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Iranian Government Has No Monopoly On Violence Against Citizens

In considering all of the actions and violence committed against “anti-government protesters” in places like Iran, is it not worth considering whether or not the scenes here are often that much different? At the end of the day, Americans live under a system that steals from them, lies to them, commits fraud, illegally invades other countries, detains people, puts them on lists, sometimes allies itself with dictators and now threatens to make laws at the Federal level that REQUIRE you to buy products from insurance corporations or be threatened with fines and jail time?G20 protesters get assaulted:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3CYknz7FCQPolice make a joke and laugh about shooting a peaceful protester (think about a culture where this is promoted as funny and worthy of reward):http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G63FEamhpA0There is always a worthy discussion about new laws where ultimately, the question should be asked … “Are you willing to shoot someone over this?” People chuckle and say, “we’re just talking about a fine or a warning or something minor.” BUT, the ultimate enforcement mechanism of any law, no matter how seemingly innocuous, is that it presents additional opportunities for there to be potential armed aggression against citizens. This puts police officers in the position of not being thought of as “protecting and serving” us, but puts them in adversarial positions with the general public. How many people can say they’ve never been pulled over for something? How many people felt they were posing a clear and present threat of immediate harm to someone else and thereby warranted being detained by someone with a gun, fined and otherwise inconvenienced? Why do we accept this as okay?Think about tax enforcement. Being required, by threat of potential government force being used against you, to pay for sports stadiums, convention centers, transfers of wealth to private entities, for abortions or stem cell research, billions to foreign dictators or paying for research on the mating habits of butterflies. We must again ask… Are we willing to destroy people’s lives, reputations or families? Are we willing to march armed soldiers to their door steps and even shoot them over their objections to this? Yes, even in America, the political elites are willing to do so.And this is why we must always remember that “The Law” is there to protect our life, property and rights. It is not supposed to be used to take away our life, transfer our property to others or reduce, limit or undermine our rights.Live your life as you chose so long as you do no harm to, or violate the rights of, others. There is a foundational principle to live by and one that nobody should have any objection to.

Another Kashkari Update

A mere one day after the Washington Post article which I posted here on the new, rugged lifestyle that the former Interim Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Financial Stability (that’s a mouthful) and “TARP czar”, Neel Kashkari, had found, we have new news.

Kashkari has taken a job at PIMCO as a managing director and head of new investment initiatives. PIMCO is a big player in the bond market and is, like other big investment corporations, tightly linked in with the corporatists in Washington. I’m sure he’ll fit right in.

Another Kashkari Update

A mere one day after the Washington Post article which I posted here on the new, rugged lifestyle that the former Interim Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Financial Stability (that’s a mouthful) and “TARP czar”, Neel Kashkari, had found, we have new news.Kashkari has taken a job at PIMCO as a managing director and head of new investment initiatives. PIMCO is a big player in the bond market and is, like other big investment corporations, tightly linked in with the corporatists in Washington. I’m sure he’ll fit right in.

The Torture Loophole Preserved

Two hundred, thirty-three years ago:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…We all know that the injustice of slavery clouded the reality of these brilliant words. However, years of progress, and certainly the election of Barack Obama, was to set aside such errors and enshrine equality amongst all people of earth. I believe that these “unalienable Rights” are such that no government nor individual can infringe upon these rights as they are natural to all people. These rights, in my mind, involve life, liberty and property. It is arguable whether rights such as that to a writ of habeas corpus or those granted under the Bill of Rights fall under such classification. That question has been one of significant debate in our federal courts over the last several years.

In the aftermath of September 11 and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the Bush administration notably expanded the interpretation of provisions which excluded such rights. In the Military Commissions Act of 2006, Congress passed legislation which prevented unlawful enemy combatants from submitting a writ of habeas corpus to the federal courts thus restricting such prisoners to legal recourse via a military tribunal. This was challenged in Boumediene v. Bush with the Supreme Court ultimately overturning the provision allowing for Guantanamo detainees to to challenge their detentions in federal court.

Fast forward to Rasul, et al., v. Myers, et al., where four Guantanamo detainees further challenged their lack of rights. Specifically, they asserted that they were subject to torture and religious abuse while in custody. In response to Boumediene v. Bush, the petitioned the court for a second review (here is the Court of Appeals decision) of the case seeking to extend Constitutional and international law protections against such treatment.

On Monday, December 14, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case thereby affirming the decision from the Court of Appeals. As such, unlawful enemy combatants, and, in particular, these former detainees are denied protection against torture and declared as “not persons” under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Further, the Military Commissions Act may extend to U.S. citizens who are determined to be unlawful enemy combatants.

The Obama administration could have swayed the Supreme Court to hear the case. Instead, they fought to uphold the previous decision which effectively allows torture in cases where the is a loophole in legal jurisdiction. Read more on the decision here and here.

The Torture Loophole Preserved

Two hundred, thirty-three years ago:We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…We all know that the injustice of slavery clouded the reality of these brilliant words. However, years of progress, and certainly the election of Barack Obama, was to set aside such errors and enshrine equality amongst all people of earth. I believe that these “unalienable Rights” are such that no government nor individual can infringe upon these rights as they are natural to all people. These rights, in my mind, involve life, liberty and property. It is arguable whether rights such as that to a writ of habeas corpus or those granted under the Bill of Rights fall under such classification. That question has been one of significant debate in our federal courts over the last several years.In the aftermath of September 11 and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the Bush administration notably expanded the interpretation of provisions which excluded such rights. In the Military Commissions Act of 2006, Congress passed legislation which prevented unlawful enemy combatants from submitting a writ of habeas corpus to the federal courts thus restricting such prisoners to legal recourse via a military tribunal. This was challenged in Boumediene v. Bush with the Supreme Court ultimately overturning the provision allowing for Guantanamo detainees to to challenge their detentions in federal court.Fast forward to Rasul, et al., v. Myers, et al., where four Guantanamo detainees further challenged their lack of rights. Specifically, they asserted that they were subject to torture and religious abuse while in custody. In response to Boumediene v. Bush, the petitioned the court for a second review (here is the Court of Appeals decision) of the case seeking to extend Constitutional and international law protections against such treatment.On Monday, December 14, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case thereby affirming the decision from the Court of Appeals. As such, unlawful enemy combatants, and, in particular, these former detainees are denied protection against torture and declared as “not persons” under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Further, the Military Commissions Act may extend to U.S. citizens who are determined to be unlawful enemy combatants.The Obama administration could have swayed the Supreme Court to hear the case. Instead, they fought to uphold the previous decision which effectively allows torture in cases where the is a loophole in legal jurisdiction. Read more on the decision here and here.

Where is Neel Kashkari?

Find out here. I feel for him.

Where is Neel Kashkari?

Find out here. I feel for him.

Senator Bayh’s Response

I received a canned response from the office of Sen. Bayh (D-IN) this week in reply to my email to him asking that he oppose Bernanke’s reappointment. While I specifically focused on the reappointment, his response appeared to be his generic response to queries regarding the Audit the Fed legislation (H.R. 1207 and S. 604).

The key point at the end of the response stated that Bayh is “committed to ensuring that the Fed’s activities remain consistent with its mission of promoting financial stability, maximum employment and low inflation.” If Sen. Bayh is committed to such principles, then perhaps he needs to examine Bernanke’s record. The Fed has absolutely failed in promoting financial stability, fostering maximum employment, and maintaining low inflation.

I just happen to be finishing this up just as Bayh began his questioning of Bernanke in the confirmation hearing (watch here – Bayh starts at 1:29:05). He immediately pledges his support despite reservations.

Senator Bayh’s Response

I received a canned response from the office of Sen. Bayh (D-IN) this week in reply to my email to him asking that he oppose Bernanke’s reappointment. While I specifically focused on the reappointment, his response appeared to be his generic response to queries regarding the Audit the Fed legislation (H.R. 1207 and S. 604).The key point at the end of the response stated that Bayh is “committed to ensuring that the Fed’s activities remain consistent with its mission of promoting financial stability, maximum employment and low inflation.” If Sen. Bayh is committed to such principles, then perhaps he needs to examine Bernanke’s record. The Fed has absolutely failed in promoting financial stability, fostering maximum employment, and maintaining low inflation.I just happen to be finishing this up just as Bayh began his questioning of Bernanke in the confirmation hearing (watch here – Bayh starts at 1:29:05). He immediately pledges his support despite reservations.

Bernanke Reappointment

Later this week, the Senate Banking Committee will hold hearings on the reappointment of Ben Bernanke as Chairman of the Federal Reserve. I oppose his reappointment and sent the following email to Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN) this evening. Bayh is a member of the committee and is my Senator.
Senator Bayh,

I would like to take this opportunity to express my position on the pending reappointment of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

Chairman Bernanke has been a central player in national economic issue for several years and has failed in his duty to oversee the banking system. While Bernanke’s policies which have been executed over the past year have provided temporary relief to a distressed system, he has failed to correct structural issues which will continue to impair the economy. Further, he has stretched the authority of the Federal Reserve and has sought to obfuscate critical information regarding collateral for the myriad of new programs which he implemented.

We need real change and new perspective at the Federal Reserve. Please oppose Bernanke’s reappointment.

Regards,
Matthew Wittlief
Indianapolis, INLet’s hope common sense prevails. Please contact your Senators – especially if they serve on the Banking Committee – and voice your position.

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