We Won—For Now

Chris Hedges, the man who sued Obama over the NDAA and won, writes an article about it.  Obama has already filed an appeal

“We Won—For Now

Showdown between the president and the judiciary

By Chris Hedges

September 17, 2012 “Information Clearing House” –  In January I sued President Barack Obama over Section 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which authorized the military to detain U.S. citizens indefinitely, strip them of due process and hold them in military facilities, including offshore penal colonies. Last week, round one in the battle to strike down the onerous provision, one that saw me joined by six other plaintiffs including Noam Chomsky and Daniel Ellsberg, ended in an unqualified victory for the public. U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest, who accepted every one of our challenges to the law, made her temporary injunction of the section permanent. In short, she declared the law unconstitutional.

Almost immediately after Judge Forrest ruled, the Obama administration challenged the decision. Government prosecutors called the opinion “unprecedented” and said that “the government has compelling arguments that it should be reversed.” The government added that it was an “extraordinary injunction of worldwide scope.” Government lawyers asked late Friday for an immediate stay of Forrest’s ban on the use of the military in domestic policing and on the empowering of the government to strip U.S. citizens of due process. The request for a stay was an attempt by the government to get the judge, pending appeal to a higher court, to grant it the right to continue to use the law. Forrest swiftly rejected the stay, setting in motion a fast-paced appeal to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and possibly, if her ruling is upheld there, to the Supreme Court of the United States. The Justice Department sent a letter to Forrest and the 2nd Circuit late Friday night informing them that at 9 a.m. Monday the Obama administration would ask the 2nd Circuit for an emergency stay that would lift Forrest’s injunction. This would allow Obama to continue to operate with indefinite detention authority until a formal appeal was heard. The government’s decision has triggered a constitutional showdown between the president and the judiciary. 

“This may be the most significant constitutional standoff since the Pentagon Papers case,” said Carl Mayer, co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs.

“The administration of President Obama within the last 48 hours has decided to engage in an all-out campaign to block and overturn an order of a federal judge,” said co-lead counsel Bruce Afran. “As Judge Forrest noted in her opinion, nothing is more fundamental in American law than the possibility that journalists, activists and citizens could lose their liberty, potentially forever, and the Obama administration has now lined up squarely with the most conservative elements of the Republican Party to undermine Americans’ civil liberties.”

The request by the government to keep the law on the books during the appeal process raises a disturbing question. If the administration is this anxious to restore this section of the NDAA, is it because the Obama government has already used it? Or does it have plans to use the section in the immediate future?

“A Department of Homeland Security bulletin was issued Friday claiming that the riots [in the Middle East] are likely to come to the U.S. and saying that DHS is looking for the Islamic leaders of these likely riots,” Afran said. “It is my view that this is why the government wants to reopen the NDAA—so it has a tool to round up would-be Islamic protesters before they can launch any protest, violent or otherwise. Right now there are no legal tools to arrest would-be protesters. The NDAA would give the government such power. Since the request to vacate the injunction only comes about on the day of the riots, and following the DHS bulletin, it seems to me that the two are connected. The government wants to reopen the NDAA injunction so that they can use it to block protests.”

The decision to vigorously fight Forrest’s ruling is a further example of the Obama White House’s steady and relentless assault against civil liberties, an assault that is more severe than that carried out by George W. Bush. Obama has refused to restore habeas corpus. He supports the FISA Amendment Act, which retroactively makes legal what under our Constitution has traditionally been illegal—warrantless wire tapping, eavesdropping and monitoring directed against U.S. citizens. He has used the Espionage Act six times against whistle-blowers who have exposed government crimes, including war crimes, to the public. He interprets the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force Act as giving him the authority to assassinate U.S. citizens, as he did the cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. And now he wants the right to use the armed forces to throw U.S. citizens into military prisons, where they will have no right to a trial and no defined length of detention.

Liberal apologists for Barack Obama should read Judge Forrest’s 112-page ruling. It is a chilling explication and denunciation of the massive erosion of the separation of powers. It courageously challenges the overreach of Congress and the executive branch in stripping Americans of some of our most cherished constitutional rights.

In the last 220 years there have been only about 135 judicial rulings that have struck down an act of Congress. Most of the cases involved abortion or pornography. Very few dealt with wartime powers and the separation of powers, or what Forrest in her opinion called “a question of defining an individual’s core liberties.”

Section 1021(b)(2) authorizes the military to detain any U.S. citizen who “substantially supported” al-Qaida, the Taliban or “associated forces” and then hold them in military compounds until “the end of hostilities.” The vagueness of the language, and the refusal to exempt journalists, means that those of us who as part of our reporting have direct contact with individuals or groups deemed to be part of a terrorist network can find ourselves seized and detained under the provision.

“The Government was unable to offer definitions for the phrases ‘substantially support’ or ‘directly support,’ ” the judge wrote. “In particular, when the Court asked for one example of what ‘substantially support’ means, the Government stated, ‘I’m not in a position to give one specific example.’ When asked about the phrase ‘directly support,’ the Government stated, ‘I have not thought through exactly and we have not come to a position on ‘direct support’ and what that means.’ In its pre-trial memoranda, the Government also did not provide any definitional examples for those terms.”

The judge’s ruling asked whether a news article deemed by authorities as favorable to the Taliban could be interpreted as having “substantially supported” the Taliban.

“How about a YouTube video?” she went on. “Where is the line between what the government would consider ‘journalistic reporting’ and ‘propaganda?’ Who will make such determinations? Will there be an office established to read articles, watch videos, and evaluate speeches in order to make judgments along a spectrum of where the support is ‘modest’ or ‘substantial?’ ”

Forrest concurred with the plaintiffs that the statute violated our free speech rights and due-process guarantees. She noted that “the Court repeatedly asked the Government whether those particular past activities could subject plaintiffs to indefinite detention; the Government refused to answer.” The judge went on to criticize the nebulous language of the law, chastising the government because it “did not provide particular definitions.” She wrote that “the statute’s vagueness falls far short of what due process requires.” 

Although government lawyers argued during the trial that the law represented no change from prior legislation, they now assert that blocking it imperils the nation’s security. It is one of numerous contradictions in the government’s case, many of which were illuminated in Forrest’s opinion. The government, she wrote, “argues that no future administration could interpret § 1021(b)(2) or the AUMF differently because the two are so clearly the same. That frankly makes no sense, particularly in light of the Government’s inability at the March and August hearings to define certain terms in—or the scope of—§ 1021(b)(2).” The judge said that “Section 1021 appears to be a legislative attempt at an ex post facto ‘fix’: to provide the President (in 2012) with broader detention authority than was provided in the AUMF [Authorization to Use Military Force Act] in 2001 and to try and ratify past detentions which may have occurred under an overly-broad interpretation of the AUMF.”

The government, in effect, is attempting to push though a law similar to the legislation that permitted the government to intern 110,000 Japanese-Americans during World War II. This law, if it comes back into force, would facilitate the mass internment of Muslim Americans as well as those deemed to “support” groups or activities defined as terrorist by the state. Calling the 1944 ruling “an embarrassment,” Forrest referred to Korematsu v. United States, which upheld the government’s internment of Japanese-Americans. 

The judge said in her opinion that the government “did not submit any evidence in support of its positions. It did not call a single witness, submit a single declaration, or offer a single document at any point during these proceedings.” She went on to write that she found “the testimony of each plaintiff credible.”

“At the March hearing, the Court asked whether Hedges’ activities could subject him to detention under § 1021; the Government stated that it was not prepared to address that question. When asked a similar question at the August hearing, five months later, the Government remained unwilling to state whether any of plaintiffs’ (including Hedges’s) protected First Amendment future activities could subject him or her to detention under § 1021. This Court finds that Hedges has a reasonable fear of detention pursuant to § 1021(b)(2).”

The government has now lost four times in a litigation that has gone on almost nine months. It lost the preliminary injunction in May. It lost a motion for reconsideration shortly thereafter. It lost the permanent injunction. It lost its request last week for a stay. We won’t stop fighting this, but it is deeply disturbing that the Obama administration, rather than protecting our civil liberties and democracy, insists on further eroding them by expanding the power of the military to seize U.S. citizens and control our streets.

Chris Hedges, whose column is published Mondays on Truthdig, spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years

This this article was first published at Truth Dig

© 2012 TruthDig.com”

39-1, Virginia Senate Overwhelmingly Passes NDAA Nullification Bill!

Virginia state officials will obstruct any federal agents attempting to arrest and indefinitely detain any Virginian without charges, due process, or a trial.

These actions by states are putting pressure on the federal government to explicitly renounce the powers they have overreached in claiming to have.

Will other states follow suit? Will power be returned to the people?

We’ll see.

Nullification, a Growing Movement Sweeping Across America

An update on the NDAA nullification movement.  It does appear we are moving forwards, not backwards.  I am curious what is going to happen when the Military Industrial Complex’s lobbyists and their money decide it is worth their time to be in the state legislatures.

From Tom Woods

http://www.tomwoods.com/blog/state-opposition-to-ndaa-grows/

State Opposition to NDAA Grows

The Tenth Amendment Center reports:

State and local resistance to detention provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act continues to snowball.On Tuesday, the Virginia House overwhelming passed “A BILL to prevent any agency, political subdivision, employee, or member of the military of Virginia from assisting an agency of the armed forces of the United States in the conduct of the investigation, prosecution, or detention of a citizen in violation of the United States Constitution, the Constitution of Virginia, or any Virginia law or regulation.”The House of Delegates approved HB1160 96-4. It now moves on to the Virginia Senate for consideration.Meanwhile, on Thursday, the Arizona Senate Border Security, Federalism and States Sovereignty Committee approved SB1182 6-1, bringing it one step away from a full Senate vote. The bill, “prohibits this state and agencies of this state from participating in the implementation of Sections 1021 and 1022 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2012 and classifies the act of attempting to enforce or enforcing these sections as a class 1 misdemeanor.”The Arizona and Virginia legislatures join lawmakers in Maryland, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Washington considering laws or resolutions pushing back against NDAA detention. And sources close to the Tenth Amendment Center and the Bill of Rights Defense Committee indicate several more states will follow suit in the next two weeks.Resistance to indefinite detention without due process is not limited to states. Six local governments have passed resolutions condemning sections 1021 and 1022 of the NDAA. Earlier this week, the Town Council of Macomb, N.Y. unanimously passed a resolution, and Fairfax, Calif. approved a similar resolution 4-1. On Wednesday, New Shoreham, R.I. also passed a resolution opposing NDAA detention.“Most Americans recognize that the federal government rarely, if ever, relinquishes power once it grasps it. So state and local governments are taking James Madison’s words to heart and interposing on behalf of their citizens,” Tenth Amendment Center communications director Mike Maharrey said.Some argue that sections 1021 and 1022 don’t actually authorize indefinite detention of persons on U.S. soil, but Maharrey says their assurances shouldn’t provide much comfort.“The very fact that so many legal experts come up with so many diverse readings of those NDAA sections should give us all pause,” he said. “The language is vague and undefined. Are we really going to trust the judgment and good intentions of Pres. Obama or whichever Republican sits in the White House to protect us? That seems like a pretty bad plan.”To track state and local resistance to NDAA detention, click HERE.

Nullification: El Paso County in Colorado Shines Light on Path We All Must Take

Ron Paul isn’t the only person in America fighting for our civil liberties, even though it often feels that way.  The State of Rhode Island and El Paso County, Colorado, have drafted nullification resolutions for the offending passages of the NDAA Bill that was signed by President Obama on New Year’s Eve.

From OathKeepers

El Paso county in Colorado Passes Resolution Nullifying the National Defense Authorization Act

“Sections 1021 and 1022 of the act, signed into law on New Years Eve of 2011, provide for the indefinite detention of American citizens by the military on American soil, without charge, and without right to legal counsel and right to trial,” he explained…..completely disregarding the Bill of Rights that Congress and the President swore to uphold.Updated: Rhode Island is in the process of doing the same thing.

El Paso County, Colorado. Introduced by Commissioner Peggy Littleton. Co-authored by Kim Green of Freedom Action Coalition. Stewart Rhodes is working with Ms. Green to improve the resolution for others to use.

Resolution to Preserve Habeas Corpus

and Civil Liberties

WHEREAS, pursuant to C.R.S. §§ 30-10-101(1), 30-11-103, and 30-11-107, the Board of County Commissioners of El Paso County, Colorado (“County” or “Board”), has the legislative authority to manage the concerns of the County and to exercise such other and further powers as are conferred by law; and

WHEREAS, the Board of County Commissioners of El Paso County, Colorado, opposes any and all rules, laws, regulations, bill language or executive orders, which amount to an overreach of the federal government and which effectively take away civil liberties; and

WHEREAS, in accordance with the Colorado State Constitution, Article 12, Section 8, all elected officials are mandated to “take and subscribe an oath or affirmation to support the Constitution of the United States and of the State of Colorado, and to faithfully perform the duties of the office upon which he shall be about to enter;” and the El Paso County Commissioners subscribe to uphold this oath of office by the adoption of this Resolution, and

WHEREAS, one of our most fundamental rights as American citizens is to be free from unreasonable detention without due process of law, a right afforded to us by our Founding Fathers and guaranteed to us by over two centuries of sacrifice by our men and women in the Armed Forces whom we daily recognize and honor; and

WHEREAS, Sections 1031 and 1032 (or any other wording as the bill is modified) of the 2011 United States Senate National Defense Authorization Act, Bill Number SB1867, as proposed, provide that in limited circumstances, an American citizen may be detained by our own United States government and by our Armed Forces, which detention could last, without trial until the end of the hostilities currently authorized by the Authorization for Use of Military Force; and

WHEREAS, Sections 1031 and 1032 (or any other wording as the bill is modified)of the National Defense Authorization Bill, SB 1867, jeopardize the fundamental rights of American citizens to remain free from detention without due process and the right to habeas corpus in direct contravention of the guarantees of the Bill of Rights and the United States and Colorado Constitutions; and

WHEREAS, it is indisputable that the threat of homeland and international terrorism is both real and viable, and that the full force of appropriate and constitutional law must be used to defeat this threat so that terror never wins; however, winning the war against terror cannot come at the great expense of mitigating basic, fundamental, constitutional rights using rules, laws, regulations, bill language or executive orders; and

WHEREAS, the Board of County Commissioners of El Paso County, Colorado, wholeheartedly supports the United States military and dutifully recognizes the importance the National Defense Authorization Act, SB1867, as an appropriations bill and as a bill necessary to support the efforts of our military to both serve and protect the people of this great Nation with the exclusion of sections 1021 and 1032; and

WHEREAS, undermining our own Constitutional rights serves only to concede to the terrorists’ demands of changing the fabric of what made the United States of America a country of freedom, liberty and opportunity; and

WHEREAS, the Board of County Commissioners of El Paso County, Colorado, opposes any and all rules, laws, regulations , bill language or executive orders, which amount to an overreach of the federal government and which effectively take away civil liberties; and

WHEREAS, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office is in agreement with this resolution and the goals and purposes herein stated and agrees to undertake all appropriate efforts to protect the constitutional rights of all citizens; and

BE IT RESOLVED, the Board of County Commissioners of El Paso County, Colorado, is in opposition to Sections 1031 and 1032

of the United States Senate National Defense Authorization Act, and does hereby support the Colorado

Constitution and the Constitution of the United States of America and all the freedoms and guarantees as guaranteed by our Founding Fathers and as provided by the brave efforts of the members of our Armed Forces

DONE THIS ___ day of December, 2011, at Colorado Springs, Colorado.

THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS

OF EL PASO COUNTY, COLORADO

_____________________________________

Amy Lathen, Chair

_____________________________________

Sallie Clark, Vice Chair

_____________________________________

Dennis Hisey, Member

_____________________________________

Darryl Glenn, Member

_____________________________________

Peggy Littleton, Member

ATTEST:

_______________________________

Wayne W. Williams, County Clerk and Recorder

Oathkeepers

Our Cute Democracy

“Congratulations, citizens, on your cute little “democracy” victory in denying us the power to shut down websites without a trial: we’re now going to shut down one of your most popular websites without a trial.”

Two lessons from the Megaupload seizure

BY GLENN GREENWALD

Two events this week produced some serious cognitive dissonance. First, Congressional leaders sheepishly announced that they were withdrawing (at least for the time being) two bills heavily backed by the entertainment industry — the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House –  in the wake of vocal online citizen protests (and, more significantly, coordinated opposition from the powerful Silicon Valley industry). Critics insisted that these bills were dangerous because they empowered the U.S. Government, based on mere accusations of piracy and copyright infringement, to shut down websites without any real due process. But just as the celebrations began over the saving of Internet Freedom, something else happened: the U.S. Justice Department not only indicted the owners of one of the world’s largest websites, the file-sharing site Megaupload, but also seized and shut downthat site, and also seized or froze millions of dollars of its assets — all based on the unproved accusationsset forth in an indictment, that the site deliberately aided copyright infringement.

In other words, many SOPA opponents were confused and even shocked when they learned that the very power they feared the most in that bill — the power of the U.S. Government to seize and shut down websites based solely on accusations, with no trial — is a power the U.S. Government already possesses and, obviously, is willing and able to exercise even against the world’s largest sites (they have this power thanks to the the 2008  PRO-IP Act pushed by the same industry servants in Congress behind SOPA as well as by forfeiture laws used to seize the property of accused-but-not-convicted drug dealers). This all reminded me quite a bit of the shock and outrage that arose last month over the fact that Barack Obama signed into law a bill (the NDAA) vesting him with the power to militarily detain people without charges, even though, as I pointed out the very first time I wrote about that bill, indefinite detention isalready a power the U.S. Government under both Bush and Obama has seized and routinely and aggressively exercises.

I’m not minimizing the importance of either fight: it’s true that SOPA (like the NDAA) would codify these radical powers further and even expand them beyond what the U.S. Government already wields (regarding SOPA’s unique provisions, see Julian Sanchez’s typically thorough analysis). But the defining power that had everyone so up in arms about SOPA — shutting down websites with no trial — is one that already exists in quite a robust form, as any thwarted visitors to Megaupload will discover. There are two points worth making about all of this:

(1) It’s wildly under-appreciated how unrestrained is the Government’s power to do what it wants, and how little effect these debates over various proposed laws have on that power. Contrary to how it was portrayed, the Obama administration’s threatened veto of the NDAA rested largely on the assertion that they did not need a law vesting them with indefinite detention powers because they already have full power to detain people without a trial: not because any actual law expressly vested that power, but because the Bush and Obama DOJs both claimed the 2001 AUMF silently (“implicitly”) authorized it and deferential courts have largely acquiesced to that claim. Thus, Obama argued about indefinite detention in his NDAA veto threat that “the authorities codified in this section already exist” and therefore “the Administration does not believe codification is necessary,” and in his Signing Statement the President similarly asserted that “the executive branch already has the authority to detain in military custody” accused Terrorists “and as Commander in Chief I have directed the military to do so where appropriate.” In other words: we don’t need any law expressly stating that we can imprison people without charges: we do it when we want without that law.

That’s more or less what happened with the SOPA fight. It’s true that website-seizures-without-trials are not quite as lawless as indefinite detentions, since there are actual statutes conferring this power. But it nonetheless sends a very clear message when citizens celebrate a rare victory in denying the Government a power it seeks — the power to shut down websites without a trial — only for the Government to turn aroundthe very next day and shut down one of the world’s largest and best-known sites. Whether intended or not, the message is unmistakable:Congratulations, citizens, on your cute little “democracy” victory in denying us the power to shut down websites without a trial: we’re now going to shut down one of your most popular websites without a trial.

(2) The U.S. really is a society that simply no longer believes in due process: once the defining feature of American freedom that is now scorned as some sort of fringe, radical, academic doctrine. That is not hyperbole. Supporters of both political parties endorse, or at least tolerate, all manner of government punishment without so much as the pretense of a trial, based solely on government accusation: imprisonment for life, renditions to other countries, even assassinations of their fellow citizens. Simply uttering the word Terrorist, without proving it, is sufficient. And now here is Megaupload being completely destroyed — its website shuttered, its assets seized, ongoing business rendered impossible — based solely on the unproven accusation of Piracy.

It’s true, as Sanchez observes, that “the owners of Megaupload don’t seem like particularly sympathetic characters,” but he also details that there are difficult and weighty issues that would have to be resolved to prove they engaged in criminal conduct. Megaupload obviously contains numerous infringing videos, but so does YouTube, yet both sites also entail numerous legal activities as well. As Sanchez put it: “most people, presumably, recognize that shutting down YouTube in order to disable access to those videos would not be worth the enormous cost to protected speech.” The Indictment is a classic one-side-of-the-story document; even the most mediocre lawyers can paint any picture they want when unchallenged. That’s why the government is not supposed to dole out punishments based on accusatory instruments, but only after those accusations are proved in an adversarial proceeding.

Whatever else is true, those issues should be decided upon a full trial in a court of law, not by government decree. Especially when it comes to Draconian government punishments — destroying businesses, shutting down websites, imprisoning people for life, assassinating them — what distinguishes a tyrannical society from a free one is whether the government is first required to prove guilt in a fair, adversarial proceeding. This is a precept Americans were once taught about why their country was superior, was reflexively understood, and was enshrined as the core political principle: “no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” It’s simply not a principle that is believed in any longer, and therefore is not remotely observed.

* * * * *

On a different note: both Jeffrey Goldberg and David Bernstein have posts about my arguments on the smearing of CAP that rest on the same premise: namely, that to point out that someone has “dual loyalties” is an accusation of disloyalty to their own country or even worse. As I explainhere, that premise is false. There’s nothing inherently wrong with dual loyalties: those are common among many groups, especially in a country of immigrants, and are typically benign. What’s menacing is to smear those who discuss its existence and the way in which it influences our politics. For more on this, see The Atlantic‘s Robert Wright: “How to Smear a Washington Think Tank.”

Glenn Greenwald
Follow Glenn Greenwald on Twitter: @ggreenwald.More Glenn Greenwald

Are We National Socialists?

This is part of some E-Mail correspondence I am having with a friend of mine who is a socialist.

“Glad we agree on some things. Health care is a contentious issue, and can be hard to prove what is truly best for the people. We haven’t had a free market in health care for 50 years.  We were near the bottom in infant mortality back then, just like we are now, but were actually closer to the best percentage wise than now. However, infant mortality has dropped drastically across the board in all nations. Improvements in technology have made things better than doctors could have ever imagined 50 years ago.  But this is for sure:  When government gets involved in subsidizing something, the price will go up. The same is true in health care as it is in education. And while improvements in technology have drastically improved health care, which sort of mitigates the cost issue, they have not had the same affect on education.

I don’t believe there is any grey area on the right to trial.  The founders believed, as do i, that we are born with certain unalienable rights.  They wrote a document that restricted government to help the people protect those rights. What Obama has now codified into law not only violates his own government’s founding documents, it violates my natural rights as a free man.  As far as political excuses, there are none.  If he came out and said the first three sentences of this paragraph and then added, “this is why I am vetoing this version of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012. When congress can get this bill to fund the troops back on my desk without trampling all of our rights, I will sign it,” he would be the most politically popular president in the last 40 years.  But beyond that, say following the constitution and not shitting on the right to trial wasn’t particularly popular with right wingers (it is by the way).  There is no excuse for codifying military dictatorship in this country.  None. If that were the true reason, it would be bad. The truth is even worse.

Obama demanded that he have the authority, not congress, to indefinitely detain citizens. In an earlier version that passed through committee Congress had exempted citizens and Obama threatened to veto that bill until they gave that power to him.  He had, after all, already acted like he had that power whether codified or not (He had assassinated an American citizen without due process and released no evidence, of course he has the right to indefinitely detain them).  He did not want any limitations to his office, The King. The only difference is our King is elected instead of inherrited.

Don’t believe me? Evidence.

Whether or not you support a candidate depends upon your priorities.  Particularly with informed voters, this can explain severe differences of opinion.  For me, I have firmly become an antiwar civil libertarian.  If i had to, it would be extremely hard for me to choose which is more important, anti war or civil liberty.  I might lean towards my own civil liberty because that affects my family much more directly. Still, those two principles are so core to my beliefs that it is almost unbelievable they are not more popular, that only one candidate in the race (including Obama) values them.

You can value the Department of Education more than your civil liberties or the policy of endless war.  That is well within your right. But don’t get confused and think that prioritizing the Department of Education means that you are prioritizing education itself.  The Department of Education was founded in 1980 amid controversy.  How much worse was our education system in 1980 than it is now?  We spend a whole lot more money per child, including federal funding from the department of education.  Has throwing money at the problem solved it?  The answer is unequivocally no.  What else has the Department of Education done?  Mandated more standardized testing.  The only way for schools to get the federal funds is to implement more standardized tests.  Educational experts all know that standardized testing does not help educational outcomes.  They are essentially a waste of time.  Who benefits from more standardized testing? The federal government who gets the data and can monitor the population more efficiently while also justifying its existence.  What else has the department of education done? The No Child Left Behind Act.  What teacher, liberal or conservative, supports this piece of shit act?  It creates more work with no more pay (effectively decreases pay per hour worked) for teachers, expands the ever expanding educational federal bureaucracy, adds more standardized tests, and does not increase educational outcomes.  Are we better off with the department of education?  Have we seen a miraculous, nay, a minor improvement in educational outcomes in the past 33 years that justifies its existence.  Absolutely, unequivocally, the answer is no.  I too value education, but I do not support more federal involvement in it and I think we were better off without federal involvement.  Either way, federal involvement in education is not my number one priority when I vote.  My priorities are civil liberties and anti-war.

I’m going to conclude with a facially inflammatory comparison.  But I believe it is deeper if you can look past the initial shock.  Comparisons to national socialism are flagrantly and flamboyantly tossed around by meager opposition to whatever party is in power.  Usually the comparison is only skin deep and purely based on a dislike for the person in power, not actual policies.  But what was national socialism?  Well, it’s in the name.  National socialism prioritized socialist policies in the homeland and warfare outside of it.  Nationalistic pride was a major tenet, “We are the best, we are number one, everyone else isn’t on our scale, isn’t as good as us, etc.”  Sound familiar? “Nobody is as free as we are.” This propaganda primed the population to be able accept the vicious atrocities they would soon commit to “the other, the less good, etc” in the name of spreading the greatness of their empire (“democracy” in our terms, “Our form of government is the best and it must be exported by force”).  How often do we hear about the million and a half Iraqis that are dead because of our warfare policies?  How often do we hear about the less than 5,000 dead American soldiers?  One a lot more than the other, even though they are a lot less.  I bet you didn’t even know how fucking stark those differences are (How could you unless you looked it up? You won’t hear it on the radio or on TV or in a newspaper).  I’m going to repeat that.  1.5 million dead compared to less than 5,000.  Many, many of those are civilians including women and children.  It is impossible to repeatedly bomb a nation for 9 years and only kill “terrorists.” Furthermore, 1 million terrorists never even fucking existed!!!!  We killed millions of innocent people, or people who became so pissed off at being invaded and having their infrastructure decimated that they picked up arms against it.  It was a manufactured war! Clearly some lives are valued more than others by our leaders and our media, and therefore our populous. Marketing works, why else would companies spend millions of dollars on it?  The only difference between marketing and propaganda is that governments buy propaganda and companies buy marketing.  Repeat something enough and it will stick.  They are terrorists, they killed our soldiers, etc.  Just to be clear, I am not comparing Obama or even Bush to Hitler.  I am comparing the public policy priorities of our nation with that of national socialism.

They had fervent national pride, so do we. The started preemptive wars, (Hitler framed them as preemptive) so do we.  They valued socialistic policies like national healthcare over everything else (a major tenet of the national socialist party), so do we.  They were extremely war like, so are we.  They allowed their elected representative (Hitler was elected) to take powers that were not delineated to him, so do we. Hitler promised he would return the powers when he leaves office and that he would not abuse those powers, so do we:  Obama said as much in his signing statement for the NDAA.  “Moreover, I want to clarify that my Administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens. Indeed, I believe that doing so would break with our most important traditions and values as a Nation. My Administration will interpret section 1021 in a manner that ensures that any detention it authorizes complies with the Constitution, the laws of war, and all other applicable law.”  The point is not whether or not I trust Obama, or even the next guy, not to abuse his claimed power.  The point is that if he has the power he says he does, then we are not free.  The slave that is granted temporary freedom without punishment by his master is still a slave.  What makes him a slave is not the current freedom he does or does not enjoy in the moment, but the fact that on his master’s whim he can be taken, indefinitely detained, and beaten without a right to trial or any other recourse.  He must take it upon his master’s authority.

You are completely free to choose what priorities you base your vote on.  If national healthcare is the most important, so be it.  For me it is antiwar and civil liberties.

This is probably the absolute best article on the tradeoffs voters are faced with this election cycle.  I hope you have time to browse it.”

Heil The Republicrat Nazi Party!