Saturday, December 25, 2010

Deconstructing the ‘Post-Racial’ Illusion

Obama and

the Question

of the 'Angry

Black Man'

By Bill Fletcher, Jr. via Progressive America Rising

Dec. 23, 2010 - Since his 2008 campaign, much discussion has been devoted to understanding President Obama’s approach.  At various points Obama’s public coolness has been seen as a plus, while at other points it has been viewed as a real minus.  On those rare occasions when Obama has dared give expression to his ire, he has confronted the “angry black man” issue and any concerns he may have regarding the perception that an “angry black man” has assumed the role of President of the United States of America.

In the last two weeks two friends of mine have written pieces critical of my assertion that part of understanding Barack Obama is to understand his intense fear of being perceived as an “angry black man.” One friend simply stated his disagreement with me, while the other ridiculed my position. Both friends happen to be white.

Before I go any further let me be clear that I do not articulate this analysis as in any way a defense of Obama. As my record shows, I have been highly critical of the President on many issues.  What has me unsettled, however, is how easy it has been for many white leftists and progressives to dismiss the matter of the “angry black man” without fully interrogating the concept and its implications.  In that sense, this is about much more than President Obama.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Proto-fascist Update: Why Are We Paying for War Crimes Training?

Islam-Bashing Bigots Train Counterrorism Agents

By Chip Berlet
Huffington Post via Progressive America Rising

"Kill them...including the children."

That's how to solve the threat of militant Muslims?

This quote is from what one official involved in homeland security said was the theme of a speech by Walid Shoebat at an anti-terrorism training in Las Vegas in October 2010.

Our source had turned around after Shoebat's speech and asked the woman in the chair behind them at the conference what she though was the solution offered by Shoebat.

"Kill them...including the heard him," was the full response.

Shoebat's Las Vegas speech was described by our source as "frightening."


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

WikiLeaks: The Velvet Glove Comes Off the Iron Fist

The Lynch-Mob Moment

By Tom Hayden
Progressive America Rising via

Dec 10, 2010  -  We know that conservatives are extremists for order, but why have so many liberals lost their minds and joined the frenzy over Julian Assange and WikiLeaks? As the secrets of power are unmasked, there is a growing bipartisan demand that Julian Assange must die.

Today once-liberal Democrat Bob Beckel said on FOX that someone should "illegally shoot the son-of-a-bitch." A few days ago center-liberal legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said on CNN that Assange is "absurd, ridiculous, delusional, and well beyond our sympathy." The Washington Times called for treating him as an "enemy combatant"; Rep.  Peter King of the Homeland Security Committee who wants him prosecuted as a terrorist; and of course, Sarah Palin wants him hunted down like Osama Bin Ladin or a wolf in Alaska.

This is a lynch-mob moment, when the bloodlust runs over.  We have this mad over-reaction many times since the witch-burnings and Jim Crow, including the Palmer Raids of the 1920s, the McCarthy purges of the 1950s, the Nixon-era conspiracy trials, the Watergate break- ins, and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq after 9/11.

Most Americans know now that those periods of frenzy and scapegoating did nothing for our security but damaged our democracy and left in their wake a secretive National Security State.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

For the Scott Sisters, It’s Still Mississippi God Damn

Leonard Pitts Jr column:

Scott sisters may or may not be guilty

— But Mississippi surely is


By Leonard Pitts Jr.

Progressive America Rising

Let's assume they did it.

Let's assume that two days before Christmas in 1993, a 22-year-old black woman named Jamie Scott and her pregnant, 19-year-old sister, Gladys, set up an armed robbery. Let's assume these single mothers lured two men to a spot outside the tiny town of Forest, Miss., where three teenage boys, using a shotgun the sisters supplied, relieved the men of $11 and sent them on their way, unharmed.

Assume all of the above is true, and still you must be shocked at the crude brutality of the Scott sisters' fate. You see, the sisters, neither of whom had a criminal record before this, are still locked away in state prison, having served 16 years of their double-life sentences.

It bears repeating. Each sister is doing double life for a robbery in which $11 was taken and nobody was hurt. Somewhere, the late Nina Simone is moaning her signature song: "Mississippi Goddam."


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Opposing The Tax Deal’s Handcuffs: Progressives in Congress Speak Out


53 House Democrats oppose Obama Tax Deal

Dec 10, 2010 - In a significant demonstration of opposition to President Obama's tax deal, 53 members of the U.S. House came out against the President's proposal Thursday morning, Dec.9. In a letter sent to Speaker Pelosi Thursday, they called the proposal "fiscally irresponsible" and "grossly unfair."

"America is wading into fiscal quicksand. Borrowing nearly a trillion dollars to finance tax cuts that disproportionately favor millionaires and billionaires threatens our ability to create jobs, grow the middle class and protect seniors," Welch said. "Digging the country deeper into debt to pay for misguided tax policy is irresponsible and simply doesn't make sense."

The letter, which Rep. Peter Welch (VT) authored and first circulated late Monday, was signed by: Reps. Earl Blumenauer, Judy Chu, Yvette Clark, Steve Cohen, John Conyers, Elijah Cummings, Danny Davis, Peter DeFazio, Donna Edwards, Keith Ellison, Anna Eshoo, Sam Farr, Bob Filner, Barney Frank, John Garamendi, Alan Grayson, Raul Grijalva, Luis Gutierrez, Alcee Hastings, Martin Heinrich, Maurice Hinchey, Rush Holt, Jay Inslee, Jesse Jackson, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Paul Kanjorski, Dennis Kucinich, Barbara Lee, John Lewis, Ben Ray Lujan, Steven Lynch, Doris Matsui, Jim McDermott, Mike Michaud, Jim Oberstar, John Olver, Chellie Pingree, David Price, Tim Ryan, Linda Sanchez, Jan Schakowsky, Carol Shea-Porter, Adam Smith, Jackie Speier, Pete Stark, Betty Sutton, Bennie Thompson, Mike Thompson, Paul Tonko, Anthony Weiner, Lynn Woolsey, David Wu and John Yarmuth.

The full text of the letter is copied below:

Dear Madam Speaker,

We oppose acceding to Republican demands to extend the Bush tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires for two reasons.

First, it is fiscally irresponsible. Adding more than $900 billion to our national debt, as this proposal would do, handcuffs our ability to offer a balanced plan to achieve fiscal stability without a punishing effect on our current commitments, including Social Security and Medicare.

Second, it is grossly unfair. This proposal will hurt, not help, the majority of Americans in the middle class and those working hard to get there. Even as Republicans seek to add billions more to our national debt in tax cuts to the wealthy, they oppose extending unemployment benefits to workers and resist COLA increases to seniors.

Without a doubt, the very same people who support this addition to our debt will oppose raising the debt ceiling to pay for it.

We support extending tax cuts in full to 98 percent of American taxpayers, as the President initially proposed. He should not back down. Nor should we.


Member of Congress


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Brit Students Turn up the Street Heat


Police tactics at tuition fees protest

questioned after further angry clashes

By Esther Addley, Adam Gabbatt and Vikram Dodd

From The Guardian, UK

Protesters clashed with police in London tonight after the coalition won the vote to increase tuition fees for students in England to up to £9,000 per year.

The plans faced bitter criticism not only from Labour MPs but from Lib Dem and Tory backbenchers, but the move was carried by 323 votes to 302 in what has proved to be the most testing parliamentary vote to date for the coalition government.

The result narrowed the coalition government's notional majority of 84 to 21, in a vote which took place as thousands of protesters opposed to the rise in fees clashed with police in the streets outside parliament.

Police entered Parliament Square tonight to stop protesting students from vandalising the Treasury building. A number of students started using concrete blocks and metal poles to smash windows of the building on Great George Street while being contained inside the square.


The Critical Battleground of Social Security


Study: Half of Seniors at Risk for Poverty

Photo credit: Alliance for Retired Americans

By James Parks

Progressive America Rising via AFL-CIO Blog

Here’s one big reason congressional Republicans and the deficit hawks are dead wrong about cutting Social Security [1] benefits: According to a new study, nearly half (47.4 percent) of all Americans between the ages of 60 and 90 will experience at least one year of poverty or near poverty and seniors of color are twice as likely to be affected.

The study by Mark Rank, a professor of social work at Washington University in St. Louis, shows that 58 percent of seniors between 60 and 84 will, at some point, not have enough liquid assets to allow them to weather an unanticipated expense or downturn in income.

But if you are a senior who is black or unmarried or have less than a high school education, the likelihood that you will be poor at some point increases dramatically. Rank found that although 32.7 percent of white older Americans will experience at least one year below the official poverty line, the percentage for black older Americans was nearly double at 64.6 percent.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Obama’s Path: Two Years of Disaster, Then What?

What Now for the Democrats?


By Robert Kuttner

Progressive America Rising

via The Huffington Post

Dec. 6, 2010 - Let's imagine the political possibilities of the next two years and beyond. So far, President Obama's response to the drubbing of the mid-term has confirmed the progressive community's worst fears. Astonishingly, he still seems to believe the following:

The American people care more about bipartisan compromise and budget cuts than about ending the economic crisis.

If he just compromises a little more, the Republicans might still meet him halfway. The recipe for economic recovery has something to do with reducing the short term federal deficit.

All three of these premises are disastrously wrong -- as politics and as economics.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Hands Off the DPRK, No More War!

US Troops Using Blimp to Practice Airborne Jumps in Korea

Keeping Perspective on North Korea

By Matthew Rothschild
Beaver County Peace Links
via The Progressive - Nov 27, 2010

When the current Korean crisis emerged, I immediately contacted the wisest person I know on the subject. His name is Gene Matthews, and he spent decades in South Korea as a missionary who was active in the pro-democracy movement there.

He's a contributor to a great new book called "More Than Witnesses: How a Small Group of Missionaries Aided Korea's Democratic Revolution."

Here's what he has to say about the current standoff.

"North Korea has always felt threatened by joint military exercises of the U.S. and South Korea, and has always protested against them," he says. "This time, North Korea stated that the exercises were taking place in North Korean territory and that if shots were fired during the exercise they would retaliate. Shots were fired (not at the North, it should be pointed out but out toward the ocean) and the North retaliated."

What's saddest about this standoff, he says, is that it shows how far relations have slid in the last fifteen years.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

How ‘Whiteness’ Dehumanizes Everyone

Rediscovering 'The Souls of White Folk'

90 years later in the era of the Tea Party

By Bill Fletcher, Jr.

Progressive America Rising

“But what on earth is whiteness that one should so desire it?”  Then always, somehow, some way, silently but clearly, I am given to understand that whiteness is the ownership of the earth forever and ever, Amen!

—W.E.B. Dubois, from “The Souls of White Folk”

I am not sure what led me back to it.  I had read W.E.B. Dubois’s The Souls of White Folk (originally published in Darkwater: Voices from Within the Veil, 1920) years ago.  At the time I was moved by this often ignored essay but simply filed it away in the recesses of my memory.

Yet I returned to it.  I had been thinking about right-wing populism and white nationalism in the USA and at some point I found myself Googling this piece.  There were three things that immediately struck me:  (1) by coincidence, it was published exactly 90 years ago, (2) it read, in many respects, as if it had been written yesterday, and (3) it was both passionate and poetic in its style, but equally biting in its critique of white supremacy and imperialism.

“The Souls of White Folk” was an essay written in the aftermath of World War I and the despicable Versailles Treaty of 1919 which formally ended the war.  Mainstream historians often focus on the mean-spirited punishment that the Allied Powers brought upon Germany, thereby laying the foundation for World War II.  Little attention is given, however, to the hypocritical attitude of the Allied Powers with respect to the colonial world, the ‘darker races,’ to borrow from the title of Vijay Prashad’s excellent book.  Representatives of the colonial world (including from Black America) gathered in Versailles to ascertain whether the Allied Powers (USA, Britain, France, Italy) would be true to their commitment to support the right of national self-determination.  The future leader of the Vietnamese Revolution, Ho Chi Minh, was one such person who made the trek to Versailles, hoping that Vietnam, and the rest of Indochina, would secure self-determination.

Instead of receiving justice, the colored peoples of the world were ignored.  The former colonies of Germany were either handed over outright to other colonial powers or they were placed into a League of Nations trusteeship, but in neither case were they able to secure independence.  Dubois observed this first hand, having attended the Versailles conference.  He subsequently helped to convene a Pan African Congress in order to address the fact that the African world had been so overlooked.

“The Souls of White Folk” takes as its starting point an analysis of the origins of World War I.  Rather than accepting the established notion that it was a war for democracy and self-determination, Dubois embraces the assessment that it was an imperialist war focused on the objective of gaining greater portions of the colonial world for this or that imperialist power.  This was an analysis advanced by Russia’s V.I. Lenin at the start of World War I and for much of the Left it has subsequently become a basic truism.

“The Souls of White Folk” would be a powerful document if it simply stopped there, but Dubois goes further and in doing so makes this document one that cannot be read simply as an historical piece, but one that remains critically important today.  Dubois turns to the question of race and, in fact, white privilege, and demonstrates the linkages between race and imperialism.  Dubois notes, for example:  “Behold little Belgium and her pitiable plight, but has the world forgotten Congo?”  For those not up on their World War I history (and no criticism is implied), much was made of the German subjugation of Belgium.  Yet Dubois asks about the Congo, and this is not simply a throw-away line.  Belgium, through King Leopold, controlled the Congo during which time it put to death ten to twelve million people.  Dubois, of course, could not know what was soon to be facing European Jews and the annihilation of six million of them at the hands of the Nazis (who in 1920 were just getting organized), but that Holocaust received international attention, whereas the holocaust inflicted on the Congolese people was all but ignored at the time that it happened, in the aftermath of World War I, and, indeed, in the aftermath of World War II.  For Dubois, imperialism was not racially blind.

Dubois situates the matter of race directly with modern imperialism.  He makes the point that the degrading of this or that part of humanity has been with us for thousands of years, but that it is with the rise of modern Europe that we see the rise of what he terms “the eternal world-wide mark of meanness,--color!”

Race (or racist oppression) becomes a process of dehumanizing the targets of colonial oppression, turning them into something less than men and women and thereby making it easier to overlook their suffering.  This is what was powerful in his example of Belgium.  It was not that Dubois was ignoring the suffering of the people of Belgium. Rather he was focusing on the fact that the so-called civilized world could so easily ignore the suffering and murder of so many millions of people in the Congo and elsewhere, people who happened to be black, brown, yellow and red.

There is another piece to race that Dubois suggests, i.e., that it also dehumanizes so-called whites.  Over the years this concept has gained greater scholarly attention, though for the ‘darker races’ of the world it was a piece of common sense.  We grew up with our parents suggesting “…in order to keep someone in the sewer you have to stay there with them…” and other such aphorisms.

As part of his critique of imperialism and racism, Dubois holds a mirror to the USA and says, much as Dr. M. L. King would say slightly more than forty years later:  “It is curious to see America, the United States, looking on herself, first, as a sort of natural peacemaker, then as a moral protagonist in this terrible time.  No nation is less fitted for this role.”  In reading this I found myself thinking about the role of the USA in the talks between the Israeli government and the Palestine National Authority, claiming to be the honest broker while ignoring Israel’s further aggression, most recently in the form of the expansion of the illegal settlements.  But it is more fundamental than that:  the actions of the Israelis represent a replication of those taken by US settlers as they expanded West, taking lands from the Native Americans and the Mexicans.

“The Souls of White Folk” riveted me because of its continued relevance.  At a moment, in the aftermath of the November 2010 elections and the victories (albeit complicated) by the political Right, I found myself thinking about the ‘souls’ that inhabit so many white folk in the USA, souls that have been shaped by a perception of their own alleged superiority and infallibility as white Americans in comparison to the entirety of humanity.  These souls, however, resemble ghouls rather than angels as they haunt not only the victims of centuries of white supremacist terror, but also haunt the owners themselves, disfiguring them and, as Dubois so poetically puts it, rendering them less than human. Editorial Board member, Bill Fletcher, Jr., is a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, the immediate past president ofTransAfrica Forum and co-author of, Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path toward Social Justice (University of California Press), which examines the crisis of organized labor in the USA.


Monday, November 15, 2010

‘Jobs Not War’ Is the Progressive Caucus Priority


Progressive Caucus

Co-Chair Vows Dems

Democrats Won't Roll

Over to the GOP

In an exclusive interview, Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), co-chair of the Progressive House Caucus, talks with New American Media Political Analyst and Huffington Post Contributor Earl Ofari Hutchinson about the group's strategy in the new, Republican-controlled House. The interview was conducted by New America Media.

Many are not familiar with the Progressive House Caucus. How big is it?

LW: We had 83 members before the election. It is bicameral, with House and Senate members. It's by far the largest caucus in Congress. We lost four members this election. But we also gained a couple of new members. We will not have less than 80 members in the next Congress. The Blue Dog Democrats lost almost two-thirds of their members.

What are the major issues that the Caucus will press Congress and the Obama Administration on?

LW: It is clear that we represent the heart and soul of the Democratic Party. So, the first item is jobs. We have to have a robust jobs bill. One that we should have had when President Obama first took office and his popularity was at its height. He had a big majority in the House and Senate. We would have doubled the amount of money allocated for the jobs bill that came out of the House, which the Senate cut to shreds. The other priority is combating the notion that the timetable for ending the Afghanistan War is 2014. The war is killing our budget, killing our people, and killing our relations with our allies.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Instant Runoff Shows Its Stuff: Progressive Victory in Oakland

Jean Quan Wins Oakland Mayoral Race

In major upset, winner will be Oakland's first female and first Asian-American mayor

By Zusha Elinson

Progressive America Rising via

Nov 14, 2010 - In an enormous upset, Jean Quan won the race to be Oakland’s next mayor.

The hard-working but less-than-exciting City Council member defeated former state Sen. Don Perata and his costly campaign to win over Oakland’s voters. In the final tally released Wednesday at 6 p.m., Quan captured 50.98 percent of the vote, while Perata received 49.02 percent — a difference of 2,058 votes — in the city’s first experience with ranked-choice voting.

Quan becomes the first woman and first Asian-American to serve as mayor of Oakland, succeeding Ron Dellums, who opted not to run for re-election.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Marilyn Katz: Assessing 2008-2010, Developing a Frame for 2012

What We Lost After We Won in 2008

An anti-war activist explains what the Democratic establishment fails to understand.

By Marilyn Katz   
Progressive America Rising
via In These Times, Nov 10, 2010

On a sleepy Sunday in September 2002, I was awakened by a call from Bettylu Saltzman, a longtime progressive activist and fundraiser in Chicago, who, disturbed by a dinner conversation the night before, asked, "What are we going to do about this war that Bush is going to lead us into in Iraq?" Awakened also from nearly a decade-long slumber in which there were no mass demonstrations, we realized that if we didn't do something, it was more than likely that no one would. Gleaning names from our phone books, we called together a small meeting of about 15 people from various former alliances--Business and Professional People for the Public Interest (BPI), Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the Harold Washington coalition.

It was only a year after the terrorist attacks on Washington and New York, and the repression in the country was palpable. John Poindexter, director of the Pentagon's Total Information Awareness project, was rumored to be compiling a list of subversives. It was a scary time--and even among these long-tested activists, there was apprehension: What would be the repercussions of our acts? One year after 9/11, would people really speak out? What if no one came?

Drawing on lessons from my activist past, I argued that we had to take a public stand. The first demonstrations during the '60s drew only 50 people before there were 1 million; and the one thing I knew for sure was that if we did not claim the public space for dissent now, there would no longer be any space for dissent later. Even if we had to stand alone, we had to stand.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Setting Aside Despair: Time for the Left to Get Serious About Itself

Van Jones: We Must Prepare for Battle

By Adele M. Stan
Progressive America Rising via AlterNet, Nov. 9, 2010

In a darkened space bedecked with impressionistic portraits of the progressive movement's great heroes, Van Jones -- community organizer, environmental activist and erstwhile presidential adviser -- steps onto a tiny stage that has just been warmed up by two local teenage poets and graced by Amy Goodman, the voice of Pacifica Radio's "Democracy Now!" The audience is filled with Washington activists, including the comedian and civil rights leader Dick Gregory, CodePink founder Medea Benjamin and Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr., president of the Hip-Hop Caucus.

The room is packed, and a line snakes along the sidewalk outside Busboys and Poets, a restaurant designed as a gathering place for progressives, even as the event begins.

In a passionate speech focused mainly on the costs and horrors of America's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Goodman sets the stage for Jones' talk by imploring activists to organize. While a portrait of Rosa Parks by Anna Rose Soevik glimmers behind her, Goodman debunks the mythology surrounding the woman whose refusal to give up her seat on a bus sparked the civil rights movement. "Yes, she was a tired seamstress," Goodman says, "but Rosa Parks was an organizer."

It's the evening after the big Rally to Restore Sanity hosted by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, and an odd mixture of exhilaration and anxiety fills the room -- the thrill of having been part of a gathering of like-minded people who flooded the National Mall in a repudiation of the harsh rhetoric of the Tea Party and cable news media, and anxiety about the Republican tide about to come crashing into the nation's capital in the midterm elections.

Jones has taken the temperature; he knows the score. But he's not about to let anybody off the hook.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Youth Vote: Now to Turn More of Them Out


Youth Vote Against GOP

Tsunami by 19 Points

By Billy Wimsatt

Progressive America Rising

via Huffington Post

Nov. 3, 2010 - National exit polls of more than 17,000 voters show a remarkable trend: Adults age 18-29 voted against the Republican Tsunami by 16 points (56-40). Younger adults age 18-24 were even more progressive, voting against Republicans by 19 points (58-39). The exit polls, conducted by Edison Research in association with AP and CNN found that:

    * 18-29-year-olds voted for Democrats over Republicans by 16 points (56-40) with 4% responding: "Other/No answer"
    * 18-24-year-olds voted for Democrats over Republicans by 19 points (58-39) with 3% responding: "Other/No answer"

These are remarkable numbers for a couple of reasons. First, the sample size of the poll was 17,506 respondents, chosen based on scientifically-randomized methodology, so the numbers are likely to be fairly robust.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tea Party Organizing Tactics, But from the Left

Learning from the Tea Party

By Ted Glick

Ted Glick's ZSpace Page

Nov. 1, 2010

“Ultimately, many of the sentiments expressed by the tea-baggers are deeply dishonest, deeply un-American. We need to keep them in their rightful place as a distinct, if sometimes loud, sometimes dangerous, political minority. We will do that to the extent that we out-organize them at the grassroots, engage in creative and significant mass action, and pressure the federal government to pass genuinely progressive legislation. That’s the way we’ll keep down the supporters of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.”

This is how I concluded a Future Hope column on September 12th of last year reporting on the first major demonstration of what has become the Tea Party. I spent several hours at this 2009 demonstration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., listening to the speakers, checking out the signs and feeling the crowd vibes. My overall assessment was that although the politics were very different, their action had a lot of similarities to the massive peace and justice demonstrations our side organized during the early years of the George W. Bush administration. These demonstrations, many of them much bigger than the one organized by the Tea Party, took place from 2002-2006, when the rightist-led Republicans controlled the White House and both houses of Congress. Being out of power, we back then and the tea baggers in 2009 both felt the need to demonstrate in the streets.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Election 2010: Use It To Engage Our Own Weaknesses

Enthusiasm & Voting:

The Far Right, and the

Immediate Challenge

By Bill Fletcher
Progressive America Rising
Oct 27, 2010 - There has been a lot of discussion about the apparent enthusiasm gap between Democratic voters and Republican voters.  While it is beyond question that the Obama administration has accomplished significant reforms in its first two years, the manner in which these have been accomplished, combined with the fact that they were generally not deep enough, has led many liberal and progressive voters to despair.

So, what should we think as we quickly approach November 2nd? First, there were too many magical expectations of both the Obama administration and most Democrats in Congress.  Many of us forgot that while they represented a break with the corrupt Bush era, they were not coming into D.C. with a red flag, a pink flag or a purple flag. They came to stabilize the system in a period of crisis.  President Obama chose to surround himself with advisers who either did not want to appear to believe or in fact did not believe that dramatic structural reforms were necessary in order to address the depth of the economic and environmental crises we face.  They also believed, for reasons that mystify me, that they could work out a compromise with so-called moderate Republicans.  

The deeper problem, and one pointed out by many people, is that the Obama administration did not encourage the continued mobilization of its base to blunt the predictable assaults from the political right.  As a result, many people sat home waiting to be called upon to mobilize. Instead, we received emails or phone calls asking us to make financial contributions, or perhaps to send a note regarding an issue, but we were not called upon to hit the streets.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Tea Party and 'The Point of No Return'

Fascist America in Our Time:

Is This Election The Next Turn?

By Sara Robinson

Oct. 22, 2010 - In August 2009, I wrote a piece titled Fascist America: Are We There Yet? that sparked much discussion on both the left and right ends of the blogosphere. In it, I argued that -- according to the best scholarship on how fascist regimes emerge -- America was on a path that was running much too close to the fail-safe point beyond which no previous democracy has ever been able to turn back from a full-on fascist state.

I also noted that the then-emerging Tea Party had a lot of proto-fascist hallmarks, and that it had the potential to become a clear and present danger to the future of our democracy if it ever got enough traction to start winning elections in a big way.

On the first anniversary of that article, Jonah Goldberg -- the right's revisionist-in-chief on the subject of fascism -- actually used an entire National Review column to taunt me about what he characterized as a failure of prediction. Where's that fascist state you promised? he hooted.

It's funny he should ask. Because this coming election may, in fact, be a critical turning point on that road.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

A French Lesson: Stop Attacks on Social Security!

Another Outrage:

Neoliberals Pushing Back

Social Security Benefits

By Rick Wolff


In France, millions march against the Sarkozy plan to push the age of eligibility for full retirement benefits from 65 to 67.  "We can no longer afford" to pay for workers' retirements at age 65, Sarkozy says.  Similarly, rumors swirl in Washington and beyond that Obama's special Deficit Reduction Commission is tilting toward similar changes for Social Security here.

What a dishonorable way to "reduce government deficits."  It amounts to reneging on commitments made to working people.  For many decades they contributed to Social Security, and made decisions about their savings, expecting and counting on the Social Security retirement age promised to them for all those years.

Sarkozy and Obama don't consider reducing government budget deficits by taxing business or the rich.  That would be "inappropriate in a time of economic crisis," they say, as if they ever did or ever would support it in any other time.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

'Right to Work for Less' - The Low Road to Nowhere

No Rights and No Works


By Nancy J Guyott, Indiana

In response to E. Roy Budd's opinion printed Oct. 7, I would caution you to beware false prophets and false prophecies. The low road "right-to-work-for- less" agenda Mr. Budd trumpets is the same old anti-family agenda that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. described as providing "no rights and no works" four decades ago.

Mr. Budd claims that right-to-work-for-less states are growing manufacturing jobs. In reality, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, manufacturing employment declined in 48 of the 50 states between 2000 and 2010. Of those two states, one grew at a rate 48 times greater than the other. Guess which one? The state that avoided the low- road right to work for less strategy grew more rapidly than the other.

Indeed, according to the Council of State Governments, the worst state in the nation in terms of the percent of private establishments gaining jobs for the period 1992-2009 was Florida -- a right-to-work-for-less state throughout the entire period.

Moreover, when Louisiana surveyed senior level corporate executives about how they make business location decisions, they ranked the existence of right-to-work laws 24th out of 26 factors in terms of importance, right above arts and personal phone calls from government officials.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Bernardine Dorhn on Saying 'No!' to Grand Juries

The Curious, Mysterious, Obsolete & Dangerous Federal Grand Jury


By Bernardine Dorhn

Committee to Stop FBI Repression

Oct. 11, 2010 - I was subpoenaed to a federal grand jury in May of 1982 in New York City.  It has left me as something of a specialist in an arcane, secretive, and obsolete area of the law – one that has just reappeared with FBI raids, seizures of private papers, computers, and subpoenas to compel testimony in Chicago, Minneapolis, and other cities across the country.

At the time of my subpoena, our sons were just five, two, and one.  My five year old accompanied me to federal court the day of the subpoena date and waved goodbye when the judge rejected my arguments, declared me in civil contempt, and sent me directly to federal jail.  My sons visited weekly, brought separately by steady friends.  With the oldest, he sat on my lap while we did crossword puzzles, made calendars and read books, and then he hugged goodbye after each visit, went outside and stood on the street corner downstairs signaling until I flashed the lights from my cell.  My middle child came into the visiting room, jumped up and cuddled in my arms, and directly went to sleep during his weekly visits, while I breathed in the sweetness of his breath, his hair, his skin.  I tried to send him homemade, hopeful weekly cards.  The youngest was struggling to make nonverbal sense of his losses.  I tried not to ask him for anything, but to play toddler games and to be fully present to him as much as I could in those cold circumstances.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Where's the Exit? Obama's Dangerous 'Long War' Cul-de-Sac

Another 9/11: The Danger of Obama’s Secret Policy


By Tom Hayden

Beaver County Peace Links via The Nation

OCTOBER 6, 2010  - Bob Woodward’s book Obama’s Wars should scare the hell out of you. It is essential reading—between the lines—for anyone seeking a map out of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Here is one example: If and when a terrorist attack occurs in the United States which can be traced to Pakistan, the American military response will be a “retribution plan” to bomb at least 150 targets in Pakistan. The plan is “one of the most sensitive and secret of all military contingencies,” Woodward writes. There is no discussion of The Day After in this scenario of saturation bombing. Nor did the President and his advisers have “anything on the shelf [which] specifically addressed securing Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.”

Such an attack already has been attempted this year, when Faisal Shahzad, who was funded and trained by the Pakistani Taliban, placed a car bomb in Times Square on May 1. Last year the FBI arrested an AQ operative, Najibullah Zazi, for planning to blow up New York subways with 14 backpack bombs, and also nabbed Chicago resident David Coleman Headley for planning an attack in Europe. Both individuals were trained in Pakistan.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Message to Obama on Israel: Cut Off the Money

Israel and Obama

By Bill Fletcher, Jr. Editorial Board

Sept. 23, 2010 - The so-called peace talks between Israel and the Palestine National Authority raise a number of interesting and, in some respects, provocative questions. One concerns whether the Israeli government has any interest in a just peace.  The second is whether the Netanyahu group (in power) wishes to bring down President Obama.

In terms of the first question, that is, of the Israeli government's interest in a just peace, there is, unfortunately, no evidence to believe that such an interest exists.

With regard to the question of President Obama, there is an interesting trail of events.  Since Obama's election the attitude of the Israeli political establishment towards him has been less than enthusiastic.  In fact, it has been nothing short of insulting.  The first responses to the Obama presidency were largely cautious, though in the background there was fear and anger.  Racist remarks began to emerge regarding Obama, with the Israeli right-wing transferring some of its anti-Palestinian racism and Islamophobia onto their attitude towards President Obama.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

White and Other Blindspots: Ground Zero's Bigger Picture

Your House Is On Ground Zero

(And Quite Without Permission)

September 6, 2010

By Tim Wise

Progressive America Rising via Z-Net

In all the rancor over whether or not one group of Muslims should be allowed to build a cultural center and worship space near the site of the 9/11 attacks -- which were committed by a separate and totally unrelated group of Muslims --there is one thing above all else that no one appears anxious to point out: namely, that for any white Christian to say "Ground Zero" is off limits to anyone is possibly the most deliciously and yet grotesquely ironic thing ever suggested.

After all, there is scarcely a square foot of land upon which we tread that is not, for someone, Ground Zero. I am sitting atop one now: a killing field for Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Creek; a graveyard in which are buried the bones -- and if no longer the bones, then surely the dust -- of peoples whose evisceration occurred not so long ago, and is still remembered by those who have not the luxury of forgetting.

And so the New Yorkers who believe against all evidence that their trauma is unique in the history of the world -- or even their city for that matter -- prattle on about the "defiling" of the former World Trade Center location. Meanwhile they overlook that their precious island was itself cajoled from indigenous peoples for a handful of worthless beads. And white men have been swindling those we viewed as inferior -- be they of color, or even other white men -- ever since, especially (and this is where the geographic symbolism of their protests becomes revealing) in and around Wall Street, where the actions of wealthy investors and financiers have done far more damage than Osama Bin Laden ever could. Would that we might prohibit the construction of banks anywhere in New York so as to make a point about terrorism and our unwillingness to collaborate with it.

Indeed, if those protesting the Cordoba House were the least bit interested in consistency -- as opposed to being content to wallow in a type of hypocrisy both profound and typical -- they would, to a person, vacate downtown Manhattan immediately. And this they would do out of respect for the lives destroyed by people such as they: black peoples forced to build Fort Amsterdam for the Dutch, which is where Battery Park is now, or the walls that gave the famous street its name, or the roads, or the very auction blocks upon which their compatriots would be sold, thereby allowing 40 percent of white New York households to possess other human beings as property by the mid-1700s.

And they would vacate midtown too, especially any with Irish ancestry, since it was their ancestral fathers who - and so as to show how badly they desired to become white - burned down a black orphanage on 5th Avenue between 43rd and 44th during the 1863 Draft Riots. But I'm guessing there is an Irish Pub within walking distance of the former orphanage, and yet no one seems particularly concerned about the slight.

Truth be told, that whole city is a Ground Zero, and has been for far longer than the existence of al-Qaeda, since long before those phallic monuments to architectural ingenuity and big business were constructed, and since long before there were any airplanes capable of bringing them down. It was Ground Zero for Amadou Diallo but we still allow police to operate in the vicinity of Wheeler Street in the Bronx. It was Ground Zero for Sean Bell but we haven't banned the NYPD from around the environs of the Kalua Cabaret in Queens, where they shot he and his friends 50 times in 2006. Neither have we seen too many New Yorkers losing sleep over the inherent insensitivity towards the respective Ground Zeros for Patrick Dorismond or Timothy Stansbury Jr., both of whom were felled by police bullets, and yet which spots have hardly been made off limits to law enforcement out of respect for the dead.

That many New Yorkers in 2010, and especially white ones -- since there are few residents of the South Bronx or Washington Heights who are making their way downtown for these protests -- cannot feel those other pains hardly acquits their arrogance. That they cannot see how their livelihoods, their homes, their bank accounts, and the clothes on their backs have been paid for with the blood of innocent people, is their problem. It is not the fault of those who would build Cordoba House, and in so doing disturb the hallowed ground of what has been, most recently, a Burlington Coat Factory.

Their houses, and mine, and yours, sit atop Ground Zero. And those who died to make it so gave no permission for the construction of the homes, to say nothing of the churches that for so long were instrumental in rationalizing the slaughter. There were no building permits issued by those who died here so that we could be, as we like to say, "free." But here we are nonetheless. And it takes some nerve to pretend, even as we sleep above the graves of those extirpated to make way for us, that 9/11 was the day everything changed. Or to believe that we have the right to tell anyone where they can and cannot live, pray or work. Or to suggest that we are the only ones who have ever died, or known terror, and that having done so we now have the right to draw a circle around us, a bubble of specialness, which can keep us warm and protected as though it were an amniotic sac inside of which we will forever be insulated from harm.

We wish to be free from the pain, which is understandable. But it is not acceptable that in seeking that freedom we should ignore the pain by which we have come this far already.

Tim Wise is the author of five books on race, including his latest, Colorblind: The Rise of Post-Racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equity (San Francisco: City Lights Books, 2010). He can be reached at his website, www.timwise.


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Tea Party: Pawns in the Bankster Game


[Note from Editor: With the caveat that people vote BOTH on facts and emotions, this is a fairly good analysis on the topic]

5 Ways the Tea Party Agenda

Screws Tea Party Supporters

By Adele M. Stan
AlterNet,September 4, 2010
If people could be counted on to vote in their own best interests, there would be no Tea Party movement, for if the economic agenda embraced by Tea Partiers -- a vastly pro-corporation, government-killing plan -- Tea Partiers would find themselves among the people most hurt by it.
To hear Tea Party activists tell it, they seek to save future generations from the crushing demands of big government. Yet the agenda they advocate, dictated by the big-money players behind the muscular interest groups that keep the movement growing, will likely render the Tea Partiers themselves the economically squeezed subjects of a corporate state, one in which the elderly will be left to scrounge for crumbs, small businesses will be crushed by lack of capital, and their own ground-level online organizing supplanted by the networks built by giant, corporate-funded astroturf groups.
As George Lakoff and Drew Westen remind us, people don't vote on the facts: they vote on emotion, according to Westen, and their notion of morality, according to Lakoff. The resentment of Tea Partiers toward liberals, East Coast elites, the poor and people who don't look like them has been effectively marshaled in service of a "free market" ideology cleverly packaged as "freedom." Never mind that free markets are anything but free for ordinary people. The packaging strikes the necessary emotional and moral chords: Free markets = freedom = liberty = endowed by the Creator, as written in the Declaration of Independence by the founders. It's the perfect exploitation of the worldview of conservative middle-class white people -- all in the service of enriching the super-rich at the expense of their unwitting, patriotic ground troops.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Wrong Turn: Obama's Diplomacy With Guns and Boots on the Ground

Let's Fact Check the AP's

Fact Checking on Obama's Speech

By David Swanson

Beaver County Peace Links via

FACT CHECK: Is Iraq combat really over for US?


WASHINGTON — Despite President Barack Obama's declaration Tuesday of an end to the combat mission in Iraq, combat almost certainly lies ahead. And in asserting the U.S. has met its responsibilities in Iraq, the president opened the door wide to a debate about the meaning of success in the muddle that most — but not all — American troops are leaving behind. A look at some of the statements Obama made in his Oval Office speech and how they compare with the facts:


OBAMA: "Tonight, I am announcing that the American combat mission in Iraq has ended."

THE FACTS: Peril remains for the tens of thousands of U.S. troops still in Iraq, who are likely if not certain to engage violent foes. Counterterrorism is chief among their continuing missions, pitting them against a lethal enemy. Several thousand special operations forces, including Army Green Berets and Navy SEALs, will continue to hunt and attempt to kill al-Qaida and other terrorist fighters — working closely with Iraqi forces. Obama said, "Of course, violence will not end with our combat mission," while stopping short of a full accounting of the hazards ahead for U.S. troops.

Excellent point, but let's not leave out the thousands of mercenaries and tens of thousands of contractors.


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Drug Wars: Stop the Bloody 'Reefer Madness'

Marijuana Initiative Challenges

Costly, Bloody Drug War

In support of California's initiative to legalize marijuana

By Tom Hayden

Progressive America Rising via Huffington Post

I support the November ballot initiative because our country's long drug war is a disaster and there is an alternative that is better for our health, safety and democratic process.

People are dying.

Nearly 30,000 people have been killed around our southern border since the Mexican government, with massive American support, escalated its wars against the cartels in 2006.
There were over 112,000 drug overdose deaths in the US between 1999 and 2005 alone.

And the drug consumption continues. It's an unwinnable war.

California leads America and America leads the world in mass incarceration. Nearly 25 percent of the world's inmates are locked up in American institutions, the largest percentage of them on drug-related offenses. In 1980, there were some 40,000 Americans in prison on drug charges, today there are an estimated 500,000 at any given time.
It's an unaffordable war as well.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Glenn Beck Magic Trick: Anti-Racism is Racism


Glenn Beck
Wrong on Darwin:

How Evolution Affirms
the Oneness of Humankind

By Michael Zimmerman
Progressive American Rising via Huffington Post

The fact that Glenn Beck often doesn't know what he's talking about is certainly not news. But the fact that he has a large audience who believes much of the garbage he spews means that the first point can't simply be ignored.

Beck just accused Charles Darwin of being "the father of modern-day racism." And, in so doing, he mangled every fact imaginable. Not to worry, though; since the facts don't matter to Beck, he was able to support his ongoing dislike of Darwin, a dislike well evidenced by his 2007 statement that "Darwin is the uber-liberals' god. Darwin, I believe actually, to the uber-liberal, is just the way -- he's just the device to erase God."
To many of the rest of us, however, the facts do matter -- and they tell a very different story from what Beck wants us to believe.

Let's look at what Darwin himself had to say. In 1871 in The Descent of Man, Darwin wrote the following, hardly the words of a racist:


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Rightwing Media's Unrelenting Racism

Why Doesn't the Media Have the Guts to

Attack Fox News' Hate-Filled Witch Hunts?

By Eric Boehlert
Progressive America Rising via Media Matters for America

One month after launching a jaw-dropping campaign of racial discord and warning of a looming, Obama-led "race war," Fox News and the far-right media have turned the page of the hate hymnal and embraced a new enemy: Muslims.

Yes, the bigotry is off the charts. Yes, the purposeful misinformation is almost too plentiful to catalog. And yes, once the again the mainstream press remains mostly mum about the upsetting spectacle being played out for all to see.

The so-called "debate" in the press about the proposed Islamic center for downtown Manhattan is not a serious one. Just like the 'debate' in the press about racism and Shirley Sherrod was not serious. And just like the 'debate' in the press about Michelle Obama's vacation was not serious.  They're not debates. They're hate-based witch hunts sponsored by the right wing, and reporters and pundits ought to have the guts to point that fact out.

When is the press going to acknowledge that the rules have changed, and these naked smear campaigns being launched by Fox News and the far-right press have no precedent in our politics and, more importantly, they're changing the way our news agenda is being set?


Friday, August 20, 2010

Iraq War Ending? The Real Story Is Being Hidden

US Combat Ends in Iraq,

But Will Iraq 'Invite' US to Stay?


By Tom Hayden

Progressive America Rising

While the Obama administration struggles to keep its pledge to end the Iraq war, a behind-the-scenes plan is developing in which the Baghdad regime “invites” the American military to stay.

Managing the withdrawal of combat troops was a significant achievement for Obama. But while media attention focused this week on the last American combat brigade rolling out of Iraq, US diplomat Ryan Crocker was predicting that if the Iraqis “come to us later on this year requesting that we jointly relook at the post-2011 period, it is going to be in our strategic interest to be responsive.” [NYT, Aug. 19]

That means troops and bases, keeping a US strategic outpost in the Middle East. Otherwise, according to some Pentagon sources, the Iraq war will have been in vain.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Afghanistan: The Main Battle Now Is To Control Minds at Home

Why WikiLeaks Won’t Stop the War

By Noam Chomsky
Noam Chomsky's ZSpace Page / ZSpace
Aug 12, 2010 - The War Logs—a six-year archive of classified military documents about the war in Afghanistan, released on the Internet by the organization WikiLeaks—documents a grim struggle becoming grimmer, from the U.S. perspective. And for the Afghans, a mounting horror.
The War Logs, however valuable, may contribute to the unfortunate and prevailing doctrine that wars are wrong only if they aren’t successful—rather like the Nazis felt after Stalingrad.
Last month came the fiasco of Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, forced to retire as commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and replaced by his superior, Gen. David H. Petraeus.
A plausible consequence is a relaxation of the rules of engagement so that it becomes easier to kill civilians, and an extension of the war well into the future as Petraeus uses his clout in Congress to achieve this result.


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Albany Conference Outcome: New Peace Agenda for Upcoming Months

Peace Movement Adopts

New Comprehensive Strategy

By David Swanson


Last month 700 leading peace activists from around the United States met and strategized in Albany, N.Y. ( ). They discussed, debated, and voted for a comprehensive new plan for the coming months. The plan includes a new focus and some promising proposals for building a coalition that includes the labor movement, civil rights groups, students, and other sectors of the activist world that have an interest in ending wars and/or shifting our financial resources from wars to where they're actually needed. The full plan, including a preface, is available online.

The plan includes endorsements and commitments to participate in events planned for Detroit on August 28th, and Washington, D.C., on August 28th and October 2nd, as well as a national day of actions led by students on October 7th, and a week of anti-war actions around the country marking the start of Year 10 in Afghanistan on October 7-16. Dates to put on your calendar now for 2011 include mid-March nationally coordinated teach-ins to mark the eighth year of the Iraq War and to prepare for bi-coastal spring demonstrations the following month, New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles mobilizations on April 9, 2011, and blocking of ports on May Day.

Here is the full list of actions agreed upon:

1.The Rainbow PUSH Coalition and the United Auto Workers (UAW) have invited peace organizations to endorse and participate in a campaign for Jobs, Justice, and Peace. We endorse this campaign and plan to be a part of it. On August 28, 2010, in Detroit, we will march on the anniversary of that day in 1963 when Walter Reuther, president of UAW, Martin Luther King, Jr., and other civil rights leaders joined with hundreds of thousands of Americans for the March on Washington. In Detroit, prior to the March on Washington, 125,000 marchers participated in the Freedom Walk led by Dr. King. At the march, King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech for the first time before sharing it with the world in Washington. This year, a massive march has been called for October 2 in Washington. We will begin to build momentum again in Detroit on August 28th. We also endorse the August 28, 2010 Reclaim the Dream Rally and March called by Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network to begin at 11 a.m.. at Dunbar High School, 1301 New Jersey Avenue Northwest.


Friday, July 30, 2010

Obama Doubling Down on War, with Not Enough Votes to Stop Him Yet

Despite WikiLeaks Revelations,

Congress Votes for War Funding

By Tom Hayden

July 29, 2010 - Never was the case so weak for throwing another $33 billion into the Afghanistan sinkhole, but that's what a defensive US Congress did anyway on Tuesday evening, July 27. The vote was 308-114, with Republicans supplying most of the prowar votes.

Washington-based peace groups, after weeks of e-mailing messages to Congress, put the best face possible on the vote, claiming a "significant" gain of fourteen additional antiwar votes over the 100 cast for a similar amendment by Representative Barbara Lee two weeks ago. (The new Democratic votes were cast by Corrine Brown, Kathy Castor, John Conyers, Rosa Delauro, Lloyd Doggett, Anna Eshoo, Chaka Fattah, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Hank Johnson, Marcy Kaptur, Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, Gregory Meeks, James Moran, Christopher Murphy, Carol Shea-Porter, Mike Thompson, Lynn Woolsey and David Wu; while five Republicans joined the opposition: Paul Broun, Vernon Ehlers, Jeff Flake, Phil Gingrey and John Linder.)

Those casting prowar votes from safe liberal districts included Lois Capps, James Clyburn, Susan Davis, John Hall, Patrick Kennedy, Nita Lowey, Lucille Roybal-Allard, John Sarbanes and Joe Sestak. Significantly, Speaker Nancy Pelosi abstained from voting, which meant retreating from the chance to draw an antiwar line more firmly.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Note to Liberals at the Top: No More Shilly-Shallying on the Racist Right

Enough right-wing propaganda

By E.J. Dionne Jr.

Washington Post
Monday, July 26, 2010; A13

The smearing of Shirley Sherrod ought to be a turning point in American politics. This is not, as the now-trivialized phrase has it, a "teachable moment." It is a time for action.

The mainstream media and the Obama administration must stop cowering before a right wing that has persistently forced its propaganda to be accepted as news by convincing traditional journalists that "fairness" requires treating extremist rants as "one side of the story." And there can be no more shilly-shallying about the fact that racial backlash politics is becoming an important component of the campaign against President Obama and against progressives in this year's election.

The administration's response to the doctored video pushed by right-wing hit man Andrew Breitbart was shameful. The obsession with "protecting" the president turned out to be the least protective approach of all.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tom Hayden on Sherrod's Heroic Roots -- and Cowardice in the Face of Today's Racist Right

Shirley Sherrod, center


Sherrod, Obama, and

the Strength of Roots

By Tom Hayden

How would members of the Obama administration have reacted to racist pressure from the Deep South in the early 60s? Would they have fired Justice Department civil rights monitors who antagonized hard-line segregationists?

For those of us with long memories, this is one of the key questions posed by the firing of Shirley Sherrod in a fit of official over-reaction to the shameful right-wing blogger Andrew Breitbart. It is true that the administration reversed course quickly after the true story was revealed, but that the Obama administration can be spooked so easily by Glen Beck and FOX News raises a serious question: if they are so tough on national defense, drugs and crime, where is their resolve against the deceitful attack dogs of the right?

My introduction to virulent southern racism came in 1961 when I ventured to Albany, Georgia, first to write an article about the Deep South organizing done by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee [SNCC] and, second, to become a freedom rider on a train to Albany that December.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Conservatism's Gulf Blindspot: When Markets Fail, Blame Obama

Conservatism's Death Gusher

By George Lakoff

Huffington Post, July 16 2010

The issue is death -- death gushing at ten thousand pounds per square inch from a mile below the sea, tens of thousands of barrels of death a day. Not just death to eleven human beings. Death to sea birds, sea turtles, dolphins, fish, oyster beds, shrimp, beaches; death to the fishing industry, tourism, jobs; and death to a way of life based on the beauty and bounty of the Gulf.

Many, perhaps a majority, of the Gulf residents affected are conservatives, strong right-wing Republicans, following extremist Governors Bobby Jindal and Haley Barbour. What those conservatives are not saying, and may be incapable of seeing, is that conservatism itself is largely responsible for what happened, and that conservatism is a continuing disaster for conservatives who live along the Gulf. Conservatism is an ideology of death.


Monday, July 19, 2010

Leo Gerard on The GOP 'No!' Party: Kissing the Rich, Dissing the Jobless

Republicans Kiss the Rich; Diss the Jobless

Leo W. Gerard

Leo W. Gerard

International President, United Steelworkers

Posted: July 19, 2010 11:09 AM

A brutal competition pits worker against worker continually now in this country. Five unemployed people vie with each other for each available job. It's like a cruel game of musical chairs, with five desperate competitors for one seat.

Workers who've lost cars to repossession and homes to foreclosure run around frantically trying to get that one job. When the music stops, four disheartened, still-unemployed people move to other viscous cycles of five struggling to win one available job.

Republicans watching this blame the 14.6 million unemployed Americans for the inadequate number of chairs. They've called the unemployed lazy and refused to extend unemployment compensation. Meanwhile, the GOP is demanding an extension of Bush's tax cuts for the rich.

To the GOP, the rich are deserving. Republicans see the unemployed as leeches -- not as victims of filthy-rich, banksters who destroyed the economy, not as the stalwart citizens whose tax money Bush used to bail out Wall Street. To Republicans, the unemployed - along with the un-rich - deserve only disrespect.


Friday, July 16, 2010

Note to Obama: Digging Deeper is Not the Way Out

America: Hooked on War

and Getting Poorer

By Clancy Sigal
The Guardian, July 15, 2010
There's plenty of good money to be made /
Supplyin' the army with tools of the trade …
– Country Joe and the Fish

I hallucinate easily, a hangover from time spent in an acid-rock commune in London in the fevered 60s. Most evenings when I switch on the television 6.30 news with its now cliched pictures of deep sea oil spurting from BP's pipe rupture, I see not bleeding sludge but human blood surging up into the Gulf of Mexico.

I've learned to trust my visions as metaphors for reality. The same news programmes, often as a dutiful throwaway item, will show a jerky fragment of Afghan combat accompanied by the usual pulse-pounding handheld shots of snipers amid roadside bomb explosions, preferably in fiery balls. My delusional mind converts this footage into a phantasmagoria where our M60 machine guns are shooting ammunition belts full of $1,000 bills.


Monday, July 12, 2010

Using Race for a 2010 Center-Right Majority

Black Power's Gonna Get You Sucka:

Right-Wing Paranoia and the

Rhetoric of Modern Racism

By Tim Wise
Daily KOS, July 12, 2010
Prominent white conservatives are angry about racism.
Forget all that talk about a post-racial society. They know better than to believe in such a thing, and they’re hopping mad.
What is it that woke them up finally, after all these years of denial, during which they insisted that racism was a thing of the past?
Was it the research indicating that job applicants with white sounding names have a 50 percent better chance of being called back for an interview than their counterparts with black-sounding names, even when all qualifications are the same?
Was it the study that found white job applicants with criminal records have a better chance of being called back for an interview than black applicants without one, even when all the qualifications are the same?


How About A Bail-Out for Young People?


Students in Dire Need of Debt Relief:

Government Vastly Undercounts Defaults

Many More Students Are Defaulting Than Official Tallies Show 1

Photo illustration by Ron Coddington


By Kelly Field

Chronicle of Higher Education

July 11, 2010 - The share of borrowers who default on their student loans is bigger than the federal government's short-term data suggest, with thousands more facing damaged credit histories and millions more tax dollars being lost in the long run.

According to unpublished data obtained by The Chronicle, one in every five government loans that entered repayment in 1995 has gone into default. The default rate is higher for loans made to students from two-year colleges, and higher still, reaching 40 percent, for those who attended for-profit institutions.

The numbers represent thousands of students like Lourdes Samedy, of Boston, who ended up defaulting on about $7,000 in student loans after completing a nine-month-long medical-assistant program at Corinthian Colleges Inc. Everest College, and now cannot get a job.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Message to Congress: Vote 'No' on War Funds!

A Defining Vote on Afghanistan

By Katrina vanden Heuvel
The Nation, July 1, 2010

More than six months after the implementation of the Obama/McChrystal strategy, and with one year to go before the beginning withdrawal of US forces, it's clear that the strategy in Afghanistan is failing on nearly all fronts. [1]

It’s critical that we now turn to a more fundamental exit debate: How do we change course and craft a responsible strategy to end the war?

Tonight the House will have an opportunity to do just that with two votes--on the $33 billion Afghanistan war supplemental and an amendment introduced by Congressman Jim McGovern that would require, at long last, an exit strategy including a timetable for the completion of the redeployment of US troops.

Although Obama has said he will begin to drawdown troops in July 2011, McGovern observed earlier this year [2], “It’s not only important to know when the first soldier is to be redeployed or brought home, it’s important to know when the last soldier is as well.”

On a conference call with reporters yesterday--organized by Tom Andrews of Win Without War--McGovern and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree outlined the case for an exit strategy and a vote against the supplemental as well as the political significance of this moment.

Last year, McGovern’s exit strategy amendment garnered 138 votes, including 131 Democrats--the majority of the Democratic Caucus.

“My hope is that we’ll get a good vote on the vote to strike the military aid,” said McGovern. “And we are hoping to get a good vote on the exit strategy and that will be a signal to the White House to rethink it’s policy.”

Pingree said she hoped for a “lively debate” and said that the war is “increasingly unpopular.” She cited the death toll of US troops climbing over 1000.

“Every time we get a call as I did this week about another soldier lost in Afghanistan,” said Pingree, “just the very thought of making the call to that family is really unthinkable when it seems like we don’t have a winning strategy and we’re asking our young people to do something--some of them redeployed over and over again--for a failed strategy.”

She also spoke to the war’s cost--$7 billion per month.

“There is no question in this economy we can’t afford it,” she said. “We spend a lot of our time today arguing about whether or not we can pass aid to the states, or unemployment insurance. It’s just unthinkable to me that when we spend money on this war, we don’t require ourselves to pay for it, and every other thing that comes through hear we have these big arguments about whether it’s paid for. So, I think the politics is there, the American people are really done [3] with us doing this. It’s our job as Members of Congress to increase the debate and let the White House know this isn’t the thing that we should be doing.”

Other progressive legislators are also urging conservatives to vote against the continued funding of the war based on its cost. In a statement circulated by Representatives John Conyers, Raúl Grijalva, Michael Honda, and Alan Grayson, the legislators call Obama on his broken promise to “stop funding the wars with emergency supplemental appropriation bills that avoid budgetary restriction. They describe the supplementals as “gimmicks to hide the cost of war.”

The statement continues, “Our challenge: if you oppose deficit spending, debt dependency on China, cuts to Social Security, and are concerned about a debt-threat to our national security, then oppose this supplemental war funding request.”

The four Congressmen will be joined by House Committee on Veterans Affairs Chairman Bob Filner and bipartisan members of the Out of Afghanistan Caucus at a press conference [4] this morning to urge a vote against the supplemental and call for an exit strategy.

In his post [5] yesterday, Nation editorial board member Tom Hayden notes that--depending on this vote--the Obama Administration faces the grim prospect of the Afghanistan war being “supported primarily by Republicans and opposed by Democrats in Congress as well as Democrats and independents” in the opinion polls.

That’s a message that needs to be made loud and clear. Now is the time to burn the phone lines with calls to your representatives [6]. Tell them to vote for the McGovern exit strategy amendment and oppose the $33 billion “emergency” war supplemental--it does nothing but dig us deeper into a failed strategy and makes our own national emergency worse.

Source URL:



Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Progressive Answer to 'Deficit Hawks'


Tax the Wall Street Casino

by Chuck Collins

Common Dreams, 6/17/10

Angry about the greedy financial speculation that wrecked the economy? Got a deficit headache? Anxious about where the money will come from for long overdue investments in energy independence that will create good jobs in the new economy?   [1]

How do we spell relief? Try F.S.T., which stands for Financial Speculation Tax. 

A financial speculation tax is a modest levy on financial transactions such as the purchase and sale of stocks, bonds, derivatives, and swaps. England and Taiwan have such taxes on securities that encourage productive investment and discourage reckless trading behavior. 

Leaders in the U.S. Congress have introduced a proposal to collect a penny on every four dollars of financial transactions, a fraction of what people pay in broker fees. This FST would exempt retirement funds and the first $100,000 of individual investment transactions. So it would target the fast-buck flippers, the same financial gamblers who crashed the economy through reckless speculation.  

The financial speculation tax would raise an estimated $177 billion a year, which makes it the potentially biggest revenue raiser on the table right now. 

The deficit hawks should be thrilled about a financial speculation tax. Last week, President Obama issued a directive to federal agencies to propose ways to cut their budgets by 5 percent [2]. The Sustainable Defense Task Force identified $960 billion over ten years in wasteful military [3] spending that could be eliminated without compromising national security. Combine that military savings with a financial speculation tax and we have key components to a new budget and spending plan. 

As President Obama heads to Toronto on June 26th for the Summit of the G-20 leaders, he's going to find lots of other presidents asking about the F.S.T. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have renewed calls for a financial speculation tax. [4]

President Obama will argue in support of his bank tax proposal, which will raise an estimated $9 billion a year. The G-20 leaders may also debate a proposal from the International Monetary Fund to institute a "financial activities tax" on profits and employee compensation of all financial institutions. We estimate such a tax would raise $28 billion a year in the U.S. 

Yet given our national revenue challenges, why wouldn't we consider the biggest potential revenue raiser, a financial speculation tax? According to a new report that I co-authored, Taxing the Wall Street Casino [1] a financial speculation tax will raise 20 times as much as President Obama's proposed bank levy and six times as much as the IMF's proposed Financial Activities Tax. 

A financial speculation tax would have tremendous benefits. It would discourage the short-term investment outlook that lay at the heart of the financial crisis. And it would encourage a healthier marketplace in real goods and services. "We have lost the distinction between real investment in the real economy and short-term speculation," said [5] John Fullerton, a former JP Morgan Managing Director. "A financial transactions tax should, at the margin, shift investment horizons out to longer holding periods by making high turnover trading strategies marginally less profitable."   

Other leaders from business and finance have stepped up to talk about the value of a financial speculation tax. Wealth for the Common Good has initiated a campaign of business leaders and investors [6] who support the tax. John Bogle, the founder of Vanguard Mutual Fund, supports the tax as "a way to slow the rampant speculation that has created such havoc in our financial markets, but also for its revenue-raising potential in this time of staggering government deficits." 

Obviously what stands in the way of implementing such a common sense proposal is the powerful banking and finance lobby, the same interest group that tried to block and is now trying to water down financial reform. But while Wall Street lobby groups have formidable political and economic clout, a growing global "people power" campaign behind financial speculation taxes has a good chance of winning. 

Article printed from

URL to article:


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

No End in Sight for Rising Battlefield Deaths

Afghan War: Shocking Rise in US

Casualties, Lack of Reporting


By Tom Hayden

Huffington Post

Despite rhetoric about military patriots and wounded warriors, the White House, Pentagon and mainstream media have minimized attention to startling increases in Afghanistan deaths and casualties suffered by American troops since 2008.

US death tolls in Afghanistan have risen by 273 percent this spring in comparison to the same period in 2008.

There has been a 430 percent increase in Americans wounded in Afghanistan so far this year compared to the same period in 2009.

The facts are these, based on Department of Defense data:

As of today, June 8, the six-month US military death toll in Afghanistan has risen to 156, surpassing the 155 total for all of 2008.

These numbers more than doubled in the January-May period between 2009 and 2010: 61 dead in January-May 2009, 142 through May of this year.


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Green Energy-Manufacturing Policy Dept: 10 Things to Know about BP Spill

10 Things You Need

(But Don't Want) To Know

About the BP Oil Spill

By Daniela Perdomo
AlterNet, May 30, 2010

It's been 37 days since BP's offshore oil rig, Deepwater Horizon, exploded in the Gulf of Mexico. Since then, crude oil has been hemorrhaging into ocean waters and wreaking unknown havoc on our ecosystem -- unknown because there is no accurate estimate of how many barrels of oil are contaminating the Gulf.

Though BP officially admits to only a few thousand barrels spilled each day, expert estimates peg the damage at 60,000 barrels or over 2.5 million gallons daily. (Perhaps we'd know more if BP hadn't barred independent engineers from inspecting the breach.) Measures to quell the gusher have proved lackluster at best, and unlike the country's last big oil spill -- Exxon-Valdez in 1989 -- the oil is coming from the ground, not a tanker, so we have no idea how much more oil could continue to pollute the Gulf's waters.

The Deepwater Horizon disaster reminds us what can happen -- and will continue to happen -- when corporate malfeasance and neglect meet governmental regulatory failure.

The corporate media is tracking the disaster with front-page articles and nightly news headlines every day (if it bleeds, or spills, it leads!), but the under-reported aspects to this nightmarish tale paint the most chilling picture of the actors and actions behind the catastrophe. In no particular order, here are 10 things about the BP spill you may not know and may not want to know -- but you should.

1. Oil rig owner has made $270 million off the oil leak
Transocean Ltd., the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig leased by BP, has been flying under the radar in the mainstream blame game. The world's largest offshore drilling contractor, the company is conveniently headquartered in corporate-friendly Switzerland, and it's no stranger to oil disasters. In 1979, an oil well it was drilling in the very same Gulf of Mexico ignited, sending the drill platform into the sea and causing one of the largest oil spills by the time it was capped... nine months later.
This experience undoubtedly influenced Transocean's decision to insure the Deepwater Horizon rig for about twice what it was worth. In a conference call to analysts earlier this month, Transocean reported making a $270 million profit from insurance payouts after the disaster. It's not hard to bet on failure when you know it's somewhat assured.

2. BP has a terrible safety record
BP has a long record of oil-related disasters in the United States. In 2005, BP's Texas City refinery exploded, killing 15 workers and injuring another 170. The next year, one of its Alaska pipelines leaked 200,000 gallons of crude oil. According to Public Citizen, BP has paid $550 million in fines. BP seems to particularly enjoy violating the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, and has paid the two largest fines in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's history. (Is it any surprise that BP played a central, though greatly under-reported, role in the failure to contain the Exxon-Valdez spill years earlier?)

With Deepwater Horizon, BP didn't break its dismal trend. In addition to choosing a cheaper -- and less safe -- casing to outfit the well that eventually burst, the company chose not to equip Deepwater Horizon with an acoustic trigger, a last-resort option that could have shut down the well even if it was damaged badly, and which is required in most developed countries that allow offshore drilling. In fact, BP employs these devices in its rigs located near England, but because the United States recommends rather than requires them, BP had no incentive to buy one -- even though they only cost $500,000. estimates that BP makes $500,000 in under eight minutes.

3. Oil spills are just a cost of doing business for BP
According to the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, approximately $1.6 billion in annual economic activity and services are at risk as a result of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Compare this number -- which doesn't include the immeasurable environmental damages -- to the current cap on BP's liability for economic damages like lost wages and tourist dollars, which is $75 million. And compare that further to the first-quarter profits BP posted just one week after the explosion: $6 billion.

BP's chief executive, Tony Hayward, has solemnly promised that the company will cover more than the required $75 million. On May 10, BP announced it had already spent $350 million. How fantastically generous of a company valued at $152.6 billion, and which makes $93 million each day.
The reality of the matter is that BP will not be deterred by the liability cap and pity payments doled out to a handful of victims of this disaster because they pale in comparison to its ghastly profits. Indeed, oil spills are just a cost of doing business for BP.

This is especially evident in a recent Citigroup analyst report prepared for BP investors: "Reaction to the Gulf of Mexico oil leak is a buying opportunity."

4. The Interior Department was at best, neglectful, and at worst, complicit

It's no surprise BP is always looking out for its bottom line -- but it's at least slightly more surprising that the Interior Department, the executive department charged with regulating the oil industry, has done such a shoddy job of preventing this from happening.

Ten years ago, there were already warnings that the backup systems on oil rigs that failed on Deepwater Horizon would be a problem. The Interior Department issued a "safety alert" but then left it up to oil companies to decide what kind of backup system to use. And in 2007, a government regulator from the same department downplayed the chances and impact of a spill like the one that occurred last month: "[B]lowouts are rare events and of short duration, potential impact to marine water quality are not expected to be significant."

The Interior Department's Louisiana branch may have been particularly confused because it appears it was closely fraternizing with the oil industry. The Minerals Management Service, the agency within the department that oversees offshore drilling, routinely accepted gifts from oil companies and even considered itself a part of the oil industry, rather than part of a governmental regulatory agency. Flying on oil executives' private planes was not rare for MMS inspectors in Louisiana, a federal report released Tuesday says. "Skeet-shooting contests, hunting and fishing trips, golf tournaments, crawfish boils, and Christmas parties" were also common.

Is it any wonder that Deepwater Horizon was given a regulatory exclusion by MMS?

It gets worse. Since April 20, when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, the Interior Department has approved 27 new permits for offshore drilling sites. Here's the kicker: Two of these permits are for BP.
But it gets better still: 26 of the 27 new drilling sites have been granted regulatory exemptions, including those issued to BP.

5. Clean-up prospects are dismal
The media makes a lot of noise about all the different methods BP is using to clean up the oil spill. Massive steel containment domes were popular a few weeks ago. Now everyone is touting the "top kill" method, which involves injecting heavy drilling fluids into the damaged well.
But here's the reality. Even if BP eventually finds a method that works, experts say the best cleanup scenario is to recover 20 percent of the spilled oil. And let's be realistic: only 8 percent of the crude oil deposited in the ocean and coastlines off Alaska was recovered in the Exxon-Valdez cleanup.
Millions of gallons of oil will remain in the ocean, ravaging the underwater ecosystem, and 100 miles of Louisiana coastline will never be the same.

6. BP has no real cleanup plan
Perhaps because it knows the possibility of remedying the situation is practically impossible, BP has made publicly available its laughable "Oil Spill Response Plan" which is, in fact, no plan at all.
Most emblematic of this farcical plan, BP mentions protecting Arctic wildlife like sea lions, otters and walruses (perhaps executives simply lifted the language from Exxon's plan for its oil spill off the coast of Alaska?). The plan does not include any disease-preventing measures, oceanic or meteorological data, and is comprised mostly of phone numbers and blank forms. Most importantly, it includes no directions for how to deal with a deep-water explosion such as the one that took place last month.

The whole thing totals 600 pages -- a waste of paper that only adds insult to the environmental injury BP is inflicting upon the world with Deepwater Horizon.

7. Both Transocean and BP are trying to take away survivors' right to sue
With each hour, the economic damage caused by Deepwater Horizon continues to grow. And BP knows this.
So while it outwardly is putting on a nice face, even pledging $500 million to assess the impacts of the spill, it has all the while been trying to ensure that it won't be held liable for those same impacts.
Just after the Deepwater explosion, surviving employees were held in solitary confinement, while Transocean flacks made them waive their rights to sue. BP then did the same with fishermen it contracted to help clean up the spill though the company now says that was nothing more than a legal mix-up.
If there's anything to learn from this disaster, it's that companies like BP don't make mistakes at the expense of others. They are exceedingly deliberate.

8. BP bets on risk to employees to save money -- and doesn't care if they get sick
When BP unleashed its "Beyond Petroleum" re-branding/greenwashing campaign, the snazzy ads featured smiley oil rig workers. But the truth of the matter is that BP consistently and knowingly puts its employees at risk.
An internal BP document shows that just before the prior fatal disaster -- the 2005 Texas City explosion that killed 15 workers and injured 170 -- when BP had to choose between cost-savings and greater safety, it went with its bottom line.

A BP Risk Management memo showed that although steel trailers would be safer in the case of an explosion, the company went with less expensive options that offered protection but were not "blast resistant." In the Texas City blast, all of the fatalities and most of the injuries occurred in or around these trailers.
Although BP has responded to this memo by saying the company culture has changed since Texas City, 11 people died on the Deepwater Horizon when it blew up. Perhaps a similar memo went out regarding safety and cost-cutting measures?
Reports this week stated that fishermen hired by BP for oil cleanup weren't provided protective equipment and have now fallen ill. Hopefully they didn't sign waivers.

9. Environmental damage could even include a climatological catastrophe
It's hard to know where to start discussing the environmental damage caused by Deepwater Horizon. Each day will give us a clearer picture of the short-term ecological destruction, but environmental experts believe the damage to the Gulf of Mexico will be long-term.
In the short-term, environmentalists are up in arms about the dispersants being used to clean up the oil slick in the Gulf. Apparently, the types BP is using aren't all that effective in dispersing oil, and are pretty high in toxicity to marine fauna such as fish and shrimp. The fear is that what BP may be using to clean up the mess could, in the long-term, make it worse.

On the longer-term side of things, there are signs that this largest oil drilling catastrophe could also become the worst natural gas and climate disaster. The explosion has released tremendous amounts of methane from deep in the ocean, and research shows that methane, when mixed with air, is the most powerful (read: terrible) greenhouse gas -- 26 times worse than carbon-dioxide.

Our warming planet just got a lot hotter.

10. No one knows what to do and it will happen again
The very worst part about the Deepwater Horizon calamity is that nobody knows what to do. We don't know how bad it really is because we can't measure what's going on. We don't know how to stop it -- and once we do, we won't know how to clean it up.

BP is at the helm of the recovery process, but given its corporate track record, its efforts will only go so far -- it has a board of directors and shareholders to answer to, after all. The U.S. government, the only other entity that could take over is currently content to let BP hack away at the problem. Why? Because it probably has no idea what to do either.
Here's the reality of the matter -- for as long as offshore drilling is legal, oil spills will happen. Coastlines will be decimated, oceans destroyed, economies ruined, lives lost. Oil companies have little to no incentive to prevent such disasters from happening, and they use their money to buy government regulators' integrity.

Deepwater Horizon is not an anomaly -- it's the norm.

Daniela Perdomo is a staff writer and editor at AlterNet. Follow Daniela on Twitter. Write her at danielaalternet [at] gmail [dot] com.

© 2010 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at:


My Zimbio Add to Technorati Favorites Locations of visitors to this page EatonWeb Blog Directory