Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Advocates Of War With Iran Take Some Heavy Media Hits

Contributed by Sherwood Ross

Advocates of a hot war with Iran have just taken some heavy hits from a Harvard professor of international relations and two prominent journalists.

Harvard’s Professor Stephen Walt has savaged an article in the forthcoming “Foreign Affairs” magazine(Jan.-Feb.)  by Matthew Kroenig titled, “Time to Attack Iran: Why a Strike Is the Least Bad Option.” Kroenig is an Assistant Professor of Government at Georgetown University who wrote:

“The truth is that a military strike intended to destroy Iran’s nuclear program, if managed carefully, could spare the region and the world a very real threat and dramatically improve the long-term national security of the United States.”

Calling this “a remarkably poor piece of advocacy,” Harvard’s Walt writes that Kroenig “makes the case for war by assuming everything will go south if the U.S. does not attack and that everything will go swimmingly if it does. This is not fair-minded ‘analysis’; it is simply a brief for war designed to reach a predetermined conclusion,” Walt writes of the “Foreign Affairs” piece.

“He (Kroenig) is openly calling for preventive war against Iran, even though the United States has no authorization from the U.N. Security Council, it is not clear that Iran is actively developing nuclear weapons, and Iran has not attacked us or any of our allies---ever,”  Walt writes. 

“He is therefore openly calling for his country to violate international law. He is calmly advocating a course of action will inevitably kill a significant number of people, including civilians...and Kroenig is willing to have their deaths on his conscience on the basis of a series of unsupported assertions, almost all of them subject to serious doubt.”

Writing in UK’s “The Guardian” newspaper December 7th, journalist Seumas Milne points out that Iran is a peaceful nation that “has invaded no one in 200 years” while “the US. and Israel have attacked 10 countries or territories between them in the past decade.” What’s more, Milne adds, “Britain exploited, occupied and overthrew governments in Iran for over a century. So who threatens who exactly?”

He goes on to write, “For months the evidence has been growing that a US-Israeli stealth war against Iran has already begun, backed by Britain and France. Covert support for armed opposition groups has spread into a campaign of assassinations of Iranian scientists, cyber warfare, attacks on military and missile installations, and the killing of an Iranian general, among others.”

Milne also called it an “extraordinary admission” that British defense officials said if the U.S. planned to attack Iran, as they believed it might, America would receive “UK military help,” including sea and air support. “The British military establishment fully expects to take part in an unprovoked US attack on Iran---just as it did against Iraq eight years ago,” he said.

(This admission shouldn’t be that astonishing as the U.S. and U.K. are inextricably tied together militarily and in a number of  other significant ways and appear to be bent on advancing the imperial goals of the old British Empire. A superficial difference today is that the Empire’s capital has moved from London to Washington. In reality, from their joint intelligence operations to their collaborating oil companies to their defense contractors, etc., US/UK operate as One. Maybe the long-time partners should rebrand themselves the United States of England?)

Meanwhile, American journalist Patrick J. Buchanan pointed out that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta “dropped some jolting news” when he told CBS, “If we get intelligence they (Iranians) are proceeding with developing a nuclear weapons, then we will take whatever steps necessary to deal with it.”

In his column of December 22, Buchanan charged, “Panetta is raising the specter of preemptive war,” adding, “This is no minor matter. For not only have Panetta and Barack Obama talked about ‘all options on the table’ regarding Iran---i.e., we do not rule out military strikes---so, too, have the GOP presidential candidates, save Rep. Ron Paul.”  

Responding to Pentagon Press Secretary George Little’s statement, “We have no indication that the Iranians have made a decision to develop a nuclear weapons,” Buchanan wrote it “coincides with the consensus of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, including the CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency, in December, 2007.”

Or, to put it another way, in the blunt words of “The Guardian’s” Milne, “The case against Iran is...spectacularly flimsy.”   #

Iraq War: Reaffirmation or the End of US Exceptionalism?

In the United States, the most significant event of 2011 hands down should have been the withdrawal of the last U.S. troops from Iraq. But for most Americans, the end of this illegal and immoral war and occupation hardly registers a ripple.

The reason: the continued belief in American exceptionalism.

In the United States, only U.S. casualties matter. According to the Iraq Coalition Count, almost 4,500 U.S. soldiers perished during the war and slightly more than 32,000 U.S. soldiers were officially listed as wounded. No U.S. agency officially keeps track of Iraqi numbers.

US launched 'Shock & Awe' attack on the Iraqi people, March 22, 2003.Not counting “enemy” casualties seems to be the ultimate form of dehumanization (The non-governmental Iraq Body Count group officially lists between 104,308 – 113,962 Iraqi documented deaths). That’s the point of a war; dehumanize and demonize the enemy. No need to count them because they are not worthy of being identified or even acknowledged.


Sunday, December 25, 2011

FTC submits FDCPA report to the Congress- Will the students be safe now?

Contributed by Rick Murphy

S. Paul note:  For so long in this nation's history, we Americans have been told that we needed to become educated in order to compete in a market-based economy.  Little did we realize that an entire student loan-shark scheme was to develop from this push to profit from our desire for self improvement.  Congress has backed the measures of governmental loans and corporate favors for the likes of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac only to put the screws to those of us who wanted better from this life.  When all is said and done and the piece of paper hangs on our walls collecting dust, this education has only served to put us further into debt while the few profit from another example of this, our American, capitalistic nightmare.

With the spurring personal debt level in the US and the consumers defaulting on their loan obligations, the debt collectors are having their gala time disturbing the consumers, debtors and the defaulted student borrowers and asking them for recuperation of the money that they owe to the debtors. However, the deceptive practices of the debt collectors are getting on the nerves of the debtors and this is the most prominent reason behind the increasing complaints against the debt collectors with the Federal Trade Commission.

 When the students are unable to repay their debt through professional services, they start defaulting on the obligations and their accounts are being henceforth turned down to the collection agencies. But after the FTC submitted its FDCPA report to the Congress, can the students be safer and protected?

Sound Precaution To Ban Gas “Fracking” Until Scientific Evidence Says It's Safe

Contributed by Sherwood Ross

ExxonMobil Chairman/CEO Rex Tillerson sounded very confident when he told a congressional hearing last year that extracting natural gas by the “hydraulically fractured” process has not led to even one “reported case of a freshwater aquifer having ever been contaminated.”

But drinking water supplies in Pavillion, Wyo., and Dimock, Pa., are suspected of contamination from such drilling and a study by Duke University researchers showed that methane can leak into drinking water near active fracking sites.

The oil companies are backing up their story with an effective ad campaign. Example: ExxonMobil's ad in the Sept. 19th “New Yorker” claims existing gas buried deep beneath our water supplies could “meet our needs for over 100 years.”

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Four Occupations of Planet Earth: How the Occupied Became the Occupiers

by Tom Engelhardt

On the streets of Moscow in the tens of thousands, the protesters chanted: “We exist!”  Taking into account the comments of statesmen, scientists, politicians, military officials, bankers, artists, all the important and attended to figures on this planet, nothing caught the year more strikingly than those two words shouted by massed Russian demonstrators.

“We exist!”  Think of it as a simple statement of fact, an implicit demand to be taken seriously (or else), and undoubtedly an expression of wonder, verging on a question: “We exist?”

And who could blame them for shouting it?  Or for the wonder?  How miraculous it was.  Yet another country long immersed in a kind of popular silence suddenly finds voice, and the demonstrators promptly declare themselves not about to leave the stage when the day -- and the demonstration -- ends.  Who guessed beforehand that perhaps 50,000 Muscovites would turn out to protest a rigged electoral process in a suddenly restive country, along with crowds in St. Petersburg, Tomsk, and elsewhere from the south to Siberia?

Defense Authorization Act Will Destroy Bill Of Rights

Contributed by Sherwood Ross 

The grim face of totalitarianism is emerging in the National Defense Authorization Act(NDAA) now before Congress.

This bill is the last mile post on America’s sad, well-traveled road to the butcher shop of dictatorship. We have been headed that way for some time and, with a little help from Congress, we’ll arrive there shortly, putting an ugly end to the American experiment. The Senate December 1st passed the bill by a vote of 93-7.

In the name of “defense,” NDAA underwrites $662-billion for continued U.S. aggression in our many foreign wars while, on the domestic front, it incinerates the last surviving shreds of the Bill of Rights. According to the American Civil Liberties Union(ACLU), it authorizes presidents “to order the military to pick up and imprison people, including U.S. citizens, without charging them or putting them on trial.”  (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) So much for Amendment VI to our Constitution that “the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial.”

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Creep of Fascism As Evidenced By Recent Legal Decision Against Blogger

Listen to the radio talk this article was written for Breaking Taboo on  THIS LINK to tune in

Federal Judge, Marco Hernandez has recently decided that a blogger is not a journalist.  This decision came upon reflection of the Shield Law which protects journalists from having to reveal their sources. The Judge cites that a blogger if not “affiliated with any newspaper, magazine, periodical, book, pamphlet, news service, wire service, news or feature syndicate, broadcast station or network, or cable television system”, does not deserve any protections under the law.  In other words, if a writer is not working in a corporate structured media outlet, they are not entitled to any protection under the law.
Kevin Padrick, the “Defamed Attorney” in response to Crystal Cox 'Blogger-Isn't-Journalist' story, stated the following, “The real threat here is not defining media too narrowly, but defining it too broadly."  He argues that media is worth less when more people can self-identify as media. But doesn’t a broad definition result in more empowerment? More voices and diversity?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Is a Blogger a Journalist?

by John C. Dvorak

The case of Crystal Cox, a self-professed "investigative blogger" from Oregon, should outrage the public. The woman was investigating targeted companies that she believed to be acting unethically and found herself at the wrong end of a lawsuit.

The evidence she had unearthed concerning a Pacific Northwest finance group she was after and the sources she used seemed, in the end, immaterial to the outcome of the lawsuit against her. I won't get into the details of Cox's case since my concern is the definition of journalist, but you can read more here." The judge, recent Obama appointee Marco Hernandez, asserted that as a blogger with no other credentials, she was not a journalist and was entitled to no protection.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Extremist Groups

The following is the introduction for Extremist Groups available to read on e-Notes

Political ideologies can be visualized as points on a straight line, with liberals to the left of center and conservatives to the right. Located near the center of the line are political moderates. At the far points at either end are the extremists, both liberal and conservative.

Liberals and conservatives differ primarily in their view of the proper role of government in the lives of citizens. While liberals tend to favor the federal government taking an active role in correcting social inequities, regulating business activities, and protecting the environment, conservatives tend to mistrust federal interference in these affairs. Conservatives believe that, to the extent that any regulation is necessary, these functions are best performed by state and local governments. Moreover, by definition, conservatives tend to be wary of change in society while liberals tend to favor change.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Current War on Voting Rights in America

New American Media

Ninety-seven-year-old Emma Lee Green balances an armload of old books and yellowing papers around the stacks of musty files in her San Bernardino attic. She remembers well the days of Jim Crow, poll taxes and literacy tests that barred many African-American citizens from the voting booth.

Americans set their clocks back one hour last Sunday. But a wave of new voting restrictions could turn back the clock to the days poll taxes and literacy tests meant to stop African-Americans from voting.
She witnessed first-hand the valiant struggle to ensure that all American citizens could raise their voices on Election Day.

Like she has done for nearly 65 years, last week Emma went to the polls to vote in the local elections.

But one year from now, mill ions of Black Americans like Emma could find themselves shut out of that essential democratic right.

This year, thirty-four state legislatures introduced bills requiring photo identification in order to vote. This rash of legislation classifies several previously accepted IDs as unacceptable, and will affect roughly 21 million Americans if they are passed.

What is Fascism? Some General Ideological Features

by Matthew N. Lyons

I am skeptical of efforts to produce a "definition" of fascism. As a dynamic historical current, fascism has taken many different forms, and has evolved dramatically in some ways. To understand what fascism has encompassed as a movement and a system of rule, we have to look at its historical context and development--as a form of counter-revolutionary politics that first arose in early twentieth-century Europe in response to rapid social upheaval, the devastation of World War I, and the Bolshevik Revolution. The following paragraphs are intented as an initial, open-ended sketch.

Fascism is a form of extreme right-wing ideology that celebrates the nation or the race as an organic community transcending all other loyalties. It emphasizes a myth of national or racial rebirth after a period of decline or destruction. To this end, fascism calls for a "spiritual revolution" against signs of moral decay such as individualism and materialism, and seeks to purge "alien" forces and groups that threaten the organic community. Fascism tends to celebrate masculinity, youth, mystical unity, and the regenerative power of violence. Often, but not always, it promotes racial superiority doctrines, ethnic persecution, imperialist expansion, and genocide. At the same time, fascists may embrace a form of internationalism based on either racial or ideological solidarity across national boundaries. Usually fascism espouses open male supremacy, though sometimes it may also promote female solidarity and new opportunities for women of the privileged nation or race.

Fascism's approach to politics is both populist--in that it seeks to activate "the people" as a whole against perceived oppressors or enemies--and elitist--in that it treats the people's will as embodied in a select group, or often one supreme leader, from whom authority proceeds downward. Fascism seeks to organize a cadre-led mass movement in a drive to seize state power. It seeks to forcibly subordinate all spheres of society to its ideological vision of organic community, usually through a totalitarian state. Both as a movement and a regime, fascism uses mass organizations as a system of integration and control, and uses organized violence to suppress opposition, although the scale of violence varies widely.

Fascism is hostile to Marxism, liberalism, and conservatism, yet it borrows concepts and practices from all three. Fascism rejects the principles of class struggle and workers' internationalism as threats to national or racial unity, yet it often exploits real grievances against capitalists and landowners through ethnic scapegoating or radical-sounding conspiracy theories. Fascism rejects the liberal doctrines of individual autonomy and rights, political pluralism, and representative government, yet it advocates broad popular participation in politics and may use parliamentary channels in its drive to power. Its vision of a "new order" clashes with the conservative attachment to tradition-based institutions and hierarchies, yet fascism often romanticizes the past as inspiration for national rebirth.

Fascism has a complex relationship with established elites and the non-fascist right. It is never a mere puppet of the ruling class, but an autonomous movement with its own social base. In practice, fascism defends capitalism against instability and the left, but also pursues an agenda that sometimes clashes with capitalist interests in significant ways. There has been much cooperation, competition, and interaction between fascism and other sections of the right, producing various hybrid movements and regimes.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Gov. Buddy Roemer Speaks Out Against The System of Greed In Washington

CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS — Buddy Roemer — as long a long shot for the American presidency as you’ll find — was talking about the country’s condition the other day when he stumbled upon a metaphor he liked.

“The powerful among us are doing quite well,” he said. “It might be like a plantation mentality, where those in the big house are doing pretty well, and they don’t see a necessity to have irrigation put in. They don’t see a necessity to rotate crops. They don’t see a necessity to fertilize over the winter.”

If you can’t remember a Republican presidential candidate besides this one comparing the wealthy to slave owners and railing against inequality, it is because they generally don’t. And you may not have heard from Mr. Roemer himself. An ex-governor of Louisiana and an ex-congressman, he is excluded from nationally televised debates in the United States, owing to a mere percentage point or so of support in polls.

Lurking in the shadows of a volatile Republican race, Mr. Roemer has styled himself as that least likely of political creatures: a Republican Southerner who endorses and seeks the votes of both the leftist Occupy movement, which he has visited, and the rightist Tea Party movement — even if neither endorses him in turn.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Learning Too Late of Perils in Gas Well Leases


After Scott Ely and his father talked with salesmen from an energy company about signing the lease allowing gas drilling on their land in northeastern Pennsylvania, he said he felt certain it required the company to leave the property as good as new.

So Mr. Ely said he was surprised several years later when the drilling company, Cabot Oil and Gas, informed them that rather than draining and hauling away the toxic drilling sludge stored in large waste ponds on the property, it would leave the waste, cover it with dirt and seed the area with grass. He knew that waste pond liners can leak, seeping contaminated waste. 

“I guess our terms should have been clearer” about requiring the company to remove the waste pits after drilling, said Mr. Ely, of Dimock, Pa., who sued Cabot after his drinking water from a separate property was contaminated. “We learned that the hard way.”

Americans have signed millions of leases allowing companies to drill for oil and natural gas on their land in recent years. But some of these landowners — often in rural areas, and eager for quick payouts — are finding out too late what is, and what is not, in the fine print.

Tax Breaks and Heart Ache in America

by S. Paul Forrest
originally posted at Daily Censored

‎"Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience, then? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time, what I think right."
~Henry David Thoreau

America today is more and more resembling the times facing our original colonies in the years preceding the 1773 Boston Tea Party, an uprising which inevitably led to our declaring independence from England and served as one of the beginning moments of our great Nation’s birth.  As the past few years become more scrutinized and the future viewed with increasing consternation, it is becoming all too clear that we as a Nation are closing in on times contrary to our founding principles. 

With the increasing attempt to tax We the People and control our commerce by imposing more and more regulation on business and individuals, our nation is creeping closer to a full circle, historical conundrum.  The breaking point, whereby the People will act as they did not so long ago against the same intolerable restrictions that faced our original founders so long ago, is yet to be determined.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Amid The Architecture Of Declining Capitalism: Memes, Death Genes And Real Estate Schemes

by Phil Rockstroh

The recent pepper spraying "incident" at the University of California at Davis represents more than an opportunity to create a cleverly photoshopped, viral meme. The act is part and parcel of a larger collective mindset--a proclivity towards authoritarian overreaction now deeply internalized in daily life in the U.S.

To cite only a few examples, by means such as, "zero tolerance" policies in public school systems, to "no knock" warrants, to snooping on and control over employees private lives by corporate employers, to the war on the Bill of Rights that is the so-called war on drugs, to the brutal suppression of constitutionally granted rights to free assembly and free expression by militarized police forces, to the unconstitutional killing of both U.S. citizens and foreign nationals abroad by predator drone attacks--daily existence within the nation has become more repressive, less inclined to the acceptance of the moments of creativity and uncertainty inherent to freedom. In fits and starts, by law and deed, the U.S. has moved closer in the direction of a panopticon-prone, brutality-leveling, waking authoritarian nightmare than a democratic republic devoted to erring in the direction of the ideals of justice and liberty.

Granted, such ideals will never exist in pure form. Still, by the same token, the sane neither shill for utopia nor become adapted to tyranny.

Child Labor Booming in Iraq

by Rachelle Kliger

Iraqi Children Left Homeless After U.S. Invasions
-Isn't it wonderful that the U.S. helped the people of Iraq?
Child labor is becoming a growing problem among impoverished Iraqi refugees in Syria.

A growing number of Iraqi refugee children in Syria have joined the illegal child labor market to help their families make ends meet, United Nations officials have warned.

Syria has taken in a huge number of Iraqi refugees since the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Barred from legal employment in the country, aid workers say the refugees are running out of options to make money.

"There are more and more Iraqi families sliding into poverty," Farah Dakhlallah, a public information officer for United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Syria told The Media Line. "They are barred from legal employment in Syria so a lot more children are being sent to work."

Dakhlallah said the statistics were sorely lacking but anecdotal evidence and indirect data suggests the number of child workers is rising.

U.S. Expanding Drone Bases To Assassinate “Suspects”

Contributed by Sherwood Ross

Forecasting a future of robotic warfare in which perverted science is put at the service of its Empire, the U.S. has built 60 bases around the world for its unmanned, remotely controlled killer drone warplanes. And more bases are under construction.

“Run by the military, the Central Intelligence Agency, and their proxies, these bases...are the backbone of a new robotic way of war,” writes Nick Turse, an investigative journalist for AlterNet and TomDispatch.

The bases “are also the latest development in a long-evolving saga of American power projection abroad---in this case, remote-controlled strikes anywhere on the planet with a minimal foreign ‘footprint’ and little accountability,” Turse points out.

He notes that there may be even more than 60 bases since the Pentagon has dropped a “cloak of secrecy” over its operations. With the recent murder of American citizen Anwar al-Aulaqi in Yemen, the drones are now assassinating suspects in no fewer than six countries, Turse says.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post also reports the Obama Pentagon is building a constellation of secret drone bases in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian peninsula to attack al-Qaeda affiliates in Somalia and Yemen.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Indefinite Domestic Military Detentions

by Stephen Lendman

Congress is now considering legislative language to mandate indefinite military detentions of US citizens suspected of present or past associations with alleged terrorist groups, with or without evidence to prove it. More on that below.

The 2006 Military Commissions Act authorized torture and sweeping unconstitutional powers to detain, interrogate, and prosecute alleged suspects and collaborators (including US citizens), hold them (without evidence) indefinitely in military prisons, and deny them habeas and other constitutional protections.

Section 1031 of the FY 2010 Defense Authorization Act contained the 2009 Military Commissions Act (MCA). The phrase "unprivileged enemy belligerent" replaced "unlawful enemy combatant."

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Washington Leaves Millions To Die

by Jeffrey Sachs

The wonder of our world is that scientific knowledge is now so powerful that we can save millions of children, mothers, and fathers from killer diseases each year at little cost. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria has mobilized that knowledge over the past decade to save more than 7 million lives and to protect the health of hundreds of millions more. Yet now the Global Fund is under mortal threat because of budget cuts approved by President Obama and the Congress.

The Obama Administration had pledged $4 billion during 2011-13 to the Global Fund, or $1.33 billion per year. Now it is reneging on this pledge. For a government that spends $1.9 billion every single day on the military ($700 billion each year), Washington's unwillingness to follow through on $1.33 billion for a whole year to save millions of lives is a new depth of cynicism and recklessness.

As a result of US budget cutbacks, and me-too cutbacks by other countries, the Global Fund this week closed its doors on providing new funds to impoverished nations. It was supposed to accept proposals next month from the poorest countries for an 11th round of disease-control funds. Instead, it has scrapped any new funding until 2014 at the earliest, and will only fund the continuation of the coverage of existing programs. US officials will prevaricate, noting that the US spends this amount or that amount. History will treat such excuses with the scorn they deserve.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Immigrants Cautious as Possible Reprieves Loom

by Maria Sacchetti

Some 100 protesters came to Government Center this week, waving signs and chanting slogans for Denis Lemos and his friend Vinny Quirino, both 25-year-olds who had been fighting deportation to Brazil. The protesters wanted a reprieve.

But then Lemos stood before the crowd and delivered the news.

“I got my call,’’ he said as applause broke out. “I am no longer in removal proceedings. My case is going to be closed.’’

Quirino’s stay of deportation followed soon afterward. Some immigrants and their advocatessay those decisions may be a sign that the Obama administration is finally acting on a federal directive issued five months ago to consider setting aside the deportations of students, the elderly, and other immigrants in order to more quickly deport convicted criminals and other high-priority cases.

Can Revolutionary Pacifism Deliver Peace?

by Noam Chomsky

As we all know, the United Nations was founded "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war." The words can only elicit deep regret when we consider how we have acted to fulfill that aspiration, though there have been a few significant successes, notably in Europe.

For centuries, Europe had been the most violent place on earth, with murderous and destructive internal conflicts and the forging of a culture of war that enabled Europe to conquer most of the world, shocking the victims, who were hardly pacifists, but were "appalled by the all-destructive fury of European warfare," in the words of British military historian Geoffrey Parker. And enabled Europe to impose on its conquests what Adam Smith called "the savage injustice of the Europeans," England in the lead, as he did not fail to emphasise.

The global conquest took a particularly horrifying form in what is sometimes called "the Anglosphere," England and its offshoots, settler-colonial societies in which the indigenous societies were devastated and their people dispersed or exterminated. But since 1945 Europe has become internally the most peaceful and in many ways most humane region of the earth - which is the source of some its current travail, an important topic that I will have to put aside.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Redesigning Society - From Scratch

This topic was discussed on Breaking Taboo ( 11/21/11 at 7:00 pm EST.  Listen Here...

From Occupy Wall Street to Occupy Nation in just two months

Edited by Jim Hightower and Phillip Frazer

Americans who flew bombing missions in World War II had a saying: "You know you're on target when you start getting a lot of flak." The protesters in today's nascent "Occupy Wall Street" movement must really be on target, then, because--boy!--they're enduring an unrelenting barrage of rhetorical flak from political and media defenders of America's plutocracy.

At first, the Loyal Defenders of the Plutocratic Order simply tried to ignore the youthful protest that had sprouted on September 17 in a plaza next door to Wall Street. But the occupiers, who were remarkably proficient in social media, spread their story and the visuals of their occupation to millions who tuned in on the web. This generated support from all over, and many more people began trekking to New York to join them. Surprised and alarmed by this inflow, the L.D.P.O. tried to cut it off by firing rounds of mockery at the protesters to make them look frivolous--a September 23 New York Timespiece, for example, snickered that this "fractured and airy" movement was just a "carnival" of bored kids adrift in an "intellectual vacuum." Their cause, opined the writer, was "virtually impossible to decipher." Already, she declared, the movement is "dwindling."

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving in America - 2011

by Gary Aminoff

S. Paul note:  Though I mostly agree with this article, I find the part of the armed forces "protecting us" to be on the side of promoting global militarism and dominance while we here in this nation suffer for the increased taxation and lack of representaton currently infecting our country.  

Rampant brutalism expressed though our military is not an American attribute.  It is what we originally revolted against:  England's own policies and the taxation they imposed on the colonies to support it.  We are not very far from the days preceding the1773 Boston Party and consequent Revolution.  

Thanksgiving isn't about glorifying our new nationalism supporting Empire, it is about family.  In our efforts to dominate the world, we should take a moment to remember that the people we want to control and indiscriminately kill in our campaigns have their own families.

The article: 
All Americans know the history of the origin of Thanksgiving: A group of separatists from the Anglican Church left Plymouth, England in September 1620 for the New World, where they felt they would be able to have both civil and religious liberty.  They sailed across the Atlantic, in a very rough two-month voyage, until they landed in November.  They finally disembarked in December at a place they designated "Plymouth Rock."  Before leaving the ship, however, they all signed the "Mayflower Compact."  This was America's first document of civil government, and the first ever to institute the concept of self-government. 

The colonists immediately held a prayer service and then began the process of building shelter against the cold Massachusetts winter.  They were not prepared for the starvation and sickness that accompanied a harsh New England winter, though, and by spring of 1621, nearly half of those who had arrived in December were dead.  Persevering, and with the help of the native Indians, they reaped a bountiful harvest that summer.  In December of 1621, the grateful colonists decided to thank God and celebrated a three-day feast with their Indian friends.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Why Does Obama Suddenly Want a War With China?

by William Pfaff

One might think that a bitter Central Asian war in Afghanistan, spilling into Pakistan, with no sign of ending, and an as yet ambiguous military commitment to a defeated and incompletely reconstituted Iraq, now overshadowed by Iran and the Arab Awakening across the Middle East, would be enough for President Barack Obama to cope with.

He was, after all, elected to reduce American military commitments. He was going to end things in Iraq, fight the “right war” in Afghanistan, which Gen. David Petraeus told him could be wound up in a year. Unaccustomed to generals as he might have been, he surely did not expect “Af-Pak” to turn into a permanent activity and a source of income for the Pentagon and the American arms industry.

Why then does he now want a war with China? No one seems to have made much of this in American press reports and comment, but others have noticed, most of all in China. His journey to Asia this month proclaimed a Pax Americana for Asia—which as such is absurd. The effort is likely to become just the opposite: a steadily deepening and costly engagement in suppressing China’s attempt to reclaim the Asian preeminence it held for more than a thousand years.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Game Over for Planet Earth: The Month’s Biggest Story You Never Read

What's the biggest story of the last several weeks?  Rick Perry’s moment of silence, all 53 seconds' worth?  The Penn State riots after revered coach JoePa went down in a child sex abuse scandal? The Kardashian wedding/divorce?  The European debt crisis that could throw the world economy into a tailspin?  The Cain sexual harassment charges?  The trial of Michael Jackson’s doctor?

The answer should be none of the above, even though as a group they’vedominated the October/November headlines.  In fact, the piece of the week, month, and arguably year should have been one that slipped by so quietly, so off front-pages nationwide and out of news leads everywhere that you undoubtedly didn’t even notice.  And yet it’s the story that could turn your life and that of your children and grandchildren inside out and upside down.

Monday, November 21, 2011

ACLU Report Warns Public About Privatizing Prisons

Contributed by Sherwood Ross

The latest report by the American Civil Liberties Union(ACLU) is not likely to inspire politicians to shut down our private prisons when prison operators are pouring millions of dollars into their campaign coffers.

Jobbing out the incarceration business, said lawyer David Shapiro of the ACLU Prison Project “has been a bonanza for the private prison industry, which rakes in billions of dollars a year and dishes out multi-million dollar compensation packages to its top executives.”

And those top executives, in turn, between 1998 and 2000, for example, wrote over $1.2-million in checks to political candidates and political parties. And why not, when their firms have received such huge public subsidies as $68 billion in tax-free bonds to help them build?

Since the 1980s Reagan era shift to privatization, more than 150 private facilities---detention centers, jails, and prisons----with a capacity of about 120,000 have been opened, and 7% of all U.S. adults inmateshave been dumped in them.

Peaceful UC Davis Protestors Pepper Sprayed

UC Davis students, protesting police brutality at a demonstration on their campus, were assaulted by police wearing riot gear when they did not disperse as ordered by officials. What is most disturbing about not only this offense against freedom and against those individuals occupying Wall Street, is how few people watching actually care.  The question that we should all be asking ourselves is, when did the citizens of a self-touting “Free Nation” become so desensitized to believe that those paid to serve and protect us are somehow justified in such an assault? 

With each passing day, the psychological attack against our “Freedom” is soaking into our collective minds to the point where the fascist state as reflected in these actions, is believed to be normal.  Didn’t our government just use this sort of treatment of protestors in Libya to justify bombing their leader out of office to “Liberate the People”?  It would seem that not only have Americans fallen asleep and have become purposely ignorant of this ongoing assault against us but now, they have become complacent in it as well.  As long as it doesn’t happen to you, is it alright?   Welcome to the new America: Land of the Oblivious.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

America's Oil Addiction: The Profit-Oriented Destruction of our Nation

by S. Paul Forrest
America Revealed

America’s Oil Industry is 150 years old.  Our addiction to it stems from our dependence upon its poison in every aspect of our lives.  This addiction, like that of any other, is slowly but surely destroying our collective body.  As crude oil becomes more inaccessible, “natural gas” and “clean coal” are being advocated by the oil industry and their lobbyists in Washington to keep us hooked.  This effort includes lying about alternative fuels and their potential role in the detox we so desperately need.  The same insane thinking and obsessive lies that haunt the minds of addicts is consistently stated by our corporatist government and their media talking heads: Our nation must have this fuel to continue to survive. The truth though, is there are better solutions.

The world's once, readily available petroleum supplies are now dwindling.  To compensate, new recovery tactics have been employed to drill deep water, process coal and tar sands and hydraulically fracture the earth to continue the flow of our economic drug.  No matter the cost or potential danger to lives across this nation and the world, our addiction continues to go unchecked and is in fact, worsening.  Due to increased lobbying from big energy corporations combined with the attempted deregulation of this industry by their paid-for politicians, the dealers are left to further gouge the American user without resistance.  From insane statements like "Drill Baby Drill" to the efforts to destroy all Federal regulation in the name of job creation, this addiction is infecting not our natural body but every aspect of our political and economic system. 

Thought Experiments In Poverty

by Laura Clawson

Pretending to be poor is a lot of work. This is both because being poor is a lot of work and because the more distance between a person and poverty, the less their life is organized in a way that accommodates pretending.

Conducting the thought experiment of poverty, or some selected piece of poverty, is a not uncommon way to try to convey, to oneself or to readers or listeners, the appalling reality behind the statistics—like the 46.2 million people living in poverty in the United States in 2010.

There's Barbara Ehrenreich's classic Nickel and Dimed, in which Ehrenreich spent a month living in each of three places, to see if she could make ends meet at the jobs she could get without her graduate degree, professional-writer credentials and employment history. Writing in 2001, the scenario she posed was of a single mother leaving welfare; how would such a woman survive in the labor and housing market? Making the attempt—three times—without children, with her health, and with whatever intangible benefits being middle-class might carry, Ehrenreich worked as a waitress, a hotel housekeeper, a "Merry Maid," a nursing home dietary aide and a Walmart employee. Even without lavish expenditures, she found that there was no way to make ends meet with only one job at a time, but that working two jobs made it harder to manage the commute necessary to get a cheap place to live, or simply that finding two jobs with hours that would never overlap was a struggle.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Where Does Occupy Go From Here?

by William Pfaff

The program to oust the Occupy Wall Street movement from its sites of occupation is now under way. The Occupied, who own the police, have grown tired of the Occupation.

The advantage they possess is that the Occupiers have not provided a coherent statement of what they want. Their other advantage is that Americans are not revolutionaries—after all, isn’t the American system the best in the world?

The Occupiers dismiss this demand for a program as contrary to the spirit of the Occupation. There is not and cannot be an agreed upon program because that is not the nature of the movement, which is anarchistic in quality (yet having nothing to do with anarchism itself).

It is against “the system.” The system is how the world economy works today, and it is responsible for creating the international crisis of which Occupation has been a response: original, spontaneous, seductive, but incoherent and directionless.

How, after all, can “the system” be changed? Well, first, justice could be done. This is what people want: Justice.

Privatization Nightmare: 5 Public Services That Should Never Be Handed Over to Greedy Corporations

by Dave Johnson

Who gains – and who loses – when public assets and jobs are turned over to the private sector? 

The corporate right endlessly promotes “privatization” of public assets and public jobs as a cash-raising or cost-saving measure. Privatization is when the public turns over assets like airports, roads or buildings, or contracts out a public function like trash collection to a private company.  Many cities contract out their trash collection.  To raise cash Arizona even sold its state capital building and leased it back. 

The justification for privatization is the old argument that private companies do everything better and more “efficiently” than government, and will find ways to cut costs.  Over and over we hear that companies do everything for less cost than government. But it never seems to sink in that private companies don’t do things unless the people at the top can make a bundle of cash; if the CEO isn’t making millions, that CEO will move the company on to something else.  When government does something they don’t have to pay millions to someone at the top.  

So how do private companies save money?   What costs do companies cut that government doesn’t?  When you hear about “cost-cutting” here is something to consider: what if by “costs” the privatizers are talking about … us? 

America's Student Loan Debt Bondage

by Stephen Lendman

Higher education today isn't like it used to be. US students face crisis conditions. Washington and lenders wage financial war on them. In addition, dozens of budget-strapped states cut funds to public colleges and universities.

Students are directly impacted by sharp tuition hikes (double-digit at some schools) and less financial aid. As a result, many thousands are entirely shut out. Others relying on student loans face permanent debt bondage.

By end of 2011, student loan debt will top $1 trillion. It already exceeds credit card indebtedness. Moreover, in the past year alone, students borrowed over $100 billion, double the amount a decade ago adjusted for inflation.

Borrowing is one thing, repaying another. Therein lies the rub. Many former students end up debt slaves for life. With interest, collection charges, penalties, and other costs, some burdens exceed $100,000, Over their lifetime, they can rise five-fold or more for some.

Repaying graduate school debt pushes it higher. New medical professionals can owe $200,000 or more at first. An unidentified one said he'll pay $1,000 a month for the next 30 years. With higher inflation, monthly costs will rise exponentially.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Occupy harder: Two rough but fruity months for OWS

Karl Rove: "Who gave you the right to Occupy America?"

I personally fail to see the relevance of this "Occupy Baltimore" disruption.  If you listen to this speech in full, Rove was making some very good points.  Free speech does not mean the freedom to disrespect or disrupt a Q&A with obscenities and pointless chanting.  There was nothing to be gained in this but rather to be lost.  These types of "protests" only give credence to the claims from some that OWS is nothing more than a rabble. The movement is quickly becoming a moot point with these types of acts.

Rove was making a statement which was in condemnation of the same class disparity OWS has said they stand against. Maybe they need to research rather than just blindly stumbling into a speech like drunken sailors merely because the speaker is a Washington insider. 

Please help me understand the point of this particular "Mic Check"....

The Balanced Budget Amendment That Isn’t About Balancing the Budget

OMB Watch

In a move hearkening back to the Clinton era, Senate Republicans introduced a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution earlier today. All 47 members of the caucus are cosponsoring the bill, a strong show of force. But here’s the thing: this balanced budget amendment isn’t about balancing the budget.

For sure, the amendment would balance the budget. Indeed, it requires a two-thirds vote of both houses in order for outlays to exceed revenues. But it isn’t as if Congress is unable to balance the budget now. If Congress wanted to balance the budget, it would balance the budget. In fact, it has a chance to do so right now, since Congress is still debating the FY 2011 budget, despite the fiscal year having started six months ago. But I don’t see anyone arguing for this year’s budget to be balanced.

The Senate Republicans’ amendment goes far beyond just balancing the budget. The amendment also caps government spending at just 18 percent of gross domestic product, makes it harder to raise the debt ceiling, and requires a two-thirds vote to raise taxes. It even reaches beyond just the legislative branch, forbidding the courts from ordering increased revenues.

None of these added provisions have anything to do with balancing the budget, but they are central parts of the conservative agenda. And the provisions will make it hard for Congress to function even in times of relative economic normalcy. Imagine if our current House of Representatives needed a two-thirds margin to raise the debt ceiling. It just wouldn’t happen. And the budget would still be unbalanced.