Thursday, May 31, 2012

We Should Just Eat the Poor

by S. Paul Forrest

Time and time again, we in America are inundated with the rhetoric of how “entitlements” are what is driving our National Debt.  This spending is crippling our economy, we are told.  And it is not a problem that is isolated to America, only.  Across Europe, austerity measures have been implemented in order to combat global, economic meltdowns.  Why? : Because there are simply too many people in need of assistance from their governments around the world; governments which cannot afford to take care of them…or so we are told.

In the world today, there are millions upon millions of people who are suffering in poverty. Many are unemployed, homeless, hungry and desperately looking for relief.  In “developed” nations, those in need are absorbing much of their nation’s fiscal resources. Unfortunately, many of America’s resources are allocated to nations who cannot afford to take care of their own but unfortunately, these funds often never make it to the people yet, we keep sending them.  The amount of money we in America give to this cause is staggering.  This cost adds to our fiscal deficit and could or rather, should be used more productively in other areas.

In America, Social Security is said to be taking up half of our National Budget and Medicare/Medicaid, food stamps, etc ; the rest.  We are told the numbers of dependents are growing too large for the resources of this Nation and other nations to support. Thanks to media’s demonizing these programs, it has somehow become acceptable to state that the people dependent upon State money are no longer “productively” contributing to our society as a whole.  We are on average, decreasing our collective abilities with these extra bodies; these socio-economic drains.  Sadly enough, that not such a false statement.

The Moral Challenge of ‘Kill Lists’

In an extraordinary article in Tuesday’s New York Times, “Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will,” authors Jo Becker and Scott Shane throw macabre light on the consigliere-cum-priestly role that counterterrorist adviser John Brennan provides.

At the outset, Becker and Shane note that, although Obama vowed to “align the fight against Al Qaeda with American values,” he has now ordered the obedient Brennan to prepare a top secret “nominations” list of people whom the President may decide to order killed, without charge or trial, including American citizens.

The authors understate this as “a moral and legal conundrum.” It is, in fact, a moral and legal impossibility to square “kill lists” for extrajudicial murders with traditional legal and moral American values.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tampa police study Chicago protests to hone RNC strategy

The socialists shouted and the Hare Krishnas hummed. Half a dozen men held up a Palestinian flag the size of a swimming pool. Middle-class moms in pink wielded cardboard guns, part of the antiwar crowd.

On the first day of the NATO summit last weekend, an estimated 3,000 protesters with every message imaginable swarmed south on
Michigan Avenue
. They were flanked on either side by compact lines of Chicago police officers.

A scrum of young people dressed in black and wearing masks snaked through the crowd carrying a red and black anarchy flag.

"What do we want?" they roared. "Dead cops! When do we want it? Now."

Tampa police Assistant Chief John Bennett stopped to watch it all from the dappled shade of a young elm tree.

In August, Tampa will host the Republican National Convention, and many of the same protesters will converge on its streets. Bennett and other local public safety officers had come to get a peek at what to expect when 10,000 protesters mass in Tampa's smaller, and much hotter, downtown.

Monday, May 28, 2012

War Inc. Shifts Homeward

It’s been said many times that the war is a self-sustaining industry that requires a constant threat overseas to keep the machine thriving at home. Looking at the millions if not billions of dollars spent on securing “national special security events” against its own citizens, it’s clear that protesters have become the threat that has allowed, in part, the warfare state to flourish on American soil.

Sound dramatic? One need only to look at the lockdown of our cities during these “events” — whether it be the NATO Summit in Chicago today, or preparations to militarize the cities of Tampa and Charlotte for the Democratic and Republican conventions this summer — to see that the constitutionally protected, American tradition of protest has become a reason for law enforcement to spend their quickly evaporating budgets each year on new toys and overtime — including the latest in surveillance, crowd control gear and communications equipment, not to mention the helicopters overhead and armed vehicles on the ground.

Just as important, this threat allows the federal government to extend its own powers under the Patriot Act onto
Main Street
, all in the order of counterterrorism and national security.

Friday, May 25, 2012

America’s Misconception and Ignorant Proliferation of Global, Child Labor

by S. Paul Forrest

As defined by the International Labour Organization, child labor is “work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity and that is harmful to physical and mental development.” In essence, it is a practice that takes from children their childhood present and by proxy, their adult futures. Child Labor is a global plague indicative of a society which is decaying within the fog of moral and ethical loss, leaving children across the world to be forced into slave labor because their families are stricken with poverty and it is he only way for the whole to survive. The destiny these children would otherwise have in a prosperous existence like that which many of us Americans enjoy is all but a dream to them: They live an existence which very few here could ever imagine.

What is driving the demand; enabling this epidemic, are nations such as America, desiring their materialistic luxuries. In the drive to globally compete and provide affordable products to the market, the supply has become dependent upon cheap or even, slave labor which all too often equates to child labor.  Many Americans are either not aware that they are adding to this global scourge with their excess or simply choose to ignore responsibility for it in order to continue to enjoy the resultant products.  

In the rush to eliminate the ravages of child labor here in this nation, instead of sorting out those forms of it which are beneficial, many have, without consideration for the importance of some level work children should perform, the opportunity to learn responsibility and the value of hard work.  We have in our extremist nature, which appears to have come to define all American resolve, expanded the fight against child labor to where any work, including domestic chores and summer time jobs, only helped to reduce our children to mere couch potatoes and video game aficionados.  A child working certain small jobs or performing domestic chores is not the same as actual child labor. The latter is a vastly different animal.  

U.S. Today Merits Label of "Fascist," Noted Political Journalist Writes

Contributed by Sherwood Ross

     "If there's any nation in the world that is well on the way to meriting the admittedly vague label of 'fascist,' surely it is the United States," political journalist Alexander Cockburn asserts.

    In the May 21st issue of "The Nation," magazine columnist Cockburn reels off a list of characteristics of fascist societies which seem, unfortunately, to apply to the U.S. today. Following are some of those characteristics he cited:

    (1) "A fascist regime is the sworn foe of the right to assembly, 'unauthorized' marches and encampments," Cockburn points out. This, of course, was demonstrated only a few days ago in Chicago at the summit meeting of the NATO ministers. Police tactics were so heavy-handed that it took exemplary courage for demonstrators to turn out. A few weeks earlier in Syracuse, N.Y., area sheriffs arrested 33 protesters for the offense of walking on a public road! The "Hancock 33" had not even reached the Air Force base of that name to protest its drone warplanes when stopped. "America is a network of SWAT teams and kindred state-employed thugs on permanent red alert," Cockburn says.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

How Rural America Got Fracked

The environmental nightmare you know nothing about.

Drilling a horizontal shale gas well.
If the world can be seen in a grain of sand, watch out. As Wisconsinites are learning, there's money (and misery) in sand—and if you've got the right kind, an oil company may soon be at your doorstep.

March in Wisconsin used to mean snow on the ground, temperatures so cold that farmers worried about their cows freezing to death. But as I traveled around rural townships and villages in early March to interview people about frac-sand mining, a little-known cousin of hydraulic fracturing or "fracking," daytime temperatures soared to nearly 80 degrees—bizarre weather that seemed to be sending a meteorological message.

In this troubling spring, Wisconsin's prairies and farmland fanned out to undulating hills that cradled the land and its people. Within their embrace, the rackety calls of geese echoed from ice-free ponds, bald eagles wheeled in the sky, and deer leaped in the brush. And for the first time in my life, I heard the thrilling warble of sandhill cranes.

Yet this peaceful rural landscape is swiftly becoming part of a vast assembly line in the corporate race for the last fossil fuels on the planet. The target: the sand in the land of the cranes.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

War Pay: The Nearly $1 Trillion National Security Budget

Recent months have seen a flurry of headlines about cuts (often called “threats”) to the U.S. defense budget. Last week, lawmakers in the House of Representatives even passed a bill that was meant to spare national security spending from future cuts by reducing school-lunch funding and other social programs.  

Here, then, is a simple question that, for some curious reason, no one bothers to ask, no less answer: How much are we spending on national security these days? With major wars winding down, has Washington already cut such spending so close to the bone that further reductions would be perilous to our safety?

In fact, with projected cuts added in, the national security budget in fiscal 2013 will be nearly $1 trillion -- a staggering enough sum that it’s worth taking a walk through the maze of the national security budget to see just where that money’s lodged.

If you’ve heard a number for how much the U.S. spends on the military, it’s probably in the neighborhood of $530 billion. That’s the Pentagon’s base budget for fiscal 2013, and represents a 2.5% cut from 2012. But that $530 billion is merely the beginning of what the U.S. spends on national security. Let’s dig a little deeper.

The Pentagon’s base budget doesn’t include war funding, which in recent years has been well over $100 billion. With U.S. troops withdrawn from Iraq and troop levels falling in Afghanistan, you might think that war funding would be plummeting as well.  In fact, it will drop to a mere $88 billion in fiscal 2013. By way of comparison, the federal government will spend around $64 billion on education that same year.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Why An Ex-Marine Turns Pacifist

Contributed by Sherwood Ross

It’s been a long journey for Russell Brown, 65, from the days when he fought with the Fourth Marines in Viet Nam, to becoming one of the “Hancock 33” protesters against drone warfare. Last April 22, he was arrested walking en route to Hancock Air Force Base, just outside of Syracuse, N.Y., where General Atomics-made MQ-9 Reapers, the deadly unmanned aerial vehicles(UAV) that fire Hellfire missiles, dot the runway. The protesters would have liked to serve an indictment for war crimes on the base commander and President Obama, et al, and to reach Hancock’s 2,000 employees with their pacifist message, but the authorities were not going to have any of that.

Onondaga County sheriffs stopped them and told them they were all under arrest. “They said we were marching or parading without a permit,” Brown says. “Eventually they offered most of us an opportunity to sign a waiver agreeing to not sue them for false arrest. I believe two people signed, 33 remained arrested. Then they stopped arresting any more people.” The protesters were halted while walking in a long, thin line toward the base, Brown says, and were not obstructing traffic. (“It was a real violation of the First Amendment.”) Brown adds, the U.S. Government likes to try the pacifists before a judge so that “juries don’t learn the U.S. is committing war crimes.”

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Where Is Our Money Going?

by S. Paul Forrest

We will be discussing this as one of the stories - 05-21-12 - Breaking Taboo - - 7:00 PM EST - Be sure to tune in.

The United States is looking at a National Debt of over 16 Trillion Dollars and climbing every day.  Even though We the People are continuously taxed, fined, assessed and overcharged for goods and services, this debt continues to mount.  The powers that be in government are trying to convince us that this debt is a result of social “entitlements” like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid; all funds we the taxed masses pay into from our personal, hard-earned income. The question which constantly arises in this author’s mind is; if We the People are being forced to pay more and more into the governmental matrix but are constantly being told this nation is operating in the red, where exactly is our money going?

Our “leaders” insist we must balance our fiscal budget by cutting “waste” like food stamps, aid for the homeless, veteran’s health care, Social Security, Medicare and education (to name a few) but in these discussions and their attempt to sedate those who will be most hurt by this anti-American mentality, nary a mention has been made to the real problem of the ever increasing, military industrial complex.  The Republicans blame Obama for the ever increasing deficit but all on the campaign trail this past year (save for Ron Paul) vowed to continue to increase military expenditures in the name of National Security and the “War on Terrorism”.   

In 2010, the budget for military expenditures was nearly $800 Billion dollars.  This number did not include foreign aid to countries like Israel and others for their military or the amount sent to nations to maintain our over 80 bases around the world; an additional $500 Billion.  In total, America spends nearly $2 Trillion per annum on the CIA, FBI, the Pentagon, an increasing, domestic police state, Foreign “Aid” and its aggressive, global military presence.  All told, the War in the Middle East post 9-11 has cost this nation over $8 trillion dollars and the associated military machine globally, another $4 trillion. 

The proponents of America’s emerging austerity measures tell us taxpayers that in order to reduce our national debt, we must abandon or rather, forget that we have paid for those programs mentioned above. Our government representatives and their media minions claim it is because “liberals” want a free ride but it has become all too apparent that the only free ride being offered is to the monetary contributors to the same politicians selling their snake oil.  As funding is being cut for education, social outreach programs and efforts to quell an increasing poverty level, our “leaders” are working tirelessly to enable provisions for other areas of our “National Interests” like Corporate Welfare, Resource Wars and Bailouts for the biggest of Congress’ Corporate donors.    

Anti-protest Laws, nationalistic programs to watch us citizens like drones to patrol our borders and our towns including an increasing Police State, subsidies for oil and gas companies and bail outs for “Too big to fail” corporations are where our tax dollars and our quasi-national interests are being directed.  When the question arises of where our money is going and how we are going to balance and eventually, decrease our deficit, those who cry, “foul” should look first at America’s own global brand of terrorism costing us all our financial and national security before insisting We the People must sacrifice our futures and our children’s.  Unless we rise up and resist this devastation, this nation will soon join the historic ranks of empires no more.  If you want to know where our money is going, look no further than to the greedy and immoral in Washington and those occupying our State Governments where the only interest they seem to have in mind, is their own.

Look around you...Where do you think our money is going and then ask yourself: Are you willing to saddle your children and their children after them with the cost of these expenditures?

A Victory for All of Us

In January, attorneys Carl Mayer and Bruce Afran asked me to be the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta that challenged the harsh provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). We filed the lawsuit, worked for hours on the affidavits, carried out the tedious depositions, prepared the case and went to trial because we did not want to be passive in the face of another egregious assault on basic civil liberties, because resistance is a moral imperative, and because, at the very least, we hoped we could draw attention to the injustice of the law. None of us thought we would win. But every once in a while the gods smile on the damned.

U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest, in a 68-page opinion, ruled Wednesday that Section 1021 of the NDAA was unconstitutional. It was a stunning and monumental victory. With her ruling she returned us to a country where—as it was before Obama signed this act into law Dec. 31—the government cannot strip a U.S. citizen of due process or use the military to arrest him or her and then hold him or her in military prison indefinitely. She categorically rejected the government’s claims that the plaintiffs did not have the standing to bring the case to trial because none of us had been indefinitely detained, that lack of imminent enforcement against us meant there was no need for an injunction and that the NDAA simply codified what had previously been set down in the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force Act. The ruling was a huge victory for the protection of free speech. Judge Forrest struck down language in the law that she said gave the government the ability to incarcerate people based on what they said or wrote. Maybe the ruling won’t last. Maybe it will be overturned. But we and other Americans are freer today than we were a week ago. And there is something in this.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Choice: Socialism or Fascism

by Carter Stroud

Flag of the National Front of Jakaragua  
S. Paul Note:  I am not sure the answer is Socialism for we cannot support such a system in these United States unless we somehow convince everyone that they must conform to the social norm else carry a heavier burden than others incapable or unwilling to shoulder their's.  Marxism failed because of such ideals outlined in this article but given the rampant growth of Fascism in this Nation, we must come to some solution which is more than likely in the middle which is a place very few people are capable of existing in these times.

The means of production now evolving will inevitably outstrip our ability to sustain an environment that can support us. Economic collapse follows ecological collapse. At the same time, current means of production will also fail to provide sufficient work to sustain incomes and employment. Increased productivity and reduced resources will mean fewer jobs, and particularly living wage jobs.

Insofar as means of production and distribution largely define societies, one of two means of organizing society will follow the shortfall in resources and viable labor: socialism or fascism. This conclusion follows from the apparent failure to meet the problem with more sharing and efficiency, both of which enjoy little status in a culture that endorses "making it big" in the money games.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Colonized by Corporations

In Robert E. Gamer’s book “The Developing Nations” is a chapter called “Why Men Do Not Revolt.” In it Gamer notes that although the oppressed often do revolt, the object of their hostility is misplaced. They vent their fury on a political puppet, someone who masks colonial power, a despised racial or ethnic group or an apostate within their own political class. The useless battles serve as an effective mask for what Gamer calls the “patron-client” networks that are responsible for the continuity of colonial oppression. The squabbles among the oppressed, the political campaigns between candidates who each are servants of colonial power, Gamer writes, absolve the actual centers of power from addressing the conditions that cause the frustrations of the people. Inequities, political disenfranchisement and injustices are never seriously addressed. “The government merely does the minimum necessary to prevent those few who are prone toward political action from organizing into politically effective groups,” he writes.

Gamer and many others who study the nature of colonial rule offer the best insights into the functioning of our corporate state. We have been, like nations on the periphery of empire, colonized. We are controlled by tiny corporate entities that have no loyalty to the nation and indeed in the language of traditional patriotism are traitors. They strip us of our resources, keep us politically passive and enrich themselves at our expense. The mechanisms of control are familiar to those whom the Martinique-born French psychiatrist and writer Frantz Fanon called “the wretched of the earth,” including African-Americans. The colonized are denied job security. Incomes are reduced to subsistence level. The poor are plunged into desperation. Mass movements, such as labor unions, are dismantled. The school system is degraded so only the elites have access to a superior education. Laws are written to legalize corporate plunder and abuse, as well as criminalize dissent. And the ensuing fear and instability—keenly felt this past weekend by the more than 200,000 Americans who lost their unemployment benefits—ensure political passivity by diverting all personal energy toward survival. It is an old, old game.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Oil Wars on the Horizon

by Michael T. Klare,

Six Recent Clashes and Conflicts on a Planet Heading Into Energy Overdrive

Conflict and intrigue over valuable energy supplies have been features of the international landscape for a long time. Major wars over oil have been fought every decade or so since World War I, and smaller engagements have erupted every few years; a flare-up or two in 2012, then, would be part of the normal scheme of things. Instead, what we are now seeing is a whole cluster of oil-related clashes stretching across the globe, involving a dozen or so countries, with more popping up all the time. Consider these flash-points as signals that we are entering an era of intensified conflict over energy.

From the Atlantic to the Pacific, Argentina to the Philippines, here are the six areas of conflict - all tied to energy supplies - that have made news in just the first few months of 2012:

FBI Wants Greater Surveillance Powers

by Stephen Lendman

FBI Director Robert Mueller wants Congress to enact greater surveillance powers following the false flag underwear bomb plot blamed on Al Qaeda.

In May 9 testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, he said:

"We've seen over the last several days, particularly with regard to the IED that was recently recovered, that terrorism is and should be and continues to be our No. 1 priority and the No. 1 priority of a number of our intelligence agencies."

Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) surveillance provisions expire at yearend. National Intelligence Director James Clapper and Attorney General Eric Holder call renewing them the intelligence community's top legislative priority. 

So does Mueller. He also wants more. His May 9 testimony suggested it. He stopped short of specifics. He'll engage lawmakers privately. 

False flags create opportunities. That's why they're staged. Mueller plans taking full advantage.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Don't Buy the Spin: How Cutting the Pentagon's Budget Could Boost the Economy

Should the enormous US military budget—which is more than double the combined levels of military spending by China, the United Kingdom, France, Russia and Germany—be cut? This question is finally on the table, thanks to the winding down of combat activities in Iraq and Afghanistan and to Washington’s obsession with tamping down the federal deficits that have arisen from the Great Recession. Many who would like to protect the military from the budget knife raise economic arguments to make their case: Won’t cutting military spending be bad for jobs, just when we need to maintain focus on reducing unemployment? Won’t it threaten the country’s long-term technological capabilities?

The matter assumed increased urgency in November after the Congressional supercommittee failed to agree on a deficit-reduction plan. This failure set in motion an agenda for automatic cuts—or “sequestration” of funds—from military and nonmilitary budgets beginning in January 2013. According to the sequestration scenario, absent the adoption of a large-scale deficit-cutting plan, military and nonmilitary spending would face $55 billion per year in automatic cuts over a decade, relative to previously established spending levels. If Congress and the White House devise a way to exempt the Pentagon from the automatic cuts—as seems increasingly likely—the cuts will instead be taken from healthcare, education, social spending, infrastructure and the environment.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Another Foiled False Flag

by Stephen Lendman

Wikipedia defines false or black flags as "covert operations designed to deceive the public in such a way that the operations appear as though they are being carried out by other entities." 

"The name is derived from the military concept of flying false colors; that is: flying the flag of a country other than one’s own. False flag operations are not limited to war and counter-insurgency operations and can be used during peace-time."

Big lies substitute for truth. Stories are fabricated. Media scoundrels promote them. At issue is heightening fear for planned policies. Pretexts are needed for militarism, imperial wars, and homeland repression. If and when people learn they were duped, it's too late to matter.

It's an American tradition. Incidents are strategically timed. Innocent victims suffer. So does everyone living under heightened national security state conditions.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Plutonomy and the Precariat: On the History of the U.S. Economy in Decline

The Occupy movement has been an extremely exciting development. Unprecedented, in fact. There’s never been anything like it that I can think of.  If the bonds and associations it has established can be sustained through a long, dark period ahead -- because victory won’t come quickly -- it could prove a significant moment in American history.

The fact that the Occupy movement is unprecedented is quite appropriate. After all, it’s an unprecedented era and has been so since the 1970s, which marked a major turning point in American history. For centuries, since the country began, it had been a developing society, and not always in very pretty ways. That’s another story, but the general progress was toward wealth, industrialization, development, and hope. There was a pretty constant expectation that it was going to go on like this. That was true even in very dark times.

I’m just old enough to remember the Great Depression. After the first few years, by the mid-1930s -- although the situation was objectively much harsher than it is today -- nevertheless, the spirit was quite different. There was a sense that “we’re gonna get out of it,” even among unemployed people, including a lot of my relatives, a sense that “it will get better.”

Monday, May 7, 2012

Drone Attacks: The Latest Aspect of Growing U.S. “Shadow Warfare”

Contributed by Sherwood Ross

Although President Obama’s top counter-terrorism adviser says caution is exercised when making drone attacks, official U.S. announcements often state that suspects are killed. This very word betrays the fact that every drone attack is a crime because it is illegal in any civilized society to kill suspects. The killings are murder, pure and simple.

(Only last week, Washington announced it killed four “suspected militants” by drone attack in Pakistan, resulting in a formal protest from Islamabad “strongly condemning” the killings. “Such attacks are in total contravention of international law and established norms of interstate relations,” the  Pakistan statement stressed.)

And the Washington Post  quoted a Pakastani government official who reminded: “When a duly elected democratic Parliament says three times not to do this and the U.S. keeps doing it; it undermines democracy.”

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Noam Chomsky on America's Economic Suicide

by Laura Flanders and Noam Chomsky

We’re a nation whose leaders are pursuing policies that amount to economic “suicide” Chomsky says. But there are glimmers of possibility.
Noam Chomsky has not just been watching the Occupy movement. A veteran of the civil rights, anti-war, and anti-intervention movements of the 1960s through the 1980s, he’s given lectures at Occupy Boston and talked with occupiers across the US.  His new book, Occupy, published in the Occupied Media Pamphlet Series by Zuccotti Park Press brings together several of those lectures, a speech on “occupying foreign policy” and a brief tribute to his friend and co-agitator Howard Zinn.

From his speeches, and in this conversation, it’s clear that the emeritus MIT professor and author is as impressed by the spontaneous, cooperative communities some Occupy encampments created, as he is by the movement’s political impact.

We’re a nation whose leaders are pursuing policies that amount to economic “suicide” Chomsky says. But there are glimmers of possibility – in worker co-operatives, and other spaces where people get a taste of a different way of living.

We talked in his office, for Free Speech TV on April 24.

There Is a Plague Loose Upon the Land

by David Macaray

Most states in the union have laws against “gouging.” Broadly speaking, gouging is defined as the practice of arbitrarily raising prices on necessary goods, such as milk, bottled water, baby food, baby formula, bread, etc., in response to civil emergencies (riots, martial law) or natural disasters (earthquakes, floods, tornadoes). Randy Luckey, left, and Kenneth Noble walk a picket line as members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union strike outside Caterpillar's plant Tuesday, May 1, 2012, in Joliet, Ill. Union workers rejected Caterpillar Inc.'s latest contract offer. The contract expired at midnight for about 800 workers at the plant. (Photo: The Herald-News, Matthew Grotto / AP)

For example, an anti-gouging law would prohibit the owner of a neighborhood convenience store, in the wake of a massive earthquake, from tripling or quadrupling the price of drinking water. This consumer-protection device is one more instance of a benevolent government’s vital role in regulating the so-called “free market.” What could be fairer?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Has President Obama Made the Economy Better or Worse?

by Tom Feran

A persistent talking point used by Republicans is that rather than improving the economy, President Barack Obama’s policies have actually made it worse.

House Speaker John Boehner, in what might be called a prebuttal, posted online his critique of the State of the Union address even before President Obama delivered it.

Among the claims made by the Ohio Republican from West Chester; "President Obama's policies have not helped our economy; as a matter of fact, his policies have made our economy worse."

He has repeated the charge since then, in interviews, news conferences and printed statements. Others, too, have made the claim, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in the Republican response to a Saturday message delivered by the president.

PolitiFact Ohio took on the challenge of checking into Boehner’s sweeping statement. We’ll start by noting something PolitiFact has said in the past: That the economy is so complex and impacted by so many factors that it’s difficult to pin its successes or failures on the policies of one person.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Welcome to the 2012 Hunger Games

Sending Debt Peonage, Poverty, and Freaky Weather Into the Arena 

When I was growing up, I ate books for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and since I was constantly running out of reading material, I read everyone else’s -- which for a girl with older brothers meant science fiction. The books were supposed to be about the future, but they always turned out to be very much about this very moment.

Some of them -- Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land -- were comically of their time: that novel’s vision of the good life seemed to owe an awful lot to the Playboy Mansion in its prime, only with telepathy and being nice added in. Frank Herbert’s Dune had similarly sixties social mores, but its vision of an intergalactic world of disciplined desert jihadis and a great game for the substance that made all long-distance transit possible is even more relevant now.  Think: drug cartels meet the oil industry in the deep desert.

We now live in a world that is wilder than a lot of science fiction from my youth. My phone is 58 times faster than IBM’s fastest mainframe computer in 1964 (calculates my older brother Steve) and more powerful than the computers on the Apollo spaceship we landed on the moon in 1969 (adds my nephew Jason). Though we never got the promised jetpacks and the Martians were a bust, we do live in a time when genetic engineers use jellyfish genes to make mammals glow in the dark and nerds in southern Nevada kill people in Pakistan and Afghanistan with unmanned drones.  Anyone who time-traveled from the sixties would be astonished by our age, for its wonders and its horrors and its profound social changes. But science fiction is about the present more than the future, and we do have a new science fiction trilogy that’s perfect for this very moment.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

United Against the War on Women

by Bernie Sanders

The history of American democracy, to say the least, has been checkered. Our nation was founded at a time when people of African descent were held in bondage. After slavery was abolished, they were forced to endure legal discrimination for another 100 years.

When our country was formed, women were not just second-class citizens. They were third- or fourth-class citizens. Women couldn't vote or play a significant role in the political life of the nation. Women, in many cases, couldn't own property and were legally regarded as subservient in marriage. The educational and economic opportunities open to women were extremely limited. And, of course, women were unable to have control over their own bodies.

In the last 50 years, as the result of an enormous amount of effort on the part of the women's movement and its male allies, we as a nation have made significant progress in the fight for gender equality. Clearly, much, much more needs to be done, but few would deny that our country has come a very long way in this struggle. In Vermont, Governor Madeleine Kunin has given years of service to our state after becoming the state's first female governor in 1985. She is an inspiration to girls throughout Vermont and the country in allowing them to know that the opportunities they have are unlimited.