This is the personal blog of Rick Staggenborg, MD. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the official positions of Take Back America for the People, an educational 501.c3 nonprofit established by Dr Staggenborg.

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Wednesday, July 31, 2013


I was not going to write anything about Snowden and the NSA because I assumed that everything that could be said had been in the hundreds (thousands?) of blogs about the situation.  However, I have not seen anyone who thinks that he is anything but a hero, an opportunist or a spy with an agenda. To me, the last comes closest to the truth. The difference between my theory and others I have read is that his agenda may not be the Machiavellian plot these conspiracy theorists assume it to be. Instead, it could be the best reason to hope that the firestorm Snowden ignited will actually shake things up in a way that no other whistleblower has.

 Look at the facts: He was with the CIA much longer than with the NSA. He clearly went into the job as an NSA consultant with a plan to acquire as much critical data as he could, and he managed to collect an amazing amount of key information in a short time.  To many (myself included), it seems clear that he is still working for the CIA, but what does that mean?  The theories I have seen all assume that he is either working for a foreign power such as Israel, engaged in interagency rivalry to embarrass the NSA, working for Israel to embarrass the US government, or even representing the interests of remnants of the Third Reich or Soviet Empire. At one point, a blogger suggested confidently that Snowden had been given the assignment of frightening Americans with the idea that “the government will get you” if you dare to tell the truth, as if they hadn’t already made the point with the witch hunt against whistleblowers that began during the Bush administration and that has mushroomed under Obama.  

I think we can rule out the last one. Snowden has made a mockery of the US ability to capture one lone leaker despite extraordinary efforts. How did he do it? Did I mention he has friends in the CIA?  It is important to recognize that the CIA as a whole does not work for the President to the extent that he challenges the corporate interest. If it did, Kennedy would have USSR and Cuba and we might not be facing the prospect of living through the creation of what could become a permanent fascist New World Order. However, those who pull the strings in the White House by virtue of their control of intelligence agencies and the military do not control every individual in either. If that were true, we would never have heard of Bradley Manning, Coleen Rowley, Sibel Edmonds, John Kiriakou and all the other whistleblowers who have risked their careers and even their lives to alert us to the dangers we face.

For each one of these brave men and women, there must be many others in the military and intelligence agencies who understand as they do that there is a difference between loyalty to the government and loyalty to the nation. Those who do surely recognize that blind obedience to the corrupt and out-of-control US government amounts to treason. How many are just waiting for a chance to make a difference, unwilling to sacrifice themselves until they believe they can?  Perhaps there are cells within the CIA and other intelligence agencies of patriots who told Snowden what information to take, what to do with it and how to evade capture. If so, that is the best possible news that those of us struggling to expose what is going on behind our backs in an increasingly secretive government, one that is openly curtailing our civil liberties while conducting wars and proxy wars against nations that do not submit to domination by the international corporations that dictate US foreign policy.

This obvious fact seems to have made little impression on a divided American citizenry who has yet to even realize that the two major parties are playing for the same team: the corporatocracy. It is no wonder that those of us who see the problem have developed a habit of expecting the worst, when things seem so hopeless. However, if my theory is right, it could be that the rules of the game have changed. For once, that works in our favor.  It looks like this case is not going away. People are genuinely angry that they are being spied upon in every electronic communication. The anger is not just in America, but throughout Europe and other allied nations. The fact that Europeans in general and Germans in particular are not going to let the matter go away is helping keep the issue in American consciousness.

Resistance is also growing in Congress. I am not the first one to point out that the vote to restrict NSA surveillance was bipartisan and very close, which is a major shift from the reflexive bipartisan support for every outrageous act committed by the government in the “War on Terror.” Looking at who voted against it is a very easy way to tell who is on our side and who is either too dimwitted to realize that it is just a smokescreen for a worldwide war on democracy and that America is part of the battlefield. Of course, some will say that view is too charitable, arguing that many if not most of those who continue to support NDAA, unlimited surveillance with no oversight and war without end are quite consciously choosing to support the explosive growth in power of those who profit from the military-industrial-government complex (as Eisenhower termed it before his advisors got to him). Either way, if we can keep the issue in the public mind until 2014, we may just be able to get rid of many of those who stand with the globalists who now control Congress and the White House and replace them with men and women who will begin to rein in a government that has become dangerous to its own people.

If it is true that members of the US government and military are beginning to organize to resist from within, it becomes apparent that what many have considered to be a pipe dream of taking control of their own government is possible. I would argue that it is only possible when such organizing takes place. I am sure that to these men and women, the lesson of what happened to those who resisted the growing police state in Nazi Germany is not lost. If they are organizing, they are not going to announce it. They will merely begin to act. I am convinced that even if this is not an example, such actions will not be long in coming. The more we encourage this, the more will feel emboldened to organize and act.

Obama promised us "the most transparent government in US history." Instead, we have seen a massive expansion of the use of the state secrets privilege, to the point of opting not to declassify thousands of sealed documents on the Kennedy assassination 50 years after the fact. The significance of this cannot be overestimated, given that even after the House Select Committee on Assassinations declared his death the result of a conspiracy, no serious government investigation has been done. In an effort to quiet those who would reveal evidence of ongoing crimes, Obama has invoked the Espionage Act eight times. The “Justice” Department is intimidating investigative journalists with mass surveillance while the Supreme Court strips them of immunity for refusing to reveal sources. Yes, I would agree that this is in fact the most transparent government in history, at least in terms of making no effort to conceal what it is doing. Those paying attention do not like what they see and for once, liberals and conservatives agree, at least those who are not blinded by loyalty to either of the corrupt members of the Duopoly.

At the risk of being accused of naiveté, I am still withholding judgment on Obama. Only someone blinded by rage could fail to see that if he seriously challenged the interests of the globalists who are pulling the strings of their puppets in Congress, the military and the intelligence agencies, it would be a simple matter to use the JFK solution, blaming the unfortunate tragedy on some lone racist nut. It is easy to say that if he were a real patriot, he would sacrifice himself, but I challenge those who hold this view to ask themselves if they would really willingly give up their lives to try to awaken citizens so easily manipulated. Americans are not only failing to rise in the streets in massive protest despite the examples of Egypt, Brazil, Turkey and elsewhere, but angrily decry those who do. For Obama to stick his neck out despite the obvious risk could be seen as being as desperate and ultimately futile as setting oneself on fire in a market in Tunisia, only to spark a revolution that in the end did nothing to relieve the conditions that led to such desperation.  He needs to know that we will be behind him and that a critical mass of key individuals in the government and military will stand beside him.

The government is made up of human beings. Most of them want to serve the People, even elected officials who have resigned themselves to fighting a defensive battle against fascism by at best, slowing its progression with occasional partial victories. It not only does no good to demonize them. This only reinforces their belief that they have to put the opinions of an easily manipulated public before what is right, or risk losing their office and the chance to continue the fight. They convince themselves that somehow they can still make a difference, even though this amounts to giving in to corporate interests every time they conflict with those of the public. This delusion is the result of the mindset that they can only do what is “politically possible,” and is characteristic of the Beltway mentality that refuses to admit that no one can serve two masters. It ignores the fact that what is possible in the current system is not enough. The system itself must be radically changed if we are ever to know democracy.

Fundamental change is possible. I would argue that it begins with a constitutional amendment that would reform campaign finance by establishing that money is not speech while abolishing corporate personhood, making it clear that corporations are not people and so have no constitutional rights. In fact, campaign finance reform might be sufficient. I realize this is heresy to many of the dedicated activists in Move to Amend, but I believe the only way to pass any amendment is to make it a litmus test for anyone who wants to serve in Congress. If we can elect a Congress willing to pass an amendment that effectively reforms campaign finance, it seems certain it would be willing to systematically address the other ways the corporatocracy has used to corrupt it.

Candidates willing to make a pledge to support such an amendment should challenge incumbents who voted to continue unrestricted spying on Americans, the NDAA and other repressive measures. They are certain to find support from voters across the ideological spectrum who are beginning to realize that we have to make establishing democracy our first priority. After all, nearly 80 percent of both self-identified conservatives and liberals are opposed to Citizens United, and many already agree that an amendment is needed to address it, If we can agree this is the first step in doing so, then we have a way to make our votes count. With this type of unanimity, election results cannot be manipulated and attempts at voter suppression become irrelevant. In agreeing to support only candidates who support an amendment, we free ourselves from the Hobson’s choice offered by the two corporate parties and can vote third party with no reservations in elections where they only give us a choice between two corporate candidates.

If the Pledge to Amend approach leads to campaign finance reform, we will finally have a chance to influence who our choices are to represent us not only in Congress, but the White House. While it is not likely that we will win a significant number of seats in Congress in 2014 through this strategy, a single victory against an entrenched incumbent using this strategy would prove the validity of the approach and encourage other candidates to run on the issue in future elections. It would also prove to the President that some of us were listening to him when he repeatedly told us that we have to be the change, because a man in his position sure as hell can’t do it without us.

Monday, July 1, 2013


Those of us who long ago realized that human civilization itself is on the brink of collapse should take note of the mass protests in Brazil, Turkey and Egypt that are actually having an effect on governments. Having begun to make progress in gaining liberty and economic justice within living memory, they value them more deeply and are prepared to fight for the right to continue to create more just nations.  This willingness to combat forces many would have viewed as undefeatable before the Arab Spring and the global Occupy movement gave them hope, they are showing the peoples of nations around the planet that a new world is possible.

Citizens of Western nations are failing to respond adequately to the threat to the economic, social and environmental destruction that will devastate human civilization. They have not yet realized the urgency of finding a way to use the power of our vastly superior numbers to seize power from the few who would enslave the many in a cycle of endless war, increasing economic inequality, mass starvation, pandemic, loss of basic human freedom and dignity and ultimately, the destruction of the environment that sustains us all. The protests in Greece, Spain, Italy, Bulgaria and Canada among others have not produced real change, leading many to conclude that the grip on the power over government held by the global elite is too strong to be broken, so have given up trying. If we feel any sense of responsibility to our children, we must reject this self-defeating attitude and do all that we can to end the enslavement of the vast majority of Mankind in what is rapidly becoming a fascist New World Order. Resistance is not futile. We can crush the corporatocracy, but the world revolution will begin only when we accept that it is not only possible but imperative.

Whenever the subject of mass revolt is brought up in the United States, one hears a chorus of familiar excuses for why it cannot be done. This is a self-fulfilling prophecy that has led to the US going from having the highest standard of living in the world to being a nation with economic inequality greater than the United Kingdom, from which the people who created the US separated so that they might not be subjugated by a nation long corrupted by the depredations of an economic aristocracy. If Americans can awaken to their collective power they can take back America for the People and create a democracy that will then spread naturally throughout the world. Only when injustice is resisted everywhere will it be possible anywhere. The task may seem unattainable, but the difference between the impossible and the merely improbable is the will to do the hard work that makes the improbable possible.

Though few realize it, poverty in the US is at record numbers. Americans remain ignorant of the fact because it is obscured behind government statistics that few understand. The majority who get the information that is the basis for their political thinking from a media that has become presstitutes for the government and the plutocrats it represents. The official poverty line is $11,000 for an individual and $23,000 for a family of four. Using the more realistic figure of $17,000 as the poverty line for individuals, fully one third of Americans are poor, more than half of them children. It is clear that the Puppets in Washington have decided that the era of shared prosperity for Americans is over.  It is up to average Americans, with the support of others who are suffering from the actions of their corporate-controlled government, to show that we demand a new era of social and economic justice.

The Puppetmasters of Washington have made clear they have no intention of tolerating the sharing of their wealth produced by workers and expropriated by them. The mass of Americans are falling into poverty as the American economy descends into a self-destructive spiral must organize and united to force them to relinquish the power over us that we have given them, despite decades of growing complacency and ignorance born of affluence. Today’s economy is built on financial transactions that amount to a rigged game of Monopoly, where the .1 percent are gaining not only at the expense of the poor, but even the 1 percent. After all, there is only one winner in that game. Of the 90% of wealth that has gone to the top one percent in the last 10 years, the vast majority has gone to those at the very top who are the real rulers of America, through their ability to pick who Americans are allowed to represent them in Congress and the White House. With the right message, it is possible that we may even get the support of the majority of the one percent who do not yet realize the true nature of their self-interest.

Americans are well aware that millions of Greeks, Spaniards and Italians have taken to the streets, if only sporadically. They realize they are protesting austerity measures designed to destroy the welfare states that protected average Europeans from the worst excesses of capitalism and assured a decent standard of living for every one willing to work and those who could not do so. They were shocked to learn about 25% unemployment rates in Spain and 50% of youth unemployment, never realizing that the real rate of unemployment in the US is over 40%. That statistic is masked by Obama’s triumphant proclamation that the official rate has dropped to “only” 7.5%. Even though most know that figure does not include those who have given up seeking jobs in the new economy, few realize that the shrinking middle class has created a lower class that is growing in numbers and potential power. One of the advantages of knowing that you have no hope for employment is that it frees time to join in mass protest, as Occupy showed. The problem is that Occupiers stubbornly resisted prioritizing objectives. Anyone with military experience would realize that we cannot win this class war without a strategy that leads to clear objectives. Brilliant tactics are meaningless if not based on objectives developed with a clear strategy in mind.

The greatest virtue of Occupy is that it raised the consciousness of Americans that the only real democracy is direct democracy. The greatest danger it presented is that in failing to lead to a growing, sustained movement, most will conclude that democracy is not possible. The truth is that it is possible if Americans can learn to understand that there is more to democracy than the ability to speak and vote on collective decisions. However, it will take a new willingness to listen to those who are focused on a strategy to peacefully overthrow the existing political and economic order by creating a mass movement, one that is international is scope, organization and strategy. It must include those in other nations who have already taken up the struggle for freedom. They need the support of Americans willing to put pressure on their government to act in the interests of all rather than the few on whose behalf they feel they owe their positions of power and privilege. If they realize that their real interest is served only in working on behalf of average Americans, we will have at least a Republic, one in which government represents the People.  Such a government would stop wasting national resources on wars that serve only the corporate interests. The entire world would then be free to reorganize itself into a stable society.

The task then in creating an international front against fascism and war will most importantly depend on a change in the collective consciousness of Americans. While only part of a general global awakening to the fact that we need not submit to slavery if we can work together to end it, it is the most critical component. Americans, and to a lesser extent those in other highly developed nations, have to awaken to their collective power and the urgent need to exercise it. It is citizens of these nations whose representatives in government are the chief builders of a New World Order. That structure is designed to accommodate the whims of the global economic elite who are its architects.

The citizens of NATO nations that have known only relative prosperity for generations have the most to learn about the reality of deprivation. When the majority come to understand the need to consider the good of all if democracy is ever to be more than an illusion promulgated by the rich to keep the rest of them complacent, democracy will be possible. As long as they play defense within the existing political order, they are bound to be defeated. It is only in becoming part of a movement that stretches beyond international borders to fight for liberty and justice for all that they will become responsible citizens of a planet fit to pass on to their children.