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.


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