Thursday, August 29, 2013

Obama's Grotesque Nightmare Speech

The standard hypocrisy emerging from the lips of Barack Obama was more jarring than usual Wednesday, as he struggled to pay tribute to the civil rights struggles of yesteryear while still staying true to his own right wing ideals. For all his phony black preacher-speak adulation of Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks, and the cinematic stereotype of struggling black folks (Pullman Porters, chambermaids and shoeshine boys), Obama simply couldn't resist getting in his usual dig about personal responsibility, and what he perceives to be the chronic whining of the oppressed:
Legitimate grievances against police brutality tipped into excuse- making for criminal behavior. Racial politics could cut both ways as the transformative message of unity and brotherhood was drowned out by the language of recrimination. And what had once been a call for equality of opportunity, the chance for all Americans to work hard and get ahead was too often framed as a mere desire for government support, as if we had no agency in our own liberation, as if poverty was an excuse for not raising your child and the bigotry of others was reason to give up on yourself. All of that history is how progress stalled. That's how hope was diverted. It's how our country remained divided.
Even professional misanthrope Newt Gingrich couldn't have made the dripping disdain implicit in this paragraph any plainer. Black-on-black violence, rather than being a desperate symptom of crushing poverty and lack of opportunity, is rendered into an "excuse". Stop complainin'! Get off your butts and stop asking for government welfare (which that other "New Democrat", Bill Clinton, effectively destroyed anyway, with the help of Newt). Starvation is no excuse for not raising your kids to be upstanding American citizens beholden to flag and authority. Blame yourselves, not your oppressors. It's the authoritarian way.

Of course, there were myriad other hypocrisies and self-condemning truths sprinkled throughout Obama's faux-lofty rhetoric. Some examples:
Lincoln himself understood the Declaration of Independence in such terms, as a promise that in due time, the weights should be lifted from the shoulders of all men and that all should have an equal chance.
(Not today. Maybe someday. Gradually, the war on drugs that singles out minorities disproportionately may stop. But not on my watch. Gradually, someday, in due time, the rights of people will take precedence over the rights of corporations. Sarah Palin may be a dolt, but she sure was right about that "hopey-changey" thing being a complete canard.)
For over a decade, working Americans of all races have seen their wages and incomes stagnate. Even as corporate profits soar, even as the pay of a fortunate few explodes, inequality has steadily risen over the decades. Upward mobility has become harder. In too many communities across this country in cities and suburbs and rural hamlets, the shadow of poverty casts a pall over our youth, their lives a fortress of substandard schools and diminished prospects, inadequate health care and perennial violence.
(Obamian verbal gymnastics at their best, in which he feels our pain, acknowledges all that is wrong in America. But not a word about how his own Wall Street-friendly policies have contributed to growing income disparity and wage stagnation, and how he himself has championed  the corporate privatization of schools. In Chicago, for example, displaced minority students are being herded like sheep to their new non-union charter schools by $10/hour escorts -- to protect them from all that black-on-black violence, dontcha know.
And with that courage, we can stand together for good jobs and just wages. With that courage, we can stand together for the right to health care in the richest nation on earth for every person. (Applause.) With that courage, we can stand together for the right of every child, from the corners of Anacostia to the hills of Appalachia, to get an education that stirs the mind and captures the spirit and prepares them for the world that awaits them. (Applause.) With that courage, we can feed the hungry and house the homeless and transform bleak wastelands of poverty into fields of commerce and promise.
(Even as he spoke, his administration was meeting with Republicans in desperate hopes of making yet another deal to reduce a deficit that has already been cut to the point of no return for the millions of people whom austerity has already victimized. Obama called for good jobs and just wages, but failed to renew his call for a higher minimum wage, failed once again to note that his own policies have contributed to America becoming that bleak, vast wasteland. He spoke like a candidate for office rather than the leader of the country. Typical, but especially grotesque given the setting and the occasion for Wednesday's speech.)

And now, for a final thunderclap of presidential cognitive dissonance:
And because they kept marching, America changed. Because they marched, the civil rights law was passed. Because they marched, the voting rights law was signed. Because they marched, doors of opportunity and education swung open so their daughters and sons could finally imagine a life for themselves beyond washing somebody else's laundry or shining somebody else's shoes. (Applause.) Because they marched, city councils changed and state legislatures changed and Congress changed and, yes, eventually the White House changed. (Cheers, applause.)
Because they marched, America became more free and more fair, not just for African-Americans but for women and Latinos, Asians and Native Americans, for Catholics, Jews and Muslims, for gays, for Americans with disabilities.
America changed for you and for me.
(He got elected, so everybody celebrate and bask in his glory. Never mind that in 1963, the economy was healthy, labor unions were still strong, and wages were still relatively robust, taxes were progressive, and there was still actually such a thing as the middle class. Never mind that the NYPD has now secretly designated Muslim mosques as terrorist organizations, and that the Obama administration has praised police spying against innocent Muslims. Never mind that Obama is still considering the stop-and-frisk NYPD Commissioner as new head of Homeland Security. America has changed, all right. And not for the better.)

New York Times columnist Charles Blow has written a brutally honest piece about MLK's magical transformation from "Dangerous Negro" with ties to Communism, to the cultural icon now so acceptable to the authoritarian likes of Barack Obama. To his credit, Blow did not join in the liberal veal pen cheering of Obama's Speech. Decrying the nostalgia of the old-timers and the new old-timers at Wednesday's staged retrospective, Blow writes:
Yet there remains a sort of cultural complacency in America. After young people took to the streets as part of the Arab Spring, many Americans, like myself, were left wondering what had become of American activism. When was the last time our young people felt so moved that they took to the streets to bring attention to an issue?
There were some glimmers of hope around Occupy Wall Street and the case of Trayvon Martin, but both movements have lost much of their steam, and neither produced a clear leader.
So as we rightfully commemorate the March on Washington and King’s speech, let us also pay particular attention to the content of that speech. King spoke of the “fierce urgency of now,” not the fierce urgency of nostalgia.
(I was struck by how old the speakers skewed this week during the commemorations.) What is our fierce urgency? What is the present pressure? Who will be our King? What will be our cause?
As many readers pointed out, it was the Obama Administration itself which crushed the Occupy movement. And the "Trayvon Movement", which initially included a boycott of tourist dollar-dependent Florida by millionaire black entertainers, simply fizzled.... because, well, Capitalism. My comment, in answer to where all the new dissenters may be:

Now that the Occupy movement has been stymied, the most dangerous Americans are independent journalists and whistleblowers. It takes at least a generation to declare a subversive a hero. So someday, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden and a whole host of subversives who are still little kids might get their own national holidays. This of course is if America as we know it survives for another generation, and "the nation" hasn't been rendered into just another chunk of wasteland real estate, pillaged and despoiled by the multinational capitalists who own the world in all but name.
Two of the speakers at Wednesday's ceremonies have recently spoken out strongly about the steady downward spiral of human rights in America. Jimmy Carter, who has publicly railed against our government's campaign of kill lists and drone terror, recently observed that this country no longer has a functioning democracy. And Civil Rights icon John Lewis praised Snowden, comparing him to Thoreau and Gandhi, before suddenly walking back the accolades and claiming he was misquoted by The Guardian newspaper. I suspect that some higher-up must have given him some friendly advice. Lewis, you may remember, was asked to "tone it down" once before, in the first March on Washington.
As the late revolutionary philosopher Frantz Fanon so saliently observed, "Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it."

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Four Stages of Neocon Arousal

A Neocon with the apt name of Major Gen. Spider Marks went on CNN Wednesday to give Wolf Blitzer and his sidekick Tom Foreman a stimulating tutorial on the Four Stages of Attacking Syria. Marks's presentation did not, of course, in any way crib from Masters and Johnson's Four Stages Of Human Sexual Response. But it definitely seemed to arouse Wolf Blitzer, judging from the feverish glitter in his bespectacled eyes and the rosy flush erupting behind his fuzzy white beard, as the scenario for wanking Syria was laid out before him, in the form of a colorful map. All shiny and decked out in bright colors. Lying helpless on the floor, in a darkened studio.

CNN did not disclose that Gen. Spider Marks (not to be confused with Col. Tick Bites) is a paid shill who made millions as a private contractor during the Iraq occupation. He's been exposed before, most notably by the New York Times in its Pulitzer-winning blockbuster, as one of a whole army of Pentagon-controlled apparatchiks paid to go on TV and pimp out war. And like the comic book hero by the same name, he just keeps coming back.

And this time, not to be outdone by Miley Cyrus, Spider gave the audience its money's worth. Although he lacked a phallic finger with which to display an estimated 50 Syrian sweet spots on the map, he made do with twerking it, military-style,with his foot.

The Four Phases of Neocon Arousal, as outlined by Spider Man:

1) "Getting in position". Battleships manned, artillery aimed. The grooming phase is complete, so let's move on, Wolf.

2) "Staging": a.k.a. the Plateau Phase. Excitement, though mounting, was being kept under strict control as President Obama finished up his speech at the Lincoln Memorial. But the ships are getting ever closer to the tempting Syrian beaches. Planes are circling just outside the restricted area. The tension is palpable. The Tomahawks are pulsating. The NSA Peeping Toms are ogling. Tom Foreman is breathing hard. The corporate media tom-toms are throbbing.

3). "Execution Phase". Crescendo. Fire Away. Shock and Awe.  The Military-Industrial Complex orgasms from every direction. Defense stocks surge. Mission Accomplished. America Got Testosterone!

4) The "Stability Phase." Syria, whipped into a quivering 50 Shades of Gray stupor, smokes a cigarette. The Americans sneak out without so much as the promise of a phone call.

But never fear, Spider reassures us. There are probably plenty more surgical strikes where that one came from. After all, this is only the first time. As the usual craven, unidentified White House flack tells it, the whole purpose of wanking Syria is to appear just "muscular" enough to avoid getting mocked.

So there you have it. The show must, and will, go on. Fear of political embarrassment dictates it.

The Dream and The March

Open Thread -- please share your thoughts and links. To get you started:
On this 50th anniversary of the rally for rights and jobs, let's remember that immediately after Martin Luther King's iconic I Have a Dream speech, the USG went into full clinical paranoia mode, stepping up their surveillance of him. He was considered a "dangerous Negro," a subversive, back in the day. That radicalism cannot even be tolerated by the current PTB, who've stepped up their surveillance of all the brothers and sisters, black and white alike. But the bowdlerization of MLK continues apace: from pro-labor socialist anti-war preacher to touchy-feely personification of Kumbaya. Otherwise, how could a trio of temp emps (former/current presidents) tolerate giving their own touchy-feeling speeches in his honor?
Economist and humanist Joseph Stiglitz has cut to the chase: the march was not just about racial injustice, but about economic injustice. The racial animus is still alive and well, albeit muted and dog-whistled, but the economic injustice is getting louder and more blatant by the day. Wealth disparity, with the neo-feudalism it engenders, is the de facto policy of the multinational shadow government of unfettered capitalists now ruling the planet. As Stiglitz writes in a New York Times op-ed,
In so many respects, progress in race relations has been eroded, and even reversed, by the growing economic divides afflicting the entire country.
The battle against outright discrimination is, regrettably far from over: 50 years after the march, and 45 years after the passage of the Fair Housing Act, major United States banks, like Wells Fargo, still discriminate on the basis of race, targeting the most vulnerable of our citizens for their predatory lending activities. Discrimination in the job market is pervasive and deep. Research suggests that applicants with African-American sounding names get fewer calls for interviews. Discrimination takes new forms; racial profiling remains rampant in many American cities, including through the stop-and-frisk policies that became standard practice in New York. Our incarceration rate is the world’s highest, although there are signs, finally, that fiscally strapped states are starting to see the folly, if not the inhumanity, of wasting so much human capital through mass incarceration. Almost 40 percent of prisoners are black. This tragedy has been documented powerfully by Michelle Alexander and other legal scholars.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Case of the Case-Making Secretary

From your Secretary of State of Rage, John Kerry, came the opening salvo in yet another front in the Everywhere War. He strove in vain to move the public bellicosity appetite scale all the way from Nine to Ten Percent. It was a heroic effort, replete with two centuries of American jingoism and bathos. He had to have reached into the very depths of his tepid core to come up with so much feigned outrage. (italicized bits are just my own mutterings.)

Text of John Kerry's Getting Ready for War speech:

Well, for the last several days President Obama and his entire national security team have been reviewing the situation in Syria. (They've had months and years and countless rounds of golf in which to review the situation, but there you go.) And today I want to provide an update on our efforts as we consider our response to the use of chemical weapons. (Our minds are already made up, but I am making this rare public TV appearance to give our machinations the patina of pretend-transparency.) 

What we saw in Syria last week should shock the conscience of the world. It defies any code of morality. Let me be clear. The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity. By any standard, it is inexcusable. And despite the excuses and equivocations that some have manufactured, it is undeniable. (Pay no attention to the thousands of deaths by American drones of people with whom we are not even at war, and what Norman Pollack describes as the ongoing Murder by Proxy of Egyptian citizens, using American-made weapons bought by American taxpayers for the enrichment of our military-industrial complex. Those, apparently, are "moral actions". We pretend to have moral standing to condemn chemical weapons use because that is the one atrocity we have never used against others. As far as you know. And egging other countries on, like we did to Iraq back when we liked them, doesn't count. We are only vehemently opposed to chemical weapons when it suits our own self-interest to be. )

The meaning of this attack goes beyond the conflict on Syria itself. And that conflict has already brought so much terrible suffering. This is about the large-scale indiscriminate use of weapons that the civilized world long ago decided must never be used at all, a conviction shared even by countries that agree on little else. (As self-proclaimed Masters of the Universe, we are highly discriminating killers. Other little countries may kill just for the fun of it, and enjoy the pain they impose, but not us. We  ascribe a transcendant Biblical meaning to all our tawdry endeavors. We kill from duty and for profit. God is on Our Side. We derive our entire meaning from magical thinking.)

There is a clear reason that the world has banned entirely the use of chemical weapons. There is a reason the international community has set a clear standard and why many countries have taken major steps to eradicate these weapons. There is a reason why President Obama has made it such a priority to stop the proliferation of these weapons, and lock them down where they do exist. There is a reason why President Obama has made clear to the Assad regime that this international norm cannot be violated without consequences. And there is a reason why no matter what you believe about Syria, all peoples and all nations who believe in the cause of our common humanity must stand up to assure that there is accountability for the use of chemical weapons so that it never happens again. (Here we go into Righteous American Exceptionalist Preacher mode, which operates thusly: Repeat the initial phrases of the sentences as a litany. There is a reason, there is a reason, there is a reason. Pound that insipid moral outrage into the pliable hearts and minds of America. Shock and Awe, Baby! Shock and Awe. Forget that the United States chose to ignore the world-wide ban on torture, too. After all, now we only outsource it. And force-feed prisoners while we're at it.)

Last night, after speaking with foreign ministers from around the world about the gravity of this situation, I went back and I watched the videos — the videos that anybody can watch in the social media, and I watched them one more gut-wrenching time. It is really hard to express in words the human suffering that they lay out before us. (I always use my sonorous voice dripping with condescending gravitas whilst dictating American dictates to the petty dictators of our client states. And we absolutely need the American people to watch the war-porn videos playing in an endless loop on CNN. Do not, however, watch that gut-wrenching video leaked by Chelsea Manning of murder-by-American soldiers. When we do it, it's not an atrocity. And whoever spills the beans on our righteous slaughters gets sentenced to 35 years in prison.) 

As a father, I can’t get the image out of my head of a man who held up his dead child, wailing while chaos swirled around him, the images of entire families dead in their beds without a drop of blood or even a visible wound, bodies contorting in spasms, human suffering that we can never ignore or forget. Anyone who could claim that an attack of this staggering scale could be contrived or fabricated needs to check their conscience and their own moral compass. (We, the murderous tyrants of the world, always bring up the fact that we implanted our sperm into eggs as justification for killing people. Being fathers who love our own privileged spawn gives us the right to kill the children of our enemies who, by the way, are never victims, but always collateral damage. We never check our own moral compasses. Probably because we lack moral compasses.)

Pakistani Man Grieves Over Child Victims of American Drone Attack

What is before us today is real, and it is compelling. (But don't look at the photo above. Look at my stern visage as I compel you into blind acceptance.)......

So I also want to underscore that while investigators are gathering additional evidence on the ground, our understanding of what has already happened in Syria is grounded in facts, informed by conscience and guided by common sense. The reported number of victims, the reported symptoms of those who were killed or injured, the firsthand accounts from humanitarian organizations on the ground, like Doctors Without Borders and the Syria Human Rights Commission — these all strongly indicate that everything these images are already screaming at us is real, that chemical weapons were used in Syria. (The facts may not be all in, but we know, we just know, that the Assad Regime is behind this awfulness. Because when facts are lacking, we always bring on the bathos. George W. knew in his gut there were WMDs. When it comes to a case for war, guts and profits rule. Facts drool. And just look at who's providing us with all the intel. It's that least-truthful unprosecuted perjurer himself, Director of Intelligence James Clapper. So there you go.)

Moreover, we know that the Syrian regime maintains custody of these chemical weapons. We know that the Syrian regime has the capacity to do this with rockets. We know that the regime has been determined to clear the opposition from those very places where the attacks took place. And with our own eyes, we have all of us become witnesses. (All the world's a stage, so we hereby demand that you believe everything that is presented to you on your TV. Again with the repetition, the better to grind it all into your brains. We know, we know, we know. And also, we know.)

We have additional information about this attack, and that information is being compiled and reviewed together with our partners, and we will provide that information in the days ahead. (We'll present this as a cliff-hanger, in collaboration with our partners at CNN and MSNBC and even FoxNews. Stay tuned for further infotainment and filmed atrocities for your viewing pleasure.)

Our sense of basic humanity is offended not only by this cowardly crime but also by the cynical attempt to cover it up. At every turn, the Syrian regime has failed to cooperate with the U.N. investigation, using it only to stall and to stymie the important effort to bring to light what happened in Damascus in the dead of night. And as Ban Ki- moon said last week, the U.N. investigation will not determine who used these chemical weapons, only whether such weapons were used, a judgement that is already clear to the world. (The part of the propaganda wherein the war-mongers pretend to be human and humane. American officials are never cynical, nor do they ever attempt to cover anything up. It only took them 60 years to reveal that the CIA was behind the ouster of the Shah of Iran, for example.)

I spoke on Thursday with Syrian Foreign Minister Muallem, and I made it very clear to him that if the regime, as he argued, had nothing to hide, then their response should be immediate: immediate transparency, immediate access, not shelling. Their response needed to be unrestricted and immediate access. Failure to permit that, I told him, would tell its own story. (Just as we always reassure our own people when it comes to NSA surveillance: if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.)

Instead, for five days the Syrian regime refused to allow the U.N. investigators access to the site of the attack that would allegedly exonerate them. Instead, it attacked the area further, shelling it and systematically destroying evidence. That is not the behavior of a government that has nothing to hide. That is not the action of a regime eager to prove to the world that it had not used chemical weapons. In fact, the regime’s belated decision to allow access is too late and is too late to be credible. (Mind you, the identities of the snipers have not been determined. They couldn't possibly have been Al Qaeda, whom we alternately bankroll and kill, depending on their location.)

Today’s reports of an attack on the U.N. investigators, together with the continued shelling of these very neighborhoods, only further weakens the regime’s credibility. At President Obama’s direction, I’ve spent many hours over the last few days on the phone with foreign ministers and other leaders. The administration is actively consulting with members of Congress, and we will continue to have these conversations in the days ahead. President Obama has also been in close touch with the leaders of our key allies, and the president will be making an informed decision about how to respond to this indiscriminate use of chemical weapons. (This is the part of the propaganda in which the picture is painted of kinetic crisis at the highest levels of the government. They are on the phone non-stop, buzzing like self-important little bees, as they make informed choices based on stuff they want to hear.)

But make no mistake: President Obama believes there must be accountability for those who would use the world’s most heinous weapons against the world’s most vulnerable people. Nothing today is more serious, and nothing is receiving more serious scrutiny. (Unmanned predator drones are apparently not heinous weapons, nor are the Pakistani, Afghan, Somalian and Yemeni children being rendered into bugsplat by them among the world's most vulnerable citizens. As former Press Secretary Robert Gibbs once pointed out, they committed the crime of being born to "irresponsible" parents.)

Thank you. (Now excuse me as I go pour champagne on the flames that are consuming my soul.)

"There exists among men, because they are men, a solidarity through which each shares responsibility for every injustice and every wrong committed in the world, and especially for crimes that are committed in his presence or of which he cannot be ignorant. If I do not do whatever I can to prevent them, I am accomplice in them. If I have not risked my life in order to prevent the murder of other men, if I have stood silent, I feel guilty in a sense that cannot in any adequate fashion be understood juridically, or politically, or morally. . . . That I am still alive after such things have been done weighs on me as a guilt that cannot be expiated." -- Karl Jaspers.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Smoke, Shills and Shrillionaires

(Say three times fast.)

Well, knock me over with a Lucky Strike. Michael Bloomberg, lord mayor of the fiefdom of New York, 10th richest American plutocrat, 20th wealthiest man in the universe, is taking on the Transpacific Partnership (TPP). More specifically, he is taking on President Obama's "cave" to Big Tobacco, which is demanding the right to spread cancer and sell ciggies to kiddies the wide world over. Under the new agreement, the tobacco cartel will be granted the power to actually supersede local laws governing the sale of its products.

In an op-ed published in today's New York Times, Bloomberg writes:
The early drafts of the agreement included a “safe harbor” provision protecting nations that have adopted regulations on tobacco — like package warnings and advertising and marketing restrictions — because of “the unique status of tobacco products from a health and regulatory perspective.” This provision would have prevented the tobacco industry from interfering with governments’ sovereign right to protect public health through tobacco control laws.  
This week, however, the Obama administration bowed to pressure from the tobacco industry and dumped the safe harbor provision from the trade compact. The tobacco industry was joined by other business interest groups that were fearful that the safe harbor provision would lead to other products’ being singled out in future trade accords.
So instead of the safe harbor, the Obama administration is now calling for a clause requiring that before a government can challenge another’s tobacco regulation under the treaty, their health authorities must “discuss the measure.” The administration will also try to ensure that a general exception for matters to protect human life or health (typical in trade agreements) applies specifically to tobacco regulation.
But these are weak half-measures at best that will not protect American law — and the laws of other countries — from being usurped by the tobacco industry, which is increasingly using trade and investment agreements to challenge domestic tobacco control measures.
Obama, a known nicotine addict himself, will effectively allow a flood of cheap cigarettes into third world countries, where in some locales, the rules are already lax: 

He's going to need all the help he can get funding his presidential library, paying for his daughters' educations, weddings, his homes, their condos, second homes, third homes, ad infinitum. The once-secretive shilling is now right out there in the open. And why limit himself to only one Kill List? 

Every human rights organization and public health advocacy group out there, it seems, is up in arms over the president's latest sellout. But Bloomberg's the guy with the heft. Obama once even offered him the presidency of the World Bank. So, as I responded in today's Times comment thread,
Maybe when Mayor Bloomberg leaves office, he can go full Glenn Greenwald and start publishing exposés on the rest of the super-secret, corporation-friendly awfulness contained in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. As a member of the Club, he is welcome where the rest of us (even members of Congress expected to give it a quickie carte blanche) are not. If he will do that for the hoi polloi, and rip the curtain of deceit away from the global capitalist cabal, I might even forgive him for evicting Occupy from Zuccotti Park.
So -- what about the reckless epidemic of fracking for natural gas, most of which will be exported to other countries for the enrichment of a few, rather than stockpiled here for our own future use?
What about the importation of foreign food from countries where they don't necessarily believe in inspection? What about the deal that will shield corporations from lawsuits in domestic courts? How about the clause giving drug companies permission to withhold life-saving medicine from impoverished countries?
How about it, Mr. Mayor? Channel FDR, and be a traitor to your class. It's never too late.
For the latest information and best coverage of the ongoing corporate coup known as the TPP, check out Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch. Since the USG's adherence to the will of the world's business cartels hinges upon Congressional approval, pressure on our reps may do the trick. Obama has yet to secure their permission to unilaterally sign any deals. It's not too late, especially given parallel anger over the NSA spying revelations.

This all ties in, too, to Paul Krugman's excellent column on bubbles and deregulation, on oligarchs gone wild, running from one crisis to the next. My comment:
Transnational capitalism rules the world. And it's super-government run amok. It's the force behind the epidemic of social austerity and corporate deregulation, endless wars and constant surveillance of restive populations. Heads of state are mere brokers, competing for Super Government's business, outbidding each other to offer the most natural resources, the most legal immunity, the most generous corporate welfare. They offer up their increasingly desperate human labor pools, who are forced to work longer and longer for less and less.
The corporate leeches feed, and keep moving. They hide their trillions in their offshore accounts and watch smugly from afar as the toxic bubbles they leave behind fester and burst, and societies crumble. They are never held accountable. They do, after all, own the world.
Well, almost. According to a 2006 UN report, the world’s richest 1% own 40% of the world’s assets, with those in the financial and internet sectors comprising the “super rich.” The top 10% of the global super-rich, a third of whom call the USA home sweet home, own about 85% of the planet's total assets. The bottom half of the population (3 billion people) own less than 1% of the world’s wealth.
In America, the president is now asking Congress for free rein to negotiate yet another massive giveaway to the global super-rich in the form of the ultra-secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership. Because, for the financial predators who run the place, too much is never enough.
Here's Lookin' At You, Kids

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Every Way You Look At This, You Lose

(graphic by Kat Garcia)
Where have you gone, Barack Obama? The nation turned its lonely eyes to you. Woo, woo, woo. But now your approval rating among the young has plummeted to an all-time low, thanks in large part to the NSA spying revelations. You seduced the young folks, and now they've abandoned you for Edward Snowden.

And then there's that little matter of a 65% summer unemployment rate among teenagers. And new college graduates who can't find decent jobs. A whole lost generation of the permanently indebted is ending up in part-time, low-wage hell. They're sleeping in mom and dad's basement. That is, if mom and dad are lucky enough to have jobs themselves, and still have a non-foreclosed home, and basement.

What's that you say, Mr. Obama? You just want to learn a little bit about us for your files? Maybe that's why you're embarking on yet another propaganda bus tour, visiting elite colleges located smack- dab in the middle of Long Depressionville. You'd like to help us learn to help ourselves. Look at you -- all we see are your sympathetic eyes and all we hear is your melodious voice. (When it comes to the president, son, let me just describe him in one word: Plastic. He's a Wall Street robot. And he drones on, and on, and on. From Buffalo all the way to Yemen.)

Since the success of Obamacare hinges upon those millions of healthy young people signing up and paying up in order to keep premiums low for everybody in the pool, and Obama's popularity among young people is rapidly eroding, will Edward Snowden now also be blamed if the Affordable Care Act falls flat on its insurance-predator bum?

It's too early to tell if such P.R. efforts as the "Young Invincibles" campaign to sign up healthy young people for Obamacare will have any effect. It's Not Always Sunny in Young America, their slogan goes. No kidding. You think your life is an economic disaster now, just wait until you get run over by a truck while you're reading about the latest NSA dirt. So buy, buy, buy.

Meanwhile, from The Hill:
Some polls show a double-digit drop in Obama’s approval rating since Edward Snowden revealed NSA secrets, weakening the president ahead of fall fights with congressional Republicans over the budget and immigration.
Polling taken by the Economist and YouGov finds a 14-point swing in Obama’s approval and disapproval rating among voters aged 18-29 in surveys taken immediately before the NSA revelations and last week.
“Younger voters tend to believe the Internet should be an area of free speech and free communication, and the idea that the government is looking into what you’re doing is distasteful — and particularly distasteful if run by a president they voted for,” said Julian Zelizer, a political science professor at Princeton University.“The narrative also goes against the fundamentals of President Obama, representing status quo politics and more of the same kind of policies that existed under President Bush, so Obama ceases to be an agent of change,” he added.
So is it any wonder that Obama is now suddenly pivoting to the college tour circuit in yet another one of those folksy, homespun bus trips? The email he sent out to "supporters like me" last night was full of vague platitudes wrapped in a warm fuzzy blanket of bromides: 
Michelle and I know exactly how tough it can be to pay for higher education. By the time we finished paying back the loans we took out to go to college and grad school, I was on my way to being a U.S. Senator.
I believe that anyone who works hard should have the same opportunities that our educations gave us. That's why, as President, I've made it a personal mission to make higher education more affordable -- and why I'm going to be visiting school campuses later this week.
Whenever Obama begins a spiel with "Michelle and I", get ready for the next big onslaught of unadulterated bullshit. And sure enough, his latest announcement is replete with colorful charts showing how expensive college is getting, with not one hint about how he actually plans to fix this.* But I imagine his plan will include giving immediate tax breaks to obscenely-salaried college presidents who vaguely promise to stuff more tech courses into their curricula, the better to prepare new hordes of grads for $11/hour jobs at an Amazon Fulfillment Center, or maybe even a non-unionized job in an Ikea factory in a right-to-work state. Those hard-workin' families aiming to put their kids through school are sure to be thrown another crumb of a tax credit as well, just to give the crap that now-familiar "balanced approach" patina of populism. (He won't ask the strapped students of America to pay another penny more in tuition unless boards of trustees first agree to put up a jobs bulletin board in all the dorms.)

But here, as Barbara Garson points out in an excellent piece in TomDispatch, is the ugly reality:
21% of the jobs lost during the Great Recession were low wage, meaning they paid $13.83 an hour or less.  But 58% of the jobs regained fall into that category. A common explanation for that startling statistic is that the bad jobs are coming back first and the good jobs will follow.  
But let me suggest another explanation: the good jobs are here among us right now -- it’s just their wages, their benefits, and the long-term security that have vanished.
Obama, you may remember, once suggested a hike in the minimum wage to a miserly $9/hour. Not only has he seemingly abandoned even that pathetic goal, he has never put the onus of blame for high tuition and low wages on the real culprits: corporate welfare behemoths like Walmart and G.E., and the political donor class bribers, who once upon a time actually did fund state schools through a fair, progressive tax system. Nor will he blame his own Wall Street-friendly, misguided austerian policies, put in place after the financial meltdown.

A White House press flack, with the ironic name of Josh Earnest, was coy about exactly what Obama will announce later this week. The president doesn't "want to give the secret away now.... but it'll be good" he promised the other day. "Stay tuned."

I reckon Obama is still busy stashing it in the propaganda pantry with all the rest of his verbal cupcakes. It's a little secret, just the plutocrats' affair. Most of all, he's got to hide it from the kids.

Update: Watch for Obama's approval ratings to erode a little more each day that he doesn't pardon, or commute the sentence of, Bradley Manning. May his black bus be greeted by protesters galore.
*Update 2 (8/22): The White House snuck the New York Times a cupcake before dinner (an advance copy of talking points.) I wasn't all that far off in my predictions. It seems Obama's big plan is to rate colleges based on affordability, percentage of low-income students, and amount of post-graduate debt -- and eventually/maybe/ someday give them less federal aid if they don't meet his small-bore criteria. All of this, of course, hinges upon Congress acting on his bold plan to give greedy colleges 50 lashes with a wet noodle. Oh, and don't forget a Thomas Friedman-esque internet connection for every hard-workin' student.   

Monday, August 19, 2013

You've Been Warned

David Miranda was never even given the British version of his Miranda Rights.

As a matter of fact, the  legal term "Mirandized" may have just gotten a whole new meaning. Thanks to the Heathrow Airport arrest and detention yesterday of David Miranda, domestic partner of Glenn Greenwald, we now have irrefutable proof that our civil rights have eroded even faster than we thought. The whole world is a police state, and we are all deemed terrorists unless and until they decide otherwise.

The familiar Miranda Warning, the one we see on TV cop shows, says "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law." It's meant to protect your right against self-incrimination, guaranteed under the Fifth Amendment.

The newest, perverted version, however, isn't even a warning. It's a fact. It's the thuggery of the state run amok. It's the extralegal pronouncement that they can stop you in a public place during the course of your travels. Any electronic gizmos you carry can and will be confiscated, and probably used against you in a secret court operating under a secret code of law enacted in a secret politburo.. The very fact that you exist in time and space now makes you a target in a USG-orchestrated campaign of suppression and intimidation. The Terror Government has extended its tentacles around the entire girth of the globe.

As Glenn Greenwald points out in his post about Miranda's ordeal, the transnational crusade against journalists who dare spill government secrets has now reached truly epic proportions:
This is obviously a rather profound escalation of their attacks on the news-gathering process and journalism. It's bad enough to prosecute and imprison sources. It's worse still to imprison journalists who report the truth. But to start detaining the family members and loved ones of journalists is simply despotic. Even the Mafia had ethical rules against targeting the family members of people they felt threatened by. But the UK puppets and their owners in the US national security state obviously are unconstrained by even those minimal scruples.
If the UK and US governments believe that tactics like this are going to deter or intimidate us in any way from continuing to report aggressively on what these documents reveal, they are beyond deluded. If anything, it will have only the opposite effect: to embolden us even further. Beyond that, every time the US and UK governments show their true character to the world - when they prevent the Bolivian President's plane from flying safely home, when they threaten journalists with prosecution, when they engage in behavior like what they did today - all they do is helpfully underscore why it's so dangerous to allow them to exercise vast, unchecked spying power in the dark.
David Miranda was detained under a statute called Schedule 7 of the UK Terrorism Act, allowing for an arrest lasting a maximum nine hours, pending formal charges. The law is a direct slap in the face to the original Miranda rights, given that detainees are not given the right to remain silent, not allowed access to legal counsel, and are forced into answering questions. Refusal to cooperate under Schedule 7 has itself been deemed a criminal offense. Ironically enough, Schedule 7 forbids plain old stopping and frisking of folks for race or ethnicity. I imagine the NYPD would have something to say about that. Mayor Mike Bloomberg would probably insist that the Mirandization of David Miranda was done to protect him from himself, to keep the world safe from democracy.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Obama Champions Your Right to Pay

Let President Obama be perfectly clear. In the richest country on earth, you don't have the same right to health and wellness and treatment for disease as they do in other advanced countries.  But you absolutely, positively have the right to shop for your own private health insurance (which if you are lucky, might pay some percentage of your actual care.) As your president, he will defend your purchasing power to the death, with all the weasel words at his disposal, against the machinations of the Republicans. Because it's not about him, altruistic fellow that he is. It's about you, the insurance company consumers of America. From today's weekly radio address:
Your health insurance isn’t something to play politics with.  Our economy isn’t something to play politics with.  This isn’t a game.  This is about the economic security of millions of families.
See, in the states where governors and legislatures and insurers are working together to implement this law properly – states like California, New York, Colorado and Maryland – competition and consumer choice are actually making insurance affordable. 
So I’m going to keep doing everything in my power to make sure this law works as it’s supposed to.  Because in the United States of America, health insurance isn’t a privilege – it is your right.  And we’re going to keep it that way. 
Got that? Instead of saying your actual health is nothing to play politics with, he downgrades it to your health insurance being nothing to play politics with. The ability to pay for your sickness trumps the horrible fact that you're sick to begin with and that in a humane world, would not have to pay a middleman the price of getting better or preventing disease.

We'll know in a couple of months how successful or unsuccessful the big rollout of Obamacare is going to be. My overall opinion of it remains unchanged -- that it's a huge giveaway to the private insurance predators, but that a few lucky duckies (rich people with pre-existing conditions, uninsured twenty-something spawn of insured rich people, near-poor people in a handful of blue states newly qualifying for Medicaid) will benefit. So I am not calling for its repeal, as are the Republican nihilists. Because we would replace it with exactly nothing.

 And, I still hold out some faint hope that Obamacare will turn out to be a sort of gateway drug. Just as the pot-deprived of America are now turning envious, un-bloodshot eyes to Washington State and Colorado and their public hemp fests, the health care-deprived will notice how much better things are in New York and California, and demand their own medical care fixes. The insurance predators and investment class will eventually realize the profits aren't worth the headaches and sink their cash into more lucrative enterprises, like endless war and domestic surveillance. And bit by bit, we will get Medicare for All. At least, that is my pipe dream.

But that doesn't make me any less disgusted with the way Obama persists in framing this issue in free market, rather than in humanistic terms. It doesn't make me any less disgusted that the needs of greedy capitalists always trump the needs of the citizens in this sham of a democracy.

The United States has the most expensive health care system in the world, with some of the worst results in terms of morbidity and mortality. Obamacare, in the first year, is estimated to "cover" only four million people out of an uninsured population of some 50 million. Predatory private insurance bureaucracy and paperwork consume one-third  of every health care dollar. As Physicians for a National Health Program note, a single payer system would save more than $400 billion per year, enough to provide comprehensive, high-quality coverage for all Americans.

But remember, people. Barack Obama is fighting for your right to enrich the profiteers, all the way to the post-presidency bank.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Those Silly Rogues at the NSA

The only question I have about today's Washington Post revelation on the thousands of instances of illegal domestic spying by the NSA is: why the hell did they sit on this story for so long? Edward Snowden gave them the documents on which it is based months ago.

If the Post were truly in the muckraking business and not the semi-official propaganda organ of the Beltway, I'd surmise that they were simply waiting for President Obama to hang himself. Obama, you may remember, last week seemed to categorically deny that anything untoward was going on in Police State USA. His exact words, however, were very carefully parsed:
 "If you look at the reports, even the disclosures that Mr. Snowden’s put forward, all the stories that have been written, what you’re not reading about is the government actually abusing these programs and, you know, listening in on people’s phone calls or inappropriately reading people’s e-mails."
Which could be interpreted to mean if you are not aware of abuses, then your cluelessness is your own problem. I know something you don't know. Nonny nonny boo boo. 

Since the Washington Post is the semi-official organ of the Establishment, they've probably spent the last several months agonizing over what Edward Snowden handed to them on a silver platter. They had legions of lawyers poring over every syllable. They provided advance copies to every government apparatchik for his or her vetting and approval, prior to publication. The article admits that NSA officials spoke to them only with "the permission of the White House." There was no actual official leaking going on, they want you to know. Their continued access to power remains safe and secure. In the end they decided to run with the story, because it did not, in the grand scheme of things, make any politician look too terribly bad. Incompetent, maybe. Evil? No way. 

The article was essentially framed around the theme "Shit Happens." At most, it exposed mind-shattering stupidity and arrogance, which are not crimes. These people are only human. And besides, we already had a huge hint about their rank ineptitude when intelligence hack James Clapper told Congress that his spooks don't ever "knowingly" eavesdrop. Sometimes the data just comes floating into their line of vision. There is so damned much of it, they can't avoid it.

And funny? How about that time when the NSA mistook the Beltway area code for Egypt's, temporarily confusing the moneyed Swamp People with impoverished denizens of the desert?  Boy, did they ever get egg on their faces. I imagine they're still rolling in the aisles over that wacky caper. Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.

And Deputy Attorney General James Cole acknowledged in his own recent Congressional testimony that "every now and then there may be a mistake." I guess when the government vacuums up so many trillions of our communications that they had to construct a whole new building in Utah in which to store them, a few thousand privacy violations every year constitutes a mere Now and Then.

Of course, the thousands of violations that they self-reported were confined only to the Fort Meade, MD headquarters -- and thus are likely tp represent only the tiniest tip of the iceberg of what is more likely to be truly evil stuff.

But for now, this story will make our abusers look like harmless idiots. A couple of wacky hacky heads will roll to appease the masses. And Booz Allen will continue laughing all the way to the bank. And Obama will continue laughing up his sleeve.

Guest Post: Liberals & The Second Amendment

By Zee

Liberal Professors and Historians of Constitutional Law Who Hold
Surprising Views on the Second Amendment

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), has long generalized that the Bill of Rights—or, at least, the first Eight Amendments—protect individual rights, an assertion with which I agree.
Yet the ACLU—along with perhaps most American liberals—has decided to assign a special, “collective rights” interpretation to the Second Amendment (hereafter, SA), directly contradicting its/their own general assertions. This needless torture of plain language is done, IMHO, strictly for political purposes, and is damaging to the entire Bill of Rights.

Alan Dershowitz, liberal professor of law at Harvard Univ. and an expert on constitutional law and civil rights, has recognized the serious danger lurking behind this interpretation of the SA. From Wikipedia (and note that all bold emphases that follow are mine):
“Dershowitz is strongly opposed to firearms ownership and the [SA], and supports repealing the amendment, but he vigorously opposes using the judicial system to read it out of the Constitution because it would open the way for further revisions to the Bill of Rights and the Constitution by the courts. 'Foolish liberals who are trying to read the [SA] out of the Constitution by claiming it's not an individual right or that it's too much of a public safety hazard don't see the danger in the big picture. They're courting disaster by encouraging others to use the same means to eliminate portions of the Constitution they don't like.'
But Dershowitz is by no means the most respected professor or historian of constitutional law who has decided that the SA protects an individual right to own firearms.

Let's start with the person who is probably the biggest “intellectual constitutional gun” on the field, and who has undergone pretty much a complete reversal from his earlier position in support of the “collective model,” liberal Harvard law professor and constitutional law expert, Laurence Tribe:
“Perhaps the most accurate conclusion one can reach with any confidence is that the core meaning of the [SA] is a populist/republican/federalism one. Its central object is to arm 'We the People' so that ordinary citizens can participate in the collective defense of their community and their state. But it does so not through directly protecting a right on the part of the states or other collectivities, assertable by them against the federal government, to arm the populace as they see fit. Rather, the amendment achieves its central purpose by assuring that the federal government may not disarm individual citizens without some unusually strong justification consistent with the authority of the states to organize their own militias. That assurance in turn is provided through recognizing a right (admittedly of uncertain scope) on the part of individuals to possess and use firearms in the defense of themselves and their homes—not a right to hunt for game, quite clearly, and certainly not a right to employ firearms to commit aggressive acts against other persons—a right that directly limits action by Congress or the Executive Branch and may well, in addition, be among the privileges or immunities of United States citizens protected by sec. 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment against state or local government action.” --Laurence H. Tribe, “American Constitutional Law (3rd edition),” 901-02 n.221, Foundation Press, 2000.
What a complete reversal from his position on the SA in the two earlier editions of his highly-respected textbook!

Note that Tribe's year-2000 textbook predates the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) cases Heller v. DC and McDonald v. Chicago, of which the latter's decision “incorporated” the SA under the Fourteenth Amendment.

Tribe acknowedged his epiphany in a 2007 NYT article regarding an appeals court case, Parker v. DC, which was later consolidated into Heller v. DC when it arrived at SCOTUS:
“Laurence H. Tribe, a law professor at Harvard, said he had come to believe that the [SA] protected an individual right. 'My conclusion came as something as something of a surprise to me, and an unwelcome surprise,' Professor Tribe said. 'I have always supported as a matter of policy very comprehensive gun control.'”
Earlier, in a 1999 USA Today article that followed closely on the heels of the release of his 3rd edition, Tribe said:
“I've gotten an avalanche of angry mail from apparent liberals who said, 'How could you?...But as someone who takes the Constitution seriously, I thought I had a responsibility to see what the [SA] says, and how it fits.”
 (So, after two editions of his textbook, he finally gets around to seeing what the SA really says? Well, better late than never.)

And now that SCOTUS has incorporated the SA just as Prof. Tribe thought might happen, that protection—“admittedly of uncertain scope”— extends right down to the individual.

Another respected consitutional law professor, Akhil Reed Amar (Yale Univ.) has reached the same conclusion, both in his book, The Bill of Rights, and in several related newpaper, magazine and webzine articles. He has been described as a “liberal” in a NYT review of his most recent book.
From The Bill of Rights:
What's more, the 'militia,' as used in the amendment and in clause 16 [of Article I, Sec. 8 of the U.S. Consititution] had a very different meaning two hundred years ago than in ordinary conversation today. Nowadays, it is quite common to speak loosely of the National Guard as the 'state militia,' but two hundred years ago, any band of paid, semiprofessional, part-time volunteers, like today's guard, would have been called a 'select corps' or 'select militia'—and viewed in many quarters as little better than a standing army. In 1789, when used without any qualifying adjective, 'the militia' referred to all citizens capable of bearing arms. The seeming tension between the dependent and the main clauses of the [SA] thus evaporates on closer inspection—the 'militia' is identical to 'the people' in the core sense described above. Indeed, the version of the amendment that initially passed in the House, only to be stylistically shortened in the Senate, explicitly defined the militia as 'composed of the body of the People.' This is clearly the sense in which 'the militia' is used in clause 16 and throughout 'The Federalist,' in keeping with standard usage confirmed by contemporaneous dictionaries, legal and otherwise. As Tenche Coxe wrote in a 1788 Pennsylvania essay, 'Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves?'”
Amar goes on to spike the notion that either the term “well-regulated” in the SA, or Article I, Sec. 8, clause 16 of the U.S. Constitution somehow trumps an individual right:
“First, it appears that the adjective 'well-regulated' did not imply broad state authority to disarm the general militia; indeed, its use in various state constitutional antecedents of the [SA] suggests just the opposite is true. Second, and connected, the notion that congressional power in clause 16 to 'organiz[e]' and 'disciplin[e]' the general general militia logically implied congressional power to disarm the militia entirely is the very heresy that the [SA] was designed to deny. How, then, can we use the amendment's language to embrace the same heresy vis-a-vis state regulations? What's more, as shall become evident in Part Two [of Amar's book], the right to keep and bear arms was plainly viewed by the framers of the Fourteenth Amendment as a 'privilege of national citizenship' that henceforth would apply, and perhaps should always have applied, against states.”
It seems clear that Prof. Amar has come to the same conclusion as Prof. Tribe, again, well before Heller v. DC. And he similarly anticipated the extension of that protection right down to the individual based on the Fourteenth Amendment, which we now know has happened. So again, here's another highly respected, liberal constitutional scholar who has determined that the SA protects an individual right to own firearms.

However, Amar's position on the SA and “reasonable” gun control is also informed by the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, as well as by simply examining customary firearms ownership, useage and laws in America since colonial days. From an article co-authored with Tribe,
“The fact is, almost none of the proposed state or Federal weapons regulations appears to come close to offending the [SA's] core right to self-protection. [Excluding, of course, the near-absolute bans of DC and the City of Chicago, both of which SCOTUS found to be unconstitutional!] The right to bear arms is certainly subject to reasonable regulation in the interest of public safety.”
I might argue at length with Profs. Tribe and Amar as to what is “reasonable gun control,” but I don't deny their basic premise: “Laws that ban certain types of weapons, that require safety devices on others, and that otherwise impose strict controls on guns, can pass Constitutional scrutiny.”
Another liberal law professor—not of constitutional law—who has been quoted favorably in this forum on other matters, Jonathan  Turley, published in USA Today in 2007 an article entitled A Liberal's lament: The NRA might be right after all.
“Principle is a terrible thing, because it demands not what is convenient but what is right. It is hard to read the [SA] and not honestly conclude that the Framers intended gun ownership to be an individual right. It is true that the amendment begins with a reference to militias...Accordingly, it is argued, this amendment protects the right of the militia to bear arms, not the individual.”
“Yet, if true, the [SA] would be effectively declared a defunct provision. The National Guard is not a true militia in the sense of the [SA] and, since the District [of Columbia] and others believe governments can ban guns entirely, the [SA] would be read out of existence”

More important, the mere reference to a purpose of the [SA] does not alter the fact than an individual right is created. The right of the people to keep and bear arms is stated in the same way as the right to free speech or free press...” “
Considering the Framers and their own traditions of hunting and self-defense, it is clear that they would have viewed such ownership as an individual right, consistent with the plain meaning of the amendment.
“None of this is easy for someone raised to believe that the [SA] was the dividing line between the enlightment and the dark ages of American culture. Yet, it is time to honestly reconsider this amendment and admit's the really hard part...the NRA may have been right. This does not mean that Charleton Heston is the new Rosa Parks or that no restrictions can be placed on gun ownership. But it does appear that gun ownership was made a protected right by the Framers, and while we might not celebrate it, it is time that we recognize it.”
Leonard W. Levy was not a professor of law, but he was a respected historian regarding the Bill of Rights. He won the 1968 Pulitzer Prize for History with his book, “Origins of the Fifth Amendment.” In an obituary, he was described as a “New Deal liberal.”
From his book, Origins of the Bill of Rights:
Believing that the [SA]does not authorize an individual's right to keep and bear arms is wrong. The right to bear arms is an individual right. The military connotation of bearing arms does not necessarily determine the meaning of a right to bear arms. If all it meant was the right to be a soldier or serve in the military, whether in the militia or the army, it would hardly be a cherished right and would never have reached constitutional status...”
“The right to bear arms is by no means unlimited. Public regulation may specify the kinds of weapons that are lawful and the conditions under which those weapons may be kept; but no regulation may subvert the right itself. The very language of the amendment is evidence that the right is a personal one, altogether separate from the maintenance of a militia. Militias were possible only because the people were armed and possessed the right to be armed. The right does not depend on whether militias exist.
So there you have it. Five highly respected, liberal professors—three, of constitutional law, the fourth a professor of law, and the fifth a distinguished historian of the Bill of Rights—have reached the same conclusion as have I and many others, viz., that the SA protects an individual right to own guns for personal protection independent of “enrollment” in any militia; a right that may neither be completely prohibited, nor made impossible to exercise—by, for example, complete bans on firearms ownership, imposition of exorbitant taxes on firearms and ammunition, expensive liability insurance requirements, or burdensome “fees” for background checks, etc.—at any level of government.

This interpretation also brings the entire Bill of Rights into conformance with the ACLU's general assertion that it does indeed protect individual rights. Which is as it should be.