Fascism is the union of government with private business against the People.
"To The States, or any one of them, or to any city of The States: Resist much, Obey little; Once unquestioning obedience, at once fully enslaved; Once fully enslaved, no nation, state, city, ever afterward resumes its liberty." from "Caution" by Walt Whitman

Monday, October 31, 2011

2011-10-31 "Food Stamps: Democrats In Congress Attempt To Eat On $4.50 A Day To Protest Potential Budget Cuts" by Luke Johnson from "The Huffington Post"
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) along with eight other congressional Democrats are eating on a budget of about $4.50 a day to show solidarity with food stamp recipients who receive $32.59 a week.
The personal thrift, which is part of a challenge organized by Fighting Poverty With Faith, was reported by Pacifica Patch [http://pacifica.patch.com/articles/congresswoman-jackie-speier-to-live-on-food-stamp-budget]. The site also listed the food items that Speier was now buying.
Speier displayed some of the items she was able to purchase for her first day of living on a food stamp budget: a bag of coffee and a loaf of bread from the Dollar Warehouse; a can of Campbell's low sodium chicken noodle soup; and a can of sweet peas, possibly to put in a tuna casserole later in the week.
"And this is my treat for the week," Speier said, holding up a box of microwave popcorn packets.
Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), along with his wife and daughter, chose to live on a food stamp budget of about $1.59 per meal [http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2011/10/congressman-family-live-on-food-stamps-for-a-week/]. He tweeted about the challenge, relaying that he ate "generic cereal and part of a banana for breakfast."
Food stamps have been a target of Republican-led budget cuts. House Budget Committee Chair Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) proposed transfering the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, into a block grant program administered by the states [http://thehill.com/blogs/twitter-room/other-news/190453-house-democrats-spend-week-on-food-stamps].
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) recently told ABC's "Top Line" [http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2011/10/gop-sen-jeff-sessions-food-stamps-out-of-control/] that the food stamp program was "out of control" and being abused by "multimillion-dollar lottery winners." (After a Michigan man drew attention for still receiving food stamps despite winning the lottery, state lawmakers began asking recipients about their financial assets.) [http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2011-10-19/food-stamps-and-assets/50831586/1]

The number of people relying on food stamps has risen as a consequence of the recession. Over 40 million individuals and 19 million households used the program in 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In addition to Speier and Courtney, Reps. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), Jim Moran (D-Va.) and Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) have also decided to trim down their food budget in solidarity.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

2011-10-30 "Gene Lyons: Occupy Wall Street not Woodstock"
 Gene Lyons is a nationally syndicated conservative newspaper columnist
In politics, it's tempting to turn matters of temperament into matters of principle. Having disliked the hippie-dippy mellow aggression of the 1960s, my first instinct was to dismiss the Occupy Wall Street movement as feckless left-wing tribalism -- as unlikely to survive the winter's first strong cold front as the black flies pestering my cows.
 Conservative by nature, I dislike big cities, and tend to avoid crowds. Even in my 20s, I'd no more have joined the drug-addled migration to Woodstock than volunteered for sex-change surgery. We spent that week in Dublin, visiting Jonathan Swift's tomb -- the 18th-century Irish satirist who took a dim view of human nature.
 Everything else being equal, all it might have taken to put me off Occupy Wall Street was a widely circulated photo of an overweight Jerry Garcia look-alike wearing nothing but a loincloth, dancing barefoot and tootling on a flute.
 That said, things are very far from being equal -- or even halfway fair.
 Which partly accounts for the near-hysteria on the Fox News/Limbaugh right. To them, the guy with the flute is no harmless eccentric, but a terrible threat. An excitable columnist in my local newspaper, Mike Masterson, described Occupy Wall Street protestors as an "unwashed, whining, smelly mob occupying and infesting Wall Street."
 Infesting, no less. "The Flea Party," the man called them, blood-sucking insects "being paid by big-bucks special interests ... to create violent confrontations." Elsewhere, he likened the protestors to Nazis.
 The author gave no evidence of said conspiracy; his was sheer paranoia. Meanwhile, the only big-bucks special interest in sight would be Americans for Prosperity, funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, which employs Arkansas Democrat-Gazette columnist Masterson's wife as "Director of Grassroots for Arkansas," i.e. as a professional tea party activist.
 Nice work if you can get it.
 I mention this not because it's unusual or highly significant. Rather, it's the way of the world. Many Washington pundits have grown accustomed to cozy arrangements with the various Scrooge McDuck think tanks, or have been drawn into sympathy with what Teddy Roosevelt called "malefactors of great wealth" through the seductive rewards of TV celebrity.
 That's one big reason why, with millions of Americans unemployed over the past three years, everybody in Washington's been worried about budget deficits. In a courtier society, only the nobility really counts.
 But I'm getting ahead of myself. Here's what's making professional right-wingers jumpy, as described by Rolling Stone's resident hothead Matt Taibbi: "The reality is that Occupy Wall Street and the millions of middle Americans who make up the Tea Party are natural allies and should be on the same page about most of the key issues."
 That's not going to happen over the short term. The populist left, such as it is, has long had the dream of persuading working- and middle-class Americans to ignore the "tribal" differences that divide them -- regional, racial, religious and cultural -- to vote their shared economic self-interest.
 Except during times of grave national danger -- the Great Depression, for example -- it's pretty much remained a dream. Taibbi's point, however, is that the ongoing economic crisis created by Wall Street greed and recklessness makes it possible that a new movement taking aim at incestuous political and financial corruption in Washington might have a chance.
 Breaking up "too-big-to-fail" banks like Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, for example, might be an issue left and right could coalesce around. Just last week, Citigroup agreed to pay a $285 million settlement to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to settle charges that it swindled mainly institutional investments like pension funds in a billion-dollar derivatives scam -- deliberately creating junk securities based upon bad mortgages, then shorting them in the market.
 Goldman Sachs paid $550 million for similar offenses in 2010.
 Accountants who embezzle a few thousand bucks from their employers go to prison. Crooked used car dealers go out of business. Wall Street bankers whose fraudulent schemes caused millions of ordinary Americans to lose their homes, however, got government bailouts, soon returned to business as usual, and now whine that President Obama says bad things about them.
 Conceding that it's hard explaining complex financial scams to citizens enthralled by celebrity dance contests, Taibbi sees Wall Street chicanery as "an issue for the traditional 'left' because it's a classic instance of overweening corporate power -- but it's an issue for the traditional 'right' because these same institutions are also the biggest welfare bums of all time, de facto wards of the state."
 That's a useful metaphor, but nothing more politically. In today's climate, GOP audiences cheer presidential candidates who spend two hours promising jobs, then tell unemployed workers it's their own damn fault.
Economic justice will require a long-term struggle. Shorter term, neither party will propose legislation Wall Street hates. Occupy Wall Street's wise to resist being co-opted.
 That's also why it absolutely must not succumb to 1968-style revolutionary romanticism. A couple of Molotov cocktails could ruin everything.

Friday, October 28, 2011

2011-10-28 "The Rise of the Tea Party: An Interview With Anthony DiMaggio" by SCOTT BORCHERT
Anthony DiMaggio is the author of numerous books, The Rise of the Tea Party, due out in November 2011 from Monthly Review Press, and other works such as Crashing the Tea Party (2011); When Media Goes to War (2010); and Mass Media, Mass Propaganda (2008). He has taught American politics and International Relations in Political Science at a number of colleges and universities, and can be reached at: adimag2@uic.edu.
Scott Borchert: Your primary focus as a scholar is on media and communications — so why a book on the Tea Party?

Anthony DiMaggio: I’ve also researched and participated in social movements and interest group politics consistently for the last ten years, although much of my research does focus on media and public opinion. My participation and study of these movements spans the anti-corporate globalization movement, the anti-Iraq movement, the anti-nuke movement, and the pro-labor Madison and OWS movements. This book project actually brought all three areas of my research – media, public opinion, and movements – together, examining the Tea Party as a conglomeration of interest groups, and measuring how they have influenced media coverage and public opinion. As someone who has taken part in and studied social movements for my entire adult life, I felt I was in a unique position, scholarly and in terms of practical experience, to make a unique contribution in these areas. I also focus quite closely in my popular writings on current events, so the Tea Party seemed like an appropriate area to focus on in light of the massive political and media attention it has received.

Borchert: Do you consider the Tea Party to be a real grassroots movement or purely orchestrated by elite institutions? Or a little of both?

DiMaggio: I think the rage driving the Tea Party – at least with regard to the 25 percent of Americans who claim to sympathize with it – is quite real and very understandable. The Tea Party is largely comprised of white, over 40-50, middle to upper income Americans who have generally done pretty well for themselves over the years, but are being pressured by the neoliberal attack on working Americans. They’re rightly angry at being excluded from the tremendous economic prosperity that has taken place over the last three decades. As corporations have grown enormously more profitable, and worker productivity and the size of the economy have grown dramatically, the median family wage has stagnated. This stagnation actually translates into a reduction in wages, since the number of dual income families has increased significantly. Whereas in decades past the median income was driven more by single income-earning males, now families earn a similar income with two earners. In short, the American middle class has been getting squeezed for decades, and the Tea Party “rebellion” (on some level) is a manifestation of real public anger at this phenomenon. That anger is understandable, even predictable.

The problem with the “movement” is that its members’ anger gets manipulated by a small group of partisan and media elites who are essentially Republican Party operatives. This is the dirty little secret of the Tea Party; it’s not really a social movement, but a cluster of elitist interest groups operating locally and nationally, which is quite lacking in participatory elements, and largely driven by a top-down approach, determined and dictated by Republican partisan officials and business elites of the Koch variety.

My books on the Tea Party are devoted to exploring the failure of Tea Party chapters to systematically organize at the local and national level. In short, I find that there is very little organization under the Tea Party banner going on throughout communities across the country. Very few people actually turn out for rallies and planning meetings, compared to the large number of people who claim to be participating in these events according to national polling data. A close examination of the various national Tea Party groups finds that they are all lacking in participatory aspects, with active membership extremely sparse, and the leaders of these groups coming from the highest levels of local and national Republican Party chapters and the business system. A close look in my most recent book –The Rise of the Tea Party- finds that the alleged Tea Party “insurgents” who have led the Tea Party “revolution” in Congress are extremely elitist in their policy positions and in terms of their economic backgrounds. They don’t look any different than past political leaders in terms of their support from wealthy business interests, or in terms of their personal affluence, with regard to their past support for the very deregulatory legislation (of the banking industry) that helped destroy the American economy, or in terms of their voting records, which are identical to non-Tea Party Republican members of Congress.

Borchert: How would you describe the ideological outlook of the Tea Party?

DiMaggio: It’s the same group of Americans – the 20-25 percent of the public – who are essentially Bush dead-enders. Ideologically speaking, I describe the Tea Partiers as packaging old wine into new bottles. On one level, there is an extremely strong overlap between the Tea Party and the traditional religious right that emerged in the 1980s; on a second level, the Tea Party is representative of the same extreme economic right that has long supported deregulation and an assault on the social welfare state. There is nothing controversial about these claims, as public opinion polling (and analysis of these polls) demonstrates these points very clearly. I document these basic patterns in more detail in my first Tea Party book: Crashing the Tea Party – co-authored with progressive Historian Paul Street.

A major problem with the Tea Party, in terms of “building a bridge” between its members and Occupy Wall Street, is that very few Tea Partiers (only 15%) even blame Wall Street for the current problems we are facing today. While their rage at the stagnation of American prosperity is very legitimate, their attribution of responsibility for this stagnation is so childishly na├»ve, staggeringly ignorant, and disturbingly proto-fascistic that it makes working with them difficult, if not impossible. How do you work with people that think Obama is a Nazi, socialist, Kenyan Muslim terrorist? Pick your pejorative adjective as applied to Obama, and Tea Partiers likely agree with it. The above descriptions are so often lumped together in Tea Party rhetoric to the point where political ideologies such as Islamic fundamentalism, socialism, and Nazism, etc. are absurdly lumped together, as if these philosophies have anything in common. One wouldn’t know that there are fundamental differences between these ideologies by talking to Tea Partiers, however, as I learned the hard way in my observations of the group throughout Midwestern chapters and nationally. I’m no Obama supporter, but what we need now are legitimate criticisms of the bi-partisan, pro-business system, not fantastic propaganda that actively misinforms and confuses the public. Tea Party supporters increasingly cling to romantic and ignorant notions that if we could somehow return to the “good old days” of “free market,” deregulatory capitalism, we would put ourselves back on the path to prosperity. They seem totally unwilling or unable to recognize that it was this very deregulation, and the corresponding assault on the welfare state, that put us on the path to economic ruin. They want the Republican Party to move further to the right, failing to recognize that this right-ward drift is the primary cause of America’s problems, not the solution to them.

Borchert: There have been a handful of books written on this subject, but how is your analytical approach unique?

DiMaggio: Just about all the other research on the Tea Party was rushed and lacking in any empirical rigor. The widely read Tea Party books released prior to my and Paul Street’s books were released either at the time of the April 15, 2010 national rallies (some even before the rallies), to no later than the fall of 2010. There is no way that any of these authors could have engaged in a serious intellectual or academic analysis of the Tea Party, wrote out their analysis, and had it published at the exact time of the April 15th rallies (or before), or even so shortly after. Academically speaking, serious analyses of issues (current events related) necessitate a longer research timeframe. The writing and production schedules are significantly longer for serious works to get out, as my books were not released until summer 2011 (Crashing the Tea Party) and November 2011 (The Rise of the Tea Party). Such relatively short production schedules are really the least amount of time it takes for any respectable academic or intellectual analysis to be undertaken, written, and printed. Even I felt quite a bit rushed with my relatively longer time frame compared to the production periods for earlier Tea Party books.

A brief look at the earlier books on the subject suggests that none were very rigorous or serious in terms of their analyses. A New American Tea Party, written by Tea Partier John O’Hara was nothing more than a partisan prop for the Tea Party, repeating tired Republican talking points and propaganda. The same was true of other Tea Party promotional books, including Rand Paul’s The Tea Party Goes to Washington and Dick Armey and Matt Kibbe’s Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto, among others.

There were a few other books that attempted to take a journalistic or academic analysis, including Jill Lepore’s The Whites of Their Eyes, Scott Rasmussen and Douglas Schoen’s Mad as Hell, and Kate Zernike’s Boiling Mad. The problem with these books is that they appear at first glance to be serious analyses of the Tea Party, although that impression falls apart upon closer inspection. Lepore’s book is quite thin when you look at it in terms of page length and in her analysis, and although it’s decent in terms of dissecting the Tea Party’s fundamentalist ideology, Lepore actually engages in no original analysis of the Tea Party in terms of making use of primary data (even little secondary data is used, since the book is largely conversational in tone). Zernike’s book repeats many of the worst stereotypes and misconceptions of the Tea Party, particularly the erroneous claim that it is a “social movement.” As a reporter for the New York Times, she takes for granted that the group is a non-partisan rebellion against the Washington establishment, conveniently ignoring the critical evidence I explore in my recent books which suggest the exact opposite. Finally, Rasmussen and Schoen (both are partisan pollsters who work for the political-media establishment) wrote a book, Mad as Hell, which is the worst kind of “analysis,” in that it relies on polling questions that would be condemned as propagandistic by any semi-competent public opinion scholar. Rasmussen Reports (a polling firm run by Scott Rasmussen) is to polling what Fox News is to “news.” It’s nothing to be take even remotely seriously in terms of its content, as Rasmussen ritually overestimates the conservatism of the public by using loaded (biased) question wording that clearly favors Republican-conservative positions over more neutral question framing. In short, there has been little-to-no original, quality research on the Tea Party up until this point.

Borchert: How do you apply the “propaganda model” first developed by Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman in their book Manufacturing Consent?

DiMaggio: On the most basic level, I document how the mass media have been instrumental in manufacturing dissent against potentially progressive health care reforms, via their sympathetic reporting of the “Tea Party revolution” and their heavily reported criticisms of reform efforts. I document these relationships empirically, exposing specific pro-conservative, pro-Tea Party themes that dominated the news in mid to late 2009 and early 2010. I then show how these patterns correlated with growing opposition to progressive health care reforms (and even the mildly progressive reforms promoted by Obama) among those paying closest attention to the media-political debate on health care. I use standard political science statistical analysis and modeling to accomplish this goal, although readers will need to look to The Rise of the Tea Party for more details. In other words, I apply Chomsky and Herman’s idea of manufacturing consent in favor of official narratives, and show how it also relates to fostering opposition to any positive progressive agenda that may be fulfilled by the state. I also examine how thought control works in a democratic society. In a country where you can’t use the stick of military coercion and terror to implement policy, more subtle methods of manipulation of the American mind are needed. I examine how hegemonic factors such as partisanship, ideological orientation, political attentiveness, and media consumption (much more so than socio-demographic variables such as race, sex, income, and other factors) play an instrumental role in influencing the public’s formation of policy attitudes.

Borchert: You spent some time attending Tea Party meetings in the Chicago area –what were your first-hand impressions of the people there and their motivations?

DiMaggio: The Tea Party organizers were largely autocratic, only interested in directing the agenda from the top down, with the help of local “Tea Party” candidates, who were really just Republicans running for office. This is radically different from the participatory principle stressed by OWS chapters. Local (Tea Party) leaders were quite open with me that their primary goal was returning a largely discredited and extremely unpopular Republican Party to power, contrary to the public rhetoric of the Tea Party that the “movement” had “nothing to do” with partisan politics. Most interesting was the revelation that I quickly stumbled upon that this “movement” is for all intents and purposes a mile wide and an inch deep. There were virtually no local chapters throughout the Chicago area, a disturbing revelation considering that Illinois had the largest number of Tea Partiers elected in the 2010 midterms of any state, and considering that the vast majority of them were elected in the Chicago area. The few local chapters that existed throughout Chicago and its suburbs rarely saw much attendance or participation from members who did bother to show up. This pattern was repeated nationally, with just 8 percent of cities claiming a Tea Party rally on April 15th 2010 actually displaying evidence through their local website or the national Tea Party Patriots’ website of any sort of regular, monthly meetings.

Local Tea Party organizers did from time to time get a sizable (albeit relatively small) number of people to show up at rallies. These organizers were very honest about how they managed to accomplish this considering that they had meager to non-existent participation at the local level across the city and its suburbs. They made use of what they called the “email blast” strategy: send out of massive number of emails to people who have visited local Tea Party sites; get people to show up for their yearly (or sometimes twice yearly) protest and photo-op in celebration of the Tea Party “revolution.” This strategy was actually quite effective in getting a larger number of people (relative to anemic meeting turnout) to occasionally attend rallies, but there was literally nothing behind it in terms of building a movement, and it showed at rallies. No institutions or Tea Party organizations were present in terms of tabling or leafleting at the April 15th, 2010 Chicago rally, nor could they be, considering there is virtually no organizing to begin with. At other rallies, I occasionally found some evidence of local organizing, but it was almost entirely booths and tabling for local Republicans running for office and engaging in promotional public relations efforts. This is hardly the stuff of social movements, as anyone familiar with movements knows all too well. In short, the Tea Party revealed itself through my observations to be largely a partisan, top-down, elitist affair.

Borchert: Do you think Tea Party supporters are motivated by genuine grievances?

DiMaggio: I would add, in addition to what I already said, that these are the same individuals (Tea Party supporters) who have spent decades deriding progressives and anyone on the left who bemoaned the growing inequality throughout the country, largely a product of the class war that has been declared by big business against American workers. Now we are told on the left that these are precisely the kind of people we need to work with in order to build a movement. I simply don’t buy this. If these individuals want to consider in an open minded way the possibility that corporate America may be engaging in behavior that is very destructive to the fabric of American society, than I will be happy to make an effort to work with them in the future. Tea Partiers (particularly the active core group) are totally unwilling, from what I have seen, to consider such points of view. In fact, acknowledging class war runs so strongly contrary to their world view that it would require them to acknowledge that everything they’ve come to believe with regard to the inherent virtues of “free market,” “libertarian capitalism” is propagandistic fiction. There may be some hope for the members of the general public, however, who claim to be sympathetic to the Tea Party, but are not part of the dedicated cadre of inner circle, true believers, who are largely repeating Republican Party talking points and pushing an extreme right-wing, pro-corporate agenda. There may be a group of people in the general public who share some sympathy for the Tea Party, while also remaining open to progressive issues. These individuals, if willing to support a progressive-left agenda, should be courted when building a democratic social movement for the future. Whether this group really constitutes a significant portion of Tea Party America remains to be seen. I can say that I haven’t seen this (supposed) part of the Tea Party stand up and vocally support the OWS movement or the Madison protestors. This does not bode well for the “work with the Tea Party” advocates on the left.

Borchert: Is OWS the answer to the Tea Party? Can they even be compared?

DiMaggio: I think OWS is the polar opposite of the Tea Party. I’ve participated in the OWS movement in Illinois, in the capitol where I live (Springfield), and spoken with a number of others involved in the movement in New York and other Midwestern states. From what I’ve seen so far there are few similarities. While the Tea Party stresses the virtues of “free market” capitalism and favors of business deregulation, elimination of the social welfare state, and ever decreasing tax cuts for the rich, the OWS movement is the opposite in its politics. While still quite vague in many of its demands, the movement has at least refocused attention toward the real culprits in this economic crisis: Wall Street and the government officials who enable them. OWS looks for greater transparency in the political process, and expects political officials to make a serious effort to promote the common interests of American public over expansive corporate power. This is the first vital step needed for the left if we are to move in a new direction in which Americans redirect their rage in more productive ways. I think OWS, or a possible successor to OWS, will need to develop a far more specific agenda with regard to how we will move forward in promoting a more democratic future. General rage as directed against the political and economic establishments is a good start, but it also won’t get you very far in the mid to long term. It will inevitably result (if the movement continues to gain steam) in a systematic effort from the Democratic Party to co-opt the movement, while granting minimum concessions. This has already happened to a significant degree, and will continue into the future if nothing is done to challenge this development. OWS will need to establish a set of demands that are separate from the corporatism being offered by the Democrats if it wants to represent an alternative path to the mainstream “liberalism.”

There are some very small similarities between OWS and the Tea Party. Whereas Tea Partiers share a very general (albeit misdirected) rage against the political establishment, OWS also expresses general distrust of the political-economic system. This, in my mind, is where the similarities end. On another level, the decentralized, leaderless orientation of the OWS is dramatically different from the largely centralized, heavily leader oriented Tea Party phenomenon, which relies on pundits and political officials such as Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Dick Armey, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, and the Tea Party Caucuses in the House and Senate in order to set the Tea Party agenda nationally. This is a dramatic difference between OWS and the Tea Party.

Borchert: What is the state of the Tea Party today, and what can we expect from them in the coming years?

DiMaggio: The Tea Party hit a plateau as of mid to late 2011. As of October 2011, about one quarter of Americans consider themselves to be Tea Party supporters. This number has barely changed over the last year. Opposition, however, has increased by somewhere between 10 to 25 percentage points among the general public within the same period. This is because there were many undecideds in early 2010 who didn’t know what the Tea Party was, but since then, and since the ugly summer 2011 debt ceiling debate, have come to see the Tea Party “revolution” as yet another ugly manifestation of partisan establishment politics in Washington. Much of the public (most actually) are not too fond of the group’s demands to gut popular social welfare programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, or of their demands to balance budgets on the backs of the working and middle class (and the poor), while refusing to cut America’s bloated, imperialist military apparatus. Most also are disgusted at the Tea Party-Republican effort to give the rich a free pass (via the extension of the Bush tax cuts). In other words, the Tea Party has had its day in the sun, now it will likely continue at least through the 2012 elections (perhaps further), greatly mobilizing and energizing the conservative base. It is unlikely to do much else, however, since its support base is no longer growing, and public opposition has increased significantly.

Still, the Tea Party has been an incredibly important phenomenon for a few reasons: 1. It was instrumental in derailing what could have been historic health care reforms in the form of a public option (or even universal health care); 2. It has demonstrated that the only way the Republican Party can get back into power is through the manufacturing of false populism from the top down. The Republican Party is so unpopular today that it can only gain power by default, fostering anger against the Democratic Party, and sitting back and falling into electoral victories due to growing public disenfranchisement with the Democrats. I expect the Tea Party will serve as a lesson for the future. Expect plenty of other false populist narratives and “movements” to emerge on the right in coming years, in line with the predictions of progressive William Greider, who warned of the ever growing “rancid populism” of the right which now seems to be standard fare in American political discourse.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

2011-10-27 "Mr President, Respect The Voters' Will On Pot" By Paul Armentano, Deputy Director of NORML
Paul Armentano is the Deputy Director of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, and he is the co-author of the book Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink?
As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama stated, "The basic concept of using medical marijuana ... [is] entirely appropriate," and pledged, "I'm not going to be using Justice Department resources to try and circumvent state laws on this issue."
As president, Obama promised, "Science and the scientific process must inform and guide [the] decisions of my administration."
Yet recent actions of the administration belie these assurances. These actions include:
* The Department of Justice sent letters this past spring to state lawmakers that were debating legislation to allow for the licensed distribution of medical cannabis, threatening prosecution of those involved with said efforts if the measures went forward;
* The IRS has assessed crippling penalties on taxpaying medical cannabis facilities in California by denying these operations the right to file standard expense deductions;
* The Department of Treasury has strong-armed local banks and other financial institutions into closing their accounts with medicinal cannabis operators;
* The Drug Enforcement Administration has rejected a nine-year-old administrative petition that called for hearings regarding the federal rescheduling of cannabis for medical use, ignoring extensive scientific evidence of its medical efficacy;
* The National Institute on Drug Abuse rejected an FDA-approved protocol to allow for clinical research assessing the use of cannabis to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, stating, "We generally do not fund research focused on the potential beneficial medical effects of marijuana."
Most recently, Deputy Attorney General James Cole, along with the four U.S. attorneys from California, announced plans for a coordinated effort against operations in California that provide above-ground access to cannabis for those patients qualified to use the substance in accordance with state law.
If the federal government is truly concerned about the diversion of medical marijuana or its potential abuse in California then it would be better served to encourage--rather than to discourage--local and statewide efforts to regulate this industry accordingly. The Obama administration's proposed actions in California will only result in limiting patients' regulated, safe access to medicine. It will also cost California jobs and needed tax revenue.
Legislating medical marijuana operations and prosecuting those who act in a manner that is inconsistent with California law and voters' sentiment should be a responsibility left to the state, not the federal government. It is time for this administration to fulfill the assurances it gave to the medical cannabis community and to respect the decisions of voters and lawmakers in states that recognize its therapeutic efficacy.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Prison system

You can judge a government by how it treats its non-violent criminals...
The United States of Amerikkka is worse than Cuba, and could afford to be better.
Fascism kills, and tortures the people under it's control.

2011-10-24 "Let Them Eat Nothing – No Lunch for Prisoners" by Cathryn Wellner
A growing number of U.S. prisons are taking steps to shatter any illusion that the role of prisons is to rehabilitate rather than merely punish. Eliminating lunch on weekends is gaining ground. The New York Times recently reported that Texas prisons scrapped mid-day meals on Saturday and Sunday last April. Still available are “brunch” from 5 to 7 a.m. and dinner between 4 and 6:30 p.m. Then last month they chopped last meals for inmates scheduled for execution [http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/21/us/texas-reduces-weekend-meals-for-prisoners.html?_r=1].
Texas is not alone in skirting American Correctional Association standards by reducing the number of meals served. Ohio, Arizona, Georgia and Indiana all operate their food services on reduced schedules. Georgia inmates go three days without lunch, Friday through Sunday [http://themoderatevoice.com/126102/texas-say-no-prison-lunch/].
Slashing food budgets may create other financial headaches.
On October 11th, inmates in a privately operated Oklahoma prison rioted over the poor quality of food [http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2011/10/11/Oklahoma-inmates-riot-over-food/UPI-69001318388997/].
Kentucky prisoners rioted in 2009 when they were served soup filled with worms and burritos containing human feces [http://blogs.villagevoice.com/forkintheroad/2009/11/kentucky_prison.php].
That same year, inmates in a privately-run prison in Texas set fire to the facility to protest inadequate food and health care [http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1137493/Pictured-Rioting-inmates-set-jail-ablaze-protest-food-remote-prison.html].

More Than Money at Stake -
The practice of cutting meals or serving mediocre food seems like a simple budgetary issue, but the implications may be far reaching. A study of the impact of mild hunger on the decisions made by eight Israeli judges showed they made harsher parole decisions before meal breaks [http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=hungry-judges-dispense-rough-justice]. After analyzing more than 1,000 decisions made by eight experienced judges over a period of 50 days, the researchers found, “The proportion of favorable rulings fell from about 65 percent to nearly zero during each session separated by the two food breaks, leaping back to 65 percent immediately after the breaks. If judges are influenced by mild hunger, prisoners surely are too [http://abcnews.go.com/Health/MindMoodNews/hungry-judges-grant-parole/story?id=13347415].
A study currently underway in the U.K. is testing the link between poor diet and violence in prison populations [http://www.preventionaction.org/research/gesch-mesh/5123].
It is based on the findings of 2002 study showing that prisoners receiving nutritional supplements committed fewer violent offenses [http://www.ifbb.org.uk/files/Science-25-9-09.PDF].
The lead researcher, Bernard Gesch, says the link between behavior and diet is not new. Italian criminologist Cesare Lombroso saw a connection between terrorism and poor diet in 1892 [http://www.ifbb.org.uk/files/Science-25-9-09.PDF].
Many other studies showing links between diet and behavior are analyzed in a report called, “Changing Diets, Changing Minds: how food affects mental health and behaviour.”

The Impact Is Still Unknown

The impact of reducing the number of meals served to inmates has not yet been the subject of a study. So far the prisons reducing the number of meals are not reporting increases in behavioral problems. In an era of tight budgets, more prisons are likely to join the experiment.

Inmates who protest will not find much sympathy from Texas State Senator John Whitmore. The Democratic chair of the Senate’s Criminal Justice Committee responded bluntly to questions about the cuts: “If they don’t like the menu, don’t come there in the first place.”
2011-10-26 "High-tech system to include speakers, video surveillance, emergency alerts" by Paul Joseph Watson from "Infowars.com"
Paul Joseph Watson is the editor and writer for Prison Planet.com. He is the author of Order Out Of Chaos. Watson is also a regular fill-in host for The Alex Jones Show.
UPDATE: Presumably in response to this article being linked on the Drudge Report, the company behind ‘Intellistreets’, Illuminating Concepts, has now pulled the video from You Tube entirely, presumably nervous about the negative publicity that could be generated from concerns about street lights being used for “Homeland Security” purposes – their words, not ours. We have added an alternative version of the clip below, but it may be subject to removal at any time. The video is still available on the company’s website.
New street lights that include “Homeland Security” applications including speaker systems, motion sensors and video surveillance are now being rolled out with the aid of government funding [http://www.intellistreets.com/Videos/English/IntelliStreetsEnglish.html].
The Intellistreets system comprises of a wireless digital infrastructure that allows street lights to be controlled remotely by means of a ubiquitous wi-fi link and a miniature computer housed inside each street light, allowing for “security, energy management, data harvesting and digital media,” according to the Illuminating Concepts website [http://www.intellistreets.com/index.php].
According to the company’s You Tube video of the concept, the primary capabilities of the devices include “energy conservation, homeland security, public safety, traffic control, advertising, video surveillance.”
In terms of Homeland Security applications, each of the light poles contains a speaker system that can be used to broadcast emergency alerts, as well as a display that transmits “security levels” (presumably a similar system to the DHS’ much maligned color-coded terror alert designation), in addition to showing instructions by way of its LED video screen.
The lights also include proximity sensors that can record both pedestrian and road traffic. The video display and speaker system will also be used to transmit Minority Report-style advertising, as well as Amber Alerts and other “civic announcements”.
With the aid of grant money from the federal government, the company is about to launch the first concept installation of the system in the city of Farmington Hills, Michigan [http://detroit.cbslocal.com/2011/10/23/225836/].
Using street lights as surveillance tools has already been advanced by several European countries. In 2007, leaked documents out of the UK Home Office revealed that British authorities were working on proposals to fit lamp posts with CCTV cameras that would X-ray scan passers-by and “undress them” in order to “trap terror suspects” [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/6309917.stm].
Dutch police also announced last year that they are developing a mobile scanner that will “see through people’s clothing and look for concealed weapons” [http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2010/01/dutch_police_develop_mobile_bo.php].
So-called ‘talking surveillance cameras’ that use a speaker system similar to the Intellistreets model are already being used in UK cities like Middlesborough to bark orders and reprimand people for dropping litter and other minor offenses. According to reports, one of the most common phrases used to shame people into obeying instructions is to broadcast the message, “We are watching you.” [http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-405477/Big-Brother-shouting-you.html]
The transformation of street lights into surveillance tools for Homeland Security purposes will only serve to heighten concerns that the United States is fast on the way to becoming a high-tech police state, with TSA agents being empowered to oversee that control grid, most recently with the announcement that TSA screeners would be manning highway checkpoints, a further indication that security measures we currently see in airports are rapidly spilling out onto the streets [http://www.naturalnews.com/033961_TSA_security_checkpoints.html].
The ability of the government to use street lights to transmit “emergency alerts” also dovetails with the ongoing efforts to hijack radio and television broadcasts for the same purpose, via FEMA’s Emergency Alert System [http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/10/us/10safety.html?_r=1].
The federal government is keen to implement a centralized system of control over all communications, with the recent announcement that all new cell phones will be required to comply with the PLAN program (Personal Localized Alerting Network), which will broadcast emergency alert messages directly to Americans’ cell phones using a special chip embedded in the receiver. The system will be operational by the end of the year in New York and Washington, with the rest of the country set to follow in 2012.
The notion of using the street lights as communication tools to broadcast “alerts” directly from the federal government is also consistent with Homeland Security’s program to install Orwellian ‘telescreens’ that play messages by Janet Napolitano and other DHS officials in Wal-Mart stores across the country [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40552073/ns/us_news-security/t/homeland-security-taps-new-partner-terror-fight-wal-mart/].
The fact that the federal government is funding the implementation of ‘Intellistreets’ comes as no surprise given that the nation’s expanding networks of surveillance cameras are also being paid for with Department of Homeland Security grants [http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2007/08/12/us_doles_out_millions_for_street_cameras/].

2011-12-26 "Chicago Teachers Battle Mayor 1%" by Howard Ryan
A Chicago-based writer and organizer, Howard Ryan is writing an organizing book for teachers.
Rahm Emanuel, whom Occupy Chicago has dubbed Mayor 1%, fired another shot at the city’s public schools December 1. He proposed seven school closings and phase-outs, 10 “turnarounds” in which all the teachers and staff get fired, and six “co-locations,” where private charter school operators grab portions of existing public schools.
Two days later, the Chicago Teachers Union and community groups responded with a teach-in that brought 500 to a high school in South Chicago. CTU and allies pledged to fight through grassroots organizing, street mobilization, maybe even occupying schools.
Chicago communities have fought school closings for years, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. About 100 public schools have been shuttered since 2004, when the city’s Commercial Club unveiled its Renaissance 2010 school privatization plan.
In their place are 85 publicly funded, privately operated charter schools, which practice selective enrollment and often reject kids who have special needs or struggle academically. A recent report indicates that Chicago charters are doing no better than traditional public schools on standardized tests.
Still, former Chicago schools chief Arne Duncan, now U.S. secretary of education, hails Renaissance 2010 as a miracle. It is now the national model.
Chicago’s school closures have been “train wrecks” in the neighborhoods, said community organizer Jitu Brown, who noted that many schools now targeted for closure because of poor test scores were destabilized when they started receiving students ousted from other closing schools.
All 23 targeted schools are in Chicago’s predominantly Black and Latino South and West sides. The transition from open-access neighborhood schools to selective-enrollment charters is tied to the goals of real estate developers, who seek to displace low-income communities of color to sell condos to more affluent, predominantly white buyers.
CTU President Karen Lewis observed that Chicago is entering an “era of educational apartheid.”

The teach-in speakers and audience nevertheless exuded power and confidence. Angela Surney, who helped fight off the shuttering of her eight-year-old son’s Marconi Elementary, got a standing ovation when she explained how to be a “victOR” rather than a “victIM.”
The prominent role of parents and community members gave the teach-in unusual depth.
Labor events designed to help save members’ jobs often bring community allies to the podium. But here CTU is part of an authentic partnership. The union has built a community board where teachers map joint strategies with neighborhood partners. It was this board that organized the teach-in.
Professor and education activist Rico Gutstein noted a second factor: Teachers not directly threatened are getting involved. “We’re beginning to understand that it might not be you today, but it might be you tomorrow,” he said. CTU says 90 schools were represented at the teach-in.
At a closing session, CTU organizer Norine Gutekanst asked for reports: “We’re bringing a busload to the school board vigil.” “We’re planning a meeting next week with parents.” “I have been through four—count them, four—closings and turnarounds. And I want you to know that I have beat them each and every time.”
A representative from the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council pledged her group’s turnout at school board actions, and offered Brighton Park’s community schools—which stay open late providing a range of services—as a positive example. (One of the teach-in’s topics was genuine, community-based school transformation.)
A retired school paraprofessional, 84 years old, led the chant: “I’m fired up!”

This enhanced unity—between union and community, and between teachers across the city—owes much to the union’s transformation. For years, neighborhood groups fought school closures on their own and one at a time.
CTU leaders opposed closures at school board meetings, but did little else to resist—even while membership dwindled from 40,000 to 30,000 amidst the rise of non-union charters.
A new course began when the Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators was formed. Snubbed by CTU officials, CORE members struck out on their own in 2008, getting teachers to join with community organizations leading the anti-privatization fight.
The CORE slate swept CTU elections last year. Three of the new leaders were teachers who’d cut their organizing teeth fighting closures.
The December teach-in was no flash in the pan. Two days later, the “Midway Network” met, 60 teachers and community members from 16 schools across a swath of South Chicago. Their goal was to save Marquette Elementary, a 1,400-student K-8 school.
They planned a Martin Luther King Day march. CTU is scheduling more such network meetings around the city.
For perhaps the first time, teachers and community are working on a regional level to save their schools.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

World War 4 - Iraq

The mother-f#$%ing war NEVER ENDS!!!

2011-10-25 "CIA's Covert Iraq Mission" by Eli Lake from "The Daily Beast"
As the U.S. military departs Iraq, the CIA is looking at how it can absorb and continue secret counterterrorism and intelligence programs run inside that country for years by the Joint Special Operations Command and other military organizations, officials tell The Daily Beast.
The programs involve everything from the deployment of remote sensors that scan the wireless spectrum of terrorist safe havens to stealth U.S.-Iraqi counterterrorism commando teams, and their status is uncertain as a U.S. diplomatic team negotiates with Iraqi leaders, according to officials, who made clear the CIA intends to keep a footprint inside the country even as troops leave by Dec. 31.
“There are of course parts of the counterterrorism mission that the intelligence community, including CIA, will be able to take on from other organizations—and there are parts of that mission that it won’t,” said one U.S. counterterrorism official who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of secret negotiations with the Iraqis.
But the official added: “This idea that the U.S. military and CIA are somehow interchangeable is misinformed—they work together closely on some counterterrorism issues, but their missions, expertise, and authorities are fundamentally different. When the U.S. military leaves Iraq, some things just won’t happen anymore.”
In the last months of the Bush administration, the United States negotiated a plan to leave Iraq by the end of 2011. While the Pentagon pressed to keep between 5,000 and 15,000 troops in Iraq past that date, U.S.-Iraq negotiations broke down this month when Iraqi leaders refused to grant soldiers and military contractors immunity from Iraqi domestic law.
On Friday, many in the U.S. national-security bureaucracy were shocked when President Obama announced the end of the military mission in Iraq by Jan. 1. U.S. military planners had assumed that some intelligence missions would still be run from U.S. bases in Iraq into 2012. The new White House policy throws that plan into jeopardy.
Nonetheless, National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said Monday that the United States was negotiating over the future elements of the U.S.-Iraqi military relationship. “As we complete the drawdown, we will continue to have discussions with Iraqi leaders about how best to meet their security needs in a manner that meets our mutual interests,” he said. “Possibilities could include training, exchange programs, tactical exercises, and regular coordination. But they will not include U.S. forces being permanently based in Iraq.”
Other U.S. officials say the CIA is examining how it can continue many of these secret programs once the U.S. military leaves. Many of these programs were developed in 2007 and 2008, when CIA Director David Petraeus, then a four-star Army general, assumed command of the multinational forces in Iraq.
The CIA, with its drones and paramilitary forces, has a far smaller, more stealth footprint than brigades of soldiers, meaning most Americans won’t see much of its continuing activity.
“My sense is that there will be some discussions about what can be given the CIA and whether some of the counterterrorism arrangements that exist today can be negotiated through a separate and secret channel,” said Marisa Cochrane Sullivan, managing director of the Institute for the Study of War, a think tank with close ties to Petraeus and the military’s new generation of counterinsurgency specialists.
While the CIA can pick up some of the slack for the departing military, another possibility is U.S. allies in the region. The United States is in talks with Kuwait about moving some equipment and troops there, said U.S. diplomats who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Jasem al-Budaiwi, the deputy chief of mission for Kuwait’s embassy in Washington, declined to comment directly on the substance of the negotiations. “There is always continuous cooperation from both the Kuwaiti and U.S. side on military, political, and economic issues,” he said. “We have a great bilateral relationship. All issues are always discussed through many channels.”
The United States is also in discussions with Turkey about pre-positioning sensitive sensors, drones, and other equipment used in Iraq at the Incirlik airbase, which hosted a U.S. Air Force mission in the 1990s to monitor northern Iraq.
A Turkish Embassy spokesman in Washington said the United States would continue to assist Turkey in targeting Kurdish radical separatists, known as the PKK. “Moreover, the intelligence support provided by the United States will be continued on a bilateral basis,” he added. “We attach importance to this support. That said, we are not able to provide details on the content, equipment, or the methods of the cooperation between the two sides in this area.”
For now, a major issue for the military and U.S. intelligence community is retaining some of the capabilities of the Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) programs run out of Iraq when these cannot be launched from bases inside the country. These programs, in combination with a population-centric counterinsurgency strategy, are widely credited within the military with stopping al Qaeda’s efforts to turn Iraq into a Sunni Islamic republic. The programs included detailed full-motion video monitoring of known terrorist enclaves as well as the lightning-quick interception of temporary cellphone calls and text messages from suspected terrorists.
“We could run ISR collection activities out of Turkey and Kuwait, but the real problem is we have a lot of collection targets in Iraq,” said a senior U.S. intelligence official familiar with the details of negotiations over the programs. “We need to know what is going on all over Iraq, or at least in critical nodes.”
Such areas, the official said, include Anbar, the western Iraqi desert that produced al Qaeda in Iraq; Basra, Iraq’s second-largest city, which remains a hub for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard corps and other Shiite militias; and Najaf, the Muslim holy city that hosts the most prestigious seminary for Shiite theologians, known as the Hawza.
“We especially need to establish deep collection on the Najaf Hawza if and when [Grand Ayatollah Ali] Sistani goes belly up. We need to know who is going to replace him,” the official said.
Often through military channels to local militias and other groups, U.S. forces in Iraq also ran intelligence programs against Iran and Syria. In some cases, U.S. operations in those countries went beyond intelligence collection. In October 2008, U.S. special forces raided a compound in Sukkariyeh, Syria, a town just over the border from Iraq, to target an al Qaeda in Iraq planner named Badran Turki Hishan al-Mazidih, also known as Abu Ghadiya.
The United States also provides the Iraqi military with key capabilities, such as maintenance of its aircraft, logistics for the military’s supply lines, and “intelligence fusion.” One House staffer who follows the U.S.-Iraqi negotiations closely explained the latter term as “putting everyone on the same network,” or creating a system for intelligence sharing for Iraq’s national-security agencies.
At the moment, many of the programs for counterterrorism and intelligence collection are “in jeopardy,” the staffer said. “But they are saying they are still in ongoing negotiations on the training and security missions. It is entirely possible that this is touch and go. Everyone gets a political win on Jan. 1, but personnel will trickle in after the new year starts.”
Vietor said Monday that the post-2011 diplomatic presence in Iraq would include “a robust Office of Security Cooperation, which will serve as the primary mechanism for our continued security support to Iraq.” He added, “Among other training and support functions, it will manage the Foreign Military Sales program, through which Iraq has already committed billions of dollars.” Iraq has spent $7.5 billion on U.S. equipment since 2005 and committed another $4.8 billion for pending sales, including an agreement earlier this year to buy U.S.-made F-16 aircraft, according to Vietor.
The United States will need to find a way to remain in Iraq in 2012 just to keep the Iraqi military functional, said Cochrane Sullivan. “Right now we still provide important capabilities—for example, medical evacuation; we provide intelligence; we provide logistical support,” she said. “The Iraqis have some helicopters, but they are still reliant on the United States there as well.”
One possibility would be to “rotate forces in and out of Iraq for a set of exercises,” she said. “You bring them in to do an exercise or a training course, and then you pull them out. That’s the not the same as stationing troops in Iraq past 2011.”

Monday, October 24, 2011

2011-10-24 "Throw Them Out With the Trash: Why Homelessness Is Becoming an Occupy Wall Street Issue" by Barbara Ehrenreich
As anyone knows who has ever had to set up a military encampment or build a village from the ground up, occupations pose staggering logistical problems. Large numbers of people must be fed and kept reasonably warm and dry. Trash has to be removed; medical care and rudimentary security provided -- to which ends a dozen or more committees may toil night and day. But for the individual occupier, one problem often overshadows everything else, including job loss, the destruction of the middle class, and the reign of the 1%. And that is the single question: Where am I going to pee?
Some of the Occupy Wall Street encampments now spreading across the U.S. have access to Port-o-Potties (Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C.) or, better yet, restrooms with sinks and running water (Fort Wayne, Indiana). Others require their residents to forage on their own. At Zuccotti Park, just blocks from Wall Street, this means long waits for the restroom at a nearby Burger King or somewhat shorter ones at a Starbucks a block away. At McPherson Square in D.C., a twenty-something occupier showed me the pizza parlor where she can cop a pee during the hours it’s open, as well as the alley where she crouches late at night. Anyone with restroom-related issues -- arising from age, pregnancy, prostate problems, or irritable bowel syndrome -- should prepare to join the revolution in diapers.
Of course, political protesters do not face the challenges of urban camping alone. Homeless people confront the same issues every day: how to scrape together meals, keep warm at night by covering themselves with cardboard or tarp, and relieve themselves without committing a crime. Public restrooms are sparse in American cities -- "as if the need to go to the bathroom does not exist," travel expert Arthur Frommer once observed. And yet to yield to bladder pressure is to risk arrest. A report entitled “Criminalizing Crisis,” to be released later this month by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, recounts the following story from Wenatchee, Washington:
"Toward the end of 2010, a family of two parents and three children that had been experiencing homelessness for a year and a half applied for a 2-bedroom apartment. The day before a scheduled meeting with the apartment manager during the final stages of acquiring the lease, the father of the family was arrested for public urination. The arrest occurred at an hour when no public restrooms were available for use. Due to the arrest, the father was unable to make the appointment with the apartment manager and the property was rented out to another person. As of March 2011, the family was still homeless and searching for housing."
What the Occupy Wall Streeters are beginning to discover, and homeless people have known all along, is that most ordinary, biologically necessary activities are illegal when performed in American streets -- not just peeing, but sitting, lying down, and sleeping. While the laws vary from city to city, one of the harshest is in Sarasota, Florida, which passed an ordinance in 2005 that makes it illegal to “engage in digging or earth-breaking activities” -- that is, to build a latrine -- cook, make a fire, or be asleep and “when awakened state that he or she has no other place to live.”
It is illegal, in other words, to be homeless or live outdoors for any other reason. It should be noted, though, that there are no laws requiring cities to provide food, shelter, or restrooms for their indigent citizens.
The current prohibition on homelessness began to take shape in the 1980s, along with the ferocious growth of the financial industry (Wall Street and all its tributaries throughout the nation). That was also the era in which we stopped being a nation that manufactured much beyond weightless, invisible “financial products,” leaving the old industrial working class to carve out a livelihood at places like Wal-Mart.
As it turned out, the captains of the new “casino economy” -- the stock brokers and investment bankers -- were highly sensitive, one might say finicky, individuals, easily offended by having to step over the homeless in the streets or bypass them in commuter train stations. In an economy where a centimillionaire could turn into a billionaire overnight, the poor and unwashed were a major buzzkill. Starting with Mayor Rudy Giuliani in New York, city after city passed “broken windows” or “quality of life” ordinances making it dangerous for the homeless to loiter or, in some cases, even look “indigent,” in public spaces.
No one has yet tallied all the suffering occasioned by this crackdown -- the deaths from cold and exposure -- but “Criminalizing Crisis” offers this story about a homeless pregnant woman in Columbia, South Carolina:
"During daytime hours, when she could not be inside of a shelter, she attempted to spend time in a museum and was told to leave. She then attempted to sit on a bench outside the museum and was again told to relocate. In several other instances, still during her pregnancy, the woman was told that she could not sit in a local park during the day because she would be ‘squatting.’ In early 2011, about six months into her pregnancy, the homeless woman began to feel unwell, went to a hospital, and delivered a stillborn child."
Well before Tahrir Square was a twinkle in anyone’s eye, and even before the recent recession, homeless Americans had begun to act in their own defense, creating organized encampments, usually tent cities, in vacant lots or wooded areas. These communities often feature various elementary forms of self-governance: food from local charities has to be distributed, latrines dug, rules -- such as no drugs, weapons, or violence -- enforced. With all due credit to the Egyptian democracy movement, the Spanish indignados, and rebels all over the world, tent cities are the domestic progenitors of the American occupation movement.
There is nothing “political” about these settlements of the homeless -- no signs denouncing greed or visits from leftwing luminaries -- but they have been treated with far less official forbearance than the occupation encampments of the “American autumn.” LA’s Skid Row endures constant police harassment, for example, but when it rained, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had ponchos distributed to nearby Occupy LA.
All over the country, in the last few years, police have moved in on the tent cities of the homeless, one by one, from Seattle to Wooster, Sacramento to Providence, in raids that often leave the former occupants without even their minimal possessions. In Chattanooga, Tennessee, last summer, a charity outreach worker explained the forcible dispersion of a local tent city by saying, “The city will not tolerate a tent city. That’s been made very clear to us. The camps have to be out of sight.”
What occupiers from all walks of life are discovering, at least every time they contemplate taking a leak, is that to be homeless in America is to live like a fugitive. The destitute are our own native-born “illegals,” facing prohibitions on the most basic activities of survival. They are not supposed to soil public space with their urine, their feces, or their exhausted bodies. Nor are they supposed to spoil the landscape with their unusual wardrobe choices or body odors. They are, in fact, supposed to die, and preferably to do so without leaving a corpse for the dwindling public sector to transport, process, and burn.
But the occupiers are not from all walks of life, just from those walks that slope downwards -- from debt, joblessness, and foreclosure -- leading eventually to pauperism and the streets. Some of the present occupiers were homeless to start with, attracted to the occupation encampments by the prospect of free food and at least temporary shelter from police harassment. Many others are drawn from the borderline-homeless “nouveau poor,” and normally encamp on friends’ couches or parents’ folding beds.
In Portland, Austin, and Philadelphia, the Occupy Wall Street movement is taking up the cause of the homeless as its own, which of course it is. Homelessness is not a side issue unconnected to plutocracy and greed. It’s where we’re all eventually headed -- the 99%, or at least the 70%, of us, every debt-loaded college grad, out-of-work school teacher, and impoverished senior -- unless this revolution succeeds.
2011-10-24 "New York cops defy order to arrest hundreds of ‘Occupy Albany’ protesters" by Andrew Jones
Occupy Albany protesters in New York’s capital city received an unexpected ally over the week: The state and local authorities.
According to the Albany Times Union [http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Under-pressure-to-make-arrests-police-and-2232934.php#ixzz1bietzrSH], New York state troopers and Albany police did not adhere to a curfew crackdown on protesters urged by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and Albany mayor Gerald Jennings.
Mass arrests seemed to be in the cards once Jennings directed officers to enforce the curfew on roughly 700 protesters occupying the city owned park. But as state police joined the local cops, protesters moved past the property line dividing city and state land.

Power to the People! Occupy Wallstreet!

2011-10-24 "Police Arrest Nurse Volunteers At Occupy Chicago" by Beth Buczynski
Nurses volunteering at a first aid station for Occupy Chicago protesters were included in a mass arrest of over 100 people during a late-night crackdown at the encampment. The police officers removed all protester property from the site and tore down tents, including the first aid tent [http://blog.aflcio.org/2011/10/24/police-arrest-130-tear-down-first-aid-station-at-occupy-chicago/].
The action has been condemned by National Nurses United (NNU), the country’s largest union of nurses, which has set up first aid stations in five other occupied cities, including Occupy Wall Street in New York [http://www.care2.com/causes/OWS%20Is%20The%20People’s%20Revolution:%20Will%20You%20Join%20It?%20[Video]].
“Even in wartime, combatants respect the work of nurses and other first responders. Yet Mayor Emanuel and Chicago seem to care as little about that tradition as they do in protecting the constitutional rights of free speech and assembly.” said NNU Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro in a statement. “These arrests are disgraceful and unconscionable, and will not deter our nurses from continuing this mission, setting up the station again, and continuing to support the protests.”
On Monday morning, Occupiers showed their solidarity with the arrested nurses by joining members of NNU as they picketed the mayor’s office at Chicago’s City Hall.
The arrests occurred at approximately 1 am as Occupy Chicago participants attempted to rebuild their camp in Grant Park for the second time [http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-10-23/news/chi-occupy-chicago-aims-to-try-occupying-grant-park-again-tonight-20111022_1_protesters-federal-plaza-congress-plaza].
In many cities, police departments have been content to wave public park closing times and camping rules as long as protesters remain peaceful, respectful of non-protest pedestrians and do not disrupt the flow of vehicle traffic.
Emanuel has been perhaps the most aggressive mayor in the nation in repression of the occupy Wall Street movement with mass arrests on at least two occasions now. The Chicago Tribune Saturday reported that city officials are trying to send a message to world leaders of being “tough” on demonstrators in advance of upcoming meetings of G-8 and NATO leaders in May.

2011-10-24 “Occupy” Movements Raise Libraries Across the Country" by Anna Klenke

Despite the growing influence of the Kindle, iPad, Nook, Kobo and Sony Reader, books aren’t dead yet. And they’re gaining ground in Boston and other cities as the Occupy movements raise low-tech tent libraries in the midst of their protests.
The Occupy Boston tent library has no due dates or fees, a simple check-out system, and nearly 500 donated books organized by category. It has also developed “an expanding archive of Occupy Boston’s meeting notes and proposals, and a nascent program of speakers and writing workshops” (New York Times).
Some of the most popular books include Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States and the works of Noam Chomsky.
Librarians and booksellers who support the movement are the primary organizers of the library. John Ford, an alternative bookstore owner, said of the library’s goals: “I hope, at the very least, it just makes people more inclined to be thoughtful about what they’re doing here.”
Boston protesters use the library for research and inspiration as they stand by their convictions and brave the elements in the tent shelters. One woman described the process of reading as “a moment to yourself, a moment of clarity.” [http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/22/us/tent-libraries-occupy-boston-and-beyond.html?_r=1&smid=tw-nytimes&seid=auto]
Fascist AM Radio show hosts publicize private phone number for a "leftist" advocate the fascists didn't like.
Already many advertisers have stopped advertising with the fascist radio show hosts, but the radio program is still very popular.
Once the fascists are allowed to conduct this behavior without legal reprisal, than others shall do the same...

2011-10-24 "Companies Pull Ads from Hateful Radio Show in California" by Paul Canning
The consumer boycott of a Californian ‘hate radio’ show appears to be having an impact with two big advertisers saying they are pulling ads.
A coalition of twenty mainly Latino groups launched the campaign earlier this month [http://www.care2.com/causes/is-boycotting-hate-radio-a-waste-of-energy.html] against KFI’s “John and Ken” show after the show disclosed an activist’s phone number and he received hundreds of vulgar messages.
Verizon and AT&T Wireless have pulled ads [http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/10/advertisers-drop-kfis-john-and-ken-show-amid-latino-outrage.html] and Vons and Ralphs, which have advertised on the show in the past, have agreed to not advertise in the future.
Hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou broadcast the phone number of a local activist for the California DREAM Act, Jorge-Mario Cabrera. The Act, which helps undocumented students get financial aid for post-secondary education, was signed into law on Saturday, October 8th.
Cabrera got more than 450 calls.
“We don’t want your people here,” one started. “You are dirty, you don’t have any social skills, you don’t have skills to support yourselves. You incite riots, you incite the American people. I hope you fall off the face of the earth.”
The National Hispanic Media Coalition has been holding demonstrations in front of KFI’s offices in Burbank chanting slogans such as “KFI drop the hate” and “John and Ken must go.”
John and Ken have apologized on air, but Cabrera says that was “a well-calculated, manipulative, and insulting public relations stunt meant to appease the opposition.” [http://www.mediabistro.com/fishbowlla/jorge-mario-cabrera-fires-back-at-john-and-ken_b42772]
“If John and Ken are sincerely apologetic about fostering distrust, resentment, and hate in Los Angeles, they would do the honorable thing and walk out into the sunset and never return. Anything else is putrid leftovers,” Cabrera wrote on Huffington Post [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jorgemario-cabrera/john-and-ken-the-best-apo_b_1021840.html].
KFI are defending the “John and Ken” show on the grounds of 1st Amendment rights.
David Rodriguez, spokesman for the League of United Latin American Citizens, disagrees, saying:
“It’s one thing to run out and express your free speech, but it’s quite another to turn around and demonize a community and victimize a community of hard-working immigrant folks, who all they want to do is make a living and be part of this society.”
The coalition opposing the show saw that after Cabrera’s phone number was aired, KFI agreed to meet with them to discuss their concerns but then cancelled.
KFI say they cancelled when it became clear the coalition wouldn’t settle for anything less than firing the radio hosts. Instead, they say they have met with other Latino groups “to have an open, fruitful discussion about any concerns they may have.”
Other activists and commentators have described the consumer boycott as ‘trying to win a hissing contest with a snake.’ [http://www.care2.com/causes/is-boycotting-hate-radio-a-waste-of-energy.html]
Alex Nogales, the coalition’s president, predicts that more advertisers will pull advertising.
2011-10-24 "GOP Tries To Cut Food Stamps While People Line Up For Formula" by Robin Marty
Republican Senator Jeff Sessions thinks that too much government money is being spent on food stamps, and it’s time someone did something to stop it. According to the Daily Caller [http://dailycaller.com/2011/10/23/sessions-budget-for-food-stamps-ballooning-out-of-control/], the Alabama senator is upset that the program’s costs have doubled in the last three years, and is now larger than most of the other government expenditures. “There is no doubt, if this country isn’t willing to look under the hood of the food stamp program as we try to bring our surging debt under control, we are obviously not serious about what we are doing,” Sessions said. “You know, for example — this is important — the federal highway program is about 40 billion [dollars] … The entire Department of Justice, including the prison system, is about about 30 [billion]. This program is 80 [billion], and it’s doubled in three years.”
Sessions blames the extra costs on the fact that there are automatic eligibility points in the system that need to be removed. One such automatic entry? Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Because, apparently qualifying for assistance doesn’t automatically qualify you for assistance?
Of course, no one in the GOP is willing to concede the fact that the number of people qualifying for food stamps have gone up at the same time that both unemployment has skyrocketed and the economy has been shedding living wage jobs in exchange for minimum wage and part time work. When jobs don’t pay enough to feed a family, that family will need assistance feeding itself.
It’s a trend that even Wal-Mart’s CEO is noticing, as a growing number of people are showing up with a cart full of basic necessities — including formula for infants — and waiting in line until midnight on the first of the month in order to have their next batch of food stamps kick in. According to Salon [http://www.salon.com/2010/09/22/walmarts_midnight_baby_formula_bread_line/], executive Bill Simon noted, “[I]f you really think about it, the only reason somebody gets out in the middle of the night and buys baby formula is that they need it, and they’ve been waiting for it. Otherwise, we are open 24 hours — come at 5 a.m., come at 7 a.m., come at 10 a.m. But if you are there at midnight, you are there for a reason.”
Until the clock strikes midnight, I guess they just go hungry. And with GOP proposed cuts, they can go even hungrier.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

USA's war against anything which prevents the monopoly capitalists from gaining the maximum profits [re: Socialism] has been carried out successfully in Libya, where instead of getting rid of a dictator, the USA got rid of THE ENTIRE SOCIALIST SYSTEM and installed RELIGIOUS dictatorship under SHARIA LAW!!!
Women had equal rights under Socialist Libya, everybody got a house, the profits from natural resources paid for free medical care and the highest standard of living in ALL AFRICA!!!
Now, the USA's friends in Al-Qaeda who fought against Socialist Libya have been given an entire country in order to act out "Allah's will" to tyrannize women, declare martial law against non-Muslims, and outlaw California-style freedom.

2011-10-23 "Libya's transitional leader declares liberation" from "Associated Press" newswire

BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) — Libya's transitional leader declared his country's liberation on Sunday, three days after the hated dictator Moammar Gadhafi was captured and killed.
He called on Libyans to show "patience, honesty and tolerance" and eschew hatred as they embark on rebuilding the country at the end of an 8-month civil war.
The transitional government leader Mustafa Abdul-Jalil set out a vision for the post-Gadhafi future with an Islamist tint, saying that Islamic Sharia law would be the "basic source" of legislation in the country and that existing laws that contradict the teachings of Islam would be nullified.
In a gesture that showed his own piety, he urged Libyans not to express their joy by firing in the air, but rather to chant "Allahu Akbar," or God is Great. He then stepped aside and knelt to offer a brief prayer of thanks.
"This revolution was looked after by God to achieve victory," he told the crowd at the declaration ceremony in the eastern city of Benghazi, the birthplace of the uprising against Gadhafi began. He thanked those who fell in the fight against Gadhafi's forces. "This revolution began peacefully to demand the minimum of legitimate rights [not human rights], but it was met by excessive violence."
Abdul-Jalil said new banks would be set up to follow the Islamic banking system, which bans charging interest. For the time being, he said interest would be canceled from any personal loans already taken out less than 10,000 Libyan dinars (about $7,500).
He also announced that all military personnel and civilians who have taken part in the fight against Gadhafi would be promoted to the rank above their existing one. He said a package of perks would later be announced for all fighters.
"Thank You, thank you to the fighters who achieved victory, both civilians and military," he said. He also paid tribute to the Gulf Cooperation Council, a six-nation alliance led by Saudi Arabia, The Arab League and the European Union. NATO, which aided the anti-Gadhafi fighters with airstrikes, performed its task with "efficiency and professionalism."

Saturday, October 22, 2011

2011-10-22 "How the West won Libya" by Pepe Escobar from "Asia Times"
Pepe Escobar is the author of "Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War" (Nimble Books, 2007) and "Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge". His new book, just out, is "Obama does Globalistan" (Nimble Books, 2009).
He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com.
They are fighting over the carcass as vultures. The French Ministry of Defense said they got him with a Rafale fighter jet firing over his convoy. The Pentagon said they got him with a Predator firing a Hellfire missile. After a wounded Colonel Muammar Gaddafi sought refuge in a filthy drain underneath a highway - an eerie echo of Saddam Hussein's "hole" - he was found by Transitional National Council (TNC) "rebels". And then duly executed.
Abdel-Jalil Abdel-Aziz, a Libyan doctor who accompanied Gaddafi's body in an ambulance and examined it, said he died from two bullets, one to the chest, one to the head.
The TNC - which has peddled lies, lies and more lies for months - swears he died in "crossfire". It may have been a mob. It may have been Mohammad al-Bibi, a 20-year-old sporting a New York Yankees baseball cap who posed to the whole world brandishing Gaddafi's golden pistol; his ticket perhaps to collect the hefty $20 million dangled as the bounty for Gaddafi "dead or alive".
It gets curioser and curioser when one remembers that this is exactly what US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in her lightning visit to Tripoli, had announced less than 48 hours before; Gaddafi should be "captured or killed". The Fairy Queenie satisfied Clinton's wishes, who learned about it by watching the screen of a BlackBerry - and reacting with the semantic earthquake "Wow!"
To the winners, the spoils. They all did it; the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Pentagon and the TNC. From the minute a United Nations resolution imposing a no-fly zone over Libya became a green card to regime change, plan A was always to capture and kill him. Targeted assassination; that's Barack Obama administration official policy. There was no plan B.

Let me bomb you to protection -
As for how R2P ("responsibility to protect" civilians), any doubters should cling to the explanation by NATO's secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen; "NATO and our partners have successfully implemented the historic mandate of the United Nations to protect the people of Libya." Anyone who wants to check NATO's protection of civilians just needs to jump on a pick-up truck and go to Sirte - the new Fallujah.
Reactions have been quite instructive. TNC bureaucrat Abdel Ghoga went Colosseum in the Roman Empire, saying, "The revolutionaries have got the head of the tyrant."
United States President Barack Obama said the death of Gaddafi means "we are seeing the strength of American leadership across the world". That's as "we got him" as one can possibly expect, also considering that Washington paid no less than 80% of the operating costs of those dimwits at NATO (over $1 billion - which Occupy Wall Street could well denounce would be more helpful creating jobs in the US). Strange, now, to say "we did it", because the White House always said this was not a war; it was a "kinetic" something. And they were not in charge.
It was up to that majestic foreign policy strategist, US Vice President Joe Biden, to be starkly more enlightening than Obama; "In this case, America spent $2 billion and didn't lose a single life. This is more the prescription for how to deal with the world as we go forward than it has in the past."
World, you have been warned; this is how the empire will deal with you from now on.

Feel my humanitarian love -
So congratulations to the "international community" - which as everyone knows is composed of Washington, a few washed-up NATO members, and the democratic Persian Gulf powerhouses of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This community, at least, loved the outcome. The European Union (EU) hailed "the end of an era of despotism" - when up to virtually Thursday they were caressing the helm of Gaddafi's gowns; now they are falling over themselves in editorials about the 42-year reign of a "buffoon".
Gaddafi would have been a most inconvenient guest of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, as he would have relished recalling all the hand-kissing, the warm embraces and the juicy deals the West was begging to clinch after he was promoted from "Mad Dog" (Ronald Reagan) to "our bastard". He would also relish detailing all the shady backgrounds of those opportunists now posing as "revolutionaries" and "democrats".
As for the concept of international law, it lies in a drain as filthy as the one Gaddafi was holed up in. Iraqi dictator Saddam at least got a fake trial in a kangaroo court before meeting the executioner. Osama bin Laden was simply snuffed out, assassination-style, after a territorial invasion of Pakistan. Gaddafi went one up, snuffed out with a mix of air war and assassination.
Power vultures are congesting the skies. London-based Mohammed El Senussi, the heir to the Libyan throne (King Idris was overthrown in 1969) is ready for his close-up, having already established that he "is a servant to Libyan people, and they decide what they want". Translation; I want the throne. He's obviously the favorite candidate of the counter-revolutionary House of Saud.
And what about those Washington think-tank donkeys mumbling that this was the Arab Spring's "Ceausescu moment"? If only the Romanian dictator had improved his country's standard of living - in terms of free healthcare, free education, incentives for the newlywed, etc - by a fraction of what Gaddafi did in Libya. Plus the fact that Nicolae Ceausescu was not deposed by NATO "humanitarian" bombing. v Only the brain dead may have swallowed the propaganda of NATO's "humanitarian" 40,000-plus bombing - which devastated Libya's infrastructure back to the Stone Age (Shock and Awe in slow motion, anyone?). This never had anything to do with R2P - the relentless bombing of civilians in Sirte proves it.
As the top four BRIC members knew it even before the voting of UN Resolution 1973, it was about NATO ruling the Mediterranean as a NATO lake, it was about Africom's war against China and setting up a key strategic base, it was about the French and the Brits getting juicy contracts to exploit Libya's natural resources to their benefit, it was about the West setting the narrative of the Arab Spring after they had been caught napping in Tunisia and Egypt.

Listen to the barbaric whimpers -
Welcome to the new Libya. Intolerant Islamist militias will turn the lives of Libyan women into a living hell. Hundreds of thousands of Sub-Saharan Africans - those who could not escape - will be ruthlessly persecuted. Libya's natural wealth will be plundered. That collection of anti-aircraft missiles appropriated by Islamists will be a supremely convincing reason for the "war on terror" in northern Africa to become eternal. There will be blood - civil war blood, because Tripolitania will refuse to be ruled by backward Cyrenaica.
As for remaining dictators everywhere, get a life insurance policy from NATO Inc; Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, Tunisia's Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and Yemen's Ali Abdullah Saleh were clever enough to do it. We all know there will never be R2P to liberate the Tibetans and Uyghurs, or the people in that monster gulag Myanmar, or the people in Uzbekistan, or the Kurds in Turkey, or the Pashtuns on both sides of the imperially drawn Durand Line.
We also know that change the world can believe in will be the day NATO enforces a no-fly one over Saudi Arabia to protect the Shi'ites in the eastern province, with the Pentagon launching a Hellfire carpet over those thousands of medieval, corrupt House of Saud princes.
It won't happen. Meanwhile, this is the way the West ends; with a NATO bang, and a thousand barbaric, lawless whimpers. Disgusted? Get a Guy Fawkes mask and raise hell.

Friday, October 21, 2011

2011-10-21 "The End Of History; Now that the CIA’s proxy army has murdered Gadhafi, what next for Libya?" by Paul Craig Roberts
Dr. Paul Craig Roberts is the father of Reaganomics and the former head of policy at the Department of Treasury. He is a columnist and was previously an editor for the Wall Street Journal. His latest book, “How the Economy Was Lost: The War of the Worlds,” details why America is disintegrating.
If Washington’s plans succeed, Libya will become another American puppet state. Most of the cities, towns, and infrastructure have been destroyed by air strikes by the air forces of the US and Washington’s NATO puppets. US and European firms will now get juicy contracts, financed by US taxpayers, to rebuild Libya. The new real estate will be carefully allocated to lubricate a new ruling class picked by Washington. This will put Libya firmly under Washington’s thumb.
With Libya conquered, AFRICOM will start on the other African countries where China has energy and mineral investments. Obama has already sent US troops to Central Africa under the guise of defeating the Lord’s Resistance Army, a small insurgency against the ruling dictator-for-life. The Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner, welcomed the prospect of yet another war by declaring that sending US troops into Central Africa “furthers US national security interests and foreign policy.” Republican Senator James Inhofe added a gallon of moral verbiage about saving “Ugandan children,” a concern the senator did not have for Libya’s children or Palestine’s, Iraq’s, Afghanistan’s and Pakistan’s.
Washington has revived the Great Power Game and is vying with China. Whereas China brings Africa investment and gifts of infrastructure, Washington sends troops, bombs and military bases. Sooner or later Washington’s aggressiveness toward China and Russia is going to explode in our faces.
Where is the money going to come from to finance Washington’s African Empire? Not from Libya’s oil. Big chunks of that have been promised to the French and British for providing cover for Washington’s latest war of naked aggression. Not from tax revenues from a collapsing US economy where unemployment, if measured correctly, is 23 percent.
With Washington’s annual budget deficit as huge as it is, the money can only come from the printing press.
Washington has already run the printing press enough to raise the consumer price index for all urban consumers (CPI-U) to 3.9% for the year (as of the end of September), the consumer price index for urban wage earners and clerical workers (CPI-W) to 4.4% for the year, and the producer price index (PPI) to 6.9% for the year.
As statistician John Williams (shadowstats.com) has shown, the official inflation measures are rigged in order to hold down cost of living adjustments to Social Security recipients, thus saving money for Washington’s wars. When measured correctly, the current rate of inflation in the US is 11.5%.
What interest rate can savers get without taking massive risks on Greek bonds? US banks pay less than one-half of one percent on FDIC insured savings deposits. Short-term US government bond funds pay essentially zero.
Thus, according to official US government statistics American savers are losing between 3.9% and 4.4% of their capital yearly. According to John Williams’ estimate of the real rate of inflation, US savers are losing 11.5% of their accumulated savings.
As retired Americans receive no interest on their savings, they are having to spend down their capital. The ability of even the most prudent retirees to survive the negative rate of interest they are receiving and the erosion by inflation of any pensions that they receive will come to an end once their accumulated assets are exhausted.
Except for Washington’s favored mega-rich, the one percent that has captured all of the income gains of recent years, the rest of America has been assigned to the trash can. Nothing whatsoever has been done for them since the financial crisis hit in December 2007. Bush and Obama, Republican and Democrat, have focused on saving the 1 percent while giving the finger to the 99 percent.
Finally, some Americans, though not enough, have caught on to the flag-waving rah-rah “patriotism” that has consigned them to the trash bin of history. They are not going down without a fight and are in the streets. Occupy Wall Street has spread. What will be the fate of this movement?
Will the snow and ice of cold weather end the protests, or send them into public buildings? How long will the local authorities, subservient to Washington as they are, tolerate the obvious signal that the population lacks any confidence whatsoever in the government?
If the protests last, especially if they grow and don’t decline, the authorities will infiltrate the protestors with police provocateurs who will fire on the police. This will be the excuse to shoot down the protestors and to arrest the survivors as “terrorists” or “domestic extremists” and to send them to the $385 million dollar camps built under US government contract by Cheney’s Halliburton.
The Amerikan Police State will have taken its next step into the Amerikan Concentration Camp State.
Meanwhile, lost in their oblivion, conservatives will continue to bemoan the ruination of the country by homosexual marriage, abortion, and “the liberal media.” Liberal organizations committed to civil liberty, such as the ACLU, will continue to rank a woman’s right to an abortion with defense of the US Constitution. Amnesty International will assist Washington in demonizing its next target for military attack while turning a blind eye to the war crimes of President Obama.
When we consider what Israel has got away with, being as it is under Washington’s bought protection–the war crimes, the murders of children, the eviction in total disregard of international law of Palestinians from their ancestral homes, the bulldozing of their houses and uprooting of their olive groves in order to move in fanatical “settlers,” the murderous invasions of Lebanon and Gaza, the wholesale slaughter of civilians–we can only conclude that Washington, Israel’s enabler, can get away with far more.
In the few opening years of the 21st century, Washington has destroyed the US Constitution, the separation of powers, international law, the accountability of government, and has sacrificed every moral principle to achieving hegemony over the world. This ambitious agenda is being attempted while simultaneously Washington removed all regulation over Wall Street, the home of massive greed, permitting Wall Street’s short-term horizon to wreck the US economy, thus destroying the economic basis for Washington’s assault on the world.
Will the US collapse in economic chaos before it rules the world?