The following are my teaching assignments on critical thinking for California 12th grade students in the semester-long courses, “US Government” and “Economics.” I offer them for non-profit use:
- Information and recommendations for your child’s success (and overall introduction to this article series) 1 of 6
- Heart of social science (2 of 6)
- Critical thinking skills in government and economics (3 of 6)
- Case Study: Economics and policy of ending poverty (4 of 6)
- Critical thinking skills in action: policy analysis of ‘current events,’ past and present (US Government: 5 of 6)
- Critical thinking skills in action: economic analysis of ‘current events,’ past and present (Economics: 6 of 6)
This is the final action: students explore their interests with research, writing, and presentation to the class. At this point of the course, the previous sections from this article and my sharing of current events have opened students’ minds that the world they thought existed in government and economics was a fairy tale believed by the ignorant. This conclusion is justified from the objective and independently verifiable facts, and young-adult confidence that they really do know some things more powerfully than adults (please recall this fact from when we were their ages).
This last project for student research, writing, and class presentation is divided into four parts:
This is 5.2:
4. A revealing current event of our United States: MCA
In our world of the present, you face demanding political issues that challenge the heart of what it means to be an American. These issues include the legislated end for all people of habeas corpus (right to challenge an arrest as unlawful and be freed) and replacing it with indefinite detention at the government’s dictate in the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA).
The basic legal meaning of MCA is this: the Executive Branch now has legal authority to say any person is an “unlawful enemy combatant” (a designation invented for this act). MCA removes nearly every imaginable protection from unchallengeable and endless dictatorial imprisonment. The government has explicit authority under MCA to detain any person forever without charge of a crime, not provide an attorney until trial through tribunal (if the government chooses to prosecute rather than hold in prison for as long as they choose), consider as legal evidence any confessions extracted through “enhanced interrogation techniques” (this is the same term Nazi Germany used for their torture that would leave no marks: Verschärfte Vernehmung), not disclose evidence against the declared “enemy” but only a summary of the evidence (that means the government could say they have video of you planning to blow-up the school because you’ve chosen a career path as a professional terrorist, never show the video for “national security” reasons, but give the court a written description of the video. This would be considered legal evidence under MCA, and not subject to your challenge of its authenticity), appoint an attorney for you of their choosing, and have you tried by a three person military tribunal selected by the same Executive Branch that accused you of being an enemy combatant. Your sentence can include death. MCA text allows this to be applied to “persons;” which means American citizens:
“DETERMINATION OF UNLAWFUL ENEMY COMBATANT STATUS DISPOSITIVE.—A finding, whether before, on, or after the date of the enactment of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal or another competent tribunal established under the authority of the President or the Secretary of Defense that a person is an unlawful enemy combatant is dispositive for purposes of jurisdiction for trial by military commission under this chapter.”
“Dispositive” in law means “providing a final resolution,” and “having control over an outcome.”
The US updated MCA in 2009, but the current status has become even more tragic-comic. The US now claims legal right that if a US president so dictates, American citizens are targeted for assassination by US military. President Obama authorized a list of American citizens to be killed, with the first assassination reported on September 30, 2011. The term for this policy is extrajudicial assassination (1).
“Let that sink in. The U.S. presidency, supposed leader of the free world, has a clandestine committee that chooses American citizens to assassinate. This from the administration that promised unprecedented transparency and a ratcheting back of Bush-era civil liberties abuses. This from the president who vowed to restore habeas corpus and subject executive war powers to judicial scrutiny. This from the Nobel Peace Prize laureate. … For generations much of the world has been under the spell of the lie of American democracy, the propaganda that the brutality of power politics can be tempered through elections and an eloquent piece of parchment.” (2)
Congressman Ron Paul asks a poignant question:
“What if the media becomes a threat?… This is the way this works. It’s incrementalism.” (3)
American journalists and citizens were imprisoned for even questioning America’s full-scale war in WW1 (We’ll consider later the 10-year prison sentence forced upon the Socialist Party’s presidential candidate for asking Americans to voice their stand on the war with their votes). Under MCA and authorized assassination today, leading American voices challenging current wars can be locked-up and killed at will for “supporting terrorism.”
And here is a 4-minute video comparing the policy of assassinating American citizens, or any person, versus the text of the US Constitution (5). The US also passed NDAA 2012 (6) that repeats MCA language that ends habeas corpus for any person so designated by unilateral dictatorial decree of the executive branch.
In contrast, the Declaration of Independence emphasizes unalienable rights for everyone from our Creator, that it is the function of government to secure those rights rather than “in your face” explicitly legislate to destroy those rights, and that government only derives its power from the consent of the governed.
The US Constitution is the rules of US government; that is, the promises by government to the public for the limits of its authority. The essential term, “limited government,” means the boundaries beyond which government action becomes unlawful, and the Enlightenment’s philosophical response to end unlimited government through claimed divine rights from kings. “Limited government” is codified in the US Constitution’s 9th and 10th Amendments (7).
The US Constitution is the legal definition of what it means to “be” American, and provides a form of limited government called “constitutional republic.” That means government power is strictly limited by what is said in its constitution.
It’s explicit under this form of government that if officials act beyond Constitutional limits of authority that they face impeachment and/or arrest.
Indeed, it was from English violation of the 1689 “Bill of Rights” that Americans petitioned their government for restoration, and then revolted when King and Parliament refused to uphold rights that were crystal-clear in letter and intent (here for Jefferson’s argument in A summary view of the rights of British America). The specific violations included no representation in Parliament and no vote for taxation, a standing army on American soil, open-ended search warrants, mercantilism that acted as a de facto tax transferring wealth from Americans to a British oligarchy of politicians and insider merchants, and attempting to remove the people’s arms in militias for their defense that were paid and managed by local taxes.
The US Constitution provides detailed rights to all “persons” in the US Bill of Rights from prosecution by the US federal government. These rights include freedom of speech and press without fear of being declared an enemy of the state, freedom from searches unless government obtains a specific warrant from a judge upon probable cause of having committed a crime, right to juries of one’s peers (both a Grand Jury to examine the evidence before a trial, and then to determine the facts of the case for innocence or guilt), freedom from helping the government’s case through one’s own testimony, a speedy and public jury trial, being informed of the government’s charges of alleged crimes, freedom to engage directly with government evidence and witnesses, immediate right to attorney representation, no excessive bail, and no torture.
Again, and as always: the above summaries of MCA and the promises guaranteed under the US Constitution is my professional understanding of the objective facts. I actively discourage anyone from believing what I say, and actively encourage everyone to look to the evidence for verification. I welcome any refutation of my claims.
If my summary of MCA is correct, this is a big deal. Please allow its meaning to penetrate: Unless you want to make the argument that the words of the MCA paragraph I’ve provided or the word “assassination” mean something other than what they say, this means that the US Constitution no longer applies if the president or SecDef (Secretary of Defense) dictate.
Again, US Constitutional rights define “being American.” When a government is no longer limited by the laws in its constitution, we have to change its description from “constitutional republic” to another term. In this case, because MCA applies whenever a leader says so/dictates, that is the exact definition of a dictatorship. In at least this area of law, the US is far closer to fascism than a constitutional republic.
But let me make this distinction even sharper: If we’re basing our American government on what the President/leader says rather than limitations of clear law, such as the dictates of a leader to apply Verschärfte Vernehmung or other MCA provisions, there is another analogous German word for the “leader” doing the dictating: the German word for “leader” is fuhrer.
Am I exaggerating, or is the explanation of MCA you’ve just read an accurate description of what kind of law it is, and the meaning when MCA removes Constitutional limits from abusive dictatorial power?
While more Republicans supported MCA than Democrats, this legislation is possible only with the ongoing support of Democratic Party leadership (for example, see this curious statement (8) by President Obama on his vote for MCA).
Do you really think that the American public would have supported MCA if the Democratic Party leadership clearly communicated what MCA does, and its explicit language that includes Americans in the removal of virtually all Constitutional rights?
And where is US corporate media to explain this??? Am I correct that MCA is news to you?
Feeling any cognitive dissonance yet?
This is what I mean by the title of this assignment: Critical thinking skills in real-world action.
I’m spending some time asking you to think about this because the idea that the US government can willfully destroy its own constitution is new for most people, but absolutely proved by the facts and repeated time and again in our history. Let me provide a snippet of history with Abraham Lincoln’s first encounter with the destruction of our own Constitution when a US president and the majority of Congress chose to steal land through waging a War of Aggression.
“At first blush, a man is not capable of reporting truth; he must be drenched and saturated with it first.” – Henry David Thoreau, I to myself: an annotated selection from the journal of Henry D. Thoreau, 1837.
Thoreau, like Abraham Lincoln in a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives recognized the claimed “reasons” for a “defensive war” against Mexico were obvious lies when inspected. Lincoln:
“I carefully examined the President’s messages, to ascertain what he himself had said and proved upon the point. The result of this examination was to make the impression, that taking for true, all the President states as facts, he falls far short of proving his justification; and that the President would have gone farther with his proof, if it had not been for the small matter, that the truth would not permit him… Now I propose to try to show, that the whole of this, — issue and evidence — is, from beginning to end, the sheerest deception.”
And Lincoln in a letter to his law partner:
“Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purpose, and you allow him to make war at pleasure. Study to see if you can fix any limit to his power in this respect, after having given him so much as you propose. If to-day he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him, — “I see no probability of the British invading us”; but he will say to you, “Be silent: I see it, if you don’t.””
The US taking Texas as a state was in direct violation of the Adams-Onís Treaty that guaranteed all the land that is now the Southwest US to forever belong to Mexico (signed in 1819 with Spain, and formally transferred to Mexico in 1831). The border was the Sabine River, between modern-day Texas and Louisiana. Lincoln attempted to force President Polk to report to Congress and answer several pointed and brilliantly-worded questions from Lincoln that would prove Polk’s claimed “border dispute” was really 400 miles into agreed-upon land of Mexico.
I invite you to read Lincoln’s “Spot Resolutions” for yourself as an example of why Lincoln is considered to be one of the most brilliant writers in all American history.
Thoreau refused to pay his taxes to support the unlawful war, and was jailed. Despite Lincoln having all the facts on his side, because the president, majority of Congress, and majority of the press wanted this war as an expression of the racist “Manifest Destiny,” Lincoln didn’t have the votes to pass the Spot Resolutions. In fact, Lincoln was called “unpatriotic” and “Spotty” in derision by both parties’ “leadership” and the press.
Lincoln became so unpopular from these intentional lies and propaganda that he had no chance for re-election.
A treaty is the “Supreme law of the land” in Article Six of the US Constitution. In this case, when a US president and Congress had the votes to violate a treaty and the Constitution in order to take land and resources, they lied, went to war, and took the land and resources.
The war killed over 50,000 Mexicans and over 5,000 Americans, and is a clear historical precedent for US “leadership” to choose lies, dictatorship, and War of Aggression rather than truth, limited government under the law, and peace.
Although this history of the Mexican-American War is uncontroversially factual and as far as I’m aware undisputed among professional historians, corporate media-published high school textbooks will only state that the causes of war were a “border dispute” and repeat President Polk’s claims that Mexico invaded the US with “American blood shed on American soil.”
This is a massive lie of omission and commission to not communicate at least the preceding few paragraphs.
If your text explained that a US President was the war-mongering liar that Lincoln explained in his speech and documented in the Spot Resolutions, and that Congress voted in criminal complicity to shred a US treaty, lie to the American public about who invaded whom, and be guilty of war-murdering tens of thousands of human beings, would you look at current US wars from the benefit of that accurate history?
And yes, an area for you to consider in this policy analysis assignment is whether current US wars are also a choice of leadership to lie, dictate, and invade other countries in unlawful Wars of Aggression that violate treaties and the Constitution.
That’s a daunting, but powerfully important issue to factually command. The skills of this assignment are meant to allow you competence to quickly and accurate command such facts.
Perhaps related, our 18 years of experience in RESULTS working with three US presidents, two UN Summits, and leadership of both parties, we found that “leadership” reneged on each and every public and private promise to end poverty.
And just as US corporate media will not walk you through the fact that US war with Mexico in 1846 was in direct treaty violation (in analysis of current US wars or in your textbooks), US corporate media refused to interview us at RESULTS and/or expose US political leadership failure to fulfill their promises to end poverty.
Your assignment, “The economics of ending poverty,” was a case study on the importance, costs and benefits, and politics of that issue that kills a million children every month from preventable poverty. Our findings of why US “leadership” reject ending poverty are consistent with the testimonies of former IMF Chief Economist Simon Johnson (9), former World Bank Chief Economist and Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz (10) (and here) (11), former Chief Economist John Perkins, and most effectively shown in a 3-minute video (12) from the group “Renegade Economist” and a 2-minute video (13) of John Perkins: US political and economic leadership prefer to retain an imperialist/Robber Baron mentality and policies to take as much as they can for themselves, say that it’s legal and “good for everybody,” buy media coverage to say the same, and hope they can get away with it. Johnson, Stiglitz, and Perkins have all authored multiple bestselling books to explain and document their findings of how this works.
The point of Abraham Lincoln, Thoreau, and testimony regarding ending poverty is not to illicit your belief in those conclusions. It is to provide facts and analysis omitted from most American’s consideration from politicians and media. Its purpose is to empower you to:
- Allow the facts to lead your analysis of policy; not the rhetoric of politicians and media.
- Allow the facts of history to provide best context to understand the present.
- Once you have the most comprehensive set of facts through use of critical thinking skills, to reflect upon the meaning of the data, and discover/develop your unique, powerful, and beautiful voices of citizenry.
As the Romans simply stated in their understanding of law under a constitutional republic (before it devolved into dictatorship and purchased politicians): res ipsa loquitur: the facts tell the story.
Now that I’ve hopefully accomplished my objective to have you spend some time considering what MCA says, what it means, and open your inquiry with a touch of vitally important and “game-changing” history that’s right there for anyone to verify that the California Framework’s admonitions of the fragility of democratic institutions and the importance of your competent citizenry mean exactly what they say: let’s move onto our second and last example of a really important current event.
5. Revealing current event: waterboarding and its reporting by corporate media
Let’s briefly consider allegations of US torture to detainees/claimed “unlawful enemy combatants.” Remember, a “detainee” hasn’t been charged with a crime; the person’s habeas corpus right has been destroyed, and the US government currently claims authority to imprison the detainee indefinitely or simply assassinate anyone claimed to be a “terrorist.”
The US applies interrogation techniques to “unlawful enemy combatants/terrorists” that all previous case law found were torture. For example, President Bush and Vice President Cheney have both admitted to authorizing “waterboarding,” (14) found by courts to be unlawful violation of rights and/or torture in all previous case law in the US and internationally (15).
When previous US courts are unanimous in their findings, (16) that means the legal definition of an act is absolutely certain. In this case, waterboarding, or more accurately “controlled drowning,” is unconstitutional.
The US Constitution expressly forbids cruel punishment in the 8th Amendment. United States Federal Law forbids torture under Code 18 section 2340. The US is bound by several treaties to never torture: the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (legally defining the meaning of the UN Charter treaty, and the most-translated document in world history), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (an interesting study of the US saying one thing and doing the opposite), the Geneva Conventions, and the UN Convention Against Torture.
Importantly, these laws do not say there are exceptions to allow torture; that is, the torturer cannot use the specious “ticking time bomb” excuse that torture was required to save lives. For example, one US treaty to end torture is the UN Convention Against Torture. It states under Article 2: (17)
“No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”
Convention III of the Geneva Conventions defines torture in Article 3 as, “outrages upon human dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment.”
The US refused the UN’s request to inspect the US prison at Guantanamo Bay to evaluate claims of torture (18). The US refused to release to the press the International Red Cross’ findings of the treatment of detainees (19).
The US claims under MCA that the US can remove all protections of persons under interrogation: US Constitution, Geneva Convention, and other applicable treaties. This is in Orwellian contradiction to the US Constitution being the definition of American law (and what it means to “defend America”) and in Article 6 that US treaties are the “Supreme Law of the Land.” The word “supreme” means “highest in rank or authority…greatest, utmost…last or final.”
So let’s pause and digest this. It is as simple, I assert, as our baseball analogy of a runner being out at first base by twenty feet, and an umpire/announcer conspiracy trying to get away with the lie of calling the runner safe. Let’s look:
- By any and all understanding of professional legal practice, waterboarding is defined in the present as unlawful and/or torture because it was so determined in all previous cases.
- The US has legally bound itself in its Constitution, Federal Law, and four treaties to never torture.
- Presidents Bush and Obama, along with corresponding leaders, claim that upon their unquestionable word that someone is a “terrorist,” those laws no longer apply.
- When government is no longer limited by law, that form of government is no longer a Constitutional Republic. Government based upon what the leader says at any given time is the very definition of dictatorship.
- US corporate media does not clearly explain the above legal facts. I mean, this issue is also news to you, yes?
Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney are welcome to argue for waterboarding’s reclassification as a legal practice, of course, but the legally-demanded place under a constitutional republic is in a Federal criminal courtroom, not book or speaking tours earning tens of millions (20).
For an expert legal analysis, you might consider Jonathan Turley, voted among the editors of the American Bar Association Journal as having the US’ top legal blog: (21)
“The United States has a clear obligation to prosecute those responsible for our torture program. However, President Obama has promised to block any investigation of torturers and has stopped any investigation of those who ordered the war crime.”
This would be as if the school principal’s son were a student here and would take tests while having notes on his desk with the test’s content and answers. We know that in all previous “case law” that when a student is caught taking a test with notes that contain test content, that is called “cheating.” However, the principal, son, teacher, and local media call it an “enhanced studying technique,” that while controversial, is necessary for school security against terror-tests that might infiltrate the school from people who hate education. They say this with a straight face. You know that if you did what the principal’s son did, it’s cheating and you’re busted.
Let’s consider US corporate media’s “reporting” in more detail. This is essential because if American’s access to accurate information is compromised by government propaganda, then Americans will not have easy access to the facts. This is what the California Framework means when it asks you to guard against propaganda. Doing so requires your real-world critical thinking skills.
“Torture at Times: Waterboarding in the Media,” a paper published from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government that studied the US’ four most-read newspapers, found from the 1930s to 2004 that The New York Times reported waterboarding as torture 82% of the time, and The Los Angeles Times did so 96%. After stories broke that the US was waterboarding “detainees” in current US wars, the papers’ reporting of waterboarding as torture dropped to 1% and 5%, respectfully. In addition, after the US admitted to waterboarding, The Wall Street Journal called it torture in just 1 of 63 articles (2%), and USA Today never called it torture.
You should ask and answer: is this legal issue of torture really this objectively clear? Although I’m perfectly free to assert the preceding as facts, you’re perfectly free to determine the facts, their meaning, and what we should do about it for yourself. In professional academics, these factual claims lead to an obvious next move: anyone is welcome to refute the claimed facts to help public understanding on this issue.
But wait, there’s more.
We have verified history of official government propaganda having infiltrated corporate media. The Church Senate Committee hearings had the cooperation of CIA Director William Colby’s testimony that over 400 CIA operatives were controlling US corporate media (22) reporting on specific issues of national interest in what they called Operation Mockingbird. This stunning testimony was then confirmed by Pulitzer Prize reporter Carl Bernstein’s research (23) and reporting. Of course, corporate media refused to publish Bernstein’s article and it became the cover-story for Rolling Stone. For a 13-minute video that includes the President of CBS admitting that their news agency accepted and communicated CIA-generated and planted stories, the CIA Director admitting to the Senate that this is true, examples of widely-reported “news” stories that were total lies from the CIA to foment war support from the US public, watch here (24).
So which conclusion seems most plausible to you:
- US corporate media stopped calling waterboarding “torture” because leading and professional reporters of law somehow forgot or found basic legal definitions based on case law no longer important. I like to characterize this as the “Homer Simpson” or “SpongeBob defense.”
- US corporate media were ordered to change their reporting. Professional writers in law are very aware of looking at case law, and independent legal experts they interview affirm this as basic legal analysis especially when case law is unanimous in verdicts. It’s impossible to explain this removal of reporting waterboarding as legally-defined torture unless the corporate media editors made that conscious decision.
Corporate media won’t report the following polling data, but the American public have noticed something is very wrong with their “news” both as reported by government and regular media.
In 2010, only one in five Americans reported trust and satisfaction with their government (25) (and here ). In 2014, Gallup reported (27) Americans’ confidence in Congress at the historic low of 7%, while 7% reported their confidence level at “none” and half as “very little.”
Americans also perceive corporate media disinformation and are rejecting their “reporting.” According to a 2007 poll by the Pew Research Center (28), the majority of the American public see the US major media news organizations as politically biased, inaccurate, and uncaring. Among those who use the Internet, two-thirds report that major media news do not care about the people they report on, 59% say the news is inaccurate, 64% see bias, and 53% summarize their view on major media news as, “failing to stand up for America.” In their 2009 poll (29), “just 29% of Americans say that news organizations generally get the facts straight, while 63% say that news stories are often inaccurate.” Gallup’s 2014 poll (30) recorded the lowest ever US public confidence in accurate news reporting from corporate media’s television news: 18%.
A June 2010 Rasmussen poll (31) found 66% of voters “angry” at the media, with 33% “very angry.” Rasmussen also found 70% “angry” at current federal government policies. The most current Gallup poll in 2012 (32) shows Americans’ distrust at an all-time high in the reporting from “mass media — such as newspapers, TV, and radio”: 60% have either “not very much” trust and confidence or “none at all” to “reporting the news fully, accurately, and fairly.”
A possible genesis of oligarchic control of American major media was reported in the US Congressional Record in 1917 (33). US Congressperson Oscar Callaway claimed evidence that J.P. Morgan had purchased editorial control over 25 of the nation’s most influential publications in order to create public support for US entry into World War 1 and his new banking legislative victory: creation of the Federal Reserve system. Mr. Callaway’s colleagues voted down an official investigation.
Related corporate reporting history is summarized and documented in this brief article, “The news media at war (34).”
Our experience as lobbyists with RESULTS is in agreement that US corporate media would severely distort reporting on ending poverty and microcredit. For example, we were a leading voice for the creation of the 1990 World Summit for Children, the largest meeting of heads of state in world history. The purpose of the Summit was nations’ agreement to end poverty once and for all, forever. The developed nations would fund the work to accomplish the Summit’s goals with just 0.7% of their incomes. This would save a million children’s lives every month, with the history strongly projecting that proven strategies would end poverty everywhere on earth within ten years. And in every historical instance of ending poverty, population growth rates decrease and end the problem of over-population.
Largest meeting of heads of state in world history?!
Saving a million children’s lives EVERY month?!
And the investment is just 0.7% of our income, while reducing population growth rates in every historical case?!
Whoa! That’s front-page news, yes?
The only article I can find in 2011 is representative of the US corporate media coverage: The New York Times covered the Summit in the “Education” section way in the back of the paper, only for that one day as I recall, and only on the last day of the Summit. Corporate media refused invitations from RESULTS and similar organizations for interviews about the Summit, and then ongoingly refused our requests for follow-up reporting when the US reneged on their promises to end poverty. Here’s the headline:
WORLD SUMMIT FOR CHILDREN; World’s Leaders Gather at U.N. for Summit Meeting on Children
By PAUL LEWIS, Special to The New York Times
Published: September 30, 1990
Look at the New York Times front page today and see where their “Education” section is at the left column of their main topics for news. This is a listing of topics by importance:
Let’s do some analysis on the choice of reporting of the NYT. The article title was, “WORLD SUMMIT FOR CHILDREN; World’s Leaders Gather at U.N. for Summit Meeting on Children”. Along with burying the story after cartoons, corrections, and games, they chose a headline that omits the point of saving millions of lives and that this is the largest meeting of heads of state in the history of planet Earth, not just some ambiguous “leaders.” The article discusses the investment to end poverty only as costing “more money” and lies in omission that it’s less than one percent of US income. It reports that the meeting will cause “headaches” for planners, and traffic jams for everyone in New York City. It then reports the non-story that because such a meeting cost $5 million to create that “some people” might criticize the Summit (we never heard that complaint or could imagine anyone making it). The “reporting” ends by repeating that this “meeting” of a “long list of goals” will cost more money than is currently being spent.
This choice of reporting was AFTER our continuous communications with the NYT to report on the facts. For an example of what we offered NYT for factual understanding, preview the assignment we’ll do that’s also one of my published articles, Economics of ending poverty: 0.7% of GNI is all it takes. An example:
The total deaths from poverty in the last 15 years is conservatively greater than from all wars, revolutions, murders, accidents, and suicides in the 20th century. In the past 20 years, the total deaths from poverty probably eclipse all the above categories of death in all known human history. Make sure you get this: in your lifetime of a high school Senior, human beings have allowed other people in poverty, mostly helpless children under the age of five, to die before our eyes in numbers greater than all of the catastrophic events in our history books.
Ask and answer for yourself: is this NYT article on the World Summit for Children they buried deep in the paper, and only reported on the day of the event, an example of professional and comprehensive reporting on our most important issues? Is saving a million children’s lives every month such a non-story, or was NYT reporting on this issue intentionally manipulated to under-inform, dis-inform, and keep this topic away from the attention of Americans? Indeed, is this an “in your face” lie of omission to both distract from the main facts and place it after the comics?
If the second explanation makes more sense to you, does this propaganda continue to our present because the NYT continues its non-reporting of our power to save a million children’s lives every month, and that since the 1990 Summit more people have died from preventable poverty than all the wars and categories of violent death in all recorded human history?
I think that 95% of Americans would prefer to understand the facts of how we can end poverty with less than one percent of our income, and for less than ten percent of what we spend on our military every year. The polling data (35) included in my article on ending poverty affirm this interest of the American public.
But wait, there’s more. That was the first of two UN Summits for heads of state we worked with.
RESULTS led the work for the 1997 Microcredit Summit, also for heads of state. Microcredit is so effective at ending poverty (and it’s profitable) it was the topic of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. When we received identical US corporate media coverage (and worse lies and reneged promises from political leadership), I shifted my lobbying for the end of poverty to economic research in order to “follow the money.” That’s led to my current use of my “hobby time” (I work as a teacher, remember) to research, write, and lobby for monetary and financial reforms with principal projects of national monetary reform (36) and state-owned banks (37) for at-cost credit.
Btw, here’s how the New York Times is covering what’s happening as a “current event” as I write: the Occupy Wall Street event that directly concerns monetary and financial reforms:
And here (38) is a 14-second video showing the police apparently leading the protesters onto the bridge. This video is prima facie evidence that the police may be guilty of entrapment. So it appears that the NYT is not merely correcting an error they discovered. Indeed, any correction should have reported on the possibility of entrapment. The NYT seems to be choosing to lie in omission in order to demonize this protest, don’t you think?
Remember: don’t believe anything. I’m asking you to develop the critical thinking skills to evaluate factual claims for yourself. I’m telling you what you already know: res ipsa loquitur, roughly that facts speak for themselves. Please don’t accept my words any more than you’d accept the word of a member of Congress, a US President, or US corporate media reporting.
6. Past “current events”: Native American treaties, Mexican-American War
Let’s discuss some history of past “current events,” then I’ll let you go to work with your research on one of these controversial issues to determine for yourself the key facts, what they mean, and what policy we should adopt as a nation.
We need to understand history or we literally don’t know anything. As you know from everyday life encounters with enjoying relationships with friends, following your favorite sports teams, and even playing video games: it’s only from studying history (what happened) that we’re informed and empowered to act intelligently in the present.
Let’s make sure we understand the power of knowing history: We enjoy our friends by discussing recent history of events, interpret what they mean, and create interesting strategies to move forward in our various life projects. For sports we look at statistics (historical performance) to scout our opponents and understand important aspects of performing well in the present and future. In video games, we learn from failures and successes how to move forward. Indeed, with mastery of history we become increasingly competent in our actions in the present.
Therefore, to understand US current events, part of our strategy MUST include an understanding of key past current events.
Although the following history of some of the US’ most important “current events” is non-controversial for factual accuracy as far as I know, most Americans have received a “Disney-like” view of them. I credit the US’ best-known professional historian, Howard Zinn, for his enormous contribution to counter corporate media and corporate textbook’s Disneyfication of US history in his bestselling book, A people’s history of the United States. Mr. Zinn’s book is usual reading in college and AP US History courses (and increasing numbers of regular high school US History and middle schools with an adapted version), was the 1980 runner-up for the US “National Book Award”, and has sold over one million copies. It was last updated in 2005.
Therefore, the following history that may be new to you is essential to at least counter the lies of omission and/or romanticized view you’ve already received, and may even be the far more accurate history. You’re welcome to research any of the following for extra credit, of course.
“The only thing new in the world is the history you don’t know.” – President Harry Truman, Plain Speaking: An Oral Biography of Harry S. Truman (1974) by Merle Miller, pg. 26.
Historically, we know that concern for abuse in US Domestic Policy has been justified. For nearly one hundred years, our government chose not to enforce Constitutional Amendments for the protection of African Americans. Lawful political dissent against US participation in WW I was crushed under the Espionage Act of 1917 (39) and the Sedition Act of 1918. American citizens of Japanese ancestry had their Constitutional rights rescinded in WW II when they were ordered to internment camps (40).
In US foreign policy, the US removed Native Americans from treatied lands in apparent prima facie violations of most of ~600 treaties (41). When Native Americans argued for their treatied rights and won in the Supreme Court Case Worcester v. Georgia (42) in 1832, US President Andrew Jackson refused the decision. The resultant forced military removals in the “Trail of Tears” (43) killed ~4,000; most from the forced march during winter without provision of adequate supplies to prevent death by freezing. The legal classification of this act is murder. Because both political parties and most media supported the removal, this treaty violation and mass-murder was possible.
Please recall the California State Framework’s warning of the fragility of democratic institutions.
The 1869 Board of Indian Commissioners appointed by President Grant made this stunning report (44) from their “full power to examine all matters appertaining to the conduct of Indian affairs.” Please read the following five paragraphs in light of the current fear-mongering against Muslims in current US wars and today’s media coverage:
“The history of the border white man’s connection with the Indians is a sickening record of murder, outrage, robbery, and wrongs committed by the former as the rule, and occasional savage outbreaks and unspeakably barbarous deeds of retaliation by the latter as the exception.
The class of hardy men on the frontier who represent the highest type of the energy and enterprise of the American people, and are just and honorable in their sense of moral obligation and their appreciations of the rights of others, have been powerless to prevent these wrongs, and have been too often the innocent sufferers from the Indians’ revenge.
That there are many good men on the border is a subject of congratulation, and the files of the Indian Bureau attest that among them are found some of the most earnest remonstrants against the evils we are compelled so strongly to condemn. The testimony of some of the highest military of officers of the United States is on record to the effect that, in our Indian wars, almost without exception, the first aggressions have been made by the white man, and the assertion is supported by every civilian of reputation who has studied the subject.
In addition to the class of robbers and outlaws who find impunity in their nefarious pursuits upon the frontiers, there is a large class of professedly reputable men who use every means in their power to bring on Indian wars, for the sake of the profit to be realized from the presence of troops and the expenditure of government funds in their midst. They proclaim death to the Indians at all times, in words and publications, making no distinction between the innocent and the guilty. They incite the lowest class of men to the perpetuation of the darkest deeds against their victims, and, as judges and jurymen, shield them from the justice due to their crimes. Every crime committed by a white man against an Indian is concealed or palliated; every offense committed by one Indian against a white man is borne on the wings of the post or the telegraph to the remotest corner of the land, clothed with all the horrors which the reality or imagination can throw around it. Against such influences as these the people of the United States need to be warned. The murders, robberies, drunken riots, and outrages perpetuated by Indians in time of peace taking into consideration the relative population of the races on the frontier do not amount to a tithe of the number of like crimes committed by white men in the border settlements and towns. Against the inhuman idea that the Indian is only fit to be exterminated, and the influence of the men who propagate it, the military arm of the government cannot be too strongly guarded.
It is hardly to be wondered at that inexperienced officers, ambitious for distinction, when surrounded by such influences, have been incited to attack Indian bands without adequate cause, and involve the nation in an unjust war. It should, at least, be understood that in the future such blunders should cost the officer his commission, and that such destruction is an infamy.”
Let’s move from the Indian Wars to further consideration of the Mexican-American War (45). This war is vitally important to understand because it sets the precedent of a US president lying, violating clear treaty, and the US stealing resources at the expense of thousands of deaths of US soldiers, and many multiples of those deaths of the people we attacked. Then, as today, the majority of Americans believed their “leaders” in ignorance of the facts, and without media’s coverage of clear voices like Abraham Lincoln’s to explain the facts.
The US invaded Mexico in 1846 despite it being a clear treaty violation and upon clear lies of US President Polk: “American blood shed upon the American soil.” (46) The result of the war was the US taking 40% of Mexico’s land. Although historians note that freshman member of Congress Abraham Lincoln was/is correct that the president lied and violated a treaty with criminal complicity of Congress, both parties’ and media propaganda allowed the war to move forward without criminal prosecution. The House of Representatives had enough votes to censure the president for, “a war unnecessarily and unconstitutionally begun by the President of the United States” (47), but not to impeach. Btw: I’m unaware of any historian’s rational challenge to this history, despite the lies of omission you’ll read in corporate media textbooks today.
But don’t believe any expert or me; use your critical thinking skills. This is as easy as our baseball rule analogy that when a person knows the rule when a runner is safe or out at first base, there’s no need to ask anyone. If you know that:
- a treaty is defined in Article Six of the US Constitution as the “Supreme Law of the Land,”
- the US had the Adams-Onís Treaty with Mexico (originally with Spain and formally transferred to Mexico in 1831; map here) in crystal-clear language regarding the areas of the now Southwest US (including Texas with all the “border dispute” lands because the Sabine River between Louisiana and today’s Texas was the agreed border): “The two high contracting parties agree to cede and renounce all their rights, claims, and pretensions to the territories described by the said line, that is to say: The United States hereby cede to His Catholic Majesty, and renounce forever, all their rights, claims, and pretensions, to the territories lying west and south of the above-described line; and, in like manner, His Catholic Majesty cedes to the said United States all his rights, claims, and pretensions to any territories east and north of the said line, and for himself, his heirs, and successors, renounces all claim to the said territories forever.”
- Therefore, the US Supreme Law was to forever recognize Texas and the now Southwest as Mexico’s land.
In baseball, you can (and do) say, “I know where first base is. I know when a runner is clearly safe or out at first base.” In this “current event” of life and death from our past, you can and should say, “I know what a treaty means. I know what a border means. I know when the US is 400 miles over the border that was defined in a treaty that they’re obviously into Mexico and not on American soil.” You may even artistically add, “Duh.”
Perhaps this famous quote makes better sense now:
“Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
- George Santayana, The Life of Reason, Vol. 1.
Note: Examiner.com has blocked public access to my articles on their site (and from other whistleblowers). Some links in my articles are therefore now blocked. If you’d like to search for those articles other sites may have republished, use words from the article title within the blocked link. Or, go to http://archive.org/web/, paste the expired link into the box, click “Browse history,” click onto the screenshots of that page for each time it was screen-shot and uploaded to webarchive. Then switch the expired URLs with webarchived ones of that same information. I’ll update as “hobby time” allows; including my earliest work from 2009 to 2011 (blocked author pages: here, here).
Among many: Marjorie Cohn. The targeted assassination of Osama bin Laden. May 9, 2011: http://www.marjoriecohn.com/2011/05/targeted-assassination-of-osama-bin.html , Greenwald, G. Presidential assassinations of U.S. citizens. Jan. 27, 2010: http://uruknet.com/index.php?p=m62651&hd=&size=1&l=e , Examiner.com. Herman, C. Official US policy: kill American citizens when President/Fuhrer declares them “terrorists”. Jan. 29, 2010: http://web.archive.org/web/20140722194638/http://www.examiner.com/article/official-us-policy-kill-american-citizens-when-president-fuhrer-declares-them-terrorists , Salon.com. The due-process-free assassination of U.S. citizens is now reality. Greeenwald, G. Sep 30, 2011.
2 Global Research. Obama’s very real death panel: the CIA’s assassination program. Gregory, A. Oct. 7, 2011: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=26984
3 Mail Online. C.I.A. could begin assassinating journalists claims Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul. Miller, D. Oct. 6, 2011: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2045898/C-I-A-begin-assassinating-journalists-claims-Republican-presidential-hopeful-Ron-Paul.html
4 Revolutionary Politics tv. When the president can kill who ever he wants: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnem1Ohm3Q0 and Revolutionary Politics tv. “The president signs a piece of paper & it’s a death sentence”: http://revolutionarypolitics.tv/video/viewVideo.php?video_id=16284
5 Revolutionary Politics tv. The plain truth about executive assassination. Judge Napolitano’s Freedom Watch. Oct. 3, 2011: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZONhXnHg0Y
6 Global Research. The suspension of habeas corpus in America. Paye, J. Nov. 14, 2012.
7 Among many: Revolutionary War and beyond. The 10th Amendment: http://www.revolutionary-war-and-beyond.com/10th-amendment.html
8 The White House. Statement of President Barack Obama on Military Commissions. May 15, 2009.
9 Project Syndicate. Did the poor cause the crisis? Johnson, S. Jan. 19, 2011.
10 The Independent. Joseph Stiglitz: It takes more than free trade to end poverty. Feb. 3, 2006.
11 Project Syndicate. The end of the beginning of ending poverty. Stiglitz, J. July 7, 2005.
12 Renegade economist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1FkTTGCBVw .
13 Created by Studio Joho: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNXbzltfBjE .
14 To understand waterboarding, you can watch leading journalist Christopher Hitchens get waterboarded: Watch Christopher Hitchens get waterboarded (Vanity Fair): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LPubUCJv58 .
15 This story was opened by ABC News. Sources: top Bush advisors approved ‘enhanced interrogation.’ Greenburg, J.C., Rosenberg, H.L., deVogue, A. April 9, 2008: http://abcnews.go.com/TheLaw/LawPolitics/story?id=4583256&page=1 and obvious follow-up analysis calling for prosecution (among many in alternative media) from Common Dreams. Arrest Bush: Bush confesses to Waterboarding. Call D.C. cops! Rall, T. April 30, 2008: http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/04/30/8611/ . For more current analysis, consider these entries from Washington’s Blog: Cheney admits to being War Criminal. Feb. 16, 2010: http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2010/02/cheney-admits-to-being-war-criminal.html , Obama team feared revolt if he prosecuted War Crimes. Sept. 12, 2011: http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2011/09/obama-team-feared-revolt-if-he-prosecuted-war-crimes.html , Everything you need to know about torture. March 7, 2011: http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2011/03/everything-you-need-to-know-about-torture.html
16 the link is a nice visual and list from ProCon.org. For legal discussion: Washington Post. Waterboarding used to be a crime. Wallach, E. Nov. 4, 2007: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/02/AR2007110201170.html , Washington University Law Review. Waterboarding is illegal. Huhn, W. May 10, 2008: http://lawreview.wustl.edu/slip-opinions/waterboarding-is-illegal/
17 For discussion, consider Virginia Law. U.S. may be sidestepping U.N. Convention Against Torture in War on Terror. March 20, 2003: http://www.law.virginia.edu/html/news/2003_spr/torture_ps.htm
18 BBC. US faces prison ship allegations. June 28, 2005: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4632087.stm
19 BBC. ICRC raises Guantanamo conditions. Feb. 15, 2005: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4267297.stm
20 Daily Beast. Dubya’s quiet $15 million payday. Stone, P. May 20, 2011. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/05/20/george-w-bushs-15-million-speech-payday.html
21 Jonathan Turley. London mayor tells Bush to stay out of Londontown – will international shunning become prosecution? Nov. 19, 2010: http://jonathanturley.org/2010/11/19/london-mayor-tells-bush-to-stay-out-of-londontown-will-international-shunning-become-prosecution/ Video interview with Keith Olbermann here: Informed comment. Bush could be arrested in Europe: Turley to Olbermann. Nov. 21, 2010: http://www.juancole.com/2010/11/bush-could-be-arrested-in-europe-turley-to-olbermann.html
22 And other documentation of controlled US media: Examiner.com. Prostitution “journalism”: Yup, mainstream media is intentional propaganda. Accept the evidence. Herman, C. Nov. 24, 2009.
23 The CIA and the media: How America’s most powerful news media worked hand in glove with the Central Intelligence Agency and why the Church Committee covered it up. Bernstein, C. Oct. 20, 1977.
24 Sibel Edmond’s Boiling Frogs. CIA News: A brief history of media manipulation by U.S. Intelligence. Sept. 30, 2011: http://www.boilingfrogspost.com/2011/09/30/the-eyeopener-cia-in-the-news-media-2/
25 Pew Research Center. Distrust, Discontent, Anger, and Partisan Rancor. April 18, 2010.
26 Infowars.com. Dissatisfaction with government reaches all time high. Watson, S. Sept. 26, 2011.
27 Gallup. Public faith in Congress falls again, hits historic low. Riffkin, R. June 19, 2014. http://www.gallup.com/poll/171710/public-faith-congress-falls-again-hits-historic-low.aspx
28 Pew Research Center Publications. Internet news audience highly critical of news organizations. Aug. 9, 2007.
29 Pew Research Center. Press accuracy rating hits two decade low. Sept. 13, 2009.
30 CNSNews.com. Gallup: Public confidence in TV news at all-time low. Chapman, M. June 19, 2014. http://cnsnews.com/news/article/michael-w-chapman/gallup-public-confidence-tv-news-all-time-low
31 Rasmussen reports. 66% of voters are angry at the media. June 15, 2010.
32 Gallup Politics. US distrust in media hits new high. Morales, L. Sept., 21, 2012.
33 Examiner.com. Congressional Record: JP Morgan & Co purchased all major media for propaganda: 1917. And now…? Herman, C. June 6, 2010.
34 Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth. The news media at war. Hansen, T. June 22, 2010.
35 The end of poverty: economic possibilities for our time. Sachs, J. Facts on international aid.
36 The leading organization is The American Monetary Institute. I was a speaker at two of their conferences.
37 The leading organization is the Public Banking Institute. I initiated lobbying in California for a state-owned bank.
38 Washington’s Blog. Over 700 protesters arrested on Brooklyn Bridge … claim entrapment. Oct. 2, 2011. YouTubevideo: Police Leading #OccupyWallStreet protesters onto the Brooklyn Bridge traffic lane. Oct. 1, 2011: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vz67fULXc-0&feature=player_embedded
39 In this link, Bestselling author Naomi Wolf ties this history into efforts to revive this law in the present: HuffPost. Espionage Act: How the government can engage in serious aggression against the people of the United States. Dec. 10, 2010: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/naomi-wolf/post_1394_b_795001.html
40 Explore the National Asian American Telecommunications Association’s “Exploring the Japanese American Internment through film & the Internet.
41 Yale Law School. Treaties between the United States and Native Americans. And Honor the Treaties.
42 one of many summaries: eNotes: Supreme Court Drama: Worcester v. Georgia.
43 one of many summaries: About North Georgia. The Trail of Tears.
44 The link is a summary. The full report is on page 487 of the Executive Documents publication of the House of Representatives for the Second Session of the Forty-first Congress (1869-1870): http://books.google.com/books?id=d1RHAQAAIAAJ
45 The Law Library of Congress. The Mexican War and Lincoln’s “Spot Resolutions”. Louis Fisher. Aug. 18, 2009: http://www.loc.gov/law/help/usconlaw/pdf/Mexican.war.pdf
46 U.S.-Mexican War Documents. President Polk’s special message to Congress calling for a declaration of war against Mexico.
47 Statement by Louis Fisher, Specialist in Constitutional Law for the Law Library of the Library of Congress, to the Crime Subcommittee of the House Committee on the Judiciary. July 27, 2009.