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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  May 15, 2011 1:00pm-2:30pm EDT

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>> i will pose some questions and some issues, we be will discuss those. and like i said, at the end of the event, you will be able to ask questions, and we will respond. i am president of the rutherford institute and have been involved in cases dealing with liberty in virtually every court including the united states supreme court. i'd like to open with a quote from someone i know you are familiar with -- [laughter] but let me begin. only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of
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defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together. as we peer into society's future, we -- you and i and our government -- must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow. we cannot more use the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. we want democracy to survive for all generations to become, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow. thus spoke president dwight d. eisenhower 50 years ago in his well known farewell address january, 1961, where he says as american citizens we must remain alert and knowledgeable and guard against the expansion of the military empire which he labeled the military industrial complex if we were to maintain our balance between liberty and
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security. sadly, to our detriment we have failed to heed eisenhower's warnings. in fact, it is my opinion that our nation is at an all-time low morally, socially, economically and politically. and despite all the protests we see, the rallieses, the wake-up calls, most americans that i talk to and deal with remain clueless, fixated on whatever the fleeting news stories of the 24-hour talking heads deem to be important. all the while most people are vaguely aware of the see change that is occurring in american culture and the freedoms we once cherished are being eroded on every front. the government has gone to incredible lengths to use its vast arsenal of technological weapons against us. in fact, in a series of well-written articles in "the washington post" dana priest and william arkansas kin after
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months long investigation concluded technologies and techniques honed for use on the battlefields of iraq and afghanistan have migrated into the hands of law enforcement agencies in america. let me capsulize a few of these changes we've seen where technology's used in the battlefields have now turned inward on american citizens. full-body scanners in airports that can see us naked through our clothes but cannot reveal the most valuable thing in terms of security, and that's what's in body cavities. numerous pitfalls, not the least of which is the toll it takes on our civil liberties and the risk it poses to our health from the radiation of the machines. mobile versions of airport body scanners now are in nondescript vehicles that roam cities. they are manned by government agencies, and whenever these vans pass, they can see in your homes, your offices, what's on
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your person. in other words, the government now with these particular devices can now do drive-by strip searches of your person, your home and watch what you're doing in the privacy of your home. iris scanners now being used by american police agencies on american soil can capture scans on individuals as far as six feet away and, again, that's going to improve as the technology improves. and what these are eventually going to become, in my opinion, are de facto national id cards whether we like it or not. smart police cars are now equipped with license plate cameras, computers, gps projectiles which actually allow the police car to shoot at a distance a projectile onto your automobile and track you with, of course, electronic means. even heat detectors on the grills of these cars can distinguish between people and animals. the police now also have smartphones which contain the latest technologies for identifying so-called suspects. what this means is that the
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government now can pin point you, if they want, whether you're guilty or anything or not exactly where you are on any given day. if you have the bad luck to be at the wrong place at the wrong time whether it's criminal or not, the burden of proving your innocence will be on you. drones which most of you know are pilotless, remote-controlled aircraft that have been used in iraq and afghanistan have come under increased criticism, are a $2 billion cornerstone of the obama administration's war efforts, that increasingly found favor with both military and american law enforcement officials. they are now, they are now on american soil, some police agencies have used these to track, monitor protests of so-called dissenters in this country. fusion centers which are data collection agencies are spread across the united states. they constantly monitor our communications in conjunction with groups like the national security agency. everything from the activity
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that you conduct on the internet, web searches on your telephones, e-mails, etc. t and all these agencies now, all the intelligence agencies are interconnected, the cia to the fbi, the fbi to the local police which, in my opinion, will make a move to martial law a lot easier. added to this arsenal of technology we now have a shadow government fully staffed by unelected officials ready to take over the running of the country at a so-called time of emergency. secret prisons now exist in the united states where american citizens have been snatched up and made to disappear with no access to a lawyer or the legal system. massive and growing databases containing information on otherwise ordinary americans are reported for such suspicious behavior as gazing at a bridge or taking a picture of a toll route. people have been arrested for this across the country. and, of course, the wars in afghanistan and iraq have now
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cost taxpayers more than $1 trillion already, and american soldiers are now deployed on american soil performing police actions in the violation of federal law. so what we've, what has happened to this country as we've now moved into a suspect society? we are no longer presumed innocent until proven guilty, but everyone's a suspect. for example, as part of the department of homeland security's if you see something, say something campaign, our government is urging americans to spy on one another aided by large corporations such as walmart. and in my opinion, this merger of the government and the corporate state, america, is a subtle move toward a total control society. also as i view things our government has been hijacked by a wealthy elite whose pockets are aligned -- lined by corporate america and who have, basically, no idea what it takes for average americans as you and
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i just to get by on a daily basis. and, again, despite the numerous protests and rallies, we see the washington elite which is the president, congress and the huge bureaucracy of corporate contractors that support them move steadily forward with this agenda of control paying little attention to what america really wants in terms of what i see the citizens want. in short, we have become a people enslaved by the very institution, the united states government, in an unholy alliance with corporate america that was entrusted to guard our freedoms. as the great abolitionist frederick douglass remarked, i didn't know i was a slave until i found out i couldn't do the things i wanted. the question, of course, is -- and we'll talk more about this, these two gentlemen will we've all had a part to play in it for what we've seen develop in this country. the american people do their
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cluelessness and gullibility, the corporations who sold us out long ago for profits, the federal government for using our tax dollars to, basically, create a suspect state, the lobbyists who have greased the wheels of politics in order to insure they make profits, the courts for failing to guard our civil liberties as individual lently as they should -- individual lently as they should and our o so-called representatives for not taking care of our civil liberties as there should. maybe too far for anything to be accomplished. but i'm not one to give up. i think once i know this to be true, once an authoritarian state is given power, it's very, very difficult to wrest it back. but i think we have to try, and that's what i spent my life doing, this is what david swanson does and bruce fein. so the question is, what can we do? we're going to talk about that.
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but let me end my opening remarks with a quote from martin luther king. he declared in 1967, one year exactly before he was assassinated, he says: a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death. now i'd like bruce fein to give his opening remarks and just a few notes on the credentials of bruce fein. he is author of the american empire: before the fall, a very fine book. he's also author of "constitutional peril," and bruce fein commands, in my opinion, unsurpasseddage lens for what he does. he graduatedfy beta phi beta kappa with horns at berkeley, also graduated from harvard law school with honors. he has been an associate
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deputy -- a resident scholar at the heritage foundation, a lecturer at the brookings institute and a resident scholar at george washington. bruce has authored several volumes on the u.s. supreme court, the u.s. constitution and international law. he's assisted two dozen countries in constitutional revision and advised over 20 heads of state and presidents of foreign nations plus four american presidents, members of congress and the house of commons. he writes a weekly column for the washington times. bruce is the founding partner of the law firm fein and fein. bruce? >> thank you. and, of course, you always want to respond to such effusions with alerting the audience nothing was said under oath. [laughter] my most recent book, "american empire," i think, tries to trace the psychology of empire that
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underwrites all the pathologies that john has enumerated. and i think you should be rivetted in your passion to try to rectify our plunge from a republic to empire by thinking of the following hypothetical. suppose tomorrow president barack obama commands prime time it's, and he says secret intelligence alerts me that osama bin laden has a weapon of mass destruction. we confront a greater danger than world war ii with a liftoff in zero airplanes. i'm suspending the congress of the united states for your safety. i'm suspending civilian law and replacing it with military law because that's the only way i can make this safe. i'm doing this very reluctantly, but this is the only way we'll be able to preserve the country. and with that announcement he says, and tomorrow i will start issuing edicts rather than
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legislation because we can no longer afford with this terrifying danger abroad. it's more than the 1% formula of dick cheney. to accept the customary way which we've governed the country. if that happened, how many here think the american people in congress will say we're impeaching the president tomorrow? that's simply not acceptable. we will not give up our freedom for this pledge of safety and magnifying the danger. we'd rather be free at risk -- and at risk than be vas les and be safe. i think you'd all agree, nothing -- >> [inaudible] >> well, let me save for the question. my view is that the congress would not respond in a way that, ultimately, the people in the congress did with regard to president nixon's abuses. i'm in washington every day.
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i was horrified to learn in january in a debate with john you that when -- yu that when the war resolutions for afghanistan and iraq were at issue, congress insisted the executive branch had to draft the language, and when the bills were shopped in congress, the members were angry they were being asked to vote. don't give us any responsibility in the matter. this is where we are as a country n my judgment -- as the worst crimes were dared by few, willed by more, tolerated by all. tolerated by all. and if we can think of where we are since 9/11, just enumerate the particular presidential use sur paces that have occurred open and notorious without any serious repudiation by congress of the american people, let's start with the one that's the
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most dramatic. the president has announced he has authority unilaterally to place american citizens on assassination hit lists if he thinks, in his judgment, they're in iminnocent danger -- imminent danger. state secret to try to have the judiciary probe into whether or not that was a bona fide decision or whether it violated due process. we have, also, a situation where we have perpetual war, and it's global. the authorization to use military force was the first time in the history that we declared war against a tack tactic -- a tactic which can never be eliminated. so that meant by definition the war is perpetual. there's been no one in washington, d.c. who's even conceived of a formula for determining the war is over. the second element that was revolutionary about this was because a tactic can be used anywhere, it meant the entire globe, the entire planet is a battlefield where the president is authorized to use military force or impose military law.
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including in this very room here. and that insofar as we have any liberty at all, it's at the president's indulgence. he has decided he doesn't want to assert that kind of military projection as he wishes. we have open and notorious concessions by former president and vice president. they authorized waterboarding, the definition of torture as we used in prosecuting japanese soldiers in world war ii. and what happens? the president of the unite says i just -- of the united states says i just want to look forward, not backward. well, mr. president, you attended harvard law school like i did. all criminal law is looking backward because we don't prosecute things that haven't happened yet. it's called ex post facto law. yeah. i mean, it's a fatuous argument. it's politically inconvenient. well, there's a pardon power if you think it's been politically disruptive or convulsive to go through with the prosecution. president ford thought that was
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true with president nixon, but at least he had the courage to pardon the president. he didn't say, well, covers up, obstruction of justice, who cares? ordinarily, we find that's the problem with foreign countries, that we're trying to rectify. including afghanistan. and the response has been very weak. we have a president who flouted the foreign intelligence surveillance act for almost six years, intercepting the e-mails and phone calls of american citizens on american soil without any warrant whatsoever. a criminal violation. bill clintoned at it. -- blinked at it. we don't want to prosecute it. congress doesn't asker -- ask for it, the successive president doesn't ask for it. the law doesn't matter. which is an outrageous, i think, degeneration from the very baptism i had in washington, d.c. which was watergate. we had a president at one time who said the president does it,
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it's legal. i can have burglaries of daniel ellsberg's psychiatrist, that can be legal. and the american people and the congress said, you know, that's not right. we will impeach you, and he, ultimately, was driven from office. president nixon. president does it, doesn't make it legal. the whole idea of the nixon tapes case and even the clinton/paula jones case, the president is not above the law. but today the president is above the law. president is above the law. we have presidents who state they have the right to tell their white house staff they do not need to respond to congressional subpoenas. they can say we don't want oversight. you can't look at what we're doing. we are, you know, it's like louis x iv. the state, i am the state. and does congress respond like they did with son? that's an -- nixon? is that's an impeachable
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offense. please, well, if members won't -- the staff won't testify, maybe we can get somebody in the business community who will know something to ask questions. and the authority clearly is there to impose impeachment, contempt of court, fine the people who don't appear and things like that. what happens? nothing. it's like congress is in the total dark. do you know the members on the intelligence committee told me they learned more from wikileaks than they learned from all the briefings in the prior five years. you have to have wikileaks for oversight? [laughter] you know, that is a disaster. that is a disaster. and all of these claims made by the president, usurpations, congress has acquiesced. and we now live, basically, in a situation where all our liberties are dependent upon an indulgent president. the legal architecture of tyranny is already there, even
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though, it's true, obama hasn't asserted it to the maximum. you know, just like when ham rabbi announced his code unilaterally. well, you know, he could take it back or not, but he was benevolent, so people didn't protest at the time. but that's not what the united states was made for. we the people, the three most important words in the united states constitution, we the people are sovereign. the power belongs to us. we decide. what the government can do and what not. and now it's the other way around, the government decides everything. and we the people, generally speaking, are very indifferent and lethargic with regard to defending our rights. and the whole nature as edward r. murrow pointed out, if you have a people of sheep, you'll get a government of wolves. that's what the founding fathers knew. constant vigilance. never, never trust government. because their motives are virtually invariably ulterior, and it's to stay in power.
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that's the kind of people who gravitate to washington d.c. they covet power for the sake of power. and that means that you have to have the checks and balances and public responsiveness, call these people to account. if system is to continue to work as it should as a republic. but we are well beyond the republic as envisioned by the founding fathers. and let me explain, i think, in a very easy way why the culture has turned the constitutional philosophy on its head. the, the founding fathers believed that liberty and freedom was the rule and government encroachments were the exception. and, therefore, if evidence and experience was inconclusive as to whether or not some government investigative tool, some oversight, some of the surveillance that john was describing, if evidence was inconclusive that really wasn't shown was indispensable for
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sovereignty, the default is individual rights, not government authority. now it's the other way around. the government can see, well, the body scanner in the next century might pick up one person who is stupid enough or clumsy enough to come and walk through the screen with a weapon there, then we'll use the screen on a billion people. it totally inverts the philosophy of life in government that made this country distinct. it was our signature. the individual is the center of the universe, not the government. life, liberty and pursuit of happiness and securing those for individuals was the soul and exhaustive purposes of government, not building empires. running around the world and trying to tell other people how to live even if we knew how to do it. even if we knew how to do it. and john quoted dwight d. eisenhower, but earlier on far before president eisenhower john
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quincy adams had it right. he was the sixth president of the united states. he was speaking then as secretary of state. july 4th to the congress, 1821. we could become the dictators of the world, we would destroy the republic in the process. we give and urge liberty and support everywhere, we fight only for our own because the process of military projection concentrates all power in the president. due process, the most important cornerstone of civilization, is trash. it's the presumption of guilt before innocence, people, you know, like today where we have the chairman of the homeland security committee just totally distraught that a jury in new york city may have acquitted somebody accused of a terrorism crime. and he said, that's a miscarriage of justice, you know? in our, you know, post-9/11 we don't permit not guilty verdicts if you're accused of terrorism. that's how far we are into
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dishonoring due process of law. so what's to be done? one, it needs -- we need shot to challenge -- not to challenge the conventional orthodoxies that stifle the debate that we're having here today. there's such a danger abroad, we have to give up our freedoms and liberties. we need to stand up and tell our elected representatives and write to our media, you know, we would rather take some risk and be free than to make us totally and completely secure and be serfs and have a huge, huge government. we understand some risk is the oxygen of a republican form of government. it is the oxygen. we have to accept some. we're not foolish about it. but the only way you can end risk in toto is to put everybody in prison which is ridiculous. >> or under surveillance. >> or under surveillance. an option. and the second thing that we have to explain to our leaders, if you refuse to honor your oath
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which means impeaching people who commit impeachable offenses, we vote you out of office. the process is more important than anything. we need members of congress like at one time they did with president nixon. we will need members who say we will impeach you if you flout a congressional subpoena. we will impeach you if you go to war without authorization from congress. we will impeach you if claim you can assassinate an american citizen without any warrant at all. think of this, think of this surreal element of our current system. in order for the president to intercept your e-mail or phone calls, he needs a warrant. but he can kill you without anything. [laughter] wow. that's really quite something. alice in wonderland, i'm not sure where it belongs. in the long run, i think it's
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the culture that will turn this country back from the rue nation of empire -- ruin nation from the empire to the republic or not. the members of congress congress reflect the values, the ambitions, the goals, the vision of the people of the unite. of the united states.
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>> "war is a lie." dade holds a master's degree -- david holds a master's degree in philosophy from the university of virginia. he's worked as a newspaper reporter including press secretary for dennis kucinich's 2004 presidential campaign and for three years as communication coordinator for acorn, the association of community organizations for reform. david -- >> now. >> now. [laughter] let me say that again. the association of -- swanson is
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co-founder of the president bush/ in 2009 david created a web site for code pink and global exchange to market a company investing in wind energy in iran and another web site for cindy sheehan's counterrecruitment effort. thank you, david. >> thank you. and thank you for having me and for putting this on. and it's great to speak here with both john and bruce, both of whom i have learned a lot from. and i, like many of you perhaps, agree with every word that's been said thus far in this room, but that is at least somewhat remarkable in that on most issues that are debated in our public/political discourse, bruce and i couldn't be further from agreement.
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and, of course, most of the issues that we talk about in our communications systems, such as it is, tend to be those where the democrats and republicans have some distance between themselves, and they tend to be fairly minor, and they tend to be domestic, and they tend to absolutely ignore the issue of the placement of power within our government, the question of presidents accumulating ever greater powers is just not up for discussion. and the questions of where our money goes, never mind that over half of discretionary spending is going to the military. we have debates about that 40% that isn't, and the people who want to recklessly spend money and the people who want to responsibly not spend money and so forth. well, you know, those of us -- and bruce and i and, in fact, the majority of americans are in this group, who want to cut the money from the military and put it somewhere usable whether that be spending it in a useful way
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or in the tax cuts -- or in tax cuts, we're not in that debate at all. .. if that next person doesn't turn it around, doesn't say this was an aberration and prosecute the
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crimes and not engage in them, then they will be firmly fixed in place. the supreme court has is tendency when they damage in a practice without challenge to treat it now as a established presidential power. and, of course, those of us who think it's okay to talk about these issues when the president is a republican don't want to talk about it when the president is a democrat and vice versa. but the powers remain the same and continue to build so that when president mckinly sent troops abroad without congressional authorization, and get away it and people are killed and damage is done, but nothing to compare with what's done by future presidents using the same permissible practice. the horrors and the damage that the cia has done over the decades around the world, the
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vast majority is incensed when harry truman left office and there's a question when barack obama has yet done the level of damage to the world that the george w. bush has done over the years. but barack obama is at worse place than george w. bush in terms of the presidential powers in that he's kept all of these new powers and fixed in place. what werejevty -- secretive powers when bush was in power are now treated as law. and so the damage of having from the two parties are doing things without challenge and then to make public policy choices out of what used to be crimes makes whoever the third guy or perhaps woman is to come in to that
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white house in this series pretty powerless to even call things abuses that several years ago were crimes. you know, bruce talked about a president declaring an emergency military rule and throwing out congress, you know, the sort of thing that some people are up in arms with the governor of michigan now claiming the powers to throw out town corporates and put a corporate friend in charge, push claimed these powers openly with an executive decree, part which have was secret and congress asked to see the secret parts and was told to go to hell. and now we have a different president and nobody is asking anymore. they don't care because it's a different president at the moment but those powers remain. today, this morning, in congress -- right now they're debating in the house whether to end the war in afghanistan.
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that two-thirds of americans have told a number of pollsters now they want ended. and they put that off in what is perhaps not worth fighting over but an unconstitutional move they put defunding npr. they held an emergency meeting to get this going on defunding npr and then we'll talk about the war. and congressman lungrun stood up that we waste more money on the military than npr and you can't make that comparison because the npr is not on the constitution unlike the department and he stumbles and he hums and the idea of the national defense and he knows the constitution doesn't establish a military, whatsoever. it's written as if going to raise a military when we need it for a war. and then not have one anymore.
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and so then you have congressman drier stand up and taking 77 cents out of the pocket of a good american who may not listen npr is a threat to our very democracy. but taking thousands of dollars from the same person to fund the so-called department of defense, a vast of majority of which has nothing to do with defense, okay, that's acceptable. and it's unaccountable. it's unaccounted and it's secret money and it had new powers that allowed the secret transfer of money into secret campaigns. we have military operations in at least 75 nations now, considerably more than when bush and cheney were in town. we have an incredibly expanded war in afghanistan. and we have this use of drones
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not just to spy on us and ne mexicans bow kill people in large numbers but to the extent in pakistan that it's very hard not to call that a war. and there hasn't been so much as a pretense by anybody of authorizing a war there. we have the -- you know, not congressmen, but general petraeus was testifying yesterday and a number of congress members said, you know, we've been doing this year after year. you people come here and you say, we're about to make progress but it's fragile and reversible and it's just around the corner and what is to demonstrate to us that three or four years hence we won't have some other general telling some other congress members we just need a few years. progress is right around the corner. and congress members who said to him, look at all of the corruption and the hopelessness and the lack of progress.
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and he essentially invited them to what's called a session, you know. this was a psychological operation. that is if you read "rolling stone" magazine a few weeks back, senators, congress members, defense department officials, think tankers who came to afghanistan to survey the situation were intentionally misled about so-called progress by a branch of our military that is designed to mislead foreigners. and who then demanded that the department of defense investigate itself. and assure us that everything is okay. and that's the standard for oversight from congress just as president obama when asked whether he agreed with the press person from the department of state that forcing a young man to stand naked and face solitary
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confinement for months and be otherwise abused without any sort of trial -- bradley manning, a guy named bradley manning was in the words of this former now state department employee ridiculous counterproductive and stupid. and president obama's president obama says well, the military tells me it's okay and i leave it up to them just as he leaves it publicly up to them whether to escalate a war or continue a war. we have generals who do p.r. tours to set military policy and publicly instruct the so-called commander in chief. this is -- this is to do away with civilian rule. when you look at this so-called change, when someone comes in and says i'm closing guantanamo, and you still to this day get, oh, but, but, but he closed guantanamo. he never wanted to end the policy of imprisoning people without any process, whatsoever.
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he wanted to move one location where that was occurring from cuba to illinois. and the fact that he can't do it, frankly, who cares? our policy now, and it's not secretive and it's not considered an abuse and it's been announced in front of the constitution and the national archives and put down in writing and made the law of the land and a couple of republican congress members have objected because of the imperial because they want it worse than what obama future. it's to fix in place the elimination of habeas corpus in which something the president couldn't do. it's the combination. and this is a across-the-board for torture which this president insists he has the power to do if needed for warrantless spying, for extraordinary
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rendition. and the efforts where this white house has put most of its energy on these issues has been in covering up and protecting obama's predecessor. and we have -- we have a court case in washington, d.c., today where they're trying to figure out a creative way to charge a prisoner with a new charge in order to have a conviction, which as bruce has said you have to have a conviction now. and to do so, they've gone back to the 1880s and equated the war on al-qaeda with the war on native americans, which is effectively to -- to reveal that, you know, the good old days were not always so good. we've been an empire from before 1776. and we are stripping people of all rights based on the implicit understanding that they are subhuman and don't deserve them. and then you come back to the so-called homeland and strip
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everybody of the same rights and you started with somebody like bradley manning. this president campaigned on the need to reward and praise whistle blowers. now whistle blowers are traitors and they're subhuman. and they should not have any rights. the people -- the people who sat in the justice department and legalized aggressive war and torture and lawless imprisonment with secret memos, when things had to be secret in years past has not been prosecuted. this white house has put extreme pressure on a number of european nations to stop investigations and prosecutions. we have to do great credit of italian courts had 23 cia agents convicted of kidnapping and sending someone from there to be tortured by the guy who now runs egypt. we have had extreme efforts by
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the current justice department which publicly openly takes all instruction from the president to block all criminal and civil suits that would expose anything our government has been doing in these matters. and this with claims of secrecy now established in policy that push and cheney never dreamed of attempting. and when congressman kucinich goes to visit bradley manning, the secretary of defense sends him to the secretary of the army who sends him to the secretary of navy and they publicly assert that they can't let congress interfere out of concern for bradley manning's privacy. [laughter] >> this being the young man who's forced to sleep naked and stand at attention naked in a morning. >> by a 6'12" cell. >> we have whistle mores and nonimprisonment of record practice breezy and we have
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freedom of information act requests. remember all the uproar dick cheney won't show us the visitors logs coming in to meet. well, obama still won't show you the visitor logs of the health insurance corporation heads coming in to meet. he'll show you the visitor logs after a certain point in time that he deems worth showing you. and he sends all his staffers just off the white house property to meet with lobbyists so that the names don't end up on the visitor logs. this is the level of reform of we have of at this point. and when -- when bush established a new abuse such as writing a note on the bottom of a law called a signing statement saying here's the parts i'll violate. it was secret for a long time then it was understood what was happening and he kept doing it. and it was outrageously unconstitutional and abusive and people were up in armed and dangerous. barack obama campaigned against this practice. and this is just a typical
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example. campaigned against the practice. came in and started doing it exactly like bush and cheney did it for the first six months or so. and then figured out something worse. that he could rely on previous signing statements that already existed that he could rely on secret memos in the justice department and so he stopped issuing the signing statements. and on bush's he said well, i'll go back and review all of bush's signing statements and the ones i don't like i'll throw out. but how is that any more constitutional than bush writing them in the first place? you know, does the third person pick which laws bush and obama wrote at their whim to keep and to throw out? it's not a representative government. so i could go on and on but i want to get to the discussion and i want to close with a couple of points on what can be done. barack obama met with big donors
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yesterday and said you were excited two years ago. you're not excited now but i need all your money even more. [laughter] >> and i would add to that, if you took that money and put it in independent media and future in independent activism by which i mean, institutions that don't take their direction from either political party, instead of putting it into elections, who's an example of that? certainly much of the peace moment. go to my website, war is a and a group roots action, endless endless organizations that are free of partisan subserviens and then you will be doing so much more because you're not going to get a good president out of next year's election. no matter how much money you waste on it. and you're not going to get a
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republic-backed from any president. so, you know, empires end. they end horribly or they end gently. and the homeland is usually better off once they've ended. if you want to help come to the white house at noon tomorrow to end these wars. and come to quantico, which is even closer at 2:00 pm on sunday to end the open torture of a man who has not been put on trial. [applause] >> there were a lot of articles and commentaries on bradley manning and all these issues i'd recommend to keep up with the issues and the "huffington post" which a number of my commentaries are on the "huffington post," most recently on bradley manning. since you gentlemen are a people of many words, i want to ask a
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couple at once. the pulitzer prize journalist seymour hearst said six months ago, he said at this point obama is in real trouble because the military are dominating him on the important issues of the world, iraq, iran, afghan and pakistan. and he's following the policies of bush and cheney almost to the fair thee well. the question i have -- there's two questions, one is, what happened to obama? all the hope, change and all the things you were hearing, two is, do i hear some abdicating of some mass marches of the martin luther king-style from you two gentlemen? if we want real change, i mean, martin luther king -- [laughter] >> who advocated civil -- >> well, the first question is that obama's presidency and his emulation of bush and cheney demonstrates that the empire is
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not a personality aberration. it's a cultural pathology. that the entire culture has accepted this idea of domination for the sake of domination. make us safe, not free. and if anything we will probably not seen anyone in the white house with the intelligence of barack obama in the next century. and yet he's still because he's so much of a product of our political culture simply seamlessly moving from bush/cheney into his own domain and i'm sure a successor will be the same. now, what is it that's needed in order to change things from the abysmal state at present? and listen, we still have the power of the vote. the ballot as long as we exercise it and use free speech in order to convince colleagues that they need to rethink things. i was in the congress the first day of the t.a.r.p. vote in the house of representatives, which
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was voted down despite all the pundits claiming that the sky would fall if the big banks weren't bailed out. and i saw those emails and faxes coming in by the thousands. and those members responded. across-the-board, we're not going to vote for that because there was such a grassroots protest. i don't know whether you need marches. i don't think we're quite at the stage where we need to advocate cattle pods like the selma malpractice march. all we need is public courage and education we are not going to vote congress for government secrecy and initiate wars at will. >> how do we know that they're not going to do that? i mean, don't politicians lie to us? >> no. obviously, they can lie. and if they lie, then you obviously have to throw them out of office.
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and that's why -- who cares what their preachers are. fine, we'll be able to see. i'm trying to launch a group called the first branch. it's opinion a long time in embryo, longer, i suppose, elephants take to give birth but i think the idea is to have every single member of congress. they're easily accessible on a website and i rate them according to what i call the ten congressional commandments, the thing they are on or bound to do that they are defaulting on. you have a potted plant rating that you basically have been lebought myselfed and have done nothing it's easy for the constituents to say we're voting you out of office. [laughter] >> but the last thing i'd ever -- >> well, now i have to quibble because it's not easy to vote anyone out of office. overwhelming the candidates with the most outside spending as that was just taking off in the last election won. and that is expected very much to be the case in the coming election. and on top of that, you have your every 10 years
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redistricting so that most districts are going to be guaranteed to one or the other of the two big parties. it's only in primaries that you're going to have any sort of say in putting a different sort of candidate in there. we have a system that is almost entirely corrupted by money, by the media and by the -- >> don't the corporations pick the candidates or the corporations or am i wrong for that? largely so? >> very, very largely so, yes. >> but i think -- but my point, david, at present the reason why the money is so powerful is because there's very little difference between the candidates in terms of the political culture they reflect. as long as that's true -- as long as that true, the elections aren't going to mount much. we're trying to have a political culture where people will vote and people will run for office because they really stand for something that's different than the status empire quo where we spend 1.2 trillion on defense, 350 million in afghanistan. we don't care about due process. now, maybe that's an illusion
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and you're not going to get candidates who stand up and do that. i think that's bronx. i think that a candidate who stood up and said, you know, i'm against these wars, they're wrong. it's the entire vision of the united states is upside down. we've got to get back and put the individual at the center of the universe. we don't want to be an empire just like we don't want -- remember lincoln. i didn't want to be a slave. i wouldn't be a master. now, maybe they'd lose anyway but in a in my judgment is a vastly more important element in the changing the political direction of the united states than campaign finance reform or redrawing district lines 'cause this is a pathology that goes way beyond the internal maneuvers of how you get on a ballot. >> i don't need to question to vote your conscience and educate or inform but i -- you know, just having good candidates doesn't do it. i worked for a candidate in 2004 who said what you just said and won the applause and the numbers of standing ovations at every
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debate among the democratic primary candidates. and was not mentioned in most of the stories the next day as having been there at all or it was one sentence. >> why is that? why wasn't it mentioned? >> because the media decides who are the acceptable candidates. >> the corporate media decides? >> yes, the corporate media, which is not to say we don't pursue all of these angles but we do need to pursue some fundamental reforming as well. i mean, we were given a choice where candidate obama who wanted to enlarge the military, escalate a war, engage in things that would have been considered too outrageous for either party a decade prior was the better choice between the only two candidates we were told had any chance. and so i think obama would be a nice guy to play basketball with. [laughter] >> i think bush would throw
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elbows and pull your pants down. [laughter] >> but he should be a a figure head and be a japanese emperor to say something but he shouldn't have power. when you put someone in who's eloquent and intelligent and has good rhetoric and a good background and he's from the party that democrats are supposed to be loyal to, not them to us, us to them, then it's not what happened to obama. it's what happened to activism. it was defunded. it went away, right? when obama came here, the day before this most recent election, with tom perello and there was enough of us to touch his compartments and there were fliers, stop the wars, defund the military. stop this waste of money and further down noted, tom has voted for every war dollar he could get his hands on, say something. didn't say put him in prison. it didn't say vote against him.
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it just said talk to him about this and the typical response was to read partway down, yeah, this is great and angrily throw it up in our face and we walked over to the tea party rally and they've all got shirts on, cut spending, cut spending and we started handing out the fliers and within five minutes we have veterans screaming and spitting and showing us their war scars and do you want us to keep you safe or not? you can't -- you can't squeeze into either of those discussions, this discussion. we got to have some other medium to speak through. >> just a moment. >> i just want to take back and compare today with watergate because the gerrymandering was the same in watergate. in watergate, the campaign financing system was the same. yet, i was there. the american people sent in 2 million telegrams and they proposed a saturday night massacre of elliott richardson and william rubbinglehouse and we know what happened. they said -- it was the american
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people who forced the watergate hearings. it wasn't congress out there in the front demanding that. and -- but on all these situation that you've described, the redistricting was the same rules. the campaign financing was equally warped at the time. you remember the president himself was getting money illegally from the corporations. yet, the people cared at the time because the culture really did think it was a monstrous statement to say. >> if i came out of the '60s do we have the same culture. >> where are the young people today -- when i was in the '60s, the young people marched in the streets. where are they at today? >> when the pentagon papers were done to the "new york times," we would be ashamed if somebody found out if we had it and didn't print it. and now they are ashamed if we didn't print anything. and whistle blowers have gone from being heroes to being tracer. we have some changes in the culture. >> but that last point -- >> bradley manning -- >> what i'm trying to make the culture that you got to address
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first, the other issue, the gerrymandering and the political contributions, that's a marginal issue because those same things were present. at that time, too. if anything the media was concentrating you still had walter cronkite, cbs and abc you don't have the diversity nearly at present. and i'm just saying john is right. and part of it is there's no draft. this is one thing we have to accept. there's no draft so it's a terrible thing. [applause] >> there's no accountability. the members say somebody else. it's the poor, the voiceless, those who don't have any power going over there to die. so i can sit and not threat over the fact as richard holbrooke said what was victory in afghanistan. i don't really know. it's like obscenity. i'll know it when i see it, and that is the cause that people are risking that last full measure of devotion for. and the only -- one way we're going to get back to some check on the military folly and
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adventurism is to reinstitute the draft and your only goal, your only obligation to defend americans here at home, not to go abroad in search of money. [inaudible] >> i completely agree with the analysis but not the solution. but, you know, i saw a veterans for peace shirt out here who are leading this event tomorrow at noon at the white house where we will -- [inaudible] >> excuse me, saturday and then sunday at quantico. i'm like japan. i'm ahead. if you want to put yourself on the line and say i've had enough and even if everyone else isn't doing everything that was done in previous decades when people were active, i will do it, then come at noon on saturday to the white house. come to the white house fence. ask to speak to the president on behalf of two-thirds of the country that says get out of this war and expect to go to jail. and have at least 50 if not $100
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in cash and a photo id and almost nothing else if possible. and expect one of the most enjoyable, least frightening solidarity-building moments of your life that will be an extremely minimal hassle compared to what the people of afghanistan -- >> or if you get arrested, call the rutherford institute. we'd like to help. >> you're invited to come. [laughter] >> i think it's time for questions. if you have a question, there's a lady with a microphone. and you proceed to the microphone and ask your questions and we'll be glad to respond. yes, sir. >> well, thanks, david. you just said put yourself on the line, of course one way to do that and run for office and have better candidates, really push in the electoral arena. i've done that a couple of times. and i ask you, sir, to do it and
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others in this room to consider that because it really is a useful way and if this gentleman, mr. fein -- we have good whistle blowers, people who are willing to run, how do we get them through that primary process when their incumbent already has a million bucks? .. are willing to kiss up to peopl who have that money, you cannot
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plausibly win an election. >> you mean you have to do thei bidding after you get elected? >> absolutely. you think they are wasting your money. there is a reason why you can talk to a governor if you pretend but not if you or anybody else. the money talks and it shouldn't and claiming the money out of the system isn't the only thing we need to do, but it's certainly one of them. >> money is exceptionally important as anything you try to market to something, but all agreed movements began looking hopeless, and simply because you run it once or twice and are not elected doesn't mean. i flirted with the idea from time to time i considered running for office but certainly being involved in political campaigns. you can't give up simply
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because right now your voice is a strict minority. the process itself is its own reward. that's what it means to be an american because it's the right thing to do. >> i think that it seems to me that the imperial presidency has come about because of the responsibility by the legislature. that abrogation of responsibility, i wonder if it perhaps is because of the influence of money in politics. i seem to remember that there was only about 1500 lobbyists in washington before 2000, and after the bush and cheney got in office and now we've got over 6,000 lobbyists in washington and are the lobbyists will also influencing the president to the same
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extent they control and manipulate congress, and is this not part of the cultural part that mr. fine talks about that has taken over our political process. >> the washington elite. >> i would place less emphasis i think on mauney causing fan members of congress. i called the invertebrate branch and other causes. the multiplication of lobbyists we know t.a.r.p. came in every lobbyist started to expand options which is lobbying in washington, d.c. with offices nearby because there was so much more to get out of government. i think money is always played an important role has any particular endeavor because you can buy people off, but i think
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that congress, however, because of the partisanship feels that it is to the party, not the constitution even though the only zero of the take is in the constitution and so the attitude is we don't care whether the constitution is it helps politically we just want to do anything with regard to the white house if they are a member of the own party. when bush was president the republicans -- the issue was simple subpoena in six years. and then obama comes in the same, the kind of nonexistent oversight because the loyalty is to the party, and they actually conceived of politics sending people to dalia the war like a football game, that's what it is in sight of the beltway. the idea you know when you're in congress and represent all americans and that there is only one race, religion and ethnicity. it's because the value.
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we all want to win all the time . party advantage mr. field. that would be viewed as heresy. >> i would add much of the power of the party is doled out to the members, and that's when the former congressman in the district got over a million dollars in the democratic party in washington in the final days of the campaign to buy eds and he won by less than 1%. was the loyalty for two years to us or the democratic party? i think it became very clear when he voted against his own. the the white house and told the and when there was a war funding bill at the senate added the bailout for eastern europe and he wanted to vote against it she and other members of congress were told by the democratic party, by the white house you vote against
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this and you will be dead to us . it didn't just hurt their feelings. it wasn't that they would be out of the club and they wouldn't get to hang out with the big shots. it was that they would be defunded and someone else would be funded in the primary against them and so its of the parties and the lockdown how hard it is to get on the ballot and be in the debate but a lot of all of the shortfall in the vehicle when home john conyers member of the judiciary committee wanted to hold impeachment the speaker of the house nancy pelosi said john you can't do that we have to look at 2008. we don't want anything that makes us look radical, and there were no appeasement. they had to stylet, concentration of executive power and i testified at the hearing. moreover the invoked the
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parliamentary rules and said king george freakin' that you cannot bring the president of the united states into disrepute in the estimate. so the extricated my testimony and referred to the white house what 1600 pennsylvania avenue. we would have floated executive power. >> i hear the word impeachment i don't want people to leave the room thinking there's nothing they can do. when we talk about impeachment, is that really practical? what i'm trying to get that is what can people do -- is their something else we can do? what happened in wisconsin -- i know we are not going to impeach obama. we could impeach boesh. >> what's happening in wisconsin is along the lines of what happened in the peace movement back in 05, 06 when the democrats were largely
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crittenden they were on board with it and many on board with impeachment and challenging business. that is to say an organized force, public leader in wisconsin, which still exists, and the general public activists hat with and the young and enthusiastic line up with the interests of the democrats in the state legislature in wisconsin and when that happens then you get all the participation and resources and funding of the democratic party loyal activist groups. for the most part we get inverted the representation so the groups ago to one of the parties and say what should we ask members to ask you to do rather than ask them what they want to take that to washington and so, what's happened in wisconsin and michigan and the rest is very encouraging and is worth a building on. >> are you talking about we the people of the movement? >> we, the people --
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wholeheartedly we the people -- >> the democratically bulls and the americans. that's what you said. >> that's what this country is about. that's what this country is about. you think the people who died at valley forge, omaha beach -- this is the united states, not any particular party and its our race we have people up there limited so what is advantageous to the party. that is an outrage. we are all americans. we all hang together and separately. that is what the new with the outset. that's what makes this country great and why we want to fight for it. the issue of impeachment is almost conceived of it like a coup d'etat. you can't impeach the president of the united states. why not? it's the only way in which you can make sure a president honors the constitution. and the coup de taha -- nixon, i know is as close as someone
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got to impeach. there were three articles and he resigned before it got voted on the house floor before barry goldwater went to the white house and then you have no votes in the senate on hundred from co zero. but look, let's think, wasn't impeachment the destruction of richard nixon? he ended up like shock. he gets the pardon, then there comes the elder statesman or whatever but it was an important gesture even though we did not basically publicly execute -- >> we just had such a travesty of democracy in the midwest. kuran in wisconsin and michigan where in 1932 we, the labor movement, started the 40-hour workweek. oh my. they had all of their rights ripped away right in front of
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our faces. the next day there was a press conference, a presidential press conference. the inappropriate comments were made regarding the catastrophe in japan. then our president immediately switched to energy, which gave him a license to talk about controlling all of the midlantic and the eastern shore and in alaska, and not one member of the press had one question about what was happening in wisconsin where 100,000 people gathered and had been gathered in freezing weather day and night, the largest demonstration in wisconsin history, and the only one to cover it was amy goodman on democracy now. this is what race means, concern even for your protest and your rally on saturday.
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>> our. >> our. [laughter] but that's my point. our should have been coming and there were national movements to support the people in wisconsin. >> there are. >> that their rights are gone. >> but it is a law that is beating us. it's not a tool we can use jury often. but -- >> that's my question. what can -- if we gather in the streets, what can we do? >> one interesting thing to happen in wisconsin is after president bush had said i can have the legal war and torture and imprisonment and spotty because my lawyer said i could, the governor of wisconsin, after having been unable to pass this bill and in pretty clear violation of the constitution of that state in a number of ways had his lawyer write a note that said he could and they went ahead and they did it and this is an issue of culture and education that americans have to understand that even if you pay a lawyer
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to say you can do something it's not necessarily okay because there isn't anything you can't pay a lawyer to say you can do. [laughter] you know when a lawyer is lobbying? his lips are moving. [laughter] but what happened in wisconsin is the labor unions who elected barack obama, put everything into electing barack obama because he was going to legalize forming unions in the private marketplace the so-called free choice act, anyone remember that one? did not, would not fight for it . would not lift a finger to force progressive change. they saw that their very existence was threatened and they put it a fight in defense. so we have to build on that defense to the point where it becomes offense, and to the point where it is not subservient to one of the two parties, which is going to be a lot at some point, but wisconsin has been covered by
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many independent media sources and has inspired people, including people in the middle east. you have pro egypt signs in madison but pro madison signed in cairo as well. wisconsin is something we are building on and need to build on. >> one thing i see is our public education system right now does not educate our future citizens very well. they know nothing about kids graduating about the bill of rights, and there's just sort of a control. i feel our future citizens are graduating not having an idea what they should do. the other thing i would say is study the philosophy of martin luther king i think is very important. >> questioned? >> actually, you just spoke of what i wanted to address in terms of the culture to get i67 , and in high school and even junior high we had to pass a test in the long history and
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in high school we had to take civic six in american history. so i learned that coming of age and so i fear as you do this has been lost because you're talking about the culture. that is where it starts, right there and when people don't know they don't even have a sense. i might not tell you all of the amendments correctly, but i understand what is in the constitution. i can do a pretty decent job. >> the did a recent survey -- >> it's true. >> 35% of american public school students pass the u.s. immigration has committed 97% of foreigners can and the question is like who wrote the declaration of independence, those kind of questions. they don't study six like the use to. i think that endangers our freedom. we have a few more minutes for
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questions. >> thank you, gentlemen, for this wonderful presentation which i agree with a little bit of information and i'm so proud to vote for 50 years the last ten years i realize it is a waste of time to go vote. [inaudible] turtle ackley focused on the names today that i think create a lot of these problems although they were alluded to, and that is the power of the money and the vote, and i think one of those is the two-party system and i hear david say we don't have a chance. it's totally different next time and we will be sure to vote because the two-party
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system keeps us from having to vote or having a choice. second, if it hasn't been moved here and it is follow the money is the biggest corporation which is our bankers here and internationally that owned our federal reserve system in the fed that controls the money. there is a meeting going on right now in d.c. so i would bring some of this to light. i would appreciate just a comment in the two-party system and the so-called federal reserve system which controls our money. >> i would just like to say when he vote that is the first thing you do, that is the piece you can do. you have to participate in democracy which means to go to
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your local city council, you get involved in all of the government. if you just vote and sit back and watch glenn bet and wolf lit search you're wasting your time in my opinion. >> the two-party system is not enshrined in the united states constitution in fact. certainly washington thought that it would be of the country although we had a party system like that emerged during shortly thereafter between adams and jefferson. there is no doubt that the access rules are tilted in favor of retaining the two-party system. it's not that it's unbreakable. ross perot got 19% of the vote simply because there was discussion. but if an opportunity to rewrite the rules, there are certainly preferable ways in the stipulation that impossible other than the two major parties to get some of -- somebody's name on the ballot but i don't know how you change that because the rules for ballot access are written by
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the incumbents and you aren't going to get courts to invalidate something even though the conflict of interest is enormous. now what was your second question about the federal reserve? the that is certainly true the federal reserve with the congress has given such open-ended authority to the fed that it can do what ever it wishes. it can have 600 billion, a trillion dollars, they are spewing out trillions of dollars we don't know who is getting the money interest free and congress has virtually no -- they've given away all the power. >> private organizations? gannet it is and it is not. you have the open market committee has made up of the presence of private banks but the goal board of governors, they are appointed by the president with advising and the have to serve 14 year terms but it is true that the congress basically said that this federal reserve board should be guardians for the economy, and
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no blame if something goes wrong but we just wash our hands like any responsibility which to me is just a gross, gross navigation of ressa accountability to the members and again, the equally if not more pernicious element is it is secret. they make loans. they are making loans finally disclosed to foreign banks and foreign governments as a part of the t.a.r.p. money. >> so a breakdown of a democracy. >> welcome the secrecy -- >> a little bit. >> it presents the accountability and what brandeis said in investigating money is sunshine is the best disinfectant and that will always be the case. let me quibble with the idea you can't fix the system because the people running it are in the system. you know, women didn't get the right to vote by voting. we didn't end slavery through voting. there is -- there is much to be done, if the people of egypt didn't throw out mubarak by voting, and if we are willing
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to apply public nonviolent creative pressure to these people, you can compel people to vote against other clear and corrupting interests. it's been done many times. it's one of those things where you can see it's the only thing that has ever worked. >> in the issue is are you going to be able to do that, the two parties have their names on the ballot and the green party doesn't get on there. i don't know whether that is the kind of passion that you developed regarding slavery or the wins franchise is going to generate something that is going to create that. >> again i would like to quote martin luther king again. a nation that continue year after year on military defense and programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death. ladies thank you ladies and gentlemen. [applause]
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what i tried to do is put together letterset tryst footprints large and small of the people from bondage to self-determination, from the civil war to the war in iraq, and as i said from dusty plantations through the glistening white house. the correspondence of the unsung sleeves come soldiers, lovers, fathers, mothers, artists, activists, woven together with those of historical giants from phyllis wheatley, paul anbar, langston hughes, james baldwin, alice walker and toni morrison to benjamin banneker, sojourner truth, frederick douglass, w.e.b. du bois, ida b. wells barnett and colin powell. the likely miss of the extraordinary are matched by the equally poignant letters of the ordinary with pen in hand share their joy and pain,
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ecstasy and heart ached. >> this letter is from hannah grover to her son kato written 1855. my son, kato, i longed to see you in my old age. i live in cold well with mr. grover, the minister of that place. now, my son, i would pray you come to see your -year-old mother or send me $20 i will come and see you in philadelphia. and if you can't come to see your mother, please, send me a letter and tell me where you live, with family you have and what you do for a living tree all i am a poor old servant. i long for freedom and my master will free me if anybody will engage to maintain me so that i don't come upon him.
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i love you, kato. you love your mother, you are my only son. this from your affectionate mother, mel hannah grover. p.s., i haven't seen you since i saw u.s. debt and on land about 20 years ago. if you send any money, send it to the doctor and she will give it to me. if you have any love for your poor old mother, craig, come or send to me. my dear son, i love you with all my heart. >> this is a letter september 19th, 1858. i take the pleasure of writing
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you these words with much regret to inform you from being sold to a man of the name of pearson, a trader who stays and new orleans. i am here yet but i expect to go before long, and when i do, i want to send you some things. i don't know who to send them by but i will try to send them to you and my children. and give my love to my father and my mother and tell them goodbye from me. if we shouldn't need in this world i hope to meet them in heaven. for you and my children, this
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ten cannot express their grief that i feel to be parted from you all. >> we are taken behind the public tasatto scholars and activists. dr. martin luther king jr. letter from the birmingham utter jeal this year with his private to his wife who in 1960 rights from a state prison. >> this is from martin luther jim came to be cut to his wife to read october 26, 1960. hello, darling. today i find myself a long way from you and the children. i am at the state prison in reads bill which is about 230 miles away from atlanta. they picked me up from the dekalb jail at around 4:00 a.m. this morning. i know this whole experience is very difficult for you. especially in the conditions of
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your pregnancy. but as i said to you yesterday, this is the cross we must bear for the freedom of our people. so i urge you to be strong in a safe and this will in turn strengthen me. i can assure you it is extremely difficult to think of being away from you, my little yokie and mardy for four months by ask god for the power of endurance i have the faith to believe that this excess of suffering and this will in some little way serve to make atlanta a better city to mcgeorge a better stay in america a better country. just how, i do not yet know, but i have the faith to believe it will.
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and if i am right, then our suffering is not in vain. from the "los angeles times" festival of books, garrett graff come author of the threat matrix the fbi at war in the age of global terror discusses his book and answered book tv fever questions


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