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Quoting a few individuals who understand the challenges we face

Today I’m featuring a simple list of excerpted statements made (very recently, in most cases) by some of the hardworking, principled, and courageous individuals who consistently inspire me and give me hope.  Among them are Pulitzer Prize winners, decorated military officers, and the longest serving chair of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).  These extraordinary individuals have helped me to understand that NOW is the time for all halfway sensible patriots to resist oppression — and that, if we fail to do so, the future for our children and grandchildren will likely be very grim.

1. Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author, Chris Hedges (discussing the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act presently sailing through Congress, which will renew the 2012 NDAA’s provisions that quietly ended due process in America — at President Obama’s insistence, no less):

“The corporate state knows that the steady deterioration of the economy and the increasingly savage effects of climate change will create widespread social instability. It knows that rage will mount as the elites squander diminishing resources while the poor, as well as the working and middle classes, are driven into destitution. It wants to have the legal measures to keep us cowed, afraid and under control. It does not, I suspect, trust the police to maintain order. And this is why, contravening two centuries of domestic law, it has seized for itself the authority to place the military on city streets and citizens in military detention centers, where they cannot find redress in the courts. The shredding of our liberties is being done in the name of national security and the fight against terrorism. But the NDAA is not about protecting us. It is about protecting the state from us. That is why no one in the executive or legislative branch is going to restore our rights. The new version of the NDAA, like the old ones, provides our masters with the legal shackles to make our resistance impossible. And that is their intention.”

2. Former FCC chairperson Michael Copps (on Amy Goodman’s DemocracyNow!, illuminating how little has changed, policy-wise, from George Bush to Barack Obama, with both presidents’ administrations pushing for relaxed media ownership rules, allowing further consolidation of an industry already dominated by conservative white men like Rupert Murdoch):

“…over the course of a generation, we have seen a few media behemoths gobble up independent local stations at great cost, I think, to localism and diversity, at great cost to the quality of our civic dialogue, and usually by a process that kind of mocks transparency and puts the cart ahead of the horse by voting on a document before the public has really been able to have a national conversation about it… I thought we would have made some changes, beginning in 2009, to reverse the ongoing trend toward media consolidation… Glitzy infotainment seems to be substituting for real accountability, hold-the-powerful-accountable journalism… And if we don’t have that kind of in-depth, resource-heavy journalism, we’re going to pay a heavy price in the quality of the decisions we make for our future, in a time that’s very, very challenging to the United States of America. We’ve got so many problems right now, there is no guarantee that America is going to come out of it all right.”

3. Prominent economist and author Dean Baker (on Amy Goodman’s DemocracyNow!, skewering the bogus claim that Republicans oppose “big government” controls in our lives):

“I think this whole debate over ‘big government’ has always been silly, because it’s not about big government. It’s about who your friends are… I’ll just give you, you know, one very simple example. We spend somewhere close to $300 billion a year on prescription drugs, because the government gives drug companies patent monopolies… They get to charge whatever they want. If you didn’t have those monopolies, we’d spend about a tenth as much, somewhere around $30 billion. So that difference is close to $250 billion a year. That’s not entered on the budget, but the government is requiring us to spend extra money for drugs. That’s really big government, but the Republicans never, ever talk about that, because the pharmaceutical industry are big contributors. So we aren’t arguing about big government or small government; we’re arguing about who gets the money.”

4. Former GITMO Chief Prosecutor Col. Morris Davis, who was the third consecutive officer in that position to publicly excoriate the un-American proceedings at GITMO and subsequently find himself no longer in his job (after initially, prior to beginning his work there, defending, in principle, the installation and its tribunals; here’s Col. Davis on DemocracyNow!):

“I mean, we used to be the land of the free and the home of the brave; we’ve become the constrained and the cowardly for the past decade… this has been an unfortunate and regrettable decade in our country’s history, where we turned our back on what made us a great country, which was our respect for the law… there was torture… And the Obama administration has completely ignored their responsibility… I was very optimistic when President Obama took office that he was going to follow through on what he promised… When he began to backpedal, I wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that accused — that said it was a double standard, what we were doing. And I got my termination notice the next day. So, it was disappointing. I spent 25 years defending the Constitution, and then to be told that it didn’t apply to me. You know, we have free speech for everyone that has nothing to say.”

5. Former Army officer and diplomat, serving in the U.S. State Department — until she quit in protest of the imminent illegal invasion of Iraq — Col. Ann Wright (appearing on DemocracyNow!, explaining the Obama administration’s intentions to continue bringing war to Afghanistan well beyond 2014 and the effect that drones are having on America’s image in the world):

“The comment of Secretary of Defense Panetta that we will be leaving behind 6,000 to 10,000 military troops, I think, is a deal breaker… so many millions of people in Afghanistan actually have not received schools, have not gotten health clinics, roads that have not been built, but it’s all war. And the people of Afghanistan don’t want war anymore. That was the common thread of all of the talks that we had with people in Kabul… As we were talking to some seamstresses… a woman of very, you know, limited education but great heart, she said, as we were talking to them, ‘We are so concerned about ourselves, of course, but I want to tell you about other women, and we’ve heard about the attack in Gaza and women in Gaza that have been attacked by drones.’ …The image of the United States stinks throughout the world, and these drones have a heck of a lot to do with it.”

6. Acclaimed author and former reporter for NYT and Reuters, David Cay Johnston (interviewed on C-Span, explaining how our economy is no longer open or competitive, but “rigged,” involving the eradication of thousands of years of laws foundational to our civilization):

“…a number of big corporations have tried to thwart the rigors of market competition — create monopolies and duopolies and oligopolies (artificially raise prices, provide very poor service… and in a few cases, literally put lives at risk) — and how we don’t have a balanced system focused on competitive markets… We took a regulatory scheme that was balanced — that looked at the interests of companies, and looked at the interests of customers and other parties — and replaced it with a system of the corporations, by the corporations, that takes away consumer rights… In many cases, regulations and statutes are actually written by the companies… I show how, again and again and again, the market is being rigged. This is terrible for our national economy in the long run; it helps explain why we’re in these economic doldrums, and why we don’t have the job creation that we should be having… These laws were developed out of thousands of years of experience.  What we’re seeing now is these big corporations, very quietly with nobody noticing, undoing thousands of years of human experience to their benefit and to the detriment of the overall economy.”

[Forgive the ellipses, but I thought it appropriate to trim most of these quotes for space.  I’ve been careful to not distort, even slightly, the sense of the original comments, and I recommend clicking on the links I’ve provided to the original sources, that you may experience them in their entirety.  Thanks, reader, and happy holidays!]

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