The death of the First Amendment
The US Department of Justice has brought an 18-charge indictment against Julian Assange. Seventeen of the counts are for violations of the Espionage Act. To much scorn and derision Wikileaks and Assange have been warning for years that this is exactly what the US government would do. They have been vindicated. Obama Justice Department lawyers, examining the exact same evidence as the Trump Justice Department lawyers, declined to press charges against Assange because they believed it would criminalize essential elements of journalism, one of which is disclosure of secrets the government would rather not have disclosed, and obliterate the First Amendment. The Obama lawyers were right.
The Trump administration is attempting to silence a journalist and organization that have acted as a clearinghouse for whistleblowers outside and inside governments who have courageously sought to reveal their governments’ depredations and crimes. In this country, Assange and Wikileaks have embarrassed and infuriated both the left and right, Democrats and Republicans, and so they have no friends or protectors within the powers that be. An important point is that they have done their job mostly with documents and other materials produced by the perpetrators themselves. Telling the truth has indeed become a revolutionary act, which is always a hallmark of tyranny.
Once upon a time some of us hoped that voting for Donald Trump was a revolutionary act, but like most stories that begin with, “Once upon a time,” that has proven a fairy tale. Unless Trump issues a full and unconditional pardon for Assange before he has to undergo years of legal proceedings fighting extradition in Europe and Britain, and then this indictment in the US, never again will I support Donald Trump. Nor will I support any other politician who either supports the indictment or refuses to make his or her opinion known about the matter. At this time, only Tulsi Gabbard has publicly supported Julian Assange, and if she continues to do so she has my vote in 2020, regardless of my complete disagreement with many of her other positions. She would be the first Democrat for whom I’ve ever voted.
That makes me a one-issue voter. I’m a writer and speaker, often writing and speaking about government and politics. I cherish my freedom and the threat to it is the issue most important to me. To all those who regard the First Amendment as subsidiary to other issues—foreign policy, the economy, immigration, the stock market, or the other headline grabbers—or who feel that the US can still be a “great” nation without the First Amendment I say this: you are fools, you fully deserve what’s coming, and don’t you dare bewail your fate or that of your country when what remains of the greatness of America is gone and it has become the tyrannical hellhole that appears to be its destiny.
Have the incidents in the Persian Gulf been perpetrated by Iran, or are the false flags of the US or its allies? We may never know, but the US government certainly has a history of using false flags to get the country into war. From Jeff Thomas at internationalman.com:
For many years, I’ve held the belief that, when World War III was brought on, it would most likely be in the Strait of Hormuz.
The strait is relatively narrow, with a shipping lane of just two miles. It’s bordered on the east by Iran and on the west by the United Arab Emirates. It’s also the main oil highway for Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Since it’s the most critical point for oil distribution in the world and it’s shared by the oil industry’s equivalent of the Hatfields and McCoys, it’s the ideal location for an aggressive nation to start a “rumble.”
In May of this year, it was reported that mines in the strait had damaged four oil tankers. US National Security Advisor John Bolton quickly announced that “naval mines almost certainly from Iran” were to blame. He offered no evidence to back up this claim.
But Vice Admiral Michael Gilday reaffirmed the claim, saying “with a high degree of confidence that this [attack] stems back to the leadership of Iran at the highest levels.”
Although this was strenuously denied by Iran’s foreign ministry, Mr. Bolton reasserted, “There’s no doubt in anybody’s mind in Washington who’s responsible for this. Who else would you think is doing it? Someone from Nepal?”
The Declaration of Independence embodied a concept of federalism, with the states being independent sovereigns, that is now a dead letter. From Eric Peters at theburningplatform.com:
We go through the motions – often, because it’s the easiest thing to do. Inertia. We celebrate anniversaries without meaning. Wedding days in marriages gone cold.
And, of course, the Fourth.
That vapid day is coming ‘round again. People will drink beer and cook out and go through the motions. Some will launch illicit fireworks – real ones being mostly illegal now.
But only a cognitively dissonant American celebrates his “freedom” – which for the record isn’t even what the day is supposed to commemorate.
Read the words penned on that yellowed piece of parchment drafted by Massa Tom sometime. Few apparently do anymore. It is the “Unanimous Declaration of the ThirteenUnited States of America.”
Not the Declaration of the (redacted) United States of America. It is an important distinction.
We’ve gotten to the point where an all-power president makes the big decisions on war and peace. Trump’s decision to pull back on Iran was the right decision, but it shouldn’t be in his hands only. From Danny Sjursen at antiwar.com:
The Donald made the right call. Now that’s a rare statement. Calling off – or at least delaying – a military strike on Iran was prudent. Nevertheless, there was something deeply unsettling about the whole thing. The system is broken, perhaps irreparably.
The president never even considered seeking congressional approval before playing emperor and unleashing death and destruction on a sovereign nation. Why would he? Essentially every president, since Truman, has done the same thing one time or another. Unilateral executive action has been the American norm pretty much since World War II wrapped up. Seen in this context, Trump isn’t so anomalous as many would like to believe. Korea kicked off the trend. But the Vietnam advisory mission, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Somalia, Bosnia, Libya, and Syria – to name the highlights – were all undertaken without the constitutionally mandated consent of the legislature.
In that sense, a dozen or so more palatable and polite emperors, I mean presidents, paved the way for the coarser and more buffoonish reality TV star currently calling the shots in the White House. Americans’ collective sin of ignoring foreign policy and ceding unilateral power to the executive branch has truly, and definitively, come home to roost. That’s partly why I find the protestations from Democratic lawmakers to be more about partisanship than principles. Genuine legislators – that spent more time following international policy instead of obsessively raising money – would all revolt and restrain the president regardless of their political party. We’re unlikely to see that.
There’s an air of complete unreality to the US’s foreign policy and its machinations. From Patrick Lawrence at consortiumnews.com:
Washington’s foreign policy towards Iran is driven by desperation rather than a reasoned understanding of a world in historically significant flux. That can lead only to a continuing succession of failures.
The kinetic events of the past week in Washington, Tehran, and the Persian Gulf were nothing if not revealing. President Donald Trump proved the keeper of the peace, warmongers all around him, when he aborted an airborne attack on Iran Thursday evening. The Iranians continue to act with admirable restraint in the face of incessant provocations.
More such provocations are sure to come. Trump announced over the weekend that he will impose yet another layer of “major new sanctions” against Iran on Monday. After a minor cyber-attack against an Iranian intelligence agency last week, the Pentagon has developed a list of Iranian entities it is considering for a more extensive cyber-war campaign.
Trump: New sanctions and more provocations to come. (The White House/Shealah Craighead)
But there are more fundamental truths to derive from the swift escalation of Washington’s hostilities toward Tehran. They come to four. Taken together, they offer a snapshot of an imperial power in accelerating decline.
Trump and company are pressing hard for negotiations that would entail Iran accepting provisions it will never accept. From Moon of Alabama at moonofalabama.com:
fter a somewhat quiet weekend the Trump administration today engaged in another push against Iran.
Today the Treasury Department sanctioned the leaders of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). It also sanctioned Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and his office! There will be no more Disney Land visits for them.
There is more to come:
Josh Rogin – @joshrogin – 16:18 utc – 24 Jun 2019Mnuchin: “The president has instructed me that we will be designating [Iran’s foreign minister Javad] Zarif later this week.” cc: @JZarif
The Treasury Secretary will designate Javad Zarif as what? A terrorist? Zarif is quite effective in communicating the Iranian standpoint on Twitter and other social media. Those accounts will now be shut down.
The Trump administration’s special envoy for Iran, Brian Hook, said today that Iran should respond to U.S. diplomacy with diplomacy. Sanctioning Iran’s chief diplomat is probably not the way to get there.
All those who get sanctioned by the U.S. will gain in popularity in Iran. These U.S. measures will only unite the people of Iran and strengthen their resolve.
Iran will respond to this new onslaught by asymmetric means of which it has plenty.
On Saturday Trump said that all he wants is that Iran never gets nuclear weapons. But the State Department wants much more. Hook today said that the U.S. would only lift sanctions if a comprehensive deal is made that includes ballistic missile and human rights issues. Iran can not agree to that. But this is not the first time that Pompeo demanded more than Trump himself. Is it Pompeo, not Trump, who is pressing this expanded version to make any deal impossible?
Posted in Energy, Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Governments, Military, War
Tagged Iran, Israel, Mike Pompeo, Oil, President Trump, Saudi Arabia
New York City and State are becoming anti-magnets for younger people seeking opportunity. From Kristin Tate at thehillcom:
Are you a young person thinking of moving to a happening city? Chances are New York is not even on your list of potential hotspots, and if you are already living there, then you are looking for a way out. The last dividends of 20 years of leadership under Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg are being squandered by well intentioned but increasingly radical policies.
Dragging business practices, skyrocketing taxes, telecommuting, and loss of special status is a toxic mix for New York. Among young people, New York is becoming passe. During recent years, both the city and the state of New York have lost residents, as waves of educated and high earning millennials have fled. In fact, more than 46 percent of New Yorkers of all ages moving out of the state are in the bracket earning above $150,000.
The Empire State budget is in near freefall, in no small part due to lower revenue from middle class and upper class workers, while growing stateslike Texas and Florida are in surplus. Governor Andrew Cuomo noted a $2.3 billion hole in the state budget earlier this year, caused largely by oppressive policies that have gutted the local population and economy. More than 450,000 people moved out of New York in the last year alone.