Wednesday, August 31, 2011

US or the War Machine

by David Swanson

Image: Iraqi War Child
You may have heard something about a budget crisis in Washington this summer. Were you aware that in the midst of it the House of Representatives passed a military spending bill larger than ever before?

U.S. military spending across numerous departments has increased dramatically during the past decade and now makes up about half of federal discretionary spending. Yet the Defense Department has not been fully audited in 20 years, and as of 2001 it could not account for $2.3 trillion out of the $10 trillion or so it had been given during that time. More recently, President Obama has been waging his "days, not weeks" war in Libya for months without a dime appropriated by Congress, relying instead on the loose change lying around at the Pentagon.

The United States could reduce its military spending by at least 80 percent and still be the world's top military spender. If the purpose of all this profligacy were truly defensive, wouldn't a military merely as large as any other country's do the job? When little cuts around the edges were forced into the discussion, wouldn't the top priorities for elimination be unpopular wars, foreign bases, nuclear weapons and space weapons rather than health care for veterans? If something shameful were not motivating our self-destructive imperial overreach, wouldn't the wonders of market competition be given a chance, instead of the current practice of handing out cost-plus contracts to cronies for jobs they are never expected to complete?

It’s Midnight in America

Jupiter Images
It’s midnight in America. Brenda can’t sleep. Even with the reclining seat of her old Toyota pushed all the way back, a car makes a cramped, uncomfortable bed. It’s hot with the windows rolled up. Sweat trickles down her neck and pools on her chest and stomach. She could roll down the windows to let in a cooling breeze, but then the mosquitoes would get her. And maybe something worse than mosquitoes. Footsteps on the pavement startle her awake again and again. What if a strange man notices her sleeping in her car? Three miles away, her home sits vacant. She realizes now that she qualified for a fixed rate loan, but the officer at the bank told her she had to take an adjustable mortgage, instead. After sinking her savings into her house, she is homeless. It will take her months to save up enough for deposit and first and last months rent for a tiny apartment. Until then, she will sleep—tryto sleep in her car.

The Crime of the Patriot Act, 9/11 and a Whistleblower’s Truth

Rady Ananda, Contributing Writer
Activist Post

Susan Lindauer’s piece of the 9/11 puzzle adds more evidence to support the charge of criminal negligence at the command level and exposes the utter depravity of the Patriot Act.  Even more, as the primary Intelligence Asset for Iraq, she proves that top officials of the Bush regime were fully aware that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction prior to the invasion, and had, in fact, negotiated a peace treaty in order to end UN sanctions.

To tell this truth cost her her job, her freedom and almost her sanity.

In “Extreme Prejudice: The Terrifying Story of the Patriot Act and the Cover ups of 9/11 and Iraq,” we learn that not only was the US government (USG) willing to kill (or allow to be killed) thousands of its own citizens on that indelible day, it has gone to extreme lengths to silence whistleblowers.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Perry's Iowa Remarks Reveal Republican Strategy on Social Security

Rick Perry’s full remarks on Social Security reveal just as much about the Republican Party’s strategy for cutting Social Security as they do about Perry himself.

So much of what people 'know' about the Social Security system and its Trust Funds is just wrong, and in too many cases this includes supporters who have unwittingly bought into some mythical narratives originally promoted by the Right. This is an attempt to begin to set the historical record and so the present context straight: With some myth-busting along the way.

Social Security was first established by the Social Security Act of 1935 but its current structure was only put in place by the Social Security Amendments of 1939 which also added the Survivors benefit. The Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund went into effect on Jan 1, 1940 and the Trustees made their first Report to Congress on Jan 3, 1941. I am going to quote some extensive passages here and below the squiggle, in part to show how little has changed since.
The Federal old-age and survivors insurance trust fund was created pursuant to section 201 of the Social Security Act Amendments of 1939, approved August 10, 1939. This trust fund became effective on January 1, 1940, and superseded the old-age reserve account established under the Social Security Act of 1935. The trust fund is held by a Board of Trustees composed of the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Labor, and the Chairman of the Social Security Board, all ex officio. The trust fund so held is available for the payment of old-age annuities and survivors insurance benefits and the necessary expenditures incurred by the Social Security Board and the Treasury Department in the administration of the program. The Secretary of the Treasury is designated as the Managing Trustee.

Over 160 Arrested in Ongoing Civil Disobedience Against Keystone XL Tar Sands Oil Pipeline

Fifty-two environmental activists were arrested Monday in front of the White House as part of an ongoing protest calling on the Obama administration to reject a permit for the 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline project, which would deliver Canada tar sands oil to refineries in Texas, and rather focus on developing clean energy. An estimated 2,000 people have signed up to hold sit-ins and commit other acts of civil disobedience outside the White House every day for the next two weeks — 162 have already been arrested since Saturday. Also joining the protest are indigenous First Nations communities in Canada and landowners along the Keystone XL pipeline’s planned route. 

An editorial in Sunday’s New York Times joined in calling on the State Department to reject the pipeline, noting that the extraction of petroleum from the tar sands creates far more greenhouse emissions than conventional production. Meanwhile, oil industry backers of the project emphasize what they say are the economic benefits of the $7 billion proposal. As the Obama administration remains undecided whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, we speak with Bill McKibben, who joins us from Washington, D.C., where he was released Monday after spending two nights in jail. He is part of Tar Sands Action, a group of environmentalists, indigenous communities, labor unions and scientific experts calling for action to stop the project. "This is the first real civil disobedience of this scale in the environmental movement in ages," McKibben says.

The 13 Psy-Ops Against You

by Saman Mohammadi

Six months ago, Rolling Stone's Michael Hastings reported that the "U.S. Army illegally ordered a team of soldiers specializing in "psychological operations" to manipulate visiting American senators into providing more troops and funding for the war," in his article "Another Runaway General: Army Deploys Psy-Ops on U.S. Senators."

The reality that psychological operations play a big part in our 21st century, media-saturated society is rarely discussed in the print and television media, for obvious reasons. So I was very happy that Rolling Stones was shedding some light on the mental battlefield that politicians, soldiers, journalists, military generals, geopolitical analysts, think tank elitists, and citizens all live on in this century.

Alex Jones has made famous the idea that there is an Infowar being waged against the American people and the global public mind. This is a hundred percent true. We are at war with gangsters and corporate monopolists who control our governments from behind the scenes through a shadow and informal government-private network comprised of top government officials, corporate insiders, media kings, and politically connected individuals.

Whether you are watching television on your couch, manning a checkpoint in Iraq, propagating the latest talking points in Washington, or surfing the internet, the information we breathe into our mental lungs and muscles of perception is perhaps as important as the air we breathe in our homes, offices and streets. Through the suppression and perversion of information, we become enslaved to politically constructed perceptions and fake narratives that a benefit a privileged few.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Wake Up

Rage Against The Machine

Come on, although ya try to discredit
Ya still never edit
The needle, I'll thread it
Radically poetic
Standin' with the fury that they had in '66
And like E-Double I'm mad
Still knee-deep in the system's shit
Hoover, he was a body remover
I'll give ya a dose
But it'll never come close
To the rage built up inside of me
Fist in the air, in the land of hypocrisy

Movements come and movements go
Leaders speak, movements cease
When their heads are flown
'Cause all these punks
Got bullets in their heads
Departments of police, the judges, the feds
Networks at work, keepin' people calm
You know they went after King
When he spoke out on Vietnam
He turned the power to the have-nots
And then came the shot

Yeah, back in this...
Wit' poetry, my mind I flex
Flip like Wilson, vocals never lackin' dat finesse
Whadda I got to, whadda I got to do to wake ya up
To shake ya up, to break the structure up
'Cause blood still flows in the gutter
I'm like takin' photos
Mad boy kicks open the shutter
Set the groove
Then stick and move like I was Cassius
Rep the stutter step
Then bomb a left upon the fascists
Yea, the several federal men
Who pulled schemes on the dream
And put it to an end
Ya better beware
Of retribution with mind war
20/20 visions and murals with metaphors
Networks at work, keepin' people calm
Ya know they murdered X
And tried to blame it on Islam
He turned the power to the have-nots
And then came the shot

8 Reasons Young Americans Don't Fight Back: How the US Crushed Youth Resistance

by Bruce Levine

The ruling elite has created social institutions that have subdued young Americans and broken their spirit of resistance.

Traditionally, young people have energized democratic movements. So it is a major coup for the ruling elite to have created societal institutions that have subdued young Americans and broken their spirit of resistance to domination. 

Young Americans—even more so than older Americans—appear to have acquiesced to the idea that the corporatocracy can completely screw them and that they are helpless to do anything about it. A 2010 Gallup poll asked Americans “Do you think the Social Security system will be able to pay you a benefit when you retire?” Among 18- to 34-years-olds, 76 percent of them said no. Yet despite their lack of confidence in the availability of Social Security for them, few have demanded it be shored up by more fairly payroll-taxing the wealthy; most appear resigned to having more money deducted from their paychecks for Social Security, even though they don’t believe it will be around to benefit them.

Perry Says Social Security Is No Longer A ‘Retirement Program’ But Simply A ‘Tax’

by Scott Keys
Think Progress

During a campaign stop in Ottumwa, Iowa this past weekend, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) continued his assault on Social Security, saying it was no longer a “retirement program” but has just “turned into a tax.”
Perry is certainly no fan of Social Security. In his November 2010 book Fed Up!, he wrote that the program “toss[es] aside any respect for our founding principles.” Social Security exists, according to Perry, “at the expense of respect for the Constitution and limited government.” With views like these, it’s hardly surprising that Perry believes Social Security is unconstitutional.
Speaking at an Ottumwa coffee shop on Saturday, Perry redoubled his attack on Social Security. When a conservative voter asked Perry why the current administration was promoting Social Security as an entitlement program — a view that all but the most right-wing people hold — the Texas governor went a step further. Perry told the woman Social Security “was a retirement program” when it began, but “it’s turned into a tax now.”
QUESTIONER: This administration is promoting Social Security as an entitlement program.
PERRY: Who’s that?
QUESTIONER: The current administration. Especially lately I’ve noticed on TV that’s what they’re promoting it as. The question is, that what it originally started out to be is not an entitlement program, Americans who are working, putting money into it…
PERRY: It was a retirement program, and actually it’s turned into a tax now.
Watch it:

Perry went on to tell the crowd that Social Security is a “Ponzi scheme” and a “monstrous lie.” Watch video of the exchange here.
Of course, Perry completely ignores that Social Security has been, arguably, the most important social program that the country has implemented, causing poverty amongst seniors to plummet. Without Social Security benefits, almost half of Americans over the age of 65 would be living in poverty; with Social Security, fewer than 10 percent of seniors are actually living below the poverty line. Social Security is especially important for Hispanic, African-American, and female retirees.
Later that day, ThinkProgress asked Perry if conservatives should be worried that he’s tempering his hardline views on Social Security now that he’s running for president. Perry replied that he hasn’t “backed off anything” in his book, despite efforts from his campaign to walk back the governor’s view that Social Security is unconstitutional.
A recent Pew Research Center poll found that three in five Americans don’t want to see Social Security benefits cut, including a plurality of Republicans.

The Election March of the Trolls

by Chris Hedges
Common Dreams

We have begun the election march of the trolls. They have crawled out of the sewers of public relations firms, polling organizations, the commercial media, the two corporate political parties and elected office to fill the airwaves with inanities and absurdities until the final inanity—the 2012 presidential election. Journalists, whose role has been reduced to purveyors of court gossip, whether on Fox or MSNBC, descend in swarms to report pseudo-events such as the Ames straw poll, where it costs $30 to cast a ballot. And then, almost immediately, they blithely inform us that the Iowa poll is meaningless now that Rick Perry has entered the race. 

The liberal trolls, as they do in every election cycle, are beating their little chests about the perfidiousness of the Democratic Party and Barack Obama. It is a gesture performed not to effect change but to burnish their credentials as moralists. They know, as do we, that they will trot obediently into the voting booth in 2012 to do as they are told. And everywhere the pulse of the nation is being assiduously monitored through polls and focus groups, not because our opinions matter, but because our troll candidates understand that by parroting back to us our own viewpoints they can continue to spend their days lapping up corporate money with other trolls in the two houses of Congress, the White House, the Supreme Court and television studios where they chat with troll celebrity journalists.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Never Forgive, Never Forget

by Steve Lendman

NATO Eagle
Never Forgive, Never Forget - by Stephen Lendman

After covering Libya's rape since last winter in dozens of articles, no forgiving or forgetting is possible for one of history's great crimes.

Nor is ignoring those responsible, condemning them forthrightly, and explaining why all wars are waged.

NATO outdid Orwell on this one, killing truth by calling war the responsibility to protect - by terrorizing, attacking, and slaughtering civilians like psychopathic assassins.

As a result, honest historians will redefine barbarism to explain NATO's savagery. It includes ongoing crimes of war and against humanity for the most malevolent reasons.

When is war not war? It's when committing cold-blooded murder is called the right thing. When major media scoundrels cheerlead it, and when most people believe it because they're too indifferent, uncaring or lazy to learn the truth.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Arizona Challenges Voting Rights Act

U.S. News

Arizona is suing the U.S. government, questioning the constitutionality of a portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horn said the suit, filed Thursday, challenged a part of the law that requires Arizona and other jurisdictions -- mainly in the South -- to get permission, or "pre-clearance" from the Justice Department for changes to voting procedures, The Wall Street Journal reported.
"The Voting Rights Act plays a vital role in our society by ensuring that every American has the right to vote and to have that vote counted," Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement. "The provisions challenged in this case, including the pre-clearance requirement, were reauthorized by Congress in 2006 with overwhelming and bipartisan support."
The lawsuit was filed in federal court in the District of Columbia.
Horne said Arizona was subject to the Justice Department procedure even though the state demonstrated fairness to racial minority voters, NBC News said.
"Arizona is still penalized for archaic violations that were corrected with the implementation of bilingual ballots prior to the 1974 elections," Horne said, adding Arizona, in 1974, became the second state to elect a Hispanic governor.
The lawsuit claims the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional, "because it suspects all changes to state election law, however innocuous, until pre-clearance is given by the federal government," Horne said.

Assorted Evils of Capitalsim, Libertarianism, and Objectivism

by Dr. Albert Ellis

Image: Greenspan Shrugged
From Rand's views on economics and politics stem "assorted evils,' some of which I shall now briefly consider.   These are not all the nasty corollaries of her basic philosophies; but they are some of the more important negative consequences of these views.

          Deification of productiveness :   The objectivists apotheosize and deify productiveness.   They not only think that human achievement is good--which indeed it may be--but that it is practically the be-all and end-all of existence.   Branden states the position in these terms: "The virtue of productiveness is the basic expression of rationality in man's relationship to nature--and it is obvious why a morality of survival would attach especial importance to this virtue." (1965b). He says that the characters whom Ayn Rand presents such as Hank Rearden, Francisco d'Anconia and Dagny Taggart, a composer such as Richard Halley, and men of lesser ability and a smaller-scale ambition such as Eddie Willers--have one common attribute: a passionate love of their work, a dedication to achieving the utmost possible, a profound sense that thought and effort are not a burden or a duty.   By regulating their lives through intelligent productiveness, people gain control of their own lives that non-humans cannot achieve.   Productive work is the supremely human act, because animals must adjust themselves to their physical background and humans adjust their physical background to themselves.   Although this view includes some good points, it also includes several mistaken views:

          1.        Branden, closely following Rand, defines rationality in terms of productiveness, when obviously reason goes far beyond that.   A person can be rational when idly contemplating the tides, planning a work of art that he will never produce, philosophizing about the order of the universe, thinking about himself and his problems, and when doing a hundred things that are essentially unproductive and that may never lead to any kind of productivity.   But if people were completely unproductive, they would starve to death (unless living in a region where food and shelter were most easily available); and they would then be, presumably, irrational.   But this hardly means that all or most of people's rationality stems from their productiveness, or that all of it be spent on productive efforts.

          2.        Frequently the more productive an individual is, the less rational she tends to be.   For while she is busily producing, she cannot easily stop and think about why she is producing, or what is the best way to produce, or what is the main purpose of her life.

          3.        Many people produce beautifully for the wrong reasons.   They may despise themselves if they don't produce, and therefore compulsively achieve.   Or they may think they need the approval of others and can only gain that approval through notable production.   Or they may foolishly believe that they have to produce much more than they can ever possibly consume and may engage in compulsive hoarding.   This kind of behavior is not particularly useful or rational.

          4.        Although a morality of survival may well attach   virtue to productiveness, such a survivalist mentality does not exist in large parts of the world today--such as in our own country. Consequently, we might do better to de-emphasize the virtues of productiveness and consumption, and perhaps emphasize other virtues. Indeed, to dedicate one's life to productivity is to ignore and neglect the other important aspects of life: It is to lead an unbalanced life.

          5.        For Ayn Rand's productive heroes to intrinsically enjoy their work is fine.   As I emphasize in the theory of rational emotive behavior therapy (Ellis, 1962, 1999, 2001a, 2001b; Ellis & Becker, 1983; Ellis & Harper, 1968), people who acquire a vital absorbing interest in some aspect of life, and who work hard to fulfill this interest, are generally happier than those who are less absorbed.

          But when John Galt, Hank Rearden, and others have "a dedication to achieving the utmost possible to them," we become suspicious of their motives.   It seems obvious they are perfectionistic, demanding of themselves that they achieve the utmost possible and, if they don't, they are no good and do not deserve to live this supposedly happy life of working arduously all the time.   This (as I pointed out in Chapter 2) is an enormous danger of Randism--it promotes the view that people's personal value depends on their achieving in an outstanding manner.   Emotional disturbance lies in that direction!

          6.        It is difficult to see how productive work is the supremely human act.   In fact, it seems that productive work is not necessarily highly intelligent.   Animals, such as beavers, seem to work very hard at what they do; and innumerable animals, such as birds, bees, and ants, seem to work ceaselessly at the process of feeding and protecting themselves and their progeny.   Remarkable human acts, which these animals never seem to perform, lie much more in the realm of high-level thinking, of imagining, of devising works of art, and of enjoying esthetic pursuits (such as writing, acting, and opera singing).   While these kinds of supremely human activities involve some amount of work and productivity, they also may be contemplative, imaginative, and playful.

Friday, August 26, 2011

A Dream Still Out Of Reach

by Eugene Robinson

As the nation honors the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. with a stirring new memorial on the National Mall, let’s not obscure one of his most important messages in a fog of sentiment. Justice, he told us, is not just a legal or moral question but a matter of economics as well.

In this sense, we’re not advancing toward the fulfillment of King’s dream. We’re heading in the opposite direction.

Aug. 28 is the anniversary of the 1963 march and rally at which King delivered the indelible “I Have a Dream” speech. That event — one of the watershed moments of 20th-century America — was officially called the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.” Meaningful employment was a front-and-center demand.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Chomsky on Wage Labor

Exxon, U.S. Government Duel Over Huge Oil Find

Exxon Mobil Corp. is fighting with the U.S. government to keep control of one of its biggest oil discoveries ever, in a showdown where billions of dollars hang in the balance for both sides.

The massive Gulf of Mexico discovery contains an estimated one billion barrels of recoverable oil, the company says. The Interior Department, which regulates offshore drilling, says Exxon's leases have expired and the company hasn't met the requirements for an extension. Exxon has sued to retain the leases.

The court battle is playing out at a time in which the Obama administration has made an issue of unused leases, which deprive the Treasury of valuable taxes. It also comes as regulators are being careful not to be seen as lax in their dealings with large energy companies in the wake of last year's BP PLC spill.

The stakes are high: Under federal law, the leases—and all the oil underneath—could revert to the government if Exxon doesn't win in court.

Why Is the Obama Administration Subverting the Rule of Law?

If, in fact, we are a "nation of laws," you wouldn't know it from Washington's actions over the past few years.

As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, the unexpected extent of the damage Americans have done to themselves and their institutions is coming into better focus.  The event that “changed everything” did turn out to change Washington in ways more startling than most people realize.  On terrorism and national security, to take an obvious (if seldom commented upon) example, the confidence of the U.S. government seems to have been severely, perhaps irreparably, shaken when it comes to that basic and essential American institution: the courts.

If, in fact, we are a “nation of laws,” you wouldn’t know it from Washington’s actions over the past few years. Nothing spoke more strikingly to that loss of faith, to our country’s increasing incapacity for meeting violence with the law, than the widely hailed decision to kill rather than capture Osama bin Laden.

Clearly, a key factor in that decision was a growing belief, widely shared within the national-security establishment, that none of our traditional or even newly created tribunals, civilian or military, could have handled a bin Laden trial.  Washington’s faith went solely to Navy SEALs zooming into another country’s sovereign airspace on a moonless night on a mission to assassinate bin Laden, whether he offered the slightest resistance or not.  It evidently seemed so much easier to the top officials overseeing the operation -- and so much less messy -- than bringing a confessed mass murderer into a courtroom in, or even anywhere near, the United States.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fake Facebook Identity Used By Military Contractors Plotting To Hack Progressive Organizations

by Lee Fang

Earlier this year ThinkProgress obtained 75,000 private emails from the defense contractor HBGary Federal via the hacktivist group called Anonymous. The emails led to two shocking revelations. First, that an assortment of private military firms collectively called “Team Themis” had been tapped by Bank of America to conduct a cyber war against reporters sympathetically covering the Wikileaks revelations. And second, that late in 2010, the same set of firms began work separately for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a Republican-aligned corporate lobbying group, to develop a similar campaign of sabotage against progressive organizations, including the SEIU and ThinkProgress.

In presentations obtained by ThinkProgress from the e-mail dump detailing the tacticspotentially used against progressives, HBGary Federal floated the idea of using “fake insider personas” to infiltrate left-leaning groups critical of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s policies. As HBGary Federal executive Aaron Barr described in several emails, his firm could work with partner companies Palantir and Berico Technologies to manipulate fake online identities, using networks like Facebook, to gain access to private information from his targets. Other presentations are more specific and describe efforts to use social media to hack computers and find vulnerabilities among even the families of people who work at organizations critical of the Chamber.

In one email from the dump, Barr discusses a fake persona he created called “Holly Weber.” She would be born in Portland in 1984, attend Reynolds High School, and work for Lockheed Martin after a stint in the Air Force. Earlier this week, Twitter users actually identified the phony account. Before it was taken down, ThinkProgress snagged screen shots of the fake ersona’s Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. (Barr also described his strategy for pretendingto be teenagers online). View a screenshot of the fake account below:
Barr, who sold his illicit talents to the highest bidder, appears to be drawing on Maxim for inspiration. A Maxim covergirl named Holly Weber was also born in 1984. Unlike Barr’s creation, the Maxim one is real.

Hunton and Williams, the law firm representing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, had beenimmersed in talks with HBGary Federal, Palantir, and Berico to deliver on a $2 million deal to move forward with the hacking plot against the Chamber’s critics. However, after Anonymous leaked HBGary’s emails and a few reporters picked up on the story, the Chamber distanced itself from the deal. The emails show that HBGary Federal had also worked to sell “persona management” solutions to the U.S. government for cyber intelligence work.

Committees of Tyranny

Ethan Jacobs, J.D.
Activist Post

Throughout history puppet dictators and their controllers -- the global banking and corporate elite -- have used small committees to impose tyranny while circumventing the popular will of the people.  The newly created Super Congress parallels Hitler’s enabling law, the Federal Reserve banking cartel, and Soviet Politburo.

A recent example is the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction also known as the Super Congress or Council of 13, which was created by the Budget Control Act of 2011 on August 2, 2011. The act was intended to prevent the U.S. government from defaulting on the imaginary national debt owed to banksters that created Federal Reserve Notes out of nothing and loaned them to the government at interest, enslaving taxpayers with the national debt.

The Committee will consist of twelve members of Congress, six from the “House of Representatives” and six from the Senate, with Obama being the 13th member. Three members have been appointed by the Speaker and Minority Leader of the House and the Majority and Minority Leaders of the Senate. Two of the members are designated as co-chairs, one each by the Senate Majority Leader and by the House Speaker. According to the Los Angeles Times, the "most important players" in the process will be the four leaders selecting the twelve committee members.

When Unions Are Strong, Americans Enjoy The Fruits of Their Labor

by David Morris

The only effective answer to organized greed is organized labor.
~Thomas Donohue, Former President AFL-CIO

In the early 1980s Ricardo Levins Morales, an artist and labor activist in Minneapolis designed a bumper sticker with a simple eight-word message, “From the people who brought you the weekend. “ Since then, he's sold tens of thousands. In 2007 Ricardo told National Public Radio he often found people “squinting with puzzled looks at the stickers.” "For people who are not steeped in labor history,” he added, “it might take a few minutes to figure out what on earth they are talking about” because most people think the weekend has always been here, "like the weather."

No Virginia , the weekend has not always been here. At the end of the 19th century men, women and children often worked 10 to 16 hour days, seven days a week. The weekend, along with the 8-hour day, rest breaks, decent wages and working conditions were gained only over decades, and at great human cost. And the vehicle used to win these advances was the union.

In the last generation, US unions have shrunk in size and influence, largely as a result of a withering attack by corporations and Republicans. And with that shrinking influence has come a corresponding decrease in the standard of living of most Americans. Indeed, as we shall see, the correlation between the strength of unions and the strength of the middle class is so empirically strong it might well be considered causal.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Today's Austerity Measures Are Taking From Us, Our Once Great Dream

by S. Paul Forrest

This article was originally written for an interview with New Dissident Radio's Lakota Phillips on Breaking Taboo.

Despair: by Lakota Philips
I remember when I was a child, I would stare into the sky at the clouds and dream of the wonders that life had in store for me.  Once, while I was watching an airplane pass over the top of our modest cabin in the woods, my father sat down next to me and asked what it was I was doing.  I told him about the plane and how I wanted to be a pilot so I could soar free above the Earth.  He told me that I could be anything I wanted if I only tried hard enough.  I did work to that end for in my lifetime, anything was indeed, possible. Today though, economic and social restrictions are hampering the dreams of our children and our selves.  No longer is it enough to work toward our dreams for restrictions are aplenty and entitlement is seemingly meant for only the few or at least that is the perception of so many around the world who despite their labor efforts and honestly, find only despair and economic agony within their dreams or rather, their nightmares.

In England recently, some children who had come to realize just how limited their futures are, took to the streets to physically express to and impose upon those around them, the frustrations of just how devastating the fairy tale of reward for valor really is.  To these street urchins; these angry young of a society that has all but cast their class into the shadows of insignificance, violence was the only way to bring attention to their loss of hope and to bring to the discussion boards of mass media, just how screwed up our global society has become.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Damn it or fear it, the forbidden truth is an insurrection in Britain

by John Pilger

On a warm spring day, strolling in south London, I heard demanding voices behind me. A police van disgorged a posse of six or more, who waved me aside. They surrounded a young  black man who, like me, was ambling along. They appropriated him; they rifled his pockets, looked in his shoes, inspected his teeth. Their thuggery affirmed, they let him go with the barked warning there would be a next time.

For the young at the bottom of the pyramid of wealth and patronage and poverty that is modern Britain, mostly the black, the marginalised and resentful, the envious and hopeless, there is never surprise. Their relationship with authority is integral to their obsolescence as young adults. Half of all black British youth between the ages of 18 and 24 are unemployed, the result of deliberate policies since Margaret Thatcher oversaw the greatest transfer of wealth from the bottom to the top in British history. Forget plasma TVs, this was panoramic looting. 

Such is the truth of David Cameron's "sick society", notably its sickest, most criminal, most feral "pocket": the square mile of the City of London where, with political approval, the banks and super-rich have trashed the British economy and the lives of millions. This is fast becoming unmentionable as we succumb to propaganda once described by the American black leader Malcolm X thus: "If you're not careful the newspapers will have you hating the oppressed and loving the people doing the oppressing."

ANONYMOUS Declares War On The System

A Republic of Minds

by Martin Weiss

Something new is born. It is just now opening its eyes and becoming self-aware. It is the conscious community. It has seven billion minds, seven billion sets of eyes and seven billion different impressions of the taste of water, the meaning of water. Yet it is of one mind on some things. It prefers life to death, for example. Joy to sorrow and pleasure to pain. 

There's currently a surprising consensus on economics, government and war and political leaders, and its not good. It's as if there were a drawn breath, a pause to consider what to do. When this new thing is certain, when all the eventualities of the current state have played out, a solution will present itself, organically. All seven billion minds will achieve something new. The republic of inalienable rights and intelligences issuing from the free offering of concerted minds toward a common solution will stand up. In a quiet voice, someone will speak and it shall be so-- as much an observation as an improvisation. Thus it is, they will say, and thus it shall be. And the idea of grace, of something watching over you, of having entered some protected state of harmony and safety, and the quality of mercy will descend through the clouds of dissension and disgrace like sunbeams and rain falling on all alike. 

Seven billion hearts and lungs and mouths will say let there be peace, and let there be enough for all, and let not innocent lives be taken. And all the obstructive dialectic of the profit-takers will not resist. When the republic of minds,the united conscience, wakes up and sees itself and the world as it is, the burden of responsibility will be shouldered and soberly faced, for with knowledge comes responsibility. Yet the scamp of human ingenuity and dreams will not vanish, but be prized. And the republic of minds will breathe a sigh of relief at having come of age, at last, and embark upon the voyage beyond sunset, beyond all sunsets, beyond all borders and barriers, and be free.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Media Just Doesn't Get Today's Religious Right

By Frederick Clarkson 

In case we were wondering why the Religious Right often seems to get such uncritical, or at least misguided coverage from so much of the mainstream media -- we need look no further a recent segment from CNN's Situation Room.  It is the single most startlingly frank admission of ignorance on the part of major figures in journalism I have ever seen.

Blitzer and Cafferty et al have had plenty of opportunities to learn about dominionism and Christian Reconstructionism.  They could have read Michelle Goldberg's New York Times best-selling book Kingdom Coming:  The Rise of Christian Nationalism. in 2006.  They could have read my 1997 book, Eternal Hostility:  The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy, or Sara Diamond's 1989 classic, Spiritual Warfare:  The Politics of the Christian Right. -- to name but a few that deal specifically with dominionism and Christian Reconstructionism. 

We were all widely in the media, including national broadcasts talking about this stuff.  They could also read material from such well established and well known organizations that study and counter the American right, as Americans United for Separation of Church & State and People for the American Way, and Political Research Associates. (PRA published my studyof Christian Reconstructionism in 1994.)  Religion Dispatches reports on these things all the time as well.  They have been discussed in wider context in books by such scholarly best selling authors as Gary Wills, Harvey Cox, Jeff Sharlet and Kevin Phillips, to also name but a few, and in major articles in magazines as diverse as Reason and Mother Jones.