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“A Silent Coup”: Jeremy Scahill & Bob Herbert on Corporate, Mil itary Interests Shaping Obama’s SOTU ( with intro from ohnwentsya)

(This is a repost from the Democracy Now! site. You can see the original at the link below. Truthout listed this as a video interview on their site-I am trying to find a link to the video to post it too.

I believe we have the best President we could possibly have, under the circumstances but no matter how great a man Barack Obama himself may be- the circumstances I mentioned are indeed most dire for America and the human race as a whole.

Right now most of our planet is ruled by a fascist oligarchy with our governments-whether democracy, republic, kingdom, socialist or other type of state- as very limited puppet regimes to the true powers who we rarely ever see or hear accurate news about.

President Obama went into this knowing a good bit about that situation but perhaps not realizing the full extent. He called on us all to back him up and be personally involved in creating change the night he was first elected.

I do not know if we the people let him down by not participating enough or in great enough numbers to make a difference or if, in fact, the level of control was already too vast and entrenched to change as I am sure President Obama envisioned doing when he was first elected.

This SOTU is evidence to me that whatever the background reason, Barack Obama now knows that the power structure-invisible to most- that he hoped to change is beyond his ability to do so.

I still have hope that we WILL topple that corrupt structure but I see through the words and actions of a brilliant man who is in a position to be better informed than most about the reality of the situation, that the plainly visible tools and methods of democracy have failed so far to accomplish it.

Barack Obama is far too intelligent and well educated to believe that a monstrosity like the TPP is good for America or the world. His acceptance of it bespeaks his deeper understanding of the current power and control structure we live under far more than any personal good opinion of it.

If you pray, please pray for our President, our world and all living beings.

When the best efforts of wise, educated and passionate human beings are not enough to stop true evil we still have an ace up our sleeve in the fact that the Universe we live in is alive and aware.

Whether you call it Universe, God, Goddess, Great Spirit, Allah or any of a thousand other equally accurate names; we can pray and know that miracles far beyond our wildest dreams are always possible.


“A Silent Coup”: Jeremy Scahill & Bob Herbert on Corporate, Military Interests Shaping Obama’s SOTU

On issues from domestic inequality to foreign policy, President Obama delivered his fifth State of the Union with a vow to take action on his own should Congress stonewall progress on his agenda. But will Obama’s policies go far enough? We host a roundtable with three guests: Jeremy Scahill, producer and writer of the Oscar-nominated documentary “Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield” and senior investigative reporter at First Look Media, which will launch in the coming months; Bob Herbert, distinguished senior fellow with Demos; and Lorella Praeli, director of advocacy and policy at the United We Dream coalition.

AMY GOODMAN: Our guests are Jeremy Scahill—his film,Dirty Wars, has just been nominated for an Oscar; Bob Herbert with us, former New York Times columnist, now with Demos; and Lorella Praeli with the United We Dream coalition. Nermeen?

NERMEEN SHAIKH: We’re continuing our coverage of President Obama’s State of the Union address. During Tuesday’s speech, he announced an executive action to raise the minimum wage for some federal contract workers from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour.

PRESIDENT BARACKOBAMA: In the coming weeks, I will issue an executive order requiring federal contractors to pay their federally funded employees a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour, because if you cook our troops’ meals or wash their dishes, you should not have to live in poverty.

Of course, to reach millions more, Congress does need to get on board. Today, the federal minimum wage is worth about 20 percent less than it was when Ronald Reagan first stood here. And Tom Harkin and George Miller have a bill to fix that by lifting the minimum wage to $10.10. It’s easy to remember, 10-10. This will help families. It will give businesses customers with more money to spend. It does not involve any new bureaucratic program. So join the rest of the country. Say yes. Give America a raise.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Bob Herbert, can you respond to that, the significance of this raise for some federal workers?

BOB HERBERT: Sure. I think it’s symbolically significant. So, it’s not going to take effect until new contracts come up, so federal contract workers will have to be paid at least a minimum of $10.10 an hour. The reason I think it’s symbolically significant is because it keeps a spotlight on the issue of the minimum wage, on the issue of employment going forward.

You know, to Jeremy’s point about the State of the Union essentially being a propaganda speech, which is absolutely true, what you didn’t hear there was really what the state of the economy is for ordinary Americans, for working people in this country. You didn’t hear anything about poverty, for example. So, for years now, the American people have made it clear, in poll after poll and in other ways, that employment is their top priority. I mean, people need jobs. But neither party, presidents from either party and Congress, whether it’s in the control of the Republicans or the Democrats, have had a sustained, effective job creation program in this country. And the United States is never going to get out of its morass until it’s able to put people back to work.

We now have nearly 50 million people who are officially poor in the United States, according to federal guidelines. Another 50 million people are just a notch or two above the official poverty rate. That’s nearly a third of the entire population that’s poor or near poor. One out of every three black children in the United States is poor. If you just walk a few blocks from this studio, every day you will see enormous lines wrapped around the corner for soup kitchens and that sort of thing. And that’s the case in places across this country. None of that was addressed. And none of the initiatives that the president has offered, and nothing that the Republicans have offered in years, would begin to address this state of distress among American working people and among the poor.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Just to give us an idea, Bob Herbert, how many employees does the federal government have through contractors?

BOB HERBERT: Well, it’s interesting. It was actually Demos that—it was a Demos initiative that put the spotlight on this $10.10 initiative, because Demos was the first organization to point out that the federal government, through its contractors, employs nearly two million low-wage workers, which is more than Wal-Mart and McDonald’s combined. So, if you could get this initiative expanded to cover all of the workers who are contracted to work for the federal government, then you would help an enormous number of people.

AMY GOODMAN: Mention of unions? I saw Richard Trumka in the audience.

BOB HERBERT: You know, get me started on unions. One of the reasons American workers are in such a deep state of distress is because they have no clout in the workplace. They are not organized, and they are not represented, so they cannot fight for their own interests. Corporations are organized every which way from sundown, and they have tremendous amounts of money. They have a lot a political clout and that sort of thing.

Workers go to work. You know, it’s just one man or one woman, you know, against an employer in a terrible job market. So you’re afraid to even ask for a raise, even if you deserve a raise, because you think the employer is going to say to you, “Take a hike.” And then you go out there in this terrible job market, and there’s no jobs to be had. If workers were organized, then they would be able to have clout. You’d be able to bring pressure not just on employers, not just on corporations, but also on the federal government to get legislation passed that would be beneficial to workers.

And one of the most important things you could do is to just enforce the laws that are on the books that have to do with labor organizing. I mean, so, if you’re in an organization, a corporation, a plant, that sort of thing, where workers are not organized, do not belong to a labor union, they want to organize—the majority of the workers want to organize—the corporations fight you every step of the way. And they use a tremendous number—amount of unfair tactics. That’s illegal, but the federal government has not enforced the laws.

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s talk about international trade policy and how that relates. In his State of the Union, President Obama also sought fast-track authority to give lawmakers an up-or-down vote on the trade deals such as TPP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

PRESIDENT BARACKOBAMA: When 98 percent of our exporters are small businesses, new trade partnerships with Europe and the Asia-Pacific will help them create even more jobs. We need to work together on tools like bipartisan trade promotion authority to protect our workers, protect our environment, and open new markets to new goods stamped “Made in the U.S.A.” Listen, China and Europe aren’t standing on the sidelines. And neither should we.

AMY GOODMAN: That was President Obama in his fifth State of the Union address. We just returned from Japan, Bob Herbert. There, there’s a huge discussion about the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Here, most people, if you asked them, they wouldn’t even know what it is.

BOB HERBERT: Well, one of the things that’s a problem in this country is because the economic situation has been so stagnant for most people for so long and because the government has been—the government in Washington has been so dysfunctional, that Americans have really tuned out. And also, I don’t think that the press has done a good job at all on trade agreements, if you go all the way back to NAFTA in the 1990s. So people essentially don’t even understand these agreements. But what they do understand is that they have not been helpful to the vast majority of workers over all these years. So…

JEREMY SCAHILL: Can I just make a comment?

AMY GOODMAN: Jeremy Scahill.

JEREMY SCAHILL: I mean, you know, what Obama was doing there—in his last major address that he gave, he—at the United Nations General Assembly, he laid out this sort of forceful defense of American empire, and even went so far as to say that the U.S. will use its military might to continue to secure energy resources. In this speech, it was a pretty forceful defense of a neoliberal economic agenda. And, you know, what Bob is saying about corporations resonates on a foreign policy level, as well.

What is widely being considered to be the most moving part of last night was when this U.S. Army Ranger was addressed in the crowd and who was severely wounded and had done 10 tours. Think about that for a moment—10 tours in these war zones. You know, this young American spent his entire adult life in these combat zones. And, you know, the issue of how veterans are treated in this country is one thing, but at the end of the day, did he benefit from these wars? Does the average American benefit from the continuation of these wars? No. Who benefits? That’s the most important question we all have to ask. It’s corporations.


JEREMY SCAHILL: War corporations, the Halliburtons of the world, the Boeings. John Kerry, yesterday it was announced, is giving these awards for corporate excellence around the world. He’s giving them to Citibank, to Apache, to Boeing, to Coca-Cola. And so you have this neoliberal economic agenda, which is sort of the hidden hand, in many ways, of the U.S. empire, and then you have this iron fist of U.S. militarism that is being sold to the American public, and increasingly to the world, as national security policy.

And so, you know, when I see that Army Ranger who’s wounded like that, the first thing that just occurs to me is: Who has benefited from all of this? When corporations control our political process in this country through a legalized form of corruption that’s called campaign finance, what does that say about the state of our democracy? In a way, there already has been a coup in this country, but it’s been a silent coup. And it reminds me of that famous line from the great movie The Usual Suspects. At the end of it, Kevin Spacey’s character says the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. In many ways, a coup has happened, and the brilliance of it is that it’s not sparking major uprisings because we’ve been pacified and taught to just accept this as how things work. We have two parties in this country, the minimum wage is going to be the minimum wage, and corporations are in control, and these wars are fought in our name, but without our consent.

BOB HERBERT: And the flipside of who benefits is the suffering that is so tremendous out there among the warriors who have been sent over to fight these wars since late 2001. And so, you just have hundreds of thousands of people who have—men and women, who have come back from the combat zones, who have terrible, disabling injuries, who are going to have to be cared for—we have an obligation to care for them—in many cases, for the rest of their lives. We have to pay, as a society, to care for these folks. You know, it’s probably—Joe Stiglitz has estimated that now these wars are probably going cost cumulatively $4 trillion or more. None of this has been really explored clearly or properly explained to the American public.

JEREMY SCAHILL: You know, just a small sort of side point on this, you know, when we talk about the U.S. withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan, the conventional military, a story that very seldom gets attention is the connection between a paramilitarization of law enforcement inside of the United States and increasing use of what they call counterterrorism tactics onSWAT-style operations in the U.S. The military is donating a lot of its equipment to local police agencies and other so-called law enforcement agencies, and the communities that are most at risk here are communities of color and poor communities. Everything is about war—the war on drugs, the war on crime.


JEREMY SCAHILL: And war requires some kind of a militarized response. And that’s what we’re seeing. This is deeply connected to the wars abroad, the wars at home, as well.

BOB HERBERT: And this is actually going into our public schools, where you have that type of militarized behavior going on actually in public schools. That’s how you get the school-to-prison pipeline that people are talking about.

AMY GOODMAN: On Afghanistan, President Obama said, “If the Afghan government signs a security agreement that we have negotiated, a small force of Americans could remain in Afghanistan with NATOallies.” But the latest news says the Pentagon has proposed up to 10,000 troops remaining behind, Jeremy.

JEREMY SCAHILL: Yeah, and if you look at what sort of various senior anonymous military officials have been saying for several years now, they’ve known that the withdrawal is not really going to be a withdrawal. Yes, we’re going to see the Marines pull out. We’re going to have this thing where journalists can ride on the tanks, like they did out of Iraq. But at the end of the day, this is an Afghanization of a U.S. policy. So, what’s going to happen is that you’re going to have these advise-and-assist squads of highly trained U.S. special ops and CIApersonnel accompanying Afghan units, and they’re going to try to have the Afghans do the fighting and dying and killing on behalf of U.S. policy. But what I think should be of greater concern to the American public is that you are going to have these strike forces in place. It’s taken as conventional wisdom now that the U.S. is out of Iraq. Actually, the U.S. has a massive paramilitary presence inside of Iraq and is going to continue to have one inside of Afghanistan. So, these wars are going to continue on for at least another generation, albeit on a sort of covert, hidden-hand manner of doing it.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: But what’s the justification, Jeremy, for keeping troops in Afghanistan?

JEREMY SCAHILL: I mean, there is no counterterrorism mission in Afghanistan anymore. I mean, no one wants to talk about this, because you’re going to be accused of being sympathetic to the Taliban. The Taliban is not a terrorist organization with global aspirations. The Taliban has a constituency, has a greater constituency than the U.S., arguably than Hamid Karzai, who the U.S. recognizes as the president. And I think the Taliban is a morally reprehensible group of individuals, but they do have indigenous support. And the reason that they’re fighting right now is because the U.S. and NATO are in their country. And so, to sort of imply that what we’re doing there is countering terrorists, when in the first months of the Obama administration his own national security adviser said there are less than a hundred al-Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan, we should be asking that question that John Kerry asked in 1971: Who wants to be the last to die for this failed war? What do they tell the families of the soldiers who die from here until they pull out the conventional military?

AMY GOODMAN: Now, the significance of that, for people who don’t remember, John Kerry, who is the secretary of state and formerly senator, was—fought in Vietnam, and when he came home, he was strongly opposed to the war in Vietnam, and he testified before Congress asking that question.

JEREMY SCAHILL: Yeah, I’d love to see 1971 John Kerry questioning, you know, 2014 John Kerry at a hearing about all these policies that he’s having to sell as secretary of state around the world.


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Daily Kos :: CEO to Obama During Contentious Meeting with Top Tech Executives: “Pardon Edward Snowden.”

I find it very interesting that the President said he ***could not*** do so. Despite others disgruntlement with our President, I still believe that he was not truly aware of the actual power structures in place behind the scenes until After the election.

I think were it not for stark warnings such as Paul Wellstone and John Kennedy, Barack Obama would have changed a LOT more of the negatives in our government as soon after the election as possible.

I still believe he is playing a dangerous game of chess with the cabal/1%.

Any Druid influenced souls out there besides me notice the name of the man who blew the cabal’s panopticon control structures open to public view is the same as the sacred mountain in some very old prophecies? 😉

CEO to Obama During Contentious Meeting with Top Tech Executives: “Pardon Edward Snowden.”
by David Harris GershonDec 18, 2013 12:23pm PST

Executives for the nation’s largest technology companies met with President Obama this morning to argue that the NSA’s unchecked surveillance is harming their businesses and the overall economic environment in which they operate.

CEOs from over 15 companies – including Google, Apple and Microsoft – pressed for the president to rein in the NSA’s bulk surveillance activities and expressed anger over the government’s infiltration of U.S. servers around the world.

During the meeting, Mark Pincus (founder of Zynga) boldly suggested to Obama before the gathered groupthat Edward Snowden should be pardoned. Pincus, it is important to note, gave $1 million to Obama’s Super PAC, Priorities Action USA.

Obama’s response: he could not do so.

This suggestion by Zynga’s founder represented the tenor of a meeting which came on the heels of a federal judge ruling that the NSA’s bulk phone collection is unconstitutional. And while nobody else was so bold as to suggest Snowden’s pardon, as reported by The Washington Post, the meeting’s central message was blunt:

Their message was to say: “What the hell are you doing? Are you really hacking into the infrastructure of American companies overseas? The same American companies that cooperate with your lawful orders and spend a lot of money to comply with them to facilitate your intelligence collection?” said one industry official familiar with the companies’ views.

While it’s clear Obama heard their message loud and clear, it remains to be seen whether such influential industry leaders (and campaign contributors) will be able to influence an administration which has, as of yet, refused to budge on the matter of the NSA’s surveillance activities.


David Harris-Gershon is author of the memoir What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?, just out from Oneworld Publications.


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TYPHOON HAIYAN | The White House


On November 8, Typhoon Haiyan—known as Yolanda in the Philippines—made landfall in the central Philippines, bringing strong winds and heavy rains that have resulted in flooding, landslides, and widespread damage.

According to USAID, the storm affected an estimated 9.7 million people, and damaged or destroyed approximately 23,200 houses, as well as public infrastructure and agricultural land. Those numbers are expected to increase in the coming days as more information becomes available.

How You Can Help

The best way to help those affected by disasters is to make a cash donation to reputable relief and charitable organizations working in the disaster zone.

Contact the Center for International Disaster Information to learn where to donate

On the web: www.cidi.org

By phone: 202-821-1999

Visit the following sites for lists of organizations responding to Typhoon Haiyan.


As President Obama said in a statement this weekend, the U.S. government is providing $20 million in immediate humanitarian assistance to benefit typhoon-affected populations, including the provision of emergency shelter, food assistance, relief commodities, and water, sanitation, and hygiene support. USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance activated a Disaster Assistance Response Team and a corresponding Washington, D.C.- based Response Management Team, and other humanitarian groups including the International Red Cross and the United Nations have also deployed response teams.

There are more links, highlights and a video of President Obama speaking about the aid the US government has sent and also referring people to the site linked below to find ways to personally send help.

I am, and I know many of you are also, praying for everyone involved including family members in other parts of the world who are worried or grieving. I thought the info and links the white house staff provided might be useful to share here.





Failed Presidency?


Reading my local newspaper today I am shocked to see multiple opinion pieces decrying President Barack Obama’s handling of the current issue of Syria.Several actually claimed that should Congress vote “NO” on attacking Syria it would cause all sorts of problems-even to making this a “failed Presidency”.I am shocked that Americans have devolved to such a point that the actual effective functioning  of the checks and balances designed to make our form of governance WORK as a democracy are now seen as a failure.If all Congress is meant to do is rubber stamp any President’s statements about war then we are effectively a DICTATORSHIP. I have been cheering the awesomeness of my incredibly intelligent President in applying pressure cleverly and effectively to All players to get this gruesome civil war into effective mediation and international diplomacy to stop the suffering of innocents and prevent the spread of war to surrounding nations.Far from a failed Presidency I see Barack Obama miraculously transforming an institution that has since Reagan become more and more obviously corrupt and fascistic back into something we can believe in and work with in a genuine democracy.This is not a failure but a transformation. This does not signal the world that our President’s words aren’t backed up by America at all. It signals the world that America may be ending its role of bully and returning to the circle of reasonable, rational nations that can solve problems without resorting to mass murder. What he has just done was once common in international relations-he used bluff and bluster to force others to do what he originally wanted done that had proven intractable.

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PressTV – Obama to demand Israel withdraw from West Bank: Report

Obama to demand Israel withdraw from West Bank: Report
US President Barack Obama (R) next to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (file photo)
US President Barack Obama (R) next to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (file photo)

Mon Mar 4, 2013 1:32PM GMT

US President Barack Obama is going to demand a timetable for an Israeli withdrawal from the occupied West Bank during his visit to Israel later this month, a report says.

The World Tribune quoted on Monday an unnamed Israeli official as saying that “Obama has made it clear to [Israeli
Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu that his visit is not about photo-ops, but the business of Iran and a Palestinian state.

The implication is that if Israel wont give him something he can work with, then hell act on his own, the report quoted the source as saying.

According to the report, an Israeli pullout plan could be part of an imminent US push to form a Palestinian state in the West Bank in 2014.

More than half a million Israelis live in more than 120 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East al-Quds (Jerusalem).

Meanwhile, violent acts are carried out on a weekly basis in the Palestinian territories by Israeli settlers.

The Israeli settlements are considered illegal by the UN and most countries because those territories were captured by Israel in the 1967 war, and are thus seen as being subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbid construction on occupied lands.

The Israeli regime increased its settlement activities after an upgrade in the Palestinian status at the United Nations General Assembly on November 29, 2012. The 193-member General Assembly voted 138-9 with 41 abstentions to upgrade Palestines status to non-member observer state.


Related Interviews:

‘World must boycott apartheid Israel’

  • ‘Obama freer to act against lobbies’

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    Obama’s quiet ally: Who’s behind gun control bill no one is talking about -CSMonitor

    Obama’s quiet ally: Who’s behind gun control bill no one is talking about

    As President Obama comes to Chicago to talk gun control, Illinois’ Republican senator, Mark Kirk, is pushing a bill to target gun trafficking. It’s under the radar, but could have a greater impact than other bills.

    By Mark Guarino, Staff writer / February 15, 2013

    Sen Mark Kirk of Illinois, seen here in a photo from last year, is one of the few Republicans in Congress who supports gun-control legislation.

    Bill Zars/Daily Herald/AP/File


    As President Obama pushes for gun control in Chicago Friday, an unexpected ally from his home state, Sen. Mark Kirk (R) of Illinois, is crossing party lines to propose legislation that could have a greater impact than higher-profile proposals to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, experts say.

    Senator Kirk and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) of New York introduced the bill, which targets gun trafficking, last week.

    The bill defines gun trafficking as a crime. It focuses on organized crime, cartels, and street gangs, and makes it illegal to purchase, sell, or transfer more than one firearm to someone or on the behalf of someone who could be reasonably expected to use it in a crime. Gun shop owners who knowingly facilitate such purchases would also be liable. Maximum penalties are 20 years in prison.

    Kirks take is really interesting, no one else is talking about that, says Wayne Steger, a political scientist at DePaul University in Chicago. Gun running across state borders and selling to unlicensed and unregistered people is the big problem.

    According to the University of Chicago Crime Lab, which researches gun violence and crime policy, the majority of guns confiscated or used in crimes in Chicago were purchased outside the city limits. The top source states for firearms recovered in Chicago include Indiana, Mississippi, Kentucky, Alabama, and Texas. These states either have weaker gun laws or are historically connected to Chicago over generations, with families residing in both areas.

    Kirk is not against the gun-control measures Mr. Obama is touting. In fact, he is the only Republican in the Senate who is on record saying he supports a ban on assault weapons. While a member of the House in 2008, he introduced legislation that would have renewed the assault-weapons ban that expired in 2004, saying the weaponry ends up in the hands of gangs and exposes law-enforcement officers to dangers that even body armor cant prevent.

    The legislation eventually failed, but he told the the Chicago Sun-Times in January that he still supported an assault-weapons ban.

    His new bill is attempting to address a different facet of gun violence. On Wednesday, Kirk said he wants to name the bill after Hadiya Pendleton, the 15-year-old girl who participated in Obama’s inauguration and then was gunned down in Kenwood, a South Side Chicago neighborhood, three weeks ago.

    After asking her parents for permission, Kirk released a statement saying that for Hadiya, and thousands of other victims of gun violence, we must break through the typical Washington process and actually get something done that will save lives.

    Professor Steger says Kirk’s legislation, as well as his continued support for an assault-weapons ban, are not likely to hurt him politically. Kirk is a Republican in a deeply blue state, so the national Republican Party will not want to make him vulnerable by supporting a challenger in the next primary.

    I cant imagine Republicans running a primary challenge against him. When more conservative candidates run, they lose, Steger says.

    Mr. Obama mentioned Hadiyas murder in his State of the Union speech Tuesday, in which he called on Congress to pass an assault-weapons ban, among other restrictions such as a universal background check for gun purchasers. But a bill to rein in assault weapons, introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) of California in January, is not expected to pass either chamber.

    To read the original article with all related links, pictures and added content please click the link below to go to the Christian Science Monitor site-

    http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2013/0215/Obama-s-quiet-ally-Who-s-behind-gun-control-bill-no-one-is-talking-about utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Daily&utm_campaign=20130215_Newsletter%3ADaily_Sailthru&cmpid=ema%3Anws%3ADaily%2520Newsletter%2520%2802-15-2013%29

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