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We're living in an age of unprecedented austerity.
Now, that sounds impossible to conservatives who know, just know, that government has exploded under Obama's socialist watch. And that we have trillion dollar deficits—dun, dun, dun—as far as the eye can see. But I have some good news for them (though not the economy). They're wrong. Government employment has actually fallen under Obama, and the deficit is falling fast too.
As Ben Bernanke put it, "people don't appreciate how tight fiscal policy has been." And how much that's knee-capped the economy. Take jobs. Bernanke points out that total public sector employment—local, state, and federal—has fallen by over 600,000 during the recovery alone. As point of comparison, it rose by 400,000 during the previous one.
But even this million person job swing doesn't tell us how historic austerity has been this time. You have to look at the chart below to see that. It shows government job growth during every recovery on record, going back to 1945.
A bit dated, but a great chart!
Posted by grahamhgreen | Mon Feb 10, 2014, 05:39 PM (1 replies)
The actual prison memorial is like a live re-enactment of the Josef Goebbels Handbook, complete with (American) mannequins torturing (Vietnamese) mannequins and a set of instructions for each torment, no matter how self-explanatory it may seem, including:
To break Prisoners Tooth: Torturer puts tip of wood chunk on prisoners tooth. He strikes violently. Tooth breaks immediately.
To Drive Nails into prisoners body: The torturer drives nails of differing lengths (three to ten centimeters) into vulnerable organs of the prisoner: fingertips, backs of hand, instep, shoulder blades, knee and even skull.
To force prisoners to turn somersaults on iron bar: Jailer forces prisoner to take his clothes off and turn continuous somersaults on iron bar full of sharp pointed holes. All his body is peeled off.
To Boil prisoner: torturer covers prisoner with jute bag and throws him into cauldron of water on the boil. Prisoner dies with his skin peeled off.
To BROIL prisoner: Prisoner is tied to two long iron bars, 80 centimeters off the ground. Torturer broils prisoner on slow fire. Like broiling a mullet.
Torture is cool now, right?
Or should we prosecute those among us who commit these crimes willingly?
Posted by grahamhgreen | Fri Feb 7, 2014, 06:02 PM (2 replies)
Posted by grahamhgreen | Wed Feb 5, 2014, 07:48 PM (4 replies)
Gay marriage and legal cannabis.
She finally came to support gay marriage (I think), and is still foot dragging on cannabis (as far as I know).
We need someone who can lead (not follow) on the following issues (don't ya think):
1) Medicare for All
2) Re-taxing the wealthiest at the Greatest Generation rate of 91%, or 74%.
3) Killing the TPP and withdrawing from our costly trade agreements.
4) Ending the wars and finding non-violent solutions to conflict like other adults.
5) Prosecuting torture and other war crimes committed by prior administrations.
6) Restoring Habeus Corpus and closing Gitmo.
7) Ending the war on drugs and supporting Cannabis legalization.
8) Curbing police brutality and the police state.
9) Protecting privacy, net neutrality and enshrining it into law.
10) Increasing the minimum wage to $15/hr. or more, breaking/unionizing up Walmart and neo-monopolies.
11) Prosecuting corrupt bankers and Wall Street personnel, reforming the Fed.
12) Supporting Move to Amend.
13) Passing card check, supporting unions
14) Supporting our teachers unions and public schools
15) Ending the privatization of schools, jails, and other public institutions.
To tell you the truth, I don't know what she stands for, kinda pro war, pro security state, and what else?
Although, I must say, she is quite charming!
Posted by grahamhgreen | Tue Feb 4, 2014, 09:53 PM (160 replies)
A few months old, but a great read from RFK, Jr.:
On November 22nd, 1963, my uncle, president John F. Kennedy, went to Dallas intending to condemn as "nonsense" the right-wing notion that "peace is a sign of weakness." He meant to argue that the best way to demonstrate American strength was not by using destructive weapons and threats but by being a nation that "practices what it preaches about equal rights and social justice," striving toward peace instead of "aggressive ambitions."
Despite the Cold War rhetoric of his campaign, JFK's greatest ambition as president was to break the militaristic ideology that has dominated our country since World War II. He told his close friend Ben Bradlee that he wanted the epitaph "He kept the peace," and said to another friend, William Walton, "I am almost a 'peace at any price' president." Hugh Sidey, a journalist and friend, wrote that the governing aspect of JFK's leadership was "a total revulsion" of war.
Nevertheless, as James W. Douglass argues in his book JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, JFK's presidency would be a continuous struggle with his own military and intelligence agencies, which engaged in incessant schemes to trap him into escalating the Cold War into a hot one. His first major confrontation with the Pentagon, the Bay of Pigs catastrophe, came only three months into his presidency and would set the course for the next 1,000 days.
JFK's predecessor, Dwight D. Eisenhower, had finalized support on March 17th, 1960, for a Cuban invasion by anti-Castro insurgents, but the wily general left its execution to the incoming Kennedy team. From the start, JFK recoiled at the caper's stench, as CIA Director Allen Dulles has acknowledged, demanding assurances from CIA and Pentagon brass that there was no chance of failure and that there would be no need for U.S. military involvement. Dulles and the generals knowingly lied and gave him those guarantees.
When the invasion failed, JFK refused to order airstrikes against Castro. Realizing he had been drawn into a trap, he told his top aides, David Powers and Kenneth O'Donnell, "They were sure I'd give in to them and send the go-ahead order to the Essex. They couldn't believe that a new president like me wouldn't panic and try to save his own face. Well, they had me figured all wrong." JFK was realizing that the CIA posed a monumental threat to American democracy. As the brigade faltered, he told Arthur Schlesinger that he wanted to "splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds."
Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/john-f-kennedys-vision-of-peace-20131120#ixzz2sPPyCwVx
Follow us: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook
The thought that our President and elected representatives would play into the hands of the military and spy apparatus was as disturbing to JFK then as it is to the majority of Americans now.
Posted by grahamhgreen | Tue Feb 4, 2014, 09:14 PM (2 replies)
Posted by grahamhgreen | Sat Feb 1, 2014, 01:15 PM (0 replies)
Tonight, President Obama talked about the deepening inequality.
But that is a testament of his own presidency. A presidency that has betrayed the hopes of tens of millions of people who voted for him out of a genuine desire for fundamental change away from corporate politics and war mongering.
Poverty is at record-high numbers – 95% of the gains in productivity during the so-called recovery have gone to the top 1%.
The president’s focus on income inequality was an admission of the failure of his policies.
An admission forced by rallies, demonstrations, and strikes by fast food and low wage workers demanding a minimum wage of $15. It has been forced by the outrage over the widening gulf between the super-rich and those of us working to create this wealth in society.
While the criminals on Wall Street are bailed out, courageous whistleblowers like Edward Snowden are hunted down and the unconstitutional acts he exposed are allowed to continue.
Obama is the president who is using smartphone apps – games like Angry Birds – to spy against tens of millions of ordinary people in a completely blatant violation of basic constitutional rights.
The President claims ending two wars while he continues to intensify a brutal campaign of drone wars in multiple countries, killing hundreds of innocent civilians, and not to mention the plight of US soldiers returning with permanent medical conditions and declining veterans’ benefits.
Obama is the president whose broken website is a symbol of the broken hopes of millions who believed his promises for affordable healthcare.
“Climate change is a fact,” says Obama.
Here is another fact: Climate change is getting worse and worse, on his watch. There has been a massive increase in incredibly destructive practices like the use of coal and fracking.
Leadership in stopping the disastrous Keystone XL pipeline has come not from Obama or Congress, but from the thousands of courageous people organizing and taking direct action to stop it.
Obama shouts “Fix our broken immigration system.” He is the president with record numbers of deportations.
My brothers and sisters, these problems are not new. And they are not an accident.
Working people have faced nearly four decades of wage stagnation and rising income inequality.
Four decades, with four Republican presidents and three Democratic presidents. Four decades that show neither party can solve these problems and that both fundamentally represent the same interests – the interests of the super-wealthy and big corporations.
We will only make progress on the basis of fundamental, systemic change. We need a break from the policies of Wall Street and Corporate America. We need a break from capitalism. It has failed the 99%.
Both parties bow down before the free market, and loyally serve the interests of their corporate masters – the only difference being a matter of degree.
The political system is completely dysfunctional and broken. It is drowning in corporate cash.
Working people, youth, people of color, women, the elderly, the disabled, immigrants – the 99% – have no voice or representation
We need our own political party. Independent of big business, and independent of the parties of big business.
Some say it cannot be done.
But look at the example of my campaign for Seattle City Council. I ran as an open socialist. I did not take a penny in corporate cash. My campaign raised $140,000 from ordinary working people. I ran as an independent working-class challenger to the capitalist establishment.
I ran on a platform of $15 minimum wage, taxing the super-rich to pay for mass transit and education, and for affordable housing, including rent control.
I am only taking the average worker’s wage while politicians in Seattle and in Congress are totally out of touch with the lives of the rest of us.
We built a grassroots campaign of over 450 people. With almost 100,000 votes, my election was the first time in decades an independent socialist was elected in a major US city.
Americans are hungry for something different. And it’s not just in Seattle. A recent poll showed that sixty percent of Americans want a third party.
Let’s talk about minimum wage. Obama said, “No one working full-time should have to raise a family in poverty.”
And his solution? Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 over 3 years.
I absolutely welcome any step forward on raising the minimum wage. And it is outrageous how the Republican Party is standing in the way.
But let’s be honest: $10.10/hour over three years – or $20,000 per year if you are lucky enough to have a full-time job – is not a ticket out of poverty for working families.
Fast food workers and Walmart workers have gone on strike and built powerful protests in cities in every part of the country over the past year for $15/hour. And that is the only reason politicians are now talking about raising the minimum wage.
Look at the example of the SeaTac $15/hour initiative. A initiative for $15/hour minimum wage was on the ballot – and won!
“Let’s make this a year of action,” Obama said.
In my view, we need action by working people and the poor for higher wages and a $15/hour minimum wage. Action by young people fighting student fees and the debt around their neck for the rest of their life. Action by homeowners against the epidemic of foreclosures. By trade unionists against anti-trade union laws and for workers’ rights.
Get active in your union. Get active in a local movement. Join the struggle to defend the environment.
Join with me and my organization, Socialist Alternative, to challenge big business and fight capitalism.
The epicenter of the fight back in 2014 is the Fight for Fifteen. I urge you to be part of this struggle. Find out more and sign up to get involved at 15Now.org.
We will lose if we do not excite the left wing of this country.
EDIT: oops, link http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/01/29/1273414/-The-Real-Socialist-State-of-the-Union#
Posted by grahamhgreen | Fri Jan 31, 2014, 08:47 PM (303 replies)
The Crime of Aggression is a crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court:
Under the Statute, the definition of "crime of aggression" is stated as follows:
Article 8 bis
1. For the purpose of this Statute, “crime of aggression” means the planning, preparation, initiation or execution, by a person in a position effectively to exercise control over or to direct the political or military action of a State, of an act of aggression which, by its character, gravity and scale, constitutes a manifest violation of the Charter of the United Nations.
2. For the purpose of paragraph 1, “act of aggression” means the use of armed force by a State against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of another State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Charter of the United Nations. Any of the following acts, regardless of a declaration of war, shall, in accordance with United Nations General Assembly resolution 3314 (XXIX) of 14 December 1974, qualify as an act of aggression:
(a) The invasion or attack by the armed forces of a State of the territory of another State, or any military occupation, however temporary, resulting from such invasion or attack, or any annexation by the use of force of the territory of another State or part thereof;
(b) Bombardment by the armed forces of a State against the territory of another State or the use of any weapons by a State against the territory of another State;
(c) The blockade of the ports or coasts of a State by the armed forces of another State;
(d) An attack by the armed forces of a State on the land, sea or air forces, or marine and air fleets of another State;
(e) The use of armed forces of one State which are within the territory of another State with the agreement of the receiving State, in contravention of the conditions provided for in the agreement or any extension of their presence in such territory beyond the termination of the agreement;
(f) The action of a State in allowing its territory, which it has placed at the disposal of another State, to be used by that other State for perpetrating an act of aggression against a third State;
(g) The sending by or on behalf of a State of armed bands, groups, irregulars or mercenaries, which carry out acts of armed force against another State of such gravity as to amount to the acts listed above, or its substantial involvement therein.
Posted by grahamhgreen | Fri Jan 31, 2014, 04:27 PM (0 replies)
For years, corporations were--and still are--shifting profits to offshore tax havens, starving Montana and other states of millions in revenues. So the Big Sky state introduced a simple fix: make corporations report profits going to known tax havens and then tax a share of it, relying on the same formula the state uses to calculate how to tax businesses with operations throughout the nation. In 2010, alone, Montana’s solution to the problem raked in $7.2 million in cash.
Last summer, Oregon became the only other state to join it, but there are others who stand to gain millions through making similar changes, according to a new report. Some 21 other states already require corporations report profits generated in and out of the state, according to the report produced by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a pro-consumer group countering big banks, insurers, manufacturers and other special interests. If those states had been taxing profits diverted to offshore havens in 2012, they could have generated another billion dollars in revenue, the group estimates.
“With Congress often gridlocked, states should take action to reduce the impact of offshore tax havens on state budgets,” the report’s authors argue.
Estimates of the federal impact vary, but a report last year from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service cited a range of $10 billion to $90 billion in lost revenues annually. Yet, despite broad support for taxing corporate overseas profits and high-profile stories on the practice, the federal government has yet to do much about the problem. Enter the states.
Posted by grahamhgreen | Fri Jan 31, 2014, 11:56 AM (3 replies)
"The greatest purveyor of violence in the world : My own Government, I can not be Silent."- Dr. King
At this point I should make it clear that while I have tried in these last few minutes to give a voice to the voiceless on Vietnam and to understand the arguments of those who are called enemy, I am as deeply concerned about our troops there as anything else. For it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must know after a short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved. Before long they must know that their government has sent them into a struggle among Vietnamese, and the more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy and the secure while we create hell for the poor.
This Madness Must Cease
Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours.
This is the message of the great Buddhist leaders of Vietnam. Recently one of them wrote these words:
"Each day the war goes on the hatred increases in the heart of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism."
If we continue, there will be no doubt in my mind and in the mind of the world that we have no honorable intentions in Vietnam. It will become clear that our minimal expectation is to occupy it as an American colony and men will not refrain from thinking that our maximum hope is to goad China into a war so that we may bomb her nuclear installations. If we do not stop our war against the people of Vietnam immediately the world will be left with no other alternative than to see this as some horribly clumsy and deadly game we have decided to play.
The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Vietnam, that we have been detrimental to the life of the Vietnamese people. The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn sharply from our present ways.
In order to atone for our sins and errors in Vietnam, we should take the initiative in bringing a halt to this tragic war. I would like to suggest five concrete things that our government should do immediately to begin the long and difficult process of extricating ourselves from this nightmarish conflict:
End all bombing in North and South Vietnam.
Declare a unilateral cease-fire in the hope that such action will create the atmosphere for negotiation.
Take immediate steps to prevent other battlegrounds in Southeast Asia by curtailing our military buildup in Thailand and our interference in Laos.
Realistically accept the fact that the National Liberation Front has substantial support in South Vietnam and must thereby play a role in any meaningful negotiations and in any future Vietnam government.
Set a date that we will remove all foreign troops from Vietnam in accordance with the 1954 Geneva agreement.
Part of our ongoing commitment might well express itself in an offer to grant asylum to any Vietnamese who fears for his life under a new regime which included the Liberation Front. Then we must make what reparations we can for the damage we have done. We most provide the medical aid that is badly needed, making it available in this country if necessary.
Protesting The War
Meanwhile we in the churches and synagogues have a continuing task while we urge our government to disengage itself from a disgraceful commitment. We must continue to raise our voices if our nation persists in its perverse ways in Vietnam. We must be prepared to match actions with words by seeking out every creative means of protest possible.
As we counsel young men concerning military service we must clarify for them our nation's role in Vietnam and challenge them with the alternative of conscientious objection. I am pleased to say that this is the path now being chosen by more than seventy students at my own alma mater, Morehouse College, and I recommend it to all who find the American course in Vietnam a dishonorable and unjust one. Moreover I would encourage all ministers of draft age to give up their ministerial exemptions and seek status as conscientious objectors. These are the times for real choices and not false ones. We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly. Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest.
Posted by grahamhgreen | Tue Jan 21, 2014, 07:26 AM (10 replies)