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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 74,622

Journal Archives

Thank You, Citibank-Goldman Sachs-Crooks: You’ve Moved The Poverty Conversation

from the Working Life blog:

Thank You, Citibank-Goldman Sachs-Crooks: You’ve Moved The Poverty Conversation
Posted on 20 June 2014

I’ve been looking long and hard, trying to find something, just one thing, to say positive about the crooks on Wall Street and in the banking industry. Maybe it’s the Summer Solstice–but, eureka! Those guys have helped moved the poverty conversation in the right direction.

Here’s a new poll (Wall Street Journal paywall):

Americans’ attitudes toward poverty have shifted dramatically over the last two decades.In 1995, Americans were twice as likely to believe poverty resulted from people not doing enough to help themselves out than to attribute it to external forces, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll conducted in April that year. That helps explain why the then-new Republican majority in the House made welfare reform a top priority.

Fast forward 19 years, and those views have undergone a significant transformation. The latest Journal poll of 1,000 adults, conducted June 11-15, found Americans are now as likely to blame poverty on circumstances beyond people’s control than they are to believe the poor aren’t doing enough to dig themselves out of it, 46% to 44%

With a big huge caveat that this is one poll and, god knows, polls shift back and forth depending on what the rhetoric is (for example, if there was all of a sudden a president who went soft on bankers and fundraised from Wall Street…), I think this is likely–possibly–a direct consequence of the financial crisis and the growing divide between rich and poor.

Like this:

While the richest Americans have generally recouped their losses from the recession and gained considerable new wealth during the recovery, the situation is bleaker for the poor and for low-wage workers than it was in 2007.As work dried up and wages stagnated, tens of millions of Americans took jobs with lower pay and fewer hours, many of them turning to the federal government for additional support to help make ends meet.

The number of people receiving food stamps under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program soared to 47.6 million in 2013 from 26.3 million in 2007. Incomes for the typical middle-income family have slipped, and the nation’s poverty rate remains above its prerecession level.

All of a sudden a lot of people realized, well, hell, it is the damn corrupt system, the so-called “free market”, that robs people and drives them into poverty, not because people don’t want to work or earn a decent living. Clearly, this is a culmination of a trend that has taken place over 2-3 decades (longer…), robbing people of fair wage increases and giving the country the highest poverty rate–46.2 million people in 2012–since that data began to be collected.Something to ponder. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.workinglife.org/2014/06/20/thank-you-citibank-goldman-sachs-crooks-youve-moved-the-poverty-conversation/#sthash.R9lscJYg.dpuf

TPP would hurt farmers, America

This year marks the 20th anniversary of NAFTA, which has been a complete failure (unless you’re a multinational corporation) and put family farms out of business, off-shored U.S. jobs and triggered a race to the bottom in terms of wages resulting in pushing the U.S. middle class downward economically.

Now there is an attempt to rush through the largest trade deal in history. The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is being widely described as “NAFTA on steroids.”

This new trade regime involves 11 nations (mostly in Asia) and has been negotiated entirely in secret, with only leaked portions providing an insight. Citizens and most lawmakers have been locked out of the negotiation process and kept in the dark about the details of this proposed agreement.

Let’s be clear — these trade deals take power away from local and state elected representatives and make us subject to a virtual undemocratic corporate, global constitution that could undermine the U.S. Constitution, state constitutions, federal and state laws and local control laws. Laws such as Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) would be in jeopardy — COOL is supported by the majority of farmers and consumers, but opposed by corporate agribusiness. ........................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.news-leader.com/story/opinion/contributors/2014/06/08/tpp-hurt-farmers-america/10192819/

It's Official. Big Food Sues Vermont

It's Official. Big Food Sues Vermont

Friday, 20 June 2014 12:34
By Ronnie Cummins, Organic Consumers Association | Op-Ed

Dear Organic Consumer,

Today, Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) filed a lawsuit in federal the U.S. District Court, State of Vermont, to overturn Vermont’s recently passed GMO labeling law.

Today, the Organic Consumers Association, through our allied lobbying arm, the Organic Consumers Fund, has committed to contributing as much as we can to defend Vermont’s labeling law, while we also fulfill our $500,000 pledge to help Oregon pass a GMO labeling initiative in November.

These battles that pit consumer health and rights against multi-billion corporations belong to all of us. Can you help us raise $250,000 by June 30, so we can defend Vermont and push forward in Oregon and other states? You can donate online, by mail or by phone—details here.

After years of good old-fashioned work, and playing by the rules, the grassroots labeling movement achieved its first real victory this year, when Vermont passed the first no-strings-attached law requiring mandatory labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/24505-its-official-big-food-sues-vermont

Juan Cole: Obama Prepares for Drone War in Iraq

By Juan Cole

President Barack Obama announced on Thursday that he will send 300 Green Beret Army special operations soldiers to Iraq. They will be detailed to Iraqi National Army Headquarters and brigade HQs and their primary task will apparently be intelligence-gathering and helping with the Iraqi National Army response to the advances of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL). Likely the intelligence-gathering in turn is intended to allow the deployment in Iraq of American drones. At the moment, the US has no good intelligence on the basis of which to fly the drones.

Obama underlined that no combat troops will be sent to Iraq.

These steps are in part obviously a political response to the Republican War Chorus that has blamed him for doing nothing (they can’t any longer say ‘nothing’) about the Iraq crisis. To the extent the moves are political, they are frankly craven. Obama should just have said no. If he needed covert intelligence, that is what the CIA and the NSA are for. (By the way, if the NSA surveillance program was really doing its job, how come northern and western Iraq could take Washington by surprise by seceding from the country in favor of a would-be al-Qaeda affiliate? Maybe they should be paying less attention to guys in Texas selling dime bags and more to like, actual al-Qaeda?)

To the extent that Obama is likely paving the way to US drone strikes on ISIS in Iraq, he is mysteriously failing to take his own advice. He has already admitted that the Iraq crisis is political and not military, and said that there are no military solutions. The Sunni Iraqis of Mosul, Tikrit and other towns of the west and north of the country have risen up and thrown off the government and the army of Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The uprising was coordinated with ISIS, but was made up of many groups and to some extent was the spontaneous act of townspeople. Droning some ISIS commanders to death isn’t going to change the situation in Mosul, a city of 2 million that is done out with the Maliki government. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.juancole.com/2014/06/obama-prepares-drone.html

Chris Hedges: Wages of Rebellion

Barbara Lee: "Because the reality is there is no military solution in Iraq."

Washington, D.C. –Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee introduced four amendments to the 2015 Department of Defense appropriations bill to prevent a war in Iraq, prevent future funding for combat operations in Afghanistan and to prevent funding for the Authorization of Use of Military Force (AUMF).

“We must not let history repeat itself in Iraq. Because the reality is there is no military solution in Iraq. This is a sectarian war with long standing roots that were flamed when we invaded Iraq in 2003. And, after more than a decade of war, thousands of American lives lost, and billions of dollars spent, the American people oppose another military escalation in the Middle East. Further, any lasting solution must be political and take into account respect for the entire Iraqi population.”

The specific amendments include:

No funding for combat operations in Iraq

Consistent with the President’s assurances that he will not send U.S. troops back into combat in Iraq, this amendment clarifies no funding in the bill can be used for combat operations. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used for deploying members of the Armed Forces on the ground in Iraq for purposes of engaging in combat operations.

No funding for 2002 Iraq AUMF

This amendment prohibits funding for the use of force pursuant to the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force in Iraq. The FY2015 DOD Appropriations bill does not include funding for operations pursuant to the Iraq AUMF. None of the funds made available under this Act may be obligated or expended pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002. .......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://lee.house.gov/newsroom/press-releases/congresswoman-barbara-lee-introduces-amendments-to-prevent-war-in-iraq

Chris Hedges: Wages of Rebellion

Water Privatization: Coming to a Century Old System Near You?

Water Privatization: Coming to a Century Old System Near You?

Wednesday, 18 June 2014 10:26
By Ellen Dannin, Truthout | News Analysis

The good news is that our more than a century old, dangerously deteriorating water and wastewater systems are about to get long overdue attention. Not only did Congress give the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (WRRDA) a landslide vote - House (412-4) and Senate (91-7) - but on June 10, President Obama signed on.

WRRDA is bringing joy to the financial industry, construction unions, environmentalists, legislators, the transportation industry and almost anyone or thing connected with water. The only thing that seems to be missing is holding hands and singing "Kumbaya." But, while WRRDA has many long-needed features, the reality is that some parts of the law are seriously problematic.

The Word on WRRDA

If you haven't heard of WRRDA, that doesn't mean it is not a big deal. The law's Title I reforms existing problematic water programs. Title II covers navigation and navigable waters. Title III concerns programs related to extreme weather events. Title IV addresses navigable rivers, rural western water and coastal areas. And Title V, which provides public financing for privatized water projects, is likely to be the most controversial of all these provisions.

Among the projects that WRRDA's co-sponsors, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California) and Sen. David Vitter (R-Lousiana), are targeting include infrastructure that is often described as "crumbling" or "past their useful life," including bridges, canals, harbors and rivers. Their goals include creating modern water transportation that will lessen the need for ground transportation and the problems of congestion and pollution. WRRDA also paves the way for the creation of infrastructure that is more resilient in the face of extreme weather and natural disasters, such as floods and droughts. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/24359-water-privatization-coming-to-a-century-old-system-near-you

What We've Lost Since 9/11: Taking Down the First Amendment in Post-Constitutional America

from TomDispatch:

What We've Lost Since 9/11
Taking Down the First Amendment in Post-Constitutional America

By Peter Van Buren

America has entered its third great era: the post-constitutional one. In the first, in the colonial years, a unitary executive, the King of England, ruled without checks and balances, allowing no freedom of speech, due process, or privacy when it came to protecting his power.

In the second, the principles of the Enlightenment and an armed rebellion were used to push back the king’s abuses. The result was a new country and a new constitution with a Bill of Rights expressly meant to check the government's power. Now, we are wading into the shallow waters of a third era, a time when that government is abandoning the basic ideas that saw our nation through centuries of challenges far more daunting than terrorism. Those ideas -- enshrined in the Bill of Rights -- are disarmingly concise. Think of them as the haiku of a genuine people's government.

Deeper, darker waters lie ahead and we seem drawn down into them. For here there be monsters.

The Powers of a Police State Denied

America in its pre-constitutional days may seem eerily familiar even to casual readers of current events. We lived then under the control of a king. (Think now: the imperial presidency.) That king was a powerful, unitary executive who ruled at a distance. His goal was simple: to use his power over “his” American colonies to draw the maximum financial gain while suppressing any dissent that might endanger his control. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175856/tomgram%3A_peter_van_buren%2C_rip%2C_the_bill_of_rights/#more

He's slithered out of the ground again......

(WaPo) Today, on the Senate floor, Harry Reid said: “Being on the wrong side of Dick Cheney is being on the right side of history.”

Reid was responding to Cheney’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal with his daughter Liz attacking the Obama administration’s policies in the Middle East and elsewhere, a piece that has already generated much discussion. The Cheneys have also formed an organization, the Alliance for a Strong America, to advocate Cheneyite policies (you can tell it’ll be strong and resolute, because in the announcement video, Dick is wearing a cowboy hat).

The Cheneys’ op ed and new organization capture a key facet of conservatives’ approach to the foreign policies of the Obama era: They ply their ideas from a strange place where history started in January 2009.

The Cheneys offer no discussion of the disastrous decision to invade Iraq in the first place (though they still surely believe the war was a great idea, they apparently realize most Americans don’t agree). But anything that happened afterward can only be Obama’s fault. They write, “Mr. Obama had only to negotiate an agreement to leave behind some residual American forces, training and intelligence capabilities to help secure the peace. Instead, he abandoned Iraq and we are watching American defeat snatched from the jaws of victory.” ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2014/06/18/maybe-listening-to-dick-cheney-on-iraq-isnt-a-good-idea/

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