Monday Morning Reads

Good Morning!!

I always enjoy a little E.L Doctorow. Fortunately, I have some to share with you this morning. Monday Morning is a good time to be acerbic. Doctorow offers up some advice on how to be embrace the US’s inner state of unexceptionalism.  Phase One was carried out during the Dubya years.  I think you’ll recognize it.

TO achieve unexceptionalism, the political ideal that would render the United States indistinguishable from the impoverished, traditionally undemocratic, brutal or catatonic countries of the world, do the following:

PHASE ONE

If you’re a justice of the Supreme Court, ignore the first sacrament of a democracy and suspend the counting of ballots in a presidential election. Appoint the candidate of your choice as president.

If you’re the newly anointed president, react to a terrorist attack by invading a nonterrorist country. Despite the loss or disablement of untold numbers of lives, manage your war so that its results will be indeterminate.

Using the state of war as justification, order secret surveillance of American citizens, data mine their phone calls and e-mail, make business, medical and public library records available to government agencies, perform illegal warrantless searches of homes and offices.

Take to torturing terrorism suspects, here or abroad, in violation of the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which prohibits the infliction of cruel and unusual punishment. Unilaterally abrogate the Convention Against Torture as well as the Geneva Conventions regarding the treatment of prisoners of war. Commit to indeterminate detention without trial those you decide are enemies. For good measure, trust that legislative supporters will eventually apply this policy as well to American citizens.

Suspend progressive taxation so that the wealthiest pay less proportionately than the middle class. See to it that the wealth of the country accumulates to a small fraction of the population so that the gap between rich and poor widens exponentially.

By cutting taxes and raising wartime expenditures, deplete the national treasury so that Congress and state and municipal legislatures cut back on domestic services, ensuring that there will be less money for the education of the young, for government health programs, for the care of veterans, for the maintenance of roads and bridges, for free public libraries, and so forth.

Deregulate the banking industry so as to create a severe recession in which enormous numbers of people lose their homes and jobs.

Before you leave office add to the Supreme Court justices like the ones who awarded you the presidency.

Don’t miss the other phases!

Here’s my offering for one of those phases.  It’s from Alternet writing on a HuffPo piece.

 For the Republicans’ constant trumpeting of saving the economy in public, they have proven time and again that’s exactly the opposite of what they want to do. The latest: the GOP would like to save the disproportionate defense spending by… cutting food stamps. No, America, they do not care about your well being, or whether all of us can afford to eat. The Huffington Post:

In a memo sent to members Wednesday instructing them how to write their reconciliation bill, Republicans picked a number of targets, including extracting $80 billion from federal workers and $44 billion from health care. In all, it identifies $78 billion to cut in 2013, and details around $300 billion over 10 years.

But the memo spends the most time targeting the exploding cost of food stamps, on which more Americans rely than ever, at greater expense to the government than ever before.

Each month during fiscal 2011, an average of 45 million mostly poor Americans received benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, at a cost of $78 billion to the federal government. Last year’s SNAP participation represented a 70 percent increase from 2007, and the highest enrollment the program has ever seen. In that time, the cost of the program more than doubled.

Of course, the food stamp budget is “exploding” (in HuffPo’s weird term) because the Republicans have failed to support a single plan that might help average Americans get back on their feet.

Chinese workers are back in the news.  Foxconn Workers endure terrible working conditions and many are threatening suicide again. Of course, we have to go to the UK Guardian to read up on this.  Heaven Forbid that we learn people suffer to provide Ipads to the nation’s self absorbed yuppies.

Workers at a factory owned by Foxconn, Apple‘s main manufacturer, threatened to jump off the roof of a building in a protest about wages, a month after the two firms reached agreement on improving working conditions.

The protest happened in the central China city of Wuhan.

It involved 200 workers, the Hong-Kong based activist group Information Centre for Human Rights said.

A company spokesman said the dispute, which concerned workplace adjustments and involved new workers, had been settled. He said it was not a strike. The company employs 1.2 million workers in China.

“The dispute has already been settled after some negotiations involving the human resources and legal departments as well as the local government,” the Taipei-based spokesman, Simon Tsing, said.

Foxconn, China’s largest private-sector employer, and Apple agreed to tackle violations of working conditions and improve working environments.

The deal was agreed almost two years after a series of worker suicides at Foxconn plants focused attention on conditions at Chinese factories and sparked criticism that Apple’s products were made by Chinese workers subjected to mistreatment.

On Tuesday Apple reported that its fiscal second-quarter net income almost doubled after a jump in iPhone sales, exceeding financial market expectations.

 Speaking of Apple, are you aware they are one of the biggest tax dodgers among a proud tradition of US corporations that avoid paying taxes?

Apple, the world’s most profitable technology company, doesn’t design iPhones here. It doesn’t run AppleCare customer service from this city. And it doesn’t manufacture MacBooks or iPads anywhere nearby.

Yet, with a handful of employees in a small office here in Reno, Apple has done something central to its corporate strategy: it has avoided millions of dollars in taxes in California and 20 other states.

Apple’s headquarters are in Cupertino, Calif. By putting an office in Reno, just 200 miles away, to collect and invest the company’s profits, Apple sidesteps state income taxes on some of those gains.

California’s corporate tax rate is 8.84 percent. Nevada’s? Zero.

Setting up an office in Reno is just one of many legal methods Apple uses to reduce its worldwide tax bill by billions of dollars each year. As it has in Nevada, Apple has created subsidiaries in low-tax places like Ireland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and the British Virgin Islands — some little more than a letterbox or an anonymous office — that help cut the taxes it pays around the world.

Almost every major corporation tries to minimize its taxes, of course. For Apple, the savings are especially alluring because the company’s profits are so high. Wall Street analysts predict Apple could earn up to $45.6 billion in its current fiscal year — which would be a record for any American business.

We have a bipartisan effort with two US congress women looking to stop the use of GOOGLE by Human Traffickers. U.S. Representatives Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee (R) and Carolyn Maloney (D)  of New York are looking at GOOGLE practices that may accommodate this hideous  industry.

In an effort to stop a rising tide with the use of online networks for human trafficking, two U.S. Representatives of Congress, Republican Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, along with Democrat Carolyn Maloney of New York, have sent a bipartisan letter to the largest online search engine in the world – Google, Inc.Questioning current practices and policies at Google, specifically within the offices of Google Adwords, the Congresswomen are sending a joint letter from Congress to Google to bring hard questions to the internet giant.

Stepping up their efforts, the Blackburn and Maloney Congressional team are bringing Google’s employee policies under the microscope. Unless Google answers the questions regarding the handling, receiving and allowing of online advertising by Google Adwords the corporate giant may be questioned further.

“It’s about time that we all take a close look at the largest ad publisher in the world – Google,” said Phil Cenedella, founder and director of The National Association of Human Trafficking Victim Advocates, an advocacy group that works on-the-ground with women and girl victims of human trafficking and now over 41 global partners. “This problem is worldwide and it’s growing right under our feet,” continued Cenedella. “The U.S. is one of the biggest consumers of modern slaves and illegal slave labor worldwide and this includes sex-trafficking.”

The aim by Congress is to find out more about internal problems at Google Adwords that may be allowing international and local human trafficking rings to sexually exploit and sell women and girls online.

If you need a smile this morning, try the 18 funniest joked by Jimmy Kimmel from the Nerdprom on Saturday night.

1. To Obama: “I know you won’t be able to laugh at my jokes about the Secret Service. Please cover your ears, if that’s physically possible.”

2. “If you told me when I was a kid I would be standing on a dais with President Barack Obama, I would have said, ‘The president’s name is Barack Obama?'”

3. “Remember when the country rallied around you in hopes of a better tomorrow? That was hilarious.”

4. “Democrats would like you to stick to your guns. And if you don’t have any guns, you can ask Eric Holder to get some for you.”

5. “They say diplomacy is a matter of carrot and sticks, and since Michelle Obama got to the White House — so is dinner.”

BA-da-BOOM!

Here’s an inspiring thought for the day:

“A nation cannot be liberated whether internally or externally while its women are enchained.”

Egyptian feminist Doria Shafik 1908-1975

So, there ya go!  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

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21 Comments on “Monday Morning Reads”

  1. ecocatwoman says:

    The Koch Bros & their ilk can sell the public anything. Check out this post & the video from Treehugger: http://www.treehugger.com/economics/see-entire-culture-war-against-environmentalism-distilled-one-4-minute-video.html

  2. ecocatwoman says:

    WOW – a succinct & accurate explanation of what’s wrong with America & how it happened. Thanks for the E L Doctorow piece. While America slept, our homes, lives and futures were stolen.

    I wonder how the Apple dirty laundry would have played out if Jobs was still around. He’s attained secular sainthood – and he was the consummate salesman.

    • dakinikat says:

      I really loved it when I read it. I really wanted to reprint the entire thing so I hope people go read it!

    • quixote says:

      The Foxconn atrocities started coming out quite a while before Jobs died. Shorter Jobs: “Gee whiz. That’s terrible. We’re sending a commission to study conditions at Foxconn.” Result: consciences salved. Apple’s rep as a cool, fun company intact.

      The upshot of the commission, if I remember right, was that Apple had Foxconn sign a few more documents that they would never, never, ever do anything mean or nasty. By then, nobody was paying much attention.

      The most recent round flared up after Jobs’ death, but I doubt whether even good salesmanship sounds as good when all you have is a repeat of “Gee whiz. That’s terrible. We’ll look into it.” Which is really all Apple has. It’s either that or raise prices on iProducts, which would be a real tragedy.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I’m so glad that I’ve never owned (and never will own) an Apple product.

      • NW Luna says:

        Not to defend Apple (uh-oh, that sounds like I’m going to defend them) but I expect these atrocious labor practices overseas — and some in the US — are the norm for most manufacturing companies. The un-trendy companies should get slammed too.

        Pressure from the Student Action Labor Project (studentlabor.org) branch at the University of Washington, and concerned public, has resulted in a few changes for companies that the UW contracts with for sports apparel and the like. But overall, still too little.

        At the UW, Wise’s relationship with Nike attracted scrutiny as faculty and students were lobbying the university to put pressure on Nike to improve its labor standards in Latin America. ….

        The UW branch of the American Association of University Professors called on Wise to give up her Nike post, which she never did, even as then UW President Mark Emmert took the company to task. Instead, Wise announced that she would donate her Nike salary to student scholarships–as she now says she will do at the U of I. Wise also says she will recuse herself from Nike business that concerns her new university.

        http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/dailyweekly/2011/08/phyllis_wise_outgoing_uw_provo.php

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Terrific roundup, Dak. Here an interesting read for you: Large Layoffs Loom on Wall Street.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    This is priceless! There’s new fuel for the right wing birther conspiracy nuts.

    A technician in the LA County coroner’s office, Michael Cormier, died under suspicious circumstances on April 20–the same day that Andrew Breitbart’s autopsy results were released. Police believe Cormier may have been poisoned, and have searched his home.

    AND, Brietbart had a sudden heart attack the same day that Sherriff Arpaio announced “probable cause” that Obama’s bc is forged.

    AND, the day before he died, arrangements had been made for him to interview Arpaio.

    The first link is the the right wing site–I found this on Memeorandum.

    http://www.wnd.com/2012/04/breitbarts-coroner-poisoned-to-death/

    http://blogs.laweekly.com/informer/2012/04/micheal_cormier_la_coroner_dies.php

    So—- I’m not sure what the conclusion is supposed to be–that Obama somehow had Breitbart killed but made it look like natural causes? And then he had Comier killed too, but wasn’t able to make it look like natural causes?

    And why is Arpaio still alive???? I guess they’ll figure out some conspiratorial explanation for that….

    • RalphB says:

      Those wingnuts are in desperate need of a good high colonic, preferably administered orally.

    • NW Luna says:

      Well, if you look hard enough you can connect anything with anything in some way.

      Correlation is not causation. (I know, R-wing heads just can’t wrap around that ;-) )

      • yeah… if you look hard enough… we’re all connected and socialism is often the correct answer. however the wingnutters will never look THAT hard.

    • Seriously says:

      Arpaio’s rehashing his “findings” from last year, when he called the lack of coverage “the greatest censorship blackout in the history of the US.” I guess Obama really, REALLY doesn’t like to take chances. If he continues to rehash every year, it’s bound to go viral one of these decades.

  5. foxyladi14 says:

    Good roundup Dak.thanks. :mrgreen:

  6. Love Love Lovvvvve the quote/thought for the day at the end–thanks for that, Dr. D!

  7. RalphB says:

    Ed Kilgore on Paul Ryan :-)

    The Man, the Legend, the Catfish Noodler

    Wow. Half-Wonk, Half-Jock. Half-Objectivist, Half-Catholic. Half-Punk, Half-Wall Street. Paul Ryan is like a projected fantasy of what every high school Young Republican wants to be when he grows up. No wonder GOPers and reporters alike are writing his name all over their notebooks.

  8. NW Luna says:

    Brennan confirms US carries out drone strikes.

    White House counterterrorism official John Brennan has publicly acknowledged the covert practice of drone strikes against al-Qaida targets, the first time the Obama administration has described the widely known practice in detail.

    In the most detailed comments by an administration official on the long-used practice, Brennan says targets are chosen by weighing whether there is a way to capture the person against how much of a threat the person presents to Americans.

    He said the strikes are precise, but acknowledged that civilians have been killed.

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/text/2018106688.html

  9. NW Luna says:

    WTF?

    Four years ago, Barack Obama wrested control of the Democratic Party after portraying Bill Clinton as a symbol of small-ball ambition and outdated politics. Now, as president, Obama is turning to his Democratic predecessor for help as Republicans breathe down his neck.

    Eeeek, Republicans breathing down his neck! Yeah, who’s got the small balls now?

    I know size doesn’t matter, but I couldn’t resist.