he wants a balanced approach. What the country really needs is a balanced budget. Washington acts in a way that your family never could--they spend money they do not have, they borrow from future generations, and then they blame each other for never fixing the problem.

Cut corporate tax in half to create millions of jobs
With my five-year budget, millions of jobs would be created by cutting the corporate income tax in half, by creating a flat personal income tax of 17%, and by cutting the regulations that are strangling American businesses. The only stimulus ever proven to work is leaving more money in the hands of those who earned it!
Source: Tea Party Response to 2013 State of the Union Address , Feb 12, 2013

Punishing the rich means the poor lose their jobs
Mr. President, you say the rich must pay their fair share. When you seek to punish the rich, the jobs that are lost are those of the poor and middle class.
When you seek to punish Mr. Exxon Mobil, you punish the secretary who owns Exxon Mobil stock.

When you block the Keystone Pipeline, you punish the welder who works on the pipeline.

Source: 2012 Republican National Convention speech , Aug 29, 2012


Redefining marriage leads to economic and moral problems
Earlier today, for example, the senator appeared on Glenn Beck's show to discuss the Supreme Court's ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act. The host suggested the ruling could lead to polygamy: "If you change one variable--man and a woman to man and man--you can logically change another variable--one man, three women."
For Paul, this seemed perfectly sensible. In fact, the senator went even further than Beck: "If we have no laws on this people take it to one extension further. Does it have to be humans? I'm kind of with you, I see the thousands-of-year tradition of the nucleus of the family unit. I also see that economically, if you just look without any kind of moral periscope and you say, what is it that is the leading cause of poverty in our country? It's having kids without marriage. The stability of the marriage unit is enormous and we should not just say oh we're punting on it, marriage can be anything."

Source: Rachel Maddow blog on U.S. Supreme Court rulings on DOMA , Jun 26, 2013

Illegal to impose racial segregation in the private sector
In two broadcast interviews, Paul said that the federal government may have overstepped its role by making it illegal to impose racial segregation in the private sector.

Asked if he thought a private business had the right to say it would not serve black people, he said: "I don't want to be associated with those people, but I also don't want to limit their speech in any way in the sense that we tolerate boorish and uncivilised behaviour because that's one of the things freedom requires."

Source: London Sunday Times, "US and the Americas" , May 21, 2010

Replace over-regulation with free market principles
As a doctor I have had first-hand experience with the vast problems facing health care in America. Like other areas of the economy where the federal government wields its heavy hand, health care is over-regulated and in need of serious market reforms. As Senator, I would ensure that real free market principles are applied to fix this problem. . . .

Defund, repeal, & replace federal care with free market.
Paul signed the Contract From America
The Contract from America, clause 7. Defund, Repeal, & Replace Government-run Health Care:

Defund, repeal and replace the recently passed government-run health care with a system that actually makes health care and insurance more affordable by enabling (the free market).

Source: The Contract From America 10-CFA07 on Jul 8, 2010

Coarsening of our culture led to 50 million unborn deaths
The coarsening of our culture towards violent death has more consequences than war. Tragically, this same culture has led to the death of 50 million unborn children in the last 40 years. I don't think a civilization can long endure that does not have respect for all human life, born and not yet born. I believe there will come a time when we are all judged on whether or not we took a stand in defense of all life from the moment of conception until our last natural breath.
Source: Speech at 2012 Values Voters Summit , Sep 14, 2012

My opponents call me libertarian but I'm pro-life
Sarah Palin's endorsement [in the Kentucky GOP Senate primary] gave us a boost that energized supporters, brought in new ones, and, of course, annoyed my opponent and his Republican bosses to no end.
In talking to Palin, one of the primary things I wanted to do was allay her fears about social issues, telling her, "My opponents call me a libertarian but I want to assure you that I am pro-life." Palin responded, "Oh, we all have a little libertarian in us."

I do not apologize for believing there is too much government involvement in the private lives of Americans. Trying to portray me or my father as not pro-life--or saying I want to legalize heroin, or prostitution, or making other outlandish claims-- are smears Republican establishment types have always attempted. This race would be no different. One could make the argument that if sincerity is measured by proposed legislation, my dad is arguably the most pro-life member of the House.

Source: The Tea Party Goes to Washington, by Rand Paul, p. 78 , Feb 22, 2011

Life begins at conception


If you claim Rand Paul pulls the Democratic Party to the left, you have one seriously fucked up notion of what left means.

One reason the police are so heavily armed

I'm not sure if this has been discussed, but the reasons the police are so heavily armed goes beyond Homeland Security Funding. The fact is the gun lobby has ensured the public is heavily armed. "Hobbyists" now stockpile guns and munitions that are more suitable for war than self-defense or hunting. How can the police be disarmed with sections of the public--thanks to the NRA and their ilk--are armed to the teeth?

It is not only the police that have been militarized but American society more broadly.

DOs and DON'Ts for feminists vs. "feminists"

There are a list of views and posting behavior that distinguish real feminists from "feminists." If you fail to follow the list of DOs or engage in any of the DON'Ts below, you must use quotes around the word feminist to distinguish yourself from real feminists.

DO always defer to men on issues.

DON'T articulate a point of view that is not first approved of by men.

DO understand that true feminists focus only on rights that make women more sexually available to men.

DO remember that porn of all genres is always good.
DON'T mention condom use, STDs, or suggest that porn actresses are engaging in porn for any purpose other than expressing the highest form of liberty and self-actualization a woman can aspire to.
DO make sure to insist anyone who criticizes porn in anyway is accused of trying to ban it in violation of the First Amendment.

DO understand that prostitution is fantastic.
DON'T talk about underage girls, child rape, human trafficking, economic blight, or violence.
DO focus entirely on a woman's right to sell herself, a man's right to buy sex, and prostitution as a form of female sexual empowerment.

DON'T bum men out by talking about rape or harassment. If a major news story comes up that can't be avoided,
DON'T suggest a rapist might be guilty.
DO make sure to point to all the ways the woman behaved that brought about the rape.
DON'T under any circumstances mention "rape culture."

False feminists
DO make sure to attack women who articulate views not approved of by men.
DO remember the only rights that are important are the ones that the real feminists--men--approve of.

DON'T agree with another woman unless she is agreeing with a man or attacking a woman who disagrees with a man, lest you be guilty of being a swarm or a gang.
DO remember that a gang or a swarm can be comprised of as few as one woman who disagrees with a man.

False Men
DO remember that "men" who support statements by HOF members and other radfems do not constitute real men and therefore must be disagreed with unless they fall in line with the above guidelines.

DON'T forget to use quotes around the word "feminism" and "feminist" if you vary from the above guidelines in the slightest.

This public service announcement brought to you as a joint venture by Maxim and Cosmopolitan's Division of True Feminism.

You mean the irritating people who talk about prostitution as it really is?

as opposed to a theoretical notion of what others want to pretend it is? Yeah, I can see how that would bum people out determined to avoid thinking thinking about underage sex and enslaved workers they consider inconsequential. Why deal with evidence when theories of captialist Utopias are so much easier?

You weighed in on the other thread and then went right back to creating one-dimensional strawwomen to mock. That, in my view, nullifies your other post and shows that thoughtful OP had no impact on you whatsover.

It's all an abstract game to you and others here. Raise the standard of living. Right. Like when is that going to happen? How? In the face of jobs going oversees and structural changes in the economy that most hurt the poor? With a government that won't pass a basic raise in the minimum wage? You know it won't, but reality is irrelevant. That you say it is enough to wish away the existence of millions of minors who are forced into prostitution either through desperate economic privation or forms of extra-economic coercion--an abusive parent, enslavement, etc. If it were about theoretical scenarios, any idiot could come up with a solution. Reality is far more complex.

The fact is without severe poverty, prostitution would be exceedingly rare. The Cuban experience makes that clear. Under Batista, American men came to Cuba to go to the casinos and hire prostitutes. That ended with the Revolution, and prostitution became a metaphor for American exploitation of Cuba. Prostitution was rare until the Soviet Union abandoned subsidies to the Island shortly before its collapse. Prostitution has since returned because people are struggling as they didn't under the Soviet era. The ability of men to buy sex depends on severe poverty. I don't for a minute think the people who see commodification of sex as sacrosanct want that to go away.

You can talk about adult consensual behavior all you want. It doesn't make it the exclusive or even dominant transaction in that industry. A great deal of prostitution is of underage girls and boys. Many if not most prostitutes start underage. You had a first hand account of that in Ism's HOF OP which you clearly made a point of ignoring. There is always the argument one poster made that girls as young as nine "willingly choose prostitution as a profession," which he believed made having "sex" with them consensual.

There is no way to find a solution that minimizes harm when people adamantly ignore that harm. That people consistently refuse to to deal with the sex trade as it actually exists makes clear they cosider those lives inconsequential. The self-serving capitalist ideology of the rights of the individual is about propping up power and privilege. The unyielding focus on the individual as the repository of rights, as opposed to the common good, privileges those who have the means to assert their rights over others. It's as true in Citizens United as in this discussion of prostutiton. Those on the other end of it--the poor, teens and children--are exploited, abused, and raped, which is what an adult does when he purchases sex from someone under the age of consent.

I think if you were actually confident in your position on this issue, you would not feel compelled to trivialize the arguments of others. That tells me you can't deal with the arguments as actually articulated and instead feel compelled to create a parody to mock them.

Corrections (for outside readers)

since Little Blue has said he doesn't bother to read my posts. I nonetheless feel compelled to correct some of this so as not to allow false information to stand unchecked in case anyone comes across his post and decides to take it as fact.

Slave masters certainly did vary considerably as individuals, that is true. Many slave narratives, like that of Frederick Douglass, show a change were a slave started with a reasonable master but was later sold or hired out to a particularly cruel one. To argue that treatment depended on the type of crop produced, however, is not accurate. Certainly some work was harder than others, but the treatment depended on the mores in the particular region as well as the character of the planter. There were literally hundreds of different occupations on sugar plantations. English lacks a word to describe the sugar plantation complex, known as ingenios in Spanish and engenhos in Portuguese. Many slaves worked as field laborers and others operating some of the highly skilled functions necessary to construct, maintain, and operate the sugar mill, or trapiche. See Manuel Moreno Fraginals, The Sugarmill on sugar ingenios in Cuba. He lists the huge variety of slave occupations necessary to keep the sugar plantation complex going.

Historians debated for years where treatment was harsher in the US or in Catholic countries in Latin America. There was no resolution to the debate. Some aspects, like whippings, were more severe in places like Brazil (the country that received the overwhelming majority of African slaves), but they also had greater protection under the law and greater opportunities for manumission. The bottom line is that slavery was incredibly oppressive wherever it existed, though aspects of the institution did vary from region to region and country to country.

While house slaves did not do arduous labor in the fields, they remained under the master's, and mistress's, gaze all the time. To survive, they had to wear a mask of compliance that belied their real feelings (referred to by historians as the "Sambo mask". They were not "treated like family." Planters told themselves they treated their slaves like family, but one does not own family members or sell off their children. As union troops approached during the war, those household slaves that masters believed were "like family" were often the first to flee. (See Leon Litwack, Been in the Storm so Long). That demonstrated that they certainly did not see their owners as family.

To argue that slave women had it "easiest" is patently false and ignores the reality of life in the Big House. Women working in households were regularly raped, though field slaves were also raped. Masters, however, had easier access to female house slaves. Read, for example, the testimonial by a former slave and abolitionist. Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in a life of a Slave Girl. There is not a single testimonial of a slave woman that does not speak about her rape by a master, overseer, or member of the master's family. It was not uncommon for slave girls to bear their master's children. Plantation mistresses often took their frustrations over their husbands infidelity out on slave girls by inflicting particularly brutal punishments. (See Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Within the Plantation Household).

To argue that female household slaves were "concubines" who had it easiest is a completely false and offensive statement. It ignores the fact those women were owned, regularly beaten by masters, slaves, and overseers, and that they were repeatedly raped and lived under the close surveillance of the master's family. How "easy" would your life be if you were raped on a continual basis? That reality has led historians to write about slave women's double-exploitation, as both forced laborers and sex slaves. See Deborah Gray-White, Ar'n't I a Woman?: Female Slaves in the Plantation South. I also found this article on double-exploitation online through Jstor, which allows limited free access.

I can't help but observe this discussion over slave women "having it easy" dovetails with recent discussions on prostitution and human trafficking. The fact that a slave is owned and has no right to choose her sexual partners, one would think, should be obvious to anyone. Little wonder some think human trafficking not worth concerning themselves with, while others insist that underage girls as young as 9, as one poster insisted, willingly "choose the profession" of prostitution. People give lip service to notions of consenting adults and ignore that a great deal of the sex trade is anything but. Whether now or in the Antebellum era, slaves do not consent to sex. They are forced into it because they are owned. Children and young teens cannot consent to sex because they are under age. These are basic concepts that one would think anyone would understand. Sadly that is not the case.

Who was it who mentioned "glaring hypocrisy"?

Oh, right. This guy: http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1002&pid=5361450

The invisible victims of victimless crime

In a discussion about legalizing prostitution, no one wants to pay attention to my personal first-hand experience with the subject. The frustration I feel at being ignored in that discussion mirrors my personal experience with the subject matter.

People say prostitution is a victimless crime, but that only imagines two people in the scenario: the John and a willing sex worker, presumably an adult. There is lots of evidence about underage prostitution and how legalizing prostitution leads to increased human trafficking, which is a fancy word for slavery. I set that aside here to speak of my own experience as someone who grew up in an area where prostitution flourished.

The inner city neighborhood I grew up in was a main area for prostitution. The main street in the neighborhood housed a police station, but since the cops were paid off, prostitution was essentially legal in the area.

Starting at age 9 or 10 (as soon as I moved to the neighborhood), adult men would stop me when I walked down the street to try to get me to have sex with them. It happened to my sister, and I imagine every other little girl (and likely many boys) in the neighborhood as well. This was part of my daily experience growing up. These Johns didn't live in the area. They had cars (many in my neighborhood did not), and their cars were nice. They doubtless came from the suburbs, where guys like them always come from. Preying on children came with no consequences because they were protected by the police. As residents of that neighborhood, we had little recourse. As a child, I was completely powerless. The police didn't care.

Now, when I try to share that story to demonstrate that prostitution is not the victimless crime people insist, I am again rendered invisible. The OP proclaimed he would not read my post, even though in the subject line of my second response I was clear I was talking about children being preyed upon. The victims of this victimless crime remain invisible. Our experiences are ignored because we don't fit the popular neoliberal narrative. Well I am here to say we exist, even if some find our lives inconvenient. I am no longer 10 yrs old, and now I will shout my story for all to hear so that people understand there is another aspect to this issue. If people ignore it, they ignore the lives of children and adults in poor communities throughout this country--communities that serve as Third World playgrounds for the middle- and upper-middle class men who want us to remain invisible.

Abu Ghraib Torture Victims May Sue U.S. Corporation, Appeals Court Rules

This story is over a month old, but I don't recall seeing it posted here. It seems pertinent to recent discussions. Of course these are civil rather than criminal proceedings.

June 30, 2014, Richmond, VA – Today, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that victims of torture and abuse in Abu Ghraib prison could pursue legal claims for their abuse against private military contractors. The appeals court ruling overturned a lower court decision that had barred the survivors from suing U.S. corporations involved in the torture in U.S. courts. U.S. military investigators had determined in 2004 that private U.S.-based contractor CACI Premier Technology, Inc. (CACI) had participated in torture and other “sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses” of detainees at Abu Ghraib, yet a district judge ruled that the 2013 Supreme Court decision in Kiobel v. Shell/Royal Dutch Petroleum foreclosed claims arising out of Iraq. Today’s decision, by contrast, recognized that CACI could be held liable in U.S. courts under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) for its role in the torture. The case, Al Shimari v. CACI International Inc., was filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) on behalf of four Iraqi men who were tortured at Abu Ghraib.

Said CCR Legal Director Baher Azmy, “Today’s court ruling affirms that U.S. corporations are not entitled to impunity for torture and war crimes and that holding U.S. entities accountable for human rights violations strengthens this country’s relationship to the international community and basic human rights principles.”

Kiobel recognized a “presumption against extraterritorial application” of the ATS, but explicitly held that the presumption could be displaced in cases that “touch and concern” the United States “with sufficient force.” At Abu Ghraib, the men were subjected to electric shocks, sexual violence, forced nudity, broken bones, and deprivation of oxygen, food, and water. U.S. military investigators concluded that several CACI employees serving as interrogators directed abuse of Abu Ghraib employees in order to “soften” them up for interrogations. The court of appeals found that human rights abuses committed by a U.S. corporation at a U.S.-controlled prison in a conspiracy with U.S. soldiers, does “touch and concern” the United States sufficiently to permit the claims to proceed.

“This is an important ruling not just for our clients, who have sought justice for over a decade; it affirms the vitality of human rights litigation even after the Supreme Court’s decision in Kiobel.” continued Azmy.

Links to this and the previous ruling at: http://ccrjustice.org/newsroom/press-releases/abu-ghraib-torture-victims-may-sue-u.s.-corporation%2C-appeals-court-rules

Obama and War Crimes, 2009, 2011 and 2014

Ever since I saw the fuss on DU on Friday, I've been wondering why people only now are outraged about the Obama administration's decision not to prosecute war crimes, when I recall it's being clear early on, even before his inauguration, that he had decided not to have the Justice Department pursue indictments.

I remember objecting to it at the time, but not many people seemed concerned. Yet suddenly Friday people here began to express outrage due to the comments in the President's press conference. We even have an OP reposting a piece by Charlies Pierce in Esquire, positioned below Cameron Diaz in a wet shirt, declaring the President's statement at the press conference "the single most revolting thing this president ever said in public."

Now I may be at a disadvantage in not having had television the past couple of months, but I am having trouble understanding why those comments were worse than his decision six years ago not to proceed with full investigations and prosecutions of war crimes. Is my lack of outrage due to being deprived a repeat loop on cable television reminding me how this above all else is a seminal moment the Obama Presidency? Did I hallucinate prior press coverage from years ago making clear no prosecutions would take place?

No, it turns out I did not hallucinate. Jan 11, 2009, NYTimes:

President-elect Barack Obama signaled in an interview broadcast Sunday that he was unlikely to authorize a broad inquiry into Bush administration programs like domestic eavesdropping or the treatment of terrorism suspects. . . .

In the clearest indication so far of his thinking on the issue, Mr. Obama said on the ABC News program “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” that there should be prosecutions if “somebody has blatantly broken the law” but that his legal team was still evaluating interrogation and detention issues and would examine “past practices.”

Mr. Obama added that he also had “a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards.”

“And part of my job,” he continued, “is to make sure that, for example, at the C.I.A., you’ve got extraordinarily talented people who are working very hard to keep Americans safe. I don’t want them to suddenly feel like they’ve got spend their all their time looking over their shoulders.” . . .

There was no immediate reaction from Capitol Hill, where there has been a growing sense that Mr. Obama was not inclined to pursue these matters. In resisting pressure for a wider inquiry, he risks the ire of influential Democratic lawmakers on Congressional judiciary and intelligence committees and core constituencies who hoped his election would cast a spotlight on President Bush’s antiterror efforts.


Using the Google machine, I found some articles from 2011 maintaining that the President feared a coup if he pressed for prosecutions.

Advisors for President-Elect Barack Obama feared the new administration would face a coup if it prosecuted Bush-era war crimes, according to a new report out this morning.

Christopher Edley Jr., law dean at the University of California and a high-ranking member of the Obama transition team, made the revelation during a 9/11 forum at his law school on September 2. Andrew Kreig, director of the D.C.-based Justice Integrity Project, reports that Edley's comments were in response to questions from Susan Harman, a long-time California peace advocate.

Edley apparently tried to justify Obama's "look forward, not backwards" policy toward Bush-era lawbreaking. Instead, Kreig writes, Edley revealed the Obama team's weakness in the face of Republican thuggery:

Edley's rationale implies that Obama and his team fear the military/national security forces that he is supposed be commanding--and that Republicans have intimidated him right from the start of his presidency even though voters in 2008 rejected Republicans by the largest combined presidential-congressional mandate in recent U.S. history. Edley responded to our request for additional information by providing a description of the transition team's fears, which we present below as an exclusive email interview. Among his important points is that transition officials, not Obama, agreed that he faced the possibility of a coup.


I don't know if those fears about a coup were legitimate. They strike me as exaggerated, and I certainly can't comment on what actual threat might have existed. However, my question to DU is the following: Where were you on this issue in Jan. of 2009? Were you outraged then? Did you communicate those views to the President? Or did you wait until this past Friday to become upset? Why did it take six years? And why was the speech Friday worse than the interview on ABC's This Week in Jan. 2009 when it was clear he had decided not to move forward on prosecutions? Did you think he would magically change his mind over those six years? Or did you just not think about it until Friday's press conference? How is it possible that the statement on Friday can actually be worse than the decision not to prosecute six years ago?

Since WWII?

Why the limit? Most of the most contentious crises were in the nineteenth century, the Bank and Nullification being commonly cited. Ultimately the Secession of Southern States would prove to be the ultimate Constitutional Crisis, leading to Civil War.

Constitutional Crisis is a term greatly overused. Conflicts between branches of governments emerge that are not crises. While I would think it clear that the CIA's spying of the senate violated the constitution, a violation is not the same as a crisis. For it to be a crisis, the Executive and Congressional branches would both have to assert their actions were justified and that they each in turn had authority over the issue. The CIA and the White House are not claiming that to be the case. They admit it was a violation. Therefore no constitutional crisis is triggered. https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CB0QFjAA&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.law.upenn.edu%2Flive%2Ffiles%2F104-levinsonbalkin157upalrev7072009pdf&ei=yn7cU9zKMoydyAT374KgAg&usg=AFQjCNECWsJN5yPSZcbzU8-8FViORj2riQ&sig2=zfq9x53DDQST5jv6vHQqBA

The author of the article above cites Little Rock in 1957 as an example of a type of constitutional crisis where different branches of government each assert authority and refuse to acknowledge the authority of the other.

I can tell you of constitutional violations I consider more concerning than spying on congress: NSA surveillance and effective nullification of the Fourth Amendment. I do not consider spying of congress more serious than of ordinary Americans. I am relieved to know that you discovered congress exists, however. You have spent at least a year focusing entirely on the Presidency and it's potential occupants.

I would also say suspension of Habeas Corpus during the war on terror is of greater concern.

In terms of the CIA particularly, involvement in the assassination of Americans on US soil in furtherance of a brutal right-wing dictatorship strikes me as more serious. http://www2.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB199/ As well as Americans and Chileans killed in the aftermath of the US sponsored coup that overturned the oldest democracy in Latin America. http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=newssearch&cd=1&ved=0CBsQqQIoADAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fpeoplesworld.org%2Fjudicial-finding-in-chile-says-u-s-complicit-in-death-of-young-americans%2F&ei=1XPcU-HTMpOHyATVvoGQBw&usg=AFQjCNHAJIes8opvby8KPstz1HGrc1ZY9A&sig2=iD3l6HWU3ehcfP8B2OVyWw

The Iran Contra affair violated congressional authority since the White House and CIA broke the the Boland Amendment that made it illegal to arm the contra rebels seeking to overturn the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.

The US sponsored coup against Arbenz in 1954 was atrocious. US action was influenced by the fact that both the Director of the CIA and Secretary of State were major stock holders in United Fruit, a US company whose holdings were threatened by land reform proposed by the Arbenz government (only lands not currently cultivated). That coup led to the installation of a series of military dictatorships that would, with military aid and instruction by the US military (in the School of the Americas) and CIA, the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Guatemalans, mostly indigenous, over the subsequent four decades. That included torture of Guatemalans and Americans, like Sister Diana Ortiz, who wrote about her torture at the hands of an American. http://www.amazon.com/The-Blindfolds-Eyes-Journey-Torture/dp/1570755639

Other horrors by the CIA included the overthrow in 1953, of the Mosaddegh administration in Iran. That would set the conditions that would lead to the Iranian revolution of 1979, whose consequences we continue to face, including through the arming of Hamas and the conflict going on this very moment.

Really, Brenner has nothing on Allen Dulles, head of CIA during both of the above coups as well as the Bay of Pigs.

So it's one thing to say the spying on congress is bad and to give reasons why, but your ahistorical hyperbole irritates me. It seems the point as ever is to pretend Obama is the worst President in history. I have long grown weary of it.
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