More Insight

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Friday, August 29, 2008

In Case You DNC Enough Yet





[Support the Iraq Veterans Against the War]


Selling out America







Well, [Biden's] going to be, probably, an effective attack dog against the Republicans. But what we call him is “Senator Plastic,” because he is the champion of the credit card industry. MBNA is in Delaware. It’s a huge credit card company. It’s given more than $200,000 to Joe Biden over his career. And he championed, almost shamelessly, the anti-consumer bankruptcy law that his fellow colleague, Senator Chris Dodd, who’s the chair of the Senate Banking Committee, called, quote, “the worst bill ever,” end-quote.

And what it did, unlike corporate bankruptcy, it really squeezed people who had to go into bankruptcy because of medical bills or because they lost their job, as Professor Elizabeth Warren at Harvard Law School pointed out. Those are the two main reasons for bankruptcy. It squeezed them horribly. And this paved the way for predatory lenders to shift the burden on these hapless borrowers in the subprime home mortgage crisis, as they call it. He’s got a lot to answer for. He tries to say he moderated the bill, and it couldn’t have been worse.

But he’s very corporate. He comes from Delaware, which is in—has always been in a race to the bottom to weaken corporate charter laws, which is why so many of the giant corporations are strangely chartered in Delaware over the years, like the big New York banks or General Motors. We want to use that to raise the whole issue of what Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft were proposing a hundred years ago, which is federal chartering of giant corporations. Take it away from the states like Delaware, rewrite the compact between the people and these artificial entities, and hopefully take away some of the constitutional rights to lobby and to engage in politics of these artificial entities, because they’re not human beings, they don’t vote, and they shouldn’t have these constitutional rights.

I mean, that’s the tragedy of Dennis Kucinich. Now, he’s done by February or March. The primaries are over. He will not at all support the Nader-Gonzalez campaign. I mean, he doesn’t have to endorse us. We can’t even get his mailing list. And I say, “Dennis, we’re the only people who are going to take your proposals to November.”

Imagine the Democrats—in 2004, they were prohibited from criticizing Bush at the Democratic National Convention in Boston, and now, in 2008, they don’t want to raise the issue of criminal recidivism in the White House, the most impeachable presidency and vice presidency in our history—torture, incarcerating people without charges, the criminal war of aggression in Iraq, spying on millions of Americans without judicial approval. That’s a five-year jail term. That’s a first-class felony. So the Democrats are really abandoning the rule of law, abandoning the Constitution and its impeachment provisions. And they ought to be taken into account. But, you know, Dennis got virtually—he got nothing in the platform. They won’t give him a comma in the Democratic national platform.



Kucinich addresses progressives outside the DNC about OUR Constitution - we insist that it must be reclaimed



[Sign the Petition to impeach]

3 Years Post-Katrina





Neither Barack Obama's nor John McCain's healthcare "plans" address the fundamental problem of our broken healthcare system and broken disaster response system.

Since they are so disinclined to support the necessary measures, vote for someone who will.

[Guaranteed HealthCare]

[HR 676]

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

DNC - Do Not Criticize



As the Democrats celebrated inside the Pepsi Center on opening day of the convention, outside on the streets police pepper-sprayed protesters and rounded up dozens of them in mass arrests. The incident began near the Civic Center Park around 7:00 p.m., where a few hundred protesters had gathered to march. The police arrived in full riot gear, surrounded the protesters, blocking them in before firing pepper spray into the crowd. Protesters fled across the park, where they were met by dozens of police officers who boxed them in. Many of the marchers sat down in the street. Nearly a hundred people were arrested.



The Real News Network spoke with environmental lawyer, Robert F Kennedy, Jr. at the convention.







Ralph Nader will hold a rally tonight in Denver to protest the democrat and republican parties' refusal to open up the debates to other qualified candidates, like Nader and Libertarian candidate, Bob Barr.

Now, in 2008, Nader is back, and on track to be on the ballot in 45 states -- the campaign was on only 34 in 2004 -- and the Nader/Gonzalez ticket is at 6 percent in the latest CNN poll.

These rallies will be part of a massive outpouring of protest in Denver and Minneapolis against the two corporate controlled parties and their policies of perpetual militarism and war.

Nader/Gonzalez is aiming to bust open the presidential debates.
Featured guests include Val Kilmer and Sean Penn, Cindy Sheehan, Jello Biafra ... Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine, Nellie McKay and Ike Reilly.


Watch the Rallies HERE

Naomi Klein reiterates the need to not let leaders off the hook, just because they're better than the last guy. The Hope and Change this country needs does not come down from above in the form of a handsome young presidential hopeful; it comes from the people.

Be one of them.



Somebody's gotta keep the pressure up on Obama. This isn't a fairy tale, it's democracy. It's your country - you rule it, no matter who sits in the White House. Participatory democracy doesn't end when last vote is (mis)counted; that's only the beginning.

Keep the pressure up.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

GitCO

Guantanamo comes to Denver, CO



I suppose 80% of our country qualifies for that lock-up - that's a lot of unhappy campers to round up

Somebody search these women!
Segment after segment featured Broncos cheerleaders, Hooters waitresses, with Brian Kilmeade joking about joining the security team to “pat down” the cheerleaders;

Who else will give Hooters their due?

Things are already getting hairy
Clearly, Obama's full head of hair, though closely cropped, sends off crippling messages of inexperience. With the addition of Joe Biden's foreign policy experience, comes a combover that screams years of hair-pulling experience and wisdom.

God doesn't want socialized medicine either

DNC Expectations:
Maybe you're actually in Denver attending the Democratic National Convention. Or, maybe you're just going there in your mind. However you get there, here's what you need to know to get the most out of it:

Dress Code
Appropriate attire is a must. If you're a delegate, this means a conservative suit or dress (no midriffs!), closed-toed leather shoes, and a six-foot-tall Uncle Sam hat with the name of your state on it. If you're a member of the press, this means your press pass. You can pretty much go naked, as long as you've got your press pass on.

Conduct
Conduct yourself with dignity. Disgruntled Hillary Clinton supporters may be tempted to create a ruckus during the nomination roll-call, but this is a big no-no. If you have a grievance, take it up directly with the Democratic National Committee chairman, Howard Dean. He'll be happy to drop whatever he's doing to help out. Also, don't be tempted to bring any buckets of feces into the Convention, because those are strictly off limits.

Celebrities
While you are wandering the Convention floor, you will definitely run into some political celebrities. You might see the likes of John Kerry, Al Franken, or even Emanuel Cleaver II! Don't gawk; you'll just reveal yourself as a star-struck hick. Instead, sidle up to the politician, grip him or her on the shoulder, and strike up a conversation about your favorite special interest groups. Since you are here to impress, you should name-drop people even more important than they are. (Example: “As I was saying to FDR the other day…”)

Beyond the Convention
If you get bored, you can always stroll outside the arena to gawk at the Ralph Nader protesters. You can look and point, but do not talk to them. Attention will only encourage them further.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Only Way I'd Vote for Obama

Is if he chose a genuine REPRESENTATIVE of his constituency, INDEPENDENT Senator Bernie Sanders as his VP choice this Saturday




[Which watch will YOU choose?]

Monday, August 18, 2008

McCrybaby

Another Special one from Olbermann


Take The Power Back



Yeah, the movement's in motion with mass militant poetry
Now check this out...

In the right light, study becomes insight
But the system that dissed us
Teaches us to read and right

So called facts are fraud
They want us to allege and pledge
And bow down to their God
Lost the culture, the culture lost
Spun our minds and through time
Ignorance has taken over
Yo, we gotta take the power back!
Bam! Here's the plan
Motherfuck Uncle Sam
Step back, I know who I am
Raise up your ear, I'll drop the style and clear
It's the beats and the lyrics they fear
The rage is relentless
We need a movement with a quickness
You are the witness of change
And to counteract
We gotta take the power back

Yeah, we gotta take the power back
Come on, come on!
We gotta take the power back

The present curriculum
I put my fist in 'em
Eurocentric every last one of 'em
See right through the red, white and blue disguise
With lecture I puncture the structure of lies
Installed in our minds and attempting
To hold us back
We've got to take it back
Holes in our spirit causin' tears and fears
One-sided stories for years and years and years
I'm inferior? Who's inferior?
Yeah, we need to check the interior
Of the system that cares about only one culture
And that is why
We gotta take the power back

Yeah, we gotta take the power back
Come on, come on!
We gotta take the power back

Hey yo check, we're gonna have to break it, break it,
break it down

Come on, yeah! Bring it back the other way!

The teacher stands in front of the class
But the lesson plan he can't recall
The student's eyes don't perceive the lies
Bouncing off every fucking wall
His composure is well kept
I guess he fears playing the fool
The complacent students sit and listen to some of that
Bullshit that he learned in school

Europe ain't my rope to swing on
Can't learn a thing from it
Yet we hang from it
Gotta get it, gotta get it together then
Like the motherfuckin' weathermen
To expose and close the doors on those who try
To strangle and mangle the truth
'Cause the circle of hatred continues unless we react
We gotta take the power back

Yeah, we gotta take the power back
Come on, come on!
We gotta take the power back

No more lies

Take it back

Friday, August 15, 2008

Barack HUSSEIN!



[American News Project]

A Problem Which No One Can Ignore



Two million Iraqis are living as refugees in Syria and Jordan, and the U.S. seems to be doing nothing to help the vast majority of them despite occupying their country while posing as a savior. A new film, “The Hard Way Home,” produced by the BBC to give faces to that depressing number, is available on YouTube in six parts. Here is the first.



And Pelosi still sucks



She was in Los Angeles to discuss her recently published book "Know Your Power: A Message to America's Daughters." Instead, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi got slammed by protesters screaming that she has been derelict in her duties for not authorizing impeachment hearings against George W. Bush.

The venue: more than 300 people paid $30 each Monday night at the American Jewish University (formerly known as the University of Judaism). The format: a 75-minute interview by the Rabbi Robert Wexler (not to be confused with the Palm Beach, Fla., congressman of the same name). The questions: tough but respectful. Wexler asked Pelosi about a recent Rasmussen Poll that showed a 9% approval rating for Congress.

But then, according to blogger Alan Breslauer, things turned ugly. A protester shouted that Pelosi, in not impeaching Bush for launching a war on false pretenses, had failed to live up to her constitutional duties. She shot back:

I take the oath of office to uphold the constitution of the United States and don't tell me that I don't do that. Why don't you go picket the Republicans in Congress that will not allow us to have a vote on the war? This is not very effective. Not very effective.

In the video, it's clear that most of the audience rallied to Pelosi's side, applauding her rebuttal. According to Breslauer, protesters were escorted out by the Secret Service. *(More likely they were local police or perhaps the sergeant at arms, as Igor, one of our readers, pointed out.) But it's also clear that the San Francisco Democrat, with a lifetime of public service, was upset.

As speaker of the House, the third-highest office -- first is the president, then vice president and then speaker -- I take my responsibilities deadly seriously. I try to promote bipartisanship but that's not what the other side wants.

With war protester Cindy Sheehan now on the ballot challenging Pelosi, these challenges are likely to continue. All of which prompts C2C to wonder where the line is between free speech and good manners.

Make September 10th a Day to Change the World


September 10th: The day before our world changed,
a day to change the world!

Dear Friends,

On August 1st, I delivered to Speaker Nancy Pelosi; a petition bearing the names of over 100,000 Americans that, like us, feel that the President must be held accountable for abusing executive power and disregarding his Constitutional obligations.

Your voices have been heard and your support continues to send a powerful message to lawmakers. That is why I call on you again to help us in a new effort to deliver 1 Million signatures to Speaker Pelosi on September 10, 2008.

Together we can:

  • Urge real Congressional action to hold President Bush accountable now
  • Reinstate the authority of our Constitution
  • Document crimes committed by President Bush for historical account
  • Facilitate post-Administration law enforcement and prosecution
  • Reset the standard for the incoming and future administrations
  • Demand justice for the over 3,000 who died on 9/11and whose deaths were tragically exploited to take us into an illegal war in Iraq
  • Demand justice for the estimated 30,324 U.S. military personnel who have been injured/wounded
  • Demand justice for the estimated 4,138 U.S. military personnel who have been killed or died
  • Demand justice for the 1 Million innocent Iraqis who have died*
  • Avert another illegitimate looming war – this time against Iran
We need your active participation to deliver 1 Million signatures to Congress by September 10, 2008.

Please give at least ten of your friends the opportunity to stand up for our country - the way you and I have, by inviting them to sign the impeachment petition online at www.Kucinich.us. Send your friends an email invitation to sign the petition by clicking here.

Together we can make September 10, the day before the world changed, a day we change the world!

Thank you for your active and ongoing citizenship.
Dennis Kucinich

-------------------------------------------------

Answers!

Get your questions about Impeachment answered!
Click here to find out why your involvement is essential and how we can succeed.


Justice!

After you have invited at least ten of your friends and family to sign the petition, consider sending your own member of Congress a personal letter urging him or her to support:
  • House Resolution 1258: President Bush
  • House Resolution 333: Vice-President Cheney.
Click on the link here to find a form letter and some guidelines which may help in your efforts.


Truth!

*Lancet reported 650,000 war-related Iraqi civilian deaths as of October, 2006. Nearly two years later, a reasonable projection of the conservative Lancet estimate would place war-related Iraqi civilian deaths at least 1 million.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Open Up The Debates

VoteNader.org


On Wednesday, August 27, right during the heart of the Democratic National Convention, we will be holding a Super Rally for 5,000-7,000 people at the University of Denver Magness Arena.

And we'll be hosting a second super rally in Minneapolis on September 4th at the Orchestra Hall during the week of the Republican National Convention.

Why?

To protest the corporate control over our political system and to call for opening the presidential debates.

During his 2000 campaign, Ralph Nader drew sellout crowds to super rallies in arenas from Portland's Memorial Coliseum to Madison Square Garden.

After the election, the NewsHour's Mark Shields called the Nader Super Rallies "the most exciting political development of the campaign year."

"My apology to Ralph Nader for not demanding that he be included in the debates," Shields said.

In 2004, the Democratic Party - along with its Republican allies - smothered the Nader campaign with phony lawsuits in a coordinated campaign of petition sabotage.

We had a tough time keeping our heads above water.

Just last month, legislative leaders responsible for illegal use of tax money to keep us off of the ballot in Pennsylvania in 2004 were indicted by a grand jury in Harrisburg.

Now, in 2008, Nader is back, and - thanks to you - on track to be on the ballot in 45 states - we were on only 34 in 2004 - and the Nader/Gonzalez ticket is at six percent in the latest CNN poll.

Now, we need your help for another breakthrough.

We are launching a campaign to Open the Debates.

In its first phase, the super rallies will rise again in Denver and Minneapolis during the Democratic and Republican conventions.

We call all of our supporters to action from every corner of the United States: come to our first rally in Denver on Wednesday, August 27, 2008.

Plan to make the trip to Denver - or Minneapolis - or both.

These rallies will be part of an massive outpouring of protest in Denver and Minneapolis against the two corporate controlled parties and their policies of perpetual militarism and war.

We'll be filling in the details on the two rallies in the days to come.

But for now, we need you to spread the word.

Nader/Gonzalez is aiming to bust open the presidential debates.

As Ralph says, if tens of millions of Americans can hear the Nader/Gonzalez message through the Presidential debates, it will be a three way race.

Send this message to everyone in your address book.

Tell friends and family.

The super rallies are back.

Time to get on board.

Onward to November


[VoteNader]

Trapped By Olympic Fever


The Beijing Olympics: Are They A Trap?



Stunning photos from Beijing




Chinese Officials: Deadly Virus Sweeping China Is Just Olympic Fever



Naomi Klein and the Beijing Olympics





An invitation to Senator Barack Obama to meet with IVAW

[reposted from Iraq Veterans Against the War]

Dear Senator Obama,

Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) was founded by Iraq war veterans in July 2004 at the annual convention of Veterans for Peace (VFP) in Boston to give a voice to the large number of active duty service people and veterans who are against this war, but are under various pressures to remain silent.

From its inception, IVAW has called for:
  • Immediate withdrawal of all occupying forces in Iraq;
  • Reparations for the human and structural damages Iraq has suffered, and stopping the corporate pillaging of Iraq so that their people can control their own lives and future; and
  • Full benefits, adequate healthcare (including mental health), and other supports for returning servicemen and women.
Today, IVAW members are in 48 states and on numerous bases overseas, with chapters throughout the U.S. and in Canada and Germany.

On behalf of Iraq Veterans Against the War I would like to invite you to meet with a delegation of our members at Our Savior's Lutheran Church, located at 915 East 9th Avenue Denver, CO between August 25-27, at a time most convenient to you. We would like to discuss your position on withdrawal from Iraq as well as your commitment to veterans care and reparations to the Iraqi people. We would also like to present to you our Winter Soldier testimony, which illustrates the moral necessity of bringing an immediate end to the occupation of Iraq. Please RSVP at your earliest convenience regarding this matter, stating whether or not you or members of your staff will attend or proposing an alternative location for the meeting.

In addition, we would like you to review the following background information and provide your official response to the questions below prior to or on the date of August 27, 2008.

US-headquartered multinational corporations (MNCs) are currently awaiting passage of a law governing foreign direct investment (FDI) in Iraq's energy sector. They have indicated that they will not substantially invest in reconstruction of the country's oil infrastructure until the Iraqi government passes a law which will allow them to negotiate long-term investment contracts called "Production Sharing Agreements" (PSAs) in the parlance of the oil industry.

PSAs have been compared to the colonial concessions which European imperial powers imposed upon Middle Eastern nations in the 20th century, including Iraq and Iran. Numerous historians have pointed out that these concessions humiliated the Arab-Muslim world for decades and provoked internal political instability, the rise of militant nationalism and most recently, religious radicalism directed primarily against the United States.

We are concerned that the Bush administration, despite its denials, is exerting political pressure on the Iraqi government to pass a law which will open the door to these types of contracts once again. We believe that this sort of alleged pressure directly contradicts the ostensible mission of the United States military in Iraq and hinders political progress and stability there. Without a doubt, the prospect of perpetual instability will tempt future administrations to justify a prolonged occupation or continued interference in Iraq's internal political affairs.

Our troops have fought hard. They do not deserve to have their efforts undermined by this or any other administration. The Iraqi people demand independence and we have no right to deny it to them. In doing so we contradict the principles our own nation was founded on and act against our own national security interests. For these reasons we are determined to oppose such policies, official or otherwise.

For more information please see the accompanying documents.

Our questions are:
  • What is your position on long term FDI in Iraq's oil industry by US-headquartered MNCs?
  • What is your position on the role of the United States government in negotiating a so-called hydrocarbon law with the Iraqi government which would govern FDI there?
  • What is your position on Production Sharing Agreements and similar sorts of contracts?
  • What is your position on debt relief to the Iraqi government? Should it be contingent upon passage of the above-mentioned hydrocarbon law?
  • What is your position on the so-called Strategic Framework Agreement, which is rumored to contain language on FDI? Should it be ratified by the U.S. Senate, whether or not it is actually called a "treaty"?
Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Kelly Dougherty
Executive Director
Iraq Veterans Against the War


Supporting Documents:

Secret US plans for Iraq's oil [BBC Newsnight]
Hands off Iraqi oil [Naomi Klein]
Crude Designs: The rip-off of Iraq's oil wealth [pdf]
Spoils of War [In These Times]
Resisting the economic war in Iraq [pdf - Platform]
Slick Connections: U.S. Influence on Iraqi Oil [pdf - Foreign Policy in Focus]
Panel Questions State Dept. Role in Iraq Oil Deal [New York Times]

Saturday, August 9, 2008

McCommunism

"I think this is an incredibly efficient, actually, a scarily efficient way of organizing society that's actually being celebrated here, which is a hybrid of some of the worst elements of authoritarian communism—mass surveillance of the population, total lack of civil liberties, lack of a free press, lack of democratic rights, authoritarian central planning, all harnessed not to advance the goals of social justice, even in name, although there may be some lip service still paid to that, but to advance the goals of global capitalism. So it is Stalinism meets global capitalism.... There are 100,000 security officers just on Olympic duty. And to put that into perspective, the stadium itself, the Bird's Nest Stadium holds 90,000. So there's 90,000 spectators and 100,000 secret police keeping control of things in Beijing. So this is an incredible operation. But when you hear people like Lou Dobbs and other commentators talking about the problems in China, it's always red China, communist China, or the Chi-coms. And it's really this blast from the past of—you know, it's almost as if the Cold War never ended."




The Olympics: Unveiling Police State 2.0
[from Huffington Post]

The games have been billed as China's "coming out party" to the world. They are far more significant than that. These Olympics are the coming out party for a disturbingly efficient way of organizing society, one that China has perfected over the past three decades, and is finally ready to show off. It is a potent hybrid of the most powerful political tools of authoritarianism communism -- central planning, merciless repression, constant surveillance -- harnessed to advance the goals of global capitalism. Some call it "authoritarian capitalism," others "market Stalinism," personally I prefer "McCommunism."

...Much of the Chinese government's lavish spending on cameras and other surveillance gear has taken place under the banner of "Olympic Security." But how much is really needed to secure a sporting event? The price tag has been put at a staggering $12-billion -- to put that in perspective, Salt Lake City, which hosted the Winter Olympics just five months after September 11, spent $315 million to secure the games. Athens spent around $1.5-billion in 2004. Many human rights groups have pointed out that China's security upgrade is reaching far beyond Beijing: there are now 660 designated "safe cities" across the country, municipalities that have been singled out to receive new surveillance cameras and other spy gear. And of course all the equipment purchased in the name of Olympics safety -- iris scanners, "anti-riot robots" and facial recognition software -- will stay in China after the games are long gone, free to be directed at striking workers and rural protestors.



China's All-Seeing Eye
[from Rolling Stone]

American commentators like CNN's Jack Cafferty dismiss the Chinese as "the same bunch of goons and thugs they've been for the last 50 years." But nobody told the people of Shenzhen, who are busily putting on a 24-hour-a-day show called "America" — a pirated version of the original, only with flashier design, higher profits and less complaining. This has not happened by accident. China today, epitomized by Shenzhen's transition from mud to megacity in 30 years, represents a new way to organize society. Sometimes called "market Stalinism," it is a potent hybrid of the most powerful political tools of authoritarian communism — central planning, merciless repression, constant surveillance — harnessed to advance the goals of global capitalism.

...Remember how we've always been told that free markets and free people go hand in hand? That was a lie. It turns out that the most efficient delivery system for capitalism is actually a communist-style police state, fortressed with American "homeland security" technologies, pumped up with "war on terror" rhetoric. And the global corporations currently earning superprofits from this social experiment are unlikely to be content if the lucrative new market remains confined to cities such as Shenzhen. Like everything else assembled in China with American parts, Police State 2.0 is ready for export to a neighborhood near you.



Never too much [Naomi Klein]

Friday, August 8, 2008

Bomb Iran...then what?

Washington's neocons are alive and well, advising both John McCain and President Bush. Now many are saying Bush should permit Israel to attack Iran's nuclear facilities after Election Day before the new president takes office. ANP investigates as we chase down John Bolton, Bill Kristol and Frank Gaffney to see how far ahead these hawks are thinking. And a new report says the whole plan could backfire.


A Word From Failed States

Noam Chomsky's Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy is published as part of The American Empire Project.



The following is taken from Chapter 6: Democracy Promotion at Home (pages 211-212)

...When neoliberal-style programs began to take shape in the 1970s, real wages in the United States were the highest in the industrial world, as one would expect in the richest society in the world, with incomparable advantages. The situation has now dramatically changed. Real wages for the majority have largely stagnated or declined and are now close to the lowest level among industrial societies; the relatively weak benefits system has declined as well. Incomes are maintained only by extending working hours well beyond those in similar societies, while inequality has soared. All of this is a vast change from the preceding quarter century, when economic growth was the highest on record for a protracted period and also egalitarian. Social indicators, which closely tracked economic growth until the mid-1970s, then diverged, declining to the level of 1960 by the year 2000.* [end notes and citations: See the biennial studies of the Economic Policy Institute, The State of Working America; the most recent, by Lawrence Mishel, Jared Bernstein, and Sylvia Allegretto, covers 2004-2005. Marc and Marque-Luisa Miringoff, The Social Health of the Nation (Oxford, 1999), Index of Social Health report of the Fordham Institute for Innovation in Social Policy, which monitors social indicators (as is done by government agencies in other industrial societies).]

Edward Wolff, the leading specialist on wealth distribution, writes that "living conditions stagnated in the 1990s for American households in the middle, while rapid advances in wealth and income for the elite briskly pulled up the averages." From 1983 to 1998, average wealth of the top 1 percent rose "a whopping 42%," while the poorest 40 percent "lost 76 percent of their (very modest) wealth." He concludes that even "the boom of the 1990s has bypassed most Americans. The rich have been the main beneficiaries," in a continuation of tendencies that go back to the late 1970s. The Bush administration's dedication to wealth and privilege accelerated these tendencies, leading to a surge in "corporate profits, professionals' incomes, gains from investments and executive compensation," while, by mid-2005, "average hourly wages for production and non-supervisory workers" had yet to rise to the low point of the 2001 recession. Census Bureau 2004 figures revealed that for the first time on record, household incomes failed to increase for five straight years. Median pretax real income was at its lowest point since 1997, while poverty rate increased for the fourth consecutive year, to 12.7 percent. Median earnings for full-time workers "dropped significantly," for men, by 2.3 percent. Inequality continued to rise to "near all-time highs," not including "gains from stock holdings, which would further increase inequality," given the extremely narrow concentration of stock ownership. The Labor Department reports an additional decline in real wages in 2004 for most workers, apart from a small percentage of the highly skilled. Economist Dean Baker reported in October 2005 that "the economy went through its longest period of job loss since the Great Depression following the 2001 recession. The employment to population ratio is still almost 2 percentage points below its pre-recession level. Using the recovery of the labor market as a metric, the economy has never been less resilient throughout the post-war period."* [Edward Wolff, Milken Institute Review, 3rd quarter, 2001. Eduardo Porter, New York Times, Business section, 14 July 2005. Census Bureau, see David Leonhardt, New York Times, 31 August 2005; Robert Guy Matthews, Wall Street Journal, 31 August 2005. Jessica Vascellaro, Wall Street Journal, 13 September 2005. Dean Baker, Center for Economic and Policy Research, 17 October 2005.]

The number of people who go hungry because they cannot afford to buy food rose to over 38 million in 2004: 12 percent of households, an increase of 7 million in five years. As the government released the figures, the House Agricultural Committee voted to remove funding for food stamps for 300,000 people, and cut off school lunches and breakfasts for 40,000 children, only on of many illustrations.* [Libby Quaid, AP, 29 October 2005.]

The results are hailed as a "healthy economy" and a model for other societies. Alan Greenspan is treated with reverence for having presided over these achievements, which he attributes in part to "atypical restraint on compensation increases [which] appears to be mainly the consequence of greater worker insecurity," an obvious desideratum for a healthy economy. The model may in fact be without many precedents in harming the "underlying population" while benefiting the "substantial people," in Thorstein Veblen's acid terminology.* [Alan Greenspan, testimony, Senate Banking Committee, February 1997, cited in Multinational Monitor, March 1997. Edward Herman, Z Magazine, March 2005.]


Buy Failed States and the other great titles in The American Empire Project series

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Revolutionary Morales

Voters to decide whether to back president who promised radical change

by Rory Carroll, Latin America correspondent and Andrés Schipani in Alto Parapeti

The Guardian, Friday August 8 2008




When Che Guevara decided to export Cuba's revolution to South America he chose Bolivia, a country where poverty and inequality were so extreme that the oppressed would surely rally to his banner. He was wrong. The rebellion flopped and the guerrilla was captured and executed in 1967.

Four decades later the eastern lowlands of Alto Parapeti, where Guevara plotted his doomed campaign, have not changed much. The lush landscape of corn and cattle is still owned by a handful of rich landowners and the rickety huts that house their labourers are still occupied by impoverished indigenous families.

"All my life I've been here and at the end of it I have nothing and have nowhere else to go," said Teresa Barrio, 65, a half-blind grandmother. She had lost five of seven children to disease and had no pesos in the pockets of her ragged skirt.

"It is a land lost to God," said one United Nations official, who requested anonymity because of political sensitivity.

But now there is supposed to be a new revolution sweeping Bolivia. Evo Morales, the Andean nation's first indigenous president, took power three years ago promising radical but peaceful socialist policies to finish what his hero Guevara had barely started.

This weekend the new revolution faces a crucial test when Bolivians vote in a recall referendum on whether to confirm or eject the president and elected regional governors. If Morales loses he must resign and call an election. If he wins he will claim a fresh mandate to "refound" South America's poorest country.

Morales's ambitious project is struggling. The plight of Barrio and other Guarani Indians in Alto Parapeti shows just how little has changed for the peasants who support him.

Many are illiterate and have little or no access to healthcare, electricity or running water. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, part of the pan-regional Organisation of American States (OAS), said in June that the conditions were akin to slavery. "They live in extreme poverty and are subjected to punishments including lashings."

Despite the historic landslide in his 2005 election Morales has struggled to deliver change. Like Guevara, he has made some tactical blunders, polarised the country and encountered fierce resistance.

The relatively prosperous eastern lowlands have rebuffed land reform and other government policies, saying they are ruinous and autocratic. Landowners have blocked government inspection teams, sometimes violently. Four departments recently voted for autonomy in unofficial referendums, a bold challenge to the central government based in La Paz.

This week protesters besieged an airport and clashed with police, leaving two dead and forcing Morales to call off a summit with the presidents of Venezuela and Argentina, Hugo Chávez and Cristina Kirchner.

Security concerns obliged Morales to hold Wednesday's independence day celebrations in his power base of La Paz rather than the opposition-run city of Sucre, underlining that much of the country has become unsafe for him.

The president accused "small and privileged groups" of blocking change. "These groups do not want equality ... They do not respect the identity and diversity of our people."

The head of OAS, José Miguel Insulza, said he was "deeply concerned" about the political violence and appealed to all sides to allow Sunday's referendum to go ahead peacefully.

With the country so polarised the centrepiece of Morale's agenda, a new constitution, has stalled. Sunday's recall referendum is his high-stakes effort to regain momentum.

The coca farmer-turned president is expected to survive since to eject him opponents must garner more votes than he won in 2005 when he gained 53.7%. Opinion polls suggest his popularity has only dipped slightly.

A huge sign in El Alto - Bolivia's de facto indigenous capital - captured the mood of his supporters: "Evo as you never abandoned the people, the people will never abandon you. Vote yes".

If several opposition governors are ousted the president could revive his push for a new constitution. "This referendum is going to clearly show the support for President Evo Morales," said Alfredo Rada, the minister for government. "The ratification of his mandate will set on stone the fact that Bolivia is on the right track, that it is undergoing a transformation."

In fact even if Morales wins the deadlock is likely to continue since the most important opposition governors, their confidence boosted by the recent autonomy votes, are tipped to hold on to their jobs.

"If [the president] is not revoked on Sunday he should respect our will of autonomy, and we will then try to respect his authority," said Carlos Dabdoud, an opposition leader in Santa Cruz province.

By championing indigenous rights over those of mixed-race heritage Morales had forfeited the support of half the country, he said. "We cannot back this so-called process of change as this is not a change for all Bolivians."

Analysts express alarm that the polarisation had paralysed the political process and corrupted institutions, with civil servants, the courts, the police and army sucked into taking sides.

With little prospect of compromise, or either side scoring a knockout victory, many government supporters are digging in for a long battle of attrition, a far cry from the heady early days when Morales spoke of overturning 500 years of colonialism.

"We have to back this government because it is defending the rights of the indigenous peoples ... but it has been acting very slowly," said José Amangay, a Guarani leader.



President Morales appeared on the Daily Show last fall




Around the same time, he sat for an interview with Democracy Now! hosts Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez
(full video and audio stream and download available)

PRESIDENT EVO MORALES: [translated]
I never wanted to be a politician. In my country, politicians are seen as liars, thieves, arrogant people. In 1997 they tried to get me to run for president. I rejected that idea, even though that brought me problems with my own grassroots organizations. Then I was later obligated to become a member of the lower house of parliament. I didn’t want to do that at the time, either. I preferred to be the head of a rat than the tail of a horse. I preferred to be the head of my own organizations fighting for human rights and fighting for the rights of the members, and not getting involved in electoral political processes and wind up not fulfilling promises.

...The austerity measures that you mentioned a moment ago, I cut my own salary by more than 50, and the ministers’ as well as also the members of congress, and that money has been redirected to health and education, convinced of the idea that to arrive at the presidency means that you’re there to serve the people...

We said we were going to nationalize the gas and oil sector. We did, without expropriating or kicking out any of the companies. We said it’s important to have partners, but not bosses. And we did it. The investor has the right to recuperate their investment and to a reasonable profit, but we can’t allow for the sacking of the country and only the companies benefiting, not the people...

The struggle against corruption, it’s a key issue in my country. We’re starting that campaign aggressively, starting with members of the executive branch...

...There’s always expenses involved in a campaign, but we spent less than half-a-million dollars. The elections end, we closed the books, did our accounting. More than half-a-million dollars was left over. And I said, “We have to give this money back to the national electoral court, to the state.” But some members of my party said, “But how are you going to give the money back. It’s easy to buy papers in Bolivia to demonstrate other forms of accounting.” I got angry, and I went on my own with just a couple of other people, and we gave that money back. People were impressed....

...Some people who are ill-informed said we should have spent that money on health and education, but no, that’s impossible, because that’s money only for electoral campaigns and had to be returned. Honesty is so important...

The arrogance of an ambassador or the arrogance of others, including a president, is always an error. This arrogance creates greater rebellion, greater resistance. In 2002, former U.S. ambassador to Bolivia, Manuel Rocha, said, “Don’t vote for Evo Morales.” And after that, people came out massively to vote for me. I said he was my best campaign chief. And a number of things were said about what would happen if I came to the presidency, that international cooperation would be reduced, we would no longer have access to markets, but in fact I’ve come to the presidency and we’ve seen a lot more support from other governments...

...A special greeting to the United States people, and thanks for opening this space to me. On my arrival here in the United States, I’ve encountered many friends. I have spoken with ex-presidents Carter and Clinton. We’ve had good conversations. And it seems like the business sectors are starting to understand our message, that we want partners and not bosses.


Let's hope this honest and open President remains in power and is able maintain and further democratic power over the US-backed aristocracy.

Good luck, Evo

There Has To Be Accountability



Last week, Congressman Dennis Kucinich delivered a petition bearing more than 100,000 names to the Speaker of the House urging that impeachment proceedings begin into the conduct of President Bush. In a special video message, Dennis is asking for your help to deliver an even more powerful message to Congress when it reconvenes in September.

With new disclosures that the Administration tried to "cook the books at the CIA" by creating a phony, forged link between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, "We cannot step back and let this President escape accountability."

If you have already signed the impeachment petition at www.kucinich.us, thank you. If you haven't, please do. And, in the next few weeks, please ask just one more person to sign so we can let the members of Congress hear our collective demand that they meet their obligation to uphold the Constitution.




Sign the PETITION

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

E'rybody Gonna Keep Killin Each Other



"We're all the way over in Iraq - don't we have a war here?"

[American News Project]

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Big Ideas That Changed The World

Tony Benn


"If you don't keep up the pressure for democratic control, you lose it. It's 'use it or lose it.' And that is something that people find hard to understand - there is never a final victory for democracy; it's always a struggle in every generation, and you have to take up the cause time and time and time again"

This quick movie demonstrates why Tony Benn, former Member of Parliament and Cabinet Minister, is one of the leading minds today on democracy.



"What democracy did, even in a very elementary form, was to transfer power from the marketplace to the polling station; from the wallet to the ballot. People who didn't have the money were able to vote for candidates who would provide collectively what they couldn't afford personally."

"But, of course, getting the vote only provides a route to political power, it does not provide control of economic power. And as we look at the world today with the economy in the hands of rich and powerful people, you realize that there's a great deal more to be done."

"The World Bank, International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization, the European Commission - none of these are elected, and yet they have growing power now to dictate to the governments that are elected. And for them, privatization and profit are the main objectives, regardless of the social costs... So it's true to say that power is moving back from the polling station to the marketplace, from the ballot to the wallet."

"If we allow business interests on an international scale to dominate, we shall find we've surrendered all the rights to those with money, which would be a throwback to the dark ages. And now, increasingly, people are being managed and not represented. And somehow that is an issue that has to be tackled; because if we don't provide a democratic opportunity, one of three things will happen:
Either people will become cynical - and cynicism destroys politics and opens the way to dictatorship
Or they will just abstain, which will destroy the legitimacy of elected governments
Or they'll turn to violence, because the history of the world has been a history of violence.
And sometimes, indeed many times - it's been discovered - the only way to resolve that, is to provide democratic rights."

Ask your political/social/economic leaders these 5 questions:
  1. What power have you got?
  2. Where did you get it from?
  3. In whose interest do you exercise it?
  4. To whom are you accountable?
  5. How can we get rid of you?
Only Democracy gives us that right.
That is why no one with power likes democracy
And that is why every generation must struggle to win it and keep it
INCLUDING YOU AND ME, HERE AND NOW



Are you a Bennite?

"I think democracy is a very, very radical idea. It's not accepted by communists, Stalin didn't accept it; I don't think capitalists like it because it takes power from them and gives it to people who haven't got money. And that is a very dangerous idea, indeed."


You may remember Minister Benn from Michael Moore's Sicko,



"The most powerful religion, as you know, is not Christianity, Judaism, or Islam...it's the people who worship money."

Real News 'Surge'



The New Jerusalem




The New York Times reported that US intelligence agencies believe that members of Pakistan’s spy service, the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, helped plan the deadly July 7th bombing of India’s embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. 54 people were killed in that attack. Pakistan's government admitted Friday that it needs to purge Taliban sympathizers from the ISI, but it angrily denied a report that the agency helped plan the bombing in Kabul. The US also suspects rogue elements in the ISI of giving militants sensitive information that helps them launch attacks from Pakistan's tribal regions into bordering Afghanistan.





[The Real News]

Monday, August 4, 2008

Chutes and Liars

Dutch scientists have successfully demonstrated a plan which could harness renewable energy, by flying a 10 metre kite





Pentagon's Unmanned Spokesdrone Completes First Press Conference Mission

Friday, August 1, 2008

The News Better Run



Running news:



Expanding Blackwater



EurObama


ParticleRap

CERN Rap from Will Barras on Vimeo.

Obama's Economics of More-of-the-Same

CIA Blacksite on British Soil



More on Congress' Torture Hearings




[Physicians For Human Rights]