Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Real Reason Saul Alinsky Strikes Fear Into The Heart Of The Right

by Deborah Foster

Newt Gingrich, like most conservatives, tries to frighten his base with prospects of elite, secular, humanist hordes taking over the country and its beloved institutions. From his victory speech after the South Carolina primary to the last Florida debate and even in his stump speeches, Newt has been resurrecting someone he hopes will scare his constituents into voting for a party proven to have anything but their best interests in mind. With ACORN illegitimately neutered, the specter of the community organizer needed a new terrifying image. Unfortunately, for Newt, his next choice, Saul Alinsky, is met with puzzled looks and blank stares. His relative obscurity in today’s vernacular is evident in the rash of articles appearing across news sites with titles asking, “Who is Saul Alinsky?” Better still, Bill Maher bluntly asked on his January 27th show, “Who the f@#k is Saul Alinsky?

Another War For Oil With Iran?

Contributed by Sherwood Ross
Transcript for The New American Dream radio

No War For Oil - Michael Alonzo Kominsky
Over and over again in the Middle East, we see the same pattern repeating itself: An oil-rich country takes control of its own oil fields and cuts out the Western oil companies.

What follows as the night the day, the western countries overthrow the offending government and reinstall their favorite oil companies.

This has happened in both Iran and Iraq.

Right now, the U.S. is threatening Iran with war on grounds that it is making a nuclear weapons.

To begin with, Iran is a peaceful country. It hasn’t started a war in hundreds of years.  It only fought when Iraq invaded it in 1980.

In that war, Iraq used chemical weapons that it got from the United States---so here we have an example of an American attack by proxy on
Iran without any provocation.

But the United States attacked Iran on its own without using
intermediaries in 1953 and overthrew the legitimate government.

Most Americans don’t know about that overthrow. It was engineered by
the Central Intelligence Agency.

Since Iran did not even have a nuclear facility in 1953, what could
have been the excuse for the attack?

The answer is oil. Iran kicked out the British oil company it felt was
cheating it out of a fair profit for the oil it was extracting and
took the oil field over from the British.

The British tried to overthrow the “insolent” Iran government but
failed. Iran kicked the British spies out of the country.

So Britain asked the American CIA to overthrow the government and the
U.S. did, deposing Prime Minister Mossadegh and putting a king on the

And guess who got the contracts? The western oil companies:  Gulf,
Standard Oil of New Jersey, Texaco and Mobil---got a 40 percent share
of the new National Iranian Oil Company.

And what happened in Iran in 1953 was also going to happen in Iraq in
2003---- the U.S. attacked Iraq after which the western oil companies
got the plum contracts.

“Prior to the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq, US and other
western oil companies were all but completely shut out of Iraq’s oil
market,” industry analyst Antonia Juhasz told Al Jazeera wire service.
“But thanks to the invasion and occupation, the companies are now back
inside Iraq and producing oil there for the first time since being
forced out of the country in 1973.”

And, adds Business Week magazine, “Western producers like BP,
ExxonMobil, and Shell are enjoying their best access to Iraq’s
southern oil fields since 1972,” 1972 was the year Saddam Hussein
nationalized Iraq’s oil fields. Another big winner of the U.S.
invasion: Hunt Oil Co., of Dallas, Tex., run by  Ray Hunt,  President
George W. Bush’s friend and fund-raiser.

Oil industry analyst Juhasz says that ExxonMobil, BP, and Shell
aggressively lobbied their governments “to ensure that the invasion
would result in an Iraq open to foreign oil companies” and that “they
succeeded.” Sure they succeeded. Because the Pentagon works
hand-in-glove with the oil industry.

So what we have here is history repeating itself. Whenever Iraq or
Iran have been attacked by the U.S. in the past it’s been over oil.
That’s the record. Those are facts. But if you like you can believe
the U.S. and Israel are threatening to attack only because they’re
trying to stop Iran from getting a nuke. That’s an echo of President
George Bush’s lie that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

There’s an inscription from Shakespeare etched on the National
Archives building in downtown Washington, D.C.  It says, “What’s past
is prologue.”  Shakespeare was right. Better believe it. And history
will repeat itself with a new U.S.-Israeli attack on Iran unless the
American people rise up and declare: “No blood for oil.”   I’m
Sherwood Ross. Good night to every one of you---and, oh, good luck.#

Our contributor, Sherwood Ross, rmanages a Public Relations firm for magazine articles, socio-economic causes, colleges, universities, growing businesses and non-profit organizations. He may contacted at sherwoodross10@gmail.com.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Big Brother Internet

by Gerald Celente
re-Posted from Paul Craig Robert's Blog

Do you remember the Safe-Cyber instructions they taught you in the mandatory Computer Ed class (operated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology)? First you fire up your Secured Computing Device (SCD) and its hardware token authenticator.

Then you enter the six-digit algorithmically generated password displayed (a new one flashes every 60 seconds) and are asked to supply your biometric identifier. You place your thumb on the built-in fingerprint pad, click, and wait for the Internet connection to begin. But it doesn’t.

Instead, the screen goes black for a second before the dreaded words appear: “Malware has been detected on this SCD. As mandated by federal law, it has been placed in quarantine.” Then the machine shuts down.

This is not just conjecture, but an imminent scenario. Policies, such as the White House proposed “National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace,” which will transform the character, culture and freedom of the Internet, are already in place. The 20 cybersecurity-related bills introduced in the Senate in 2011, and the dozen introduced in the House of Representatives, have wound their way through committees and, according to Senator Harry Reid, are scheduled to be voted on in the first quarter of 2012. Almost all of them, with the blessing of the White House, would make the Department of Homeland Security the overseer of private-sector networks.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

What Role Did U.S. Play in 2010 Massacre in Jamaica?

Contributed by Sherwood Ross

To what extent, if any, did the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) participate in the slaughter of scores of KingstonJamaica’s, Tivoli Gardens residents on May 24th, 2010?

The community was run by drug lord Christopher (Dudus) Coke, a self-proclaimed “president” wanted in the U.S. for drug and firearms trafficking.

When he would not surrender to authorities, the Army’s Jamaican
Defense Force(J.D.F) and the Jamaican Constabulary Force(J.C.F.)
breached the barricades Coke’s men had erected and gunfire erupted.
Resistance was light and the defenders melted away. Unarmed residents
who had not taken the opportunity to leave Tivoli by bus prior to the
gunplay were not so lucky.

“No fewer than (73 civilians) were killed (as well as one soldier)” in
the operation to get Coke, and three other community residents are
missing, writes Mattathias Schwartz in last December 12th’s “The New
Yorker.” .

Friday, January 27, 2012

America’s Dead Zones

From Dodge City to Durango, Why Does Prosperity Pass So Many Places By?

Recent headlines of a brighter economic picture have given many people hope that the economy is not in another free fall. GDP growth did tick upward in the last quarter. But for many communities the picture is enduringly dark, because unemployment rates have lagged far behind the national average for years and will likely continue to do so.

While the President is putting forth a plan to help students pay off their student loans, more and more educated students are unable to find employment. Contrary to popular belief, an educated workforce doesn't really make a difference (areas with many college grads are actually doing worse than areas with fewer) and a diversified economy does not always mean a more thriving economy.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

America is Not a Christian Nation

by S. Paul Forrest

“Tell me a tale”, I said to my master. “Tell me of a time when man was deceived by promises of a better tomorrow that never came: A fiction of men who lie to make me feel secure within my life’s insecurities. Tell me a story of false hope, Master: The one where I will serve you while suffering the death of my conscience and the blackening of my soul before leaving this plain. Lie to me so I may never realize the true depths of your deception.”
~ S. Paul

Over and over again, we are told by the right wing how America is a Christian Nation: A land where family values and Christian morals need once again to exist as our Forefathers planned.  From Sarah Palin to Rick Perry, the idea that a renewal of Christian values will somehow save our Nation from the socio-economic degradation we have been experiencing, has inundated every political issue from protecting America against terrorism (Islam) to restructuring our education system. The idea of having a moral and ethical America is quite appealing to a large number of us but upon closer examination; the policies and practices these neo-theocrats are pushing forth are anything but Christian.

America's Shadow Banking System, A Web of Financial Fraud

by Ellen Brown

The Wall Street Journal reported on January 19 th that the Obama Administration was pushing heavily to get the 50 state attorneys general to agree to a settlement with five major banks in the "robo-signing" scandal.   The scandal involves employees signing names not their own, under titles they did not really have, attesting to the veracity of documents they had not really reviewed.  Investigation reveals that it did not just happen occasionally but was an industry-wide practice, dating back to the late 1990s; and that it may have clouded the titles of millions of homes.   If the settlement is agreed to, it will let Wall Street bankers off the hook for crimes that would land the rest of us in jail -- fraud, forgery, securities violations and tax evasion.   

To the President's credit, however, he seems to have shifted his position on the settlement in response to protests before his State of the Union address.  In his speech on January 24th, President Obama did not mention the settlement but announced instead that he would be creating a mortgage crisis unit to investigate wrongdoing related to real estate lending.  "This new unit will hold accountable those who broke the law, speed assistance to homeowners, and help turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many Americans," he said.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

An Analysis of President Obama's 2012 State of the Union Address

by William A. Galston, Senior Fellow, Governance Studies

In his 2012 State of the Union Address, Barack Obama issued a ringing call for government to take the lead in rebuilding an economy that works for all Americans and to revive the promise of a more cooperative politics that carried him to the White House in 2008.  While many of the specific measures he urged are likely to resonate with the public, it remains to be seen whether he can persuade the majority of Americans to set aside their long-festering mistrust of government and give him a mandate to pursue an aggressive policy agenda.

What about the specifics?  In advance of President Obama’s State of the Union address, I laid out five things to listen for.  Against that template, let’s look more closely at what he said.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The State of Obama's 2008 Promises

by David Swanson

Presidential candidate Barack Obama won the Democratic primary last time around largely on the strength of his extremely limited and inconsistent opposition to the war on Iraq.  Then he chose as his running mate Senator Joe Biden, a man who had led efforts in the U.S. Senate to support the invasion. Obama's staff told reporters that he would be inclined to keep Robert Gates on as Secretary of War (or "Defense") -- exactly the same plan proposed by Senator John McCain's campaign. Obama said he'd like Colin Powell to be a part of his administration, and repeatedly announced that his cabinet would include Republicans. Obama had approached leading warmonger Congressman Rahm Emanuel about becoming his chief of staff.

Obama's commitment to de-escalation in Iraq was questionable, and his commitment to complete withdrawal nonexistent. He supported the idea of launching attacks on Pakistan and Syria. He said he wanted more troops in Afghanistan and wanted them there for a long, long time. Three times in three debates McCain proposed cutting military spending and Obama avoided the topic. Obama proposed significantly enlarging the largest military the world had ever seen. Obama refused to forswear the use of aggressive war or even first-strike nuclear attacks. He claimed that Bush and Cheney had not committed any crimes that he was aware of.

Yet, Obama gave speech after speech promising that ending the war in Iraq would be his first act in office: "I will promise you this, that if we have not gotten our troops out by the time I am president, it is the first thing I will do. I will get our troops home. We will bring an end to this war. You can take that to the bank." What candidate Obama explained in corporate media interviews was a little different. He said repeatedly that he would begin a withdrawal his first month in office, pull out one to two brigades per month and be done in 16 months.  That did not happen.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Washington-Wall Street Revolving Door Keeps Spinning

by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship

We’ve already made our choice for the best headline of the year, so far: “Citigroup Replaces JPMorgan as White House Chief of Staff." 

When we saw it on the website Gawker.com we had to smile, but the smile didn’t last long. There’s simply too much truth in that headline; it says a lot about how Wall Street and Washington have colluded to create the winner-take-all economy that rewards the very few at the expense of everyone else.

The story behind it is that Jack Lew is President Obama’s new chief of staff — arguably the most powerful office in the White House that isn’t shaped like an oval. He used to work for the giant banking conglomerate Citigroup. His predecessor as chief of staff is Bill Daley, who used to work at the giant banking conglomerate JPMorgan Chase, where he was maestro of the bank’s global lobbying and chief liaison to the White House. Daley replaced Obama’s first chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, who once worked as a rainmaker for the investment bank now known as Wasserstein & Company, where in less than three years he was paid a reported eighteen and a half million dollars.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Food Stamp Families To Critics: Walk In Our Shoes

by Jesse Washington 
AP National Writer

Some have advanced degrees and remember middle-class lives. Some work selling lingerie or building websites. They are white, black and Hispanic, young and old, homeowners and homeless. What they have in common: They're all on food stamps.

As the food stamp program has become an issue in the Republican presidential primary, with candidates seeking to tie President Barack Obama to the program's record numbers, The Associated Press interviewed recipients across the country and found many who wished that critics would spend some time in their shoes.

Most said they never expected to need food stamps, but the Great Recession, which wiped out millions of jobs, left them no choice. Some struggled with the idea of taking a handout; others saw it as their due, earned through years of working steady jobs. They yearn to get back to receiving a paycheck that will make food stamps unnecessary.

We must stop this corporate takeover of American democracy

by Bernie Sanders

The corporate barbarians are through the gate of American democracy. Not satisfied with their all-pervasive influence on our culture, economy and legislative processes, they want more. They want it all.

Two years ago, the United States supreme court betrayed our Constitution and those who fought to ensure that its protections are enjoyed equally by all persons regardless of religion, race or gender by engaging in an unabashed power-grab on behalf of corporate America. In its now infamous decision in the Citizens United case, five justices declared that corporations must be treated as if they are actual people under the Constitution when it comes to spending money to influence our elections, allowing them for the first time to draw on the corporate checkbook – in any amount and at any time – to run ads explicitly for or against specific candidates.

What's next … a corporate right to vote?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Guantanamo’s System of Injustice

The first trial of an accused terrorist exposes the flaws of "reformed" military commissions.

Brig. Gen. Mark Martins, chief prosecutor for the Office of Military Commissions, has lately appeared at bar association conferences promoting “reformed military commissions” at Guantanamo. Speaking to the New York City bar association on January 11, Martins said the military commissions were “comparable to federal courts in their incorporation of all of the fundamental guarantees of a fair and just trial demanded by our values.” Indeed, a new masthead on the military commission website, put up after Martins took over, reads: “Fairness, Transparency, Justice.”

Yet this week, behind thick bulletproof glass in a secure hangar-like courtroom at Guantanamo, I saw vast differences between the two systems. One notices first the physical – the few observers permitted to visit the isolated island base reach the courthouse through a maze of walkways secured by high dark-mesh fences, guards and double barbed wire on both sides. Instead of sitting in the courtroom, observers sit in an adjoining room, behind glass, and hear voices on 40-second delay to allow court security officers to cut off the audio should any classified information be uttered. In the dock this week was Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi of Yemeni descent accused of planning and participating in the bombing of the destroyer, the USS Cole, on October 12, 2000. The attack killed 17 US servicemen and injured many more. With US service members killed a federal court clearly would have jurisdiction over the case, so the government must have some other reason for choosing a military commission.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Western Oil Firms Big Winners in Iraq War

Contributed by Sherwood Ross

Western oil producers have emerged as the big winners of the Iraq war.

“Prior to the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq US and other western oil companies were all but completely shut out of Iraq’s oil market,” industry analyst Antonia Juhasz told Al Jazeera wire service. “But thanks to the invasion and occupation, the companies are now back inside Iraq and producing oil there for the first time since being forced out of the country in 1973.”

“Western producers like BP, Exxon Mobil, and Shell are enjoying their
best access to Iraq’s southern oil fields since 1972,” Business Week
noted in its issue of March 4th of last year.  (1972 was the year
Saddam Hussein nationalized Iraq’s oil fields.)

Business Week quotes Andy Inglis, BP’s chief executive for exploration
and production as saying, “We see this as the beginning of a long-term
relationship with Iraq and will continue to look for further

Monday, January 16, 2012

Corporate Personhood Cannot Withstand Organized Persons

by David Swanson

There are many schemes now for undoing the doctrines under which corporations claim constitutional rights and bribery is deemed constitutionally protected "speech." Every single one of these schemes depends on a massive movement of public pressure all across the homeland formerly known as the United States of AmericaWith such a movement, few of the schemes can fail. Without it, we're just building castles in the air. Nonetheless, the best scheme can best facilitate the organizing of the movement.

The U.S. Constitution never gave any rights or personhood to corporations or transformed money into speech. It ought not to be necessary to amend a document to, in effect, point out that the sky is blue and up is not down. If the Supreme Court rules that Goldman Sachs can send legislation directly to the White House and cut out the congressional middleman, will we have to amend the Constitution to remove the Goldman Sachs branch of government? Where will this end?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Americans Ignored NDAA Precedents At Their Peril

Contributed by Sherwood Ross

“I believe,” warned James Madison in a speech to the Virginia Convention on June 16, 1788, “there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”

Surely, this is the story behind the New Year’s Eve, 2011, signing by
President Obama of the National Defense Authorization Act(NDAA). While
they were merry-making and tootling horns, NDAA stripped Americans of
the last vestiges of their liberties. Now that President Obama can
order the military to arrest and imprison you indefinitely on
suspicion without trial, your First Amendment rights of speech, press,
assembly, and petition have no meaning. Who are you going to assemble
with from your jail cell?

Criminalizing Dissent in America

by Stephen Lendman

America has a sordid repressive history. Among others, First Amendment rights are violated.

It guarantees freedom of religion, expression, to petition government for redress of grievances, and right to peacefully assemble.

The 1798 Alien and Sedition Acts restricted First Amendment freedoms.

So did 1919 anti-communist Palmer raids, the 1934 Special Committee on Un-American Activities, its House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) successor, secret FBI COINTELPRO crackdowns, the 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, the 2001 USA Patriot Act, and other post-9/11 measures.

These and other measures expanded government surveillance, eroded habeas, formalized military tribunals, permitted torture-extracted confessions, and instituted violence for national security.

FBI "terrorist profiles" can investigate anyone for any reason. So can local police working cooperatively or alone. Street protests can be criminalized. America's right to dissent is endangered.

The New Debate About Capitalism

by Gary Hart

The current Republican nomination contest has revealed serious confusion over the nature of our economic system. Very conservative candidates are attacking Governor Romney because his experience at Bain Capital involved buying companies with borrowed money, firing their employees, then selling them for a profit. Many, though not all, of these companies then went bankrupt, and Mr. Romney and his partners made millions. Sounding very much like Democrats, Mr. Romney's opponents are highly critical of this kind of capitalism.

Traditional capitalism was based on the idea that business people would invest money, usually borrowed, to establish a business, hire people, and make and sell things. Risk was involved, but jobs were created and profits were made. Traditional Republicans, including those now attacking Mr. Romney, still believe, as do most Americans, that this is the way our economic system should work.

The confusion within the ranks of capitalism is stimulated by the shift in our economy from making and selling things to manipulation of money. The rise of the money culture began a couple of decades or more ago and involves mergers and acquisitions, venture capitalism, leveraged buyouts, workouts and turnarounds, currency speculation, and arbitrage. While the money culture was booming, traditional capitalism based on manufacturing was declining. The national government had to intervene to save what was left of the American auto industry.

The money culture led directly to the housing bubble and subsequent economic collapse in 2008, from which we are still struggling to emerge. Unlike traditional capitalism, it is oriented toward the short term, not the long term, and toward quick profit, not productivity. If tens of millions of dollars can be made in bundling high-risk mortgages and collateralized debt obligations in a few months, why go to the trouble of building a factory, hiring and training workers, and producing a product that is competitive in world markets with profits emerging sometime down the road?

The Tea Party blames our government for this situation, and Occupy Wall Street focuses on the money culture (Wall Street). The government did not create the money culture. And public deficits, so much the focus of the Tea Party, arise from insufficient revenues to pay for the programs, including Social Security and Medicare, that most Americans, including Tea Party members, want. The money manipulators, now the focus of Republican candidates, manage to find intriguing ways, including off-shore bank accounts, to avoid paying fair taxes.

All of this is pretty well-known. What is surprising is that it is now being discovered and strongly criticized by Republican leaders who, up to now, have been silent on this transformation of American capitalism. While struggling to convince the American public that Barack Obama is a socialist, it is very easy to overlook the drift of our market economy away from its traditional roots into something resembling a high-risk, high-rollers', fast-shuffle casino that produces nothing except massive incomes for one-percent insiders. Republican leaders are now welcome to the struggle to return our market economy to its true purpose and original intent.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

U.S. Obligated To Take Iran Dispute To International Arbitration

Contributed by Sherwood Ross

It may come as a surprise to Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum but the U.S. is obligated under international law to the peaceful resolution of its grievance against Iran.

Santorum has criticized President Obama’s attempt to negotiate with Iran and, according to The Christian Science Monitor, “called for increased covert sabotage, bombings, and even arresting foreign scientists” working in Iran. Romney has called Iran “the greatest threat we face” and for pulverizing its nuclear facilities “through airstrikes and (to) make it very public we are doing just that.”

If the U.S. sought to prevail by military force, however, it would be in contravention of at least three historic treaties the U.S. has signed pledging itself to the peaceful resolution of disputes. As war fever sweeps Washington and the Republican candidates, save for Rep. Ron Paul, cry for war, it behooves Iran to initiate legal action.

Is The Head of One Tyrant Worth the Lives of Millions?

J.G. Vibes
Activist Post

As NATO and other Western nations are staging war games right off the shores of Iran, the mainstream media is waging an extensive propaganda campaign back home.  Excuse after excuse has been handed down to us in the past few months, but is there really any justification in the world for the West to bring the same death and destruction to Iran that they have brought to Iraq?  Is there any captured spy, or weapons program, or crazed dictator that is worth the creation of another human rights nightmare and money pit like we have seen in Iraq and Afghanistan?

I won’t argue that Ahmadinejad has a few screws loose, and I'll agree that he is a tyrant who runs a brutal theocracy.  However, is that any reason to put the lives of millions of innocent people in danger and to destroy the infrastructure of a thriving civilization, whose only crime is that they are subservient to an oppressive dictator?  Isn’t every country on the planet guilty of that same offense? Should we be judged individually for the actions of Bush? Or the actions of Obama? Or the actions of the interrogators at Guantanamo Bay?  Are you guilty of the horrors committed by these people simply because half of your paycheck was forcibly taken from you to fund all of this?

4 Creepy Ways Big Pharma Peddles its Drugs

Big Pharma uses ads that sow hypochondria, raise health fears and sell diseases to adults and their children.

It's no secret that advertising works. Big Pharma wouldn't spend over $4 billion a year on direct-to-consumer advertising if it didn't mean massive profits.

What is more unknown is why drug ads that sow hypochondria, raise health fears and "sell" diseases are often the most common--and effective--even when the drugs themselves are of questionable safety.

The nation's fourth most frequent drug ads in 2009 for were Cymbalta, making Eli Lilly $3.1 billion in one year, despite the antidepressant's links to liver problems and suicide. Pfizer spent $157 million advertising Lyrica for fibromyalgia in 2009, despite the seizure pill's links to life-threatening allergic reactions. The same year, it spent $107 million advertising the antidepressant Pristiq, even though it also had links to liver problems.

So, how does Pharma dupe us into using unsafe drugs? Today's drug ads, targeted directly to consumers since 1999, seem like they sell diseases and often cast women, children, the elderly and mentally ill in a bad light. But a quick look at ads before direct-to-consumer advertising (DTC) in medical journals shows that drug ads have always done so. It's just that patients didn't used to see them.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Secrets of Empire and Self-Deceptions of Partisans

by Phil Rockstroh

A howling defiance into the darkness of the corporate state night

It is laughable (in a weeping outright sort of way) that Obama and his fellow Democratic Party supporters and apologists can't find a more resonant campaign theme than, "We carry out the agendas of the national security/bankster/militarist state (i.e., the one percent) while appearing to be less crazy than Republicans."

The notion of even possessing a preference as to whom should be president of this crumbling, faux republic...is a bit like asking what color uniform one would prefer that the crew tasked with rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic should don as they go about their duties.

In times such as these, when escaping into one's comfort zone is no longer a viable option, one is advised to evince the audacity of hopelessness, because the act leaves one desperate enough to embrace this daunting proposition:

"And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:32

Although, for the present and foreseeable future, the propitious aspects of the sentiment will not hold true for Bradley Manning…whose plight displays the punitive, hyper-authoritarian nature of late U.S. empire. As is the case with Manning, in a national security state, few acts will cause one to lose his freedom in a more rapid manner than to reveal the secrets of lawless, ruthless power.

Apparently, Bradley Manning guarded secrets of his own…not shameful ones--but traits that would cause him to become subject to derision if revealed.

Monday, January 2, 2012

America's Welfare "Reform" Laws Deepening and Perpetuating Poverty

Contributed by Sherwood Ross

The tougher welfare laws instituted by President Bill Clinton with great fanfare have only worked to keep the poor poverty-stricken longer, a former welfare mother who knows the story from the inside, contends.

Since 1996, politicians have bragged about the success of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families(TANF) but “successful at what?” asks Diana Spatz, executive director of LIFETIME, a California organization working to encourage low-income parents to pursue higher education as their path out of poverty.

“If kicking low-income children and their families off welfare is the measure, than TANF was a huge success,” she writes in the January 2, 2012, issue of “The Nation” magazine. States were given bonuses for reducing their caseloads rather than reducing actual poverty, Spatz charges. “As long as families were off the rolls, it didn’t matter how or why.”

TANF’s mantra that “any job is a good job” put even make-work jobs ahead of education. “Tens of thousands of low-income mothers were made to quit college to do up to 35 hours per week of unpaid ‘workfare,’” Spatz writes, “sweeping streets, picking up trash in parks and cleaning public restrooms in exchange for benefits as low as $240 a month.”

“Contrary to the ‘welfare queen’ stereotypes, like most welfare mothers, I worked first. Work wasn’t the problem; it was the nature of the work---low-wage, dead-end jobs with no benefits and little chance for advancement---that kept families like mine on the welfare rolls,” Spatz explains.

Studies showed parents were 10 times more likely to get cut off welfare because of punitive sanctions than because they got jobs paying enough to “income off.”  In many states, Spatz points out, “‘full family’ sanctions cut low-income children off welfare along with their parents. Under the ‘work first’ mantra, TANF caseloads plummeted by almost 70 percent, as nearly 9 million low-income parents and children were purged from the national welfare rolls by 2008.”

US primaries promise little – and this year could deliver even less

by Gary Younge
'They are in a terminal panic," said Pat Buchanan in February 1996 of the Republican establishment, as his insurgent campaign against Senate leader Bob Dole gathered pace. "All the knights and barons will be riding into the castle pulling up the drawbridge in a minute. All the peasants are coming with pitchforks. We're going to take this over the top." By March his campaign was suspended. By November he was supporting Dole.
Primary season generally promises more than it delivers. Polls appear daily; conjecture abounds continually; media confect a frenzy. It is pitched as the struggle not just between a party's establishment and its base but also its heart and mind. The heart evokes passion, and passion attracts copy and airtime. But it's the mind (and of course the money) that seeks a winner and ultimately selects the candidates. Mike Huckabee (2008), Howard Dean (2004), Jesse Jackson (1984, 1988) – much ink is spilt on the prequels, but the main feature usually appears as originally billed.
But while longshot primary challengers tend to crash and burn quite quickly, their brief, dramatic electoral journey usually provides more enduring political lessons. Dean's campaignpresaged the electoral force of the anti-war vote; Buchanan's insurgency was a harbinger of the Tea Party movement; Jackson expanded the Democratic base.