Tag Archives: Corporate Socialism

Collectivization of Debt is Communism in Action: Republicans are Moral Lepers (the Republican House Majority in Florida has just passed HB 87, approving expedited foreclosures and insulating false securitization from effective challenge or review)

CONTINUING THE DEBATE BETWEEN BOB HURT, MYSELF (CEL) MALCOLM DONEY, & MELINDA PILLSBURY-FOSTER

Bob:
Without attempting to address everything you write, or even everything you wrote in your reply to Malcolm Doney below, regarding Florida HB 87 (04-30-2013 Florida House Bill 87 Just Passed—Communist Dream of Abolishing Private Property Marches Forward).  Florida HB 87 degrades due process of law in the taking of property below “rational basis” review to no effective review at all…. any deprivation of private property should be treated, quite literally, with the same seriousness as a death penalty.  Furthermore, by its expedited provisions, HB 87 will prevent all but the most prepared homeowners from mounting any sort of defense to a foreclosure suit at all.
HB 87 permits (encourages) banks to hit weak people at their weakest when they are down and hits them hard.  At a time when the system should be extending every possible allowance to the “little guy”, the small time investor or single-family homeowner in economic distress, HB 87 makes sure that the fight (actually the sacrificial execution) of the homeowner will be swift but brutal.  Summary foreclosure, summary evictions, the all permit the claimants to hide behind judicial procedures of expedience to avoid close scrutiny of their deceits and prevarications in pretense of compliance with the law—THAT is why the requirements of HB 87 are themselves dissembling and dissimulating of the true purpose: the goal is artificially to stimulate the economy by pretending to put more houses on the market.  HB 87 is revolting!  Republicans (at least in Florida) are really and truly MORAL LEPERS.
         For family, home and freedom in America, the foreclosure crisis, and securitization of mortgages, is effectively a slow death penalty.  I am appalled and shocked that the Republican Controlled State House in Florida has passed HB 87:
             I think you basically have sold yourself out to the collectivist mentality, in that you see no injury resulting from securitization. As I wrote earlier: despite your citations to Black’s Law Dictionary and your occasional assertion of the notion of sovereign citizenship, you no longer adhere to the Anglo-American common law (and indeed the Ancient Roman civil law) notions of private property, originating in private contract, and I think this is a terrible “shame on you” and your contributions.  You have championed the “sovereign citizen” movement, but in betraying the doctrines of holder-in-due-course and privity of contract, you betray one of the most basic precepts of sovereign citizenship: the right to choose with whom you deal and associate.  Socialization of debt by securitization deprives the individual of his freedom of choice of business associates.  
Such things are always justified as “cost saving measures”, but they infringe to violently and directly on our individual autonomy.  Surely you would agree that we have the right to choose our friends, especially our mates in marriage with whom we may spend upwards of 20-30 years, am I correct?  If you agree with this proposition then you should agree that each man and woman has a right to choose his business partners in the same way, OR ANY OTHER PERSON WITH WHOM HE OR SHE WOULD CHOSE TO DO BUSINESS.  
This freedom of choice surely includes the more important obligations we assume: marriage is a great example of an open ended series of interactions and obligations, but so is entering into any business partnership, including a partnership based on investment, in which one party lends another the funds to start a business or purchase a house with repayment planned over 30 years. The famous Christmas movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” illustrates the ideal of lending as partnership. When Frank Capra’s movie was made, in 1946, even just after World War II, the Federal Reserve system had already extended its tentacles everywhere, into even the banks of small town America, so the story was already anachronous to the reality of modern life—UP TO A POINT.
But even as a child, growing up age 6-12 in Dallas, I knew my grandfather’s bankers as family friends and neighbors.  They went to the same churches, they walked and swam and boated in the same parks as we did. Those bankers had extended my parents personal letters of credit to live in London starting when I was six months old….The Astons who own and ran the Republic Bank of Texas in Dallas and the Dullworths and McKnights who ran First National Bank were real people.  Everybody in Dallas knew everybody else on a first name basis….no one wanted national banks that crossed state lines—everybody knew what the consequences would be: destruction of freedom.
Their kids went to the same school I did.  The adults entered into real contracts which were carefully negotiated with lawyers who were also our neighbors.  When my grandfather wanted to start a new line of products or buy a new building, he visited them and discussed his plans in detail.  Where is that kind of banking today?  Republic Bank of Texas and First National Bank are long gone, absorbed by Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase, respectively.  No one has any idea who is really in charge of these banks and in fact, no one is, because they are merely bureaucratic appendages of the government.
Because of the effective nationalization and government takeover of the national banks, loans are allocated by government policy discussed behind closed doors at the Federal Reserve Board these days—they try to encourage certain actions and discourage others by liberal lending and greater or lesser taxation.  The impose nationwide CONTRACTS OF ADHESION that even small industrialists like my grandfather would have no power to negotiate anymore at all—this is the ultimate fruit of securitization—we have no freedom of choice anymore.  We have been deprived of our local control and autonomy in the interests of streamlining the economy—of maximizing leverage and debt in the hands of the central bankers—this is not injury?  This is the destruction and death of freedom….
You have always been very good to me and I hate to be critical, but you are as profoundly wrong as you can possibly be when you write:

1.  The Ponzi scheme to which you refer (securitization) does not concern or injure the borrower, and that’s why courts across America have consistently ruled against securitization arguments in foreclosure defenses. 

Collectivization of debt can only be permitted or exist in a world where private contract and private property have both ceased to exist. Florida HB 87 facilitates the abrogation of private autonomy without due process of law by demeaning private property acquired by contract to a level of an epiphenomenal set of rights, hardly worthy of the true status which ownership of private property enjoys as one of the Carolene Products, Footnote 4, specifically enumerated rights, deprivation of which is subject to the highest, strict level of scrutiny.. So the securitization of mortgages is the abolition of private property.  The Individual is either the sole owner of her/his life or s/he is not.  There are no shades of gray here.  “Limited Sovereignty” is an oxymoron here. 
In short, Bob, what you fail to realize is that Securitization constitutes a license arbitrarily and capriciously (1) to impair and in impairment of the rights and obligations of contract, in violation of Article I, Section 10 (see this old 1922 Law Review Article: http://scholarship.law.marquette.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=4859&context=mulr), (2) to take private property interests without due process of law when those property interests are secured and guaranteed by contract, in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, (3) to infringe if not violate the freedom of assembly and association guaranteed by the First Amendment, (4) Securitization and in particular the amendments proposed by Florida HB 87 violate the Fourth Amendment “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures,” and (5) the Ninth Amendment reservation of the right of the people to the enjoyment of the privileges, liberties, and immunities afforded to them in the Anglo-American common law tradition.
In short, I can think of nothing more pernicious than the effect that Florida HB 87 will have on the property rights of Floridians.
You need to wake up, Mr. Bob Hurt, to the fact that securitization (i.e. collectivization) of debt is just the Bush-Obama Communist Oligarchy’s most effective tool for eviscerating all the property and contract related provisions of the American Constitution, of the Common Law, and of the traditional rights and freedoms of the English people, passed on to us, their American Heirs.
Make no mistake—in condemning our resistance to securitization, you are aligning yourself with the goals of the Communist Manifesto of February 1848, and of all subsequent efforts to obliterate the sovereignty of the individual which you pretend so vigorously to support as a matter of highest principle.  Without the freedom to contract, in a world of contracts of adhesion with anonymous and unknowable, unreachable “supervisors”, we as individuals will cease to exist and our individuality will be obliterated in the collectivity of the Marxist anthill.

Charles Edward Lincoln, III

“Ich bin der Geist der stets verneint! Und das mit Recht.”

Deo Vindice/Tierra Limpia

In case of emergency call Inger Michelle Garcia, Esq.,

1-954-7461 or 1-954-894-9962, attorney@ingergarcia.com

Inger Michelle Garcia, Esq.                                                                                    4839 Volunteer Road; #514 Davie, Florida 33330

Cellular: (954) 394-7461; Tel.: (954) 894-9962; Fax: (954) 446-1635

Service E-Mail:attorney@ingergarcia.com

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. . . . And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. . . .  

Matthew 10:34-39


De : Bob Hurt <bob@bobhurt.com>
À : malcolmdoney@comcast.net
Cc : Charles Lincoln <charles.lincoln@rocketmail.com>
Envoyé le : Mardi 30 avril 2013 21h34
Objet : Re: HB 87

Malcolm:apparently you read what I wrote to Charles about HB87.  It’s pretty simple really.  We are lucky in Florida that we don’t have a non-judicial foreclosure process, MAYBE.I have learned a lot since we met at the May 2008 Foreclosure Defense Seminar.  I’ll share a few points for your edification.1.  The Ponzi scheme to which you refer (securitization) does not concern or injure the borrower, and that’s why courts across America have consistently ruled against securitization arguments in foreclosure defenses.2.  The real problem of collusion between Clinton/Bush/Obama and Lenders which resulted in predatory lending and collapse of homeowner equities has not faced any day in court, and until it does, and the court rules against the lenders, no foreclosure court or trustee will consider the merit of the argument that “the lender caused the collapse of the value of my house and that’s why it’s underwater, and caused me to lose my job, and that’s why I couldn’t pay the mortgage.”  You can present the FCIC report and TRY the argument, but it will fail because no borrower can prove proximate causation.  I make the balance of my comments in light of this reality.3.  Foreclosures, as equity proceedings, deal with FAIRNESS.  It is hardly fair for a mortgagor to sign the note and mortgage, borrow and USE money, fail to pay accordingly, and then keep the collateral which the borrower agreed to forfeit in the event of default.  Every single judge knows this, especially the senior judges you love to hate for their rocket docket summary judgments.  So they have a natural predisposition to order the foreclosure unless the borrower can dispute the essential facts alleged the complaint.4.  Except when temporarily derailed by standing issues, or the borrower cross claims with valid causes of action (which virtually never happens), statistically ALL Foreclosure complaints EVENTUALLY succeed because in fact the borrower did default and must forfeit the collateral.   And they SHOULD succeed, for that reason.

5.  The ONLY defense against foreclosure lies in an offensive action against the original lender or lender’s agents for tortious conduct, contract breaches, or legal errors underlying the mortgage.  I have written about this till I’m blue in the face and NOBODY ever refutes it because it’s true.  If the borrower cannot show how the lender injured him, the borrower who defaults WILL LOSE THE HOUSE TO FORECLOSURE, as the borrower should.  Underlying causes of action give just reason to dispute the essential factual allegations in the foreclosure complaint.  For example “Yes I breached the contract, but the original lender breached it first, AND fraudulently induced me to take a loan for far more than the actual value of the property (etc).”

6.  Given the above realities, FORECLOSURE DEFENDERS engage in legal malpractice by fighting the foreclosure itself and failing to examine the mortgage for underlying causes of action.  Their victims should sue them.

7.  I gave cogent reasons for having no opposition to HB87 as I understand it.  Foreclosure plaintiffs should stop screwing around and start speeding up their process, and competent judges should hear and dispatch the foreclosure cases, particularly those with no dispute of the essential facts.

8.  If you had loaned someone $300,000 to buy a house, would you want the borrower to tie you up in court for years just to delay giving up the collateral?

Instead of getting angry with me, SHOW me where I’m wrong.

I have attached a totally bogus QWR from Neil Garfield, FYI.  Why bogus?  Because RESPA requires the servicer to answer ONLY questions related to the loan servicing, i.e. identifying what funds it disbursed to what entities.  It can ignore all other questions, and a lawyer like Neil Garfield should have known that instead of concocting such onerous nonsense as his qwr.

I also attached my recent blast against Garfield for his bogus securitization arguments, and included plenty of case law to show how bogus they are.  Also, here’s some more case law you might find useful.  Where am I going with this?  Virtually all foreclosure defense arguments other than standing issues or attacks against the causes underlying the mortgage WILL FAIL.  So why bother with them just to delay the inevitable?

QUIET TITLE CASES
“Plaintiff’s basis for claiming ‘better title’ is that securitization somehow altered her obligation to pay her mortgage. This argument is unrecognized in the law.” Herold V. One West Bank (D. Nev. 9-29-2011);
“A plaintiff cannot quiet title without discharging the mortgage debt. Aguilar V. Boci, 39 Cal.App.3d 475, 477 (1974) (“the cloud upon his title persists until the debt is paid”); Kelley V. Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc., 642 F.Supp.2d 1048, 1057 (N.D. Cal. 2009).
Trusty V. Ray, 249 P.2d 814, 817 (Idaho 1952) (“[a] mortgagor cannot without paying his debt quiet title as against the mortgagee”); “Plaintiff’s quiet title claim is based on the argument that, as a result of securitization, the trust deed has been split from the note and, therefore, the deed of trust should be declared a nullity. This Court has repeatedly rejected this argument. Recently, both the Utah Court of Appeals and the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals have similarly rejected this claim. For the same reasons stated by all of these courts, this claim must be rejected.
Winn V. Bank Of America (D.Utah 1-4-2012); “A quiet title claim seeks to extinguish interests in the property in favor of the interest of the plaintiff. Here, Plaintiff is seeking to extinguish the Trust Deed. ‘To succeed in an action to quiet title to real estate, a plaintiff must prevail on the strength of his own claim to title and not the weakness of a defendant’s title or even its total lack of title.’ Plaintiff fails to assert her own claim to title. She does not allege that the Deed of Trust was not validly executed or that she is not in default under the note. Accordingly, the court rejects Plaintiff’s argument and dismisses this claim.
Domingo V. Direct Mortgage Corporation (D.Utah 9-21-2011); “quiet title is not a remedy available to the trustor until the debt is paid or tendered. Plaintiff has not paid the loan amount, nor has Plaintiff alleged that he is ready, willing and able to tender the full amount owed. See Farrell v. West, 114 P.2d 910, 911 (Ariz. 1941) (refusing to quiet title until and unless the plaintiff tenders the amount owed, as required in equity). Instead, Plaintiff asks this Court to invalidate the claims of the beneficiary under the deed of trust. The Court will not indulge this inappropriate use of an action to quiet title; “Plaintiff’s argument that the assignment to U.S. Bank was void, and that U.S. Bank and MERS are not beneficiaries fails to support Plaintiff’s claim for quiet title. As discussed above, an assignment of a deed of trust does not need to be recorded in order to be valid, and under the terms of the Deed of Trust, Plaintiff was not entitled to notice of any such assignment.”
Frame V. Cal-Western Reconveyance Corporation (D.Ariz. 9-2-2011); “This appeal requires us to interpret the statute governing judgments in quiet title actions. The statutory language is about as straightforward as such language ever gets: “The court shall not enter judgment by default. . . .” Entry of a default judgment against appellant HSBC Mortgage Services, Inc., and in favor of respondent Harbour Vista, LLC, in a quiet title action was error.”
Harbour Vista V. Hsbc Mortgage Serv. Inc., G044357 (Cal.App. 12-19-2011); Mier v. Lordsman Inc., Civ. No. 10-00584, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8484, at * 15-17 (D. Haw. Jan. 26, 2011) (“[T]o assert a claim for quiet title against a mortgagee, a borrower must allege they have paid, or are able to tender, the amount of the indebtedness.”).
 
Fidelity Land Trust Case – put property in trust and use quiet title action to defeat foreclosure – a scam. Florida Attorney General complaint:
Fidelity sued AG in Florida Middle USDC for its adverse ruling:
“… this Court concludes that Plaintiff initiated and pursued this litigation in bad faith.  The evidence of this is legion: a state judge has told Plaintiff that its legal theory is meritless; a federal judge has told Plaintiff its legal theory is frivolous; and the Florida Attorney General has obtained injunctive relief against Plaintiff to prevent it from asserting claims based on the legal theory advanced in this lawsuit. Yet even in its objection, Plaintiff clings to the notion that its claims have merit. They do not… Plaintiff appears to be in the business of delaying lawful foreclosures. The courts are not to be used to delay, deny, or frustrate just claims, and they are not to be used as a cog in a litigant’s business model. Litigants who pursue meritless claims should be sanctioned, if only to ensure that the burden of their contemptuous behavior is borne by themselves alone.”
On 4/30/2013 7:29 PM, malcolmdoney@comcast.net wrote:

Bob & Charles,

It is a long time since I contacted you Bob.  I have believed for some time that somehow you have lost your way since the days when I believed that you stood for justice and doing what is right.  
 
I have lived through and been the victim of Hitler’s fascism and I have lived in the UK during both conservative and socialist extremes.  I well remember when the leaders of the UK Trade Union Congress made their annual Christmas pilgrimage to Moscow to get their instructions on how to disrupt the British economy over the next year and beyond.   
 
I have also witnessed during my long life the extremes of communist, fascist dictatorships and religious fanatics and frankly while it may be very intellectual to debate whether or not communism or fascism is at work I could never see much to chose between Hitler and Stalin, or Idi Amin.    
 
The evidence is overwhelming that the present mortgage foreclosure crisis was premeditated by the most evil organization in modern times, the Federal Reserve.  That all these mortgages were set up to fail and comprise the biggest Ponzi scheme in the history of the world.Yet all I hear from those who seek to classify those of us who were the deliberate targeted victims of these Banksters and their government backers is that we borrowed the money and we should not get a free house.  
 
Anyone, who cannot see anything wrong with HB 87 and its almost appropriately named SB 1666 is either totally blind or so brainwashed by a corrupted society that they are incapable of any constructive thought whatsoever.  I think it is a tragedy that you have allowed yourself to be persuaded to your present apparent view.  Anyone who believes in government of the people, by the people, for the people can see through this criminal land grab for exactly what it is.  
 
Shame on you Bob – you have done such good work I am truly saddened to see your latest comments.  When Henry Trawick – the Dean of Rules tells every member of Florida’s legislature that these bills are unconstitutional and bankster inspired there must be something wrong with this bunch of garbage.  What is clear is that it is not in the interest of the people. 
Sadly
Malcolm
******************************************************************
They are all fascists (there is that word again) 
Melinda Pillsbury-Foster
MacPherson Investment Group

Executive Vice-President for Rebuild America

Point out to me any single document in the writings of Benito Mussolini, Admiral Horthy, Francisco Franco, Sir Oswald Moseley, Paul Joseph Goebbels, Heinrich Himmler, or any economically oriented member of Hitler’s government that predicts the step-by-step takeover and abolition of private property the way the communist manifesto does.  Oddly enough, the nearest to a “Socialist” among the Fascists would be British Sir Oswald Moseley.  He was very aristocratic and really an admirable “failure” among all the Fascists of Europe, but his writings go the closest towards credit-based socialism of any genuine “Fascist” from the 1920s or 30s I know—and Moseley was the only one outside of Spain to continue active through the 1950s and 60s—during which time, oddly enough, he joined with former Marshall Petain supporter Robert Schuman and other “Labor Left Socialists” in pushing for the European Union after the war…. but I do not see how you can connect the movement of Fascism to Credit Leveraged Confiscation of private property for the purpose of abolishing private property….

De : Melinda Pillsbury-Foster <themelinda@gmail.com>
À : Charles Lincoln <charles.lincoln@rocketmail.com>
Envoyé le : Mardi 30 avril 2013 17h38
Objet : Re: Property Confiscation House Bill 87 Just Passed Republican Controlled House in Florida

They are all fascists (there is that word again)
Melinda Pillsbury-Foster
MacPherson Investment Group

Executive Vice-President for Rebuild America

On Tue, Apr 30, 2013 at 5:29 PM, Charles Lincoln <charles.lincoln@rocketmail.com> wrote:
HB 87 eviscerates the adversarial aspects of litigation in favor of the foreclosing party.  
Are you ever going to work on developing those Vindicatio websites or not?  If you’re not going to develop them I need to give them to Melinda Pillsbury-Foster but you DO have a better e-mail list to promote them on….. I thought we had a deal…But I’ll suggest to Melinda that she call you to check up on what your real intentions are….I certainly didn’t spend $100 on those domains just to let them sit around undeveloped and unpromoted….. If neither you nor Melinda want to work on them I’ll have to find someone else, but heck I BOUGHT them and I want to see some new business come in as a result…. but nothing will happen if a competent Web developer doesn’t do something—-Melinda’s working on a single case website for me in regard to a personal injury suit of mine in New Orleans….
Your problem, Bob, I have figured it out, with Neil Garfield and the Anti-Note Securitization Camp (you probably don’t like Mickey Paoletta either and basically you seem doubtful about me because I’m with THEM) is that you really do believe in Social Ownership of Credit—that is why you have jumped ship on the “holder-in-due course” doctrine…. Social Ownership of Credit leads to Social Ownership of all land and real property, perhaps all real and personal property…  You have abandoned Capitalism….. you really do believe that proof of ownership is not essential to collect debt or foreclose a property…. if that’s raving like a lunatic then I plan on doing so continually until I die….

De : Bob Hurt <bob@bobhurt.com>
À : Charles Lincoln <charles.lincoln@rocketmail.com>
Envoyé le : Mardi 30 avril 2013 17h45
Objet : Re: Property Confiscation House Bill 87 Just Passed Republican Controlled House in Florida

I fail to see a problem with hb87.  It forces lenders to take speedier action and come to court better prepared for the lawsuit.

Instead of raving like a lunatic below, why don’t you explain SPECIFICALLY what you don’t like about the bill and why?

On 4/30/2013 5:29 PM, Charles Lincoln wrote:
Republicans are Moral Lepers—and COMMUNISTS!:
It is beyond appalling to me that any Republicans would vote for Florida House Bill 87 to speed up foreclosures….. Aren’t the Republicans supposed to be the party of traditional American Values? Aren’t Republicans supposed to be the defenders of common law against social engineering through legislation?  Florida House Bill 87 is just speeding up the process by which the Soulless and Heartless machine of American Corporate Socialism sweeps up property into the collective “pool” of government ownership….  Everyone in Florida: WRITE TO YOUR SENATORS to stop the companion bill 1666 (how apt?) from passing.  Every step we take towards socialized ownership of debt is a major triumph for Marx & Engels’ original “manifestation” of their dream to abolish private property in land, first published in February 1848 under the name of the Communist Manifesto.
All steps to abolish “holder-in-due course” doctrine assert that mortgage debts are not private but public, and this is the key ingredient of communist confiscation of all real estate in America…

Charles Edward Lincoln, III

“Ich bin der Geist der stets verneint! Und das mit Recht.”

Deo Vindice/Tierra Limpia

In case of emergency call Attorney Inger Garcia at 954-394-7461

Matthew 10:34-39

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. . . . And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. . . .  

February 1—Saint Brigit’s Day (Brigit of Kildare), February 2—Candlemas or Presentation of the Lord Jesus in the Temple (now only remembered as “Groundhog Day”)—but February 3 is the real Religious Holiday in US—SUPER BOWL SUNDAY! Panem circensesque….

Has it really already been six full weeks, the first intercardinal of the year 2013, since the world was supposed to end on December 21, 2012?  Some predict (I would say pray for) a major disaster this weekend, another 9-11 to catapult us into yet another war.  I certainly wouldn’t be surprised—Sandy Hook and the Batman shootings not having had quite sufficient effect yet….sufficient effect to inspire Americans to surrender the ragged shreds of their last constitutional rights….  

I make no secret of the fact that I love New Orleans at the same time that I do not completely share in all its vices.  I love the French Quarter, but I do not drink (“well, hardly ever”), having burnt the candle at both ends (unrelated to Candlemas) a little bit too much in my undergraduate days here at Tulane and my early graduate career at Harvard.  I do not miss getting drunk even one little bit, but take great glee at watching all the unwashed masses get plastered all over town here, most especially on Bourbon Street (talking of unwashed masses—it’s not JUST an expression you know—most of those folks are…..unwashed is just putting it mildly.  

But drinking itself is a ritual of as much ancient dignity as Dionysus and the Eleusinian Mysteries, Bacchus and Comus, or even of Jesus at the Wedding in Cana, or Jesus at the Last Supper.  There is ONLY Vice and no ancient dignity, however, in Football or the Superbowl, or the hundreds of thousands who have converged on New Orleans to watch two rows of (mostly) black men wearing gigantic amounts of padding and helmets crash into each other like two rows of opposing tractors (without any mud).

And this is the true high holiday of America’s Great Unwashed—Superbowl Sunday—and the masses have poured into New Orleans.  Some cynics think that Obama might want to use this occasion to stage another “False Flag” simulated terrorist event this Sunday (1) to finally light the fire under a possible war with Iran and (2) to wipe out a good number of White, Football Loving Red State Republican Rednecks who’ve come to the Big Easy to drown their sorrows and forget Obama has been tragically elected to a second term.  

I have previously compared the unending parade of slightly demented, drunken and debauched revelers on Bourbon Street to the mediaeval “Wild Hunt” or “Night Riders” processions known from history (and ethnohistory, notably Carlo Ginzburg’s brilliant “Night Battles.”  But there is no conscious awareness of anything except booze and flesh, alcoholic intoxication and sexual arousal, on Bourbon Street today, and these are the “values” celebrated by the Football Religion, especially but not at all limited to SuperBowl Sunday in that most unholy modern Coliseum or Circus Maximus: the New Orleans Super Dome.

We plainly live in a new era of Bread and Circuses, every bit as brutal as the Ancient Roman and futuristic Hunger Games models… I have despised Football my entire life and don’t mind saying so ESPECIALLY when I see this town invaded by the teaming hoards of seemingly brain dead football fanatics.  I don’t exactly know how the religion of football fulfills the needs of the people EXCEPT as grotesque gladiatorial entertainment.  

My grandfather Al preserved an idealized notion of what football was and represented until he died.  I don’t think he quite fully realized, or if he realized he simply could not accept, how totally different modern professional football was and remains from the completely amateur college football of his youth, of Harvard-Yale and Army-Navy games that were the center of all educated attention.  For my grandfather, American Football represented ideals of teamsmanship and strategy—“military tactics” writ small and peacefully (by comparison), with no corrupt politics intervening.

But the economic corruption of football is directly akin to the corruption of Christmas and everything else.  Only money, only corporate profits, seem to matter in America (or anywhere in the “developed” world) anymore.

But to my mind, the worst feature of the “Religion of Football” is that it occupies the minds of the great majority of people in this country and so permits them to avoid learning, focusing, on the grim and horrible realities of life here, of the decadence of absolutely everything.  Yes, Football is Modern Corporate Religion, nothing more but certainly nothing less.  A religion of Welfare and Entertainment run amok.  The people here for the event will all go to worship in the Superdome (while Tens of Millions Watch at Home) and pray for ….. more corporate profits to support the Socialist Government?

Cheney-Obama: The Fourth Amendment does not Apply to the Military in the US!

There is little doubt that we are headed for totalitarian dictatorship in the United States. There is even less doubt that Barack Obama, far from being a reformer, is and always will be nothing but a tool of the same vicious, freedom-hating, individual-despising, global corporate socialist government we’ve had for at least 20-25 years now. All I know for sure is that the America into which I was born had evaporated before my son was born, in August 1992. One of the greatest monitors of this process of abolition of the Constitution is New York City-based Glenn Greenwald, who writes for left-leaning Salon.com out of San Francisco. For the past six months, he has been chronicling more systematically than any other commentator ALL of Barack Hussein Obama’s criminal moves towards dictatorship and institutionalization of the Clinton-Bush-Cheney anti-American plutocracy. The rhetorical device is easy to understand: the first “Black” President has adopted all of their (Clinton-Bush-Cheney’s) very worst policies, there will be no “mainstream” segments of the political spectrum left to fight for freedom in this country.
I applaud Glenn Greenwald for his work and dedication to the cause of preserving the Bill of Rights inside (and as representative of) the United States:
SATURDAY JULY 25, 2009 06:26 EDT
The Cheney plan to deploy the U.S. military on U.S. soil
(updated below – Update II – Update III) GLENN GREENWALD (SALON.COM):
This new report today from The New York Times’ Mark Mazzetti and David Johnston reveals an entirely unsurprising though still important event: in 2002, Dick Cheney and David Addington urged that U.S. military troops be used to arrest and detain American citizens, inside the U.S., who were suspected of involvement with Al Qaeda. That was done pursuant to a previously released DOJ memo (.pdf) authored by John Yoo and Robert Delahunty, addressed to Alberto Gonzales, dated October 23, 2001, and chillingly entitled “Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activities Within the U.S.” That Memo had concluded that the President had authority to deploy the U.S. military against American citizens on U.S. soil. Far worse, it asserted that in exercising that power, the President could not be bound either by Congressional statutes prohibiting such use (such as the Posse Comitatus Act) or even by the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, which — the Memo concluded — was “inapplicable” to what it called “domestic military operations.”
Though it received very little press attention, it is not hyperbole to observe that this October 23 Memo was one of the most significant events in American politics in the last several decades, because it explicitly declared the U.S. Constitution — the Bill of Rights — inoperative inside the U.S., as applied to U.S. citizens. Just read what it said in arguing that neither the Fourth Amendment — nor even the First Amendment — can constrain what the President can do when overseeing “domestic military operations”.

Today’s NYT report is the first which reveals that high-level Bush officials actively considered and even advocated that the power to use the military to arrest American citizens on U.S. soil be used. In this instance, Cheney and Addington argued that the U.S. Army should be deployed to Buffalo to arrest six American citizens — dubbed the “Lackawanna Six” — suspected of being Al Qaeda members (though not suspected of being anywhere near executing an actual Terrorist attack). The Cheney/Addington plan was opposed by DOJ officials who wanted domestic law enforcement jurisdiction for themselves, and the plan was ultimately rejected by Bush, who instead dispatched the FBI to arrest them [all six were ultimately charged in federal court with crimes (“material support for terrorism”); all pled guilty and were sentenced to long prison terms, and they then cooperated in other cases, once again illustrating how effective our normal criminal justice and federal prison systems are in incapacitating Terrorists].
All that said, the Bush administration did use a very similar power when it dispatched FBI agents to arrest U.S. citizen Jose Padilla on American soil (at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport), but then very shortly thereafter transferred him to military custody, where he was held for the next 3 years with no trial, no charges, and no contact with the outside world, including lawyers. The only thing distinguishing the Padilla case from what Cheney/Addington argued be done in the Lackawanna Six case was that the military wasn’t used to make the initial apprehension of Padilla. But Padilla was then transferred to military custody and held on U.S. soil for years in a brig, incommunicado and tortured, with no charges of any kind (another U.S. citizen, Yaser Hamdi, was treated similarly until the Supreme Court ruled he was entitled to some sort of hearing, after which he was sent to Saudi Arabia).
All of this underscores why it is so important to vigorously oppose the efforts of the Obama administration (a) to continue many of the radical Bush/Cheney Terrorism programs and even to implement new ones (preventive detention, military commissions, extreme secrecy policies, warrantless surveillance, denial of habeas corpus) and (b) to endorse the core Orwellian premise that enables all of that (i.e., the “battlefield” is anywhere and everywhere; the battle against Terrorism is a “War” like the Civil War or World War II and justifies the same powers). By itself, the extreme injustice imposed by our Government on the individuals subjected to such tyrannical powers (i.e., those held in cages for years without charges or any prospect for release) should be sufficient to compel firm opposition. But the importance of these issues goes far beyond that. Even if the original intention is to use these powers in very limited circumstances and even for allegedly noble purposes (“only” for Guantanamo detainees who were tortured, “only” for people shipped to Bagram, “only” for the Most Dangerous Terrorists), it’s extremely dangerous to implement systems and vest the President with powers that depart from, and violently betray, our core precepts of justice.
It’s the nature of governments that powers of this type, once vested, rarely remain confined to their original purpose. They inevitably and invariably expand far beyond that. Powers that are endowed to address a limited and supposedly temporary circumstance almost always endure for years if not decades. Once a political official possesses a particular power, they almost never relinquish it voluntarily (there are exceptions — Jimmy Carter in 1978 signed, and subsequent Presidents until Bush complied with, FISA, which barred Presidents from eavesdropping without a judicial warrant, but such instances are exceedingly rare). Perhaps most dangerous of all, detention and punishment schemes that are implemented in relatively normal times (such as now) will inevitably expand, and expand wildly, in the case of some heightened threat (such as another Terrorist attack). Put another way, once we depart for ostensibly limited purposes from our fundamental principles of justice — in order to indefinitely detain “just some special cases” without charges — then, by definition, we’re fundamentally altering our system of justice far beyond that.
Worse still, if — after eight years of Yoo memos and theories of presidential omnipotence and denial of habeas corpus — a Democratic President with a Democratic Congress implements his own kinder, gentler version of such programs, then they will cease to be a twisted aberration from the post-9/11 Bush era and will instead become the new bipartisan, American consensus approach to justice. We’ll have a national (rather than right-wing) endorsement of the “principle” that national security threats justify denial of the most basic rights when it comes to detention and imprisonment. When I interviewed The New York Times’ Charlie Savage in May, after he wrote another article detailing the similarities between the Bush/Cheney and Obama approaches to Terrorism, this is how he put it:
I had this interesting conversation when I was working on this article that came out this morning with Jack Balkin at Yale Law School, and he compares this moment to when Dwight Eisenhower took over, in 1953, and after FDR and then Truman had built up the New Deal administrative state, which Republicans hated, but then Eisenhower, instead of dismantling it, just sort of adjusted it with his own policies a little bit, and kept it going. And at that point, there was no longer any sort of partisan controversy about the fact that we were going to have this massive administrative state; it just sort of became a permanent part of the governing structure of the country.
And in the same way he said in 1969 when Richard Nixon took over from LBJ, he did some adjustments to the great society welfare state that LBJ had built up, but he didn’t scrap it. And at that point, Republicans and Democrats had both presided over the welfare state and the welfare state became part of just how government worked.
That in the same way, Obama now, by continuing the broad outlines of the various surveillance and detention and counter-terrorism programs, is draining them of plausible partisan controversy, and so they are going to become entrenched and consolidated as permanent features of American government as well, going forward.
Those are the stakes when it comes to debates over Obama’s detention, surveillance and secrecy policies. To endorse the idea that Terrorism justifies extreme presidential powers in these areas is to ensure that we permanently embrace a radical departure from our core principles of justice. It should come as no surprise that once John Yoo did what he was meant to do — give his legal approval to a truly limitless presidency, one literally unconstrained even by the Bill of Rights, even as applied to American citizens on U.S. soil — then Dick Cheney and David Addington sought to use those powers (in the Buffalo case) and Bush did use them (in the case of Jose Padilla). That’s how extreme powers work: once implemented, they will be used, and used far beyond their original intent — whether by the well-intentioned implementing President or a subsequent one with less benign motives. That’s why it’s so vital that such policies be opposed before they take root.

UPDATE: On a mostly (though not entirely) unrelated note, here is a prime example of Digby’s excellence: her commentary on the prevailing authoritarian mentality towards government and police power in the U.S., as reflected by the Gates controversy.

UPDATE II: As Kitt notes in Comments, Obama himself, as a candidate, repeatedly embraced these ideas. Here is what he said in February, 2008, after he convinced Chris Dodd to endorse him during the primary and while he tried to convince Dodd voters, who made civil liberties and a restoration core Constitutional values one of their highest priorities, to support him as well:
We know it’s time to time to restore our Constitution and the rule of law. This is an issue that was at the heart of Senator Dodd’s candidacy, and I share his passion for restoring the balance between the security we demand and the civil liberties that we cherish.
The American people must be able to trust that their president values principle over politics, and justice over unchecked power. I’ve been proud to stand with Senator Dodd in his fight against retroactive immunity for the telecommunications industry [GG: This was just four months before Obama would vote for a bill granting immunity to the telecoms]. Secrecy and special interests must not trump accountability [GG: This was roughly 11 months before the Obama DOJ began embracing the Bush/Cheney “state secrets” privilege to shield lawless programs from judicial review]. We must show our citizens — and set an example to the world — that laws cannot be ignored when it is inconvenient. Because in America — no one is above the law [GG: This was about a year before he announced that no Bush officials should be prosecuted for crimes because we must Look Forward].
It’s time to reject torture without equivocation. It’s time to close Guantanamo and to restore habeas corpus [GG: This was about a year before his administration began insisting that people we abduct and ship to Bagram have no right to habeas review]. It’s time to give our intelligence and law enforcement agencies the tools they need to track down and take out terrorists, while ensuring that their actions are subject to vigorous oversight that protects our freedom [GG: This was just four months before Obama would vote for a bill massively expanding warrantless eavesdropping]. So let me be perfectly clear: I have taught the Constitution, I understand the Constitution, and I will obey the Constitution when I am President of the United States.
The Barack Obama who understands those things still exists. That’s why the effort to induce him to act on — rather than violate — those principles is so imperative.

UPDATE III: As several commenters note, this revelation about Cheney sheds new light on the reason many people were concerned by prior reports that a U.S. Army brigade, for the first time, was being permanently deployed to the domestic U.S. Many of us expressing that concern were accused of indulging bizarre paranoia that the U.S. Army would ever be deployed against U.S. citizens on U.S. soil. I wonder how those who made such shrill accusations feel now in light of today’s revelation that Cheney was advocating for precisely that.
On a different note, I was on The Mike Malloy Show last night, with guest host Brad Friedman, discussing Obama and civil liberties. Those interested can hear the segments I did here, beginning at the start of HOUR ONE.
— Glenn Greenwald

HAS OBAMA GIVEN THE GREEN LIGHT FOR ARMED REVOLUTION IN THE USA?

What are we waiting for?  There was a book I read in high school called “REICHTAG FIRE: ASHES OF DEMOCRACY” about Adolph Hitler’s staged communist attack on the German Parliament as grounds for shutting down the democratically elected Parliament which, ironically enough, had brought him to power.  Obama, the first “allegedly black”, President seems determined to do so much more damage to this Country’s constitutional heritage than even George W. Bush did—but Obama might get by with it because conservatives demand that the “allegedly most liberal”—President not go soft on the Al Qaida operatives, and Obama’s supports will see him as liberal (apparently) no matter how much like Joseph Stalin or Mao Tse Tung he becomes…  Here is Glenn Greenwald’s latest from Salon.com (Read it and Weep—especially all you IDIOTS who voted for OBAMA!):

Facts and myths about Obama’s preventive detention proposal

 

[Updated below – Update II (Interview with ACLU) – Update III – Update IV – Update V ]

In the wake of Obama’s speech yesterday, there are vast numbers of new converts who now support indefinite “preventive detention.”  It thus seems constructive to have as dispassionate and fact-based discussion as possible of the implications of “preventive detention” and Obama’s related detention proposals (military commissions).  I’ll have a podcast discussion on this topic a little bit later today with the ACLU’s Ben Wizner, which I’ll add below, but until then, here are some facts and other points worth noting:

 

(1) What does “preventive detention” allow?  

It’s important to be clear about what “preventive detention” authorizes.  It does not merely allow the U.S. Government to imprison people alleged to have committed Terrorist acts yet who are unable to be convicted in a civilian court proceeding.  That class is merely a subset, perhaps a small subset, of who the Government can detain.  Far more significant, “preventive detention” allows indefiniteimprisonment not based on proven crimes or past violations of law, but of those deemed generally “dangerous” by the Government for various reasons (such as, as Obama put it yesterday, they “expressed their allegiance to Osama bin Laden” or “otherwise made it clear that they want to kill Americans”).  That’s what “preventive” means:  imprisoning people because the Government claims they are likely to engage in violent acts in the future because they are alleged to be “combatants.”  

Once known, the details of the proposal could — and likely will — make this even more extreme by extending the “preventive detention” power beyond a handful of Guantanamo detainees to anyone, anywhere in the world, alleged to be a “combatant.”  After all, once you accept the rationale on which this proposal is based — namely, that the U.S. Government must, in order to keep us safe, preventively detain “dangerous” people even when they can’t prove they violated any laws — there’s no coherent reason whatsoever to limit that power to people already at Guantanamo, as opposed to indefinitely imprisoning with no trials all allegedly “dangerous” combatants, whether located in Pakistan, Thailand, Indonesia, Western countries and even the U.S.


(2) 
 Are defenders of Obama’s proposals being consistent?

During the Bush years, it was common for Democrats to try to convince conservatives to oppose Bush’s executive power expansions by asking them:  “Do you really want these powers to be exercised by Hillary Clinton or some liberal President?”

Following that logic, for any Democrat/progressive/liberal/Obama supporter who wants to defend Obama’s proposal of “preventive detention,” shouldn’t you first ask yourself three simple questions:  

(a) what would I have said if George Bush and Dick Cheney advocated a law vesting them with the power to preventively imprison people indefinitely and with no charges?;

(b) when Bush and Cheney did preventively imprison large numbers of people, was I in favor of that or did I oppose it, and when right-wing groups such as Heritage Foundation were alone in urging a preventive detention law in 2004, did I support them?; and

(c) even if I’m comfortable with Obama having this new power because I trust him not to abuse it, am I comfortable with future Presidents — including Republicans — having the power of indefinite “preventive detention”?

 

(3)  Questions for defenders of Obama’s proposal:

There are many claims being made by defenders of Obama’s proposals which seem quite contradictory and/or without any apparent basis, and I’ve been searching for a defender of those proposals to address these questions:

Bush supporters have long claimed — and many Obama supporters are now insisting as well — that there are hard-core terrorists who cannot be convicted in our civilian courts.  For anyone making that claim, what is the basis for believing that?  In the Bush era, the Government has repeatedlybeen able to convict alleged Al Qaeda and Taliban members in civilian courts, including several (Ali al-Marri, Jose Padilla, John Walker Lindh) who were tortured and others (Zacharais Moussaoui, Padilla) where evidence against them was obtained by extreme coercion.  What convinced you to believe that genuine terrorists can’t be convicted in our justice system?

For those asserting that there are dangerous people who have not yet been given any trial and who Obama can’t possibly release, how do you know they are “dangerous” if they haven’t been tried?  Is the Government’s accusation enough for you to assume it’s true?

Above all:  for those justifying Obama’s use of military commissions by arguing that some terrorists can’t be convicted in civilian courts because the evidence against them is “tainted” because it was obtained by Bush’s torture, Obama himself claimed just yesterday that his military commissions also won’t allow such evidence (“We will no longer permit the use of evidence — as evidence statements that have been obtained using cruel, inhuman, or degrading interrogation methods”).  How does our civilian court’s refusal to consider evidence obtained by torture demonstrate the need for Obama’s military commissions if, as Obama himself claims, Obama’s military commissionsalso won’t consider evidence obtained by torture?

Finally, don’t virtually all progressives and Democrats argue that torture produces unreliable evidence?  If it’s really true (as Obama defenders claim) that the evidence we have against these detainees was obtained by torture and is therefore inadmissible in real courts, do you really think suchunreliable evidence — evidence we obtained by torture — should be the basis for concluding that someone is so “dangerous” that they belong in prison indefinitely with no trial?  If you don’t trust evidence obtained by torture, why do you trust it to justify holding someone forever, with no trial, as “dangerous”?

 

(4)  Do other countries have indefinite preventive detention?

Obama yesterday suggested that other countries have turned to “preventive detention” and that his proposal therefore isn’t radical (“other countries have grappled with this question; now, so must we”).  Is that true?

In June of last year, there was a tumultuous political debate in Britain that sheds ample light on this question.  In the era of IRA bombings, the British Parliament passed a law allowing the Government to preventively detain terrorist suspects for 14 days — and then either have to charge them or release them.  In 2006, Prime Minister Tony Blair — citing the London subway attacks and the need to “intervene early before a terrorist cell has the opportunity to achieve its goals” — wanted to increase the preventive detention period to 90 days, but MPs from his own party and across the political spectrum overwhelmingly opposed this, and ultimately increased it only to 28 days

In June of last year, Prime Minister Gordon Brown sought an expansion of this preventive detention authority to 42 days — a mere two weeks more.  Reacting to that extremely modest increase, amajor political rebellion erupted, with large numbers of Brown’s own Labour Party joining with Tories to vehemently oppose it as a major threat to liberty.  Ultimately, Brown’s 42-day scheme barely passed the House of Commons.  As former Prime Minister John Major put it in opposing the expansion to 42 days:

It is hard to justify: pre-charge detention in Canada is 24 hours; South Africa, Germany, New Zealand and America 48 hours; Russia 5 days; and Turkey 7½ days.

By rather stark and extreme contrast, Obama is seeking preventive detention powers that areindefinite — meaning without any end, potentially permanent.  There’s no time limit on the “preventive detention.”  Compare that power to the proposal that caused such a political storm in Britain and what these other governments are empowered to do.  The suggestion that indefinitepreventive detention without charges is some sort of common or traditional scheme is clearly false.

 

(5)   Is this comparable to traditional POW detentions?

When Bush supporters used to justify Bush/Cheney detention policies by arguing that it’s normal for “Prisoners of War” to be held without trials, that argument was deeply misleading.  And it’s no less misleading when made now by Obama supporters.  That comparison is patently inappropriate for two reasons:  (a) the circumstances of the apprehension, and (b) the fact that, by all accounts, this “war” will not be over for decades, if ever, which means — unlike for traditional POWs, who are released once the war is over — these prisoners are going to be in a cage not for a few years, but for decades, if not life.

Traditional “POWs” are ones picked up during an actual military battle, on a real battlefield, wearing a uniform, while engaged in fighting.  The potential for error and abuse in deciding who was a “combatant” was thus minimal.  By contrast, many of the people we accuse in the “war on terror” of being “combatants” aren’t anywhere near a “battlefield,” aren’t part of any army, aren’t wearing any uniforms, etc.  Instead, many of them are picked up from their homes, at work, off the streets.  In most cases, then, we thus have little more than the say-so of the U.S. Government that they are guilty, which is why actual judicial proceedings before imprisoning them is so much more vital than in the standard POW situation.  

Anyone who doubts that should just look at how many Guantanamo detainees were accused of being “the worst of the worst” yet ended up being released because they did absolutely nothing wrong.  Can anyone point to any traditional POW situation where so many people were falsely accused and where the risk of false accusations was so high?  For obvious reasons, this is not and has never been a traditional POW detention scheme.  

During the Bush era, that was a standard argument among Democrats, so why should that change now?  Here is what Anne-Marie Slaughter — now Obama’s Director of Policy Planning for the State Department — said about Bush’s “POW” comparison on Fox News in, November 21, 2001:

Military commissions have been around since the Revolutionary War. But they’ve always been used to try spies that we find behind enemy lines. It’s normally a situation, you’re on the battlefield, you find an enemy spy behind your lines. You can’t ship them to national court, so you provide a kind of rough battlefield justice in a commission. You give them the best process you can, and then you execute the sentence on the spot, which generally means executing the defendant.

That’s not this situation. It’s not remotely like it.

As for duration, the U.S. government has repeatedly said that this “war” is so different from standard wars because it will last for decades, if not generations. Obama himself yesterday said that “unlike the Civil War or World War II, we can’t count on a surrender ceremony to bring this journey to an end” and that we’ll still be fighting this “war” “a year from now, five years from now, and — in all probability — 10 years from now.”  No rational person can compare POW detentions of a finite and usually short (2-5 years) duration to decades or life in a cage.  That’s why, yesterday, Law Professor Diane Marie Amann, in The New York Timessaid this:

[Obama] signaled a plan by which [Guantanamo detainees] — and perhaps other detainees yet to be arrested? — could remain in custody forever without charge.There is no precedent in the American legal tradition for this kind of preventive detention. That is not quite right: precedents do exist, among them the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 and the Japanese internment of the 1940s, but they are widely seen as low points in America’s history under the Constitution.

There are many things that can be said about indefinitely imprisoning people with no charges who were not captured on any battlefield, but the claim that this is some sort of standard or well-established practice in American history is patently false.

 

(6)  Is it “due process” when the Government can guarantee it always wins?

If you really think about the argument Obama made yesterday — when he described the five categories of detainees and the procedures to which each will be subjected — it becomes manifest just how profound a violation of Western conceptions of justice this is.  What Obama is saying is this:  we’ll give real trials only to those detainees we know in advance we will convict.  For those we don’t think we can convict in a real court, we’ll get convictions in the military commissions I’m creating.  For those we can’t convict even in my military commissions, we’ll just imprison them anyway with no charges (“preventively detain” them). 

Giving trials to people only when you know for sure, in advance, that you’ll get convictions is not due process.  Those are called “show trials.”  In a healthy system of justice, the Government giveseveryone it wants to imprison a trial and then imprisons only those whom it can convict.  The process is constant (trials), and the outcome varies (convictions or acquittals). 

Obama is saying the opposite:  in his scheme, it is the outcome that is constant (everyone ends up imprisoned), while the process varies and is determined by the Government (trials for some; military commissions for others; indefinite detention for the rest).  The Government picks and chooses which process you get in order to ensure that it always wins.  A more warped “system of justice” is hard to imagine.

 

(7)  Can we “be safe” by locking up all the Terrorists with no charges?

Obama stressed yesterday that the “preventive detention” system should be created only through an act of Congress with “a process of periodic review, so that any prolonged detention is carefully evaluated and justified.” That’s certainly better than what Bush did:  namely, preventively detain people with no oversight and no Congressional authorization — in violation of the law.  But as we learned with the Military Commissions Act of 2006 and the Protect America Act of 2007, the mere fact that Congress approves of a radical policy may mean that it is no longer lawless but it doesn’t make it justified.  As Professor Amann put it:  “no amount of procedures can justify deprivations that, because of their very nature violate the Constitution’s core guarantee of liberty.”  Dan Froomkin saidthat no matter how many procedures are created, that’s “a dangerously extreme policy proposal.”

Regarding Obama’s “process” justification — and regarding Obama’s primary argument that we need to preventively detain allegedly dangerous people in order to keep us safe — Digby said it best:

We are still in a “war” against a method of violence, which means there is no possible end and which means that the government can capture and imprison anyone they determine to be “the enemy” forever.  The only thing that will change is where the prisoners are held and few little procedural tweaks to make it less capricious. (It’s nice that some sort of official committee will meet once in a while to decide if the war is over or if the prisoner is finally too old to still be a “danger to Americans.”)

There seems to be some misunderstanding about Guantanamo. Somehow people have gotten it into their heads is that it is nothing more than a symbol, which can be dealt with simply by closing the prison. That’s just not true. Guantanamo is a symbol, true, but it’s a symbol of a lawless, unconstitutional detention and interrogation system. Changing the venue doesn’t solve the problem.

I know it’s a mess, but the fact is that this isn’t really that difficult, except in the usual beltway kabuki political sense. There are literally tens of thousands of potential terrorists all over the world who could theoretically harm America. We cannot protect ourselves from that possibility by keeping the handful we have in custody locked up forever, whether in Guantanamo or some Super Max prison in the US. It’s patently absurd to obsess over these guys like it makes us even the slightest bit safer to have them under indefinite lock and key so they “can’t kill Americans.”

The mere fact that we are doing this makes us less safe because the complete lack of faith we show in our constitution and our justice systems is what fuels the idea that this country is weak and easily terrified. There is no such thing as a terrorist suspect who is too dangerous to be set free. They are a dime a dozen, they are all over the world and for every one we lock up there will be three to take his place. There is not some finite number of terrorists we can kill or capture and then the “war” will be over and the babies will always be safe. This whole concept is nonsensical.

As I said yesterday, there were some positive aspects to Obama’s speech.  His resolve to close Guantanamo in the face of all the fear-mongering, like his release of the OLC memos, is commendable.  But the fact that a Democratic President who ran on a platform of restoring America’s standing and returning to our core principles is now advocating the creation of a new system of indefinite preventive detention — something that is now sure to become a standard view of Democratic politicians and hordes of Obama supporters — is by far the most consequential event yet in the formation of Obama’s civil liberties policies.

 

UPDATE: Here’s what White House Counsel Greg Craig told The New Yorker‘s Jane Mayer in February:

“It’s possible but hard to imagine Barack Obama as the first President of the United States to introduce a preventive-detention law,” Craig said.  “Our presumption is that there is no need to create a whole new system. Our system is very capable.”

“The first President of the United States to introduce a preventive-detention law” is how Obama’s own White House Counsel described him.  Technically speaking, that is a form of change, but probably not the type that many Obama voters expected.

 

UPDATE II: Ben Wizner of the ACLU’s National Security Project is the lead lawyer in the Jeppesencase, which resulted in the recent rejection by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals of the Bush/Obama state secrets argument, and also co-wrote (along with the ACLU’s Jameel Jaffer) a superb article inSalon in December making the case against preventive detention.  I spoke with him this morning for roughly 20 minutes regarding the detention policies proposed by Obama in yesterday’s speech.  It can be heard by clicking PLAY on the recorder below.  A transcript will be posted shortly.

 

UPDATE III: Rachel Maddow was superb last night — truly superb — on the topic of Obama’s preventive detention proposal:

 

UPDATE IV:  The New Yorker‘s Amy Davidson compares Obama’s detention proposal to the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II (as did Professor Amann, quoted above).  Hilzoy, of The Washington Monthlywrites:  “If we don’t have enough evidence to charge someone with a crime, we don’t have enough evidence to hold them. Period” and “the power to detain people without filing criminal charges against them is a dictatorial power.”  Salon‘s Joan Walsh quotesthe Center for Constitutional Rights’ Vincent Warren as saying:  “They’re creating, essentially, an American Gulag.”  The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Will Bunch says of Obama’s proposal:  “What he’s proposing is against one of this country’s core principles” and “this is why people need to keep the pressure on Obama — even those inclined to view his presidency favorably.”

 

UPDATE V:  The Atlantic‘s Marc Ambinder — who is as close to the Obama White House as any journalist around — makes an important point about Obama that I really wish more of his supporters would appreciate:

[Obama] was blunt [in his meeting with civil libertiarians]; the [military commissions] are a fait accompli, so the civil libertarians can either help Congress and the White House figure out the best way to protect the rights of the accused within the framework of that decision, or they can remain on the outside, as agitators. That’s not meant to be pejorative; whereas the White House does not give a scintilla of attention to its right-wing critics, it does read, and will read, everythingGlenn Greenwald writesObama, according to an administration official, finds this outside pressure healthy and useful.

Ambinder doesn’t mean me personally or exclusively; he means people who are criticizing Obama not in order to harm him politically, but in order to pressure him to do better.  It’s not just the right, but the duty, of citizens to pressure and criticize political leaders when they adopt policies that one finds objectionable or destructive.  Criticism of this sort is a vital check on political leaders — a key way to impose accountability — and Obama himself has said as much many times before. 

It has nothing to do with personalities or allegiances.  It doesn’t matter if one “likes” or “trusts” Obama or thinks he’s a good or bad person.  That’s all irrelevant.  The only thing that matters is whether one thinks that the actions he’s undertaking are helpful or harmful.  If they’re harmful, one should criticize them.  Where, as here, they’re very harmful and dangerous, one should criticize them loudly.  Obama himself, according to Ambinder, “finds this outside pressure healthy and useful.”  And it is.  It’s not only healthy and useful but absolutely vital.

— Glenn Greenwald

Nationalization of the Banks is all but a Fait-Accompli! Once the banks are Nationalized—a country has for all intents and purposes a Socialist Economy

http://www.portfolio.com/views/blogs/market-movers/2009/01/29/wheres-the-nationalization-debate?tid=true

Jan 29 2009 8:49am EST

Where’s the Nationalization Debate?

geithnerwarren.jpgThere’s a lot of words but less actual news in the NYT’s big report today on Tim Geithner and his plan for the US banking system. But one thing does interest me, given the extent to which Warren has been demonized by bank shareholders: financial stocks surged yesterday on the same day as the above photo was taken, with Geithner and Warren looking very friendly indeed.

I do like this quote from Chuck Schumer, which I think sums up the debate quite well:

“None of the solutions are very easy,” Mr. Schumer said. “All of these proposals sound very appealing until you start to examine them in detail. And then you find that all of them have problems. The good bank-bad bank idea — the problem, first and foremost, is how do you value the assets? No one knows how to do that.”

But the nationalization idea still seems to be stillborn:

[Geithner] discouraged speculation that the plan would include the nationalization of some banks.
“We have a financial system that is run by private shareholders, managed by private institutions, and we’d like to do our best to preserve that system,” he said.

Such sentiments will certainly make Jamie Dimon happy:

“JPMorgan would be fine if we stopped talking about (the) damn nationalisation of banks … we’ve got plenty of capital,” Jamie Dimon said, at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Sorry, Jamie, but I’m going to keep on talking about it, just because it solves at a stroke the problem of valuing the bad assets that the government is thinking of buying at an absolutely astonishing cost of $3-4trillion. It would also help address Larry Summers’s concern:

Mr. Summers privately expressed concern last week that spending too much to buy bad assets could cripple the dollar, according to a person who spoke with him.

This is a real concern. If you give the banks trillions of cash dollars in exchange for their toxic assets, there’s simply no way of forcing them to keep that money in the USA. Even if they lend it only to US companies — which is improbable — those companies will surely take advantage of the strong dollar to buy cheap imports.

Nationalization, by contrast, doesn’t involve monetizing bad assets, which means it poses much less of a risk to the dollar. I’m glad that Geithner isn’t in a mad rush to decide what to do, but I’m less happy that some kind of bad-bank solution seems to be a foregone conclusion at this point, while nationalization has not been properly debated. If you don’t want to call it nationalization, fine — but at least take seriously the idea that the problem can be solved without a huge up-front transfer of government money to the banking sector.

State Control over the Economy, Part I: JPMorganChase & Washington Mutual

Attention today (Monday September 29, 2008) has been focused on the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C., which made a “show vote” against “socialism” and government bailout of the financial industry.  Yet everyone over the age of 6 knows that today was just partisan showmanship, and that Congress will rescue the starving billionaires and “small timers” (i.e. mere millionaires) on Wall Street as surely as they will vote themselves a pay raise sometime in the next few years and create more exemptions for fraud or acts of oppression committed by government officials.  No one in the Republican leadership or the 94 Democrats who joined them in voting down the Republican President’s bill admitted that it is GEORGE W. BUSH’S America, the nightmare of corporate welfare and immunity for financial sleight of hand artists, largely envisioned by Daddy George H.W. and implemented by and under William Jefferson Clinton, which is collapsing.  Populism will blame Wall Street, but it was Bill Clinton’s repeal of the Glass-Steagal Act in 1999 and all the concommitant removal other “brakes” places on the rampage of international bankers on cocaine which has led to the current meltdown.  Why is it that we are amazed at the puppet theatre played out in Congress today?  The members on both sides of the aisle are actually clamouring for yet MORE government intervention because we have repeatedly voted for the worst of the worst of both Republicrat and Democan Parties over the past two decades.  The Republican leadership made it pretty clear that the ONLY reason Bill 3997 failed today was because Nancy Pelosi opened her mouth and said a few semi-rational and coherent things about the effects of deregulation and greed on the collapse of the most insane paper-money manufacturing scheme (securitized mortgages) in the history of the world.  But until SECURITIZED MORTGAGES ARE EITHER ABOLISHED or fully regulated like ALL OTHER SECURITIES in this country, the exponentially increasing risks will continue to pile up. 

As of the present moment, I think that insufficient attention has been played to the government’s intervention in the collapse of Washington Mutual.  Late Thursday night, an incredible thing happened: Washington Mutual made known to the government that it was on the verge of collapse, and OVERNIGHT the government brokered a takeover of Washington Mutual whereby 100% (or something very close) to the government insured deposits, loans, credit card accounts, and other “assets” of Washington Mutual were transferred to JPMorganChase while 100% (or something very close) of the corporate liabilities (i.e. equity shares and bonds, implying UNSECURED obligations of the bank) were declared WORTHLESS. $1.8 BILLION in financial manipulation OVERNIGHT. 

Where is the “wall of separation between government and the private sector these days?”  Since when, in a non-Communist, non-Fascistic economy, can the government in effect order a merger of two major businesses without shareholder consent or litigation of any kind?  This is called a “Command and Control” or “Fiat” economy.  Nothing of this level of dictatorial efficiency was ever achieved or implemented in Nazi Germany, the U.S.S.R., or anywhere else to the best of my knowledge.  The Kings of England up through William of Orange, Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Mao Tse-Tung all had more constituencies with whom to contend and negotiate than the financial authorities who merged these two gigantic banks—which happen to be the greatest single offenders in the whole securitized “mortgage backed equity/collateral backed obligation” debacle.  The lack of discussion or any widespread dissemination of information regarding the details or the mechanisms of the Washington Mutual/JP Morgan Chase “overnight shotgun marriage” last week was just a prelude to the “show trial” in Congress today, where amateur actors tried to pretend that Congressional approval of the bailout is all but pro forma. 

The Great Leader GWB will, within a few days, achieve the complete reimbursement of his buddies in high finance if he has to do so by (hush-hush) executive orders—I have no doubt of that.  What I wonder is whether Ron Paul or anybody else on the House Floor was thinking how completely content-free the debate really was, and how pointless the show of posed opposition to the implementation of something close to pure communism in the financial sector.  IF the Federal government can, without comment, by mere announcement merge JPMorgan Chase and Washington Mutual OVERNIGHT in one week, there is really no meaningful limit to what the Government and and will do, given a week or two, with or without rubber-stamped congressional approval. 

So in short, to those of you who were in favor of the Bill 3997 bailout, I say, “be of good cheer, Big Brother will take care of you whether the Puppet Actors in Congress approve it outloud today, tomorrow or never.”  To those of you who think that Congress struck a blow for economic integrity and allowing the free markets to take care of their own greatest leaders’ failures, I would say: look at JPMorganChase and Washington Mutual merger that took place without application to the Antitrust Division of the DOJ, the Federal Commerce Commission, or anyone else, and tell me that it makes any difference what Congress does.  Look at all the dozen or so mergers of the past couple of weeks and tell me that there is a rule of law or free market economy at work here.  Where were the shareholder votes necessary to approve these mergers?  Where were the bids and white knights and marketplace speculation?  ALL of these things have been suppressed and coopted by the government to hide the failures of the corporate-communistic policies of the past 20 years.  Had the free market or even free discussion of these issues been allowed, all the truth about who is responsible for the present state of affairs, and who authorized the exemption of securitized mortgages from securities fraud regulation (and even private civil litigation complaints or demands concerning such securities fraud).  

Free Market Capitalism is dead.  Socialism is managed by and for the primary benefit of the operators and managers of the major financial corporations.  Even the small private shareholders in financial institutions can be wiped out NOT by the Market but by the Government, in a moment, in twinkling of an eye—but without any trumpets…..