Tuesday, December 27, 2016




VIA CINDY SHEEHAN'S FB page from Christopher Casey

The Left On Green Theater presents our first Christmas song. Happy holidays to all!

Trump Christmas

I'm dreaming of a Trump Christmas 
Just like Obama used to know 
Where the missiles glisten 

And children listen
To drone bombs right before they blow.
I'm dreaming of a Trump Christmas
Just like old Hillary used to know
When we flattened Libya
And fractured tibias
For Marathon and Conoco.
I'm dreaming of a Trump Christmas
Just like George Walker used to know
When we toasted Iraqis
And handed out tchotckes
To youngsters reddish from the glow.
I'm dreaming of a Trump Christmas
Just like Bill Clinton used to know
Sanctions killed a half-million
Poor Iraqi children
Albright said that price's fine you know...
I'm dreaming of a Trump Christmas
Just like Bush Senior used to know
When we napalmed poor Baghdad
In a war where we'd brag bad,
Vietnam memories had to go.
I'm dreaming of a Trump Christmas
Just like Ron Reagan used to know
Salvador's full of commies
Let's kill us some mommies
Nuns, priests, and a bishop were kayoed.
I’m dreaming of a Trump Christmas
Just like Democrats used to know
When Repubs were the bad guys
Clinton spouted no lies
Hillary would come and save the show.
I’m dreaming of a Trump Christmas
When liberals finally get a clue
That the One Percent rule us
Get off of your school bus
And learn some history that is true.
I’m dreaming of a Trump Christmas
Pantsuit Nation gets their memo
On the U.S. Empire
Kids in that crossfire
Of oil barons killing for their dough.
I’m dreaming of a Trump Christmas
We’ll see the blood beneath the snow
From the lives that we’ve snuffed out
Finally leaving no doubt
The U.S. Empire’s got to go…
I’m dreaming of a Blest Christmas
Just like Pope Francis used to know
How to halt climate change
World peace not so strange
Earth dodging lethal carbon ammo….
I’m dreaming of a True Christmas
Just like the Christ Child used to show
If Love ruled hearts and minds
Healing all mankind
A miracle earth must undergo….
(repeat last verse once)

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Stand up for Science Rally! YAY!!!


A Very Merry Un-Christmas to You!

Found these while walking Daisy and Lilly this morning.

Isn't Nature Wonderful? 

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Friday, December 09, 2016

Sam Smith's Apology



"As we were saying 13 years ago

In keeping with our efforts to provide the news while there's still time to do something about it, thirteen years ago we not only reported on the collapse of the first American Republic, we apologized for it. In short, Donald Trump is the grim result of our problems, not the cause of them."

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

"Rasmea Odeh Gets a New Trial; TELL MCQUADE TO DROP THE CHARGES NOW!!!!"


After cancelling a November 29 Daubert hearing last week, Eastern District of Michigan Federal Judge Gershwin Drain reviewed written arguments, and ruled today that Palestinian American community organizer Rasmea Odeh will be granted a new trial.
“This is incredible news,” said Nesreen Hasan, a leader of the Rasmea Defense Committee and its lead organization, the U.S. Palestinian Community Network (USPCN). “The government has gone to great lengths to cover up the details of Israel’s torture and crimes against this mentor of mine and of so many others, this Palestinian icon. Now, the truth will finally be told, in open court.  Rasmea will be vindicated.”
Last year, Rasmea was sentenced to 18 months in prison and deportation after being convicted in 2014 of Unlawful Procurement of Naturalization, a politically-motivated immigration charge, for failing to disclose on applications for U.S. citizenship that she had been arrested decades earlier in Palestine by Israeli authorities. In February 2016, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals sent the case back to Judge Drain, saying he had wrongfully barred the testimony of a torture expert that was critical to the defense. At the original trial, Rasmea was not allowed to tell the entire story of Israel forcing her to falsely confess to alleged bombings in 1969, when she endured over three weeks of vicious sexual, physical, and psychological torture at the hands of the Israeli military.
Rasmea suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) because of this torture, which, according to her clinical psychologist, Dr. Mary Fabri (who has worked with torture survivors for 25 years, and at the world-renowned Kovler Center for the Treatment of Survivors of Torture for 12), caused her to suppress the horrible recollection of the arrest when she answered questions on her immigration application. Judge Drain excluded Fabri’s testimony from the first trial, and disallowed any evidence about the rape and torture. Today’s decision clears the way for a new trial, where this testimony can finally be heard by a jury. The judge had previously mentioned January 10, 2017, as a potential new trial date, but today’s ruling does not include a specific start.
In filings before the ruling, the government argued that Judge Drain should again exclude Fabri’s testimony, asserting that Rasmea did not have PTSD, that she was feigning her symptoms, and therefore, that her memory could not have been impacted during the immigration process. Despite recently subjecting her to 17 hours of clinical mental examination to prove these theories, the government’s own expert affirmed the diagnosis of PTSD, and reported that Rasmea was not faking any symptoms.
At the new trial next year, defense attorneys are hopeful a jury that finally gets the opportunity to hear testimony about torture and PTSD, will find Rasmea not guilty.  In the meantime, the defense committee is calling on U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade to stop wasting taxpayer money and end this travesty of justice right now–by dropping the charges now and letting Rasmea go free!
“This has been a politically-motivated case from day one,” said Frank Chapman, Field Organizer for the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression. “The whole case against Rasmea is nothing but a pretext to intimidate those who organize and struggle to realize a liberated Palestine. She has remained determined in the face of this repression, and we will continue to stand beside her. Hundreds have come out from across the country to stand with Rasmea at every hearing, and every day of her trial and appeal. These same hundreds, and thousands more, are now demanding of McQuade, ‘Drop the Charges Now!’”
Today, we celebrate another great victory in the campaign, but we won’t stop here.
TomorrowWednesday, December 7, 2016–FOR A FULL DAY, from 9 AM to 5 PM EST–please call U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade at 313-226-9100, and demand that she stop wasting taxpayer money, that she stop persecuting a woman who has given so much to U.S. society, and that she Drop the Charges Against Rasmea Now!
In the meantime, the Rasmea Defense Committee, led by USPCN and the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, urges supporters to continue to struggle for #Justice4Rasmea by donating to the defense and organizing educational events about Rasmea and the campaign in your communities. Visitwww.justice4rasmea.org or email justice4rasmea@uspcn.org to get more involved.

OBAMA Expands War In Somalia-GUESS WHY!? -- Jimmy Dore


Sunday, December 04, 2016

Watch: Fred Hampton Explains How the Ruling Class Uses Racism to Exploit Working People


Party's Are OVER! @Sane Progressive (Trump Fills Up the Swamp, Dems Appoint Wall St Puppets)


Army Corps Denies Dakota Access Pipeline Easement -- Unicorn Riot


Oceti Sakowin, ND – On Sunday afternoon, Chairman Dave Archambault II of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe announced that he had been informed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had denied the easement permit necessary for the Dakota Access Pipeline to go under the Missouri River.
An atmosphere of celebration quickly erupted at the Oceti Sakowin camp when the news was announced:
The decision was confirmed shortly later in a statement issued on the Army’s website:
The Department of the Army will not approve an easement that would allow the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe in North Dakota, the Army’s Assistant Secretary for Civil Works announced today.

Jo-Ellen Darcy said she based her decision on a need to explore alternate routes for the Dakota Access Pipeline crossing. Her office had announced on November 14, 2016 that it was delaying the decision on the easement to allow for discussions with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, whose reservation lies 0.5 miles south of the proposed crossing. Tribal officials have expressed repeated concerns over the risk that a pipeline rupture or spill could pose to its water supply and treaty rights.

“Although we have had continuing discussion and exchanges of new information with the Standing Rock Sioux and Dakota Access, it’s clear that there’s more work to do,” Darcy said. “The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing.” Darcy said that the consideration of alternative routes would be best accomplished through an Environmental Impact Statement with full public input and analysis.” – US Army Statement
North Dakota congressman Kevin Cramer issued a statement denouncing the Army Corps’s decision, saying it set a “chilling signal for infrastructure development.  Governor Jack Dalrymple was reported to have called denying the easement “a serious mistake” .

More updates coming soon.

Et tu, Bernie? "Sanders, Single Payer And Death By Democrat"


Lori Kearns is the health policy advisor to Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont).
She’s been making the rounds in recent weeks telling single payer supporters that Senator Sanders will not introduce his single payer bill into the Senate next year.
Why not?
Because party unity is more important than single payer.
Sanders apparently believes that single payer will get in the way of electing a Democratic Senate in 2018.
Wouldn’t want to confront Democratic Senate candidates with the deaths of their constituents due to Obamacare, would you?
One reason why Sanders soared during the primary was his constant refrain that we need to cover every American with a single payer health care system.
This resonated with the American people, with polls showing that three-fifths of Americans — including a majority of those who want Obamacare repealed, and even 41 percent of Republicans — favoring a “federally funded healthcare program providing insurance for all Americans.”
Translate — single payer.
Everybody in. Nobody out.
If Sanders believes it, where is the bill?
Why won’t Sanders re-introduce it in the upcoming session?
Because he is now in the Democratic leadership in the Senate — handpicked by Wall Street favorite incoming Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-New York.)
And if the Democrats say no, Sanders says no.
Call it death by Democrat.
And death by Obamacare.
Narrow networks.
High deductibles and co-pays.
Skyrocketing premiums.
Twenty nine million Americans still uninsured.
And more than 28,000 preventable deaths a year due to lack of health insurance.
All under Obamacare.
And Sanders won’t introduce his single payer bill because the Democrats tell him not to?
During the battle over Obamacare on the Hill in 2009, I asked Sanders why he was supporting Obamacare when he stood for single payer.
Sanders was a student of the difference — Obamacare controlled by the health insurance companies and written by their lobbyists — single payer a public system that cuts the health insurance companies out of the game.
Sanders looked at me, snarled, told me not to lecture him and walked away.
Goodbye single payer. Hello Chuck Schumer.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Seattle Activity for #NoDAPL at Standing Rock Heating Up!! #StandwithStandingRock

Outside the Army Corps of Engineers in Seattle on November 29, 2016.

Taking letter to the Offices of the Army Corps of Engineers.

After meeting with Army Corps Attorney and delivery of letter.
Gave them a piece of our mind and told them to DENY DAPL PERMIT!

TODAY, December 1st Day of Action at Wells Fargo Seattle. Large Rally later today at this Location.

After the inside action where a letter was delivered to Wells Fargo about DIVESTING FROM DAPL!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Friday, November 25, 2016

SEATTLE TIMES: "Feds to Close Dakota Access Pipeline Protest Camp, Say Thousands Must Move"


Thanks to lmapes@seattletimes.com. Lynda Mapes has been there and knows what is going on.


"The company started construction before it had all the permits and easement it needed to complete the $3.7 billion pipeline. It has by now built the pipeline all the way to the edges of the easement it needs from the Corps of Engineers.

The company’s battle for that easement through Corps of Engineers land is tied up in court.

Archambault wants President Obama and the Corps to rescind all permits for the pipeline and deny the easement to cross the Missouri River just 1,500 feet north of the tribe’s reservation and through the tribe’s treaty lands.

“The best way to protect people during the winter and reduce the risk of conflict between water protectors and militarized police is to deny the easement,” Archambault said. “And deny it now.”

The pipeline is planned from Bakken oil fields of North Dakota to Illinois, where it would tie in with an existing pipeline to refineries in the Midwest and on the Gulf coast.

The project was never examined under an environmental impact review but instead was approved under a fast-track process that three federal agencies have stated was not adequate."

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Day of Mourning: Statement by Leonard Peltier -- #FreeLeonardPeltier


Day of Mourning
November 24, 2016
Greetings my relatives,
Here we are again. This time the year is 2016. It has been more than 41 years since I last walked free and was able to see the sun rise and sit and feel the earth beneath my feet. I know there have been more changes then I can even imagine out there.
But I do know that there is a struggle taking place as to whether this country will move on to a more sustainable way of life. This is something we wanted to have happen back in the seventies.
I watch the events at Standing Rock with both pride and sorrow. Pride that our people and their allies are standing up and putting their lives on the line for the coming generations, not because they want to but because they have to. They are right to stand up in a peaceful way. It is the greatest gathering of our people in history and has made us more connected than ever before. We need to support each other as we make our way in these times.
Water IS life and we cannot leave this issue for our children and grandchildren to deal with when things are far worse for the natural world then they are now.
And Mother Earth is already in struggle.
And I feel sorrow for the water protectors at Standing Rock because these last few days have brought a much harsher response from the law enforcement agencies there and our people are suffering.
At least they are finally getting attention of the national media.
My home is in North Dakota. The Standing Rock people are my people. Sitting Bull lies in his grave there at Fort Yates. My home at Turtle Mountain is just a few hours north of Standing Rock, just south of Manitoba, Canada.
I have not seen my home since I was a boy, but I still hold out hope of returning there for whatever time I may have left. It is the land of my father and I would like to be able to live there again. And to die there.
I have a different feeling this year. The last time I felt this way was 16 years ago, when I last had a real chance for freedom. It is an uneasy feeling. An unsettling one. It is a hard thing to allow hope to creep into my heart and my spirit here in these cold buildings of stone and steel.
On one hand, to have hope is a joyful and wonderful feeling, but the downside of it for me can be cruel and bitter.
But today I will choose hope.
I pray that you will all enjoy good health and good feelings and I thank all of you from the bottom of my heart for all you have done and continue to do for me and for our Mother Earth.
Please keep me in your prayers and thoughts as these last days of 2016 slip away.
I send you my love and my respect for all of you who have gathered in the name of mother earth and our unborn generations. I stand with you there in spirit.
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,
Leonard Peltier

Monday, November 21, 2016

"In French Presidential Elections, It will be Marine Le Pen’s to Lose"--@RT

Neoliberals are getting bit in the butt by their unequal policies.  And so are we!


National Front (FN) leader Marie Le Pen is speaking to the issues that people are concerned about. In other words, the declining standard of living, the lack of real job creation, Jack Rasmus, Professor of Political Economy at St. Mary's College, told RT.
The French political landscape is heading for some dramatic changes as former Prime Ministers Alain Juppe and Francois Fillon are heading for the second round of the Republican primaries following a national vote.
Ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy has already been eliminated from the running.
Meanwhile, polls in the build-up to the primaries showed National Front (FN) leader Marie Le Pen ahead in the first round of next year’s vote.
Le Pen has said that if she wins the presidential elections, the world will become a safer place, as France will cooperate with both US President-elect Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“The forces at work in these various elections are ideas, forces which could bring about my election as the president of France next May,” Le Pen said last week.
Fillon, 62, has based his campaign on a program of economic reform – dumping France’s controversial 35-hour week, increasing the retirement age, and cutting public spending, in an effort to spark economic rejuvenation.
RT:  We saw the U.S. media absolutely fail with their predictions in the election there. Are people in France feeling disillusioned with their political establishment?
Jack Rasmus: I think there are a lot of similarities going on here, just as there were with Trump and Brexit in England. What you’ve got is a lot of working class and small business folks who are just fed up with the policies of the last decade, which have emphasized trade and tax benefits for the rich, the concentration of income and the loss of jobs with which people can sustain themselves. What you see are these sectors of society protesting. This is a protest vote, a change vote. And even this primary vote in France with Sarkozy is a small signal of the same thing happening over there. I think Le Pen is in a very strong position here because people are just rejecting the old parties associated with the old policies. They don’t really care how extreme some of their positions may be. We saw that with Trump. No one cared about some of his outrageous statements. All they cared about was that this seemed like he’s going to make a change.
RT:  We saw Sarkozy concede defeat in the primaries - does he simply not represent a change, something new? Will politicians like Sarkozy have difficulty appealing to voters - no matter what they say now?
JR: I don’t think there will be any change by any of the parties and their policies, which are classically neo-Liberal anywhere in continental Europe right now. They are on the same track to defeat here as the people protest that track. All of the Republican candidates are associated with the policies of the past, just as Hollande and the Socialist Party is pretty much defunct now. It doesn’t matter who they put up. Nobody is going to vote for the Socialists. It’s really going to be Le Pen’s election to lose, I think.
If Fillon wins, it’s going to be a Thatcherite government. It’s going to be very complicated in eliminating, he says, 500,000 jobs in public service, and of course being much more hardcore in immigration terms. The good thing is, he is not a warmonger. So there will be an entente cordial between France and Russia, which Europe, the EU, is going to talk to Russia as adults and not like a bunch of kindergarten kids,” Pepe Escobar, independent geopolitical analyst, told RT.
RT:  The acting prime minister of France recently claimed that Le Pen is likely to win the coming election. Why does he see a victory for the far-right in France?
JR: She’s speaking to the issues that people are concerned about. In other words, the declining standard of living, the lack of real job creation. A lot of these jobs are part-time, temp contract jobs you can’t make a living off of them. A lot of the youth can’t find jobs at all; they’re stuck in these low-paid, part-time service employment… so they’re not really addressing those real issues. And of course, when someone comes along like Le Pen, or Trump or the UKIP Party in Britain and says, ‘Look, we’re going to change.’ And it doesn’t matter how detailed they get or don’t get about the details of the change. It’s just here is someone that will give us something different, we can’t up with what we’ve got anymore.

"BARBARIC Dakota Access Oil Police Cause Mass Hypothermia" (also Head Shots w/Rubber Bullets) - @TYTPolitics


Sunday, November 20, 2016

From W.E.B. Dubois

"Facebook Developing Plan to Stop Fake News [Is] Red Flag For Censorship of Legitimate Content" -- by @SanePrgressive



Dear Americans

From this woman's Facebook:   https://www.facebook.com/luciana.bohne.1

May I say I totally agree with her assessment.  Linda

Dear Americans,

I understand some of you are very worried about the election of Donald Trump. But I want you think about this:

First they went for Yugoslavia, and you didn't worry: a country died

Then they went for Afghanistan and you didn't worry: 220,000 Afghans have died.

Then, they went for Iraq, and you didn't worry: 1 million Iraqis died.

Then they went for Libya, and you didn't worry: 30,000 to 50,000 people died. Did you worry when Qaddafi was murdered with a bayonet up his rectum? No. And someone even laughed.

Then they went for Ukraine, and you didn't worry: 10,000 people died and are dying.

Then they went for Syria, and you didn't worry: 250,000 people died

Then they went for Yemen: over 6,000 Yemenis have been killed and another 27,000 wounded. According to the UN, most of them are civilians. Ten million Yemenis don’t have enough to eat, and 13 million have no access to clean water. Yemen is highly dependent on imported food, but a U.S.-Saudi blockade has choked off most imports. The war is ongoing.

Then there is Somalia , and you don't worry

Then there are the countries that reaped the fallout from the collapse of Libya. Weapons looted after the fall of Gaddafi fuel the wars in Mali, Niger, and the Central African Republic.

Now you are worried about yourselves, but there are only the dead and their survivors left for whom you didn't speak up for.

Give me one reason why anybody should worry about you, who seem to believe that only you count because you are Americans.

My very best wishes for your precious safety and comfort and may you continue to look in the mirror and see no one there. Trust me, a mirror does not lie.

One who does not worry about you.

PS By the way the butcher bill I am here presenting is very conservative on the body count and does not include the wounded, the homeless, the refugees, or the cost of the wars to you, who continue to believe that before Trump the world was a nice and comfortable place--for you.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Medicine Creek Treaty Tribes and Allies in Tacoma Stand with #StandingRock--#NoDAPL--#WaterIsLife

Over 500 people gathered to pray, march and stand in solidarity with the struggle at #StandingRock today, November 12, 2016.

Friday, November 11, 2016

"Trump and the Revolt of the Rust Belt" -- [Plausible Explanation of What Happened by London School of Economics Prof.]

ORIGINAL:  http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/usappblog/2016/11/11/23174/


This story can be told repeatedly across the Rust Belt. The electoral shift was highly concentrated in territorial terms and Rust Belt territories were ground zero. Trump flipped a full third of the counties that voted for Obama twice. Clinton flipped 6 of the 2200 counties that didn’t vote for Obama. Many of the counties Trump flipped are Rust Belt communities in the Midwest. And those counties, in turn, flipped the electoral college votes of Iowa, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, from Democrat to Republican. Obama’s coalition managed to bridge the dying Rust Belt and the New Economy, but Clinton didn’t and, given her baggage and her policies, could not. Trump snatched the Rust Belt from the Democrats. Trump is president because of a regional revolt.
Many important questions emerge from this. How do voters get from Obama to Trump? What role did racism and misogyny play in flipping people from the Democratic to Republican columns? These are important. But the character of the communities that flipped must be grappled with. These are communities that have been suffering from neglect and decline for decades. Families have gotten poorer and there are few opportunities for people who stay. The people who voted for Trump are very willing to overlook Trump’s abuse of women, Muslims, and people of color, and that is to be condemned. Some percentage of these voters are ideological and practical racists and misogynists. But explaining the electoral shift from someone who stood for the opposite of those things to Trump is impossible without considering the communities where these voters reside and what the candidates offered them. White people generally didn’t deliver the White House to Trump, however much they enabled him; the Rust Belt did. And unless we are attentive to the economic factors involved, as well as the social and attitudinal ones, we leave open the path for future demagogues to exploit the same set of circumstances in the name of securing political power.

Iraq War Veterans Respond to Trump’s Victory --@therealnews


WHAT TO DO.  WE'VE BEEN HERE BEFORE.  WE CAN DO IT AGAIN.  paraphrasing Vet Mike Prysner

Chris Hedges: Trump Will Crush Dissent With Even Greater Violence and Savagery -- @therealnews


Nat'l Defense Auth. Act handed to Trump by the Repubs AND Dems and will be used against citizens.

Veterans Head To #StandingRock To Support 'We The People' #NoDAPL -- The Real News



Chris Hedges: The Surrender of the Liberal Left to Neoliberalism Gave Us Proto-fascism--TheRealNews


Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Cindy Sheehan's Facebook Post After the Apparent Trump Win -- RIGHT ON, CINDY!



Maybe Sanders could have beaten Trump, but these are some of the reasons he wasn't the nominee for the DNC:
1) the DNC cheated
2) Sanders refused to hammer Clinton on her immense weaknesses...instead always insisting that he would support his "good friend" IF she got the nomination.
3) Sanders did not fight for the "political revolution" but instantaneously succumbed to the political counter-revolution.
4) Sanders sold out his voters after the DNC eviscerated them.
5) "I am tired of hearing about those damn emails." (WOW)
6) He's always supported the warmongering Democraps.

The Democrats care as much about YOU as the Republicans do. Fuck both of the parties and grab your pitchforks and torches. This shit is real and the entire world has been suffering at the hands of the US Empire forever, so suck it up Buttercup. 

"Don't mourn, organize" (Joe Hill)

"America is the Israel of the West" -- Anonymous Protector at Atlanta Action in Solidarity with Standing Rock




Atlanta Stops the Trains in Solidarity with Standing Rock (and the Rest of Humanity) -- 20 min but very inspirational



Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Standing Rock Protectors BRUTALIZED By Cops In Standoff--Nov. 2, 2016


"How Economic and Social Rights Disappeared" -- Matt Peppe [STUNNING--to me anyway]

ORIGINAL:  http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/11/19/how-economic-and-social-rights-disappeared/

Several years ago the Occupy movement captured the imagination an American public disillusioned with the country’s socioeconomic system, which had failed to provide them with a standard of living commensurate with wealth of the richest country in the history of the world. Occupy provided a forum for average citizens to express their dissatisfaction with the status quo, and created a framework to view what was happening in society as a class war waged by the 1% against the 99%.
Many economic and social goals were proposed such as a living wage, free higher education, and single-payer healthcare system, to name a few. While many would consider those all worthy goals in the public interest, none have been implemented by the federal government.  It is striking that in the 21st century it is even necessary to have this debate in the United States. All of these things and more are birth rights for all U.S. citizens as much as free speech and the right to vote.
For the last 65 years, economic and social rights have been systematically denied to U.S. citizens, who have been led to believe these things are not even rights at all. While Occupy started to remove the wool from our eyes, it was quickly pulled back down.
Human rights are not abstract principles; they are specific privileges listed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This monumental accord was adopted unanimously by the UN General Assembly by a vote of 48-0. It served as the basis for a series of international human rights treaties that followed it, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966).
The United States signed both Covenants more than a decade later under Jimmy Carter, but only ratified the first. The Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has never been ratified, and with good reason: powerful elite interest groups refuse to recognize that economic and social rights exist.
“Signing a treaty laden with economic rights is foolish,” writes the Heritage Foundation in a piece laughably titled “Human Rights Treaty Poses Dangers for America”. “It accepts as a premise that government can create wealth. If the 75-year communist experiment proved anything, it is that government gets in the way of producing goods and services. Abundant health care, housing, and food are byproducts of wealth created by private individuals pursuing a profit. Even the most hard-core former communists in Russia and China have come to understand this.”
The Heritage Foundation fails to recognize that the greatest economic gains in the history of the United States came at a time of state planning during and after WWI, or that there would be no Microsoft, Apple, Google, Amazon or Facebook without decades of government funding to develop the technologies and infrastructure for the Internet. But that is beside the point. The Heritage Foundation argument is simple: economic rights don’t exist. They are a violation of “the intellectual spirit of freedom and individual liberties that has characterized America since its founding.”
The Universal Declaration overtly asserts a series of economic rights, such as article 25: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”
Other rights include “social security”; “the right to work”; “the right to rest and leisure”; “special care and assistance for motherhood and childhood”; and “the right to education,” which “shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages.” These economic rights are reiterated in The Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Human rights treaties are ignored and banished from public consciousness, lest they give people any crazy ideas about actually being entitled things that would require private wealth to be taxed and redistributed.
Neoliberal policies – privatizing government assets and services, liberalizing trade, deregulating industry, lowering taxes, and aggressively cutting social services – long ago became the only economic policies that any candidate of either major U.S. political party would ever conceivably support.
The completely disastrous and completely predictable consequences of neoliberalism like soaring inequality, outsourcing of labor, undercutting of locally produced products, and the exacerbation of fossil fuel extraction and burning have all occurred. Yet the public is indoctrinated with the idea that there does not even exist an alternative to the status quo. Countries that refuse to accept the Washington Consensus – Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia or Brazil, like the USSR, Yugoslavia, Vietnam and Angola before them – are viciously smeared as an authoritarian tyrannies and serial violators of human rights. Their governments are subjected to relentless destabilization, subversion and economic sabotage.
The ability of global capital and its institutions to maintain this illusion of neoliberal inevitability is dependent on their appropriation of human rights. The perversion of human rights literally erases the existence of economic and social rights, creating a new definition that excludes them altogether.
The understanding of human rights in the United States has long been of “negative” rights, or rights that prevent the government from interfering with you. Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, habeas corpus, are all examples of negative rights. However, human rights law is also explicit about positive rights. These are rights like education, health care, food and housing that require physical entitlements.
In his book Ideal Illusions: How the U.S. Government Co-opted Human Rights, James Peck explains that there are two “currents” of human rights.
“The first current largely embodies the popular American view, which emphasizes civil and political rights and embraces a moderate, democratic, step-by-step incorporation of human needs into a kind of rights-based legalism,” writes Peck. ““The second current has less to do with individual freedom and more to do with basic needs. It is associated with popular mass movements, revolution by populations in desperate straits, and resistance. From this perspective, the human rights movement emerged … out of the movements for independence that broke the grip of European colonialism.”
As examples of the second current of human rights, Peck lists “challenges to corporate power, state repression, foreign occupation, and global economic inequality, as well as the protection of collective means of struggle, from labor unions to revolution.” He states that this type of human rights is “far more prevalent outside the dominant Western spheres of power.”
In a 2009 report, Human Rights Watch explains that the U.S. has been left behind as they have long ignored human rights treaties and put vulnerable populations such as children, women and people with disabilities at risk.
“The US has not ratified any international human rights treaties since December 2002, when it ratified two optional protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” HRW writes. “Since that time, important new treaties have been adopted and other long-standing treaties have gained new member states. Unfortunately, the US has too often remained outside these efforts.”
Even when it does approve human rights treaties, the Senate adds qualifications that virtually eliminate their teeth.
“For example, when the Senate approved the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (in 1992) and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (in 1994), it did so only after securing reservations that stipulated that the treaties would have no legal force in U.S. courts absent further congressional or state action,” writes David Kaye in Foreign Affairs. “As a result, when it comes to a wide range of human rights issues covered by these treaties — such as protections against torture, the right to a fair trial, freedom of expression, religious liberty, the right to political participation, and so on — the United States lacks a formal mechanism to affect how other states and international courts interpret the evolving norms.”
The result has been a drastic deterioration in social justice within the United States. In a 2011 SGI study, the United States “with its alarming poverty levels” was ranked 27 out of 31 among OECD states. This study considered various factors such as poverty prevention, access to education, labor market inclusion, health and intergenerational justice.
U.S. social and economic policies are so extremist that government safety net programs are on the level with poor, undeveloped nations ravaged by centuries of colonialism rather than other nations with advanced, developed economies.
For example, the United States is one of three of the 34 members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that does not offer universal health insurance. It is the only OECD country with any significant privatized health insurance (53%).
The United States is the only country in the OECD that does not require employers to offer paid vacation time.
The Unites States is one of only four countries in the world not to offer paid parental leave. The other three countries are Papa New Guinea, Suriname and Liberia.
Historically it was understood that economic and social rights were necessary to ensure a democratic society. In 350 B.C., Aristotle wrote: “The true friend of the people should see that they be not too poor, for extreme poverty lowers the character of democracy; measures therefore should be taken which will give them lasting prosperity; and as this is equally the interest of all classes, the proceeds of the public revenues should be accumulated and distributed among its poor.”
Every single American is legally and morally entitled to a decent standard of living, affordable health care, economic security regardless of whether they work, and much more. It is only through neglect of human rights obligations and unrelenting propaganda that the government and elite interests have managed to hide this. The fact that a movement like Occupy is even necessary in the 21stcentury to seek rights that should have been guaranteed to every citizen decades ago is indicative of just how cruel U.S. policy makers and the programs they carry out are.
Matt Peppe writes about politics, U.S. foreign policy and Latin America on his blog. His writing has appeared in CounterPunch, Dissident Voice, Latino Rebels and other outlets. You can follow him on twitter.