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"Son, bite me" is Not Actual Advocacy (or Lying Liars Like to Lie)
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Blog, Commentary and Articles - Politics
Written by James Landrith   
Sunday, 17 August 2014

It is fascinating to me how often SOME progressives, like some of their counterparts on the right, will outright lie and then act like petulant children when busted in said lies.  Case in point is "The Mahablog", most recently taking part in the childish game of labeling Republicans with minor libertarian leanings as being representive of the entire libertarian movment.  In short, The Mahablog created a gigantic libertaian strawman and then whined when called out on the lie.  Further, The Mahablog is co-opting a horrible tragedy for partisan political purposes.

 

I posted this in response to her ridiculous lies:

 

There are no libertarians in Congress. Calling a few Republicans with minor libertarian leanings on a FEW issues libertarians is extremely dishonest. Doing so for the purpose of scoring political points on the backs of a community suffering a tragedy is beyond disgusting.

 

The blogger Barbara O'Brien, defending her lies and misuse of a tragedy, responds like a spoiled child with no integrity:

 

“There are no libertarians in Congress.” Yes, we know. Nobody in politics is ever pure enough to be a “real” libertarian. Sightings of real libertarians are rare and always prove to be false as soon as the sighted creature actually goes on record about anything.

 

In short, son, bite me.

 

It takes an absolute lack of intregrity, compassion failure and a miserable excuse for a human being to co-opt another's tragedy to play p9litical games for anyone else's benefit. It shows a lack of maturity to say "bite me" when called out such.

 

I have spent the better part of two decades involved in advocacy that worked alongside progressives, moderates, conservatives and non-partisan activists alike such as the ACLU, Center for National Secuity Studies, People for the American Way, Liberty Coalition, Electronic Privacy Information Center, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Amenesty International, and dozens of other organizations on a wide variety of issues such as domestic surveillance, police misconduct, prison rape, male rape survivor issues, torture, the mistreatment and illegal detention of Muslim and Arab Americans by the Bush Administration and the buildup/lies used to justify the Iraq War. One thing I've learned over the years is that there a lot of people who truly care about poeple and want to make the lives of others better, regardless of ideological compass or label.

 

The asshole behind the Mahablog is about none of these things. She appears to simply be an opportunistic liar, taking advantage of a tragedy for political purposes. That is disgusting and abhorrent to those of us who actually give a shit about the people involved and the lives that have been forever impacted. I grew up in a household affected by murder. I've seen family members afraid to watch the news for fear that the trial and our family member would be talked about yet again.  I've seen how it affects the surviving family members and forever alters our view of the world. I abhor the fact that anyone would co-opt such an experience for political purposes. O'Brien and her blog have done that and show an utter lack of maturity and compassion in the doing, even when called out on such earnestly. 

 

Last Updated ( Sunday, 17 August 2014 )
 
Out of Iraq, Etc.!
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Blog, Commentary and Articles - Foreign Policy, Military and War
Written by Sheldon Richman   
Thursday, 14 August 2014
Out of Iraq, Etc.!
by Sheldon Richman
 
Nearly a century ago, after four bloody years of World War I, British colonialists created the state of Iraq, complete with their hand-picked monarch. Britain and France were authorized — or, more precisely, authorized themselves — to create states in the Arab world, despite the prior British promise of independence in return for the Arabs’ revolt against the Ottoman Turks, which helped the Allied powers defeat the Central powers. And so European countries drew lines in the sand without much regard for the societies they were constructing from disparate sectarian, tribal, and ethnic populations.
 
Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations declared that former colonies of the defeated powers “are inhabited by peoples not yet able to stand by themselves under the strenuous conditions of the modern world.” These included the Arabs (and others) in Mesopotamia (Iraq) and the Levant (today’s Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine/Israel). Because they were not ready for independence and self-government, the covenant stated, their “well-being and development” should be “entrusted to advanced nations who … can best undertake this responsibility.”
 
In other words, the losers’ colonies would become the winners’ colonies. British and French politicians would judge when the Arabs (and Kurds) were fit to govern themselves. Until then, they would remain under the loving care of enlightened Europeans. On the few occasions when Arabs failed to appreciate their good fortune and resisted, their benefactors had to punish them with tough love in the form of aerial bombardment and other means of modern warfare. It was for the natives’ own good, of course.
 
Or that’s had the imperialists told it. Only a cynic could believe that their economic and political interests lay behind this neocolonialist system.
 
We might keep this history in mind as we view with increasing horror what is taking place in the newly declared Islamic State (formerly ISIL or ISIS) in large parts of British- and French-created Iraq and Syria.
 
No one can say how the Middle East would have turned out if the Western powers had butted out after the Great War and let the Arabs, Kurds, and others find their own way in the modern world. But treating the indigenous populations like children cannot have advanced the cause of peaceful civilization.
 
It’s no exaggeration to say that virtually every current problem in the region stems at least in part from the imperial double cross and carve-up that took place after the war. And the immediate results of the European betrayal were then exacerbated by further acts of intervention and neocolonialism, most recently: President George H. W. Bush’s Gulf War and embargo on Iraq; President Bill Clinton’s continued embargo and bombing of Iraq; President George W. Bush’s invasion and occupation of Iraq and overthrow of the secular regime of Saddam Hussein (al-Qaeda, of which the Islamic State is an offshoot, was not in Iraq before this); President Barack Obama’s support (until recently) for the corrupt, autocratic Shi’ite government in Baghdad; and Obama’s throwing in with those seeking to oust secular Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which made that country a magnet for radical Sunni jihadis, the same who are now threatening genocide against Shi’ites, Christians, and Yazidis in Iraq. (Thus Obama’s policy is at war with itself.)
 
History alone does not tell us what, if anything, outside powers should do now; there’s no going back in time. But we can say that without foreign interference, even a violent evolution of the region might have been far less violent than it has been during the last century. At least, the violent factions would not be seeking revenge against Americans.
 
The rise of the brutal Islamic State, with its unspeakable violence against innocents, is an appalling but unsurprising outcome of the last 100 years, including seven decades of neocolonialist American intervention. This suggests that U.S. intervention at this stage will only come to grief by boosting anti-American jihadi recruitment and even encouraging the targeting of Americans at home. Wars never go as planned. After all this time, any so-called “humanitarian” intervention will be interpreted in imperialist terms -- and should be.
 
The U.S. government must get out of Iraq (etc.). Intervention not only violates the rights of Americans; it is sure to exacerbate the violence in that pitiable region.
 
Sheldon Richman is vice president and editor at The Future of Freedom Foundation in Fairfax, Va. (www.fff.org ).
 
The U.S. Government Still Tries to Subvert Cuba
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Blog, Commentary and Articles - Foreign Policy, Military and War
Written by Sheldon Richman   
Wednesday, 06 August 2014
The U.S. Government Still Tries to Subvert Cuba
by Sheldon Richman
 
When I saw the headline about the U.S. government and Cuba in my newspaper the other day, I thought I’d awoken in 1961. It was aTwilight Zone moment for sure: “U.S. program aimed to stir dissent in Cuba.” I expected Rod Serling to welcome me to “another dimension.”
 
But it was 2014. The AP news report said President Barack Obama and presumably then–secretary of state Hillary Clinton had plotted to incite a popular uprising — to “gin up opposition” — against the Cuban government by sending in young Latin Americans masquerading as tourists and health workers.
 
Did Obama, Clinton, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which oversaw the operation, learn nothing from the 1960s, when the Kennedy and Johnson administrations tried repeatedly to overthrow Cuban ruler Fidel Castro and even to assassinate him?

The AP investigation disclosed that the USAID agents had “little training in the dangers of clandestine operations — or how to evade one of the world's most sophisticated counter-intelligence services.” Nevertheless, the AP continued, “their assignment was to recruit young Cubans to anti-government activism, which they did under the guise of civic programs, including an HIV prevention workshop.” The program, which lasted at least two years, began shortly after Obama’s inauguration.
 
The private firm Creative Associates International ran the operation. The undercover agents “posed as tourists, visited college campuses and used a ruse that could undermine USAID’s credibility in critical health work around the world: an HIV-prevention workshop one called the ‘perfect excuse’ to recruit political activists.”
 
This is reminiscent of the ruse used in the attempt to find Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, in which American agents posed as health personnel encouraging people to get vaccinated against hepatitis-B. In the wake of that operation, some expressed concern that future vaccination efforts in foreign countries could be met with public skepticism.
 
Covert American efforts to effect regime change, as occurred in Ukraine in February, also undermine genuine indigenous dissent against repressive governments by enabling rulers plausibly to accuse opposition groups of being foreign agents.
 
In the Cuban operation USAID agents had close calls with the government:
The AP investigation revealed an operation that often teetered on disaster. Cuban authorities questioned who was bankrolling the travelers. The young workers came dangerously close to blowing their mission to “identify potential social-change actors.” And there was no safety net for the inexperienced travelers, who were doing work that was explicitly illegal in Cuba.
The AP says that an instruction manual tried to assure the agents they were safe. “Although there is never total certainty,” the manual states, “trust that the authorities will not try to harm you physically, only frighten you. Remember that the Cuban government prefers to avoid negative media reports abroad, so a beaten foreigner is not convenient for them.”
 
The AP concludes, “There’s no evidence that the program advanced the mission to create a pro-democracy movement against the government of Raul Castro.”
 
That makes the U.S. government’s 53-year-long campaign for regime change in Cuba a perfect failure. Repeated efforts to spark an anti-Castro revolution or to kill the revolutionary-turned-dictator did nothing but strengthen the government’s power. The embargo that the U.S. government imposed on Cuba in 1960, and which remains in force today, has given the Castros an excuse for the chronic hardship that Cubans suffer and has brought the people no closer to freedom.
 
News of the USAID operation reminds us of some of the U.S. government’s most despicable acts during the Cold War. The government made eight attempts on Castro’s life and other attempts on the lives of other Cuban leaders. In 1961 the CIA sent 1,500 Cuban exiles to invade Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. That operation, part of the Cuba Project (or Operation Mongoose), failed miserably and embarrassed President John F. Kennedy, who had taken office that year. The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff even contemplated having terrorists acts committed on U.S. soil in order to blame Castro and whip up war fever among Americans (Operation Northwoods). Thankfully, Kennedy vetoed that plan.
 
After all that, you’d think Obama and Clinton would have learned that the best way to liberate Cuba is for the United States to normalize relations, complete with free trade and free travel.
 
Sheldon Richman is vice president and editor at The Future of Freedom Foundation in Fairfax, Va. (www.fff.org ).
 
Borderlands: What’s Happening to America?
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Blog, Commentary and Articles - Immigration
Written by Sheldon Richman   
Wednesday, 30 July 2014
Borderlands: What’s Happening to America?
by Sheldon Richman
 
A man, an American citizen, sits in his car as a U.S. Border Patrol agent insists that he roll down his window. He refuses. Agents use battering rams to smash the windows. Still, the driver refuses to leave his car, so he is hit with a Taser from two sides. He screams.
 
It would be bad enough if this scene, captured on video and shown recently on John Stossel’s Fox News special “Policing America,” had happened right at a U.S. border. But it happened far from the border. The U.S. government regards a large part of the country as close enough to a border or coast to justify treating individuals — citizens or not — as though they have no rights whatsoever. People have been beaten and had their personal belongings seized — without warrant or charge — just because they resented being treated like criminals. This should alarm anyone who thinks America is the “land of the free.”
 
“Imagine the once thin borderline of the American past as an ever-thickening band, now extending 100 miles inland around the United States — along the 2,000-mile southern border, the 4,000-mile northern border, and both coasts — and you will be able to visualize how vast the CBP’s [Customs and Border Protection] jurisdiction has become,” writes Todd Miller, author of Border Patrol Nation: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Homeland Security, at TomDispatch.com. “This ‘border’ region now covers places where two-thirds of the U.S. population (197.4 million people) live.… The ‘border’ has by now devoured the full states of Maine and Florida and much of Michigan.”
 
The ACLU calls the expanded borderlands, in which two out of three Americans live, a “Constitution-free zone.” Specifically, the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure appears to have been suspended.
 
This area is dotted with checkpoints at which anyone can be stopped, questioned, asked to exit his car, searched, and required to surrender personal belongings. Miller writes,
In these vast domains, Homeland Security authorities can institute roving patrols with broad, extra-constitutional powers backed by national security, immigration enforcement, and drug interdiction mandates. There, the Border Patrol can set up traffic checkpoints and fly surveillance drones overhead with high-powered cameras and radar that can track your movements. Within 25 miles of the international boundary, CBP agents can enter a person’s private property without a warrant. In these areas, the Homeland Security state is anything but abstract. On any given day, it can stand between you and the grocery store.
It doesn’t matter if you are an American citizen merely going about your business. If you live in a borderland, you can be stopped along an east-west route and have your daily routine interrupted. Yet, it should be pointed out, you are more likely to be harassed or arrested if you aren’t white.
 
The harassment has prompted people around Arivaca, Arizona, 25 miles from the Mexican border, to demand that a local checkpoint be removed. According to Miller, people
were fed up with the obligatory stop between their small town and the dentist or the nearest bookstore. They were tired of Homeland Security agents scrutinizing their children on their way to school. So they began to organize.
 
In late 2013, they demanded that the federal government remove the checkpoint. It was, they wrote in a petition, an ugly artifact of border militarization; it had, they added, a negative economic impact on residents and infringed on people’s constitutional rights. At the beginning of 2014, small groups from People Helping People in the Border Zone — the name of their organization — started monitoring the checkpoint several days a week.
Miller quotes James Lyall, an attorney with ACLU Arizona, as saying that “Border Patrol checkpoints and roving patrols are the physical world equivalent of the National Security Agency. They involve a massive dragnet and stopping and monitoring of innocent Americans without any suspicion of wrongdoing by increasingly abusive and unaccountable federal government agents.”
 
This intolerable condition should outrage every American. Have we been reduced to a society of scared children who would rather have government agents harassing us wherever we go than take our chances with freedom?
 
Sheldon Richman is vice president and editor at The Future of Freedom Foundation in Fairfax, Va. (www.fff.org ).
 
Coalition Letter to SEC Regarding Corporate Whistleblower Protections
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Advocacy and Letters - Advocacy and Comment Letters
Written by Coalition   
Friday, 25 July 2014

July 25, 2014


The Honorable Mary Jo White
US Securities and Exchange Commission
100 F Street, NE
Washington DC 20549

 

Dear Ms. White:

 

We, the undersigned organizations, write to express our concern for the widespread and growing problem of retaliatory conduct against corporate whistleblowers. Not merely a threat to public policy, retaliation of this nature has a deleterious effect on corporate culture and growth. And, ultimately, such conduct undermines the force and efficacy of the SEC Whistleblower Program.

 

Retaliation against whistleblowers is a quiet and growing epidemic. In a 2012 supplement to its National Business Ethics Survey, the Ethics Resource Center (ERC) found that a near recordsetting 22% of employees who reported misconduct faced retaliation, up from 12% in 2007.1 More than a third of those who declined to report misconduct pointed to fear of retaliation as the reason for their silence. A culture in which employees are retaliated against or fear to speak up is a cancer that slowly grows but consistently kills and has been responsible for countless highprofile corporate scandals. Most alarming, increases in the incidence of retaliation are outpacing the overall rate of increases in Whistleblowing disclosures. Various other studies confirm the prevalence of retaliation and fear of retaliation in the corporate workplace.2

 

The commercial marketplace wants and needs guidance. We believe the majority of corporations want to do the right thing and many invest in robust ethics and compliance programs to do so. Unfortunately, corporate compliance is not a panacea. While there is a low incidence of whistleblower retaliation in companies with strong ethical program, the ERC survey found that these organizations also represent the greatest uptick in reports of retaliation. In other words, even strong ethics programs alone are an inadequate deterrent. The proposed guidance would benefit employers and whistleblowers alike by reducing the litigation expenses associated with legal uncertainties, helping companies more effectively reduce their risk of retaliationrelated liability, and ensuring that individuals who report possible misconduct, both internally and to the Commission, do so with a full understanding of their reporting options and the applicable risks and rewards. It also would benefit corporations, because most whistleblowers disclose fraud against their employer, and every study has shown that in this role they are more effective than audits, compliance programs and law enforcement combined.3

 

The success of the SEC Whistleblower Program, the health of our markets and the broader public interest are protected and served when employees can safely report wrongdoing. Indeed, an open and transparent workplace is a key barometer of a working democracy. For these reasons, we urge the SEC to take the following actions:

 

(1) Engage in appropriate rule-making to clarify and strengthen protections available to those who report misconduct internally or externally. Specifically, clarify that whistleblowers are in fact eligible for protection when they make disclosures within their respective corporations. Further, clarify that any actions made by the wrongdoer in effort to block the flow of whistleblowing evidence are illegal. Finally, clarify that it is legally protected to disclose evidence of crime or other violations of SEC rules, despite any assertions by wrongdoers that employees have stolen their “property.” These suggested solutions warrant a public hearing and careful consideration by the Commission.
(2) Launch a series of field hearings around the country to discuss the problem of workplace retaliation and explore new ways to increase reporting—both internally and externally; and
(3) Create an Advisory Committee on Whistleblower Reporting and Protection. Leveraging the staff reports from the field hearings described above and the expertise of a diverse group of participants that meet regularly, this committee will serve as a vehicle for the Commission to collate advice, best practices and recommendations related to whistleblower reporting and protection.

 

We thank you for the opportunity to comment on this important investor protection problem. As the SEC places more emphasis on the role of whistleblowers in the national enforcement program, it must also use its authority to mandate integrity, transparency and accountability in the marketplace. This is good for whistleblowers, good for business and good for our country.

 

Sincerely,

 

American Association of Small Property Owners
Americans for Financial Reform (coalition of 200+ organizations)
Atlantic States Legal Foundation
Bernabei & Wachtel, PLLC
Californians Aware
Circumpolar Conservation Union
Citizen Works
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington
Community Research
Consumer Action
Corporate Action Network
Defending Dissent Foundation
Employment Justice Center

Evangelicals for Social Action
Evans Law Firm, Inc.
Faculty Against Rape
Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics
Government Accountability Project
Global Witness
Heart of America Northwest
Implode-Explode Heavy Industries, Inc.
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
International Association of Whistleblowers
International Brotherhood of Teamsters
Investor Environmental Health Network
Kentucky Resources Council, Inc.
Labaton Sucharow LLP
Lower Ninth Ward Living Museum
National Coalition of Organized Women
National Consumers League
National Employment Lawyers Association
National Organization for Women
National Whistleblower Center
New Jersey Citizen Action
New Jersey Work Environment Council
New Orleans Women's Shelter
OpenTheGovernment.org
The Other 98%
Peace Fund and Peace Action Education Fund
Pentecostals and Charismatics for Peace and Justice
Privacy Times
Project On Government Oversight
Public Citizen
Public Concern at Work
RootsAction.org
Sustainable Energy and Economy Network
Taxpayers Protection Alliance
The Coalition For Change, Inc.
The Multiracial Activist
Tri-Valley CAREs
WarIsACrime.org
WESPAC Foundation
West Virginia Citizen Action Group
Wild Earth Guardians
Workplace Fairness
Zuckerman Law

 

 

 1 Ethics Research Center, Retaliation: When Whistleblowers Become Victims (2012),
http://www.ethics.org/files/u5/RetaliationFinal.pdf.
2 See 2012 Corporate Governance and Compliance Hotline Benchmarking Report commissioned by The Network; Wall Street in  Crisis: Labaton Sucharow Survey of Financial Services Industry 2013.
3 PricewaterhouseCoopers and Martin Luther University Economy and Crime Research Center, Economic Crime, People,
Culture and Controls: The 4th Biennial Global Economic Crime Survey (2007), http://www.pwc.com/gx/en/economic-crimesurvey/pdf/pwc_2007gecs.pdf.; Society of Certified Fraud Examiners, 2008 Report to the Nation on Occupational Fraud and Abuse (2008), at 4. 30.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 31 July 2014 )
 
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