Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Call It A Depression and Get Cracking With the Solutions! More Austerity = Strongman Arising: Global War on Terror = Global Free Market Wars; American Everyman Is US! NCPCF Action Alert!!! What WE Can DO

Sorry to be a little late in commenting on this article, but it's not going away and won't actually become old news for a very long time.

It is very important, however, that Americans, who live under the fog of a non-war war economy (against countries abroad and the middle class at home) understand what type of warlike conditions are rapidly overtaking our natural allies in Europe. Anyone else remember why mismanagement and corruption by the strong (whichever political  or class grouping) against the weak is a formula for disaster?

Professor Krugman is an excellent source of details and some inside information from his travels. We should heed his words, and choose our future course based on this "new" world.

Order or not.

[Since it's pretty close if not already holiday time in your house, if you could throw a few coins this way, there will be a Santa Claus in Pottersville. Thank you for your support!]

Depression and Democracy 

December 11, 2011
It’s time to start calling the current situation what it is: a depression. True, it’s not a full replay of the Great Depression, but that’s cold comfort. Unemployment in both America and Europe remains disastrously high. Leaders and institutions are increasingly discredited. And democratic values are under siege.

On that last point, I am not being alarmist. On the political as on the economic front it’s important not to fall into the “not as bad as” trap. High unemployment isn’t O.K. just because it hasn’t hit 1933 levels; ominous political trends shouldn’t be dismissed just because there’s no Hitler in sight.

Let’s talk, in particular, about what’s happening in Europe — not because all is well with America, but because the gravity of European political developments isn’t widely understood.

First of all, the crisis of the euro is killing the European dream. The shared currency, which was supposed to bind nations together, has instead created an atmosphere of bitter acrimony.

Specifically, demands for ever-harsher austerity, with no offsetting effort to foster growth, have done double damage. They have failed as economic policy, worsening unemployment without restoring confidence; a Europe-wide recession now looks likely even if the immediate threat of financial crisis is contained. And they have created immense anger, with many Europeans furious at what is perceived, fairly or unfairly (or actually a bit of both), as a heavy-handed exercise of German power.

Nobody familiar with Europe’s history can look at this resurgence of hostility without feeling a shiver. Yet there may be worse things happening.

Right-wing populists are on the rise from Austria, where the Freedom Party (whose leader used to have neo-Nazi connections) runs neck-and-neck in the polls with established parties, to Finland, where the anti-immigrant True Finns party had a strong electoral showing last April. And these are rich countries whose economies have held up fairly well. Matters look even more ominous in the poorer nations of Central and Eastern Europe.

Last month the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development documented a sharp drop in public support for democracy in the “new E.U.” countries, the nations that joined the European Union after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Not surprisingly, the loss of faith in democracy has been greatest in the countries that suffered the deepest economic slumps.

And in at least one nation, Hungary, democratic institutions are being undermined as we speak.

One of Hungary’s major parties, Jobbik, is a nightmare out of the 1930s: it’s anti-Roma (Gypsy), it’s anti-Semitic, and it even had a paramilitary arm.

But the immediate threat comes from Fidesz, the governing center-right party.

Fidesz won an overwhelming Parliamentary majority last year, at least partly for economic reasons; Hungary isn’t on the euro, but it suffered severely because of large-scale borrowing in foreign currencies and also, to be frank, thanks to mismanagement and corruption on the part of the then-governing left-liberal parties. Now Fidesz, which rammed through a new Constitution last spring on a party-line vote, seems bent on establishing a permanent hold on power.

The details are complex. Kim Lane Scheppele, who is the director of Princeton’s Law and Public Affairs program — and has been following the Hungarian situation closely — tells me that Fidesz is relying on overlapping measures to suppress opposition.

A proposed election law creates gerrymandered districts designed to make it almost impossible for other parties to form a government; judicial independence has been compromised, and the courts packed with party loyalists; state-run media have been converted into party organs, and there’s a crackdown on independent media; and a proposed constitutional addendum would effectively criminalize the leading leftist party.

Taken together, all this amounts to the re-establishment of authoritarian rule, under a paper-thin veneer of democracy, in the heart of Europe. And it’s a sample of what may happen much more widely if this depression continues.

It’s not clear what can be done about Hungary’s authoritarian slide. The U.S. State Department, to its credit, has been very much on the case, but this is essentially a European matter. The European Union missed the chance to head off the power grab at the start — in part because the new Constitution was rammed through while Hungary held the Union’s rotating presidency. It will be much harder to reverse the slide now. Yet Europe’s leaders had better try, or risk losing everything they stand for.
And they also need to rethink their failing economic policies. If they don’t, there will be more backsliding on democracy — and the breakup of the euro may be the least of their worries.

And in the USA? What do we see daily?

The destruction of the Occupy camps was no mistake.

The pepper-spraying thugs (masquerading as public servants) were specially brought in to wage war on the Dirty Fucking Hippes (DFH), whom they condemn as unAmericans who are only troublemakers or worse (probably "socialists!").

And they are troublemakers.

For the owners of the American Empire. (See any parallels here with Europe - past or present?)

Notice how talk about the rapaciousness of the bankers and investors who financed the financial catastrophe has faded from view in much of the mainstream media (MSM)

Also, not an accident.

Welcome to your future.


We are American Everyman.

In Kevin’s “Ode to Giving Up” (which is being splattered all across the interwebs this morning like so much fake blood in a slasher film) he is voicing the merits of abject failure as if his audience is either to naive or simply too stupid to understand what has happened.

People don’t need smoke blown up their asses, they don’t need to be told they won when they didn’t.They need a fire lit under them. They need to be told to come back even stronger and more resilient than before. If they are still occupying, they need to be told to stay and others need to be told to go to their aid. They need buses lined up to move them to where the fight is. They need to be told that help is coming. That this isn’t over by a long shot. That’s what a fucking leader in a revolution does.

The movement needs direction and courage from those rare few with the conviction of spirit that it takes to lead at such a time. Someone who understands the complexity of the moment and is willing to risk everything to see it done.

This is why Chris Hedges says that when movements like this take shape it is impossible to predict who and what will rise to power out of them. That’s because most of the time the “professional” dissidents don’t have the nature to rise up and take charge when it is needed.

They are accustomed to weighing their options, to playing for the long haul, to compromise for the sake of longevity. They are trained above all else in ethical maneuvering for political survival and usually they have a knack for sensing how the winds are changing around them so they can position themselves for advancement.

This is why you don’t allow professional dissidents to lead your revolution; because professional dissidents are simply politicians on the outside desperate to get in.

They loath real revolutionaries and do whatever they can to undermine them and to alienate them from the movement because they fear being left out in the cold, they fear their cowardice and complacency will be exposed in the light of a new shining rage.

In short, they fear change that they can’t direct to serve their own selfish interests.

Whether or not that is a fair description of what Kevin Zeese thinks is hard to say. He has a long career in political activism (and by “political activism” I mean he has tried several times to get his foot in the door in DC: in 2004 he was attached to the Nader campaign and in 2006 he ran for office himself) and since 2006, Kevin is a founding member of a group called Voters For Peace which pretends that by getting a bunch of people together and pledging them to vote the way they want them to vote, they can force an end to the illegal occupations of places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

They started VFP in 2006 long after many of us understood that electronic voting machines were stealing elections and your “peace voting block” meant nothing to no one of any consequence.

Most Americans want an end to these immoral occupations being conducted in the name of the trumped up Global War on Terror (read as “Global Free Market Wars”) and so an organization like the one Zeese helped form would seem to me to be a rather sly way to start to build a voter block that would ultimately help get someone in office.

The Occupy Movement would also seem to help in that regard as well, wouldn’t it? Especially if it were to be diluted into a fractured mailing list of local groups of potential voters taking their marching orders from someone like Kevin perhaps.

So why turn the Occupy Movement into a free lawn care service? Why did Kevin in his article demean the very kinds of people that the Occupy Movement should have been set up to defend? Why does Kevin seem to support the fantasy that we can vote our way out of this? 

Why did Kevin completely understate the exponentially growing threat of the elites in this country and the death-grip they hold on the burgeoning one party political system we have here in America?

Do any of these actions of Kevin’s point to an ulterior motive like something Kevin’s past points to, that Kevin just wants to get his foot in the door of the political elites before the shit really hits the fan?

In a word, yes.

In the one party system it is imperative that the fake leaders on the supposed left are capable of directing their constituents and followers in directions that are contradictory to best interests. 

In the case of the Clintons and Obama the mantra has always been that we must “move to the center” in order to gain political power and thus the dynamic shift to the far neoliberal right was justified and openly displayed and talked about. Now it is what’s called the Washington Consensus, though it is hardly our consensus.

The Obama administration and a couple of hand picked bi-partisan senators came up with a program called the Serve America Act back in 2009. They wanted to force every poor or working class American into a year of community service in AmericCorp or some other NGO type for profit scam.  5.7 billion dollars was pledged and the Obamaites had yet another feel-good moment.

But the legislation had a darker side. The idea was that they would impose on the very people who were about to be the hardest hit by the designed implosion of the economy and the hikes in education pricing, a kind of mandatory communal connection, though in reality most of the community has long since given up on these kinds of kids.

Here is what Kevin Zeese just said in his article:

“Develop plans for house-to-house campaigns where you knock on doors, provide literature, ask what you can do to make their lives better.  Do they need snow removed?  Clothes?  If so, get the occupy team to fulfill their needs, find used clothes, clean their yard – whatever you can do to help.  This shows community and builds relationships.” Zeese
And this is what Orrin Hatch said of the Serve America Act:

“During a tough economic time for our country, it is important that we do not rely on government aid to solve every problem. This bill is founded on the fundamental belief in the power of the American people to improve their country and communities at the local level; it will increase opportunities for Americans to serve and, thus, increase personal and community responsibility.” Orrin Hatch
If you can get people to redirect their energy and their anger during times of economic hardship, then you have done a lot for the financial elites running the country. Especially young people whom have already displayed a propensity for dedicated resistance like those in the Occupy Movement have.

Another aspect of this “plan” of Kevin’s is the fact that while these young people are out going “door to door” with their literature, I wonder who’s non-profit organizations will be stamped on those leaflets? Yep, you guessed it, Kevin’s and his fellow self-proclaimed “leaders” of the Occupy Movement. Imagine, you can’t buy that kind of press. A bunch of young nice energetic people come to your door, rake your yard, sweep your walk, paint your porch for free, and all they want to do is give you a few leaflets with Kevin Zeese’s smiling picture on it?

That’s not the Occupy Movement, that’s the Church of Later Day Saints.

You can decide for yourselves why Kevin chose to demean the homeless and jobless the way he did in his article by calling them a diversion of the movement. Personally I think people like Kevin actually loathe the more unfortunate in our society just like the Glenn Becks and the Bill O’Reillys of this world do.  Or it could simply be a ham-handed attempt to redefine the movement into a more politically affiliated direction something like MoveOn. I don’t know. It’s tasteless and cowardly to blame the most vulnerable and deeply effected in our nation for Kevin’s failure, that much I do know.

More important is the direct lie Kevin Zeese writes;

“… We may be in for a sprint, or more likely, a marathon with hurdles. If you are hoping for a sprint, note that the deep corruption of the government and the economy has left both weaker than is publicly acknowledged. It may be a hollowed out shell ready to fall.” Kevin Zeese
Nothing could be farther from the truth and every single day the corruption in place in Washington digs itself in deeper and stronger.

  • There is a “progressive” administration providing more than adequate left cover for the elites. Millions would have been in the streets years ago had a republican been doing what Obama is doing in the White House and Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, Syria, and Iran. Of that there is NO DOUBT
  •  Citizens United. Do I need to say anything else?
  • Obama’s “tax break” plan is an attempt to undermine Social Security by reducing the amount deducted from your paycheck (those of you with paychecks) from 6.2% to 3.1% and that neoliberal attack on the social safety net is moving along at a fine pace.
  • Section 1031 and 1032 of the NDAA of 2012 will be re-written by Clinton and Panetta to give them more authority to fight their GWOT and use the military to arrest and detain “belligerents” in America. And the ALCU is helping them do it.
  • Obama claims the right to kill U.S. citizens as he sees fit.
  • It has come out recently that the Pentagon has been giving local police departments weapons of mass destruction for the past year so that they can better “serve and protect” the citizens.
  • They using Predator drones in law enforcement actions in the continental United States against our own citizens.
  • The FBI and NYPD have planned several phony terrorist plots here in the states in an effort to prove that the “terrorists” are right here in America. We all know this and yet, it continues to happen.
  • The financial elites who destroyed the economy are sitting on trillions of dollars without investing any of it to put us back to work, we have 3 new NAFTA type free trade agreements signed (one sparked a riot in the South Korean parliament)
  • No one is held accountable for crimes against humanity of the previous administration and no bankers are held accountable for demoing our economy.
  • The DHS was able to orchestrate a nationwide assault on the Occupy Movements using chemical weapons and thugs dressed up like stormtroopers who beat and dragged and shot peaceful protesters on a regular basis and NOTHING was done to hinder them or call them out for their actions
  • The MSM is even more in the pocket of the globalist elites these days printing and “reporting” on one false story after the other in an obvious attempt to foster support for illegal invasions and forced regime changes throughout the globe… even poking Russia right now with yet another “Green Revolution” destabilization campaign.
  • The Patriot Act was written by Joe Biden long before 9/11 and even the bombing in Oklahoma City and in fact, it was the anthrax attacks, not 9/11 which prompted congress to vote the Patriot Act into law. The anthrax attacks, though at first blamed on Muslims or Saddam, actually came from a US secured facility.
    Does this seem like the corrupt system is getting weaker and “hollowed out” like Kevin suggests?

    Of course not. Only a fool or a tool would say that, and Kevin is not a fool.

    Someone once said that power only yields to more power and that is absolutely correct. Sitting around in drum circles and marching around dressed like billionaires on parade is not power, it’s embarrassing.

    There was a huge upsurge in their live streams while bloggers like myself and activists took notice and waited for something real to take place.

    A large group had made it to within a block of the stock exchange and the police didn’t know what to do. The crowd numbers started surging and people were looking to find out what the next move was.

    Suddenly there were reports that the Teamsters were on their way down to join them. The Teamsters were coming down in mass to help the OWS protesters push through that last block and actually OCCUPY WALL STREET

    Bloggers and independent journalists like myself watched in disbelief and abject joy. This was it… our Tahrir Square moment was taking shape. We were witnessing (and live blogging) real history; one of those moments when things change and politicians and their owners have to back peddle for months and even years to try to reclaim the power they lost in the friction. The shocked NYPD understood that they were going to have to make a decision to attack a massive crowd of excited protesters who could smell blood, or step aside and let them have their prize.

    OWS was poised to make their final push, the Teamsters were on their way, and all they needed was a voice to rise in a call for action. They were moments from victory.

    Then, within 5 minutes of hearing that the Teamsters were coming, the self-proclaimed “leaders” of OWS New York started leading the protesters somewhere else… back to their little “free speech zone” in Zuccati Park, well away from Wall Street and well away from anything that would really make a difference.

    They turn tail and ran as soon as it looked like they really had a chance to force change. The fake leaders snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and they did it one purpose.

    Some in the crowd, once they got back to the free speech zone, shouted that they needed to go back to Wall Street, that they had something developing, something happening, that they had to take advantage of.

    They were shouted down by the self-proclaimed professional leaders of the movement, the one’s in charge of all that money that poured into OWS. They said they had “won” already by forcing Wall Street to delay it’s opening bell by 15 minutes.

    15 minutes.

    That was their victory.

    No one bought that. People knew they had been hijacked by professional disruptors just like the Truth movement and the anti-Globalization movement was before them. They had been hijacked and  steered back into the kettle of meaningless drum circles and droning chants.

    And this is where Kevin Zeese is offering to take the movement yet again. Back to the free speech zones of “political activism”, VoteForPeace donation pages, and useless email address lists which will only ever be used to ask for more money and to show the elites how effective people like Kevin Zeese can be to them.

    If ever an organization needed to get rid of anyone, the Occupy Movement needs to get rid of the people who steered them back to Zuccati park and others like Kevin Zeese who are steering them into a longer term kettle. Unless of course, the Occupy Movement is ready to sign up for the Serve America Act and “HOPE” that their vote counts in a country where there’s not a dime’s difference between one candidate and the other.

    Prologue: There is a war brewing somewhere just off the distant horizon, far enough to be ignored if that is what you wish, but close enough to see if you choose to open your eyes. The endgame of the Global Free Market Wars is absolute domination and complete control of the global economic system by a few ruthless privately owned banks and financial institutions. 

    Major nations stand in opposition to this control and they will rather commit massive resources to building their defenses rather than submit to the global hegemony of our financial elites. Their opposition was foreseen decades ago and thus the coming war has been for many a foregone conclusion requiring a massive upsurge in military spending here and among other NATO countries.

    When the elites had chosen to commit Americans to the Great War in early 1900s, they understood that they had to remove dissidents from the equation early on rather than let them undermine the propaganda they needed to garner public support for WWI. And that is what they did.

    Thousands were arrested and charged with sedition and similar “crimes” and it will happen again. It has to. Because a war isn’t just waged on the enemy on the field of battle, it is waged on the population of the people at home as well. You are either with us or you are with the enemy.

    The Occupy movement threatened to develop into a massive mobilized force, a loose cannon on the decks of the War Machine, which had to be squashed and diverted and diluted, and so that is exactly what they did.

    Some say that the Great War that is coming is inevitable, that it can’t be averted. I disagree. It can be stopped but only from within our shores and it can only be stopped by those willing to force a different power structure, a power structure that serves the people rather than condemning them. The Occupy movement, for a moment was poised to do just that.

    The heart of the movement still exists. The fire that burned then still burns.

    A reader left this video as comment yesterday. It is relevant to this little chat and so I offer it to you as a reminder of just what is at stake and as a wake up call. There is no time to bandy about with drum circles and email lists and community responsibility building sessions. There is no time for Kevin Zeese’s “years” and “decades” of change. Change is upon us now, right now, and any fool can see it building.

    The truth is extreme.
    To make it Moderate
    Is to lie.

    What’s Next for the New People Power?


    Immanuel Wallerstein, Op-Ed: “Two things should be noticed about the present situation. The first is that the trade-unions — as a part of what is happening, as a result of what is happening — have become far more militant, and far more open to the idea that they should be active participants in the worldwide social justice movement. This is true in the Arab world, in Europe, in North America, in southern Africa, even in China.

    Dur­ing the protests in Tahrir Square in No­vem­ber 2011, Mo­hamed Ali, age 20, re­sponded to a jour­nal­ist's query as to why he was there: "We want so­cial jus­tice. Noth­ing more. That's the least that we de­serve."

    The first round of the move­ments took mul­ti­ple forms across the world — the so-called Arab Spring, the Oc­cupy move­ments be­gin­ning in the United States and then spread­ing to a large num­ber of coun­tries, Oxi in Greece and the in­dig­na­dos in Spain, the stu­dent protests in Chile, and many oth­ers.

    They were a fan­tas­tic suc­cess. The de­gree of suc­cess may be mea­sured by an ex­tra­or­di­nary ar­ti­cle writ­ten by Lawrence Sum­mers in the Fi­nan­cial Times on No­vem­ber 21, with the title, "In­equal­ity can no longer be held at bay by the usual ideas." This is not a theme for which Sum­mers has pre­vi­ously been known.

    In it he makes two re­mark­able points, con­sid­er­ing that he has been per­son­ally one of the ar­chi­tects of the world eco­nomic pol­icy in the last twenty years that has put us all in the dire cri­sis in which the world finds it­self.

    The first point is that there have been fun­da­men­tal changes in world eco­nomic struc­tures. Sum­mers says that "the most im­por­tant of these is the strong shift in the mar­ket re­ward for a small mi­nor­ity of cit­i­zens rel­a­tive to the re­wards avail­able to most cit­i­zens."
    The sec­ond con­cerns the two kinds of pub­lic re­ac­tions to this re­al­ity: that of the pro­test­ers and that of the strong anti-pro­test­ers. Sum­mers says he is against "po­lar­iza­tion," which is what, ac­cord­ing to him, the pro­test­ers are en­gaged in doing. But then he says: "At the same time, those who are quick to label any ex­pres­sion of con­cern about ris­ing in­equal­ity as mis­placed or a prod­uct of class war­fare are even fur­ther off base." 

    Article image
    What Sum­mers' ar­ti­cle in­di­cates is not that he has be­come an ex­po­nent of rad­i­cal so­cial change — far from it — but rather that he is wor­ried about the po­lit­i­cal im­pact of the world­wide so­cial jus­tice move­ment, es­pe­cially in what he calls the in­dus­tri­al­ized world.

    I call this suc­cess for the global so­cial jus­tice move­ment. The re­sponse to this suc­cess has been a few minor con­ces­sions here and there, but then a grow­ing amount of re­pres­sion every­where. In the United States and Canada, there has been a sys­tem­atic clear­ing out of the "oc­cu­pa­tions." 

    The vir­tual si­mul­tane­ity of these po­lice ac­tions seems to in­di­cate some high-level co­or­di­na­tion. In Egypt, the mil­i­tary has been re­sist­ing any di­lu­tion of their power. Aus­ter­ity poli­cies have been im­posed on Greece and Italy by the fiat of Ger­many and France.

    The story, how­ever, is far from over. The move­ments are de­vel­op­ing their sec­ond wind. The pro­test­ers have re­oc­cu­pied Tahrir Square and are treat­ing Field Mar­shal Tantawi to the same scorn they treated Hosni Mubarak. In Por­tu­gal, the call for a one-day gen­eral strike closed down the whole trans­port sys­tem.

    An an­nounced strike in Great Britain protest­ing the cut in pen­sions seems likely to re­duce traf­fic in Heathrow by 50%, which will have major world­wide reper­cus­sions, given the cen­tral­ity of Heathrow to the world trans­port sys­tem

    In Greece, the gov­ern­ment has tried to squeeze poor pen­sion­ers by putting a big prop­erty tax on their elec­tric­ity bill, threat­en­ing cut-off of elec­tric­ity if it's not paid. There is or­ga­nized re­sis­tance. Local elec­tri­cians are il­le­gally reat­tach­ing the elec­tric­ity, count­ing on the in­abil­ity of the re­duced mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ment staffs to en­force their law. It's a tac­tic that has been suc­cess­fully used in the Jo­han­nes­burg sub­urb of Soweto for a decade now.

    In the United States and Canada, the oc­cu­pa­tion move­ment has spread from the down­towns of cities to the cam­puses. And the "oc­cu­piers" are dis­cussing al­ter­na­tive places to oc­cupy dur­ing the win­ter months. The Chilean stu­dent re­bel­lion has spread to the sec­ondary schools.

    Two things should be no­ticed about the pre­sent sit­u­a­tion. The first is that the trade-unions — as a part of what is hap­pen­ing, as a re­sult of what is hap­pen­ing — have be­come far more mil­i­tant, and far more open to the idea that they should be ac­tive par­tic­i­pants in the world­wide so­cial jus­tice move­ment. This is true in the Arab world, in Eu­rope, in North Amer­ica, in south­ern Africa, even in China.

    The sec­ond thing to no­tice is the de­gree to which the move­ments every­where have been able to main­tain their em­pha­sis on a hor­i­zon­tal strat­egy.

    The move­ments are not bu­reau­cratic struc­tures but coali­tions of mul­ti­ple groups, or­ga­ni­za­tions, sec­tors of the pop­u­la­tion. They are still work­ing hard to de­bate on an on­go­ing basis their tac­tics and their pri­or­i­ties, and are re­sist­ing be­com­ing ex­clu­sion­ary.

    Does this al­ways work smoothly? Of course not. Does this work bet­ter than re­con­struct­ing a new ver­ti­cal move­ment, with clear lead­er­ship and col­lec­tive dis­ci­pline? Up to now, it has in­deed worked bet­ter.

    We have to think of the world strug­gle as a long race, in which the run­ners have to use their en­ergy wisely, in order not to be­come ex­hausted while al­ways keep­ing their eye on the end goal — a dif­fer­ent kind of world-sys­tem, far more de­mo­c­ra­tic, far more egal­i­tar­ian than any­thing we have now.

    Im­manuel Waller­stein, Se­nior Re­search Scholar at Yale Uni­ver­sity, is the au­thor of The De­cline of Amer­i­can Power: The U.S. in a Chaotic World (New Press).
     _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

    NCPCF Action Alert! - Dec. 15 is Action Day- If you don't want to live in a Police State Act Now

     National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms

    NCPCF Action Alert            December 12, 2011     

    Please Act by December 15, 2011

    Take Action     Toolkit       Petition

    Congress recently passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This bill contains some of the most dangerous provisions we’ve ever seen: it would allow the government to imprison anyone suspected of an offense deemed “terrorism-related” indefinitely and without trial — even US citizens.

    The president, the Department of Defense, the FBI, and a bipartisan block of senators all oppose this bill. Why is Congress trying to give the government powers it doesn't even want?

    Stand with other military service members and veterans in standing against the military detention provisions of the NDAA. Sign our petition today!

    This is America. We have rights, and we demand that our government respect and protect them.

    National Defense Authorization Act

    What is the National Defense Authorization Act?

    The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is a bill passed by Congress in early December. It contains provisions that, if made law, would allow the military to arrest, and indefinitely detain, even US citizens merely accused (but never proven) of involvement in terror-related crimes.  Those of us who care about liberty and freedom must take immediate action. Whether concerned about communities vulnerable to racial profiling in the war on terror, or the ideological profiling apparent in the FBI’s investigation of dozens of peace & justice activists around the country, or simply preserving the right to trial or the longstanding prohibition on domestic military deployment, all Americans share a stake in this struggle.

    Why are the NDAA’s detention provisions so bad?

    1. The indefinite military detention of US citizens violates the Fifth and Sixth Amendments, as well as the fundamental Posse Comitatus Act, on which democracy relies. A society is not free when its citizens are subject to arbitrary detention.

    2. The NDAA’s detention provisions would authorize the indefinite military detention of activists. The FBI has long treated peace, environmental, and anti-tax activists as terrorists.

    Legalizing indefinite detention for anyone accused of a terror-related crime would give any future federal government the unchecked power to silence critics, deny the right to trial, and override the presumption of innocence.

    3. Transforming America into a police state would do the work of our nation’s enemies.

    Throwing our rights and liberties to the wind is what terrorists want.

    4. The NDAA’s detention provisions would undermine national security. The FBI director, the secretary of defense, the director of national intelligence, President Obama, and the chairs of the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committees all recognize that expanded military detention harms national security. They understand that detention would not only threaten constitutional rights, but also force the military to perform a mission for which it is ill suited, and erode trust in our justice system.

    5. Congress is supposed to check and balance the Executive Branch, not expand it. The NDAA would give the Obama administration unprecedented power to detain US citizens without judicial review. Rather than checking and balancing the Executive Branch, Congress passed a bill giving the Executive Branch even more power than the administration wants. 

    What is the NDAA’s status?

    On November 29, 2011, the Senate voted 61-39 to reject the Udall Amendment, which would have eliminated the NDAA’s provisions expanding military detention, paving the way for the Senate’s approval on December 1. President Obama has threatened to veto the bill if it comes to his desk with the detention provisions still intact, but the Senate could override the veto with 66 votes.

    And that’s presuming the administration holds true to its veto pledge, which it may abandon if the Senate appears likely to override. Senators are poised to vote on whether to override President Obama’s promised veto. As a result, activism seeking the attention of local and state press could help influence the outcome of that vote.

    Those in support of the detention provisions need only five more votes to override a veto. They will be actively working to preserve the support of the 61 senators who opposed the Udall amendment, while also challenging the 38 who voted for it.

    Bill of Rights Day is coming up on December 15, and there’s no better way to demonstrate true patriotism than raising your voice for liberty and the right to trial. Allies around the country are planning actions for December 15.

    What can we do?

    1. Sign our petition demanding that President Obama fulfill his promise to veto the bill and that Congress allow the veto to stand.

    2. Forward our petition for military service members to any military service members, veterans, or retired officers you know.

    3. Share this call to action and toolkit with your communities and networks. Below are several ideas for actions on Bill of Rights Day (December 15).

    4. Let BORDC/NCPCF know your plans. We’ll feature them on our website, promote them to our supporters in your community, and work with you to draw attention to your concerns.

    NDAA actions for Bill of Rights Day (December 15)

    These are just a few ideas for actions you can hold to oppose NDAA in your community. 

    Don’t forget to let us know about your event so that we can help you publicize it.

    Meetings with senators (or their staff)

    Contact the state offices of your senators and request meeting to share your concerns about the NDAA.

    Reach out to your allies and neighbors and recruit others to attend with you.

    Visit the office, explain your position, collect the business cards of the people you meet with, and — most importantly — stay in touch with them going forward

    Community Forum

    A forum can be an excellent way to share information with your friends, neighbors, and community. A forum can also offer an opportunity to recruit allies with whom to build a larger campaign.

    Many forums feature prepared remarks from two or three speakers, followed by a question-and-answer period.

    When choosing speakers for your forum, aim to ensure diversity in terms of the speakers’ perspectives, areas of expertise, race, religion, age, and gender. Remember to consider students and potential allies as speakers.

    Before the panel, schedule a meeting or conference call with the speakers to review what each person will discuss. A conference call will also help acquaint the speakers with each other before the live discussion, which will help make the public discussion more compelling.

    Invite friends, community groups, and local nonprofit organizations. Consider asking local groups and organizations to cosponsor the forum and donate to help cover expenses such as copying, postage, childcare for participants, and facility rental. Sponsorships can help expand your network for promoting the event and rally support for future efforts.

    And be sure to collect the contact information of attendees, and stay in touch with them.

    March or Demonstration

    A rally or march can demonstrate support for your goals and attract decision makers, media outlets, and more community supporters. The most effective demonstrations are strategic. Pick a time and location that supports your goals. For example, a demonstration outside city hall on the night of an important vote can leverage — and potentially influence — existing media coverage of the vote. Be careful to mobilize only when you’re sure you have a critical mass of supporters, as a sparsely attended demonstration can actually decrease support. Be sure to announce your concerns at the demonstration by reading a statement about your purpose, holding signs, etc. As with any event, promote the demonstration or march by posting flyers on bulletin boards; announcements to email lists, and advisories to local — and statewide media.

    Check your local laws about any potential restrictions on public gatherings. If necessary, secure a permit.


    A vigil is a somber, often silent, gathering of people to honor or remember an injustice. Often, groups hold candlelight vigils at night outdoors and invite community members to join them.

    Consider whether to invite a speaker (perhaps a local faith leader) to address participants, or have a member of your campaign read a statement about the dangers of military detention without trial. Distribute information about your concerns, but do so respectfully. A vigil is a solemn event, not a time to loudly or forcefully push sign-up sheets.

    If you’re hosting a candlelight vigil, make sure you provide candles and some means of keeping them from catching on fire. A small paper cup with a hole cut in it will shield the candle from the wind and catch dripping wax. Find a public place for your vigil, where the community will see you and can easily join you. A banner or posters can help passersby understand your concerns.

    Street Theater

    Free performances in a public space offer a tremendous opportunity to convey a political message. Your campaign can use street theater to share your message with an audience you might not reach otherwise, and do it in a fun, creative way.

    YAHA Net (Youth, the Arts, HIV & AIDS Network) provides a great guide to planning street theater. They suggest performing in a public place with plenty of people, keeping the performance short and to the point, repeating a memorable and distinctive message, and engaging the audience afterwards through a discussion. Consider incorporating props, puppets, music, costumes, and audience participation—anything that will grab attention can help communicate your message.


    Similar to street theater, a flashmob can carry a political and educational message, while creating stunning visual statements. Video recordings of flashmobs also make great online awareness-raising tools. 
    A flashmob appears like a spontaneous convergence, often with a performance such as a skit, song, dance, or action. But despite appearances, a flashmob requires careful planning and timing. 

    Lyrical Ambush 

    A lyrical ambush is a performance (often featuring poetry, spoken word, or hip hop in an open mic format) in a public space. In addition to the voices of rotating performers, lyrical ambushes can also feature drums or musical instruments, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, and noisemakers. Bringing extra materials for public use can help draw in spectators and turn them into participants. The DC Guerrilla Poetry Insurgency has a variety of examples and suggestions at their website.

    Film Screening

    You can show a film at a local movie theatre, college or high school auditorium, religious institution, business conference room, or even a community member’s home. There are lots of great films, both documentaries and fictional pieces, that raise civil rights issues and could prompt compelling discussions. Choose a film that will highlight the problems your campaign seeks to address. Refer to BORDC’s list of recommended resources.

    Entice supporters, community members, and the press to attend your screening. It’s great—but difficult—to get a film’s stars or creators to attend your screening, but there are lots of easier ways to promote it as well. Ask local restaurants or grocery stores for food donations or request that campaign 5 supporters bring snacks. Hold a raffle or door prize with donated goods or services from local businesses. Be careful not to violate copyright laws that may prohibit certain public film screenings. You can avoid copyright violations by requesting permission from the filmmaker or producer. Some may require you to pay to show the film, but many distributers routinely allow certain types of groups and organizations to show films for free.

    Letters to Congress

    Writing letters to your senators can be more personal than a petition and can help demonstrate broad community support. It’s easiest to get a supporter to write a letter when he or she is already sitting down. For example, take a few minutes during a forum or film screening and ask people to write letters. It’s helpful to offer a sample text, if participants are writing their letters themselves, or postcards on which they can write a personal message.

    You can either mail the letters or cards to your senators or deliver them in person at a meeting. Remember to make copies of them beforehand so you can follow up with letter writers later. Don’t forget to let us know about your event so that we can help you publicize it!


    Tom Harper said...

    Very informative column by Paul Krugman. I was against the formation of the European Union during that early '90s referendum. But when it passed, I figured, well, they must know what they're doing.

    Apparently not.

    Suzan said...

    Thanks for the comment, Tom!

    They may or may not have known, but Goldman Sachs certainly knew how to make their economies cry loud and long, didn't they?

    I'll never forget watching Paulson with Bush that fateful September day right before the elections in 2008 when they explained (to TV cameras after the fact) that the money just had to be put back (from the taxpayers) in the banks or we'd all go to the poor house.


    I said then, does anyone else know for whom Paulson was working (as CEO no less) previously?

    I did.

    And I couldn't believe that the Goldman Sachs linkages were never reported on seriously until it became public knowledge through the documents released afterwards that AIG had to be saved in order to shovel the moolah over to GS and all the rest of the casinos/investment ventures/international banks/etc., now brand new banks!

    But, I digress.

    Greece is bad! Long live the PIIGS (and France, of course).

    Austerity is wealth!

    Poverty is being threatened to the upper class!

    Four legs good!

    Two legs bad!!!!

    - G. Orwell

    And we continue down that same DLC road. Neatly paved by GS.