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Struggling to Get By In a Cold, Cold World

 

Empathy Deficit Disorder

 

**VIDEO**

 

Robert Reich
Robert Reich.org

 

 

Commenting on a recent student suicide at an Alaska high school, Alaska’s Republican Congressman Don Young said suicide didn’t exist in Alaska before “government largesse” gave residents an entitlement mentality.

“When people had to work and had to provide and had to keep warm by putting participation in cutting wood and catching the fish and killing the animals, we didn’t have the suicide problem,” he said.  Government handouts tell people “you are not worth anything but you are going to get something for nothing.”

Alaska has the highest rate of suicide per capita in America – almost twice the national average, and a leading cause of death in Alaska for young people ages 15 to 24 — but I doubt it’s because Alaskans lead excessively easy lives.

Every time I visit Alaska I’m struck by how hard people there have to work to make ends meet.  The state is the last American frontier, where people seem more self-reliant than anywhere in the lower forty eight.  

It’s true that every Alaskan receives an annual dividend from a portion of state oil revenues– this year it will be almost $2,000 per person– but research shows no correlation between the amount of the dividend from year to year and the suicide rate.

Suicide is a terrible tragedy for those driven to it and for their loved ones.  What possessed Congressman Young to turn it into a political football?

Young has since apologized for his remark.  Or, more accurately, his office has apologized.  “Congressman Young did not mean to upset anyone with his well-intentioned message,” says a news release from his congressional office, “and in light of the tragic events affecting the Wasilla High School community, he should have taken a much more sensitive approach.”

Well-intentioned?  More sensitive approach?

Young’s comment would be offensive regardless of who uttered it.  That he’s a member of the United States Congress– Alaska’s sole representative in the House– makes it downright alarming.

You might expect someone who’s in the business of representing others to have a bit more empathy.  In fact, you’d think empathy would be the minimum qualification to hold public office in a democracy.

Sadly, Young is hardly alone.  A remarkable number of people who are supposed to be devoting their lives to representing others seem clueless about how their constituents actually live and what they need.

Last week New Jersey Governor Chris Christie groused to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “I’m tired of hearing about the minimum wage.”  No doubt some in the audience shared Christie’s view.  It was the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, after all.

But many of the Governor’s constituents are not tired of hearing about the minimum wage.  They depend on it.  New Jersey has among the largest number of working poor in America.  Some 50,000 people work for the state’s minimum wage of $8.25 an hour.

This isn’t nearly enough to lift them out of poverty.  The state’s cost of living is one of the five highest of all states.  

In any event, doesn’t hearing from constituents about what they need go with the job of representing them?

Christie went on to tell his audience “I don’t think there’s a mother or a father sitting around the kitchen table tonight in America saying, ‘You know, honey, if our son or daughter could just make a higher minimum wage, my God, all of our dreams would be realized.’  Is that what parents aspire to?”

A minimum-wage job is no one’s version of the American dream.  But Christie is wrong to suppose most minimum-wage workers are teenagers.  Most are adults who are major breadwinners for their families.

Christie seems to suffer the same ailment that afflicts Alaska’s Don Young.

Call it Empathy Deficit Disorder.  Some Democrats have it, but the disorder seems especially widespread among Republicans.  These politicians have no idea what people who are hard up in America are going through.

Most Americans aren’t suicidal, and most don’t work at the minimum wage.  But many are deeply anxious about their jobs and panicked about how they’re going to pay next month’s bills.

Almost two-thirds of working Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.  And they’re worried sick about whether their kids will ever make it.  They need leaders who understand their plight instead of denying it.  

They deserve politicians who want to fix it rather than blame it on those who have to depend on public assistance, or who need a higher minimum wage, in order to get by.

At the very least, they need leaders who empathize with what they’re going through, not those with Empathy Deficit Disorder.

By Robert Reich, October 27, 2014.
Images and Videos by the Humboldt Sentinel
Posted by Skippy Massey

 

 

 

 

An economist, Dr. Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton.

He also served on President Obama’s transition advisory board. His latest book is Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future. His new film Inequality for All is now available on iTunes, DVD, and On Demand.

His homepage is www.robertreich.org.

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Midterm Elections 2014: A Very Brief Autopsy

 

 

Democrat Death by Lethargy and Malaise

 

**VIDEO**

 

Dr. Joseph A. Palermo
Huffington Post

 

With the dust still settling around the 2014 midterms and much bloviating commentary inundating us as every pundit in the land interprets the meaning of the elections, we might step back for a moment and analyze some of the reasons for this latest Republican romp.

 

Historical:

Almost any junior high school history or politics teacher can tell you that throughout American history the party in power normally loses seats in midterm elections (unless something very weird is happening).

The so-called political geniuses among President Barack Obama’s brain trust appear to have been clueless going into 2010 and again (after winning reelection) in 2014.  Midterms are base elections and rather than give the Democratic base something it could really sink its teeth into, the Obama people limped into both midterms with milquetoast accomplishments and “messaging” that couldn’t rally a wet noodle.  Sometimes losing a tough fight can energize a party’s base just as much as winning.

But the Democrats, after accommodating Wall Street and corporate education “reformers” and the military-industrial complex, seemed to have lost any real fight in them.  In 2010, the Democrats failed to stand up to the big banks like the public wanted or even give a forthright defense of the new health care law.

By 2014 the base felt so let down it didn’t even bother to show up.

 

Economic:

Most Americans feel it in their bones that none of the so-called gains of the “recovery” have trickled down to their pocket books.  There’s a widespread sense of economic malaise and stagnation.

Trumpeting statistics about how wonderful a 6 percent unemployment rate is or how terrific it is to see the stock market reach a 17,000 Dow simply doesn’t resonate.  Working people know they’re working harder and longer hours these days just to get by.  Any real economic “gains” since the worst days of the Great Recession have gone to the top 1 or 2 percent of households.  The 700,000 or so public sector jobs that Wall Street destroyed in 2008-09 have been largely replaced by McJobs.

That’s why even Republican voters in Nebraska and Arkansas and other states chose to increase the minimum wage, showing that even the Chamber of Commerce types can see that putting a little more money in the pockets of the working poor might generate a few more customers for their vaunted private sector establishments like hair salons or coffee shops.

This economy blows and presidents (and their parties) more often than not take the blame.

 

Political:

Even the most cursory glance at some of the states that Democrats had to win in order to hold the Senate majority revealed a tough road ahead. 

Blue Dog Democrats (or DINOs) like Mark Pryor in Arkansas or Kay Hagan in North Carolina or Mary Landrieu in Louisiana are not the best representatives of what constitutes the Democratic base.  

And in Iowa, South Dakota, and Montana the retirements of old-school Democrats like Tom Harkin, Tim Johnson, and Max Baucus, who even the states’ residents couldn’t remember when they were first elected, created a huge opening for Republicans in these rural states.

Outside SuperPAC money goes a long way in these states.  If the Koch Brothers drop a million or two million dollars in a state like South Dakota or Montana they get a lot of bang for their buck.  The states that were in play in 2014 due to retirements, a restless electorate, and low turnout were all states one would expect Democrats to do poorly in.

 

Sociological:

The electorate that votes in midterm elections is older and whiter and looks more like the viewership of The O’Reilly Factor than anything that accurately reflects the true racial and ethnic diversity of this country.

This trend held true in 2010 and 2014, in part, because the Democratic establishment failed to give non-white and youthful voters anything substantive that might energize them.

 

Anthropological:

Anyone who sees the recent successes in the courts and at the ballot box legalizing gay marriage or the use of marijuana as indicators that the “culture wars” of the last thirty years have receded is in store for a big surprise.

In both the 2010 and 2014 midterms where Republicans succeeded fabulously, most GOP candidates did not shy away from taking strong and open stands against abortion rights.  Brent Bozell of ForAmerica and Marjorie Dannenfelser of Susan B. Anthony List and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and Jenny Beth Martin of the Tea Party Patriots were all instrumental in getting the Christian faithful to the polls and they’re expecting congressional action on cultural issues.

It should come as no surprise that the 113th Congress spent oodles of time passing anti-abortion bills knowing they
had no chance of clearing the Senate.  

Now that they have the Senate too, we’ll see a slew of bills attacking women’s reproductive rights.

Just because they failed to get personhood laws passed in Colorado and North Dakota this time around doesn’t mean that the culture warriors won’t take them up in the 114th Congress.  These foot soldiers among social conservatives who lick the envelopes and knock on doors and give money to anti-choice Republican candidates have high expectations that their hard work will be rewarded by policy.

 

Psychological:

Some surveys indicate that as many as 37 percent of 2014 voters couldn’t tell pollsters which party controlled Congress, but they all knew President Obama was the “true source” of what’s wrong with Washington.

Congressional leadership is diffuse; few people even know who John Boehner is or anything about the Senate filibuster or Mitch McConnell’s obstructionism.  But Obama is front and center because the presidency is a highly personalized office.  Obama’s face is on the front page of the newspapers a lot.

The Republicans have even manufactured a narrative that it was Obama who shut down the government, not them.  Chief executives, especially charismatic leaders with a bit of a cult of personality surrounding them, are easily vilified and blamed for everything that’s going wrong, whereas the congressional leaders can blend into the background.

Mitch McConnell and Reince Priebus and Karl Rove understand this psychological phenomenon.  They knew they could duck responsibility for their own obstructionism.   It’s relatively easy to focus people’s wrath on one famous individual.

Toss in some visually powerful ads scaring the crap out of people with Ebola and ISIS and blaming Obama for their fears and anxieties, and the emotional equation is complete.

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Posted in National, Opinion, Politics1 Comment

Funding Higher Education for All

 

Profiting from Students …Appropriately

 

**VIDEO**

 

Jim Hightower
JimHightower.org

 

Question:

Is making higher education available to every American more important to our national interest than letting Wall Street profiteers make a few more billions of dollars each year?

Answer:

Of course. Yet, our political leaders– pushed by Wall Street lobbyists– have been making the opposite choice for years.

As a result, banksters have loaded students down with a mountain of high-interest loans, rising from just over $2 billion a decade ago to nearly a trillion last year.  

Worse, the financiers– either banks or government lenders– have become the gatekeepers of advanced education, shutting out thousands of young people wanting to get ahead, but not able to hurdle the formidable financial barrier.

This is enormously costly to America and completely unnecessary.  The smart choice, as we learned from the GI Bill after World War II, would be to make college and professional training free.  Universal access to higher education– i.e., free access– produces a very high return on the public’s investment while also producing widely-shared prosperity and a broadly-educated citizenry.

Of course, an up-front investment in a smarter, more productive, more democratic civilization is pricey.  So where do we get the money to do what America needs?

Get it from where it went.  Wall Street’s super-rich speculators are now making millions of super-fast, robotic financial transactions per second, generating trillions of dollars a year for them– but producing nothing of real value for us, while distorting and endangering markets.

Put a tiny tax on each of those automated gambles by speculators, and more than enough money will come into the public coffers to free up higher education for all.

For information, check out United States Students Association: www.usstudents.org.

“Why Have Student Loans At All? Let’s Get the Burdens of Debt off College Students’ Backs– And Make Wall St. Pick Up the Tab,” www.alternet.org, July 2, 2013.

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Jim Hightower is a Texan, columnist, and populist who believes that to move America from greed to greatness, we must fuel the power and the passion of our nation’s workaday majority.

A national radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author, he frequently appears on television and radio programs bringing a hard-hitting populist viewpoint that rarely gets into the mass media. 

He broadcasts daily radio commentaries that are carried on more than 150 commercial and public stations, on the web, and on Radio for Peace International.  A popular public speaker who is fiery and funny, he is a populist road warrior who delivers more than 100 speeches a year to all kinds of groups.

He has written seven books and is a New York Times bestselling author.

As political columnist Molly Ivins said, “If Will Rogers and Mother Jones had a baby, Jim Hightower would be that rambunctious child — mad as hell and with a sense of humor.”

You can listen to more of Jim Hightower’s commentaries here.

 

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Wasting Billions of Tax Dollars on Nothing

 

Corporate Contractors’ Heavy Burdens on Taxpayers

 

**VIDEO**

 

Ralph Nader
RalphNader.org

 

Next time you hear federal officials say that there is no money to repair or build necessary public facilities in your community, ask them why there always seems to be money to greatly overpay for government projects routinely outsourced to corporate contractors.

It is important to understand why incomplete projects such as the proposed campus-like Department of Homeland Security in Washington DC, the “cleanup” of the biggest repository of radioactive waste in the US at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Southeastern Washington State, the ballistic missile defense program, and the pie-in-the-sky fusion reactors have gone way over budget.  They are either behind schedule, or without any clue for completion or cessation.

First the dismal scenes: According to the Washington Post,

“The construction of a massive new headquarters for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) … is running more than $1.5 billion over budget, is 11 years behind schedule and may never be completed, according to planning documents and federal officials.  The entire complex was to be finished as early as this year, at a cost of less than $3 billion.”

 

Only one of the buildings for the Coast Guard has opened at DHS.

Second, at Hanford, more than $30 billion has already been spent for the “cleanup,” under a Tri-Party Agreement between the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. EPA and the Washington State Department of Ecology.

Started in 1989, the effort had a proposed 30 year timetable.  Instead, Hanford officials say they are decades and tens of billions of dollars from completion of this admittedly sprawling brew of atomic weapons waste in 177 giant underground storage tanks and nine nuclear reactors.

Third, the much ballyhooed Department of Energy’s Fusion Energy Science program has been receiving federal funding since 1951 and has not yet had a replicable successful discovery from which to generate affordable energy.

It is a boondoggle annuity for contracting university physicists and companies who once in awhile issue a news release announcing a presumed partial step forward as to keep hope alive for awe-struck science writers.

As the late physicist, Norman Milleron, a critic who worked at the Lawrence Livermore Lab was wont to say: “why not focus on the best fusion reactor we’ll ever have– the Sun?

Fourth, for thirty-years the ballistic missile defense pork barrel has fed the likes of Raytheon and the insatiable corporate lobby that has grown up to feed off the tens of billions of dollars already spent– over $9 billion this year, almost as much as the EPA’s budget.

Unfortunately the test results show ballistic missile defense systems don’t work.  Nor will it likely ever have substantial success.

So dubious is this endless program, that years ago the American Physical Society delivered the ultimate denunciation:  they declared the mission unworkable.  The leading opponent, Prof. Theodore Postol of MIT continues to dissect its stumbling, deceptive history and how Congress continues its annual deceptions as it writes gigantic taxpayer checks.

The examples cannot compare to the tens of billions of dollars in ‘cost-overuns’ on the F-35 and F-22 fighter planes whose Pentagon orders from Lockheed-Martin keep being reduced because of the sky-rocketing cost of each plane. 

The F-35 is now at $115 million each.  The F-22’s last plane in 2009 cost $137 million, the equivalent to $151 million in 2014 dollars.  The F-35 is still in early production after decades of trouble.

What gives here?  How could the remarkable P-38 of World War II come in at $1.3 million a plane, inflation-adjusted, and be produced so quickly in 1944?

Corporations knowingly submitted unrealistic budgets– “lowballing”– to win federal contracts and funding of these projects instead of opting for adequate, more feasible and frugal alternatives.  Congress enacts perpetuating pork barreling by default.

Least noticed are the detailed terms of the contracts themselves.  

Tighter contracts could have held the government and contractors’ feet to the fire in a variety of ways that could be culled from the history of past successful projects that came in on time and budget.

Contract terms could include: putting named compliance officers on the hot seat;  automatic disclosure to the public of the full texts of the contracts, including their observance over time;  more breaking points to penalize and/or jettison contractors;  and better oversight of the early planning process by Congressional Committees are roads to good performances.

Powerful special interest lobby push for sweetheart deals.  These aforementioned projects will continue to waste taxpayers’ dollars.  This crony capitalism is disgraceful.

In all this miasma, there are vastly over-budget delays, screw-ups and incompletions.  Nassim Talib elaborated on this topic in his under-appreciated recent book– Antifragile (2012).  He writes about the importance of having “skin in the game,” noting that Roman engineers had “to spend some time under the bridge they built– something that should be required of financial engineers today.”

From all pertinent directions regarding a project, the supposedly responsible people need to have skin in the game.  It does wonders for focusing attention.

It starts with the people who conceive, plan, and fund projects.

And it doesn’t leave out the lawyers who draft those porous contracts filled with escape clauses.

~Courtesy Ralph Nader and Nader.org

 

Ralph Nader is one of America’s most effective social critics. 

Named by The Atlantic as one of the 100 most influential figures in American history and by Time and Life magazines as one of the hundred most influential Americans of the twentieth century, his documented criticism of government and industry has had widespread effect on public awareness and bureaucratic power.

A prolific author, his inspiration and example have galvanized a whole population of consumer advocates, citizen activists, and public interest lawyers who in turn have established their own organizations throughout the country.

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Our government waste and overspending needs to stop.

In 2009, the United States government spent some $650 billion on its military, more than the next 46 highest-spending countries combined.  Much of this ended up in the hands of profit-driven weapons manufacturers.

Congress needs to reign back the wasteful spending, budget overruns, and what President Eisenhower famously called the “military industrial complex.”

With the U.S. having waged two wars overseas at the same time millions of people were out of work at home, those pushing to reel in government spending and balance the budget would be wise to look carefully at bloated and unchecked military spending that has continued ever since.

 

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America’s Flagging Economy Pales to Others

 

Vast Majority of Canadians and Europeans Live Longer, Happier Lives

 

**VIDEO**
‘Money is Material’

by Avant/Garde Diaries

 

Robert Reich
RobertReich.org

 

For years Americans have assumed that our hard-charging capitalism
is better than the soft-hearted version found in Canada and Europe.

American capitalism might be a bit crueler but it generates faster growth and higher living standards overall. Canada’s and Europe’s “welfare-state socialism” is doomed, we’re led to believe.  

It was a questionable assumption to begin with, relying to some extent on our collective amnesia about the first three decades after World War II, when tax rates on top incomes in the U.S. never fell below 70 percent, a larger portion of our economy was invested in education, and over a third of our private-sector workers were unionized. 

We came up with Medicare for the elderly and Medicaid for the poor, and built the biggest infrastructure project in history known as the interstate highway system.

But then came America’s big U-turn, when we deregulated, de-unionized, lowered taxes on the top, ended welfare, and stopped investing as much of the economy in education and infrastructure.

Meanwhile, Canada and Europe continued on as before.  Soviet communism went bust, and many of us assumed European and Canadian “socialism” would as well.

That’s why recent data from the Luxembourg Income Study Database  is so shocking.

The fact is, we’re falling behind.  While median per capita income in the United States has stagnated since 2000, it’s up significantly in Canada and Northern Europe.  Their typical worker’s income is now higher than ours, and their disposable income– after taxes– higher still.

It’s difficult to make exact comparisons of income across national borders because real purchasing power is hard to measure.  

But even if we assume Canadians and the citizens of several European nations have simply drawn even with the American middle class, they’re doing better in many other ways.

Most of them get free health care and subsidized child care.  And if they lose their jobs, they get far more generous unemployment benefits than we do.  In fact, right now 75 percent of jobless Americans lack any unemployment benefits.

If you think we make up for it by working less and getting paid more on an hourly basis, think again.  There, at least three weeks paid vacation is the norm, along with paid sick leave, and paid parental leave.

We’re working an average of 4.6 percent more hours more than the typical Canadian worker, 21 percent more than the typical French worker, and a whopping 28 percent more than your typical German worker, according to data compiled by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof.

But at least Americans are more satisfied, aren’t we?  Not really. According to opinion surveys and interviews, it’s the Canadians and Northern Europeans who are.

They also live longer, their rate of infant mortality is lower, and women
in these countries are far less likely to die as result of complications in
pregnancy or childbirth.

But at least we’re the land of more equal opportunity, right?

Wrong.  Their poor kids have a better chance of getting ahead.  While 42 percent of American kids born into poor families remain poor through their adult lives, only 30 percent of Britain’s poor kids remain impoverished– and even smaller percentages in other rich countries.

Yes, the American economy continues to grow faster than the economies of Canada and Europe.  But faster growth hasn’t translated into higher living standards for most Americans.

Almost all our economic gains have been going to the top– into corporate profits and the stock market– more than a third of whose value is owned by the richest 1 percent.  And into executive pay:  European CEOs take home far less than their American counterparts.

America’s rich also pay much lower taxes than do the rich in Canada and Europe.

But surely Europe can’t go on like this.  You hear it all the time:  They can no longer afford their welfare state.

That depends on what’s meant by “welfare state.”

If high-quality education is included, we’d do well to emulate them.  Americans between the ages of 16 and 24 rank near the bottom among rich countries in literacy and numeracy.  That spells trouble for the U.S. economy in the future.

They’re also doing more workforce training, and doing it better, than we are.  The result is more skilled workers.  

Universal health care is another part of their “welfare state” that saves them money because healthier workers are more productive.

So let’s put ideology aside.  The practical choice isn’t between capitalism and “welfare-state socialism.” 

It’s between a system that’s working for a few at the top, or one that’s working for just about everyone.

Which would you prefer?

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An economist, Dr. Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton.

He also served on President Obama’s transition advisory board.  His latest book is Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future. His new film Inequality for All is now available on iTunes, DVD, and On Demand.

His homepage is www.robertreich.org.

 

 

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An American Tradition: Plutocrats Despising the Poor

 

He Who Has the Gold, Rules

 

Dr. Joseph Palermo
Huffington Post

 

It’s not surprising that greater numbers of Americans these days tell pollsters they believe corporate CEOs
are grossly overpaid, that they support an increase in
the minimum wage, or they agree with Massachusetts
Senator Elizabeth Warren’s novel proposal to open an
alternative banking system through the U.S. Postal Service.

Ever since Wall Street’s giant mortgage bubble popped wreaking economic havoc with just about every working family in America, people have rediscovered that the system is rigged against them.  After the taxpayer bailout of Wall Street, the bankers continued business as usual racking up huge bonuses and going their merry way.  They were never held to account for the damage they did and they therefore see themselves as victorious and blameless.

And now it seems like each new day brings forth another billionaire or millionaire lecturing us about how working people should just suck it up.  The 99 percent should stop “envying” rich people and start “emulating” them, they say.  Working people should be grateful they don’t live in India or China where $30,000 a year is a princely sum.  And most of all they should stop annoying their “betters” with demands for “hand outs” like unemployment insurance, food stamps, and other “entitlements.”

High unemployment, low wages, a lack of job security and opportunity, and austerity are the “new normal.” 

The slashing of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the failure to extend unemployment insurance to 1.6 million people are only the latest manifestations of cold-hearted public policy that is only prolonging the slump.

Adding insult to injury we’re forced to endure over the public airwaves the incessant whining and moaning of billionaires and millionaires who believe working people are not genuflecting to them enough, or doing so without the desired level
of devotion.

 

Rich Persecution

Their mentality has religious overtones.  The love of possessions is like a disease among them.  Many of them are unbalanced people; money and power driven, with an almost godlike self-image.

In January, the San Francisco billionaire, Tom Perkins, penned a letter to the Wall Street Journal where he compared working people’s concerns about inequality to the Nazis singling out the Jews for persecution at the time of Kristallnacht.

He subsequently walked back his Kristallnacht analogy but stayed true to his “message”: criticizing the rich and powerful was “a very dangerous drift in our American thinking” that “parallels” the Nazis’ “progressive war” on its “one percent.”

Putting aside whether Hitler’s war on European Jewry was “progressive,” Mr. Perkins’ utterances do give us a glimpse into a mindset that represents a “dangerous” set of ideas– just not the ones he had in mind.

Not to be outdone, another billionaire, Sam Zell, defended Perkins’ remarks and added that not only were working people being unfair to the super-rich, but also “the one percent work harder” than the rest of society.

Zell has a point I suppose.  People like Mark Martoma of SAC Capital who was sentenced to 45 years in federal prison for insider trading; JP Morgan’s Jamie Dimon, who paid a $13 billion settlement to the U.S. Justice Department; and Fabrice Fabulous Fab Tourre of Goldman Sachs who was found guilty of securities fraud– all must work very hard, indeed.

And think of all the other Wolves of Wall Street who made so much money pumping up the fraudulent mortgage securities markets: Countrywide’s Angelo Mozilo and the good ‘ol boys at Goldman Sachs who
just skated by the Great Recession and are now hoarding
the benefits of the “recovery.”

 

‘Acres of Diamonds’

In the late-19th Century, a Yale educated minister named Russell Conwell delivered a lecture, called “Acres of Diamonds,” over five thousand times around the country where he reached several million people.

The crux of his spiel went like this:

“I say that you ought to get rich, and it is your duty to get rich… The men who get rich may be the most honest men you find in the community.

Let me say here clearly… ninety-eight out of one hundred of the rich men of America are honest.  

That is why they are rich.  That is why they are trusted with money.  That is why they carry on great enterprises and find plenty of people to work with them.  It is because they are honest men. . .

 . . . I sympathize with the poor, but the number of poor who are to be sympathized with is very small.  To sympathize with a man whom God has punished for his sins… is to do wrong. 

Let us remember there is not a poor person in the United States who was not made poor by his own shortcomings…”

(Quoted in Zinn, 1980)

 

Calvinistic Undertones

At the time Horatio Alger’s novellas with their “rags to riches” tales were propagandizing working people with the myth that anybody in America could become rich if they just worked hard enough.

In 1913, the Harvard philosopher, George Santayana, in a lecture at UC Berkeley, pointed to the underlying cultural mindset of American elites in the Downton Abbey era.  Santayana called America “a young country with an old mentality,” and pointed to an underlying Calvinism that equates wealth with godliness, and poverty with sin.  ”To be a Calvinist is to feel a fierce pleasure in the existence of misery,” he said.

America’s 21st Century plutocrats who keep exposing themselves by shooting off their mouths express a kind of joy in witnessing the agitation of their perceived social inferiors.  It’s old wine in an old bottle, a strain of Calvinism that reflects their membership in an exclusive globalized elite.  Rather than direct their contemplation inward at their own miserable souls, they project it outward at the 99 percent.

I don’t think they’re cowering at the idea that the masses might organize and take something away from them.  They’re too powerful to worry about such a remote possibility.

Yet I’m sure they feel it in their bones that their “Acres of Diamonds” worldview is nothing but a myth.  At some level they must hold a deep-seated awareness– as Alan Greenspan admitted to Representative Henry Waxman in October 2008– that their faith in the perfection of markets, like the rest of their belief system, is total bullshit.

There’s also a tradition in America embodied by some of our best leaders, like Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy, which shows that just because someone is rich doesn’t mean one has to be a greedy asshole.  There’s another current in elite thinking that still exists in this country that suggests that those who have been fortunate enough to prosper so immensely in this society should give something back to their fellow Americans (and that doesn’t mean funding anti-worker propaganda on PBS).

We just don’t see them on CNBC or Fox Business News.

 

Whine and Cheese

It’s amazing how these people can whine in public about how they’re being mistreated by people who change the sheets at the luxury hotels they stay in.  But if you spend your life surrounded with sycophants who constantly tell you how brilliant you are it’s possible to exist inside a bubble inside a bubble inside a bubble.

Many of these same rich right-wing white guys who complain about not being treated fairly use their political muscle to squeeze their tax burden down to zero and spend lavishly on pet political projects like “stand your ground laws,” initiatives stripping workers of collective bargaining rights, slashing social programs, and so on.

And they get the biggest returns on their investments by financing the campaigns of their surrogate politicians.  Their bogus theories are only widely ventilated because they are wealthy and powerful.

 

 

* * * * * * * * * *

Before earning a Master’s degree and Doctorate in History from Cornell University, Professor Palermo completed Bachelor’s degrees in Sociology and Anthropology from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a Master’s degree in History from San Jose State University.

His expertise includes the 1980s; political history; presidential politics and war powers; social movements of the 20th century; the 1960s; and the history of American foreign policy.  Professor Palermo has also written articles for anthologies on the life of Father Daniel Berrigan, S.J. in The Human Tradition in America Since 1945 and on the Watergate scandal in Watergate and the Resignation of Richard Nixon.

Professor of History at California State University, Sacramento, Professor Palermo’s most recent book is The Eighties. He has also written two other books: In His Own Right: The Political Odyssey of Senator Robert F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy and the Death of American Ideals.

An Iona brother, we thank Dr. Palermo for sharing his work with our readers here.

 

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An Open Letter to George Bush

 

Telling the Real Story of the Bush Presidency

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

By Ralph Nader
Nader.org

 

January 2, 2014

George W. Bush
George W. Bush Presidential Center
PO Box 560887
Dallas, Texas, 57356

Dear Mr. Bush: 

A few days ago I received a personalized letter from your Presidential Center which included a solicitation card for donations that actually provided words for my reply.

They included “I’m honored to help tell the story of the Bush Presidency” and “I’m thrilled that the Bush Institute is advancing timeless principles and practical solutions to the challenges facing our world.”  (Below were categories of “tax-deductible contributions” starting with $25 and going upward.)

Did you mean the “timeless principles” that drove you and Mr. Cheney to invade the country of Iraq which, contrary to your fabrications, deceptions and cover-ups, never threatened the United States? Nor could Iraq– under its dictator and his dilapidated military– threaten its far more powerful neighbors, even if the Iraqi regime wanted to do so.

Today, Iraq (roughly the size and population of Texas) remains a country you destroyed, a country where over a million Iraqis, including many children and infants (remember Fallujah?) lost their lives, millions more were sickened or injured, and millions more were forced to become refugees, including most of the Iraqi Christians.

Iraq is a country rife with sectarian strife that your prolonged invasion provoked into what is now open warfare. Iraq is a country where al-Qaeda is spreading with explosions taking 20, 30, 40, 50 or 60 lives per day.  Just this week, it was reported that the U.S. has sent Hellfire air-to-ground missiles to Iraq’s air force to be used against encampments of “the country’s branch of al-Qaeda.”

There was no al-Qaeda in Iraq before your invasion.  Al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein were mortal enemies.

The Bush/Cheney sociocide of Iraq, together with the loss of tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers’ lives, countless injuries and illnesses, registers, with the passage of time, no recognition by you that you did anything wrong nor have you accepted responsibility for the illegality of your military actions without a Congressional declaration of war.

You even turned your back on Iraqis who worked with U.S. military occupation forces as drivers, translators etc. at great risk to themselves and their families and were desperately requesting visas to the U.S., often with the backing of U.S. military personnel.  Your administration allowed fewer Iraqis into the U.S. than did Sweden in that same period and far, far fewer than Vietnamese refugees coming to the U.S. during the nineteen seventies.

When you were a candidate, I called you a corporation running for the Presidency masquerading as a human being.  In time you turned a metaphor into a reality.  As a corporation, you express no remorse, no shame, no compassion and a resistance to admit anything other than that you have done nothing wrong.

Day after day Iraqis, including children, continue to die or suffer terribly.  When the paraplegic, U.S. army veteran, Tomas Young, wrote you last year seeking some kind of recognition that many things went horribly criminal for many American soldiers and Iraqis, you did not deign to reply, as you did not deign to reply to Cindy Sheehan, who lost her son, Casey, in Iraq.

As you said, “the interesting thing about being the president” is that you “don’t feel like [you] owe anybody an explanation.”  As a former President, nothing has changed as you make very lucrative speeches before business groups and, remarkably, ask Americans for money to support your “continued work in public service.”

Pollsters have said that they believe a majority of Iraqis would say that life today is worse for them than under the brutal dictatorship of Saddam Hussein.  

They would also say George W. Bush left Iraq worse off than when he entered it, despite the U.S. led sanctions prior to 2003 that took so many lives of Iraqi children and damaged the health of so many civilian families.

Your national security advisor, Condoleezza Rice, said publically in 2012 that while “the arc of history” may well turn out better for post-invasion Iraq than the present day violent chaos, she did “take personal responsibility” for the casualties and the wreckage.  

Do you?

Can you, at the very least, publically urge the federal government to admit more civilian Iraqis, who served in the U.S. military occupation, to this country to escape the retaliation that has been visited on their similarly-situated colleagues? Isn’t that the minimum you can do to very slightly lessen the multiple, massive blowbacks that your reckless military policies have caused?  

It was your own anti-terrorism White House adviser, Richard Clarke, who wrote in his book, Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror, soon after leaving his post, that the U.S. played right into Osama bin Laden’s hands by invading Iraq.

Are you privately pondering what your invasion of Iraq did to the Iraqis and American military families, the economy and to the spread of al-Qaeda attacks in numerous countries?

Sincerely yours,

Ralph Nader

 

P.S. I am enclosing as a contribution in kind to your presidential center library the book Rogue Nation: American Unilateralism and the Failure of Good Intentions by Clyde Prestowitz (2003) whom I’m sure you know.  Note the positive remark on the back cover by General Wesley Clark.

 

(Article by Ralph Nader via his website Nader.org)

* * * * * * * * *

“There can be no daily democracy without daily citizenship.”

~Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader is one of America’s most effective social critics.  Named by The Atlantic as one of the 100 most influential figures in American history and by Time and Life magazines as one of the hundred most influential Americans of the twentieth century, his documented criticism of government and industry has had widespread effect on public awareness and bureaucratic power.

His inspiration and example have galvanized a whole population of consumer advocates, citizen activists, and public interest lawyers who in turn have established their own organizations throughout the country.

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Rev. Freed’s Slaying and the Deadly Probation Fail

 

One Small Detail Not Mentioned: 
Suspect Was on Probation and Shouldn’t Have Been Released From Jail 

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

The crime stats for Eureka are indeed bad.  Very bad.  
The reasons are varied and many.

The Eureka Police Department has 100 sworn employees for less than a 15-mile square area.  To note, the top 10 EPD officers make upwards of $90,000+ a year.  The Chief of Police pulled in a total compensation of $156,000 in 2010.  Eureka also has the agreed upon assistance of the HCSO, CHP, Humboldt Bay Fire, the Probation and Parole Departments, and the FBI within the city limits.

That apparently isn’t enough to take a bite out of crime in Eureka.

An overcrowded jail that releases offenders early doesn’t help matters of crime, either.  But let’s take a closer look at one situation that happened recently.

After being brought to the jail on a new offense, Gary Lee Bullock, the alleged suspect in Rev. Freed’s slaying, was released on his OR (own recognizance) only a few hours before Freed’s murder.  Unbelievably, EPD was called back and contacted him again a second time due to his erratic behavior.  Bullock was merely referred to the Rescue Mission at that time.

One of the rarely mentioned points to consider is this: Mr. Bullock was placed on a three-year probation term
back in April for cocaine possession.  Along with that grant
of probation came a set of terms which Bullock agreed to for
obeying all laws of the community– or he’d be back in  jail.

When originally brought to the jail he should have been retained on a ‘Probation Hold’ until the Humboldt County Probation Department or District Attorney’s Office—who had the  jurisdiction in the matter– properly assessed his situation.  That didn’t occur.

That’s the whole idea behind the preventative  ’community safety’ thing.  There are pre- and post release procedures in place that should have been followed for individuals granted probation.  Were they?  A process exists providing for an appropriate level of scrutiny and investigation of probationers arrested for new offenses, duly superseding jail overcrowding and holding them before subsequent release into the community.

Once Bullock’s second law enforcement contact was made, he certainly should have been returned to the jail so his situation could be looked into further by his probation officer.  He was clearly– twice– in violation of the terms of his probation in a relatively short period of time.  And yet nothing happened.

Mr. Bullock, despite his felony probation status, surprisingly wasn’t held whatsoever for his case to be reviewed.  More unbelievably, he was released out of the jail– kicked out the door and onto the street to himself without assessment or any supervision whatsoever– at 12:43 in the morning on January 1, hours before the Catholic priest’s slaying in the Eureka rectory merely a few blocks away from the jail, EPD headquarters, and directly across the street from the Probation Department’s Adult Services Division.

Bullock’s probation status and lack of supervision hasn’t been brought up nor
is it widely known to the public.  It warrants investigation because other incidents, similar in nature, have been occurring routinely.  In fact, it is quietly happening all too often following our review of several hundred crime reports over the past two years. 

Think Jason Warren’s alleged brutal murder of Dorothy Ulrich and the subsequent hit and run of the Bayside joggers.  In that instance, Warren, already sentenced to State Prison, never should have been released from the jail to freely engage in his murderous rampage upon others.

We wonder if things would have turned out differently if the ‘probation hold’ process that was in place and should have occurred actually happened, and to what degree it did in both cases.  When the system fails, it fails for all of us.

Both situations should have turned out differently.  But Probation Officers and District Attorneys don’t like to work after 5 pm, on the weekends, or on the holidays.  And the jail and courts finds it far too easy to release those in custody early as long as nothing bad ever happens.

In these cases and others, however, something bad did happen.  With deadly and dire consequences.  Oops.

We hope the Grand Jury or Superior Court will look into whether the proper probation pre-and post release procedures were actually followed in both the Gary Lee Bullock and Jason Warren cases– and to the totality of circumstances as to why they happened in the first place.

Otherwise, these situations will happen again and again with random precision, a deadly and ongoing criminal problem falling through the cracks of a complacent bureaucracy– and swept under the rug as necessary.

* * * * * * *

As the County pleads for more jail funding and the Eureka City Council and Police Department look to increase taxes by extending Measure O (which provided $8.7 million for public safety since it was enacted in 2010), citizens may want to ask the conductors of the ‘give-us-more-money’ gravy train if we’re actually getting the services we’re already paying for.

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Posted in Crime, Features, Local, Opinion1 Comment

John Boehner’s Shutdown

 

‘Then Shut It Down”

(VIDEO)

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Who knew the West Wing episode from 2009 would turn out so prophetic four years later?

 

From the New York Times Editorial Board:

By Tuesday morning, the leadership failure of Speaker John Boehner was complete.

In encouraging the impossible quest of House Republicans to dismantle health care reform, he pushed the country into a government shutdown that will now begin to take a grievous economic toll.

At any point, Mr. Boehner could have stopped it.  

Had he put on the floor a simple temporary spending resolution to keep the government open, without the outrageous demands to delay or defund the health reform law, it could easily have passed the House with a strong majority– including sizable support from Republican members, many of whom are aware of how badly this collapse will damage their party.

But Mr. Boehner refused.  He stood in the well of the House and repeated the tired falsehood that the Affordable Care Act was killing jobs.  He came up with a series of increasingly ridiculous demands: defund the health law, delay it for a year, stop its requirement that employers pay for contraception, block the medical device tax, delay the individual mandate for a year, and strip Congressional employees of their health subsidies.

All were instantly rejected by the Senate. “They’ve lost their minds,” Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, said of the House Republicans.  “They keep trying to do the same thing over and over again.”

Finally, at the last minute, when there was still time to end the charade with a straightforward spending bill, Mr. Boehner made the most absurd demand of all:  an immediate conference committee with the Senate.  Suddenly, with less than an hour left, he wanted to set up formal negotiations?

For six months, the Senate has been demanding a conference with the House on the 2014 budget — talks that might have prevented the impasse in the first place.  But the House leadership has adamantly refused, knowing it would not succeed in getting all the cuts to taxes and spending that it demands.

For Mr. Boehner to call for a conference near midnight was the height of hypocrisy.

The consequences of Mr. Boehner’s failure will be immediate:  800,000 government employees thrown out of work, over a million more working without pay, offices that provide important services closed, and programs on which poor people depend– like the Women, Infants and Children nutrition system– cut off.

The longer Republicans refuse to approve a rational spending measure, the more federal agencies will be affected
and the greater the damage done to an economy still in recovery.

Having let down the public, Republicans will now, inevitably,
scramble to save their reputation.

They are desperate to make it appear as if President Obama and the Democrats are the ones being intransigent, hoping voters will think that everyone is at fault and simply blame “Washington.”

Mr. Boehner even mocked the president on Monday for refusing to negotiate over health reform, as if he actually expected Mr. Obama to join in wrecking a law that will provide health coverage to millions of uninsured Americans under threat of blackmail.

On Tuesday, Republicans came up with another self-serving offer, proposing to open a few government departments whose closures are likely to produce negative news coverage, such as Veterans Affairs and the national parks.  Democrats quickly made it clear that only a full reopening of government would suffice, and three of the bills died in the House.  More are expected, however.

Earlier in his presidency, Mr. Obama made the catastrophic mistake — in the face of just this sort of extortion — to believe in Mr. Boehner’s willingness to be reasonable.  This time, however, the cynical games of the Republicans are not going to work.

The Republicans’ reckless obsession with destroying health reform and with wounding the president has been on full display.  And, as the public’s anger grows over this entirely unnecessary crisis, it should be aimed at a party and a speaker that are incapable of governing.

 

(Via the NYT/Google News)

* * * * * * * *

Meanwhile, the GOP has been irreparably damaged and even national security threatenedNo wonder Jim Moran (D-VA) is exasperated.

Nice going, Republicans.  You couldn’t have done a better job of shooting yourself in the foot even if you had tried.  It’s unfortunate, however, that you chose to shoot everyone else’s foot in the process.

It’s no wonder voters have a higher opinion of root canals, NFL replacement refs, head lice, colonoscopies, carnies, traffic jams, cockroaches, Genghis Khan, used-car salesmen and Brussels sprouts more than they do Congress. 

Seriously, they really do, and that’s the short list.

 

More here and here.

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Posted in National, Opinion, Politics1 Comment

Paying For Your Own Surveillance

 

It’s ALL About YOU

(GOOD HUMOR VIDEO)

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Introducing the new iPhone NSa…

NSA, get it?  Life is full of ironies and so is the fun technology driving it.

For decades, we paid– paid big bucks– for those 21st century tech improvements putting us all on the same page.  It took a lot of doing.  Think, for example, of your monthly cable bill and your big screen TV.  Those things didn’t come cheap and they weren’t free and easy.

Now we’re taking it up a notch and improving things even further by concentrating more on your security.  And we’d like you to pay the ever-increasing costs for ever increasing-levels of surveillance in the New World Order.  It’s the least you can do.  You’ve had it too good for too long and now it’s time to pay up.

We only ask that you don’t say “no” to the latest necessary conveniences we’d like to deliver.  Otherwise we’ll have to embed explosive devices which aren’t healthy for you and other living things.

We need technology that can always be interrupted, turned off, taken away, or re-priced in a way that’s financially ruinous.  Well, ruinous to you, that is. 

That’s why we’re constantly changing the game and rendering technology, privacy, and your old phone obsolete.  Every six months, in fact.

Just don’t think about the implications too much.  Better yet, don’t even think.  Just trust us.  We’re looking out for you.  Believe us when we say we’re living in a brave new world and it’s for the greater good and you better not spoil it for everyone. 

Thank you for being part of the team.  Tin foil hats optional.

(Via John Amren, Ameratsu Solar, WeAreChange,
JoyCamp and Youtube/Brass TV)

* * * * * * * * *

 

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The Golden Rule is Obsolete

 

Bomb Unto Others As They Could Bomb Unto You

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

“There is no doubt that Saddam al-Assad has crossed the red line. … Sorry, did I just say ‘Saddam’?”

~Secretary of State John Kerry

 

 War is a racket and the Golden Rule need not apply.

During World War II, allied forces engaged in a few war crimes every bit as vicious as those perpetrated by the defeated enemies.

The Nazi psychopaths who ran death camps were matched by the allied officials who fire-bombed such non-military cities as Dresden and Hamburg, and vaporized tens of thousands of civilians along with some U.S. military prisoners of war in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The nuclear bombing of these Japanese cities was done primarily to impress the Soviet Union while helping end the war.  Beautiful cities such as Dresden were leveled because, in the words of one RAF official, “we didn’t have any other cities left to bomb.”  

The RAF Bomber Command chief, Arthur “Bomber” Harris, said thirty years later that he would do the same thing again if presented with the same choices.

Sean Hannity and many of his neocon warhawk brethren embrace the same sort of reasoning as Bomber Harris. With increasing numbers of decent, intelligent Americans able to see the planned war on Syria as being based on the same kinds of lies and forgeries that led to the unprovoked war on Iraq, the war-lovers are trying a different tack.

If people are not prepared to “lob a few missiles into Syria,” Hannity argued, an attack on Iran would be an even better action to take.  

Hannity’s position – and that of so many other neocons – comes down to little more than this: if we’re not buying into our plot against Syria, then let us go attack someone else before any more opposition arises.

War is an end in itself, and it matters little who is chosen as the enemy of the year.  Besides, it’s good for the US military-industrial complex.  Manufacturing and selling arms just happens to be our biggest export and it’s something we’re really, really good making money at.

No more would we expect Mother Theresa to operate a brothel than we could imagine advocates of peace and liberty welcomed into the management of the state.  It may work for Switzerland, but it just doesn’t work for us.

Ron Paul was persona non grata to members of the political elite because he wanted to reduce– perhaps even eliminate– the violent and true nature of the American nation-state.  He was almost booed off the stage at a Republican gathering for suggesting that this country employ the “Golden Rule” as the basis for foreign policy.

We may talk tough about ‘crossing the red line’ but let’s put some clarity back into the hypocrisy:  United States bombings can be just as indiscriminate and cruel as poison gas. 

In case we’ve forgotten our history, here’s the bombing list of our country in the sixty years since WW II– which our schools don’t teach,
our media doesn’t remember, and our glorious leaders and neocons
everywhere like to glorify:

Korea and China 1950-53 (Korean War)

Guatemala 1954

Indonesia 1958

Cuba 1959-1961

Guatemala 1960

Congo 1964

Laos 1964-73

Vietnam 1961-73

Cambodia 1969-70

Guatemala 1967-69

Grenada 1983

Lebanon 1983, 1984 (both Lebanese
and Syrian targets)

Libya 1986

El Salvador 1980s

Nicaragua 1980s

Iran 1987

Panama 1989

Iraq 1991 (Persian Gulf War)

Kuwait 1991

Somalia 1993

Bosnia 1994, 1995

Sudan 1998

Afghanistan 1998

Yugoslavia 1999

Yemen 2002

Iraq 1991-2003 (US/UK on regular no-fly-zone basis)

Iraq 2003-2011 (Second Gulf War)

Afghanistan 2001 to present

Pakistan 2007 to present

Somalia 2007-8, 2011 to present

Yemen 2009, 2011 to present

Libya 2011

Syria 2013?

The above list doesn’t include the repeated use by the United States of depleted uranium, cluster bombs, white phosphorous, Agent Orange, and other charming inventions of the Pentagon’s mad scientists.  Nor does it include chemical and biological weapons manufactured and stockpiled by the United States.

A story just released by Foreign Policy magazine based on newly-discovered classified documents reports how, in 1988, during the last year of the 8-year Iraq-Iran War, America’s military and intelligence communities knew about and did nothing to stop a series of nerve gas attacks by Iraq that were far more devastating than anything Syria has seen.

Indeed, during that war the United States was the primary supplier to Iraq of the chemicals and hardware necessary to provide the Saddam Hussein regime with a chemical-warfare capability.

When it comes to foreign policy, war, and making money, the Golden Rule just doesn’t work anymore.  It’s just too simple, ethical, and truthful to apply.

* * * * * * * *

Sourced from UnderNews, Butler Shaffer, and William Blum’s book “Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower.”

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Posted in History, National, Opinion0 Comments

FYI– If You’re a Teenage Boy

 

Beware of Mom and Her Family

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Dear Boys,

I have some information that might interest you.  

Last night, as we sometimes do, our family sat around the dining room table and looked through your social media photos.  Because we’re creepy like that.

We have a teenage daughter, and so naturally, there are quite a few pictures of you handsome boys to wade through.  Wow — you sure took a bunch of selfies in your pajamas this summer!  our bedrooms are so dirty! Don’t you know how to clean your rooms?  Our 9-year-old son brought this to our attention, because with one older sister who has a room that smells like an old, dead hamster, he notices boyish details like that.

I think the girls notice other things.  For one, it appears that you are not wearing a shirt.

I get it — you’re in your room, so you’re heading to bed, right? But then I can’t help but notice the big muscles pose, the extra-arched back to show off your rock-hard abs and the smirky grin.  What’s up? None of these positions is one I naturally assume before sleep.  Because I’m a woman.  And rock-hard abs left me four children ago.  And I like to judge others based on my own standard behavior.

So, here’s the bit that I think is important for you to realize.  If you are friends with a daughter of mine on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter, then you are friends with the whole fam-dam-ly.

Please understand this, also:  we genuinely like keeping up with you.  We enjoy seeing life through your unique and colorful lens — which is what makes your latest self-portrait so extremely unfortunate.  You just aren’t good enough.  We’re the Joneses.  Now keep up with us.

Those posts don’t reflect who you are!  We think you are handsome and probably interesting and, if I’m being generous, very smart.  But, we had to cringe and wonder what were you trying to do?  Who are you trying to reach?  What are you trying to say?  Because we literally have nothing better to do than judge and examine the lives of teenage boys.

And now — big bummer — we have to block your posts. Because the reason we have these (sometimes awkward) family conversations around the table is that we care about our daughter, just as we know your parents care about you.  But not as much as we care about our kids, because we’re better parents than your parents.

I know your family would not be thrilled at the thought of my teenage daughter seeing you only in your towel.  Did you know that once a female sees you in a state of undress, she can’t ever un-see it?  You don’t want my daughter to only think of you in this sexual way, do you?  

Because if she does, it will be YOUR fault.  Our daughter does not have free agency.  She is incapable of controlling her thoughts and actions, so you must do it for her.  Seriously, she can’t.  It’s some sort of chromosome condition that only occurs with the XX.

I mean, I don’t want my daughter to think of you in a sexual way, but I’m not gonna try and make myself un-see a picture of Ryan Gosling in just a towel.  I mean, yum.  And It’s not like he’s a real person.

And so, in our house, there are no second chances, boys.  Because we’re just mean like that.  I know, I know.  We proclaim to be Christians who believe in the power of the atonement and all.  But we’re not Jesus, so only he has to forgive you.  Us?  Well, we are just going to judge you all we can and shame you and infer that you’re giant bags of whore on the internet.

If you want to stay friendly with the females in my family, you’ll have to keep your clothes on (unless you’re Ryan Gosling) and your posts decent.  And interesting.  I mean, no one wants to read that “Roman is having an okay day and bought a Coke Zero at the gas station.”  All of your posts should revolve around me and what I find interesting.  If you try to post a sexy selfie, or an inappropriate YouTube video — even once — you’ll be booted off our online island.  Because like I said, there is zero tolerance for forgiveness in our family.  Mess up once and it’s the guillotine.

I know that sounds harsh and old-school, but that’s just the way it is under this roof for a while.  We hope to raise women with a strong moral compass, and women of integrity don’t linger over pictures of scantily clad high-school boys.  Women of integrity also don’t write incredibly mean, self-righteous posts that slut-shame teenage girls.  Phew, luckily I didn’t do anything like that!

Every day I pray for the men my girls will love.  I hope they will be drawn to real handsome guy (not dorks.  No dorks allowed in this super-awesome fam), the kind of men who will leave them better people in the end.  I also pray that my daughters will be worthy of this kind of man, that they will be patient — and act honorably — while they wait for him.

Boys, run if it’s not too late!  If you think you’ve made an online mistake (we all do — don’t fret — I’ve made some doozies),  RUN to your accounts and take down anything that makes it easy for your female friends to imagine you naked in your bedroom.

DO IT NOW! I AM THE EMPRESS OF ALL AND I COMMAND YOU TO TAKE DOWN ALL POSTS THAT DON’T MEET MY HIGH STANDARDS.  But actually it is too late because we already blocked your skanky-ass profile and Jesus had no second chances.

Will you trust me?  There are girls out there waiting and hoping for men of character.  Some young women are fighting the daily uphill battle to keep their minds pure, and their thoughts praiseworthy.  And you shirtless boys in just your swim trunks are ruining it for them.  You are making their minds impure and they have no control over it.  None!  It’s like you’re literally controlling their minds.

You are growing into a real handsome dude, inside and out.

Act like him, speak like him, post like him.  Because there’s no second chances.

I’m glad we’re friends.  But not like the kind of friends for reals.  Like the passive-aggressive kind who make really mean judgments about you and then write about it on the Internet.

Sincerely,

Mrs. Judgmental Slut-Shamer Jones
(my response to this post)

* * * * * * * * *

This post by Marissa Stringham originally appeared on Huffington Post and Iron Daisy

 

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President: Congress Must Debate and Approve Syrian Military Strike

 

Do-Nothing Congress Placed on the Hot Seat

(VIDEO)

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

The 113th US Congress may have to do something.

In a tough-worded statement delivered in the Rose Garden this afternoon, President Barack Obama made his case for launching a limited military strike against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in retaliation for the chemical weapons attack presumably mounted by regime forces near Damascus earlier this month.  ”This menace must be confronted,” Obama declared.

It was no surprise.  The Obama administration has clearly been heading toward such a decision. 

But in an unexpected move, Obama said that it was not necessary to rush into such an attack:  his military advisers had assured him that such an assault could be effective even if taken weeks from now and that he would seek authorization from Congress before ordering an attack on the Syrian regime.

The President took no questions.  But with these remarks Obama has put Congress on the hot seat.

In the years since a Vietnam-shocked Congress passed the War Powers Resolution, members of Congress have often eagerly ducked taking a vote on military actions launched by a president.

Routinely, congressional leaders have complained about a lack of consultation from the president without demanding a hard-and-fast chance to accept joint responsibility for a military action ( i.e.,  Libya).  In recent days, while House and Senate leaders have called for consultation, none have said they must be allowed to vote on a strike.

So Obama is now saying, “If you want consultation, I’ll see you on that and raise you a full– and apparently binding– vote.”

Some folks, particularly hawks and neocons yearning for a strike, will, no doubt, blast the president for wimping out on executive privilege.

But this quasi-decision certainly will lead to a robust debate on not only what to do in Syria but also the fundamental question of who’s responsible for waging acts of war within a democracy.

Others will see this as a historic moment, when the president rejiggered the constitutional balance on power.

* * * * * * *

Via Blazekomrad/YouTube and Mother Jones

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Posted in Media, National, Opinion0 Comments

Taking On Fast Food and Fox News

 

Big Mac Attack

(THE DAILY SHOW VIDEO)

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

John Oliver spotlighted the plight of American fast food workers on The Daily Show and the plight of Fox News anchors
who are very angry at them for even thinking about higher pay.

Oliver tore into a number of Fox hosts and pundits criticizing fast food workers for striking to demand they get slightly higher wages, declaring the network to be really good for the “saying stupid stuff on television industry.”

Oliver broke down the objections workers are raising, noting how McDonalds is so profitable, their golden arches are “literally 24-karat gold,” before mocking everyone on Fox voicing an issue about what the strikers are saying.

Oliver likened cable news to the fast food industry, in that “they sell you something that looks appetizing but leaves you feeling nauseous for hours afterwards.”

He shot down Andrea Tantaros’s claim that workers would be getting more if only the Obama economy wasn’t so bad, mockingly agreeing, “Companies always pass on higher profits to their lower-level workers, that’s a fact!”

He excoriated Neil Cavuto and his past as a fast food worker and offered this bit of advice to anyone in the fast food industry:

 

And Oliver roasted Fox commentator Tracy Byrnes for her inane belief that anyone making $250,000 per year is actually living near to the poverty line (No, we’re not making that up):

 

If all the fast food workers in the country increased their wages from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour, it could have a big impact:  A living wage would eliminate 3.6 million poor people.  That’s the kind of thing Hitler used to talk about.  If only someone had been around to give him a Happy Meal.

(Via Mediaite)

Posted in Media, National, Opinion1 Comment

The Culture Wars are Alive and Kickin’

 

(A Disaster for Women and the Environment)

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

By Dr. Joseph A Palermo
Professor, Historian, Author

JosephAPalermo.com

 

In Texas, Governor Rick Perry, the Religious Right, and their Republican allies, following Democratic state Senator Wendy Davis’s courageous filibuster last week, are literally working overtime to criminalize women’s reproductive rights.  

The state that purports to be so “pro-life” it must kneecap women also happens to be the repository of the most efficient and voluminous state-sanctioned killing machine.  There have been 500 executions (and counting) in the Lone Star State since 1982.

Like Texas, Republican-controlled states simply cannot contain their misogyny and have launched crusades to curtail women’s reproductive rights.  In the so-called red states, the GOP, responding to the clout of the Religious Right, is hell bent on rolling back rights that a generation of women struggled for decades to win.

There’s plenty of blatant hypocrisy to point out with these moves — the most glaring, of course, being the political party that claims to be against “big government” wants the government to control as many uteruses as possible — but what is often most irksome about these right-wingers is the patina of religiosity they ascribe to their assaults on both women and LGBT people.

 

A Brief History Lesson

Ronald Reagan did the nation a lasting disservice by bringing into our politics the Jerry Falwells and Pat Robertsons of this world.

The GOP of the Reagan era looked to the Religious Right as a counterweight to the role labor unions played in the Democratic Party.  Someone had to lick all those envelopes and knock on all those doors. It didn’t take long to understand that along with a veiled “Southern strategy” of racial politics, being anti-abortion and anti-gay reaped political dividends.

Thirty years later this Reagan coalition is still going strong. You can see it in the House of Representatives, the states, and elsewhere, hammering away at the same misogynistic and gay-bashing agenda.  

That was pretty much Reagan’s strategy in 1980 and 1984– and it worked like a charm in 2004, giving the nation four more glorious years of the worst president in American history.

 

The Flat-Earth Society

There are other areas where the rise of the Religious Right and the Republican politicians it elects means pending disaster.

They never seem to tire of lecturing us about how abortion and gay marriage are against the laws of nature and God.  Yet I never hear them utter a word about Monsanto and other poison/food corporations routinely ripping apart the DNA of plants and animals to create life forms that never could emerge in the known Universe.

If there exists an issue that deserves the wrath of those believers, I would think that corporations contaminating the DNA of the world’s food supply without giving a shit about the potential long-term consequences should raise a little alarm normally aimed at women and gays.

Isn’t screwing around with combining the genes of a flounder with a tomato, or a bacterium with corn, an “abomination?”  The world’s wheat supply might be succumbing to irreversible genetic pollution as Monsanto’s executives boost their bottom line through increasingly reckless actions.

Like it our not, we’re about to have the long-term “study” about whether these new Franken-crops are “safe” for the environment and for people — studies the corporate food sector has avoided or quashed.  The only problem is that by the time we understand the long-term effects of this genetic contamination it will be too late to do anything about it.

Super weeds, super insects, super bacteria and other “super” organisms which have adapted to genetically modified plants will grow stronger than ever and are starting to crop up.  The nice folks at Monsanto are absolutely giddy about the prospect of selling more herbicides and insecticides to deal with the resilient critters they’ve unleashed.

Like the fossil fuel industry and global warming, or Wall Street and the “real” economy, it’s a perfect example of corporate power and the maniacal drive for profits destroying the society they tell us they care so much about.

And the Religious Right apparently believes all of this unnatural destruction of God’s good earth is fine– so long as the women folk know their place and them gays can’t get hitched.

The Republican majority of the Supreme Court, seeing that demography is working against its ideological brethren, legitimized voter suppression laws that everyone knows will adversely affect Latinos, African Americans, young people, and the working class.

When coupled with the January 2010 Citizens United ruling, which opened up the floodgates to campaign slush funds and unlimited corporate money to flow into our already money-drenched politics, the Shelby County decision fits Citizens United like a tight bookend.  Both these egregious decisions will make it more difficult to dislodge the Bible thumpers from wielding political power.

 

The Road Forward

Whenever the Roberts Court presides over a case that pits corporations against consumers, workers, or environmentalists, you can bet that most of the time the corporations will come out on top.

In working to stop Monsanto, or the fossil fuel corporations, or Wall Street from pursuing short-term profits against the long-term interests of planet Earth and its inhabitants, the courts in the United States, at this juncture, seem to be rendered useless.

With giant, immortal corporations capturing regulatory agencies, our politics, and the judicial system, the only alternative is vigorous and prolonged citizen action against them.

People who care about the planet are going to have to redouble their efforts, organize and demand that people and institutions divest their holdings from Monsanto, ExxonMobil, and other death-defying monsters.

It will be a long and tough fight but there really is no alternative.  The mobilization of people against the new attacks on women’s rights, like we have seen in Texas recently, points the way forward.

 

…This article has been abridged with pithy pics added.  You can read Dr. Palermo’s full piece here.

 

The Humboldt Sentinel appreciates Dr. Palermo sharing his article with our readers.

Before earning a Master’s degree and Doctorate in History from Cornell University, Professor Palermo completed Bachelor degrees in Sociology and Anthropology from UC Santa Cruz and his Master’s degree in History from San Jose State University.

 

eighties-150x150An Associate Professor of History at California State University–Sacramento, Professor Palermo’s most recent book is The Eighties.

He’s written two other books: In His Own Right: The Political Odyssey of Senator Robert F. Kennedy; and Robert F. Kennedy and the Death of American Idealism.

rfkAppearing on radio, television, and panel forums, he was given an oddly prominent jab by none other than conservative commentator Glenn Beck.  Mr. Beck lost his show, Dr. Palermo came out remarkably unscathed, and the rest is history.
 
He currently writes for the Huffington Post, LA Progressive, his website, and other publications.
 
* * * * * * * * *
 

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Posted in National, Opinion, Politics2 Comments

Politically Correct Charitable Scamming

 

Political Fronts Posing as Charities

 

Jim Hightower
Jimhightower.com

 

I think of a “social welfare charity” being like The Little Sisters of the Poor – not The Little Koch Brothers of the Plutocracy.

Yet, the brothers have created their very own social welfare charity, which they used as a political front group for funneling $39 million into campaigns against Democrats last year.

Interesting, since, under IRS rules, 501(c)(4) “charities” are supposed to do philanthropic work for the welfare of all, not political hatchet jobs for billionaires.  In fact, the law bans these tax-exempt entities from spending more than 49 percent of their funding on political efforts to promote their “issues.”

charityYet, hundreds of these (c)(4)s – mostly right-wing – are flagrantly violating the tax law by operating primarily as political fronts for funneling secret corporate donations into raw, partisan campaigns.

How did they get their privileged status as charities? By outright lying to the IRS, then defying the agency to stop them as they dump millions of corrupt dollars into our elections.

For example, American Action Network, a (c)(4) created by Wall Street lobbyists, has spent two-thirds of its revenue on elections, including putting up $745,000 from secret donors to elect Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.  How ironic, then, that Johnson is now one of the tea party mad dogs howling at IRS officials.

It’s scandalous, Johnson shrieks, that some tea party groups have not been given (c)(4) status, because IRS agents have had the temerity to question whether the groups actually are charitable enterprises – or just rank political outfits fraudulently posing as charities.

Tea Party groups should not be singled out for IRS scrutiny, but neither should they be allowed to cheat by shamefully masquerading as Little Sisters of the Poor.  That’s the real scandal.

Groups Targeted By I.R.S. Tested Rules on Politics,” The New York Times, May 27, 2013.

Five 501(c)(4) Groups That Might Have Broken the Law,” www.thenation.com, May 21, 2013.

Dubious Dealing of Tea Party Groups Could Have Drawn IRS Scrutiny,” www.motherjones.com, May 17, 2013

Whose Welfare?” The New York Times, June 4, 2012.

* * * * * * * *

“The corporations don’t have to lobby the government anymore.  They are the government.”
 – Jim Hightower

(Posted by Skippy Massey)

Posted in Opinion0 Comments

Now is the Time to Pitch in for KEET-TV

 

Local Public Broadcasting Station at Risk; KEET Could Close Without Support

 

By Valerie Eachus and Ron Schoenherr
KEET-TV

 

 In recent weeks you may have seen spots featuring the President and CEO of the Public Broadcasting System
speaking to viewers about the importance of their support
to their local public television station and to the long-term
future of PBS.

You may have wondered why such a message was necessary, and why now.  The reasons are perhaps not unexpected.  The recent recession and the loss of members and community funding throughout the country have caught up to public television and to our local PBS station, KEET-TV.

KEET-TV is one of the smallest PBS stations in the nation.

keet satellite dishLike most PBS stations it is funded in part by Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  CPB is allocated funding by Congress and distributes these funds to both PBS stations and public radio stations.  In order to receive any CPB funding, all public television stations are required to raise $800,000 each year from their viewers and communities.

No matter the size, it is this funding that is identified as Non-Federal Financial Support (NFFS).  That money comes from memberships, pledge nights, auctions, corporate underwriting of programs, major donations, board fundraising and special events, non-federal grants, gifts of stock, grants from foundations, non-federal grants, our Ready To Learn Vehicle Donation Program and bequests.

Our station has not been able to raise the $800,000 and CPB is requiring that KEET-TV explore either a merger with another California station, enter into some form of a collaboration or partnership with another station or come up with a viable plan to ensure that the $800,000 of NFFS can be raised each year, if it is to receive funding in the fall.

It is clear that KEET-TV is at risk of no longer being able to receive CPB funding in the future and that would mean an end to KEET-TV as you see it today.

keet control roomWe feel that merging with another station should be the last option.  KEET would lose control of our national and local programming.  

In a merger KEET would lose the ability to produce local programming like North Coast Perspectives, the award winning documentary Searchlight Serenade, HomeWork Hotline, the Humboldt County League of Women Voters’ candidate forums, our Ready To Learn early childhood project, Exploring Humboldt and other local productions.

Over the past few years KEET-TV has raised an average of $570,000 -$600,000 in NFFS funds annually from the people and communities we serve.  We can only reach that $800,000 annual NFFS level through an increase in our community support.

We can reach that goal through increasing our membership numbers from our current level of 2400 to 4400, increase our underwriting support from the business community, and seek out more non-federal grants.  

keet antoiques roadshowMany people watch one of KEET’s channels but don’t join as a member.  Public television is not free and most households could afford at least a basic membership to do their share.

We will need to demonstrate by June 30 an increase in our community support or a merger with another station will be the result.

How can you help?  If you are not a member of KEET-TV, join
today.  If you are a business owner consider being an underwriter
or join KEET with a business membership.  Consider KEET in your
estate planning or donate a few shares of stock.

 

KEET inspired memberIf you want KEET to remain a locally operated community station and if you enjoy and appreciate the programming and services KEET-TV provides your community, we need your support.

If you are not a member, join today by calling the station at 445-0813 or sign up online at www.keet.org.

 

* * * * * * *

Valerie Eachus is board president and Ron Schoenherr is executive director of KEET-TV.

keet auctionPlease pass this onto others you know.  We support public access, alternative news, and local programming for our rural area.  Please pitch in and support our local television station bringing us many of the programs we enjoy.  We do.

It will be a dark day for media and information on the Northcoast should KEET close its doors and send its employees home with pink slips.  Any contribution, no matter how small, by way of membership, donation, underwriting, bequests, or through their Spring auction happening tonight and tomorrow, helps.

(Posted by Skippy Massey)

Posted in Local, Media, Opinion1 Comment

Rewriting the General Plan Update

 

Backpedaling County Supervisors Changing Direction of GPU

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors held a continued public hearing yesterday to finish deliberations
on draft sections of the County’s General Plan Update.

It is blatantly obvious the new junior Board additions– Supervisors Fennell and Bohn, along with more senior members Bass and Sundberg – have a combined agenda unraveling the direction and focus of the GPU to benefit private interests.  They’re already lining up with realtors to allow development in the flood plain of the Arcata Bottoms.

The following is an open letter by Don Ehresman of the Northcoast Environmental Center of what transpired.

 

Supervisors Make Substantial Changes to GPU Guiding Principles– Despite Pleas for Robust Public Review Process

By Don Ehresman
Northcoast Environmental Center

nothing's gonna stop us nowOn Monday, June 3, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors did an about face on the Guiding Principles of the County’s General Plan Update.

Despite requests from many speakers, including Hezekiah Allen of the Mattole Restoration Council and local resident Lisa Zystro for more time to review a new set of principles that were released just three days before the hearing, the Board voted 4-1 to substantially alter the original Guiding Principles.

The original principles were developed with significant public input over several years and unanimously approved by both the Board of Supervisors in 2004 and then by the Planning Commission, with a few minor changes, in 2012.

buy bed free 1 night standSupervisor Fennell, after emphasizing the importance of public participation, decided against giving another two weeks for the public to review and comment on the major changes to the Guiding Principles.

Supervisor Bohn made a claim that he felt the new Principles, which were developed behind closed doors, were representative of the community as a whole despite significant concerns brought up by many members of the public in attendance.

Supervisors Bass and Sundberg were quick to support the new language, leaving Third District Supervisor Mark Lovelace to be the lone dissenting voice.

In response to the outcome of Monday’s hearing, Northcoast Environmental Center director Dan Ehresman stated,

“The Board’s decision to approve a brand new set of Guiding Principles absent even a week for public review greatly undermines the very idea of robust public participation that this Board supposedly supports.”

Speaking specifically about the newly adopted principles Ehresman continued:

Do not readWhat concerns me most is not necessarily what these new principles say, it is what they leave out.  

Specifically, the Board decided to take out all reference to protecting forests and farmland from further subdivision – which was an underlying concept that has community support. 

Moreover, the Board voted to remove a key principle that spoke to the importance of including actionable plans for funding critical infrastructure needs.

Given vastly outdated water and sewer lines and a $200 million backlog in costs needed to repair failing roads, one would hope that our government representatives might want to take this issue at least a little seriously.”

The new version also eliminates support of the County’s economic development strategy and prioritizes landowners’ rights over the rights of those who do not own property and over environmental protections in general.

Ehresman concluded, “Overall, we fear that the Board’s decision marks a very clear turning point away from a meaningful public process that seeks to balance the interests of our broad community in favor of one that serves the self-interest of some developers, realtors, and large property owners.

About the Northcoast Environmental Center

The mission of the Northcoast Environmental Center is to promote understanding of the relations between people and the biosphere and to conserve, protect, and celebrate terrestrial, aquatic, and marine ecosystems of northern California and southern Oregon.

For more information, please contact:

Dan Ehresman
Northcoast Environmental Center
PO Box 4259

* * * * * * * *

stupid signFor more background on the issue we would suggest reading Daniel Mintz’s article in the Arcata Eye, “Supervisors Line Up With Realtors, OK Flood Plain Developmentalong with Ryan Burns’ piece in the NCJ: Fennell and Bohn Seek to Rewrite Guiding Principles of General Plan Update

The Times-Standard carried a very brief article, Humboldt County Supervisors to Tackle General Plan Issues at Public Hearing on Monday

And we’ve given it our previous Pith and Punch treatment, too. 

We predicted that with the new incoming majority Supervisors the GPU would change, becoming aDead Plan Walking.”

Images by the Humboldt Sentinel

Posted in Local, Opinion0 Comments

Separation of Church and State– and the City of Eureka

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

In a motion filed May 3, Eureka City Attorney Cyndy Day-Wilson asked a Humboldt County Superior Court judge to dismiss a lawsuit targeting City Council invocations and Mayor Frank Jager’s annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast.

The pending lawsuit, filed by Eureka attorney Peter Martin on behalf of Eureka resident Carole Beaton, requests that the city stop holding invocations — sectarian or otherwise — before City Council meetings, and that Jager stop using his position and city resources to promote the breakfast.

The following is an opinion piece by Eureka resident Larry DePuy.

 

Keep Your Religion Out of Our Government.  Thank You Very Much.

Larry DePuy

 

separation1The atheist lawsuit against prayer and invocation at government meetings has stirred up quite a hornet’s nest of beliefs and opinions, which is good.

European countries were once ruled by monarchs and churches with a long history of wars, crusades, inquisitions and the renouncement of science.  Galileo was forced to recant his life’s work, even though the Church knew he was right.  Giordano Bruno was burned alive at the stake for his belief in the plurality of worlds and other scientific theories.

Our Founding Fathers wanted a country where people could worship freely without being told by a state church or government how to worship.  That’s where separation of church and state comes in.

If religion mixes with government, then you have one religion that is accepted by the government as the official state religion, and all the other religions become heresy and crimes against the state.  This is what they have in some Middle Eastern countries.  As a nation, I would like to think we have advanced beyond public stoning for committing abominations like eating shellfish, especially here in Crab-and-Oystertown, USA.

It’s not just our Founding Fathers’ documents that have made this country great.  Our inventions and scientific advancements, several attributed to Benjamin Franklin, have made us a world leader.  Our pursuit of higher learning and our great universities have been the engine that has powered our impressive achievements. Today, there is a large part of the religious community that is at war with science, which is to the detriment of the nation, and is of great concern to the majority of the learned scientists in this country.

separation3We have been sliding down a very slippery slope.

God was added to the Pledge of Allegiance and added to our dollar bills in the mid-20th century.  It’s new.  Did Jesus want His God the Father represented on coins and associated with money?  Prayer at government functions may seem innocuous enough and it offends maybe 10 percent of those attending, but it violates the Constitution. It also violates the teachings of Jesus Christ!  Matthew 6:5-6:

“And when you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men.  Most certainly, I tell you, they have received their reward. But you, when you pray, enter into your inner room, and having shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”

So even Jesus was opposed to prayer at public meetings.

separation4So where is the precedent for public prayer?  If someone starts bowing to Mecca and praying to Allah during a meeting, shouldn’t that be included too?  Can I stand at a meeting and praise Thor, son of Odin, king of the gods, or orate a five-minute Hindu chant?

Most people think there is no harm in a little Christian prayer, and it makes them feel good, but Ecclesiastes 3 says there is a time to do things and a time not to.

Government meetings are for government business, and closets
are for prayer.

* * * * * * * * *

The Humboldt Sentinel welcomes opinions, submissions, comments and suggestions from all points of view.

Posted in Local, Opinion1 Comment

Verbena V. Eureka

 

Occupy Eureka and the Scales of Justice

 

By Mitch
Guest Post to the Sentinel

 

Kim Starr, aka Verbena, is one of the people who spent time working with Occupy Eureka when they staged a protest in front of the Eureka Courthouse.

She’s also a member of the group called “Copwatch” which videotapes the police.

Verbena Kim StarrVerbena is not afraid to be rude or antagonistic.  She was born, perhaps, to be behind a bullhorn.  

Like all American citizens, Verbena is theoretically guaranteed certain rights by the Constitution of the United States.  These rights only exist to the extent that our elected officials and law enforcement officers are reminded of their existence, to the extent they are told they’ll lose office and perhaps go to jail unless they enforce them.  

We all like “freedom of speech” until American Nazis decide they’d like to march — then many people get upset when fans of the Constitution point out that our liberties are only solid if they are applied equally to those we may find
repulsive.  When the Nazis lose their civil liberties to march in public, we’ve
all lost our civil liberties; liberties that apply only to the popular are not liberties
at all.  People who aren’t fond of Nazis should understand this; not all do.

It’s hard for me to imagine a less pleasant demonstration than the one staged by Occupy Eureka at the courthouse a year and a half ago.

Occupy Eureka2It succeeded in uniting much of Eureka’s population behind one desire — to clean up the courthouse grounds and get rid of the mentally ill people who were staging a 24 hour nuisance and party.  If that was not the goal of Occupy Eureka, it can honestly be said that it failed completely and spectacularly.

Occupy, with its noble but problematic concept that decisions be made by consensus of who shows up, and with its antagonism to the idea of leaders imposing directions, was a sitting duck for a takeover of their efforts.  

The police did not do a good job of dealing with the mentally ill people who formed a hazard in front of the courthouse, and the compassionate members of Occupy tried to help those people rather than send them away.

When people see a dozen concerned citizens trying to make a point, along with one or two mentally ill people yelling obscenities in their faces, they tend to focus on the mentally ill people yelling obscenities.  To the extent that the dozen concerned citizens are the ones who attracted the mentally ill to the area, the general Eureka population proved uninterested in the point the twelve might be making.

Occupy Eureka4Unfortunately, Occupy and its hangers-on generated enough disgust and dismay that the county and city felt moved to restrict rights in the interest of moving it along.  With an “urgency ordinance” put in place quickly enough that no real thought was given to its Constitutional problems, law enforcement was able to move in late in 2011 and force the Occupy campers off the courthouse lawn.

On November 7th, in pre-dawn hours, the campers were rousted and instructed to move their belongings across the street from the courthouse.  

Video of the scene shows a bedraggled group of perhaps a dozen or 20 people dragging stuff across the street in compliance with instructions from law enforcement.  Video shows one guy playing bongo drums and Verbena, camera and bullhorn in hand, shouting.  Shortly afterwards, the Eureka Police Department declared the group across the street from the courthouse an “unlawful assembly,” ordering it to disperse.  Verbena did not, and was arrested.

Verbena says that some of her property, including a pop-up canopy that remained across the street from the courthouse lawn that morning, was seized by Eureka police.  It remained in police hands for five months, ostensibly for use as evidence, though it was never used as evidence. 

Occupy Eureka5Despite repeated attempts, including repeated trips to Eureka Police Department, Verbena was never able to get some of the property back. The pop-up canopy came back broken, I believe.  I’ve heard that the internal cords holding it together had been intentionally severed, but I haven’t seen that, and I couldn’t know who might have done that or when.

Verbena was arrested again three days later.  

According to a digital audio recording made by the arresting officer, Sergeant Guy of the Eureka Police Department, it took about 20 seconds from the time Guy
exited his cruiser to the time he had Verbena in custody.  

Guy testified at the criminal trial that he arrested Verbena because she was unruly and encouraging resistance to his mission, which was to keep people from sleeping on the lawn.  But the audio recording indicates otherwise, with no shouting preceding the arrest.  (I haven’t heard the tape but have heard descriptions of it.  At most, Verbena may have said “people need to rest.”)

After the criminal trial regarding that arrest, which included testimony from Verbena, Sgt. Guy, and eyewitnesses to the arrest, a jury ruled 10-2 for Verbena’s acquittal.

Verbena was arrested once again, at the end of the month.

courthouseShe sued in small claims court, alleging that her civil rights had been violated and that her property had been unfairly taken.  The hearing happened over the past two weeks, in front of a judge, Arvid Johnson, brought in from outside the county.

I decided to attend after the first day, at least when I was able, because I didn’t find any reporting of the hearing in the county’s paid media, and I viewed the Constitutional violations used to up-end the Occupy group as tragic.

I never did hear any coverage of the hearing until after it had finished, when the Times-Standard published a press release generated by the City of Eureka.  It accurately stated that the judge had found against Verbena on all three events about which she was suing.  

Occupy Eureka6I’m writing this because it’s hard for me to understand how an objective observer could listen to the digital audio recording as described and not reach the conclusion that Sergeant Guy’s testimony about Verbena’s arrest was erroneous.  Yet that testimony did not pose any problem for the visiting judge, who ruled the testimony credible.  If he had not, he would have had to take Verbena’s Constitutional claims more seriously.

It’s nice to be able to think that the problems of society will be dealt with by “someone else.”  

You pay your taxes, and, you hope, the government will do its job more or less acceptably; it will  fix the potholes, keep you safe, and administer justice.  If we can convince ourselves that other people are doing the dirty jobs necessary to run a society, we can remain on the sidelines and feel that things will function without our direct attention. 

Occupy Eureka7There are times, of course, when it becomes evident that the government is not doing its job acceptably. When I was in junior high and early high school, increasing numbers of protesters took to the streets against the government’s decisions about the Vietnam War.  Few things concentrate the mind as much as the realization that you or your friends might get drafted to get killed in a war against a group of southeast Asian peasants who have done you no wrong.

Somehow, around the time of the affable-appearing salesman Ronald Reagan, we largely seem to have decided as a nation that the government is doing — more or less — an acceptable job of things, and that we don’t need to intervene personally.

But what happens when someone sues for their rights and, perhaps because of their obnoxious behavior, a judge does not attempt to administer justice?  What happens when no one from society’s supposed watchdog, the “free press,” bothers to attend the trial, or even mention its existence until it’s over?

Occupy Eureka8On a larger scale, what happens when a set of bankers is allowed to rob a nation’s pension funds, or when a set of executives decide to rob California’s “little old lady” electricity consumers, or when a set of oil executives decide they can risk drilling in the Gulf of Mexico because it is completely safe.  What happens when a society continues acting as though more equals better, even when “more” civilization is destroying the environment that supports civilization itself?

What happens when the government doesn’t intervene, because expensive lobbyists represent the bankers and the executives and the oil companies, and lobbyist-Congressmen realize that they need those lobbyists’ money to buy the expensive propaganda campaigns that they must use to convince enough of the electorate to vote against their own interests?  What happens when a stint in Congress or government office becomes an entree into the lucrative field of lobbying, instead of an opportunity to take part in moral self-government?

scales of justiceWhat happens when people protest that despicable behavior, and the disastrous effects that behavior has had on our society, but the population is so bothered by the mentally ill people that are attracted to the protest that they take sides against those who are protesting, even though their instinct, in many cases, is that the protesters are right about the problems to which they tried to call attention?

I think what happens is that society breaks down.  Government loses its ability to persuade people to sacrifice for moral reasons, because people no longer see any fairness in what the government requests.  I think, eventually, you get a population that sees the government as the enemy, instead of as its self-selected leaders.

And I think that’s what you’re seeing today.  Verbena, though obnoxious when speaking through her bullhorn, is right.

What are we going to do about that?

 

* * * * * * * * *

For those who may be unaware, here’s some background for Mitch’s guest post:

Verbena fistOn May 14, a Sacramento visiting judge sided with the City of Eureka and four members of its police force in a civil lawsuit brought by activist Kim “Verbena” Starr.

Starr claimed her civil rights were violated when she was arrested attending Occupy Eureka protests on three separate occasions, according to the Times-Standard and the City of Eureka’s press release.

In addition to Eureka Police Chief Murl Harpham, the suit named EPD sergeants Patrick O’Neil and Mike Guy, and Officer Terry Liles.

In his ruling, Judge Johnson stated that the City and its officers acted professionally, “despite the fact that there was ‘clear and immediate danger’ due to the protest and attempts by Occupiers to deliberately elicit a reaction from Officers,” according to the release.

Starr is just one in a group of people associated with the Occupy Eureka movement who filed claims for damages against the city, its police department and various county offices stemming from several incidents in November 2011, December 2012, and January 2013 in which Occupy protesters were arrested in front of the Humboldt County Courthouse by police.

 

The Humboldt Sentinel welcomes opinions, submissions, comments and suggestions from all points of view.

(Images by the Humboldt Sentinel.  Posted by Skippy Massey)

Posted in Local, Opinion5 Comments

Congradulations College Grads: The Big Rake

 

Waldo Mellon
Professional Guesser

 

Dear Waldo,

I was in the college library where I was supposed to meet this girl who never showed up and I’ll admit it, I was gassed out of my mind on this sick weed my roommate brought back from Humboldt, and I wandered up to the third
floor which I had never been to and there was this enormous
globe of the world.

I had heard about it but I never saw it due to my not liking of geography and my not coming to the library almost ever.  This fucker must be ten feet in diameter.  So I started spinning it because a sign says that’s OK to do if you want to for research purposes.  At first I zoned out on all the colors, but then I started to notice there goes China, there goes India, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the Atlantic ocean, New York, the Great Lakes, Pacific ocean and then it all started up all over again, China, India, around and around.

garduation pantsAnd then I had this amazing thought I admit I probably wouldn’t have had if I wasn’t so ripped out of my gourd.  What if I had this giant rake, OK?  And what if what this rake did is, it raked up just these two things: People, plus all the things that people have ever made.  And what if I’m standing in the library with my giant rake and I keep spinning the globe and running my rake over the entire ball except now it’s the real world and I’m raking up all the people and all the things that people have ever made into one gigantic pile.  I rake up the Empire State Building, every house on the planet, every truck, every couch, every shoe, books, the Great Wall of China, tools, pipes, wires, oil tankers, movie theaters, every screw, every brick, every road, airplanes, building materials, bulldozers, cranes, hottubs, garbage, bottles, let’s even say satellites. Everything, every single person and every single thing people ever made, into one gigantic pile.

Here’s my question: If I raked up all that stuff into the United States, what’s the smallest state you think I could fit that entire junkpile in?

graduation note about ashleyI just got back from going into the bathroom and I’ll admit it, I sucked down some more Humboldt weed because I was getting all cheesed out on this globe thing and a whole nother unbelieveable idea came to me: What if a sorcerer came along and I traded my rake for a magic wand which I know is a cliché even wrecked, but what if I made the trade anyway and then poof, I got rid of the entire pile of people plus all the shit people have made.  Poof.  Pile gone.  Which leads to my question number two: Would the planet be better off or worse off?  I can not deal with my own question. That is one mind-fuck question.

Well, that’s it.  No, one more question.  Do you think smoking dope
is good or bad.  Because I’m guessing I’m going to wake up tomorrow
with a familiar feeling that goes What the fuck.

Thank-you,
Paul

 

Dear Paul,

Stoned out of your ever-loving mind or not, I think you’ve stumbled upon a fascinating proposition.  I’ll bet most people think of the world as theirs, as a platform made especially for them.  There’s animals and bugs and plants and that kind of thing, but most folks think this production is sponsored by us, humans, and that the planet is really our stage, and so quiet down Everything Else because we got a show to put on.

graduation sex on the pillowBut this giant rake concept of yours makes it clear that people, for all their huffing and puffing, have had nothing to do with most of what goes on in our planet.  My guess is that the smallest state that could accommodate all of the things your rake rakes up would be, ohh, Massachusetts.  I live in Massachusetts and it seems to me, as I look around while driving, that there’s plenty of extra room here for a gigantic pile of every house, battle-ship, truck, cinder-block etc., particularly if you take care to pile things efficiently.

I could be laughably wrong.  I realize that there are minds capable of approaching your question with tools much more sophisticated and precise than my handy all-in-one Wild-Guess Mallet.  And so let’s choose a place on earth which we all can agree is sufficiently large to accommodate this pile you’re talking about Paul.  Texas?  Alaska?  Definitely one of those.  Let’s pick the bigger of the two: Alaska.

Rake rake rake rake rake rake rake.  Good.  Now there’s everything made by man ever, plus every person on earth, in a pile on Alaska.

graduation note3Spin that globe Paul.  Well what do you know.  It’s clear we’re really not responsible for much, given all there is.  Just that little pile of shit every time Alaska comes around.

Anyway, in answer to your second question Paul, about would the world be better or worse without us.  If those are my only two choices, I say better off.  Please keep in mind that I could be laughably wrong.

In answer to your third question, here’s what I say about marijuana, chardonnay, Heath Bars, LSD, coffee, nutritious foods, nicotine, water, or anything else that eventually enters our bloodstream:  Holy shit!  How about this!  We’re nothing but test tubes filled with a balance of chemicals so delicate that we can change moods or even go kerflooey at the drop of a hat!

Thank-you for your letter Paul.  Happy Graduation!

Your Fan,
Waldo Mellon

graduation note1

 

* * * * * * * * * *

Waldo Mellon wishes he had more writing credits to boast about, but he doesn’t.

He did go to a fancy, expensive college, yet most of the things that got stuffed into his head there are now nowhere to be found.  In fact, he has a breath-taking lack of the kind of knowledge that comes from things he’s read and things he’s been told, as opposed to things he’s experienced.

A mysterious fellow, he likes his life very much and that’s the vat he draws from.

Posted in Media, Opinion, Scene0 Comments

Arrest Bush, Impeach Obama

The high crime of torture must be prosecuted

 

By Rob Urie
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Confirmation by the Constitution Project nearly a decade late that the George W. Bush administration and the U.S. military and ‘intelligence’ services committed acts of torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere appears a Rorschach test for the ‘sentiments’ of the American people. However, sentiments aside, formal indictments of culpable officials on war crimes charges and the start of impeachment proceedings against current President Barack Obama are the only relevant responses to the report. Torture is a crime under laws to which the U.S. is signatory. And with his war on Iraq George W. Bush and his administration murdered, or caused the premature deaths of, more than a million people and substantially destroyed a modern nation state.

By 2004, when pictures of Iraqi civilians being tortured and humiliated at A

NDAA

bu Ghraib prison were leaked, it was widely evident the Bush administration had established a global system of kidnapping, torture, rape and murder. The grotesque euphemisms ‘take the gloves off’ and ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ provided cover for criminal behavior only to the extent Americans were willing to suspend judgment of what was before their eyes. The ‘fog of war’ was the fog of contrived fear and the malicious acts of America’s idiot prince and his bosses and acolytes were fueled by ignorance and fed on arrogance and stupidity. The language of nationalist psychosis was revived to insist the saving of ‘American’ lives was worth any price and as the Constitution Project report demonstrates, America’s victims paid that price in real time. And today under the new boss, Barack Obama, they are still paying.

What at first glance seems surprising in the development of the report is Republican Asa Hutchison, former Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Mr. Bush, and as such a legally culpable party to the crimes exposed in it, co-led the Constitution Project effort. The decade-long use of euphemisms for what was clearly torture served both as legal cover and the public relations interests of the Bush administration. By explicitly calling acts ‘torture’ in the report a boundary of legal culpability was breached. An earlier report conducted by the U.S. Senate reportedly contains similar findings but remains classified. Together these indicate ‘official’ evidence of culpability that could be used as the basis for criminal prosecutions if the will and means to prosecute are found. As such, Mr. Hutchison’s role appears to be as leader of an informal ‘truth and reconciliation’ committee. However, the magnitude of the crimes of aggressive war and torture warrant criminal prosecution, not reconciliation.

In his statement accompanying the release of the Project report Mr. Hutchison proposed that ignorance of legitimate interrogation methods, and possibly naiveté, were behind the Bush administration’s torture policies. The proposition itself is naïve, and in legal terms irrelevant, in that the Bush administration contemporaneously sought legal cover for its actions behind bogus legal theories, engaged in efforts to cover up illegal behavior and carried out phony ‘investigations’ of torture that limited culpability to low-level operatives. In addition to providing clear and detailed statements that Bush administration actions were torture, Mr. Hutchison restated facts of broader culpability: former President Bill Clinton started the ‘extraordinary rendition’ program used by the Bush and Obama administrations and current President Barack Obama continues torture practices and is hiding other current U.S. practices of dubious legality behind the illegitimate veil of ‘state secrets.’

To address the most prominent rationale for recent American defenders of torture: as copious evidence suggests, the George W. Bush administration had been warned of the attacks of September 11, 2001 by internal intelligence services, by overseas intelligence services and through a number of personal calls made directly to Mr. Bush from prominent world leaders prior to their occurrence. The ‘failure’ of 9/11 was the failure to respond to copious and overwhelming evidence an attack was imminent, not from an absence of information. Administration reaction to its failure to prevent the attacks was to fraudulently infer blame onto Iraq to justify launching a war of aggression against it. And illegal torture has been a standard tactic of the U.S. military and intelligence services overseas for decades with no relation to an imminent attack on the U.S. either claimed or inferred. In other words, even if torture had revealed the plot it would have made no difference– it was the failure to act on the available information that facilitated the attacks.

Part of the value of the Constitution Project report is it broadens the realm of ‘officially’ known U.S. actions in Iraq and Afghanistan to include systematic torture by the U.S. military and intelligence services. That is, far from the administration’s contention the use of torture was limited to specific ‘targets’ and designed to yield specific and urgent information needed to prevent another attack on the U.S., torture was widespread, often used where no information relevant to activities against the U.S. was suspected, and was carried out for purposes unrelated to direct ‘U.S. interests.’ When put together with a separate BBC report claiming forces led by American James Steele were sent to Iraq to lead ‘counter-insurgency’ efforts that included the systematic torture and murder of Iraqi ‘insurgents,’ historical continuity is added to America’s torture program.

According to the BBC report, in the 1980s Mr. Steele led counter-insurgency forces in Central America on behalf of American business and imperial interests. That effort also included the systematic murder and torture of accused ‘insurgents,’ often innocents caught in the way of right-wing ‘death-squads’ supported by the U.S.  The cluttered, confused, and ultimately irrelevant legal ‘justifications’ for torture provided by the Bush administration were transformed from theory to fact when Mr. Steele was sent to Iraq. This isn’t to suggest that U.S.-led torture and murder in Iraq and Afghanistan didn’t precede Mr. Steele’s arrival, but it ties systematic torture and murder past to present. It cannot credibly be argued systematic torture and murder are a response to specific events when they precede those events by decades.

When Barack Obama entered office in 2009 he claimed the right to ‘look forward, not back’ that wasn’t his to claim. The law requires war crimes be investigated and prosecuted if evidence of guilt is found. Behind a veil of political pragmatism, not wanting to be caught up in ‘partisan’ politics, Mr. Obama moved America’s programs of political torture and murder into the 21st century. Had he enthusiastically prosecuted Bush administration crimes Mr. Obama could have revived international sanction against aggressive war and torture and ended, even if only temporarily, the of use of ancient imperial techniques in a world with the technological capacity to murder, maim and torture beyond the ancient imagination.

Instead of doing this Mr. Obama claimed the illegitimate and illegal rights of aggressive war, permanent incarceration of known innocents, torture and technocratic slaughter, all under the cover of opaque public relations techniques, quasi-sophisticated language and his casual demeanor. By choosing continuity and enhancement over clear, straightforward and unambiguous break with Mr. Bush’s catastrophic policies, Mr. Obama codified them into the set of ‘acceptable’ practices of American empire. But much as the context of fear and ignorance temporarily protected Mr. Bush and his administration from the clear language of their acts that will sooner or later condemn them to their ever so deserved fates, Mr. Obama chose the wrong side of history. The claims of real politic, that some innocents must die no matter who leads or follows, occasionally joins the ruin corrupt and criminal leaders meet when their crimes pass the historical context that facilitated and incubated them.

Unstated in the continuity of imperial torture and murder is that they never serve their claimed purposes. It was well understood by the standing bureaucracy in Washington during the ‘Bush years’ that torture doesn’t produce ‘useful’ information and that political murder eliminates the unlucky and the unfortunate, not the purported ‘targets.’ When the Bush administration offered nearly unfathomable wealth to poor Afghanis to turn their neighbors in for ‘crimes’ against America, even they weren’t so stupid as to believe those turned over were guilty of anything but misfortune. The unstated purpose of imperial torture and murder is to provide evidence of imperial power—to produce subservience and acquiescence through random terror. Why else does Mr. Obama randomly murder with drones, did Mr. Bush establish his torture regime and concentration prisons, and did Mr. Clinton create his program of kidnapping and torture?

The practical problem with using imperial / state terror as a strategy of political repression is that random torture and murder don’t force compliance with imperial and / or state interests—their random nature precludes association between their infliction and specific acts. This general principle was understood by the time of the Nuremberg trials—Nazi law couldn’t be followed because it was incoherent. But the point of Nazi law was to force the will of the Nazi leadership onto the German citizenry, not to maintain civil order. What change in behavior can be obtained through Mr. Obama’s drone murders other than to prevent people from being males between the ages of 16 and 50 or from sitting down with their families to share a meal? What interest is served other than to terrorize people? The Bush administration had little interest in determining the guilt or innocence of those imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay because the point of their incarceration wasn’t (isn’t) to punish guilt; it is to demonstrate imperial power.

Americans who see themselves on the ‘lucky’ side of torture and murder are either members of the tiny ruling class at present outside the realm of possible torture and / or murder or aren’t looking at present and recent past circumstance very hard. The purpose of the surveillance state isn’t to solve some ‘crime’ wave because there is none. Persons of the ‘wrong’ skin color and / or economic class aren’t harassed, beaten, fraudulently incarcerated or murdered to reduce ‘crime’ because an entire ruling class of economic and war criminals is hiding in plain sight and available for arrest were it in ‘the state’s’ interest to reduce crime. The rise of solitary confinement (torture) and the revival of debtor’s and for-profit prisons in the U.S. illuminate the political economic interests behind the incarceration state. And as New York City’s police Commissioner Ray Kelly recently articulated, the purpose of harassment of, violence against and incarceration of black and brown youth is to create a level of state terror that precludes ‘crime.’ In other words, terror is the state tactic of repression, not the crime.

Finally, this piece is written in the context of events surrounding the recent bombings in Boston. I lived in Cambridge, a few miles from the bombings, for five years and only recently moved back to New York. I have for decades had family and friends who have run the Boston Marathon, have been an avid runner myself for some twenty-five years, and have been a spectator at the Marathon on several occasions. There is no argument that could be made that any of the victims of the bombings were legitimate political targets. Where I now grieve for those maimed and murdered in Boston, so have I grieved for the innocents, now numbering over one million in Iraq and Afghanistan, who died in illegal wars of aggression, and the many who were also illegally tortured. If what happened in Boston was a crime, and it was, so too is illegitimate war and torture. Mr. Bush and his administration, and now with Mr. Obama joining him, deserve fair trials for their crimes and fitting punishment if found guilty, just as the murderers in Boston do.

Posted in Opinion, Politics0 Comments

Before the Collapse, A Call to Action

The numbers are cooked, and there is no recovery

 

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers

 

The economic news in the last two weeks points to bad news for the economy and a reason for people to mobilize and demand change. We want to emphasize that as bad as the situation looks, there are solutions and ways to protect ourselves. The time to act is now.

Before we get to the impact of the Obama budget, let’s explode a critical myth: there is no recovery (at least for the 99%). Last month’s unemployment numbers revealed the fraud of the unemployment rate. Even though the country produced less than 90,000 new jobs, when over 120,000 are needed to keep up with growth, the unemployment rate declined. Why? Because hundreds of thousands are giving up on work each month and they don’t get counted.

At present, over 100 million working age Americans do not have a job that is 41.5%. And, for some groups, African Americans and youth in particular, this is a persistent jobs crisis that ensures low incomes and little wealth for the future. And, workers who do have jobs are paid way too little, about half of the value of what they actually produce. There will be no recovery until these fundamentals change.

The combination of poor federal economic policy – which is getting more off-track – and a corrupt economy is bringing on the next crash. In an article in Truthout last week, we point out the deep corruption of the finance system, which dominates the economy. Security fraud expert Bill Black told us that the evidence shows that fraud is “pervasive” among the “most elite financial institutions,” yet the Obama government policy was no prosecution. The Economic Collapse Blog points out there are 11 crashes going on right now: gold, silver, bitcoins, consumer confidence, 401(k) retirement accounts, casino gambling, Greek employment, European financial stocks, Spanish bankruptcies and energy demand; and predicts the bloated US stock market is next.

As we approach the next crash, the government’s across the board sequester is beginning to have big impacts on people’s lives and will lead to further shrinking of the economy. Here are 100 cutbacks that are affecting people as of early April and the pace is picking up. These impacts are very real, thousands of Medicare patients with cancer are being turned away at health clinics because of sequester cut-backs. And, at a time of increasing poverty, Greg Kaufman writes the sequester means: “up to 140,000 fewer low-income families receiving housing vouchers, more children exposed to lead paint, higher rent for people who can’t afford it and a rise in homelessness.”

If either President Obama’s or Paul Ryan’s budget, or some of each, is enacted, and they will since these are what DC is considering, the economy will get even worse. The bipartisans have fully embraced austerity and are being cheered on by the corporate media and wealth-funded think tanks, as Margaret Flowers found when she debated two on the Marc Steiner Show, one from a “liberal” Democrat think tank, the other a conservative Republican – they agreed while Margaret had to correct their false statements.

The president has shown his embrace of austerity by proposing unilateral budget cuts to Social Security and Medicare that will shrink benefits and increase the cost of health care. After four years of seeking to cut these programs, the “Grand Obama Betrayal” has arrived. Economist Jack Rasmus describes this as a “grand collusion” between the bipartisan corporatists and big business interests. The president did not put forward any plans to solve the jobs crisis, shrink the wealth divide, build a new economy – instead he embraced a mistaken mission of austerity.

The embrace of austerity does not apply to the military, whose sequester cuts were restored with the administration even funding a missile defense program that Congress de-funded as the military continues to be well-funded. When it comes to people’s needs, Obama put forward an approach that intentionally ignores the real living costs of the elderly and instead relied on a fake inflation rate that economist Michael Hudson calls “catfood reform.” Obama and the bipartisans want Americans to think these cuts are necessary, but in fact, they aren’t.

Obama is not only hurting the middle class, poor, elderly and veterans with these cuts, but his budget continues to give gifts to big business. Obama’s budget is proposing to sell the Tennessee Valley Authority to big energy interests. This will ensure consumers pay the highest rates possible. As food safety gets worse, Obama’s budget will cut chicken inspectors and let the industry inspect itself. And, Obama, who has always been well-funded by the nuclear industry, revised rules to dramatically raise permissible radioactive levels in drinking water and soil following “radiological incidents,” such as nuclear power-plant accidents and dirty bombs.

These wins for industry are losses to the health and welfare of Americans. Congress does its job for big business well; research shows big payoffs for members who vote to deregulate the deeply corrupt finance industry. And, agribusiness food giant Monsanto was able to get the Monsanto Protection Act passed, which prevents regulation of GMO’s and even prevents courts from intervening.

The corruption of Congress and the president were on display this week when they repealed the STOCK Act, designed to prevent insider trading by high government officials by requiring them to disclose their financial investments in a searchable format. The Senate passed the repeal in 10 seconds, the House in 14, both by unanimous consent – not one member spoke up to oppose the repeal. President Obama quickly and quietly signed the law. His repeal was accomplished more quietly than when Obama signed the STOCK Act a year ago, saying how important it was for elected officials to live within transparent rule of law. Speaking of corrupt secrecy, the Federal Reserve argues that the widespread corrupt mortgage practices are trade secrets and should not be disclosed. Is this mafia capitalism at work?

It is now clear that Americans who deposited money in big banks could suffer the same result as the people of Cyprus, remember the lessons of the Depression, and have their deposits seized and turned into bank stock. Ellen Brown reports this is part of the “too big to fail” banks plan to withstand the next collapse. In fact, massive and risky derivatives investments, almost as large as the US economy, would receive more protection than depositors. It could happen here in a collapse, and it would be fast and furious, with the banks or the FDIC writing down deposits to save the banks at the expense of consumers. And, if you can’t pay your bills, be wary of debtor’s prison.

Every tax year, we are reminded how unfair the tax system is and how the big banks and wealthy avoid taxes by hiding money off-shore, claiming loses in the US and profits abroad. One report indicates that these off-shore havens cost the average taxpayer $1,000 annually. This year, a cache of 2.5 million files containing the secrets of more than 120,000 offshore companies and trusts that were analyzed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists exposed hidden dealings of politicians, criminals, business people and the mega-rich the world over totaling up to $32 trillion hidden off-shore.

As we get closer to the full implementation of ObamaCare the legislation is looking more expensive and less beneficial to consumer. Obama met with the insurance industry at the White House to discuss their partnership in implementing the law. The law is getting more costly to implement so Obama is pulling back on its promises. Already rising health care costs are resulting in people cutting back on their prescription drugs to save money – this will not be good for health or for the cost of healthcare. And, Obama is moving to quietly ruin Medicare with cuts while at the same time increasing funding for the more expensive and less efficient private insurance for seniors, Medicare Advantage. This is part of the privatization of the most successful part of US healthcare, Medicare, made worse by the nomination of a former executive for Hospital Corporation of America to run Medicare. Marilyn Tavenner promises to run Medicare as a business, just the opposite of what it should be, a necessary public service.

The political and economic mess of Washington and Wall Street, the foundering economy and threat of another collapse, are leading more and more people to question the viability of big finance capitalism; with criticism ranging beyond its traditional critics. More and more call for breaking up the big banks and tougher enforcement against banksters. But, others are calling for more structural changes. In an article that will be published in Truthout tomorrow, we discuss how to transform the Federal Reserve to make it transparent, democratic and responsive to the economy; the creation of public banks in every state and major cities as well ways to opt-out of the Wall Street economy.

The crisis of the US economy and government are upon us. The only way we will stop the cuts to necessary social services, the continued privatization of public services and government gifts to big business is to mobilize to stop business as usual in Washington, DC. Beyond that, it is important for all of us to envision and begin to create the new economy as the old one collapses. There is more information about the new economy and links to resources at ItsOurEconomy.us.

The future is ours to define. Now is the time to for action!

Posted in National, Opinion, Politics0 Comments

Congress: End Endless War

 

Stop Becoming the “Evil That We Deplore”

 

By Norman Solomon
Humboldt Sentinel Guest Post

 

Congress waited six years to repeal the Tonkin Gulf Resolution after it opened the bloody floodgates for the Vietnam War in August 1964.

If that seems slow, consider the continuing failure of Congress to repeal the “war on terror” resolution — the Authorization for Use of Military Force — that sailed through, with just one dissenting vote, three days after 9/11.

barbara leePrior to casting the only “no” vote, Congresswoman Barbara Lee spoke on the House floor.  “As we act,” she said, “let us not become the evil that we deplore.”

We have.  That’s why, more than 11 years later, Lee’s prophetic one-minute speech is so painful to watch.  The “war on terror” has inflicted carnage in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and elsewhere as a matter of routine.  Targets change, but the assumed prerogative to kill with impunity remains.

Now, Rep. Lee has introduced H.R. 198, a measure to repeal the Authorization for Use of Military Force.  (This week, several thousand people have already used a RootsAction.org special webpage to email their Senators and House members about repealing that “authorization” for endless war.)

end war1Opposed to repeal, the Obama administration is pleased to keep claiming that the 137-month-old resolution justifies everything from on-the-ground troops in combat to drone strikes and kill lists to flagrant abrogation of civil liberties.

A steep uphill incline faces efforts to repeal the resolution that issued a blank political check for war in the early fall of 2001.  Struggling to revoke it is a valuable undertaking.  Yet even repeal would be unlikely to end the “war on terror.”

At the start of 1971, President Nixon felt compelled to sign a bill that included repeal of the Tonkin Gulf Resolution.  By then, he had shifted his ostensible authority for continuing the war on Vietnam — asserting his prerogative as commander in chief.  Leaders of the warfare state never lack for rationales when they want to keep making war.

shootersIn retrospect, the U.S. “war on terror” has turned out to be even more tenacious than the U.S. war that took several million lives in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia during the 1960s and early 1970s.

Some key similarities resonate with current circumstances.  Year after year, in Congress, support for the Vietnam War was bipartisan.  Presidents Johnson and Nixon preached against unauthorized violence in America’s cities while inflicting massive violence in Southeast Asia.  Both presidents were fond
of proclaiming fervent wishes for peace.

end warBut unlike the horrific war in Southeast Asia, the ongoing and open-ended “war on terror” is not confined by geography or, apparently, by calendar.  The search for enemies to smite (and create) is availing itself of a bottomless pit, while bottom-feeding military contractors keep making a killing.

Beyond the worthy goal of repealing the Authorization for Use of Military Force is a need for Congress to cut off appropriations for the “war on terror.”  A prerequisite: repudiating the lethal mythology of righteous war unbounded by national borders or conceivable duration.

What may be even more difficult to rescind is the chronic
disconnect between lofty oratory and policies digging the
country deeper into endless war.

end war3“We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war,” President Obama said in his 2013 inaugural address, after four years of doing more than any other president in U.S. history to normalize perpetual war as a bipartisan enterprise.

Repealing the Authorization for Use of Military Force will be very hard.  Revoking the power to combine lovely rhetoric with pernicious militarism will be even more difficult.

______________________________

end war cartoonNorman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy.  His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.”  He writes the Political Culture 2013 column.

This article originally appeared in Humboldt Organized for Peace and Environment (HOPE).

 

(Images by the Humboldt Sentinel.  Posted by Skippy Massey)

Posted in National, Opinion, Politics1 Comment

Rand Paul, American Hero

 

Unlike Cowardly California Reps, the Junior Senator from Kentucky Defends Constitutional Rights

 

Sentinel Editorial

 

While the simpering lickspittle politicians spend their time sucking up to corporate lobbyists at their endless round of fundraisers, a few brave souls in the United States Senate are actually on the floor of the Senate
doing their job.

Bringing back the novel idea that a filibuster actually involves holding the floor and speaking — a spectacle last witnessed when Senator Bernie Sanders (Ind.-Vermont) held the floor for nearly a day to hold up Obama’s tax cuts for the wealthy in 2010 — the junior Senator from Kentucky took the floor this morning, and as of press time, has not relinquished it.

Rand Paul (Rep.-Kentucky) is holding up the confirmation vote on John Brennan, who served as a Central Intelligence Agency official during the George W. Bush administration, to be the director of said spy shack. Brennan’s role in the Bush-era launch of indiscriminate rendition and torture of suspects in the never-ending War on Terror is legendary, but Paul is specifically targeting the purported “right” of the Obama regime to used unmanned aerial drones to kill anyone on Earth, without judge, jury or conviction under any due process.

“The idea that you don’t get due process is really repugnant to the American people, and it should be,” Paul said on the Senate floor just minutes ago. “There should be a huge outcry, and the president should come forward and explain his position.”

“There are some rights that are so special that we aren’t willing to give up on these…it’s about principles that are bigger than the people involved. It’s about Constitutional principles.”

We couldn’t agree more. The power to kill at will is the power of a dictator, no matter how much Obama says he isn’t one.

Thankfully, there are a few brave Senators that agree, including Mike Lee (Utah), Ted Cruz (Texas), Jerry Moran (Kansas), Marco Rubio (Florida), Saxby Chambliss (Georgia) and Pat Toomey (Pennsylvania). Oddly enough, all these men are Republicans, and several of them were silent when the Bush Administration promulgated the very Constitution-shredding policies that Obama has expanded.

Paul says he would be doing the same thing even if a Republican were in the White House, and we are grateful that somebody on Capitol Hill puts their oath of office ahead of their political party.

Somebody else up there is acting in a similarly honorable fashion: Ron Wyden (Dem.-Oregon), who has also stood up against the National Defense Authorization Act and various other attacks on civil liberties over the last several years.Nowhere to be seen, naturally, are Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer of California. Their lack of respect for the Bill of Rights and their disregard for the tyrannical direction of the federal government have been confirmed by their negligence — and in the case of Feinstein, active cheerleading for more police state powers to be concentrated in the Executive Branch.

Tune in to CSPAN-2 and see for yourself what a real American hero looks like. Rand Paul, we salute you, and we salute everyone who stands with the Constitution against its domestic enemies.

Posted in Features, Opinion3 Comments

Five Hundred and Forty-Five Politicians

 

–Or, How Can a Barrel of Washington Monkeys Throw a Shoe in the Works–

(VIDEO)

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Corporate welfare– the enormous and myriad subsidies, bailouts, giveaways, tax loopholes, debt
revocations, loan guarantees, discounted insurance and
other benefits conferred by government on business– is
a function of political corruption.

Corporate welfare programs siphon funds from appropriate public investments, subsidize companies ripping minerals from federal lands, enable pharmaceutical companies to gouge consumers, perpetuate anti-competitive oligopolistic markets, injure our national security, and weaken our democracy.”

~Ralph Nader

 

So what has happened to our great nation?

stars and stripesPoliticians.  545 of them, to be exact.

Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems– and then campaign against them.

Have you ever wondered, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, why do we have deficits?  If all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, why do we have inflation and high taxes?  The more you observe politics, the more you’ve got to admit that each party is worse than the other.

Let’s put it all into some perspective unless we’ve forgotten or
resigned ourselves as to how things got this way.

bush babyYou and I don’t propose a federal budget.  The President does.  You and I don’t have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations.  The House of Representatives does.  You and I don’t write the tax code, Congress does.  You and I don’t set fiscal policy, Congress does.  You and I don’t control monetary policy, the Federal Reserve Bank does.

One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one President, and nine Supreme Court justices equates to 545 human beings out of the 300 million who are directly, legally, morally, and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.

Excluded are the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that problem was created by the Congress.  In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered, but private, central bank.  The value of the dollar has lost ground ever since.

Excluded are all the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason.  They have no legal authority.  They should have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman, or a President to do one cotton-picking thing.  Even if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash, that politician has the power to accept or reject it.  No matter what the lobbyist promises, it’s the legislator’s responsibility to determine how he votes.

politicoThose 545 monkeys spend much of their monkeyshine energy convincing you that what they did isn’t their fault.  They cooperate in this common flimflam con game regardless of their party.

What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall.  No normal human being would have the gall of the Speaker, who stood up and criticized the President for creating deficits.  The President can only propose a budget; he can’t force the Congress to accept it.

The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating and approving appropriations and taxes.  Who is the speaker of the House?  John Boehner; he’s the leader of the majority party.  He and fellow House members, not the President, can approve any budget they want.  If the President vetoes it, they can pass it over his veto if they agree to.  The House has passed a budget, but the Senate hasn’t approved a budget in over three years.  The President’s proposed budgets have gotten almost unanimous rejections in the Senate during that time.

It seems inconceivable that a nation of 300 million cannot replace 545 people who stand convicted — by present facts — of incompetence and irresponsibility.  I can’t think of a single domestic problem that’s not traceable directly to those 545 people.

When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise the power of the federal government, then it must follow that what exists is because they want to exist.

democracyIf the tax code is unfair, it’s because they want it unfair.  If the budget is in the red, it’s because they want it in the red.  If an unregulated Wall Street caused the greatest recession in our collective memory, it’s because they want it unregulated.  If companies send jobs, earnings, and tax-sheltered profits overseas, it’s because they want them sheltered.  If the five largest banks that gambled and lost can’t be allowed to fail while millions lose their jobs, farms, and homes, it’s because they want the gambling.  If the Army & Marines are in Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s because they want them in Iraq and Afghanistan.  If Congress does not receive Social Security but are on an elite retirement plan
not available to the people, it’s because they want it that way.

Ancient Rome declined because it had a Senate.  What’s going to happen to us with both a House and a Senate?  There should be no insoluble government problems.

Don’t let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; or to regulators, to whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take this power.

Above all, do not let them hustle you into the belief that there exists disembodied mystical forces like “the economy,” “inflation,” or “politics” that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do.

Those 545 people, and they alone, are responsible.  They, and they alone, have the power.  They, and they alone, should be held accountable by the people– We the People– who are their bosses.

We might note the man with the best job in the country is the Vice-President.  All he has to do is get up every morning and say, “How is the President?”

diapersProvided the voters have the gumption to manage their own employees, perhaps it’s time we vote all of the monkeys out of office– and begin cleaning up their mess.

So, what happened to our great nation?  You can spell ‘politicians.’  But can you spell “545 bought and paid for, monkey business-as-usual, beastly-political professional fat cat bureaucrats?”

Not one of the taxes below existed 100 years ago and our nation was the most prosperous in the world.  We had no national debt, we had the largest middle class in the world, and we had Mom who
stayed at home to raise the kids so they’d grow up properly.

The only difference between death and debt is that death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets.

Accounts Receivable Tax
Building Permit Tax
CDL license Tax
Cigarette Tax
Corporate Income Tax
Dog License Tax
Excise Taxes
Federal Income Tax
Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)
Fishing License Tax
Food License Tax
Fuel Permit Tax
Gasoline Tax (currently 44.75 cents per gallon)
Gross Receipts Tax
Hunting License Tax
Inheritance Tax
Inventory Tax
IRS Interest Charges IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)
Liquor Tax
Luxury Taxes
Marriage License Tax
Medicare Tax
Personal Property Tax
Property Tax
Real Estate Tax
Service Charge Tax
Social Security Tax
Road Usage Tax
Recreational Vehicle Tax
Sales Tax
School Tax
State Income Tax
State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)
Telephone Federal Excise Tax
Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax
Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Taxes
Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax
Telephone Recurring and Nonrecurring Charges Tax
Telephone State and Local Tax
Telephone Usage Charge Tax
Utility Taxes
Vehicle License Registration Tax
Vehicle Sales Tax
Watercraft Registration Tax
Well Permit Tax
Workers Compensation Tax 

“Just be thankful we’re not getting all the government we’re paying for.”

~Will Rogers

* * * * * * * * * *

monkeysOur appreciation goes out to Arlo Guthrie (Woody’s son), Ralph Nader, Charlie Reese of the Orlando Sentinel, Will Rogers, and to Sue O. of Medford, Oregon, for their contributions to this article.

Feel free to share this with others– or your local monkeyshine reps in Washington.

Send it around 545 times.  We would be honored.  Thank you.

Posted in Opinion, Politics1 Comment

Bill Maher: Shrivel Liberties

 

 

–And Cafeteria Constitutionalists

(VIDEO)–

 

By Bill Maher
HBO Real Time

 

The key to the new conservative “Constitutionalism” is
that they love, love, love every single word of the Constitution…
except for the parts that they hate.  And those parts therefore
don’t count and have to be changed.

The truth is that “Constitutionalist” has become code for “far-right Teabagger” just like “southern preacher” has become code for “closeted homosexual.”

As much as these people say they adore the Constitution, they’re a little choosey about what they do and don’t like about it:

Second Amendment?  Love it.  Tenth Amendment, which gives un-delegated power to the states?  Gotta have it.  But the “no establishment of religion” part of the First Amendment?  A little wobbly on that one.

The 17th Amendment, which allowed for direct election of senators (by the people; as opposed to legislative appointment), is on their chopping block.  In fact, John Yoo wrote about it a few years ago in the National Review Online, saying that the 17th “undermined federalism.”  John Yoo, of course, earned his Constitutional stripes by shitting all over the 8th Amendment while making room for torture.

The “no unreasonable searches and seizures” in the Fourth Amendment?  They kind of like it, but only for white people.

The 16th Amendment, which allows income tax, well, obviously that’s gotta go as well.  What were we thinking?  The Founding Fathers obviously wanted us to fund our modern military with rainbows and candy.

The 14th Amendment is right there in the Constitution too, but it allows the evil spawn of Mexicans to be citizens, so it clearly needs some tweaking.

And of course there’s all the stuff that’s not in the Constitution that needs to be.

If only our Founding Fathers had the wisdom to foresee the
miss meinvention of fire and cloth, we wouldn’t need a flag-burning amendment.  But we do.  And somehow James Madison must have left the “no gay marriage” amendment in his other pants the day he introduced the Bill of Rights, so we’ll have to fix that, too.

If they really loved the Constitution so much, wouldn’t they have more respect for it than that?

The reality is that Conservatives love their Constitution the exact same way they love their Bible — as something to thump, not something to read.

* * * * * * *

This article by Bill Maher, “Cafeteria Constitutionalists,” and others, can be found here

More HBO Real Time with Bill Maher can be found here.

(Posted by Skippy Massey)

Posted in National, Opinion, Politics1 Comment

Who Really Bombed Judi Bari?

 

Who’s Bombing Her Now?

 

By Bruce Anderson
Anderson Valley Advertiser

 

Most AVA readers are probably aware, however dimly, that a woman named Judi Bari was nearly killed in Oakland by a car bomb in May of 1990.  The device detonated directly beneath the driver’s seat of the car
Bari was driving.

The person with her, Darryl Cherney, her close friend and fellow Earth First! organizer, was only slightly injured. Both Bari and Cherney would have been killed if the bomb had exploded as designed.  A resident of Mendocino County and self-identified Earth First!er, Bari had been foremost in organizing Redwood Summer, a mass protest against corporate timber’s cash-in of the Northcoast’s redwood forests.

The spectacular attempt on Bari’s life was soon eclipsed by the first Iraq war, and Bari, grievously injured in the explosion, died in 1997.

bariThe FBI and the Oakland Police had prematurely arrested Bari and Cherney on the presumption they had knowingly transported the device that almost killed them.  In the few years left to her, Bari, and a handful of acolytes, including Cherney, raised large amounts of money for a winning federal libel lawsuit against the FBI and the Oakland Police Department in 2002.  Bari’s daughters, Cherney and several left attorneys walked away with several million dollars, having worked closely with the feds to draft the suit to exclude all mention of whose bomb set the suit in motion.

Within days of the blast, Mike Geniella, a reporter with the New York Times-owned Santa Rosa Press Democrat, had received a letter from a person signing himself The Lord’s Avenger.  Written in thunderous, faux Old Testament prose, the Avenger described the bomb in detail only the bomber could know.  The bombing suspect now became a deranged fundamentalist, and the FBI, always a dependable villain among the left, became the Avenger’s enabler if not co-conspirator.

Bari, Cherney, and their allies well-placed in the Pacifica Network, including Amy Goodman at Democracy Now, have always managed to ignore inconvenient questions about the bombing, especially those raised in a fine but mostly unseen documentary on the case by Steve Talbot, who went on to anchor PBS’s Frontline series.

bari2Talbot’s film was called “Who Bombed Judi Bari?” Talbot answered that question on information supplied by Bari herself — Judi Bari was probably bombed by her ex-husband.  Talbot, without directly identifying Bari’s ex in the film, pointed straight at him.

But after Bari’s death, Talbot appeared on a San Francisco-based television program called “This Week In Northern California” to say that Bari had told him she was certain her ex-husband had bombed her, that the great assassins of the corporate-FBI nexus so beloved by the Pacifica Network had to be moved aside for what was really a fancy case of domestic violence.

Bari’s ex-husband, Mike Sweeney, magically kept off stage all these years as the likeliest suspect, is not the usual estranged husband.  He comes with special qualifications.  He belonged to Professor H. Bruce Franklin’s Maoist posse at Stanford in the late 1960s, and he and Bari met at a labor organizing event, married and moved to Santa Rosa where a hangar on the mostly abandoned airfield next door mysteriously blew up one night prior to their relocation to Redwood Valley in Mendocino County.  The airfield was home to weekend pilots who annoyed the Sweeney-Bari household with their overflights, and Sweeney and Bari had successfully sued Hewlett-Packard to halt development of the tract the airfield rested on.

Police suspected Sweeney and Bari — they had no other suspects — but were unable to make the case against them.  By the time they arrived in Mendocino County where their marriage soon disintegrated, the two radicals had enjoyed, you might say, a uniquely explosive relationship.

bari4In the 22 years since Judi Bari was blown up in Oakland, out there in what’s left of the American left, it’s an article of faith that she was a martyr to the usual malign forces that do the dirty work for our ruling circles.  Tune in Democracy Now or KPFA out of Berkeley and you will hear someone saying that the author of the attack on Judi Bari remains a mystery but we, wink-wink, we in the know, we know the corporations and the FBI got her.

What you won’t hear, because alternative explanations of the case are deliberately excluded from Pacifica’s preciously PC airwaves, is that the mystery of who bombed Judi Bari isn’t a mystery at all, that it can be solved via the known DNA lifted from the Lord’s Avenger Letter.  No one seems interested, but that DNA exists and has been found to be primarily female, placed there in 1990, just before DNA became the slam-dunk investigative tool it has since become.

bari3Judi Bari is still being bombed by persons deliberately obstructing resolution of the case, this time in the form of an hagiographic epic assembled by Cherney that mostly features himself.  It is also called, “Who Bombed Judi Bari?”, a nice piece of cynicism that might make it appear that the honest film of the same title by Steve Talbot didn’t pre-date Cherney’s film by twenty-one years.  Predictably, Cherney’s version of “Who Bombed Judi Bari?” has gotten big play from Amy Goodman and the cringing speakers-of-truth-to-power at places like KPFA.

 

bari5The even larger mystery of Who Bombed Judi Bari is this: why isn’t what passes for a left media in this country demanding that the Bari case be solved?  Why did Susan Faludi suddenly abandon her book on Bari after getting a large publisher’s advance to write it?  Why has Judi Bari’s famous sister, Gina Kolata of the New York Times, never written about her sister’s sad fate?

And why has Bari’s family never publicly demanded the case be solved?

 

* * * * * * * * *

avaWe welcome this case being reopened and the DNA evidence tested.  It has never been solved or fully resolved.

We also welcome dissenting opinions.

Should Mr. Cherney, Mr. Sweeney, Ms. Goodman, Mr. Talbot, Ms. Kolata, or any accurate historian with a direct and knowledgeable command of the facts like to respond or rebut to the above, the Humboldt Sentinel gladly looks forward to hearing it.

bruce-anderson-150x150This article is courtesy of  Bruce Anderson and appeared in the Anderson Valley Advertiser today, January 3, 2013.

 

 

 

 (Images by the Humboldt Sentinel.  Posted by Skippy Massey)

Posted in Local, Media, Opinion13 Comments

The Fiscal Cliff Is A Diversion

 

The Derivatives Tsunami and the Dollar Bubble

 

Paul Craig Roberts
December 18, 2012

 

The “fiscal cliff” is another hoax designed to shift the attention of policymakers, the media, and the attentive public, if any, from huge problems to small ones.

The fiscal cliff is automatic spending cuts and tax increases in order to reduce the deficit by an insignificant amount over ten years if Congress takes no action itself to cut spending and to raise taxes.  In other words, the “fiscal cliff” is going to happen either way.

The problem from the standpoint of conventional economics with the fiscal cliff is that it amounts to a double-barrel dose of austerity delivered to a faltering and recessionary economy.  Ever since John Maynard Keynes, most economists have understood that austerity is not the answer to recession or depression.

cliff walkingRegardless, the fiscal cliff is about small numbers compared to the Derivatives Tsunami or to bond market and dollar market bubbles.

The fiscal cliff requires that the federal government cut spending by $1.3 trillion over ten years.   This can be done by simply taking a three month vacation each year from Washington’s wars.

I pointed out 95% of the $230 trillion in US derivative exposure was held by four US financial institutions:  JP Morgan Chase Bank, Bank of America, Citibank, and Goldman Sachs.

Prior to financial deregulation, essentially the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act and the non-regulation of derivatives– a joint achievement of the Clinton administration and the Republican Party– Chase, Bank of America, and Citibank were commercial banks that took depositors’ deposits and made loans to businesses and consumers and purchased Treasury bonds with any extra reserves.

With the repeal of Glass-Steagall these honest commercial banks became gambling casinos, like the investment bank, Goldman Sachs, betting not only their own money but also depositors money on uncovered bets on interest rates, currency exchange rates, mortgages, and prices of commodities and equities.

deriviatives4These bets soon exceeded many times not only US GDP but world GDP.  Indeed, the gambling bets of JP Morgan Chase Bank alone are equal to world Gross Domestic Product.

According to the first quarter 2012 report from the Comptroller of the Currency, total derivative exposure of US banks has fallen insignificantly from the previous quarter to $227 trillion.  The exposure of the 4 US banks accounts for almost of all of the exposure and is many multiples of their assets or of their risk capital.

The Derivatives Tsunami is the result of the handful of fools and corrupt public officials who deregulated the US financial system.  Today, merely four US banks have derivative exposure equal to 3.3 times world Gross Domestic Product.  When I was a US Treasury official, such a possibility would have been considered beyond science fiction.

Hopefully, much of the derivative exposure somehow nets out so that the net exposure, while still larger than many countries’ GDPs, is not in the hundreds of trillions of dollars.  Still, the situation is so worrying to the Federal Reserve that after announcing a third round of quantitative easing, that is, printing money to buy bonds– both US Treasuries and the banks’ bad assets– the Fed has just announced that it is doubling its QE 3 purchases.

dollarIn other words, the entire economic policy of the United States is dedicated to saving four banks that are too large to fail.  The banks are too large to fail only because deregulation permitted financial concentration, as if the Anti-Trust Act did not exist.

The purpose of QE is to keep the prices of debt, which supports the banks’ bets, high.  The Federal Reserve claims that the purpose of its massive monetization of debt is to help the economy with low interest rates and increased home sales.

But the Fed’s policy is hurting the economy by depriving
savers, especially the retired, of interest income, forcing them to draw down their savings. Real interest rates paid on CDs, money market funds, and bonds are lower than the rate of inflation.

Moreover, the money that the Fed is creating in order to bail out the four banks is making holders of dollars, both at home and abroad, nervous.  If investors desert the dollar and its exchange value falls, the price of the financial instruments that the Fed’s purchases are supporting will also fall, and interest rates will rise.  The only way the Fed could support the dollar would be to raise interest rates.  In that event, bond holders would be wiped out, and the interest charges on the government’s debt would explode.

unemployedWith such a catastrophe following the previous stock and real estate collapses, the remains of people’s wealth would be wiped out.  Investors have been deserting equities for “safe” US Treasuries.  This is why the Fed can keep bond prices so high that the real interest rate is negative.

The hyped threat of the fiscal cliff is immaterial compared to the threat of the derivatives overhang and the threat to the US dollar and bond market of the Federal Reserve’s commitment to save four US banks.

Once again, the media and its master, the US government,
hide the real issues behind a fake one.  The fiscal cliff has become the way for the Republicans to save the country from bankruptcy by destroying the social safety net put in place during the 1930s, supplemented by Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” in the mid-1960s.

cliff cartoonNow that there are no jobs, now that real family incomes have been stagnant or declining for decades, and now that wealth and income have been concentrated in few hands is the time, Republicans say, to destroy the social safety net so that we don’t fall over the fiscal cliff.

In human history, such a policy usually produces revolt and revolution, which is what the US so desperately needs.

Perhaps our stupid and corrupt policymakers are doing us a favor after all.

* * * * * * *

Dr. Paul Craig RobertsDr. Paul Craig Roberts knows what he speak of.

Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy (under President Reagan) and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, Dr. Roberts is a columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate.

Along with his many university appointments and publications as an economist, his internet columns regarding the state of our economy have a worldwide following.

Dr. Roberts brings us the news you won’t find in the local Times-Standard.

(This article has been slightly abridged.  Images by the Humboldt Sentinel.  Posted by Skippy Massey)

Posted in National, Opinion1 Comment

General Plan Pith and Punch Update

 

All in Good Humor, Of Course

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

We cover most of the local websites bringing you the pearls of wisdom or touching on a relevant topic that we find interesting every once in awhile.

Occasionally we come across a rare comment, a good one,
a reader’s opinion with pith and punch and humor capturing
the flavor of the moment and worthy of reposting.

The following is from Mike Dronker’s piece,
Special Supes Report; ‘Hey, What Now?‘” by a guest commenter
calling him or herself– ’Unnamed Source:’

 

This Just In. 

progress1Humboldt County residents hoping to see the end to the GPU (General Plan Update) process shouldn’t hold their breaths unless they enjoy recreational unconsciousness.

Once again, at their most recent hearing on Dec. 17, 2012 the Supes turned the process over to an ad hoc group theoretically representing every possible viewpoint in the county in the hope that this coalition of previously warring factions would reach consensus, thereby relieving the elected officials of the responsibility of making any decision that might annoy any one or more of their potential or ostensible supporters in the next election cycle.

progress7Fifth District Supervisor Ryan Sundberg, deeply confused by conflicting comments from his constituents, reiterated that he doesn’t want to vote until the working group presents him with a checklist of what to vote for and what to vote against.

First District Supervisor Rex Bohn, on the other hand, pointed out that since all kinds of development projects have already been done all over the county there’s absolutely no need for the supervisors to have to make any GPU decisions — everyone already knows what everyone wants, so why waste time deliberating and listening to a lot of boring comment when we could
be playing ball?

budget9Fourth District Supervisor and Board Chair Virginia Bass agreed that everyone has a very good point, really a lot of great ideas out there, and maybe we just all need a little more time to think things over.

Second District Supervisor Clif Clendenen lost his re-election bid and will be off the board at the end of the year, so whatever he said could be safely ignored.

Even the normally feisty Third District Supervisor Mark Lovelace mellowed out somewhat, enough to seek a way to move the need to make a decision to one of those five-year General Plan Update updates recommended by the 1984 Framework Plan under which the county still operates. 
By that time, an asteroid may have destroyed the earth, eliminating
the need for land use planning.

progress3Considering how difficult, time-consuming, and just plain irritating the whole thing is, the Supervisors made a courageous decision to put off deciding anything this year, which marks the 10th or the 12th year, or depending on whether you use the Mayan, Hebrew, Buddhist, Gregorian, or Sumerian calendar, the 8,937th year of the GPU.

But, as Supervisor Bohn so wisely said, ‘it’s better to do it right than to do it quickly — or at all.  I mean, what the hell anyway?’”

* * * * * * *

The GPU process has gone on forever, being a laborious, contentious, arduous, contrary and controversial test of patience and wills on all sides as different groups of stakeholders hammer home their opposing points of view.

Yeah, this about captures the flavor of it all right. 

Thank you for the insightful wisdom, Unnamed Source.

progress4

 

 

 

 

 

(Posted by Skippy Massey)

Posted in Local, Opinion1 Comment

Avoid This Movie

 

Won’t Back Down” Has Controversial Ties and Agenda

 

Marvin Gentz
Humboldt Sentinel

 

To the Editor:

The Walden Media film “Won’t Back Down,” starring Maggie
Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis, opens in theaters today.

The film dramatizes a parent fighting to improve her child’s school, but it’s actually a dishonest Hollywood portrayal of the problems in our educational system-funded by the very people who want to privatize and profit from our schools.

Won’t Back Down” promotes an ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council)-model bill.  The film promotes the “parent trigger” law, an ALEC-created policy proposal that turns public schools into privately run charter schools. 

ALEC also brought you Arizona’s draconian immigration law, Pennsylvania’s disenfranchising voter ID law, and Wisconsin’s union-busting Act 10.

Won’t Back Down” promotes horrible (and untrue) stereotypes about teachers.  The film shows public school teachers as listless and uncaring. One teacher is even shown locking a girl in a closet.  As Randi Weingarten writes in The Washington Post:

I don’t recognize the teachers portrayed in this movie. The teachers I know are women and men who have devoted their lives to helping children learn and grow and reach their full potential. These women and men come in early, stay late to mentor and tutor students, coach sports teams, advise the student council, work through lunch breaks, purchase school supplies using money from their own pockets and spend their evenings planning lessons, grading papers and talking to parents.”

Won’t Back Down” helps fund anti-union causes.  Walden Media, which produced the film, is owned by Philip Anschutz, whose foundation has donated $210,000 to the anti-union National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.

Won’t Back Down” is being heavily promoted by the right-wing.  Groups promoting the film include the Heritage Foundation, Freedom Works and the Chamber of Commerce, who are also lending support to right-wing candidates.

“Won’t Back Down” scapegoats teachers and their unions, but ignores all other factors.  As Liza Featherstone writes in Dissent: “Never mind those wonky details. The problem, we’re repeatedly led to believe, is the teachers’ union.  But if unions were to blame for failing schools, wouldn’t unionized public schools in Princeton or Scarsdale also suck?”

Hollywood hasn’t been known to let logic get
in the way of a good story, and neither do education
reformers.

Reasonable citizens should avoid this movie like the plague.

~Marvin Gentz

* * * * * * * * * * *

Privatizing the school system, as well as other aspects of the state and federal government– like health care, prisons, mail delivery, and social security– have long been on the radar of the far right.  One official shockingly suggested the University of California system should be sold to the private University of Phoenix corporation.

One can argue such measures are necessary for  improving performance and efficiency while lessening the burden on taxpayers.  On the other hand, one can also say it’s a blatant money grab for the few lucrative public money pots left to plunder.

And you thought school bonds were a problem

(Posted by Skippy Massey)

Posted in Opinion0 Comments

The Unfortunate Aren’t Going Away

 

By Gerald Olesen
for the Humboldt Sentinel

 

I pray each day for the homeless, the aimless, the mentally ill, the laid-off and the evicted, the overworked, the underpaid, the undereducated and the prisoners, all of whom I have met at some time in my life.

I am a Humboldt County native who lived in Eureka from 1943-1950.  For the years 1949 and 1950, I worked for Eureka
Newspapers, selling the evening paper (The Standard) on the
streets.

In those days, no one EVER warned us (there were around 20 street sellers) of any dangers in any of the areas we worked, which included the “north of fourth” area, including every bar and card room in the area.  I do not recall any of us boys (yes, kids were doing that work in those days), who were usually 10-13 years old, ever being troubled by anyone on those “mean streets.”  Yes, there were some men who were drunken derelicts around, but they did no harm, except to themselves.

What has happened to Eureka?  As I see it, the advent of available drugs, the aftermaths of the Vietnam and later wars we have been involved in, and the closing of mental facilities, have changed our society and left us with many mentally ill and drug-laced people who are seen all over town.  Some of these have self-inflicted problems and others are simply victims of circumstances their minds would not tolerate, who were turned out upon the streets to live as best they could.  Whatever the cause of their troubles, they are REAL and are simply not going away and we who are unaffected should do what we can to ease their pain.

I have been retired for many years and have worked at the St. Joseph Pantry Shelf in Fortuna for a long time and have seen many of folks who, for whatever reason, are in need and we do what we can to give them a bit of food.  In our sort of business, judgments are best left to others (preferably God).  If one becomes too judgmental, one would probably not help.  I think the situation is pretty well summed up by this:  If you have two shirts, one belongs to you and the other to the person who has none.

This is a thorny issue and any of us will, at times, wonder if we are enabling such people to continue their lifestyle.  No doubt there are abusers, as there are in any human endeavor.  It is said that we should teach a man to fish, instead of merely giving him a fish.  That makes sense, as far as it goes, but if the man is hungry today, we need to, first, give him something to eat and then think about fishing lessons.  We who do this work will be called “do-gooders” by some and that is o.k., because that is exactly what we are attempting to do, some good.

In the recent article regarding the homeless day center that has been proposed by Betty Chinn and Catholic Charities (”Opening a door for those in need,” Times-Standard, Oct. 26, Page A1), those who are complaining would seem to be folks who have been fortunate to have received a rather large slice of the “stuff” of this life.

I do not doubt that they worked very hard to amass whatever they have, but to withhold aid from our brothers who have fallen upon hard times, regardless of the cause, comes off as a bit selfish.

Yes, some folks can be very thoughtless and destructive and we certainly wish they would do better, but they are still members of our imperfect human race and we should do whatever we can to help them and, if possible, change the course of their lives.  I think Betty Chinn and Catholic Charities are trying to do just that in the best way they know how.  We should support their efforts.

I believe in this, from Luke 12:48: Everyone to whom much is given, of him much will be required.

* * * * * * * *

Gerald Olesen resides in Fortuna. He kindly gave us his permission to reprint his letter which first appeared in the Times-Standard news on November 4, 2012.

We read much material and many letters in the course of our day.  This one hit both the mark and struck home.

Thank you, Mr. Olesen.

(Images by the Humboldt Sentinel.  Posted by Skippy Massey)

Posted in Local, Opinion1 Comment

Wiggling Our Toes Over the Fiscal Cliff

 

Buckle Up, It’s Gonna Be a Bumpy Ride

(VIRAL VIDEO)
 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

The term “fiscal cliff” was first coined by Ben Bernanke in early 2012.

It refers to the roughly $718 billion that many believe will be
withdrawn in some way, shape or form from the economy in 2013 in
the form of tax increases and federal spending cuts.

If nothing is done and all the scheduled tax increases and spending cuts go into effect on January 1, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the economy will contract slightly in 2013.  Other estimates show a much deeper recession is likely—and we’ll be plunging headlong over that Fiscal Cliff.

Investors in the stock market are also holding increasing concerns and jitteriness over the European sovereign debt, the effects of quantitative easing, and the overall rigged manipulation of the once ‘free’ markets.

Then there’s our gargantuan deficit and debts, the bailouts, two wars that are unpaid for, and whether or not China wants its money back.

There’s also debate over whether our economy is having an ‘inflation vacation’ or a ‘deflation gestation’ that will be let loose at some point after the willy-nilly printing of our diluted dollars comes to a head.
Some naysayers have gone so far as referring to the dollar as ‘scrip’ because the
greenback isn’t tied to anything of solid value except full faith and credit. We just
print more. That’s the faith and credit part.

The dollar is, quite simply, getting battered as the standard world reserve currency.

A minority few believe some of the global markets will have to implode– leading to a ‘resetting’ of currencies and debt throughout the globe.

And those excessive bonuses paid to investment firms (think Goldman Sachs, Citibank, Bank of America, and a host of others) whose failed and unregulated policies– and people– infiltrate both the Federal Reserve and the Treasury and collapsed the economy in 2008, do nothing to ease worries that the savvy and rich get richer
while the poor and unsophisticated get… well, you know how the punchline goes.

Economists’ guesses and half baked theories abound all over the map.  Either way you cut the pie or paint the picture, it’s not looking pretty.  Doom, gloom, boom and bust.  So, what’s in your wallet?

Not to worry.  Is belt tightening in order?  Nah.  We’ll do what we’ve always done:  kick the can down the road.

Posted in Opinion0 Comments

Steve Wozniak Talks About Internet Freedom

 

Web Crackdown on the Way?

(VIDEO)

 

Staff Report
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Apple’s co-founder Steve Wozniak feels– no, fears– that freedom of information is under attack and the internet is increasingly controlled and regulated by governments*  in unnecessary and harmful ways.

An amusing character and freethinking person, his logic is halfway convincing if not beguiling.

RT’s Abby Martin talks to the Woz on a range of topics, from Wikileaks to Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom to net neutrality in an interview recorded in Aug. of 2012.

This comes from the quirkily entertaining guy who not only helped bring the personal computing internet revolution into our households and social lives, but humorously prints and spends his own bogus $2 bills along with high quality fake ID’s

Take this for example:  Google was censored and stuffed behind China’s Great FireWall– again– as the country prepares for the election of its new leader, Xi Jinping.  Anyone trying to access Google, Gmail, Maps, or many of the company’s other services found themselves with a whole lot of nothing today.  In addition, overall Internet speeds were low throughout the country, Salon reported

(Posted by Skippy Massey)

Posted in Media, Opinion2 Comments

Ron Paul’s Halloween Message

 

–VIDEO– 

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

We don’t always agree with Representative Ron Paul, but we appreciate the lone, contrary and different voice he brings single-handedly to the table.  Tirelessly speaking out on issues with a moral conscience and compass firmly in hand, he often goes it alone.

And this guy’s a great pumpkin carver, too, even if the music is a bit on the schmaltzy side.

 

Posted in Opinion, Politics1 Comment

The Choice

 

A Recap of Where We Came From and Where We’re Going– Lest We Forgot

 

By The Editors
The New Yorker Magazine

 

Obama succeeded George W. Bush, a two-term President whose misbegotten legacy, measured in the money it squandered and the misery it inflicted, has become only
more evident with time.

Bush left behind an America in dire condition and with a degraded reputation. On Inauguration Day, the United States was in a downward financial spiral brought on by predatory lending, legally sanctioned greed and pyramid schemes, an economic policy geared to the priorities and the comforts of what soon came to be called “the one per cent,” and deregulation that began before the Bush Presidency.

In 2008 alone, more than two and a half million jobs were lost—up to three-quarters of a million jobs a month.  The gross domestic product was shrinking at a rate of nine per cent.  Housing prices collapsed.  Credit markets collapsed.  The stock market collapsed—and, with it, the retirement prospects of millions.  Foreclosures and evictions were ubiquitous; whole neighborhoods and towns emptied.  The automobile industry appeared to be headed for bankruptcy.

Banks as large as Lehman Brothers were dead, and other banks were foundering.  It was a crisis of historic dimensions and global ramifications.

However skillful the management in Washington, the slump was bound to last longer than any since the Great Depression.

At the same time, the United States was in the midst of the grinding and unnecessary war in Iraq, which killed a hundred thousand Iraqis and four thousand Americans, and depleted the federal coffers.

The political and moral damage of Bush’s duplicitous rush to war rivaled the conflict’s price in blood and treasure.  America’s standing in the world was further compromised by the torture of prisoners and by illegal surveillance at home.  Al Qaeda, which, on September 11, 2001, killed three thousand people on American soil, was still strong.  Its leader, Osama bin Laden, was, despite a global manhunt, living securely in Abbottabad, a verdant retreat near Islamabad.

…The satirical paper The Onion came up with a painfully apt inaugural headline: “BLACK MAN GIVEN NATION’S WORST JOB.”

Perhaps inevitably, the President has disappointed some of his most ardent supporters.  Part of their disappointment is a reflection of the fantastical expectations that attached to him… 
 
The President has achieved a run of ambitious legislative, social, and foreign-policy successes that relieved a large measure of the human suffering and national shame inflicted by the Bush Administration.
 
Obama has renewed the honor of the office he holds.
 
 

… There is another, larger “counterfactual” to consider—the one represented by Obama’s Republican challenger, Willard Mitt Romney.

The Republican Party’s nominee is handsome, confident, and articulate.  He made a fortune in business, first as a consultant, then in private equity.

In the service of that ambition, Romney has embraced the values and the priorities of a Republican Party that has grown increasingly reactionary and rigid in its social vision.  It is a party dominated by those who despise government and see no value in public efforts aimed at ameliorating the immense and rapidly increasing inequalities in American society.

A visitor to the F.D.R. Memorial, in Washington, is confronted by these words from Roosevelt’s second Inaugural Address, etched in stone:

The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide for those who have too little.”

Romney and the leaders of the contemporary G.O.P. would consider this a call to class warfare.  Their effort to disenfranchise poor, black, Hispanic, and student voters in many states deepens the impression that Romney’s remarks about the “forty-seven per cent” were a matter not of “inelegant” expression, as he later protested, but of genuine conviction.

Romney’s conviction is that the broad swath of citizens who do not pay federal income tax—a category that includes pensioners, soldiers, low-income workers, and those who have lost their jobs—are parasites, too far gone in sloth and dependency to be worth the breath one might spend asking for their votes…

But what is most disquieting is Romney’s larger political vision.  The Republicans continue to insist on the “Atlas Shrugged” fantasy of the solitary entrepreneurial genius who creates jobs and wealth
with no assistance at all from government or society…

The choice is clear.  The Romney-Ryan ticket represents a constricted and backward-looking vision of America: the privatization of the public good.  In contrast, the sort of public investment championed by Obama… takes to heart the old civil-rights motto “Lifting as we climb.”

That effort cannot, by itself, reverse the rise of inequality that has been under way for at least three decades.  But we’ve already seen the future that Romney represents, and it doesn’t work…

 ~Continue reading the full article at The New Yorker

 (Posted by Skippy Massey.  Images by the Humboldt Sentinel.  Full appreciation goes to the The New Yorker magazine for their abridged article here.)

 

 

Posted in History, Opinion, Politics0 Comments

South Park Banks Are In Trouble

 

(VIRAL VIDEO)

 

Staff Report
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Poor Stanley.  Today was not a good day for him or Wall Street.  It was the worst day in four months.  Poof!  …Annnd it’s gone!

On the 25th anniversary of the Black Monday crash of 1987, the markets tanked.  Poor earnings reports from three companies in the Dow Jones industrial average — Microsoft, General Electric and McDonalds — sent indexes down
sharply Friday, marking a sour end to an otherwise strong week
in the stock market.

One analyst summed it up by saying,  ”The global economy is growing too slowly right now to sustain anything more.  Shall we say the slowdown in the emerging markets in China and also in Europe, is starting to affect these multi-national tech companies?”  

The Dow closed down 205 points at 13,343.  The Nasdaq lost 67, a 2.2 percent loss, and closed at 3,006.  The S&P gave up 24 points, closing at 1,433.

The good news, though, is that after the Big Bailout, Wall Street and the banks are still making and taking the money from you– and doing fine.  Wanda Sykes, however, came up a different kind of bailout program here.

Deficit, schmeficit.  Full steam ahead.  The government didn’t find it hard spending $1.5 trillion on some things we really needed.

It’s not all that bad.  These will be remembered as the good times.  Be glad you don’t have 9 million percent inflation and live in Zimbabwe.

(Posted by Skippy Massey)

Posted in Opinion0 Comments

Another Phony Employment Report

Manipulated statistics conceal stagflation reality

 

By Paul Craig Roberts
Institute for Political Economy

 

Today’s employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows 114,000 new jobs in September and a drop in the rate of unemployment from 8.1% to 7.8%. As 114,000 new jobs are not sufficient to stay even with population growth, the drop in the unemployment rate is the result of not counting discouraged workers who are defined away as “not in the labor force.”

According to the BLS, “In September, 2.5 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force.” These individuals “wanted and were available for work,” but “they were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.”

In other words, 2.5 million unemployed Americans were not counted as unemployed.

The stock market rose on the phony good news. Bloomberg’s headline: “U.S. Stocks Rise as Unemployment Rate Unexpectedly Drops,” http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-10-05/u-s-stock-futures-little-changed-before-payrolls-report.html.

A truer picture of the dire employment situation is provided by the 600,000 rise over the previous month in involuntary part-time workers. According to the BLS, “These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.”

Turning to the 114,000 new jobs, once again the jobs are concentrated in lowly paid domestic service jobs that cannot be offshored. Manufacturing jobs declined by 16,000.

As has been the case for a decade, two categories–health care and social assistance (primarily ambulatory health care services) and waitresses and bartenders account for 53% of the new jobs. The BLS never ceases to find ever growing employment of people in restaurants and bars despite the rising dependence of the US population on food stamps. The elderly are rising as a percentage of the American population, but I sometimes wonder if employment in ambulatory health care services is rising faster than the elderly population. Whether these reported jobs are real, I do not know.

The rest of the new jobs were accounted for by retail trade, transportation and warehousing, financial activities (primarily credit intermediation), professional and business services (primarily administrative and waste services), and state government education, where the 13,600 reported new jobs seem odd in light of the teacher layoffs and rise in classroom size.

The high-tech jobs that economists promised would be our reward for offshoring American manufacturing jobs and tradeable professional services, such as software engineering and IT, have never materialized. “The New Economy” was just another hoax, like “Iraqi weapons of mass destruction” and “Iranian nukes.”

While employment falters, the consumer price index (CPI-U) in August increased 0.6 percent, the largest since June 2009. If the August rate is annualized, it means bad news on the inflation front. Instead of bringing us high tech jobs, is “the New Economy” bringing back the stagflation of the late 1970s? Time will tell.

*************

Paul Craig Roberts is a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal.  He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. His latest book,  Wirtschaft am Abgrund (Economies In Collapse) has just been published.

Posted in Opinion1 Comment

Rigged Presidential ‘Debates’ Amidst The Supine Media

 

Pathetic mainstream press fails to ask the real questions

 

By Ralph Nader
Nader.org

 

The three upcoming so-called presidential debates (actually parallel interviews) between Obama and Romney show the pathetic mainstream campaign press
for what it is – a mass of dittoheads desperately awaiting
gaffes or
some visual irregularity by any of the candidates.

The press certainly does not demand elementary material from the candidates such as the secret debate contract negotiated by the Obama and Romney campaigns that controls the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), the campaigns’ corporate offspring.

A similar secret contract between George W. Bush and John Kerry in 2004, obtained by George Farah, executive director of Open Debates (www.opendebates.org) showed just how the two Parties rig the debate process. Both Parties agreed that they would: (1) not request any additional debates, (2) not appear at any other debate or adversarial forum with any other presidential or vice presidential candidate, and (3) not accept any television or radio air time offers that involve a debate format. Were this deal to be between two corporations, they could be prosecuted for criminal violation of the antitrust laws.

 This year voters are not allowed to know about the current backroom fix between Obama and Romney.

Farah revealed more. The Bush/Kerry closeout of the voters and the media extended to their agreeing not to ask each other direct questions but only rhetorical questions, and to clear any questions from the audience by their chosen moderator prior to the debates. Of course third party candidates are excluded. In 2000 and 2004, national polls showed majorities wanting me in the debates – the only way non-billionaires could reach tens of millions of voters – but the captive CPD and their compliant director, Janet Brown, created other exclusionary barriers.

Nothing seems to motivate the mainstream campaign press into challenging the two Party duopoly, its definition of important questions, or the rancid corporate sponsorship of the debates down to the hospitality parties the corporatists hold at the debate locations in Colorado, New York and Florida this October. The reporters must like the free wine and food.

Nor did the supine press inform the voters of recent written requests by numerous organizations in the Pittsburgh, District of Columbia and Portland, Oregon regions inviting the presidential candidates to debate in these areas (http://nader.org/2012/09/18/ralph-nader-dc-organizations-call-for-presidential-debate/). Heaven forbid that the people strive to shape the presidential debate process and weaken the duopoly’s grip. Imagine a democratic process.

Substantively, the supine press applies its own rules.

Rule One is to avoid pressing questions that extend the public’s agenda beyond what the two major candidates are wrangling over. 

So if they don’t debate pulling back from unauthorized wars, invasions, incursions or other important foreign policy moves they are not asked.

Rule Two is to ignore what major civic groups or groups with credible track records propose for the candidates to address.

So Obama and Romney are not pressed by the press to expressly respond to many important issues including: what they would do on law enforcement against corporate crime, fraud and abuse, whether they favor a $10 minimum wage that catches up to 1968, inflation adjusted, for thirty million workers, or on their positions on either a Wall Street speculation tax that can raise big money or even a carbon tax.

Union organizing rights, workers’ health and safety, and a variety of important consumer protections are scarcely on the press table even when their own colleagues often report on these timely subjects.

When a matter is super-timely and they can interview the nation’s foremost expert on the politics of presidential debates – George Farah, author of No Debate – the major media is not interested. They have rejected his op-eds. Apart from local radio shows, he cannot get on national public radio, public TV or the commercial networks. It is not for lack of space and time being devoted to the Presidential campaigns.

I know Farah. He worked for me over a decade ago, right out of Princeton before going to Harvard Law School. He is an interviewers’ dream –speaks crisply, cogently and convincingly.

Maybe reporters should be given “curiosity training sessions” about what the public needs and wants to know but that the candidates are not interested in discussing.

Maybe columnists should work with the people on the ground instead of just working off clips and dealing with political flaks who restrict access to the candidates. Some columnists could benefit from a sabbatical for self-renewal.

Maybe editors and producers should expand beyond the usual “talking heads” and give the many important outside voices and movements some deserved coverage.

Our country needs a better performance by the major media that is stuck in routines, ruts and stagnant self-censorship from the national to the local levels. This is especially true of the concentrated television industry that uses our public airwaves, free of charge.

* * * * * * * * * *

The Humboldt Sentinel greatly appreciates Mr. Nader allowing us to share his column with our readers.

His biography is extensive.  Mr. Nader is a political activist, author, lecturer, and attorney.  Areas of particular concern to him include consumer protection, humanitarianism, environmentalism, and democratic government.

Ralph Nader has been called one of America’s most effective social critics.  His documented criticism of government and industry has had widespread effect on public awareness and bureaucratic power galvanizing a population of consumer advocates, citizen activists, and public interest lawyers who in turn have established their own organizations throughout the country.

Since 1966, Nader has been responsible for: at least eight major federal consumer protection laws such as the motor vehicle safety laws, Safe Drinking Water Act;  the launching of federal regulatory agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Environment Protection Agency (EPA), and Consumer Product Safety Administration; the recall of millions of defective motor vehicles; access to government through the Freedom of Information Act of 1974; and for many lives saved.

In his career as consumer advocate he founded many organizations including the Center for Study of Responsive Law, the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), the Center for Auto Safety, Public Citizen, Clean Water Action Project, the Disability Rights Center, the Pension Rights Center, the Project for Corporate Responsibility and The Multinational Monitor (a monthly magazine).

Mr. Nader’s articles can be seen at his website Nader.Org.

Posted in National, Opinion, Politics6 Comments

A Culture Of Delusion

A matrix of lies acts as emotional crutches for majority of Americans

 

By Paul Craig Roberts
Institute for Political Economy

 

A writer’s greatest disappointments are readers who have knee-jerk responses.  Not all readers, of course.  Some readers are thoughtful and supportive.  Others express thanks for opening their eyes.  But the majority are happy when a writer tells them what they want to hear and are unhappy when he writes what they don’t want to hear.

For the left-wing, Ronald Reagan is the great bogyman. Those on the left don’t understand supply-side economics as a macroeconomic innovation that cured stagflation by utilizing the impact of fiscal policy on aggregate supply. Instead, they see “trickle-down economics” and tax cuts for the rich.  Leftists don’t understand that the Reagan administration intervened in Grenada and Nicaragua in order to signal to the Soviets that there would be no more Soviet expansion or client states and that it was time to negotiate the end of the cold war.  Instead, leftists see in Reagan the origin of rule by the one percent and the neoconservatives’ wars for US hegemony.

In 1981 curtailing inflation meant collapsing nominal GNP and tax revenues. The result would be budget deficits–anathema to Republicans– during the period of readjustment.

Ending the cold war meant curtailing the military/security complex and raised the specter in conservative circles of “the anti-Christ” Gorbachev deceiving Reagan and taking over the world.

In pursuing his two main goals,  Reagan was up against his own constituency and relied on rhetoric to keep his constituency onboard with his agenda. The left wing heard the rhetoric but failed to comprehend the agenda.

When I explain these facts, easily and abundantly documented, some of leftish persuasion send in condescending and insulting emails telling me that they look forward to the day that I stop lying about Reagan and tell the truth about Reagan like I do about everything else.

“Knee-jerk liberal” is a favorite term of conservatives.  But conservatives can be just as knee-jerk. When I object to Washington’s wars, the mistreatment of detainees and the suspension of civil liberties, some on the right tell me that if I hate America so much I should move to Cuba.  Many Republicans cannot get their minds around the fact that if civil liberties are subject to the government’s arbitrary discretion, then civil liberties do not exist.  The flag-waving element of the population is prone to confuse loyalty to the country with loyalty to the government, unless, of course, there’s a Democrat in the White House.

Rationally, it makes no sense for readers to think that a writer who would lie to them about one thing would tell them the truth about another.  But as long as they hear what they want to hear, it is the truth.  If they don’t want to hear it, it is a lie.

Both left and right also confuse explanations with justifications.

When a writer writes about the perils that we as a society face and the implications, it is very discouraging for the writer to know that many readers will not listen unless it is what they want to hear. This discouragement is precisely what every truth-teller faces, which is why there are so few of them.

This is one reason I stopped writing a couple of years ago.  I found that solid facts and sound analysis could not penetrate brainwashed and closed minds seeking vindication to keep the mind locked tightly against unsettling truths. Americans want to have their beliefs vindicated more than they want the truth.  The success of print and TV pundits is based on allying with a prominent point of view or interest group and serving it.  Those served make the writer or talking head successful.  I never thought much of that kind of success.

But success as a whore is about the only kind of success that can occur in Washington or in the media these days. Those who refuse to prostitute themselves arouse pity and denunciation, not admiration. A couple of years ago an acquaintance from a university in the northeast called me to say he had recently had lunch with some of my former associates in Washington. When he inquired about me, he said the response was, “Poor Craig, if he hadn’t turned critic, he would be worth tens of millions of dollars like us.”

I replied that my former associates were undoubtedly correct. My acquaintance  said that he hadn’t realized that he was having lunch with a bunch of prostitutes.

The incentive to speak the truth and the reward for doing so are very weak.  And not just for a writer, but also for academics and experts who can make far more money by lying than by telling the truth.  How else would we have got GMOs, jobs offshoring, the “unitary executive,” and a deregulated financial system?  It is a very lucrative career to testify as an expert in civil lawsuits. It is part of America’s romance with the lie that experts purchased by the opposing sides in a lawsuit battle it out as gladiators seeking the jury’s thumbs-up.

And look at Congress. The two members of the House who stood up for the Constitution and truth in government will soon be gone.  Ron Paul is stepping down, and Dennis Kucinich was redistricted out of his seat.  As for the Senate, these thoughtful personages recently voted 90-1 to declare war on Iran, as the sole dissenter, Rand Paul, pointed out.  The Senate is very much aware, although only a few will publicly admit it, that the US has been totally frustrated and held to a standoff, if not a defeat, in Afghanistan and is unable to subdue the Taliban.  Despite this, the Senate wants a war with Iran, a war which could easily turn out to be even less successful.  Obviously, the Senate not only lies to the public but also to itself.

Americans live in a matrix of lies. They seldom encounter a truthful statement.There is no evidence that Americans can any longer tell the difference between the truth and a lie. Americans fell for all of these lies and more: Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction and al Qaeda connections. Saddam Hussein’s troops seized Kuwaiti babies from incubators and threw them on the floor. Gaddafi fed his troops viagra to help them rape Libyan women. Iran has a nuclear weapons program. Change–yes we can!Last week the Pentagon chief, Panetta, told China that the new US naval, air, and troop bases surrounding China are not directed at China.  What else could be the purpose of the new bases?  Washington is so accustomed to lying and to being believed that Panetta actually thinks China will believe his completely transparent lie.  Panetta has confused China with the American people: tell them what they want to hear, and they will believe it.

The US is “the indispensable country.” America is broke because of food stamps and Social Security, not because of wars, bankster bailouts, and a failing economy. Russia is America’s number one enemy. China is America’s number one enemy. Iran is a terrorist state. Jobs offshoring is free trade and good for the US economy. Israel is America’s most loyal ally. The US missile shield surrounding Russia is not directed at Russia. The South China sea is an area of US national interest. Financial markets are self-regulating.

The list is endless. Lies dominate every policy discussion, every political decision. The most successful people in America are liars.

The endless lies have created a culture of delusion.  And this is why America is lost. The beliefs of many Americans, perhaps a majority, are comprised of lies. These beliefs have become emotional crutches, and Americans will fight to defend the lies that they believe. The inability of Americans to accept facts that are contrary to their beliefs is the reason the country is leaderless and will remain so.  Unless scales fall from Americans’ eyes, Americans are doomed.

*************

Paul Craig Roberts is a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal.  He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. His latest book,  Wirtschaft am Abgrund (Economies In Collapse) has just been published.

Posted in Opinion, Politics0 Comments

Four Reasons Why Romney Might Still Win

Jobs, debates, SuperPACs and voter disenfranchisement

 

By Robert Reich
RobertReich.org

 

Can Romney possibly recover? A survey conducted between Sept. 12 and Sept. 16 by the Pew Research Center — before the “47 percent victim” video came to light – showed Obama ahead of Romney 51% to 43% among likely voters.

That’s the biggest margin in the September survey prior to a presidential election since Bill Clinton led Bob Dole, 50% to 38% in 1996.

And, remember, this recent poll was done before America watched Romney belittle almost half the nation.

For the last several days I’ve been deluged with calls from my inside-the-beltway friends telling me “Romney’s dead.”

Hold it. Rumors of Romney’s demise are premature for at least four reasons:

1.  Between now and Election Day come two jobs reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics – October 5 and November 2. If they’re as bad as the last report, showing only 96,000 jobs added in August (125,000 are needed just to keep up with population growth) and the lowest percentage of employed adults since 1981, Romney’s claim the economy is off track becomes more credible, and Obama’s that it’s on the mend harder to defend.

With gas prices rising, corporate profits shrinking, most of Europe in recession, Japan still a basket case, and the Chinese economy slowing, the upcoming job reports are unlikely to be stellar.

2. Also between now and Election Day are three presidential debates, starting October 3. It’s commonly thought Obama will win them handily but that expectation may be very wrong – and could work against him. Yes, Romney is an automaton — but when the dials are set properly he can give a good imitation of a human engaged in sharp debate. He did well in the Republican primary debates.

Obama, by contrast, can come off slow and ponderous. Recall how he stuttered and stumbled during the 2008 Democratic primary debates. And he hasn’t been in a real-live debate for four years; Romney recently emerged from almost a year of them.

3. During the next 7 final weeks of the campaign, the anti-Obama forces will be spending a gigantic amount of money. Not just the Romney campaign and Romney’s super PACs, but other super PACs aligned with Romney, billionaires spending their own fortunes, and non-profit “social welfare” organizations like the Chamber of Commerce, Karl Rove’s “Crossroads,” and various Koch-brothers political fronts – all will dump hundreds of millions on TV and radio spots, much of it spreading lies and distortions. Some of this money will be devoted to get-out-the-vote drives — to phone banks and door-to-door canvassing to identify favorable voters, and vans to bring them to the polling stations.

It’s an easy bet they’ll far outspend Obama and his allies. I’ve heard two-to-one. The race is still close enough that a comparative handful of voters in swing states can make the difference – which means gobs of money used to motivate voters to polling stations can be critical.

4. As they’ve displayed before, the Republican Party will do whatever it can to win — even if it means disenfranchising certain voters. To date, 11 states have enacted voter identification laws, all designed by Republican legislatures and governors to dampen Democratic turnout.

The GOP is also encouraging what can only be termed “voter vigilante” groups to “monitor polling stations to prevent fraud” – which means intimidating minorities who have every right to vote. We can’t know at this point how successful these efforts may be but it’s a dangerous wildcard. And what about those Diebold voting machines?

So don’t for a moment believe “Romney’s dead,” and don’t be complacent. The hard work lies ahead, in the next seven weeks.

And even if Obama is reelected, more hard work begins after Inauguration Day – when we must push him to be tougher on the Republicans than he was in his first term, and do what the nation needs.

* * * * * * * * *

The Humboldt Sentinel greatly appreciates Mr. Reich allowing us to share his column with our readers.  His previous column can be found here.

Mr. Reich is a political economist, professor, author, and political commentator. He served in the administrations of Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and was Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton.

Mr. Reich is currently Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. He was formerly a professor at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and professor of social and economic policy at Brandeis University.

He has been a contributing editor of The New RepublicThe American Prospect (also chairman and founding editor), Harvard Business ReviewThe AtlanticThe New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. He is chairman of Common Cause.

Time Magazine named Mr. Reich one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including the best sellers “Aftershock” and “The Work of Nations.”

His latest e-book, “Beyond Outrage” is now available in paperback.

Please visit Mr. Reich at RobertReich.org to see his other outstanding essays and videos concerning the nation’s economy and politics.

Posted in Opinion, Politics0 Comments

The Revolution From Above

The promised land, bought by the 1%

 

By Paul Craig Roberts
Institute for Political Economy

 

Today the Western peoples are experiencing the destruction of their well being that is comparable to what the one percent in Rome imposed on Roman citizens and conquered peoples. Here is how John Williams (shadowstats.com, 9-12-12) phrases the wipeout of Americans’ hopes:

“Consumers simply cannot make ends meet. Inflation-adjusted, or real, median household income declined for the fourth-straight year, plunging to its lowest level since 1995. Deflated by the CPI-U, the 2011 reading actually stood below levels seen in the late-1960s and early-1970s.”

“At the same time, despite the ongoing nature of the economic and systemic-solvency crises, and the effects of the 2008 financial panic, income dispersion—the movement of income away from the middle towards both high- and low-level extremes—has hit a record high, instead of moderating, as might be expected during periods of financial distress. Extremes in income dispersion usually foreshadow financial-market and economic calamities. With the current circumstance at a record extreme, and well above levels estimated to have prevailed before the 1929 stock-market crash and the Great Depression, increasingly difficult times are likely for the next several years.”

This chart shows where the median household income of the US Superpower, the “indispensable people,” stands at the culmination of 2011. Americans are as well off as they were in 1967-68. Most americans cannot pay for fighting multi-trillion dollar wars for 11 years, bailout trillions of dollars in uncovered casino bets by Wall Street, have their middle class jobs sent abroad by corporations, and still expect to have higher personal incomes.

Apparently, Americans are the first people in history who are so idealistic, or so thoroughly brainwashed, that they prefer to pay for wars and bail out banks than to make their mortgage payments and help their children with student loan debt.

The federal court in Germany has ruled that Germans are to be just as idealistic as Americans. The federal court has produced a ruling that it is OK for the EU to require German citizens to provide $190 billion to pay off the private banks who lent too much money to Greece.

In exchange for paying off the banks for Greece, the Greek people are to be driven into poverty and hopelessness. Pensions are cut, taxes are raised, employment is cut, social services are curtailed, prices of utilities are raised. The Greek people are to be destroyed in order that the private European banks do not lose money on their bad loans.

In the West the Revolution From Above has succeeded. The peoples are re-enserfed. The promised land is a promised land for the one percent.

*************

Paul Craig Roberts is a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal.  He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. His latest book,  Wirtschaft am Abgrund (Economies In Collapse) has just been published.

Posted in Opinion0 Comments

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