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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 74,639

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The wisdom of Howard Zinn, from a 2004 piece in The Progressive:

[font size="4"]What can account for the fact that these obviously ineffective, even counterproductive, responses have been supported by the people of Russia, Israel, the United States? It's not hard to figure that out. It is fear, a deep, paralyzing fear, a dread so profound that one's normal rational faculties are distorted, and so people rush to embrace policies that have only one thing in their favor: They make you feel that something is being done. In the absence of an alternative, in the presence of a policy vacuum, filling that vacuum with a decisive act becomes acceptable.

And when the opposition party, the opposition Presidential candidate, can offer nothing to fill that policy vacuum, the public feels it has no choice but to go along with what is being done. It is emotionally satisfying, even if rational thought suggests it does not work and cannot work.[/font]

- See more at: http://progressive.org/nov04/zinn1104.html#sthash.KqgTOk6y.dpuf

Bush and Cruz Want to Use Religious Tests to Bar Refugees From the US

(The Nation) President Obama should not have had to explain to the Republicans who would be president that one of the basic premises of the American experiment is that this country does not apply religious tests in establishing programs and policies, regulations and rules. Yet, after Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz began peddling proposals to discriminate against Syrian refugees based on faith traditions, the president had to do just that.

“That’s not American,” declared Obama during a press conference at the G-20 meeting in Turkey. “That’s not who we are.”

Obama is right, morally and constitutionally. And he should keep stating and restating his point as a counter to the rising cry from prominent Republicans for exclusion and discrimination.

In the aftermath of Friday night’s terrorist attacks in Paris, amid reports that one of the assailants entered Europe with Syrians fleeing violence in that country, prominent Republicans have been arguing that the United States must block Syrian refugees from entering this country. Several of these Republicans have proposed that Muslim refugees should be barred, while Christian refugees should be admitted. One of them, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, declares, “The No. 1 job of the president is to protect America, not protect the reputation of Islam.” .................(more)


Detroit Free Press: Gov. Snyder talks tough on refugees, flunks social studies

Brian Dickerson, Detroit Free Press Columnist

For the record, I don’t for a minute believe Rick Snyder is an Islamaphobic bigot.

And I assume that somewhere on the way to degrees in law and accounting, Michigan's governor successfully completed a high schools social studies class.

But Snyder and his puffed-up statehouse peers are playing their constituents for fools when they suggest they are hitting the pause button on -- or outright rejecting -- a U.S. initiative to shelter 10,000 Syrian refugees, because no governor has the legal authority to do that.

“States don’t do war and peace. They don’t do diplomacy, and they don’t do immigration,” observes Richard Primus, a professor of constitutional history at the University of Michigan Law School. “In the U.S. constitutional system, that’s the province of the federal government."


Once anyone has passed Uncle Sam’s test, they’re as free as any of Southwest Airlines American-born passengers to move about the country, whether their travels take them to Michigan, Alabama or some other state where opportunists aren’t waiting to score cheap political points at their expense. ....................(more)


President Obama's Forum: High Theater on High Drug Prices

President Obama's Forum: High Theater on High Drug Prices

Tuesday, 17 November 2015 00:00
By Dean Baker, Truthout | Op-Ed

The Obama administration is sponsoring a forum this week on the problem of high drug prices. The purpose is presumably to express concern about a rapidly growing problem for both people in the United States and around the world. It seems likely that the point is to quite literally express concern, as opposed to taking substantive steps towards addressing an enormous problem that not only takes an economic toll, but threatens people's health and lives.

The reasons for skepticism are obvious. First and foremost, the Obama administration has placed higher drug prices at the center of its trade agenda. As was widely reported, the last major sticking point in reaching an agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was the Obama administration's insistence on longer periods for maintaining the exclusivity on test data for biosimilar drugs.

This exclusivity means a monopoly period in which drug companies can charge high prices because there are no competitors. The Obama administration went to the mat for the pharmaceutical industry on this issue, putting aside concerns in other areas. For example, the pursuit of the pharmaceutical industry's agenda meant that currency management - which has led to the huge US trade deficit and the loss of millions of manufacturing jobs - was not an item addressed in the TPP.

In addition to the administration's willingness to do the pharmaceutical industry's bidding, the class of excluded characters also indicates a lack of seriousness on this issue. There are a number of groups that have been working for decades to increase the accessibility of drugs around the world, most notably Doctors Without Borders. It seems that none of the representatives of these groups will be present at the forum. .................(more)


When a Racist Restaurant Opens on the Edge of Campus, What Is a University's Responsibility?

(Truthout) A white-owned Mexican restaurant called "Illegal Pete's" will open in December at the doorstep of the University of Arizona. A growing debate surrounds the restaurant's opening - a debate that could ultimately touch every university in the country.

In this case, the proposed restaurant is just one block from the main entrance to the university, and it is precisely where the campus pep rallies take place before the big games. Because of the restaurant's location, its opening has ramifications that go beyond legal or real estate questions. Yet, at the moment, the university is remaining neutral on this matter. But is neutrality possible when the school's primary responsibility is to ensure the safety of the university community?

This controversy involves the question: Are universities responsible for the conduct of tenants in adjoining university villages - which are the heart of university life - whether they own the property or not? In this case, this question is particularly relevant as the owner of this restaurant appears to be locating his liquor establishments near college campuses.

In this case, the opponents of the restaurant are arguing that the university's responsibility in creating a safe space for its students, staff, faculty and workers includes not simply freedom from physical harm, but also freedom from psychological harm that can occur from repeated exposure to anti-Mexican mockery and bigotry. The opponents, led by the student group MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicana/Chicano de Aztlan), have begun a petition, demanding that the owner either change the name of the restaurant or shut it down. ......................(more)


The Future of Socialism in the US: An Interview With Kshama Sawant

The Future of Socialism in the US: An Interview With Kshama Sawant

Wednesday, 18 November 2015 00:00
By C.J. Polychroniou, Truthout | Interview

[font size="4"]"The socialist vision is an anathema to the establishment."[/font]

Why is there no socialism in US national politics? This question has haunted historians and political analysts since the German sociologist Werner Sombart raised it more than 100 years ago in an effort to explain an apparent anomaly: The United States was the only nation in the industrial world that did not have an organized labor movement directed toward socialist goals. In fact, socialism itself was regarded by most Americans at the time as a foreign idea, which helped to explain why there was no socialist party functioning on a national level, but instead only sectarian left groups at the local level.

Sombart's explanation for the absence of socialism in the United States as a vital alternative path to the organization of the economy along capitalist principles and values was attributed to capitalism's own vitality and what he regarded as the love affair that US workers had with the free enterprise system. For all practical intents and purposes, he might have also included anti-intellectualism, as US culture was not hospitable to intellectuals, and socialism could not have been what it was without the influence of the intelligentsia.


C.J. Polychroniou: Your re-election to the Seattle City Council has to be seen as an even more important step for the advancement of the socialist cause in the United States than your election in 2013, when you ran on a platform advocating a $15-an-hour minimum wage and were of course the first independent socialist elected in a major US city in decades. What was your message to voters this time around?

Kshama Sawant: Well, let me start by saying that the city of Seattle and the state of Washington are home to some of the world's wealthiest corporations, and there is an economic boom going on here for sometime now. At the same time, however, wealth is highly concentrated, many young people are left behind because of unemployment and the lack of decent jobs paying decent wages and salaries, and the working population and retirees in general are experiencing declining living standards, which is of course the general pattern throughout the country. In addition, we have the most regressive tax system in the nation. So my re-election campaign focused specifically on those issues: affordable housing, funding education and transportation, and progressive taxation.


How were you treated by your opponents and the mainstream media in general?

Naturally, I was attacked by my opponents for being a socialist and the mission of the mainstream media was to discredit me, especially since they did not take us seriously the first time out. The Seattle Times, an establishment newspaper, was particularly vicious towards me. I was also attacked for caring about international issues and not merely local issues. The socialist vision is an anathema to the establishment.

I intend to find out what socialism means for you, but first I would like to have your views on capitalism. For example, you have said that capitalism is not working. Yet, many will rush to challenge this view by pointing out the recent economic "success" of nations like China and India that have moved away from a command economy and, as result, have experienced historically high rates of growth and growing middle classes. Do you question this "fact"?

It is true that capitalism has raised the standard of living in China and India and did so in many Western countries in the past. But we must not forget that the gains under capitalism have been achieved for the most part through class struggles. This is the case about the eight-hour workday, the unionization of workers, social benefits and so on. But capitalism is no longer achieving growth that benefits even slightly the working-class populations. Under finance capitalism, we have bubbles, volatility and chaos. Under finance capitalism, there is a tension between a booming economy and young people.

I believe that capitalism cannot offer a sustainable future. Human needs are simply not in congruence with a capitalist economy, which thrives on the maximization of profit. As for the financialization of the economy, the transition from industrial capitalism was made precisely because the system was no longer sustainable and it needed new profit-making venues. Now, every aspect of society is wrapped around financialization, making the many poor and the few ever richer. .................(more)


Minneapolis officials ask federal authorities to investigate police shooting

Minneapolis officials have requested a federal investigation into Sunday’s officer-involved shooting that critically injured a man on the city’s North Side and reignited the debate about race and police use of force.

Mayor Betsy Hodges and Police Chief Janeé Harteau said Monday that a federal investigation would be completed alongside a separate investigation by the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA).

The move followed a day of protests at the Police Department’s Fourth Precinct headquarters and on the 1600 block of Plymouth Av. N., where 24-year-old Jamar Clark was shot early Sunday.

By 6:45 p.m. Monday, about 100 protesters had moved across Interstate 94 south of Broadway, where they linked arms and blocked traffic lanes for more than two hours before State Patrol officers moved in and arrested 43 adults and eight juveniles, said Lt. Tiffani Schweigart of the State Patrol. Officers and troopers led the cuffed protesters one by one to waiting Metro Transit buses. ...................(more)


How long before the Courser/Gamrat reality show debuts?

from the Metro Times:

On Sunday, the Detroit News reported that the Lapeer County prosecutor would not to charge the person sending anonymous text messages threatening to expose the extramarital affair between former state Rep. Cindy Gamrat and former Rep. Todd Courser.

That would be one Joe Gamrat, the husband of Cindy Gamrat.

Previously, Courser had characterized the anonymous texts as part of an "extortion plot" driven by his political adversaries.

Lapeer County Prosecutor Tim Turkelson told the News on Sunday that he would not charge Gamrat, saying, “The motivation behind the text messages sent from the individuals was to assist Joe Gamrat in ending the extramarital affair. The messages therefore do not rise to the level of criminal extortion.” .................(more)


Hillary Clinton's Hedge Fund Support Is Deeper Than 9/11

Hillary Clinton's Hedge Fund Support Is Deeper Than 9/11
She says she can take a hard line on Wall Street reform while accepting the finance industry's millions.

Paul Blumenthal
Money in Politics Reporter, The Huffington Post

WASHINGTON -- Hillary Clinton argued during Saturday’s Democratic presidential debate that she could take a hard line on Wall Street excesses while accepting millions from the industry in campaign contributions. As proof, she pointed to attacks on her campaign funded by two hedge fund billionaires.

“You have two billionaire hedge fund managers who started a super PAC and they're advertising against me in Iowa as we speak,” Clinton said, referencing a super PAC called Future45 funded by Paul Singer and Ken Griffin. “So they clearly think I'm going to do what I say I will do.”

Those two billionaires, however, don't necessarily represent the broader world of hedge funds or Wall Street.

In fact, campaign finance records show the $204,202 that Clinton has raised from hedge fund executives is by far the most of any 2016 candidate, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. And, as The Huffington Post previously reported, Clinton is the top recipient among the presidential candidates of contributions from the largest banking institutions. ...............(more)


The TPP is 'free trade' in appearance only

The TPP is 'free trade' in appearance only

The hypocrisy of "free market" advocates is astounding. While they trumpet increased competition and the elimination of state imposed barriers as a means of spurring economic advancement, they ignore how the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and other "free trade" accords increase monopolistic intellectual property provisions.

In a recent CTV interview on the TPP, Carleton business professor Ian Lee began by saying we've known for three centuries that "free trade" increases wealth while a Maclean's editorial "celebrating" the accord noted "as with most things, the best sort of trade is free: free from tariffs, restrictions and other government-imposed barriers."

But the TPP significantly strengthens many "government-imposed barriers" to free exchange. The recently negotiated accord harmonizes intellectual property provisions upwards across the 12 nation zone. In Canada the deal will increase the length of copyright from 50 to 70 years after the death of an author. It will also increase (corporate) copyright holders' capacity to compel Internet Service Providers to block content on websites and to pursue individuals who transfer content they own between devices or upload/repost highlights from trademarked work such as professional sports.

The TPP will also extend drug patent protections. Brand-name pharmaceutical companies in Canada will be given patent term restoration to compensate for time lost during the drug approval process. ...............(more)


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