Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

I’ll start out with a shocking story that, unfortunately, doesn’t surprise me. Bradley Manning, the young man who is suspected of giving information about U.S. war crimes to Wikileaks, is being exposed to conditions that decent people would call torture. I’ve been worried about the treatment Manning would receive in prison, and have repeatedly said I was afraid he’d be tortured.

Keep in mind that Manning has not been charged with any crime, but has been imprisoned for seven months–the first two months in Kuwait and the rest of the time in Quantico, VA. Glenn Greenwald writes that, although Manning has been a model prisoner, he has been living

under conditions that constitute cruel and inhumane treatment and, by the standards of many nations, even torture. Interviews with several people directly familiar with the conditions of Manning’s detention, ultimately including a Quantico brig official (Lt. Brian Villiard) who confirmed much of what they conveyed, establishes that the accused leaker is subjected to detention conditions likely to create long-term psychological injuries.

[….]

From the beginning of his detention, Manning has been held in intensive solitary confinement. For 23 out of 24 hours every day — for seven straight months and counting — he sits completely alone in his cell. Even inside his cell, his activities are heavily restricted; he’s barred even from exercising and is under constant surveillance to enforce those restrictions. For reasons that appear completely punitive, he’s being denied many of the most basic attributes of civilized imprisonment, including even a pillow or sheets for his bed (he is not and never has been on suicide watch). For the one hour per day when he is freed from this isolation, he is barred from accessing any news or current events programs. Lt. Villiard protested that the conditions are not “like jail movies where someone gets thrown into the hole,” but confirmed that he is in solitary confinement, entirely alone in his cell except for the one hour per day he is taken out.

In sum, Manning has been subjected for many months without pause to inhumane, personality-erasing, soul-destroying, insanity-inducing conditions of isolation similar to those perfected at America’s Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado: all without so much as having been convicted of anything. And as is true of many prisoners subjected to warped treatment of this sort, the brig’s medical personnel now administer regular doses of anti-depressants to Manning to prevent his brain from snapping from the effects of this isolation.

This is a disgrace. President Obama should be hanging his head in shame. But he probably can’t be bothered about little things like torture. He had a big important meeting today with the head honchos of the oligarchy.

Hoping to mend fences with business leaders and spur more hiring, President Obama spent more than four hours with chief executives of 20 major companies in a “working meeting” that both sides said paved the way for better cooperation.

Mend fences?! Obama has pretty much been down on his knees to these guys for years. The super-rich just never get enough, do they? But Obama will keep on endlessly cowering before them in hopes of one day pleasing them.

The session was another step in Obama’s move toward the political center after big Republican gains in last month’s mid-term elections. A year after referring to Wall Street executives as “fat-cat bankers,” Obama is taking a less confrontational approach.

Administration officials have chafed at being labeled anti-business and have been trying to dispel that criticism. They initiated business-friendly moves in recent weeks, such as completing a trade pact with South Korea and making a deal with congressional Republican leaders to extend the Bush-era tax cuts and other tax breaks helpful to U.S. companies.

If Obama moves and further to the “center,” he’s going to fall off the rightward edge of the political spectrum.

The President said he “made progress” in the meeting with the CEOs:

The business leaders, who included UBS AG Chairman for the Americas Robert Wolf and Honeywell International Inc. Chairman David Cote, met with Obama for more than four hours today for a discussion aimed at fostering cooperation and finding ways to spur U.S. economic growth.

“We focused on jobs and investment, and they feel optimistic that by working together we can get some of that cash off the sidelines,” Obama said as he left the session, referring to the almost $2 trillion that he said companies have amassed.

The meeting at Blair House, across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House, was convened by the president as part of an outreach to business to confer on issues such as education, exports, regulation and the budget deficit. It comes as his administration works to heal a strained relationship with the business community and to collaborate on ways to boost jobs, with the nation’s unemployment rate at 9.8 percent.

I just don’t get all this talk about a “strained relationship” with business. What a bunch of hooey!

The President must have made big promises to the oligarchs at this meeting, because he’s been spending the day making phone calls and whining to Congress critters about how his presidency will be over if they don’t pass his lousy tax-cuts-for-the-rich-bill.

Obama is telling members of Congress that failure to pass the tax-cut legislation could result in the end of his presidency, Rep. Peter DeFazio (Ore.) said.

“The White House is putting on tremendous pressure, making phone calls, the president is making phone calls saying this is the end of his presidency if he doesn’t get this bad deal,” he told CNN’s Eliot Spitzer.

The White House issued a denial after DeFazio’s appearance on CNN. But I believe DeFazio, because he’s not a proven liar like Obama is. What does DeFazio think about Obama’s chances of being reelected?

“…I think this is potentially the end of his possibility of being reelected if he gets this deal,” he said.

Glenn Ford has another must-read post up at Black Agenda Report. Of course you have to read the whole thing, but here’s a sample:

Now that self-proclaimed progressives have passed the point of disenchantment with Barack Obama and entered the stage of active anger at their once-imagined ally, they should quickly take the next step and acknowledge that he is what we at Black Agenda Report have been saying for six years: a right-wing Democrat who has long been aligned with the corporate Democratic Leadership Conference, and whose mission is to expand U.S. empire and put the American state at the service of Wall Street. He has been remarkably successful in both endeavors.

Of necessity, these strategic goals require Obama to wage war against the left hemisphere of his own Party, the main obstacle, in the absence of effective grassroots progressive movements, to forging a grand coalition with Republicans. The president, whom deluded Progressives for Obama hallucinated might become the kind of “transformative” leader that would galvanize Left constituencies into a ready-mix, shake-and-bake “movement,” also sees himself as a transformative figure, but of the opposite kind. He presented his candidacy as the antidote to what he described during the Nevada presidential primary as the “excesses” of the Sixties and Seventies. His reverence for Ronald Reagan is genuine. Indeed, if Obama were not Black, and if his supporters had not been busy getting drunk in a wishing-well, he would have been widely recognized as a stylistically updated Reagan Democrat.

Yup, Obama is transformative alright. He transformed the Democratic Party right out of existence.

Yesterday, The New York Times reported that two classified intelligence reports say that the Afghanistan debacle is getting even worse than anyone knew.

The reports, one on Afghanistan and one on Pakistan, say that although there have been gains for the United States and NATO in the war, the unwillingness of Pakistan to shut down militant sanctuaries in its lawless tribal region remains a serious obstacle. American military commanders say insurgents freely cross from Pakistan into Afghanistan to plant bombs and fight American troops and then return to Pakistan for rest and resupply.

The findings in the reports, called National Intelligence Estimates, represent the consensus view of the United States’ 16 intelligence agencies, as opposed to the military, and were provided last week to some members of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees. The findings were described by a number of American officials who read the reports’ executive summaries.

Robert Greenwald commented on this situation at FDL:

On Thursday, December 16, 2010, the White House will use its December review to try to spin the disastrous Afghanistan War plan by citing “progress” in the military campaign, but the available facts paint a picture of a war that’s not making us safer and that’s not worth the cost.

Let’s take a look at just the very broad strokes of the information. After more than nine years and a full year of a massive escalation policy:

– the insurgency continues to gain in size and strength,
– more U.S. troops are dying than ever,
– more civilians are dying than ever,
– violence in the country continues to spike,
– Pakistan is playing a double game with the U.S. and
– the military strategy lacks credible prospects for a turnaround.

And yet, we are told we can expect a report touting security gains and “progress,” and that there’s virtually zero chance of any significant policy change from this review. It sort of begs the question: just what level of catastrophe in Afghanistan would signal that we need a change in direction?

That’s a very good question. We need to get the hell out of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Yemen ASAP.

According to The New York Times, the U.S. hopes to develop conspiracy charges against Wikileaks editor Julian Assange.

Justice Department officials are trying to find out whether Mr. Assange encouraged or even helped the analyst, Pfc. Bradley Manning, to extract classified military and State Department files from a government computer system. If he did so, they believe they could charge him as a conspirator in the leak, not just as a passive recipient of the documents who then published them.

Among materials prosecutors are studying is an online chat log in which Private Manning is said to claim that he had been directly communicating with Mr. Assange using an encrypted Internet conferencing service as the soldier was downloading government files. Private Manning is also said to have claimed that Mr. Assange gave him access to a dedicated server for uploading some of them to WikiLeaks.

I’m sure they’ll figure out some trumped up charges, since the U.S. no longer operates under the rule of law.

From Raw Story, some TSA news:

Adrienne Durso, a resident of California, was selected for an enhanced pat-down after walking through a metal detector at Albuquerque International Sunport airport, according to a lawsuit.

Durso, a recent breast cancer survivor, said the TSA security officer forcefully searched the area of her recent mastectomy, leaving her in pain and on the verge of crying.

[….]

When her son [age 17] confronted a security supervisor about the incident, asking why his mother had been selected for a pat-down but not him, the supervisor allegedly replied that the son was not selected because “you don’t have boobs.”

After her experience, Durso joined three other plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and TSA administrator John Pistole.

Nice, huh?

Finally, baseball fans will be saddened to learn that Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller has died. He was 92.

Bob Feller, who came off an Iowa farm with a dazzling fastball that made him a national celebrity at 17 and propelled him to the Hall of Fame as one of baseball’s greatest pitchers, died Wednesday at a hospice. He was 92.

[….]

Joining the Cleveland Indians in 1936, Feller became baseball’s biggest draw since Babe Ruth, throwing pitches that batters could barely see — fastballs approaching 100 miles an hour and curveballs and sinkers that fooled the sharpest eyes. He was Rapid Robert in the sports pages. As Yankees pitcher Lefty Gomez was said to have remarked after three Feller pitches blew by him, “That last one sounded a little low.”

A high-kicking right-hander, Feller was a major league phenomenon while still in high school in Van Meter, Iowa. His debut as an Indians starter, during his summer vacation, was spectacular: he struck out 15 batters.

Three weeks later he struck out 17, tying Dizzy Dean’s major league record. He pitched a no-hitter, the first of three in his 18-year career, when he was 21. (He went on to throw an astonishing 12 one-hitters.) He had more than 100 victories at age 22.

Feller was truly one of the greats.

Sooooo… what are you reading this morning?


The Audacity of Expediency

I really need a new word for everything Barack Obama is doing these days.  Obama’s positions change based on what will get him elected (flip-flop flop flips).  I’m actually of the opinion he’s a pathological liar.  His campaign is in some extraordinary phase of Darwinian Evolution.  He’s devolving into something base and beyond trifling.

Today’s issue of the Black Agenda Report: Obama Tells Lies

So, please, try to convince me here, that the Black Agenda Report is being racist.   Any time Obama’s lies find the light of day and we discuss them, the rest of us get thwapped with the race card.  If you don’t think a white person can call Obama out on his lies, flip flops, gaffes and corporate shilling, then please, go there and take THEIR word for it.

Paul Street tells it like it is.  Obama is not just another corporate shill.    He’s raised corporate shilling to an artform. One of Obama’s favorite spiels is how his netroots campaign is full of little people giving little bits of money.  Street makes it clear to us that Obama’s source of funds is not us little guys.  Penny Pritzker, his finance committee chair, has churned up bundlers from a veritable who’s who list of bad guys in the Mortgage Meltdown.  GIven Pritzker’s one of the alligators in this swamp, I shouldn’t be too suprised. It is also probably why you NEVER hear Senator Obama talk about some of the biggest rip-offs of poor folks (especially poor minorites and active duty military) these days:  Subprime lending, Payday lending, and other predatory practices aimed at the unbanked.  This would include making certain no bank branches are available in rural, urban, or other areas where many poor folk live so they are forced to rely on these loans sharks with legal status.  If Senator Obama is concerned about inner city blacks, why is he taking so much money from the very people that fleece them every chance they get?  This is consistent with his relationship with slumlord Rezko.  Let the little people live in slums while Obama gets a sweetheart deal on a mansion and a sideyard.

The top contributors list also explains why Obama’s alternate energy polices frequently include nuclear energy (while he knew NOTHING of the Hanford site while campaigning in Oregon) and ethanol (a really, really inefficient alternative fuel that is a windfall for corporate farming).  Obama’s progressive politics appear to be solidly based on the market.  The highest bidder wins the Obama treatment.

“Too bad Obama is disproportionately funded by people from the top 1 percent of Americans, who own nearly 40 percent of the nation’s wealth and who account for more than 80 percent of campaign contributions above $250. Through April of 2008, the Campaign Finance Institute reports, Obama received more than $89 million in contributions of $1000 or more, just $8 million less than McCain’s total take ($97.3 million)[1].

According to the Center for Responsive Politics Obama’s top contributors include Goldman Sachs (#1 at $571,000), UBSAG (#3 at $365,000), JP Morgan Chase (#4 at $362,000), Citigroup (#5 at $358,000), Lehman Bros. (#7 at 4319,000), Google (#8 at $318,000), multinational corporate law firm Sidley Austin LLP (#10 at $294,000)and nuclear energy powerhouse Exelon (#15 at $236,000}[2].

Note:

1. Read at http://www.cfinst.org/pr/prRelease.aspx?ReleaseID=191%5D

2. Read at http://www.opensecrets.org/pres08/contrib.php?cycle=2008&cid=N000096380

No wonder Obama doesn’t want $3 from each American Taxpayer.  He can get a lot more for those Wall Street bundlers.  For more information from Street, and more lists of lies, please go to the Black Agenda Report.  Also, read his list of suggestions on what TRUE campaign finance reform would look like, why Obama lies and how this hurts the future of black political voices, and what authentic progressives and folks interested in poverty issues and providing opportunity to minorities really support.  Here’s that link.

http://www.blackagendareport.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=676&Itemid=1

Oh, and all you trifilin’ people out there … stop playing that damned race card!  You’re de-sensitizing folks to the REAL racial injustices that still exist in this country.  Try taking on Subprime lending practices or predatory lending!  Try asking for REAL UNIVERSAL health care instead of Obama’s watered down shill.  Try equallizing resources among schools!  This is just a suggestion from a teacher trying to keep it real in the Ninth WARD of New Orleans.


Got Racism? Obama throws Black Men under the Bus

I’m a white woman living in the ninth ward of New Orleans.  I teach at a city university with many many black students.  We turn out more black university graduates than any university in Louisiana. (Although I will add this was pre-Katrina and life has changed radically for us since then.) I also have been in relationships with black men.  I have voted many times for black candidates. My city councilman, my state senator, my state representative, my congressman, my mayor are all black.  I have voted for each and every one of them at one time or another.  I’d never be able to vote if I felt uncomfortable supporting black candidates.  I have many close friends that are black women.  These are not just casual friendships.  Our children played together.  They have keys to my home and I have keys to theirs. I am the minority in my community.  

I now feel the need to lay all that out like I have never needed before because the first attack I have to fend off in my nonsupport of Obama is racism.  This mostly comes from young white men, for some reason.  But, anyway, I’ve laid it out for you so you know my world.

When I need to understand a viewpoint in the black community I read the Black Agenda Report.  The site is listed directly below. This is the latest in a series of articles criticizing Barrack Obama.  I just would like to suggest you read it all.  I’ve shared the lead-in with you and what I consider the most critical part.

http://www.blackagendareport.com/ 

 

Obama Insults Half a Race PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 18 June 2008

by BAR executive editor Glen FordFatherDayObamaCrowd

The Black man who wants to be president spends Father’s Day at church in loud and general denunciation of Black males. For added insult, he describes them as “boys.” Barack Obama’s primary audience isn’t the conservative Black Pentecostal congregation, but “white social conservatives in a race where these voters may be up for grabs,” says the New York Times. In America, even the “Black” corporate candidate runs against Black people. How did such madness come to pass in 2008? Blame the Black “progressive” misleaders who failed to challenge Obama when they had the chance. Now it’s too late, and African Americans are reduced to objects of derision.


And to me, the most damning part:

 

“Can one imagine Obama or any other presidential aspirant repeatedly hectoring any other ethnic group on moral issues? Singling out Jews for excessive materialism? The Irish for excessive drinking? Of course not; that would be unfair and politically suicidal. But there are large regions of the white body politic in which it is not only acceptable, but damn near required, that politicians demonstrate their impatience with the alleged moral shortcomings of Black people. Barack Obama trolls for votes in those foul waters, at the cost of Black people’s dignity.

Obama’s two young daughters were seated in the church, upfront, to hear their father call other Black men “boys” with no sense of responsibility. Ironically, a key Black rationale for supporting Obama is that he is a great “role model” for Black children. Imagine that: an ethnic role model, whose ostensible purpose is to make The Race proud, yet who with great fanfare periodically sneers at the supposedly debased morality of his own people. That’s close to the definition of sick.”