Sunday, June 24, 2012

Jimmy Carter Strikes Back

Don't miss this op-ed by former President Jimmy Carter, running in Monday's New York Times.

At long last, a Democratic elder statesman is taking aim at the horrendous human rights violations being perpetrated in our name by an American president and Congress. It's about time somebody of Carter's stature struck back, joining the dwindling chorus of protests from the left in this election year. Because the USA has seen fit to chuck human rights in the garbage, we no longer have any right to pretend to be a human rights champion of the world. Writes Carter:

In addition to American citizens’ being targeted for assassination or indefinite detention, recent laws have canceled the restraints in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to allow unprecedented violations of our rights to privacy through warrantless wiretapping and government mining of our electronic communications. Popular state laws permit detaining individuals because of their appearance, where they worship or with whom they associate.
Despite an arbitrary rule that any man killed by drones is declared an enemy terrorist, the death of nearby innocent women and children is accepted as inevitable. After more than 30 airstrikes on civilian homes this year in Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai has demanded that such attacks end, but the practice continues in areas of Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen that are not in any war zone. We don’t know how many hundreds of innocent civilians have been killed in these attacks, each one approved by the highest authorities in Washington. This would have been unthinkable in previous times.
These policies clearly affect American foreign policy. Top intelligence and military officials, as well as rights defenders in targeted areas, affirm that the great escalation in drone attacks has turned aggrieved families toward terrorist organizations, aroused civilian populations against us and permitted repressive governments to cite such actions to justify their own despotic behavior.
Hats off to Jimmy Carter, who speaks truth to power in a frightening period of our history in which almost two-thirds of Americans find it acceptable for a politician to unilaterally decide who lives and who dies in lands far, far away from their own blinkered little existences. The chickens came home to roost on 9/11 and they'll be coming home again sooner or later unless more of us stand up and say "Enough."


Valerie said...

I love that man! Truly, Jimmy Carter is one of my all time heroes. It doesn't surprise me at all that he has the moral courage to speak truth to power. The big Democrats just like the big Republicans will revile him for it, but Jimmy Carter will say what he believes needs to be said. What a great man! Too bad there aren't more out there like him.

Of course, the Nobel Peace Prize committee cheapened his prize and the prize of so many others who have devoted their lives to peace by giving it to Obama. They REALLY should recall the prize. It would be a scandal but it really needs to be done.

I "met" Jimmy Carter at a book signing in Seattle. I heard he signed books at a breathtaking speed so I bought ten books so I would have the time to say my peace. I thanked him for being such a good president. And told him that his presidency was the last time I was proud of my country. I guess we all gotta say what we all gotta say.

ibygeorge said...

Hooray for JC. A moral compass as this country drifts a muck in its self absorption. Thanks for bringing this up.

Will said...


So cool you got to spend some time with President Carter. I remember spending a large part of my youth believing the bullshit that Jimmy was nothin' but a weak, cardigan-wearing one-term loser. How wrong I was. What a great man.

Another canard that dies harder than a cockroach: those primitive, Koran-carrying brown people pulled off 9/11 "'cause they hate us for our freedoms." Thanks, Karen, for saying out loud what far too many of us are still too afraid to say in confidence to our family members, let alone in public.

Patricia said...

Just imagine, if Jimmy Carter tried to get elected today. He was the first president i ever voted for. What an amazing man. Now I am wondering if I should even vote in this election. Because President Obama deems to have forgotten the platform he ran on.

Denis Neville said...

Former President and Nobel Peace Laureate Jimmy Carter’s Address to the 12th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, April 23, 2012:

“The key goal for this 12th summit is for Nobel laureates to inspire younger generations… Peace, justice, human rights, the environment, and alleviation of suffering are Nobel principles. These are also shared commitments of great religions, global political ambitions, and personal moral values that most people profess to adopt… Let's look at America, a global superpower, with great responsibility for promoting these Nobel values, and begin by talking about the most obvious and important: peace. Since World War II our country has been almost constantly at war, in Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Grenada, Libya, Panama, Somalia, Haiti, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and many others – and now we're looking at Iran as our next potential adversary. People around the world see us as the most warlike of all nations…Your generation, including my grandchildren, can join in making our great country a superpower in all meanings of the word: an exalted example of being a champion of peace, justice, democracy, human rights, environmental quality, and generosity to those in need. This is America's destiny, which you must help to shape.”

The Nobel Peace Prize 2002 was awarded to Jimmy Carter "for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development".

In stark contrast,

The Nobel Peace Prize 2009 was awarded to Barack H. Obama "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples" [sic]

Our current Imperial President Obomber did not attend the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates. His goals do not match the other laureates.

James F Traynor said...

I understand why voting for Obama seems so disgusting, but we need time, time to organize a revolution within the Democratic Party. And, if need be, to prepare ourselves for the violence that is almost a surety at this point. Romney's election will almost certainly result in a quiet putsch enabling the Republicans to officially use the military and police against us; the mechanisms are already in place. The election of Obama on the other hand will result in slowing the 1%'s momentum - it will give us a chance, a chance to turn things around and to prevent violence. And, if we can't turn things around, prepare for violence, a lot of it.

Anne Lavoie said...

Jimmy for President in 2012!

Denis Neville said...

Valerie – “We need to stop waiting for someone else to fix our democracy and start fixing it ourselves.” [previous thread]


Matt Stoller @ Naked Capitalism, “The Source of Barack Obama’s Power to Trick Us Comes from Our Willingness to Be Tricked”

“The idea that the king is always good, which is where the hope and change narrative draws its deep strength, is something we do not have to accept. We as people can break this spell, and speak to our own dignity, as citizens. We can learn our own power, if in no other manner than in saying at the voting booth and in public, “I do not accept your lies, and though you might take it by force, I will not grant you my consent willingly.” We can choose not to address our political officials by their titles. We can work to organize ourselves, and our lives, with those of us who understand that power is something that must be taken, with money, organization, but most of all, with moral courage. It is not something that politicians have except through our consent, consent we have been giving for decades, to a rotten political class. This is what they truly fear. This is why they spend tens of billions on propaganda, on advertising, on symbols and personalities and celebrity. This is why they hide the workings of our government and banks and institutions of power in the language of boring bureaucrat-ese. This is ultimately why they are weak. Because in order for them to do their work quietly, we must go about our day, and believe either the hope and change narrative, or the Kenyan socialist narrative, scoffing at the opposing “team” who thinks what we do not. Instead, we can choose an alternative narrative, that power and consent come from us, come from the choices that we make, as people, and as citizens. And we will no longer believe that Barack Obama, that cool, brilliant, self-aware con artist is anything but what he has revealed himself to be.”

“Government is a contrivance of human wisdom to provide for human wants. People have the right to expect that these wants will be provided for by this wisdom.” – Jimmy Carter

We need more Americans to heed the wisdom of Jimmy Carter rather than be tricked by the huckster Romney and con artist Obama.

“When the doctrine of allegiance to party can utterly up-end a man's moral constitution and make a temporary fool of him besides, what excuse are you going to offer for preaching it, teaching it, extending it, perpetuating it? Shall you say, the best good of the country demands allegiance to party? Shall you also say it demands that a man kick his truth and his conscience into the gutter, and become a mouthing lunatic, besides?” – Mark Twain

Anne Lavoie said...

@Denis and @James F. Traynor

Here's my favorite quote from the same article you quoted, Denis, from Naked Capitalism about Obama:

"The truth is that he's a narcissistic sociopath dressed up as a cool corporate brand".

James, if you think Obama is going to slow down the momentum of the 1%, you really need to read this entire piece that Denis referred to. Don't let yourself be tricked.

James F Traynor said...

Ann, I don't think Obama wants to slow it down. It's just the plan he and the Clintons are selling to the 1% : Cook them slow like frogs in the pot, the jerks will never know the difference until it's too late. But we can use it to gain time. That's my point.

Denis Neville said...

As Anne Lavoie said...“if you think Obama is going to slow down the momentum of the 1%... don't let yourself be tricked.”

Also read the following:

William Black, “Time to Take off the Blinders about Obama Taking off the Gloves,” commenting on the NY Times editorial “Nearly a Year After Dodd-Frank,”

“…if anyone still believes that President Obama ever desired to ‘take off the gloves’ it is past time to take off the blinders and see the reality of crony capitalism… No one thinks that either political party has any desire to take the gloves off and go after the elite bank frauds. Crony capitalism is our only truly bipartisan policy.”

“The quaint aspect of the NYT editorial is that the editors still hoped in mid-2011 that the problem was that Obama wanted to take the gloves off and take on the elite frauds, but was blocked by Republicans from doing so. Had they considered the significance of Obama choosing Larry Summers, Holder, and Geithner (and reappointing Bernanke) – all great supporters of the financial elites and opponents of effective financial regulation – they could not have written such a naïve piece.”

The truth is that Obama's a narcissistic sociopath dressed up as a cool corporate brand. And yet, there will be those who vote for him as the lesser of two evils. No society ever changed for the better by choosing the lesser of two evils.

As Krugman and Wells write, “But ultimately the deep problem isn’t about personalities or individual leadership, it’s about the nation as a whole. Something has gone very wrong with America, not just its economy, but its ability to function as a democratic nation. And it’s hard to see when or how that wrongness will get fixed.” – Paul Krugman and Robin Wells, Getting Away with It,

Valerie said...

A friend just sent me this video link - and I plan on passing it along to all my friends - totally great! Definitely worth the 3 minutes it takes to watch it.

@James - Voting for Obama or any Democrat isn't going to buy us some time. That is a tired old line/idea that the Yellow Dog Democrats were feeding us three years ago. I got news for you, James; the NDAA was passed on Obama's watch. HE was instrumental in its passing. The enemy IS Obama - every bit as much as the Republicans and the majority of the Supreme Court justices are the enemy. Voting for Democrats isn't going to change a thing or slow down the momentum of plutocratic dictatorship.

Vote if you want - but don't fool yourself into thinking voting for Democrats is going to make a difference. As I keep on saying - If you want to make a difference, hit the streets with Occupy. The least we can do is support the movement while it is still safe to do so. I agree; there will come a time when the government under Democratic or Republican leadership will turn on the protesters and there will be bloodshed. We will want to keep our children safe – even ourselves. But now we need to swell the ranks of the Occupy Movement and take a stand.

James F Traynor said...

Valerie@ I don't protest (temperamentally unable), I hunt (not proud of it, just the way I am). There's a big difference.

Denis Neville said...

Glenn Greenwald, “Collapsing U.S. credibility,” comments not only on Jimmy Carter’s NYT Op-Ed, “A Cruel and Unusual Record,” but also Misha Glenny’s NYT Op-Ed, “A Weapon We Can’t Control,” about the frightening dangers of an uncontrolled arms race in cyberspace.

“The prime dogma in U.S. political and media discourse on foreign policy is that serious human rights violations (along with Terrorism) are something that non-Westerners do, not the West (and certainly not the U.S.). What these two Op-Eds today demonstrate is that not only is this false, but the U.S. continues to be a key pioneer in these abuses. It’s easy to distinguish American pundits and experts with a genuine commitment to human rights from those who feign concern by the extent to which they work against their own government’s conduct.”

Greenwald also refers to the “Beyond Vietnam” speech by Martin Luther King Jr.,

“I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.”

“Always stand on principle....even if you stand alone.” - John Adams

As Valerie says, “We need to swell the ranks of the Occupy Movement and take a stand.” We won’t stand alone.

spreadoption said...


Thank you, thank you. Your article on Jimmy Carter has touched off a firestorm of enlightenment in these comments. Thank you, Denis, for your reference to the article on Obama in Naked Capitalism; it's as amazing as it is gratifying and vindicating.

One day three years ago it suddenly hit me that, as I put it, Obama is a Republican. When I said that quietly to close friends and relatives, however, I was met with looks of discomfort and no further discussion. Some time later, I started hearing about Obama-apologists and I knew what I was up against.

Then came someone's analogy that the Republicans are taking us down the wrong road at 100 mph but Obama and the Democrats are taking us the same way at 60 mph. That left me with the slim hope (there's that word again) that if Obama won a second term we might be able to slow him down enough to turn him around.

Still, there was always the nagging suspicion that Obama was doing exactly what Obama wanted to do, all along. Republican obstruction was merely his cover and probably part of the plutocrats' grand scheme.

The various articles referenced in these comments put the final cap on the truth. Thanks to all.

Now, my Big Question: How do we proceed from here?

Kent State in 1970 was an early practice, and back then they didn't have Obama's NDAA. We have nothing like a third party viable enough to actually win; it could be a generation or more before we get one. Utopian visions (or even a return to democracy any time soon) don't count, not without a realistic mechanism to get there. And finally, reflecting Krugman and Wells' conclusion, what scares me the most is Wisconsin.

So what do we do?

Valerie said...

The problem, James, is that too many people feel like you do - can't be bothered to participate in anything that could effect real change. They will leave that to the young people or the people who have the time, the energy or the right temperament. The fact is if every person in this country who was fed up with the corruption in our government actually was willing to stand up and be counted, we would have our democracy back. The plutocrats count on our apathy and that even those who understand what is going on won’t rouse themselves to do anything other than complain.

As I have said more than once, citizenship in a democracy is not a spectator sport.

@Denis, Thanks for all the great quotes lately. I even have a folder on my desktop entitled "Quotes from Denis" where I copy and best all my favourites.

James F Traynor said...


I won't go to protests because I am not non-violent, and would attack any cop who attacked me during a peaceful protest, thus getting myself and anyone near me badly hurt, if not killed. Instead I support the protestor with donations.

The fact that I and people like me are out here waiting and watching is probably what's keeping people like you from 'disappearing'. We all have our role and I know what mine is. I just hope I'm never called on to perform it.

Valerie said...

OK, James. Your comments make more sense to me now. I was having a hard time reconciling the bits and pieces you have revealed about yourself over these past months with the guy who doesn't want to take part in Occupy. And just talking about the Occupy Movement, championing it and showing it to be the only real solution left to us, is taking part. It is the dismissal of it and the expectation that the solution lies in our political process as it exists now, that is such a pernicious idea. It is essentially doing nothing while the real opportunity to change things is passed by.