Just Say No

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No

I am more and more reminded of my words at the 1968 Vietnam Commencement at Cal, of their truth, the need to keep them in the forefront of my mind, and to act upon them, to the effect that: This government is not your friend. Whenever it orders you to do something or even asks you to do something your first reaction should be to resist. Resistance can, of course, take on myriad forms and one is simply, preferably publicly, withholding consent. It was axiomatic in those times that we needed to go on record, at least verbally and preferably by our actions as not-acquiescing in our governments wrongdoing and malfeasance and actually actively opposing such wrongdoing and malfeasance.

There were long lists of things to which we did not agree, which we did not support and which we couldn't participate in and refused to participate in in whatever ways we could do so. Today, more than ever, I think we need to open our eyes and our mouths and use all available media as well as appropriate actions to express opposition to not just this or that one thing but to pretty much the entire vast panoply of government activities and government inaction, sins of commission and of omission. And there is a bigger point than simple disagreement and/or non-compliance, which I will get to in a bit. But think it over for a bit, and think broadly, not merely about the big stuff. Think about the extent of your consent, past and present to each and every bit, every damn item, every act, event, law, or failure.

There is a vast list, with many spreading and ever forking sub-lists. Imperialism and all it encompasses. Let's start with our wars, our regime change operations, our regime change campaigns, our color revolutions, the insurrections and coups we foment and support, the regimes we fund and arm, the drone strikes, missile attacks and bombing campaigns, the fact that our government requires ignores international laws and conventions regarding such matters, and our own Constitution. Not over all, as a thing, process and policy, though that too, but each and every single damn instance. Did you consent to any of it, do you now, did anybody ever ask you, and do any of them give a shit what you think and say about such matters?

How about our unilateral sanctions, our starvation sanctions and our threats of sanctions being used as a cudgel to get our way? How about everything the CIA has ever done, its secrecy and its very existence.

What about the siphoning off of the vast preponderance of our wealth and productivity to the military and the war machine. The huge network of bases encircling the globe, each and every damn one of them. All of our saber rattling. Our abrogation of treaty after treaty and our habit of violating and ignoring the one's we don't abrogate.

Racism. Institutional racism, both overt and covert, the processes, procedures and laws put in place, and those desperately needed that aren't enacted or even considered. Discriminatory policing, not to mention excessive policing and militarized police forces. The "defacto" segregation that is subtly and not so subtly encouraged, discrimination in lending, housing, employment, transit availability and ever so much more. Environmental racism in manifold manifestations and forms. And all the mechanisms, practices, habits and policies that encourage and engender cultural racism. Voter caging, discrimination in voting access, gerrymandering. The school to prison pipeline and the racist nature of our judicial system and prison system.

Just separately consider the whole fact that we incarcerate such a huge percentage of the population, often for such bullshit reasons, and all the discrimination, both racist and classist, built into that system and industry. The nature of our prisons and the way prisoners are treated.

Corporate welfare. Corporate citizenship with a whole set of special privileges and laws for corporations that places them above people. The inapplicability of most criminal laws to corporations and their governing elite, including especially "three strikes" laws. Preferential bankruptcy laws and tax treatment. The restrictions on labor and labor organizing and labor organizations.

The failure of the government to provide anything resembling medical care to the populace.

The failure of the government to adequately regulate businesses and prevent monopolies and cartels.

The failure of the government to safety test and regulate the myriad of chemicals produced and injected into the food stream, sold as medications, released into the air, water and soil and the like.

The destruction of the environment through a combination of neglect and affirmative subsidization and encouragement of polluting technologies.

The whole arena of equal rights for women, including the right to own their own persons and make their own medical and reproductive decisions.

The corporate and bank ownership of the government and our currency

I could go on at great length, but that is a project for each of us to undertake, to enumerate and contemplate, so I'll just toss out one more. The two party system. Did anybody ever choose to thus limit electoral choice, other than those powerful interests that have benefited by so doing? Yet there are laws facilitating that narrowing of choice in many ways in many states. Two very powerful organizations select a very limited number of persons who they believe will further their goals and further empower their organizations and this nations powerful and wealthy and then pretend to allow you to choose between and among them. Have you ever been asked if that is how things should be run, and did you agree that, yes, it is?

This is the crux of the matter. To all of the above and to much more, I say "No, I did not consent, I do not consent, and I will not consent." This is no trifling matter, as I will soon explain. I suspect that much of the population would answer in the same manner, at least with respect to a lot ot the subjects and items. I know I periodically see some poll claiming to show that the vast majority of the populace opposes some policy that is in place, or supports one that our government refused to enact. So what does that tell us about our government? Is not the test of the legitimacy of a government whether or not it governs with the consent of the governed? This is not some simplistic one time buy in of the form "do you consent to be governed by this government, these institutions and form for all the rest of your life, yes or no?". This is a requirement that a government, in order to be legitimate, must affirmatively seek the consent of its citizenry for its actions, it must attempt to determine the wishes of the populace regarding all matters of import and notice and then act upon and implement those wishes. Our government never really attempts to do anything of the kind. It's general framework, especially with a view to the need to implement a rule of law as opposed to a rule of men, has much of the needed structure, but it is clearly defective in some respects and hence must need some changes, alterations and improvements which need to be worked out once it is possible to consider and contemplate such things. What's worse, is that it is saddled with a seriously corrupt and unresponsive two-party system which has rendered it completely unresponsive and corrupt itself. Arguably, much improvement could be had almost overnight by simple elimination of said two party system, which is, oddly enough, not provided for in the Constitution and hence requires no amendments to eliminate.

Oddly enough, the other day I received a letter, ostensibly from Joe Biden, which had the words Are You With Me? emblazoned on the envelope. NO, No, I am not, Joe Biden, and that is very much the wrong question Are you, Joe, with me? Have you ever been? Have you ever been for the people, supportive of the people, seeking to aid and empower the people? We both know that the answer to that is NO. BUT, more importantly the system is corrupt. It has never been any part of your job to serve the people and hence you never have. That might be at least ever so slightly the fault of the system. It is said that qui tacet consentire videtur, or, as Dr. King famously said: 'A time comes when silence is betrayal, and the corruption must be cast out. Even were I fool enough to find some merit in the "Lesser Evil" argument, and to seriously consider you to be such, I am obligated to seek out the destruction of the two party system. That requires that I vote third party, any available third party, so as to express clearly that two parties are insufficient and that the two party system must be ended. In my case, there is more than one, and one I can willingly vote for, but regardless, only by voting third party can I vote against the continuation of the current unresponsive and corrupt system. On that basis, I cannot vote for any mainstream candidate other than one who would be absolutely certain to be incorruptible, responsive to the people, and determined to end the two party system, a candidate which cannot exist in this universe.

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be well and have a good one

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Title Image is No

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It's an open thread, so have at it. The floor is yours
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EDIT _ Changed :"requires" to "ignores", totally wrong word, sorry, also one of my "of" to "or" errors

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Outstanding essay, thank you for the words.

Been resisting authoritarianism from every direction since the 1970s and do not intend to stop.

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enhydra lutris's picture

@Reverend Jane Ignatowski
your past, present and future resistance.

be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

ovals49's picture

We Are Watching The Story Of America Crash Headlong Into The Reality Of America

Once again, Caitlin Johnson is absolutely spot on in her distillation of our current, tormented situation.

That is what we are witnessing here. We are witnessing the head-on collision between the story America's political, media and educational institutions tell Americans about what their country is, and the reality of what their country actually is. The disparity between the bedtime story and the waking up story has finally been stretched to a breaking point, and now the mask of free liberal democracy is coming off in front of everyone.

The essay deserves a full read.

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“The crowd neither wants nor seeks knowledge, and the leaders of the crowd, in their own interests, try to strengthen its fear and dislike of everything new and unknown. The slavery in which mankind lives is based upon this fear.” G. I. Gurdjieff 1949

ggersh's picture

@ovals49 rather than that though we gave up the constitution long
ago, it's a brave new world where ideology now trumps law

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Buy a Bible don't read it and you'll be a Catholic
Buy a Bible read only what suits you and you'll be an Evangelical
Buy a Bible read it fully, analyze it, reason it and you will be
an Atheist

enhydra lutris's picture

@ggersh

reminder that

it's a brave new world where ideology now trumps law

be well and have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

mimi's picture

@ggersh
wished they both had a strong voice today. Always liked Turley. Do you remember exactly in which year Keith Olberman made that interview with Turley?

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“Trauma is not what happens to you.
Trauma is what happens inside you,
as a result of what happens to you.”
— Dr. Gabor Maté

enhydra lutris's picture

@ovals49

You might even consider just posting the whole thing as a stand alone article here, she permits it, as do we. A big part of bringing significant change to fruition in this country is to expose all the lies and fiction that is our "history" and our "democracy". I nibble at the corners now and then, and have many aborted partial draft columns intended to do that or call for it. So long as such a huge swath of the population buys it or is gulled by it progress is stifled and the power and authoritarianism of the oligarchy grows. Zinn's People's History ... is online, free, but it is a bear of a read and still only covers one aspect of the great fraud.

be well and have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

ovals49's picture

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“The crowd neither wants nor seeks knowledge, and the leaders of the crowd, in their own interests, try to strengthen its fear and dislike of everything new and unknown. The slavery in which mankind lives is based upon this fear.” G. I. Gurdjieff 1949

not a criticism to your fine work.

You state the government is not our friend, and we must resist it. You then frame a statement with "our government". Like capitalism,from birth we receive daily inoculations of how to think about "democracy","our government", "freedom" "capitalism" when none of it conforms to reality. We are always dumbfounded, daily, how each action "our" government takes is in direct opposition to what it advocates and to our wants and needs. Our little inoculations blind us. To the problems, the solutions, the alternatives.

Is it really "our government", or capitalism that binds us? Is Canada so different? or better? Other European countries? I don't know, and will probably never really know, unless I lived there.

Perhaps it's exactly as you say, the two party system of corruption, of Clinton not investigating the Reagan/Bush regime, of Bush2 ignoring the corruption of Clinton (except his cigar), of Obama ignoring the corruption of Bush2 and ultimately Trump blustering, but refraining investigation of Obama.

I most fear the previous administrations excesses will be the next administrations perks. That the difference between Fallujah and Ferguson will be a difference of a couple of letters, and Googling IED will make you disappear. It's gone too far, and too long.

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enhydra lutris's picture

@Snode
are indeed very much blinded by the endless stream of lies and propaganda that we have been spoon fed since birth. A big part of what we can, and should do, it to call that out and to point out this, that, and the other specific false narratives as they arise and are repeated by friends and acquaintances in order to help them shake off the fog that clouds their decision making.

You quite correctly ask

Is it really "our government", or capitalism that binds us?

I considered going down that path too. Did we ever consent to that and do we still? If is not in our "foundational documents" such as the Constitution (though the right to own property is). That would've easily have doubled the length of the article and arguably returned me to our political system. The Constitution does NOT say "we are a capitalist country". Nancy Pelosi, however, does. Whether they vocalize it or not, pretty much every politician in the whole country holds to that "truth". It has been imposed upon us by many little laws and regulations at all levels, by a huge propaganda machine, and by the oligarchs and elites who run the show and by the corrupt political processes that empower them. To alter it and the way it operates, the whole "market based" fraud, we must change those politicians and political processes. To do so peacefully, an important element is the need to destroy the two party system.

be well and have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Granma's picture

A right wing, conservative neighbor stopped to talk last night. He gets it about the protests. Not sure how well he gets it, but is appalled by what police doing around the country. Upset about all the damage done to buildings, etc. But does not blame all the peaceful protesters. He voted for Trump, but did not think think it was ok the way police cleared that park in front of church where Trump spoke. If people like him are beginning to get it, there is hope.

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enhydra lutris's picture

@Granma

be well and have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Bisbonian's picture

I have not voted for a Republican or a Democrat, for President.

I will not start this year.

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"I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.” —Malcolm X

enhydra lutris's picture

@Bisbonian

be well and have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Lily O Lady's picture

Although our government has always been far from perfect, I do think things have gotten worse since 1980. Of course even before that the Powell Memorandum looked to consolidate power of the few over the many.

There was a time when Congress actually cared what the people wanted, but no more. Now my Congress critters feel they should tell me what I want. Billionaires run the show now. All others can save their breath.

Was Reagan making an observation or was he laying the groundwork for the final destruction of the New Deal? I think it was the latter.

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"The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

enhydra lutris's picture

@Lily O Lady

circumstances of the victim, though, arguably things have become at least somewhat for all persons not of the elite class. For slaves, sharecroppers, women, child laborers, most laborers throughout our history, indigenous people, people of color and many others they've sucked all along. I'm not personally convinced that Congress ever gave a shit what people wanted, but I could be wrong.

be well and have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

lotlizard's picture

They asked whether we wanted to become a US state or stick to second-class status as a US territory …

Some choice, eh?

Not on the ballot and never discussed as a possibility at all: independence …

… as in Hawaiians’ getting their self-determination back; as in being free to choose to have friendly relations with the US without being forced to be a part of it; as in not being forcibly yoked to whatever school of dysfunction and distemper happen to be in vogue in North America …

Consent of the governed? You can’t consent if you were never asked, never given a chance to say “yes” or “no” …

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Lily O Lady's picture

@lotlizard

My Weekly Reader. It looks so different now.

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"The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

enhydra lutris's picture

@lotlizard

reject the bayonet constitution and die or be enslaved? Did I get that wrong? /snark

be well and have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

smiley7's picture

swamped with government paperwork which has a deadline of early next week putting me at the mercy of how quickly different government entities can provide the information i need to respond. Nothing more loathing to me in laboring.

I am more and more reminded of my words at the 1968 Vietnam Commencement at Cal

If i'm on the same wavelength; these words in full or part i would love to hear, someday.

Agreed in your thinking and so lucky you share.

Be safe, good man.

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enhydra lutris's picture

@smiley7
bottom of the thread. Good morning.

be well and good luck with the paperwork.

have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

magiamma's picture

et al
Hot here today. Went up the mountain to the vet. Hotter there. Imagine it's even hotter on your side of the Bay. Baby crow continues to cry for food from morning to dusk. My garden is planted and now just watering but will be looking for bugs soon I think. Can't participate in the protests and those here are peaceful at least. Take em down, that's what I think. sigh. Felling very lucky, very privileged. Worry for those who are struggling in so many ways.

Take good care and have a good one.

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enhydra lutris's picture

@magiamma
seen and heard and read, most or almost all protests start out peaceful until the police attack or otherwise trigger rioting. Yeah, baby birds are always hungry when awake, and vociferous about it too. Was 93 here yesterday according to weather, We have an outside thermometer that gets direct sun from the middle of the day on and it was registering over 100 but that's a high reading.

be well and have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

enhydra lutris's picture

especially that you are at the mercy of assorted government entities. That always sucks.

As to:

these words in full or part i would love to hear, someday.

I wasn't a keynote speaker or MC or anything, just one of the graduating Honorees. Insofar as I was a campus rabble-rouser, Mike Rossman, the MC, allowed me to say a few words. In their entirety, to the best of my knowledge, they were:

This government is not your friend. Whenever it orders you to do something or even asks you to do something your first reaction should be to resist.
Power to the people!

be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

smiley7's picture

@enhydra lutris

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