Thursday, September 30, 2010

Brazil: Former guerrilla set to be the world's most powerful woman

Hi. Candie Carawan will talk about Highlander, 'We Shall Overcome'
and husband Guy, TODAY, 7:40 AM, on Sojourner Truth, kpfk, 90.7 fm.

The former guerrilla set to be the world's most powerful woman

Brazil looks likely to elect an extraordinary leader next weekend

By Hugh O'Shaughnessy
IndependentUK: Sunday, September 26, 2919

The world's most powerful woman will start coming into her own next weekend.
Stocky and forceful at 63, this former leader of the resistance to a
Western-backed military dictatorship (which tortured her) is preparing to
take her place as President of Brazil.

As head of state, president Dilma Rousseff would outrank Angela Merkel,
Germany's Chancellor, and Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State: her
enormous country of 200 million people is revelling in its new oil wealth.
Brazil's growth rate, rivalling China's, is one that Europe and Washington
can only envy.

Her widely predicted victory in next Sunday's presidential poll will be
greeted with delight by millions. It marks the final demolition of the
"national security state", an arrangement that conservative governments in
the US and Europe once regarded as their best artifice for limiting
democracy and reform. It maintained a rotten status quo that kept a vast
majority in poverty in Latin America while favouring their rich friends

Ms Rousseff, the daughter of a Bulgarian immigrant to Brazil and his
schoolteacher wife, has benefited from being, in effect, the prime minister
of the immensely popular President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the former
union leader. But, with a record of determination and success (which
includes appearing to have conquered lymphatic cancer), this wife, mother
and grandmother will be her own woman. The polls say she has built up an
unassailable lead - of more than 50 per cent compared with less than 30 per
cent - over her nearest rival, an uninspiring man of the centre called Jose
Serra. Few doubt that she will be installed in the Alvorada presidential
palace in Brasilia in January.

Like President Jose Mujica of Uruguay, Brazil's neighbour, Ms Rousseff is
unashamed of a past as an urban guerrilla which included battling the
generals and spending time in jail as a political prisoner. As a little girl
growing up in the provincial city of Belo Horizonte, she says she dreamed
successively of becoming a ballerina, a firefighter and a trapeze artist.
The nuns at her school took her class to the city's poor area to show them
the vast gaps between the middle-class minority and the vast majority of the
poor. She remembers that when a young beggar with sad eyes came to her
family's door she tore a currency note in half to share with him, not
knowing that half a banknote had no value.

Her father, Pedro, died when she was 14, but by then he had introduced her
to the novels of Zola and Dostoevski. After that, she and her siblings had
to work hard with their mother to make ends meet. By 16 she was in POLOP
(Workers' Politics), a group outside the traditional Brazilian Communist
Party that sought to bring socialism to those who knew little about it.

The generals seized power in 1964 and decreed a reign of terror to defend
what they called "national security". She joined secretive radical groups
that saw nothing wrong with taking up arms against an illegitimate military
regime. Besides cosseting the rich and crushing trade unions and the
underclass, the generals censored the press, forbidding editors from leaving
gaps in newspapers to show where news had been suppressed.

Ms Rousseff ended up in the clandestine VAR-Palmares (Palmares Armed
Revolutionary Vanguard). In the 1960s and 1970s, members of such
organisations seized foreign diplomats for ransom: a US ambassador was
swapped for a dozen political prisoners; a German ambassador was exchanged
for 40 militants; a Swiss envoy swapped for 70. They also shot foreign
torture experts sent to train the generals' death squads. Though she says
she never used weapons, she was eventually rounded up and tortured by the
secret police in Brazil's equivalent to Abu Ghraib, the Tiradentes prison in
Sao Paulo. She was given a 25-month sentence for "subversion" and freed
after three years. Today she openly confesses to having "wanted to change
the world".

In 1973 she moved to the prosperous southern state of Rio Grande do Sul,
where her second husband, Carlos Araujo, a lawyer, was finishing a four-year
term as a political prisoner (her first marriage with a young left-winger,
Claudio Galeno, had not survived the strains of two people being on the run
in different cities). She went back to university, started working for the
state government in 1975, and had a daughter, Paula.

In 1986, she was named finance chief of Porto Alegre, the state capital,
where her political talents began to blossom. Yet the 1990s were
bitter-sweet years for her. In 1993 she was named secretary of energy for
the state, and pulled off the coup of vastly increasing power production,
ensuring the state was spared the power cuts that plagued the rest of the

She had 1,000km of new electric power lines, new dams and thermal power
stations built while persuading citizens to switch off the lights whenever
they could. Her political star started shining brightly. But in 1994, after
24 years together, she separated from Mr Araujo, though apparently on good
terms. At the same time she was torn between academic life and politics, but
her attempt to gain a doctorate in social sciences failed in 1998.

In 2000 she threw her lot in with Lula and his Partido dos Trabalhadores, or
Workers' Party which set its sights successfully on combining economic
growth with an attack on poverty. The two immediately hit it off and she
became his first energy minister in 2003. Two years later he made her his
chief of staff and has since backed her as his successor. She has been by
his side as Brazil has found vast new offshore oil deposits, aiding a leader
whom many in the European and US media were denouncing a decade ago as a
extreme left-wing wrecker to pull 24 million Brazilians out of poverty. Lula
stood by her in April last year as she was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer,
a condition that was declared under control a year ago. Recent reports of
financial irregularities among her staff do not seem to have damaged her

Ms Rousseff is likely to invite President Mujica of Uruguay to her
inauguration in the New Year. President Evo Morales of Bolivia, President
Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and President Fernando Lugo of Paraguay - other
successful South American leaders who have, like her, weathered merciless
campaigns of denigration in the Western media - are also sure to be there.
It will be a celebration of political decency - and feminism.

Female representation: A woman's place... is in the government

In recent years, female political representation has undergone significant
growth, with dramatic changes occurring in unexpected corners of the globe.
In some countries women are dominating cabinets and even parliamentary
chambers. By comparison, the UK falls far behind, with only 22 per cent of
seats in the Commons currently held by women.

Bolivia In the Bolivian cabinet, 10 men are now matched by 10 women. In
2009, women won 25 per cent of seats in the lower chamber, and 47 per cent
in the upper chamber.

Costa Rica In 2010, women won 39 per cent of seats in the lower chamber.

Argentina In 2009, women won 39 per cent of seats in the lower chamber and
47 per cent in the upper chamber.

Cuba In 2009, women won 41 per cent of seats in the lower chamber.

Rwanda In 2009, women won 56 per cent of seats in the lower chamber and 35
per cent in the upper chamber.

Mozambique In 2009, women won 39 per cent of seats in the lower chamber.

Angola In 2009, women won 38 per cent of seats in the lower chamber.

Switzerland Has a female-dominated cabinet for the first time. In 2007,
women won 29 per cent of seats in the lower chamber.

Germany In 2009, the cabinet had six women and 10 men. That year, women won
33 per cent of lower chamber seats.

Spain Nine women compared with eight men in cabinet. In 2008, women won 37
per cent of seats in the lower chamber.

Norway Equal numbers of men and women in the cabinet. Women won 40 per cent
of seats in the lower chamber.

Denmark Nine women and 10 men in cabinet. In 2007, women won 23 per cent of
seats in the lower chamber.

Netherlands Three women and nine men in cabinet. In 2010, women won 41 per
cent of seats in the lower chamber.

Charlotte Sewell

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

One Nation Working Together - Oct 2nd rally, Austerity Protests Mount in Europe

Subject: Oct 2nd rally - One Nation Working Together - New Majority Movement

Rally for the American Dream • 10.2.10
LACC in the Quad • 855 Vermont Ave, L.A. 90029

Demand Change! Jobs • Education • Equality

• Local rally at LACC, 9-11am, Saturday, October 2.

• Local action will mirror Washington March.
• We need to turn out a large group.
• Read on...








It is time that every community come together and demand the change that we voted for in 2008. ONE NATION WORKING TOGETHER is a multi-racial, civil and human rights movement.  Our mission is to reorder our nation's priorities to invest in our most valuable resource – our people -- because we believe everyone deserves the opportunity to achieve the American Dream – a secure job, a safe home, and a quality education.

"ONE NATION WORKING TOGETHER is about reordering out nation's priorities to invest in our most valuable resource—our people."

Local Rally at Los Angeles City College

We are going to Rally on October 2, 2010 (10.2.10). We will mobilize people to Rally in solidarity with the March at Nation's Capitol. Protect our jobs, our education and our economy. 


10.2.10 - 9-11am


We stand for:
Putting America Back to Work • Quality, Affordable Public Education • Equality for All
• A Clean Environment • Immigration Reform • Peace & Justice

We will march because we are frustrated and unsatisfied with the status quo. We have a chance to galvanize a movement for the majority of people for justice in America. We can turn out people and inspire them to vote. We can build an authentically diverse multi-ethnic coalition that is rooted in our country's democratic and progressive traditions. Finally, we will reclaim American themes and traditions - a more perfect union, common good and justice for all.


New Majority Movement






Austerity Whips Up Anger, Protests Mount in Europe


by Agence France Presse
Published on Tuesday, September 28, 2010

BRUSSELS - Painful cuts by overspending EU countries come head to a head
with mounting social anger on Wednesday when labour leaders call angry
workers onto streets right across the continent.

Set for its largest Europe-wide protest for a decade is Brussels where
labour leaders are planning to bring 100,000 people from 30 countries to say
"No to austerity!"

"We will demonstrate to voice our concern over the economic and social
context, which will be compounded by austerity measures," John Monks,
general secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation.

The protest, the biggest such march since 2001 when 80,000 people spilled
into the EU capital, is being held to coincide with a plan to fine
governments running up deficits.

Detailed proposals are due to be released that day by the 27-nation bloc's
executive arm, the European Commission, with the continent's finance
ministers also gathering in Brussels this week.

Millions of jobs fell off the European map in the global downturn and many
more look set to be squeezed as governments axe public spending.

"This is a crucial day for Europe," said Monks, "because our governments,
virtually all of them, are about to embark on solid cuts in public

"They're doing this at a time where the economy is very close to recession,
and almost certainly you'll see the economy go back into recession as the
effect of these cuts take place."

In Spain, where trade unions have called a general strike on Wednesday,
unemployment has more than doubled, with one in five workers jobless in

Madrid in consequence is looking at a drastic overhaul of its labour
legislation to ease flexi-time and hiring and firing. Pensions are frozen,
wages cut for civil servants and VAT taxes on the rise.

But elsewhere labour leaders are equally concerned. At a glance: The human
cost of the crisis in Europe

Portugal's leading labour confederation, the CGTP, which is close to the
communists, has called protests in Lisbon and Porto and hopes for more than
10,000 participants.

Poland's main unions, Solidarity and OPZZ, expect "several thousand" at a
protest outside government headquarters.

Similar marches are scheduled in Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia and Serbia,
with labour leaders across the board clamouring for growth and protesting
the injustice of workers paying for the errors of the financial sector.

"Those responsible for this crisis, the banks, the financial markets and the
ratings agencies are all too quick in asking for help from states and public
budgets and today want the workers to pay for their debts," said French
labour leader Jean-Claude Mailly, who heads the FO union.

But while Europe tries to clean up its post-recession books, a backlash has
begun among voters focused on vast anticipated numbers of public sector job

The worker backlash was clearly seen in Britain, where Labour unions,
lawmakers and party members handed their leadership to left-leaning Ed
Miliband -- in a surprise, last-minute defeat for his better-known, more
centrist brother and former foreign secretary David.

"We're a rich part of the world," said Monks.

"We're going to keep this campaign going, fight for growth, fight for jobs,
fight to protect social Europe. Don't go down the austerity route."

© 2010 AFP



Tuesday, September 28, 2010

UN Condemns Israeli 'Incredible Violence', Sat - One Nation Together, Sun - Comedy for P & F

Israel Used 'Incredible Violence' Against Gaza Aid Flotilla, Says UN Human
Rights Council

Israeli troops broke international law by storming an aid flotilla bound for
Gaza, according to a UN inquiry, which found that the killings of activists
on-board were comparable to "summary executions".

by Jon Swaine in New York and Adrian Blomfield in Jerusalem
The Telegraph/UK: September 2, 2010

The sharply critical report found there was "clear evidence to support
prosecutions" against Israel for "wilful killing" and torture committed in
the raid on the flotilla on May 31. Nine activists on a Turkish ship were
killed as they attempted to breach the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza.

However, Israel brushed aside the findings of the UN Human Rights Council,
which it has consistently denounced as biased against the Jewish state.

A spokesman for the Israeli foreign ministry accused the body of having a
"politicised and extremist approach," adding: "The Human Rights Council
blamed Israel prior to the investigation and it is no surprise that they
condemn after."

The investigation mounted by the Council has largely been superseded by a
separate inquiry launched by Ban Ki-Moon, the UN secretary general, which
has won the backing of the United States, Britain and much of the
international community.

This investigation, which is being headed by Geoffrey Palmer, the former
prime minister of New Zealand, has yet to report its findings.

In an unprecedented move, Israel agreed to co-operate with Mr Palmer's
inquiry in August, largely in an attempt to diminish the credibility of the
Human Rights Council investigation.

Israel maintains that its soldiers acted in self-defence after coming under
attack from activists wielding clubs, axes and metal rods.

However the report found that Israeli commandos' response to the flotilla
was disproportionate and "betrayed an unacceptable level of brutality".

"The conduct of the Israeli military and other personnel towards the
flotilla passengers was not only disproportionate to the occasion but
demonstrated levels of totally unnecessary and incredible violence," the
report said.

"The circumstances of the killing of at least six of the passengers were in
a manner consistent with an extralegal, arbitrary and summary execution," it

The 56-page report also said that the Israeli blockade was itself unlawful,
because of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, meaning Israel's claim that it
was entitled to use force to defend the blockade should be dismissed.

The Human Rights Council, a subsidiary body of the UN General Assembly, has
courted controversy for its excessive focus on the Israeli-Palestinian

While it has passed over a dozen resolutions condemning Israel since it was
created in 2006, the council has been more reluctant to censure states such
as Sudan, which has been accused of serious human rights violations in

The United States withdrew from the council in 2008 but rejoined when
President Barack Obama became president last year.

Israel, which has also launched its own domestic inquiry into the raid on
the aid flotilla, refused to co-operate with the council's probe.

But Hamas, the Islamist group which controls Gaza, welcomed the inquiry's
findings and called on the international community to take action by
bringing Israeli commanders involved in the raid to trial.

The inquiry was completed by Karl Hudson-Phillips, a former judge of the
International Criminal Court in The Hague, Desmond de Silva, a former chief
prosecutor of the Sierra Leone War Crimes Tribunal, and Shanthi Dairiam, as
Malaysian human rights expert.

© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2010


From: Marcy Winograd

For Immediate Release

Contact: Kerry Townsend Jacob (213) 985-1694
Scott Mann (323) 333-4850


Event to include voter outreach to over 200,000 Californians

"BlogMobile" to gather American stories while traveling from LA to DC

LOS ANGELES (September 21, 2010) - Responding to a call to restore
opportunity for Americans and pull America back together, One Nation Working
Together California will hold a massive day of action on October 2, 2010.
The event, to be held at Los Angeles City College, will bring thousands of
Los Angeles area residents together in an effort to re-energize voters for
this November's election, and call for an end to the polarizing tactics that
are being used to divide our country.

One Nation Working Together California will also be sending a group of
'citizen journalists' via RV who will be blogging about the concerns of
those they meet as they travel from Los Angeles to Washington DC. The
'BlogMobile' will depart Los Angeles on September 24 and arrive in
Washington DC for the national rally also being held on October 2.

"One Nation Working Together California is a grassroots movement that will
fight for future opportunities for our students and the unemployed, regain
the hope we held so proudly in 2008, redefine the future, and move our
country forward," said Laphonza Butler, President of SEIU ULTCW (United Long
Term Care Workers' Union).

The day-long Los Angeles event on October 2 will start at 9 am and feature
live performances, a public interactive display symbolizing our unity, the
personal stories of struggle shared by One Nation participants, and a
massive voter outreach in which 200,000 voters will be encouraged to
reengage in the political process. There will also be a live simulcast with
the national march occurring in Washington DC that day at which half a
million people are expected to gather at the Lincoln Memorial.

"There's no question that at a time when we should be united as a nation to
tackle the issues of unemployment, the economy, poverty, education,
immigration and justice for all, many Americans feel disconnected," said
Angelica Salas, Executive Director of Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights
of Los Angeles (CHIRLA). "It's time for us to continue the movement of
political engagement that we started in 2008. One Nation Working Together
is the vehicle by which we can do that."

One Nation Working Together is a fast-growing grassroots movement of people
from all backgrounds united by the goal of reordering our nation's
priorities to invest in our most valuable resource - our people. The
movement is comprised over 200 organizations and tens of thousands of
individuals who believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to achieve
the American Dream of having a secure job, a safe home and a quality

The need for the One Nation Working Together movement and its objective to
restore opportunity to all was reinforced as new increased unemployment
figures and poverty statistics were recently released.

"For me, the One Nation Working Together movement is about regaining our
core values - values that are based on fact and realities. Not based on
hate, fear and poll-inflamed rhetoric," said Reverend K.W. Tulloss of
National Action Now and Pastor of Weller Street Baptist Church.

For more information, please visit



Comedy Show Benefit Fundraiser for the Peace & Freedom Party


Paul Krassner, Rick Overton, Marc Maron, Jann Karam, Jimmy Dore, Ann
Randolph, Kelly Carlin, Gary Gordon, and Paul Lyons, MC

Sunday, Oct. 3 at the Powerhouse Theatre, 3116 2nd St., Santa Monica, 90405
(1 block east of Main, ½ block south of Marine)

6pm reception, meet & greet the P&F candidates

7pm showtime; $15 adm.

323-960-5036 or

Proceeds go to LA County Peace & Freedom Party

Venezuela: The taking part, Rutten: GOP/'tea' party radicalism

Hi. I had to go to England to find what appears to be decent coverage
of Venezuela's election. The LA and NY Times coverage is so slanted
as to be propaganda. At the same time, coverage of our own election
is rapidly mainstreaming the GOP/tea party lines. I thought it useful
to pair these two articles. As yet, neither gray lady has fired colunmists.

Venezuela: This was about the taking part

The Venezuela election was not a major blow to Hugo Chávez. It shows
politics is working properly again

By Mark Weisbrot, 27 September 2010

Today's election for 165 representatives in Venezuela's national assembly is
significant but unlikely to bring about major change, despite the opposition
having done better than expected. On the latest count the pro-government
United Socialist party has 95 seats, with 60 for the opposition Democratic
Unity, five for other parties and the rest undecided. The opposition claims
it won a majority of the popular vote, but apparently it was very close
between the two main parties.

As expected, most of the international press and its sources hailed the
results as a "major blow" to Hugo Chávez, paving the way for his possible
removal in the presidential election in 2012. But this is exaggerated.

The vote was widely seen as a referendum on Chávez, and it would be an
anomaly in electoral politics if the government did not lose support after a
recession last year that continued into the first quarter of this year.
Chávez's popularity has always reflected the economy, reaching a low during
the recession of 2002-03 - regardless of the fact that it was caused by an
opposition oil strike. His approval rating has fallen from 60% in early 2009
to 46% last month.

For comparison President Obama's approval rating has fallen from 68% last
April to 45% this month, and his party is expected to take big losses in the
congressional elections. This is despite him having clearly inherited
economic problems from his predecessor.

It is not clear why anyone would expect Venezuela to be exempt from the
workings of electoral politics. The opposition has most of the wealth of the
country - and most of its media. They have no problem getting their message
out. Obama also faces a strong rightwing media, with Fox News now one of the
most popular sources for coverage of the autumn elections, but there is much
less of an opposition media in the US.

Much has been made of the opposition getting more than a third of the
national assembly, thus being able to block legislation that would "deepen
the revolution". Again, the importance of this is greatly exaggerated.

In reality it is unlikely to make much difference. The pace at which it
adopts reforms has been limited more by administrative capacity than by
politics. The Financial Times recently added up the value of industries
nationalised by the Chávez government. Outside oil, it came to less than 8%
of GDP over the last five years. Venezuela still has a long way to go before
the state has as much a role in the economy as it does in, for instance,

On the positive side, the most interesting result of this election is that
the opposition participated, has accepted the results, and now has a bloc of
representatives that can participate in a parliamentary democracy.

This could be an advance for Venezuelan democracy, which has been undermined
by an anti-democratic opposition for more than a decade. As opposition
leader Teodoro Petkoff has noted, the opposition pursued a strategy of
"military takeover" for the first four years, which included a military coup
and a devastating oil strike that crippled the economy. In 2004 the
opposition tried to remove Chávez through a referendum; they failed, and
then promptly refused to recognise the result - despite its certification by
international observers such as the Carter Center and the Organisation of
American States.

They then boycotted the last election in 2005, hoping to portray the
government as a "dictatorship" and leaving them without representation. This
newly elected bloc could potentially draw the opposition into real political
participation. If that happens, it would be a significant advance for a
country that has been too polarised for too long.


The GOP/'tea' party radicalism

An extremist agenda is indeed in play in American politics. But it emanates
from the very GOP/'tea party' candidates who accuse the Obama White House of
advancing such a plan.

Tim Rutten
LA Times Op-Ed: September 22, 2010

In an afterword appended to the White House diaries he published this week,
former President Carter muses, "It may be difficult for some younger readers
to realize how much the Washington political scene has changed in the last
30 years."

Carter points out that the congressional bipartisanship on which he relied
for his considerable number of legislative achievements no longer exists and
that the "pernicious effects of partisanship have not been limited to
Washington; American citizens have also become more polarized in their
beliefs.... Almost all segments of American society - the poor, the middle
class and the wealthy - have become more alienated from our government.
Observing the behavior of the Washington political establishment, people too
often feel only frustration and mistrust; inevitably, we now see frequent
exhibitions of anger and vituperation."

It's impossible to quarrel with Carter's characterization, and equally
impossible not to notice that in an era when people speak only to those who
share their particular angry haze, the politics of delusion and
self-deception flourish. Take the current midterm election campaign, in
which it has become commonplace for Republican/"tea" party candidates - the
two names now are interchangeable - to assail President Obama's alleged
radicalism and his purported plan to transform the United States into a
European-style social democracy.

Putting aside the nonsensical nature of these claims, what's startling is
the unchallenged way in which they rhetorically invert the factual geography
of the electoral landscape. In fact, it's been more than a century since a
viable party has nominated as many candidates with such radical views for
federal office as the Republican/tea party has this year.

Writing in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour,
chairman of the Republican Governors Assn., said that electorally speaking,
you now can "replace 'Tea Party' with 'Republican' ... and each description
would remain totally accurate." The voters who support the GOP/tea party, he
wrote, "fear that their children and grandchildren won't inherit the same
country they inherited from their parents and grandparents."

The irony here is that electing the candidates Barbour hails will guarantee
that the children will inherit a country their great-grandparents
overwhelmingly rejected - one that existed in Herbert Hoover's era or, in
some cases, before the Civil War. In fact, none of the five Republican
presidents who've held office since the Depression have advanced anything
like the current GOP/tea party's radical agenda.

It's hard to tell exactly what Christine O'Donnell, the Republican nominee
for a Senate seat in Delaware, believes, though we do know that she's
dabbled in witchcraft, doesn't pay her bills and thinks scientists are
breeding mice with human brains. In Kentucky, senatorial candidate Rand Paul
wants to eliminate the departments of Education and Energy, as does Alaskan
nominee Joe Miller, who also says that unemployment insurance is
unconstitutional. In Utah, GOP Senate hopeful Mike Lee wants to repeal or
amend the 14th and 17th Amendments, thereby doing away with our current
citizenship laws and the popular election of U.S. senators. Sharron Angle in
Nevada has ruminated about abolishing both Social Security and Medicare.

There's actually less difference than one might think between the views of
these tea party "insurgents" and those of establishment Republicans. If, as
now seems possible, the Republicans recapture the House, two incumbent
congressmen with an outsized say on budgetary policies will be Wisconsin's
Paul D. Ryan and Virginia's Eric Cantor. Both already have signed off on a
plan to privatize Social Security and to replace Medicare with a vague
voucher system. Meanwhile, former Republican House Majority Leader Dick
Armey denounces Social Security as a fraud and a Ponzi scheme.

Sen. James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, who would replace Barbara Boxer as
chairman of the Committee on Environment and Public Works if the GOP
recaptures the Senate, believes that global warming is "the greatest hoax
ever perpetrated on the American people." Then there's presidential hopeful
Newt Gingrich, who fulminated darkly about anti-Christian liberal plots and
wants to pass laws banning the imposition of Sharia law. (We're all losing
sleep over that prospect.)

Picture for a second an America without Social Security, Medicare or
unemployment insurance. Imagine this country without the 14th or 17th
Amendments or effective federal oversight of education or energy.

The rude beast of radicalism may be slouching toward the polls in November,
but it didn't start out from the White House.

Copyright © 2010, Los Angeles Times

Monday, September 27, 2010

President Obama's Ahistorical World

Sid Shniad <> Sep 26 01:58PM -0700 ^

President Obama's Ahistorical World - An Analysis (9/25/10)

By Professor Lawrence Davidson
Department of History
West Chester University
West Chester, Pa 19383

On September 23, 2010 it was President Obama's turn to take the podium at
the United Nations. There was a world of problems for him to draw on but,
not unexpectedly, he chose to concentrate on the Middle East. Thus, as has
been the case with almost every President since John Kennedy, Mr. Obama is
also trying his hand at cutting the Gordian Knot and drinking the sea dry.
That is he is trying his hand at making peace between Israel and Palestine.
Will he succeed where all others have failed? Not likely, and his speech at
the UN points to one reason why. His approach is ahistorical and, at least
publically, ignores the context from which all this strife has emerged.

This is not unusual for President Obama. From the beginning of his
administration he has ignored history. His most notable early example was
when he refused to investigate the prima facie war crimes of his
predecessors, crimes which the Nuremberg prosecutors would have easily
recognized. Instead he proclaimed a new day. We will look forward he said,
and not backward. It was a foolish statement for such a reportedly bright
man, for where does he think the new day and the fresh future come from? The
present and the future are built on the past. With all due respect, only the
very near sighted can suppose that they can defy historical gravity and
float above it all, sublimely free of all roots.

So now President Obama takes the podium in New York and tells us the

1. Obama: "Make no mistake: the courage of a man like President Abbas-who
stands up for his people in front of the world-is far greater than those who
fire rockets at innocent women and children."

A. Historical Context: "President" Abbas is a heartily disliked fellow who
helped usurp power from the legally elected government of Palestine. The
United States under George Bush Jr. helped him do so. Thus, the Abbas's
regime, internally supported by little else than the remnants of Fatah, is
now in control of the West Bank and cooperates with the Israeli occupation
army. Given such an historical record Abbas cannot "stand for his people in
front of the world" except in the propaganda picture painted by his American
ally. Abbas's regime is wholly dependent on U.S. and European money and
American weapons and military training.

We can surmise two probable reasons why Abbas is presently sitting at the
table with the Israelis: One - the Obama administration has twisted his arm,
perhaps by threatening to abandon him if he does not "negotiate." They
probably hope they can pressure him into signing a "peace" deal that no
other Palestinian leader would ever touch. What "courage" Abbas has, at
least to this point, does not go so far as to stand up to the Americans on
whom he is so dependent. Two - the Obama administration has promised him
support, whatever that might mean. This same level of dependency means Abbas
must conveniently forget history-that such promises coming from Washington
have always been worthless.

2. Obama: "If an agreement is not reached, Palestinians will never know the
pride and dignity that come with their own state [and] Israelis will never
know the certainty and security that come with sovereign and stable
neighbors who are committed to coexistence."

A. Historical Context: The Palestinians have been struggling for a state of
their own for at least 75 years. They have been betrayed by outsiders so
often that it defies reasons to believe that any America president truly
cares about their pride and dignity. After so many years of struggle facing
a foe who, by the way, has never cared a fig about "stable neighbors" or
"coexistence" or even about "security" (which Israel equates with being
armed to the teeth by the U.S.) the Palestinians have been able to find
"pride and dignity" in one thing only-resistance.

3. Does President Obama know any of this? If so does he understand it? It is
questionable for he next tells us that killing Israelis is not resistance
and "it will do nothing to help the Palestinian people?" Oh. Well then, what
will? What has? What can?

A. Historical Context: Only someone devoid of historical knowledge and
context concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can possibly believe
that it is the Palestinians who presently, as a strategy, go out of their
way to target "innocent women and children." What isolated incidents of this
sort you can find pale in comparison with the behavior of the ally
Washington arms and protects. There is a recent B'Tselem report entitled,
"Void of Responsibility: Israeli Military Policy Not to Investigate killings
of Palestinians by Soldiers." It demonstrates that the Israelis have been
killing innocent Palestinians with impunity. Historically, they have been
doing so from a time before President Obama was born. Against this tireless
brutality, Palestinian attacks on imperialist settlers and firing rockets
devoid of warheads from that open air prison of Gaza that Israel has
created, are tragic expressions of despair. And, sadly, historically, they
are the only source of "pride and dignity" Israel and the United States have
left to the Palestinians. Finally, it would take enormous hypocrisy for
Obama, or any American leader whosoever, to point a moral finger at the
Palestinians. Their hands are much too bloody to stomach anything like that.

4. Obama: "It should be clear to all that efforts to chip away at Israel's
legitimacy will only be met by the unshakable opposition of the United

A. Historical Context: Well, speak for yourself Mr. President. You certainly
do not speak for a fast-growing number of people worldwide whose efforts in
this regard you cannot stop. And it is this effort, this movement of civil
society both within and without the U.S., that has the best chance of
bringing down the racist regime to which you pledge such solidarity.
Ideally, what will it be replaced with? Well, U.S. leaders are always saying
they want to see more democracy in this world. And that is what Israel
needs. It needs the Zionist government to be replaced with something truly
democratic that will support real civil and political rights for all
Israelis, regardless of religion. So, one can only hope that standing
against those "chipping away" at Zionist racism puts President Obama on the
wrong side of history.

It was Oscar Wilde, a man who had his own confrontation with a viciously
discriminatory social system, who once said, "A set of assumptions
committing suicide is always a depressing spectacle." And so it was on
September 23 in New York. After so many years of tragedy we still witness
our political leaders working from assumptions that are suicidal. That
destroy justice and prolong oppression.

Krugman: Structure of Excuses, KPFK Elections amd Deadline

Dear Friends,

If you are a current KPFK member, please cast your vote in the KPFK
Local Station Board election. You've likely received your ballot.

The deadline for turning in ballots is this Thursday, September 30th.
The 2nd largest ballot return period is almost always the final week.
It makes or breaks an election and this one is critical. If you fit into
this profile, please find that ballot, consider this, mark your ballot
and mail it in.


I recommend the candidates supported by the Committee to Strengthen
KPFK that can be seen at:

Just click on the link above and it'll take you right there. If you click
on any of the pictures, it'll take you right to the candidate statement for
that person. If you want to listen to the one hour on-air forums between
the candidates, go to KPFK, audio archives, "Special Programming" from
Monday, September 20 through Friday, September 24 at 10 am

This is how I voted. Of course, it's your decision. Alter the order any way
you wish or vote otherwise, but vote. And don't hesitate to email me with

These elections are important to preserve free, people sponsored, DEMOCRATIC

1. Summer Reese (on the board - National Finance Committee Chair - very
important to re-elect her)
2. Lamont Yeakey (on the board - great board member)
3. Margie Murray (same as Lamont)
4. Fred Blair
5. Steve Brooks
6. Leonard Isenberg
7. Nancy Kazar
8. Chipasha Luchembe
9. Richard Vega
10. Jerry Van
11. Dennis McCoy
12. John De Simio
13. Richard Wittman
14. Lance Charles
15. Seth Andrews


Structure of Excuses

By Paul Krugman
NY Times Op-Ed: Sept. 27, 2010

What can be done about mass unemployment? All the wise heads agree: there
are no quick or easy answers. There is work to be done, but workers aren't
ready to do it - they're in the wrong places, or they have the wrong skills.
Our problems are "structural," and will take many years to solve.

But don't bother asking for evidence that justifies this bleak view. There
isn't any. On the contrary, all the facts suggest that high unemployment in
America is the result of inadequate demand - full stop. Saying that there
are no easy answers sounds wise, but it's actually foolish: our unemployment
crisis could be cured very quickly if we had the intellectual clarity and
political will to act.

In other words, structural unemployment is a fake problem, which mainly
serves as an excuse for not pursuing real solutions.

Who are these wise heads I'm talking about? The most widely quoted figure is
Narayana Kocherlakota, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of
Minneapolis, who has attracted a lot of attention by insisting that dealing
with high unemployment isn't a Fed responsibility: "Firms have jobs, but
find appropriate workers. The workers want to work, but can't find
appropriate jobs," he asserts, concluding that "It is hard to see how the
Fed can do much to cure this problem."

Now, the Minneapolis Fed is known for its conservative outlook, and claims
that unemployment is mainly structural do tend to come from the right of the
political spectrum. But some people on the other side of the aisle say
similar things. For example, former President Bill Clinton recently told an
interviewer that unemployment remained high because "people don't have the
job skills for the jobs that are open."

Well, I'd respectfully suggest that Mr. Clinton talk to researchers at the
Roosevelt Institute and the Economic Policy Institute, both of which have
recently released important reports completely debunking claims of a surge
in structural unemployment.

After all, what should we be seeing if statements like those of Mr.
Kocherlakota or Mr. Clinton were true? The answer is, there should be
significant labor shortages somewhere in America - major industries that are
trying to expand but are having trouble hiring, major classes of workers who
find their skills in great demand, major parts of the country with low
unemployment even as the rest of the nation suffers.

None of these things exist. Job openings have plunged in every major sector,
while the number of workers forced into part-time employment in almost all
industries has soared. Unemployment has surged in every major occupational
category. Only three states, with a combined population not much larger than
that of Brooklyn, have unemployment rates below 5 percent.

Oh, and where are these firms that "can't find appropriate workers"? The
National Federation of Independent Business has been surveying small
businesses for many years, asking them to name their most important problem;
the percentage citing problems with labor quality is now at an all-time low,
reflecting the reality that these days even highly skilled workers are
desperate for employment.

So all the evidence contradicts the claim that we're mainly suffering from
structural unemployment. Why, then, has this claim become so popular?

Part of the answer is that this is what always happens during periods of
high unemployment - in part because pundits and analysts believe that
declaring the problem deeply rooted, with no easy answers, makes them sound

I've been looking at what self-proclaimed experts were saying about
unemployment during the Great Depression; it was almost identical to what
Very Serious People are saying now. Unemployment cannot be brought down
rapidly, declared one 1935 analysis, because the work force is "unadaptable
and untrained. It cannot respond to the opportunities which industry may
offer." A few years later, a large defense buildup finally provided a fiscal
stimulus adequate to the economy's needs - and suddenly industry was eager
to employ those "unadaptable and untrained" workers.

But now, as then, powerful forces are ideologically opposed to the whole
idea of government action on a sufficient scale to jump-start the economy.
And that, fundamentally, is why claims that we face huge structural problems
have been proliferating: they offer a reason to do nothing about the mass
unemployment that is crippling our economy and our society.

So what you need to know is that there is no evidence whatsoever to back
these claims. We aren't suffering from a shortage of needed skills; we're
suffering from a lack of policy resolve. As I said, structural unemployment
isn't a real problem, it's an excuse - a reason not to act on America's
problems at a time when action is desperately needed.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Paul Roberts: The Collapse of Western Morality

From: "Bill Totten" <>

The Collapse of Western Morality

by Paul Craig Roberts
Global Research (September 23 2010)

Yes, I know, as many readers will be quick to inform me, the West never
had any morality. Nevertheless things have gotten worse.

In hopes that I will be permitted to make a point, permit me to
acknowledge that the US dropped nuclear bombs on two Japanese cities,
fire-bombed Tokyo, that Great Britain and the US fire-bombed Dresden
and a number of other German cities, expending more destructive force,
according to some historians, against the civilian German population
than against the German armies, that President Grant and his Civil War
war criminals, Generals Sherman and Sheridan, committed genocide
against the Plains Indians, that the US today enables Israel's
genocidal policies against the Palestinians, policies that one Israeli
official has compared to 19th century US genocidal policies against the
American Indians, that the US in the new 21st century invaded Iraq and
Afghanistan on contrived pretenses, murdering countless numbers of
civilians, and that British prime minister Tony Blair lent the British
army to his American masters, as did other NATO countries, all of whom
find themselves committing war crimes under the Nuremberg standard in
lands in which they have no national interests, but for which they
receive an American pay check.

I don't mean these few examples to be exhaustive. I know the list goes
on and on. Still, despite the long list of horrors, moral degradation
is reaching new lows. The US now routinely tortures prisoners, despite
its strict illegality under US and international law, and a recent poll
shows that the percentage of Americans who approve of torture is
rising. Indeed, it is quite high, though still just below a majority.

And we have what appears to be a new thrill: American soldiers using
the cover of war to murder civilians. Recently American troops were
arrested for murdering Afghan civilians for fun and collecting trophies
such as fingers and skulls.

This revelation came on the heels of Private First Class Bradley
Manning's alleged leak of a US Army video of US soldiers in helicopters
and their controllers thousands of miles away having fun with joy
sticks murdering members of the press and Afghan civilians. Manning is
cursed with a moral conscience that has been discarded by his
government and his military, and Manning has been arrested for obeying
the law and reporting a war crime to the American people.

US Representative Mike Rogers, a Republican, of course, from Michigan,
who is on the House Subcommittee on Terrorism, has called for Manning's
execution. According to US Representative Rogers it is an act of
treason to report an American war crime.

In other words, to obey the law constitutes "treason to America".

US Representative Rogers said that America's wars are being undermined
by "a culture of disclosure" and that this "serious and growing
problem" could only be stopped by the execution of Manning.

If Representative Rogers is representative of Michigan, then Michigan
is a state that we don't need.

The US government, a font of imperial hubris, does not believe that any
act it commits, no matter how vile, can possibly be a war crime. One
million dead Iraqis, a ruined country, and four million displaced
Iraqis are all justified, because the "threatened" US Superpower had to
protect itself from nonexistent weapons of mass destruction that the US
government knew for a fact were not in Iraq and could not have been a
threat to the US if they were in Iraq.

When other countries attempt to enforce the international laws that the
Americans established in order to execute Germans defeated in World War
Two, the US government goes to work and blocks the attempt. A year ago
on October 8, the Spanish Senate, obeying its American master, limited
Spain's laws of universal jurisdiction in order to sink a legitimate
war crimes case brought against George W Bush, Barack H Obama, Tony
Blair, and Gordon Brown.

The West includes Israel, and there the horror stories are sixty years
long. Moreover, if you mention any of them you are declared to be an
anti-semite. I only mention them in order to prove that I am not
anti-American, anti-British, and anti-NATO, but am simply against war
crimes. It was the distinguished Zionist Jewish Judge, Goldstone, who
produced the UN report indicating that Israel committed war crimes when
it attacked the civilian population and civilian infrastructure of
Gaza. For his efforts, Israel declared the Zionist Goldstone to be "a
self-hating Jew", and the US Congress, on instruction from the Israel
Lobby, voted to disregard the Goldstone Report to the UN.

As the Israeli official said, we are only doing to the Palestinians
what the Americans did to the American Indians.

The Israeli army uses female soldiers to sit before video screens and
to fire by remote control machine guns from towers to murder
Palestinians who come to tend their fields within 1500 meters of the
inclosed perimeter of Ghetto Gaza. There is no indication that these
Israeli women are bothered by gunning down young children and old
people who come to tend to their fields.

If the crimes were limited to war and the theft of lands, perhaps we
could say it is a case of jingoism sidetracking traditional morality,
otherwise still in effect.

Alas, the collapse of morality is too widespread. Some sports teams now
have a win-at-all-cost attitude that involves plans to injure the star
players of the opposing teams. To avoid all these controversies, let's
go to Formula One racing where 200 miles per hour ("mph") speeds are

Prior to 1988, 22 years ago, track deaths were due to driver error, car
failure, and poorly designed tracks compromised with safety hazards.
World Champion Jackie Stewart did much to improve the safety of tracks,
both for drivers and spectators. But in 1988 everything changed. Top
driver Ayrton Senna nudged another top driver Alain Prost toward a pit
wall at 190 mph. According to AutoWeek (August 30 2010), nothing like
this had been seen before. "Officials did not punish Senna's move that
day in Portugal, and so a significant shift in racing began". What the
great racing driver Stirling Moss called "dirty driving" became the

Nigel Roebuck in AutoWeek reports that in 1996 World Champion Damon
Hill said that Senna's win-at-all-cost tactic "was responsible for
fundamental change in the ethics of the sport". Drivers began using
"terrorist tactics on the track". Damon Hill said that "the views that
I'd gleaned from being around my dad [twice world champion Graham Hill]
and people like him, I soon had to abandon", because you realized that
no penalty was forthcoming against the guy who tried to kill you in
order that he could win.

When asked about the ethics of modern Formula One racing, American
World Champion Phil Hill said: "Doing that sort of stuff in my day was
just unthinkable. For one thing, we believed certain tactics were

In today's Western moral climate, driving another talented driver into
the wall at 200 mph is just part of winning. Michael Schumacher, born
in January 1969, is a seven times World Champion, an unequaled record.
On August 1 at the Hungarian Grand Prix, AutoWeek Reports that
Schumacher tried to drive his former Ferrari teammate, Rubens
Barrichello, into the wall at 200 mph speeds.

Confronted with his attempted act of murder, Schumacher said: "This is
Formula One. Everyone knows I don't give presents."

Neither does the US government, nor state and local governments, nor
the UK government, nor the EU.

The deformation of the police, which many Americans, in their untutored
existence as naive believers in "law and order", still think are "on
their side", has taken on new dimensions with the police militarized to
fight "terrorists" and "domestic extremists".

The police have been off the leash since the civilian police boards
were nixed by the conservatives. Kids as young as six years old have
been handcuffed and carted off to jail for school infractions that may
or may not have occurred. So have moms with a car full of children
(see, for example, ).

Anyone who googles videos of US police gratuitous brutality will call
up tens of thousands of examples, and this is after laws that make
filming police brutality a felony. A year or two ago such a search
would call up hundreds of thousands of videos.

In one of the most recent of the numerous daily acts of gratuitous
police abuse of citizens, an 84-year-old man had his neck broken
because he objected to a night time towing of his car. The goon cop
body-slammed the 84-year old and broke his neck. The Orlando, Florida,
police department says that the old man was a "threat" to the
well-armed much younger police goon, because the old man clenched his

Americans will be the first people sent straight to Hell while thinking
that they are the salt of the earth. The Americans have even devised a
title for themselves to rival that of the Israelis' self-designation as
"God's Chosen People". The Americans call themselves "the indispensable

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole
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Rad-Green mailing list

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Ralph Nader: Why Say Yes to the Party of No?

And If Ralph Nader is scared enough to imply voting for Democrats,.....

Why Say Yes to the Party of No?

by Ralph Nader September 24, 2010

How does the Big Business-indentured Republican Party get away with
expectations of a runaway election victory this November? If such a victory
should occur in Congress and for many governorships and state legislatures,
it will be due to a ten percent or so shift in voters who voted Democratic
in 2008 and are expected to vote Republican this year or stay home in
despair or disgust. The rest of the voters who do vote will still stay with
their hereditary Republican or Democratic candidates.

So what is accounting for a possible ten percent shift? Let's briefly review
some of the Congressional Republicans' voiced positions:
1. They want to do nothing about unfair Chinese trade practices that lure
jobs away from our country though huge factory subsidies, and where workers
are repressed and counterfeit products abound. Imagine, Republicans coddling
a communist regime, luring the auto parts, electronic, solar and drug
ingredients industries away from America, often in violation of the World
Trade Organization rules. And, in turn, China is exporting to the U.S.
impure food, faulty tires, toxic drywall, lead-tainted toys and medicines
which are contaminated, defective or harmful. Don't forget the dumping

2. Republicans, led by Senator Richard Shelby and his banking friends,
declared their adamant opposition to Professor Elizabeth Warren becoming
head of the new consumer financial regulation agency. (To avoid a
confrontation with them, President Obama made her a special assistant to
organize this consumer watchdog.) Ms. Warren has a solid record of exposing
and communicating clearly to families the tricks and traps of credit card
companies, mortgage firms, and intermediaries that have taken so many
billions of consumer dollars with impunity.

3. The Republicans led by their House leader, John Boehner (Rep. Ohio), a
total toady of the gouging student loan companies, opposed the Democrats
successful reform of this taxpayer boondoggle that guaranteed obscene
profits and had the taxpayers absorb any student defaults. Boehner's
lobbying should upset millions of parents who had to foot the bill for so
many years.

4. The Republicans are opposed to raising the federal minimum wage to what
it was, adjusted for inflation, in 1968!! They opposed an adequate budget
for health and safety enforcement by OSHA to diminish the 58,000 American
workers who die every year from workplace toxics and trauma. They are now
blocking protections for coal miners pending in the Senate after the Massey
mine disaster.

5. Republicans oppose doing anything about "too big to fail" even after Wall
Street's reckless, avaricious collapse of the economy, costing 8 million
jobs and trillions of lost pension and mutual fund dollars.
Moreover, they do not support genuine enforcement of the anti-trust laws
which are supposed to break up monopolization efforts, monopolies or
oligopolies like Monsanto (seeds) or the big five banks-bailed out by
taxpayers and secure in their domination of well over 50 percent of all bank
assets, deposits and the credit card business. This is by far the highest
concentration of financial power in modern U.S. history. With few
exceptions, the GOP want very few federal cops on the corporate crime beat.

6. Fighting for the last billionaire and multimillionaire, Republicans are
blocking ending Bush's tax cuts on incomes beyond $250,000 per year. Yes,
Republicans want to reduce the deficit yet they want to end revenues of over
700 billion dollar over ten years of restored super-rich taxes. They are
blocking renewal of the estate taxes after their expiration on Dec. 31, 2009
left no taxes this year on the estates of the super-rich. (Over 99 percent
of estates were already exempt from the federal estate tax.)

7. No matter that Republicans caved to the health insurance companies
getting over 30 million new covered customers, starting in 2014, they
supported the industry's blaming the federal government, no less, for this
month's latest sharp hike in insurance premiums by Aetna and others largely
on the policies of individuals and small business. The Republicans did this
after blocking the "public option" that would have given consumers both a
choice and the benefit of some competition to the big insurance firms.

8. Have the Congressional Republicans ever challenged the bloated, wasteful,
contractor-corrupt military budget that makes up half of the entire
government's discretionary budget?

Even the Congress's own auditing agency-the Government Accountability Office
(GAO) declares the Pentagon budget unauditable. Many Pentagon audits
document the abuses of Halliburton, KBR, Blackwater and other firms in the
deficit-driving, bloody Iraq and Afghanistan wars (both Republican
espoused.) The Pentagon's burgeoning budget, now nearing $800 billion a
year, is deemed untouchable. (A few Republicans, like Charles Grassley and
John McCain sometimes object to contracting abuses.)

9. President Obama wants a counter-recessionary public works program
renovating airports, bridges, highways, rail and mass transit, drinking
water and sewage treatment facilities and other infrastructures. Republicans
sneer at this local job creation for much needed facilities.

10. Unlike any Republican Party since its creation in 1854, it has misused
the filibuster threat, and any one of its Senators misuse the rules and
block even going to a floor discussion or a nomination vote. The Party is
earning its moniker as the Party of NO. Republicans have turned the U.S.
Senate into America's graveyard.

There is much more, but enough has been cited to ask again-how are
Republicans seen by the polls as front runners in the upcoming election?

The answer my friends, is not in the stars. The answer is in the clueless
and spineless Democrats, busily dialing for the same corporate campaign

The other answer is in the ten percent of the actual voters who need to
seriously avail themselves of the facts and a modicum of thought. For if
they don't, they will continue to pay bills handed to them and their
children by their ruling corporatists in Republican clothing.

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His most recent
book - and first novel - is, Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us. His most
recent work of non-fiction is The Seventeen Traditions.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Krugman: Downhill With the G.O.P., Neither one deserves our votes

Downhill With the G.O.P.

By Paul Krugman
NY Times Op-Ed: September 2010

Once upon a time, a Latin American political party promised to help
motorists save money on gasoline. How? By building highways that ran only

I've always liked that story, but the truth is that the party received
hardly any votes. And that means that the joke is really on us. For these
days one of America's two great political parties routinely makes equally
nonsensical promises. Never mind the war on terror, the party's main concern
seems to be the war on arithmetic. And this party has a better than even
chance of retaking at least one house of Congress this November.

Banana republic, here we come.

On Thursday, House Republicans released their "Pledge to America,"
supposedly outlining their policy agenda. In essence, what they say is,
"Deficits are a terrible thing. Let's make them much bigger." The document
repeatedly condemns federal debt - 16 times, by my count. But the main
substantive policy proposal is to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, which
independent estimates say would add about $3.7 trillion to the debt over the
next decade - about $700 billion more than the Obama administration's tax

True, the document talks about the need to cut spending. But as far as I can
see, there's only one specific cut proposed - canceling the rest of the
Troubled Asset Relief Program, which Republicans claim (implausibly) would
save $16 billion. That's less than half of 1 percent of the budget cost of
those tax cuts. As for the rest, everything must be cut, in ways not
specified - "except for common-sense exceptions for seniors, veterans, and
our troops." In other words, Social Security, Medicare and the defense
budget are off-limits.

So what's left? Howard Gleckman of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has
done the math. As he points out, the only way to balance the budget by 2020,
while simultaneously (a) making the Bush tax cuts permanent and (b)
protecting all the programs Republicans say they won't cut, is to completely
abolish the rest of the federal government: "No more national parks, no more
Small Business Administration loans, no more export subsidies, no more
N.I.H. No more Medicaid (one-third of its budget pays for long-term care for
our parents and others with disabilities). No more child health or child
nutrition programs. No more highway construction. No more homeland security.
Oh, and no more Congress."

The "pledge," then, is nonsense. But isn't that true of all political
platforms? The answer is, not to anything like the same extent. Many
independent analysts believe that the Obama administration's long-run budget
projections are somewhat too optimistic - but, if so, it's a matter of
technical details. Neither President Obama nor any other leading Democrat,
as far as I can recall, has ever claimed that up is down, that you can
sharply reduce revenue, protect all the programs voters like, and still
balance the budget.

And the G.O.P. itself used to make more sense than it does now. Ronald
Reagan's claim that cutting taxes would actually increase revenue was
wishful thinking, but at least he had some kind of theory behind his
proposals. When former President George W. Bush campaigned for big tax cuts
in 2000, he claimed that these cuts were affordable given (unrealistic)
projections of future budget surpluses. Now, however, Republicans aren't
even pretending that their numbers add up.

So how did we get to the point where one of our two major political parties
isn't even trying to make sense?

The answer isn't a secret. The late Irving Kristol, one of the intellectual
godfathers of modern conservatism, once wrote frankly about why he threw his
support behind tax cuts that would worsen the budget deficit: his task, as
he saw it, was to create a Republican majority, "so political effectiveness
was the priority, not the accounting deficiencies of government." In short,
say whatever it takes to gain power. That's a philosophy that now, more than
ever, holds sway in the movement Kristol helped shape.

And what happens once the movement achieves the power it seeks? The answer,
presumably, is that it turns to its real, not-so-secret agenda, which mainly
involves privatizing and dismantling Medicare and Social Security.

Realistically, though, Republicans aren't going to have the power to enact
their true agenda any time soon - if ever. Remember, the Bush
attack on Social Security was a fiasco, despite its large majority in
Congress - and it actually increased Medicare spending.

So the clear and present danger isn't that the G.O.P. will be able to
achieve its long-run goals. It is, rather, that Republicans will gain just
enough power to make the country ungovernable, unable to address its fiscal
problems or anything else in a serious way. As I said, banana republic, here
we come.


From: Cindy Henderson

If you are an educator whose union has endorsed either gubernatorial
candidate, please consider signing this letter. If you know anyone in such a
position, please forward this email. Thanks!

John Osmand, ISO
c: 401-301-4545

Neither one deserves our votes

A group of California teachers explain why both the Democratic and
Republican candidates for governor are ready to attack their union--and
working-class families:

September 20, 2010

EDUCATORS IN California face a rotten choice between a rampaging Republican
and a dithering Democrat. Neither major candidate has real answers to solve
the crisis rocking working families in the state.

Meg Whitman's slash-and-burn austerity program is clear enough to everyone.
Jerry Brown, on the other hand, has easily won the endorsements of the
California Federation of Teachers and the California Teachers Association.
This support is undeserved.

Brown said in a recent interview on KCRA, "We're going to have to make some
cuts that nobody really looks forward to." He accepts the logic of balancing
the crisis on the backs of state workers, students, the poor and the
disabled. There is not a shred of evidence that he will raise taxes on the
rich, close corporate tax loopholes or campaign to overturn Proposition 13.

In another interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Brown pledged to cut
pensions for public employees. He also referred to low-income families as
"criminals" and suggested that environmental laws are bad for economic

On education reform, Brown personally championed two charter schools as
mayor of Oakland and failed to restructure that city's notoriously
pro-corporate tax system to actually fund its schools.

In his political career, Brown has been the lead architect of California's
prison-industrial complex. As attorney general, he has overseen a system
that destroys the lives of young men of color as quickly as it saps state
resources. (To be fair, his Web site touts his record of opposing wasteful
prison spending...such as blocking the funding of direly needed new medical
facilities for inmates.)

To add insult to injury, Jerry Brown's losing principles are surpassed only
by his losing campaign.

Giving our money and time to the "less evil" politician and hoping for the
best is a questionable strategy in good times. But right now we're being
hammered by an economic recession and anti-teacher federal policy worse than
the Bush years.

In 2005, a coalition of nurses, firefighters and teachers defeated Arnold
Schwarzenegger's anti-union ballot initiatives by grassroots organizing and
constant public demonstrations. This is a rough blueprint for standing up
for ourselves, no matter who gets elected in November.

It is time to rescind our unions' endorsements of Jerry Brown.

Let's redirect our resources to rebuilding the organizing power inside
California Federation of Teachers and California Teachers Association, the
power that is the lifeblood of unionism. Let's get serious about undoing
Prop. 13. Let's give an honest hearing to Green Party and Peace & Freedom
candidates. Let's spend our money kick-starting a national drive to fire
Arne Duncan and to put a halt to Race to the Top.


Rebecca Anshell Song, San Diego Education Association*
Dana Blanchard, Le Conte Elementary School, Berkeley Federation of Teachers*
John Gallagher, Forest Park Elementary, Fremont Unified District Teachers
John Green, Castro Valley High School, Castro Valley Teachers Association*
Deborah Goldsmith, City College of San Francisco, SF Community College
District Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 2121*
Adrienne Johnstone, San Francisco Community School, United Educators of San
Francisco, CFT/AFT Local 61, CTA/NEA*
Sarah Knopp, Youth Opportunities Unlimited Alternative High School, United
Teachers Los Angeles, CFT*
Andy Libson, Mission High School, United Educators of San Francisco, CFT/AFT
Local 61, CTA/NEA*
Jessie Muldoon, Oakland High School, Oakland Education Association*
Gillian Russom, Roosevelt High School, United Teachers Los Angeles, CFT*
Ben Visnick, Oakland High School, Oakland Education Association*
Jean Whittlesey, Berkeley High School, Berkeley Federation of Teachers*
Marc Wutschke, Belmont Community Adult School, United Teachers Los Angeles,

*For identification purposes only

What you can do

If you are a California educator and would like to add your name to the open
letter, e-mail your name, work site and local affiliation to John Green at

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Israeli intransigence is the only hope

Israeli intransigence is the only hope

While Palestinian negotiators are weak and prone to sign any peace
deal, Israel's current leaders look set to reject every solution to the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict, writes Ghada Karmi*

Al-Ahram: 2 - 8 September 2010
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875I
ssue No. 1014


What an irony that the Palestinians' archenemy, Israel, should also
be their saviour. There is a real danger that the Israeli-Palestinian peace
talks could yield a botched deal that falls far short of the requirements of
international law or elemental justice, and sets back the cause of Palestine
for decades if not forever.

Fortunately, this will not happen as long as Israel's obduracy can be relied
on to save the Palestinians from such a dreadful outcome.

Time and again, when Israel was thrown a lifeline by its Arab
neighbours that could have ensured its legitimacy and security, its folly
and greed lost it those opportunities. But, since those same opportunities
came at great cost to Palestinian rights, Israel's obduracy had the perverse
effect of safeguarding them. All peace proposals after 1967 were based on
maintaining Israel as a regional power and forcing the Palestinians to
settle for less than they were entitled to. They were repeatedly offered
paltry settlements that in effect legitimised Israel's hold on a majority of
their land and undermined their right of return. Had Israel agreed, the
Palestinian cause would have been lost long ago.

But it never happened. Israel foiled each proposal and, though
robbing the Palestinians of ever more land and resources, the basics of the
Palestinian case remained intact. When in the 1979 Camp David negotiations
Egypt sought to give the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza a basis for
a future independent state, Israel refused. As it also spurned a succession
of Arab peace proposals, most recently the Saudi plan of 2002, offering
Israel peace and recognition in return for a Palestinian state. And when, in
the 1993 Oslo Accords, the Palestine Liberation Organisation finally
capitulated and accepted Israel's occupation of Palestine's remnants so long
as it would end and enable the establishment of an independent state on this
morsel, Israel responded by taking more land.

Decades of Israeli rejection and the realties of Israel's power with
unstinting Western support finally persuaded the Palestinian leadership to
settle for what it could in this hostile environment. The Palestinians' just
and legal demands have been downgraded beyond recognition. Where once,
Palestinians fought against their dispossession and the theft of their land,
and for their right to reparation and return, today's browbeaten leadership
has settled for a set of aspirations that bear little relation to rights or
justice. It is this defeated leadership, reportedly under US pressure to
attend or have Palestinian Authority funding withdrawn, which will take part
in the upcoming peace talks in Washington.

The aim of the talks is a two-state settlement that will supposedly
end the conflict. The parameters are familiar from past (and failed) peace
proposals, and are grossly unfair to the Palestinians. Historic Palestine
will be partitioned roughly along the 1967 lines into a Jewish state on 78
per cent of the land plus an undefined area of the West Bank also to become
Israeli, and a Palestinian state on whatever remains, less than 20 per cent.
How much of East Jerusalem will go to the Palestinians has not been
determined, and there will be no return of refugees to Israel. Israel's
prime minister has set conditions before the talks. Israel will keep the
Jordan Valley, Jerusalem will remain Israel's undivided capital, and the
Palestinian state must be unarmed and its borders and airspace under
surveillance. And nothing will happen unless the Palestinians first
recognise Israel as Jewish and guarantee its security.

Despite these statements, indications are that Israel is not serious
about a peace deal. Its moratorium on settlement building, which in any case
excluded East Jerusalem, will end 27 September, after which it will resume
with vigour. Israeli commentators are sceptical about Netanyahu's
intentions. Moty Cristal, an Israeli past prime ministerial advisor,
believes that Netanyahu "is buying time, looking for ways to stay away from
action on the ground". No reasonable outcome can be expected from this
situation. Nonetheless, President Obama, with mid-term elections looming,
lacking a foreign policy success, and focused on Iran, is determined to see
a result.

How will this happen within the constraints of a strong Israel that
cannot be pressured and a weak, unrepresentative Palestinian leadership that
excludes Gaza and Hamas? And since Israel's position rejects all the main
Palestinian requirements -- land, Jerusalem, refugees -- progress, if any,
can only be made by demanding more concessions from the weaker Palestinian
side. This will mean less land available for the putative state, making it
unviable. Hence Jordan and Egypt's presence at the talks to work out a deal
that provides an extension for the West Bank into Jordan, and Gaza into
Egypt. No other permutation is possible, within these parameters. Israel
will lose very little, but even this may be too much for its "Greater
Israel" proponents.

If this scenario, or some version of it, were to happen, and the
Palestinian side, powerless and weary, were somehow to be bamboozled into
agreeing, it would destroy the Palestinian cause and wreak untold havoc
within Palestinian ranks. The fear of such an outcome haunts many
Palestinians, who neither trust nor respect the Palestinian negotiators, and
think they might sign away Palestinians rights. This may be unfair, but they
may be reassured that if there is any possibility of a peace deal emerging
from Washington, the Israeli side, if not theirs, will never let it happen.

* The writer is author of Married to Another Man: Israel's dilemma
in Palestine .

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Robert Scheer: "A Departure to Be Welcomed":

"A Departure to Be Welcomed":

An Interview with Robert Scheer
Democracy Now: September 22, 2010

Well, to talk more about Larry Summers, we're joined from Los Angeles by the
veteran journalist Robert Scheer. He is the editor-in-chief of
He worked for the Los Angeles Times for more than three decades. His new
book is called The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and
Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street.

Bob, welcome back to Democracy Now!


AMY GOODMAN: So, President Obama has lost three of his four top economic
advisers. Only left is Timothy Geithner.

ROBERT SCHEER: Well, I don't think "lost" is the right word. I think "fired"
is better. I think Summers-anyway, his departure is certainly to be welcome.
My book is largely about the follies of Lawrence Summers, beginning in the
Clinton administration, when he pushed through the Commodity Futures
Modernization Act, which opened the floodgates to all of these toxic
derivatives that he, as much as anyone in the country, bears responsibility
for the economic debacle. And then Obama brought him back. And I think what
he has done is basically throw money at Wall Street, continue the Bush
policy, and get nothing in return, particularly in the way of relief for
homeowners-you know, mortgage foreclosure, a moratorium on foreclosures. And
so, I think this is really good news. And, you know, I hope he's not
replaced with someone worse, but it's hard to imagine someone worse.

AMY GOODMAN: You wrote a piece, among others, since you've written
extensively about Larry Summers, Bob, called "Living Large and in Charge."
Give us the history of Larry Summers.

ROBERT SCHEER: Well, every-you know, once again, the New York Times today,
Barack Obama, President Obama yesterday, referred to this guy as
"brilliant." And I don't know how many times you have to fail before you're
considered to be something less than brilliant. And this guy has been a
disaster at every position he has held. He was the Treasury Secretary under
Clinton who presided over the radical deregulation of that administration,
fulfilling the fantasy of the Reagan Revolution. The Republicans couldn't
pull it off. Summers and Robert Rubin, his mentor, did pull it off. And it's
been-this is the basic root cause of this meltdown. Then he goes to Harvard,
where he was a disaster as president, divisive, mysogynist, demeaning of
women and so forth.

And meanwhile, he's being paid not only close to $600,000 by Harvard, but
then he goes and consults on Wall Street. He was paid $4 million by D.E.
Shaw, a hedge fund, and you'll notice the Obama administration has not
reined in hedge funds at all. And he received almost another $4 million in
speaking fees. He got $135,000 from Goldman Sachs for one short speech. He
got that much from Citigroup for two speeches. You know, so this guy, while
he was advising Obama, he was raking it in, eight million bucks, while he's
an adviser to the candidate.

And then, for reasons that Obama will someday have to explain, he's brought
in as the key guy. It's not Geithner. Geithner is a water carrier and was
very much a subordinate in the Clinton administration to both Summers and
Rubin. And they bring in Summers, and what he did is, again, follow that
strategy, reassure Wall Street, don't spook the markets, give them what they
want, submit to their blackmail, and make them whole. And they continued the
Bush policy with a vengeance, throwing money at Wall Street. The Fed now
holds $2 trillion worth of toxic assets taken off the books of the banks.
The banks still hold a massive amount. And every time the housing market
looks like it might get better, they dump this stuff. The Fed announced
yesterday that the economy is not getting better. They're very troubled.

So what is the legacy? You know, it's like Vietnam. Vietnam, as David
Halberstam once wrote, was brought to us by the best and brightest, people
who presumably have the best education and, you know, are sincere and smart
and so forth. And the economic meltdown reminds one of that and Vietnam. I
mean, if this is what brilliance means, let's have a sort of ordinary common
sense for a while. And common sense will tell you, help the homeowners now.
You've done enough for the banks. Get something back from the banks. Make
them, you know, readjust those mortgages. Don't have it be voluntary.
Empower the bankruptcy courts to help the people who are struggling, the 40
to 50 million people who are already underwater on their mortgages, but
everybody else. And if you don't do that, you're not going to fix this
economy. And I don't care whether he brings in a businessman or a labor
leader or brings in Stiglitz or makes Paul Krugman his adviser, whoever he
brings in has got to tell him that, or we're not going to see progress.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, of course, it's not just Lawrence Summers. He's not in
charge of the policy. Ultimately, President Obama is. What is his
responsibility here? Why did he surround himself with, well, among others,
Larry Summers?

ROBERT SCHEER: Well, I'm not his shrink, you know. He mystifies me. I was
very enthusiastic about the Obama candidacy. He gave an incredible speech in
April of '08, laying out the source of our problem in the radical
deregulation, saying we ignored the consumer, the ordinary worker and so
forth, that he specifically criticized the priorities of the Clinton
administration. But then again, he was running against Hillary Clinton. How
you give that speech and then turn to one of the architects of Clinton's
policy to run your own economy is beyond me.

I have to stock it up to opportunism and maybe his own insecurity in trying
to grasp economics. After all, these toxic packages were designed to be
opaque. This whole-all these financial finagling devices and so forth were
built by people who were supposed to be mathematical geniuses. When
long-term capital management collapsed, there were two Nobel Prize winners
on the board. You know, so these things are-can be very tricky. There's a
legion of lawyers and PR people and everything else to all make them seem
very reasonable, and maybe Obama was intimidated. And he seems to also get a
lot of advice from the University of Chicago economists, one of whom is
rumored to be the key player in this administration, and those people have a
very old-fashioned notion of the free market that really does not apply to
corporate America. I mean, it might have applied to Adam Smith's America,
but corporate America is a political animal, and their lobbyists control
Washington on anything that has to do with their interests. That's why we
got the radical deregulation. And you've got to bring somebody in who
understands that if you don't check the Wall Street lobbyists and you don't
check their power, you're not going to serve the American people. I mean,
that's really what this is all about.

And right now the tea party has seized the populist ground. They claim to be
worried about the people who are hurting. We have a lot of people hurting in
this country, a lot of people. We have the highest level-highest number of
people in poverty. Forty-three million Americans are in poverty. And poverty
is defined by a family of four living on less than $22,000 a year. Try
living in America, family of four, under less than that. We have 43 million
people in that, the highest number. We have the highest level of poverty
among the able-bodied, of eighteen to sixty-five, that we've had since '94,
thus wiping out all the claimed gains of the Clinton administration and
everything that came after. You know, we have-we've lost $11 trillion of
family income and worth. That was the latest report. We lost $1.3 trillion
just in the second quarter alone. We have this enormous debt that's going to
prevent us from doing things in the future that have to be done in terms of
improving our lives. And so, who's addressing that? These tea party people.
And the tea party people are frauds, in the main, because they won't attack
corporate power. They're basically, you know, still singing the song of
deregulation, keep government out of it.

And the fact is that as long as Wall Street can use government for its
purposes, you know, then you've got to address that problem. And we do not
have a progressive political alternative at this time. And unfortunately,
Russ Feingold, who's like one of the few around, seems to be in trouble in
Wisconsin. And if your listeners can do anything in this election, they
should try to help him, because if we lose his voice, we really lose the
conscience of the Senate. But there are very few voices on the progressive
side of things. Obama had promised to be such a voice, but he's now
basically a silken glove for corporate power, unfortunately. Now maybe that
will change. I'm always hopeful. And maybe the departure of Summers is the
beginning of a new day in America. We'll see.

AMY GOODMAN: We're talking to Robert Scheer. His book, just out in
paperback, is called The Great American Stickup. This issue of-well, the
question of, is President Obama really responsible for-and maybe the media,
as well-the whole tea party phenomenon, the issue of people across this
country suffering terribly economically and seeing the power elite in
Washington bailing out the banks, and yet people on the bottom are losing
their homes by the very banks that have been bailed out? Is-

ROBERT SCHEER: Yeah, look, you know, I actually wrote a column saying that I
wasn't upset that Rand Paul won the Republican nomination in Kentucky, I
wasn't that upset that the tea party candidate won in Alaska, because both
of them at least challenged the power of the Federal Reserve. At least both
of them demanded an audit of the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve, you
might recall, when Timothy Geithner was head of the New York Fed, that's
where they made those deals on the weekend where they decided to bail out
AIG. And we still don't know what happened then and how those deals were
made. So, you know, there are some voices on the right that, to my mind, are
reasonable and are making important points. And I think it would be fine to
have a Rand Paul in the Senate. You know, yes, an honest Libertarian voice
would be helpful. But they're not going to solve the problems of this
country, because this country is going to remain a mixed economy. And a
mixed economy, to this day, it means basically a Wall Street-driven economy.
I can't stress that enough. Everybody thinks, well, you're putting up a
straw man or something. It's nonsense. Two-thirds of the profit that was
made in this country during the Bush years was made by the financial
community. They were also the main backers of Obama's campaign. I mean, you
know, you can't underestimate the power of Wall Street in our society at
this time. And they can control our politics, certainly when it comes to
anything they care about.

And take the case of Elizabeth Warren, for example. I mean, here was a
perfectly reasonable, highly educated woman who dared speak for the
consumer. I mean, there's nothing radical about Elizabeth Warren. All she's
saying is, "Hey, let's look out for the people signing these contracts." You
know, she's not even raising the prospect of controlling interest rates,
which, by the way, used to be in not only the California state constitution,
but quite a few in this country. It was preempted by federal legislation,
which Wall Street sought, saying the states no longer have power to regulate
the interest rate of any institution that has any kind of federal banking
connection, which is just about all of them. So, you know, something that
the Bible scripture calls for, whether you're Hebraic, Christian or a Muslim
tradition, usury is condemned. It's condemned far more than anything else in
the Bible. And yet, you know, if you dare suggest we not charge 35 percent
interest to somebody on their credit card, my God, no, that can't be. So
Elizabeth Warren hasn't even raised that issue of controlling interest
rates. All she's talking about is transparency, make sure the language is
clear, make sure people understand, it's in print that they can read when
they sign a home mortgage, and so forth. And she's considered too radical,
and Obama chickened out totally. He should have taken the fight for
Elizabeth Warren being head of this new agency, which is really the only
important thing to come out of his financial regulation, was the creation of
this agency. Unfortunately, it's tucked away in the Federal Reserve, so, you
know, that's controlled by the banks. She will have to now report to the
Treasury Department, because of the way now she's an adviser. And he ducked
that fight. And that was an important fight for him to have. And if the
Senate wanted to turn this down, let's find out why and let's get the public
involved. Do they want a vigorous consumer representative in there?

And let me just say one point also about these so-called brilliant people
and the problems we're in and everything. On the first page in my book, I
quote an exchange between George W. Bush and Henry Paulson. Paulson is
another supposedly brilliant person. He was head of Goldman Sachs. George
Bush brought him in as Treasury Secretary, one of those corporate people
that they're saying Obama might bring in and so forth. And Paulson at least
had the honesty in his memoir, which I quote on my first page, where George
W. Bush asked him, "How did this happen?" Here's the President of the United
States asking his new Treasury Secretary, former head of Goldman Sachs,
"What is this we're in, this economic meltdown? How did this happen?" And
Paulson answers, "It was a tough question for somebody from the financial
community to ask, because we were responsible." However, when you read-and
that's an honest statement, a good one. However, when you read further in
the book, Paulson admits he did not know these toxic mortgage derivative
packages and credit default swaps were at the basis of these toxic
securities. He did not understand at that time, as he was advising the
president. He only found out later. So when these people present themselves
as very knowledgeable and on top of things, most of the time they're not. As
long as the money is coming in, as long as the profits are increasing, as
long as they're getting, as Robert Rubin did, $15 million a year, or a
Lawrence Summers can make $8 million just consulting and speaking for Wall
Street, they don't want to look a gift horse in the mouth, and they'll go
along. And they don't really care whether it explodes after they've gotten
theirs and hurts the rest of us.

AMY GOODMAN: Robert Scheer, thanks so much for coming in. His book is just
out in paperback; it's called The Great American Stickup: How Reagan
Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main
Street. Was a reporter with the Los Angeles Times, a columnist for more than
thirty years, and is the editor-in-chief of