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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 75,807

Journal Archives

Robert Reich: Opening Positions on the Cliff Deal: Deja Vu All Over Again

Opening Positions on the Cliff Deal: Deja Vu All Over Again
Thursday, November 29, 2012

So the bidding has begun.

According to the Wall Street Journal (which got the information from GOP leaders), the President’s opening bid to Republicans is:

— $1.6 trillion in additional tax revenues over the next decade, from limiting tax deductions on the wealthy and raising tax rates on incomes over $250,000 (although those rates don’t have to rise as high as the top marginal rates under Bill Clinton)

— $50 billion in added economic stimulus next year

— A one-year postponement of pending spending cuts in defense and domestic programs

— $400 billion in savings over the decade from Medicare and other entitlement programs (the same number contained in the President’s 2013 budget proposal, submitted before the election).

— Authority to raise the debt limit without congressional approval.

The $50 billion in added stimulus is welcome. We need more spending in the short term in order to keep the recovery going, particularly in light of economic contractions in Europe and Japan, and slowdowns in China and India.

But by signaling its willingness not to raise top rates as high as they were under Clinton and to cut some $400 billion from projected increases in Medicare and other entitlement spending, the White House has ceded important ground. ......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://robertreich.org/post/36839197826

The KGB Would Have Been Delighted By the NSA’s Toys

from truthdig:

The KGB Would Have Been Delighted By the NSA’s Toys

Posted on Nov 30, 2012
By Thomas Hedges, Center for Study of Responsive Law

The trial of former CIA agent and whistleblower John Kiriakou has prompted many Americans to strongly criticize the Obama administration and its lack of oversight of U.S. intelligence agencies. Kiriakou, who uncovered the torture program that was started under President Bush and continued under President Obama, will face 30 months in jail and lose his government pension. Since his trial began in April, whistleblowers such as Kirk Wiebe and William Binney, both of whom worked at the National Security Agency and then left because of mismanagement and corruption, have warned that intelligence agencies are abusing the Constitution and lavishing private companies with expensive contracts in exchange for sub par data processing and analysis systems.

Kiriakou, Wiebe and Binney, who were presented with the Joe A. Callaway Awards for Civic Courage two weeks ago in Washington, D.C., said that the intelligence community cares more about protecting itself and its interests than those of the public.

The NSA, for example, has wasted billions of taxpayer dollars over the past ten years according to Wiebe, Binney and several other former NSA employees who have blown the whistle on the agency’s financial mismanagement. Spending at the NSA, they said, increased significantly after the 9/11 attacks without much regulation. The agency used the period of fear after the attacks, these whistleblowers said, to inflate its budget and arrange high profits for corporate friends. The waste, they charged, hampered significant programs and bloated inefficient ones.

The agency wants “to fix big things with big dollars and big business,” Kirk Wiebe said over the phone. .............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_kgb_would_have_been_delighted_by_the_nsas_toys_20121130/

The Chicago Teachers Union’s secret to success? The rank and file are in control

from In These Times:

Democratic to the CORE
The Chicago Teachers Union’s secret to success? The rank and file are in control.

BY Micah Uetricht

During September’s Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) strike, local and national media rushed to frame the fight as a clash of oversized personalities: the stubborn, foul-mouthed Mayor Rahm Emanuel against the brash chemistry-teacher-turned-union president Karen Lewis. Even progressive media hyped Lewis as the driver of the union’s victory, praising her personal toughness as more than a match for Emanuel. It was classic “Great Man” historicism, tracing the strike’s origins to leaders’ personal traits.

Few accounts mentioned the constituencies behind these leaders. For Emanuel, this includes anti-union charter-school advocates, who donated $12 million toward his election. In Lewis’ case, it was the dictates of her 30,000 members. Indeed, the CTU is one of the most vibrantly democratic union locals in the United States.

Since a 2010 upheaval within the CTU, rank-and-file teachers have made up the union’s leadership, and members make many of its day-to-day decisions. Public actions are typically planned and executed by members themselves, not paid staff. And the CTU took the incredible step of extending its September strike an extra two days to ensure members had a chance to examine and debate the proposed contract.

As Lewis puts it, “We put the power into the hands of the rank and file, where it belongs.” ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/14207/democratic_to_the_core


Paris world's most Facebook-liked city

Paris is the most liked city in the world … in the Facebook sense. More people have liked the French capital’s official Facebook page than those of New York, London or any other town that might aim to rival it. That’s good news for Paris’s shops and restaurants whose owners have launched a campaign to attract winter visitors.

A big “Merci” (thank you) has graced the pavement in front of Paris City Hall since Wednesday, following the weekend’s news that the number of likes on the city’s official Facebook page had hit two million.
Like secrets? Find out about the Hidden Paris

Standing at 2,035,433 on Thursday afternoon, the City of Light dwarfs London’s 1,136,964, not to mention the scores of other tourist-trade rivals, such as New York, Madrid or Dubai.

City authorities are all the more proud given the fact that only 335,000 of the fans are French.

The news is a boost for the city’s efforts to stay ahead in the tourist stakes and should help a campaign to make up for the dip in visits over the winter. ......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.english.rfi.fr/visiting-france/20121129-paris-worlds-most-facebook-liked-city

Lloyd Blankfein, you are unbelievable. (And I don't mean that in a nice way)

Goldman Sachs CEO The Latest Hypocrite With Terrible Fiscal Cliff Ideas
The Huffington Post | By Mark Gongloff

We've said it before, and we'll say it again: There is no reason to care what corporate CEOs think about the budget deficit, because they are hypocrites with terrible ideas.

Or, as FT Alphaville's Cardiff Garcia put it yesterday, only funnier and more succinctly:

Cardiff Garcia ‏@CardiffGarcia

Presenting a comprehensive list of reasons that people should care what CEOs say about the fiscal cliff: 1. ___ 2. ___ 3. ___ 4. ___. Done.

Case in point: Lloyd Blankfein. The Cephalopod-In-Chief of Goldman Sachs, sounded off on the fiscal cliff in an entirely reasonable-seeming way, after a meeting with President Obama on Wednesday. Sure, he said, OK, he could accept higher marginal tax rates for wealthy people like himself.

“I would prefer as low of a marginal rate as possible because it’s the marginal rate that provides the incentive to do incremental work by people," he told CNBC, cable TV's go-to channel for fiscal-cliff panic, "but I’m not dogmatic — I wouldn’t go to the end for that." ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/29/lloyd-blankfein-fiscal-cliff_n_2211709.html

What It Was Like to Be a Woman at Goldman Sachs

from the Atlantic:

What It Was Like to Be a Woman at Goldman Sachs
By Marie Myung-Ok Lee

Nov 26 2012, 9:32 AM ET

A female former employee describes working in "a frat on steroids."

Goldman Sachs has released its annual list of promotions to partner and managing director, and, not unusual for them, women represented only 14 percent of inductees into the highly lucrative lifetime partner positions. Jordan Weissmann's recent post here at The Atlantic, "Why Don't More Women Get Promoted at Goldman Sachs?" examined research by economists that sought to explain societal reasons why women in business don't make as much as their male peers. According to this research, Weissmann reported, children are largely responsible for the gap: "family obligations were in fact a huge part of the reason why females have so much trouble climbing the elite corporate ladder."

But Forbes's Helaine Olen raised another possibility: Perhaps Goldman (and other banks) discriminate against their female employees either overtly, through promotions, or through fomenting an atmosphere that makes it harder for women to do their jobs. Weissmann updated his post to acknowledge this possibility, noting that the gender discrimination case against Goldman is making its way through the courts as we speak.

In the go-go 1990s, I worked at Goldman Sachs. It was my second job out of college, one where I hoped to leverage my honors economics degree from Brown and make enough money to support my career as an aspiring writer. Unlike many of my Ivy League peers, I wasn't a rainmaker in the middle of the action. I worked as an editor in the Equity Research department—basically a disposable position that could be (and was) filled by any number of English majors who could pick up financial lingo. We were cogs in the wheels of Goldman's award-winning research department, where analysts made investment predictions in their specific industries (e.g., mining, pharmaceuticals, retail stores, etc.) and stock recommendations—buy, sell, hold—while we editors made sure all their quotes were grammatical and that they followed a prearranged style set both by the house and by industry journals such as Institutional Investor. ........(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2012/11/what-it-was-like-to-be-a-woman-at-goldman-sachs/265572/

Reportorial fellatio for Bowles (and his sidekick)

from the Working Life blog:

by Jonathan Tasini

A Blow Job For Bowles (And His Sidekick)

Let me start by immediately apologizing for using the description of a sexual act in a headline and, particularly, in reference to an article written by a woman transcriber of press releases (formerly knows as “journalists”). Apology now behind me, I can go back to the point: Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson could not have paid enough money to get the kind of fellatio that they were blessed with by Jackie Calmes of The New York Times — the paper, by the way, that is making it a habit of putrid reporting about the phony debt and deficit “crisis”. I suppose having been a cheerleader for the Iraq War, to devastating effect to the country’s bank account (not to mention devastating to the families of all the dead people killed because of the immoral war), The Times just feels obligated to find something else to trumpet…phony as it may be.

Here is the reportorial sex act:

Theirs is an improbable buddy act that is making for unlikely entertainment from campuses to corporations on a most serious subject: the federal debt. The proof of their appeal: some business groups pay them $40,000 each per appearance. Really. To discuss budgets and baselines.

Ladies and gentlemen, coming soon to your city or town (if they have not been there already, and maybe even if they have) are the latest odd couple of politics: the 67-year-old Democratic straight man, Erskine B. Bowles of Charlotte, N.C., and his corny 81-year-old, 6-foot-7 Republican sidekick, Alan K. Simpson of Cody, Wyo.

Since the perceived failure two years ago next week of the bipartisan fiscal commission they led for President Obama, they have been on the road, sometimes solo but often together, perfecting a sort of Off Broadway show that has kept their panel’s recommendations alive, and made them a little money as well.

You get the picture: the two men, pushing against all odds, are continuing their valiant push to save the nation. It has the usual humorous anecdotes because, well, isn’t Simpson just so funny and folksy?

The rubbish, the rubbish. ..........................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.workinglife.org/2012/11/28/a-blow-job-for-bowles-and-his-sidekick/

Generals Who Run Amuck, Politicians Who Could Care Less, an “Embedded” Media... And Us

from TomDispatch:

Sucking Up to the Military Brass
Generals Who Run Amuck, Politicians Who Could Care Less, an “Embedded” Media... And Us

By William J. Astore

Few things have characterized the post-9/11 American world more than our worshipful embrace of our generals. They’ve become our heroes, our sports stars, and our celebrities all rolled into one. We can’t stop gushing about them. Even after his recent fall from grace, General David Petraeus was still being celebrated by CNN as the best American general since Dwight D. Eisenhower (and let’s not forget that Ike commanded the largest amphibious invasion in history and held a fractious coalition together in a total war against Nazi Germany). Before his fall from grace, Afghan War Commander General Stanley McChrystal was similarly lauded as one tough customer, a sort of superman-saint.

Petraeus and McChrystal crashed and burned for the same underlying reason: hubris. McChrystal became cocky and his staff contemptuous of civilian authority; Petraeus came to think he really could have it all, the super-secret job and the super-sexy mistress. An ideal of selfless service devolved into self-indulgent preening in a wider American culture all-too-eager to raise its star generals into the pantheon of Caesars and Napoleons, and its troops into the halls of Valhalla.

The English used to say of American troops in World War II that they were “overpaid, over-sexed, and over here.” Now we’re overhyped, oversold, and over there, wherever “there” might happen to be in a constantly shifting, perpetual war on terror.

In our particular drama, generals may well be the actors who strut and fret their hour upon the stage, but their directors are the national security complex and associated politicians, their producers the military-industrial complex’s corporate handlers, and their agents a war-junky media. And we, the audience in the cheap seats, must take some responsibility as well. Even when our military adventures spiral down after a promising opening week, the enthusiastic applause the American public has offered to our celebrity military adventurers and the lack of pressure on the politicians who choose to fund them only serve to keep bullets flying and troops dying. ......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175622/tomgram%3A_william_astore%2C_generals_behaving_badly/#more

Secessionist Colony (cartoon)

In Hurricane Sandy Relief, a Reminder of Occupy’s Original Spirit

from YES! Magazine:

In Hurricane Sandy Relief, a Reminder of Occupy’s Original Spirit
Commentators in the mainstream media have said the effective hurricane relief accomplished by Occupy Sandy represent a new direction in the movement. In fact, nothing could be closer to its founding ideas and actions.

by Jeffrey Lawrence, Luis Moreno-Caballud
posted Nov 28, 2012

[font size="1"]This article is adapted from a blog entry that appeared on the Huffington Post.[/font]

[font size="1"]An Occupy Sandy relief hub in the Rockaways, Queens. Photo by Occupy Sandy.[/font]

Mainstream media outlets from The New York Times and the Washington Post to the online magazine Slate have reported on the swift and effective response of the umbrella group known as Occupy Sandy. To borrow a metaphor from Times reporter Alan Feuer, it would seem that after nearly a year of "wander(ing) in a desert of more intellectual, less visible projects, like farming, fighting debt and theorizing on banking,” the Occupy movement has finally found its true cause and ultimate commandment: just helping out.

In fact, this determination to address basic needs has been a concern of the Occupy movement from the very beginning. For those who have followed the movement since its early days, the emergence of Occupy Sandy looks less like the endpoint of an erratic and itinerant journey than a necessary step in the ongoing evolution of the Occupy movement.

Where Feuer suggests that Occupy Sandy “renew[ed] the impromptu passions of Zuccotti,” we see the relief efforts as evidence of the continuity of Occupy’s aims. What started on September 17 of last year as a protest against the disproportionate influence of Wall Street on the American political and economic systems quickly transitioned into an effort to create sustainable networks of community organization.

The impetus, it is true, was simple. Occupy wanted community support networks that were not determined by the corporate logic of the "bottom line" or the victimization stigma that attaches to any movement that demands "entitlements" or "handouts" from the government. The encampment in Zucotti Park, where all could freely come and go, symbolized an aspiration that would be central to the 2012 election. The country did not want to divide itself into givers and takers, corporate "job creators" and Romney's now-infamous "47 percent." ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/in-hurricane-sandy-relief-reminder-occupy-original-spirit

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