Tuesday Reads: Ooh That Smell!Posted: September 11, 2012 Filed under: 2012 presidential campaign, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, morning reads, U.S. Economy, U.S. Military, U.S. Politics | Tags: death stench, Mark Halperin, Paul Ryan, Tenther Movement, the Constitution 79 Comments
Can you smell the “death stench?” coming from the Romney campaign? Mark Halperin is beginning to. Yesterday he wrote about The Troubles: all the bad news piling up for Mitt Romney following the conventions–like the fact that the Obama camp raised more cash than Romney in August, multiple polls suggest that Obama is getting a bounce from his convention and Romney didn’t. Halperin says all this bad news is leading to a “congealing” media narrative that Romney’s campaign is dying. And all that was written before the latest CNN poll showed Obama at 52% with a lead of 6 points.
Until Romney breaks this cycle, he is in danger of living out the Haley Barbour dictum: in politics, bad gets worse. Super PACs might start shifting their money from the presidential race to save the House majority and look to pick up Senate seats. Romney’s own fundraising will take a hit. Stories about Romney pulling up stakes in Michigan and other ostensible battlegrounds will add to the death stench. And there will be an avalanche of suggestions and second-guessing from pundits and Republican operatives and politicians about Romney’s tactics, strategy and staff.
How tragic! The “death stench.” Oooh That Smell!
Ooh that smell
Can’t you smell that smell?
Ooh that smell
The smell of death surrounds you, yeah
Priorities USA has released a new ad to kick Romney while he’s down.
Everyone is still talking about Romney’s wacky interview with “Disco Dave” on Meet The Press and how he pretended to be in favor of parts of Obamacare on national TV and then quickly flip-flopped in such a way that low information voters might not find out about. From TPM:
“Mitt Romney literally went on ‘Meet The Press’ and misled the American people,” Brad Woodhouse, communications director for the DNC, said on a conference call with reporters Monday. “He acted as if he supports something that he clearly does not.”
Romney said Sunday that he intends to keep parts of ‘Obamacare,’ and cited the law’s rule forbidding discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions as an example.
“I’m not getting rid of all of health care reform,” Romney said. “Of course there are a number of things that I like in health care reform that I’m going to put in place. One is to make sure that those with pre-existing conditions can get coverage.”
The Romney campaign later clarified that his position on pre-existing conditions had not changed, and that he only supports coverage for people with pre-existing conditions if they have had “continuous coverage,” according to a statement released to National Review. “[Romney’s] own plan will deal with pre-existing conditions but not in the same way that Obamacare does,” a Romney campaign aide told TPM after Romney’s interview.
Ezra Klein wrote a post about the Obamacare kefluffle called “when begin vague backfires.”
Romney has been playing a little trick. Here’s what he told David Gregory:
There are a number of things that I like in health-care reform that I’m going to put in place. One is to make sure that those with preexisting conditions can get coverage.
To most of the world, that sounded like Romney was saying he was going to keep Obamacare’s protections for people with preexisting conditions. And enough reporters know Obamacare well enough to know that you can’t keep those protections without keeping quite a bit of the law. That’s why people thought Romney’s position had changed.
But to folks who’ve been following Romney’s game of three-card monte on this issue, it was clear he was just being strategically vague in describing his position: Romney has long said he would protect people with continuous coverage from being discriminated against due to preexisting conditions. But this is something that the law mostly does now, and that would leave 89 million Americans out in the cold.
Romney’s play here was obvious enough: By being a little fuzzy about what, exactly, he was proposing, he could sound like he had a way to protect people with preexisting conditions while still saying he wants to repeal Obamacare. He’d get the best of both worlds. But the problem with trying to strategically confuse people is that you actually confuse them, and that’s what happened here. Rather than coming away thinking Romney had a secret plan to protect people with preexisting conditions, they went away thinking Romney had a secret plan to protect Obamacare.
Disco Dave tried half-heartedly to get Romney to provide just one specific loophole that he would close in order to pay for the massive tax cuts he’s proposing. But Romney was determined not to reveal whether he wants to get rid of the mortgage deduction, the charitable contributions deduction or something else. We know he’s not going get rid of all those loopholes that make it possible for him to pay less than 15% of his income in taxes. I’m sure of that.
Fortunately, TV Pundits are beginning to confront Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan with their attempts to con less-informed voters. Here are two examples.
MSNBC’s Chris Jansing asking Romney adviser Tara Wall for specifics on which tax loopholes Romney would close and getting word salad.
JANSING: What are the loopholes you would close? Will you tell the American people how you’re going to to this better place that you say they have?
WALL: Well, again, the campaign has laid out a number of specifics relative to the principles that will guide the policies of a Romney-Ryan ticket. […] Again, the specification include policies that are pro-growth in nature, that reduce the deficit, that reduce the burden on taxpayers and small businesses, small businesses number one have been hit hard by a number of regulations that have stifled growth and job creation. And so number one, those are some of the things you have to start with.
JANSING: Well, with all due respect, a pro-growth policy is not specific.
WALL: The other part of that is energy independence. That’s an approach to energy independence that will create millions of jobs. There is a target of 12 million jobs by the Romney-Ryan target. Relative to those loopholes that you mention, I agree that Congressman Ryan pointed out taht have to be put out in a public debate. But I think, again, we have to look at the overall principles that are going to drive the policies and not ram through policy as we saw with Obamacare.
WTF?! Is that the kind of thing Romney is going to say in the debates?
Here’s Norah O’Donnell of all people confronting Paul Ryan on his vote for the sequester that he’s blaming on President Obama.
Amazing! Too bad Disco Dave can’t do that.
Yesterday Jonathan Chait reported another Romney conspiracy theory: the media is conspiring with pollsters to help Obama win.
These comments from a “top Romney adviser” to National Review…are pure derangement:
PPP has these polls that just put chum in the water for the media. Sometimes I think there’s a conscious effort between the media and Chicago to get Republicans depressed. And I hope our friends realize that all these media analysts out there are Democrats WHO WANT US TO LOSE. And the more Washington DC controls our economy, the more important inside-the-beltway publications are and the more money they make. The 202 area code is dominated by people who will make more money if Obama is reelected, so it’s not just an ideological thumb they’re putting on the scale for him, it’s a business interest.
If this is the Romney campaign’s genuine theory of the race — that political reporters are deliberately trying to mislead America into believing Obama is winning in order to fatten their profits — the Romney campaign is in a lot of trouble.
Again, WTF?! That “death stench” is getting stronger.
Think Progress caught something else odd in Romney’s interview on MTP. I noticed it when I listened to the interview but I thought it was just more Romney strangeness. Romney told Disco Dave, “I’m as conservative as the Constitution.”
Now what the hell does that mean? TP says it’s a dog whistle to “Tenthers.” From Wikipedia:
The Tenther movement is a political ideology and a social movement in the United States that espouses that many actions of the United States government are unconstitutional. Adherents invoke the concept that the states share sovereignty with the federal government and with the people by citing the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution as the basis for their legal and ideological beliefs:
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people”
Adherents believe that political authority enumerated in the United States Constitution as belonging to the Federal Government must be read very narrowly to exclude much of what the national government already does. They argue for the recognition of limited sovereignty of the States. Opponents use the term in order to draw parallels between adherents and 19th century states’ rights secessionists, as well as the movement to resist Federal Civil Rights legislation.
This is the Ayn Randish version of the “Constitution” that Paul Ryan believes in.
Last September, GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan spoke at the Hillsdale College’s Kirby Center, a Washington, D.C. arm of the conservative institution that was founded under the leadership of Supreme Court spouse Virginia Thomas. The speech was delivered in commemoration of Constitution Day, and it provides a fairly substantial window into how he understands America’s most important document. Unfortunately, the speech also raises very real doubts about whether Mr. Ryan can distinguish the founders’ vision from his own. Ryan’s speech does not simply defend his laissez faire vision for the country, it suggests that this austere vision is mandated by the Constitution itself:
We can strengthen our defense of liberty if we remember to keep in mind those who are struggling to make ends meet. What makes our Constitution such an extraordinary document is that, in making the United States the freest civilization in history, the Founders guaranteed that it would become the most prosperous as well. The American system of limited government, low taxes, sound money, and the rule of law has done more to help the poor than any other economic system ever designed.
That is scary. Make sure you click on the link and read the whole thing. Good thing that “death stench” is surrounding Ryan too.
I guess this has been kind of a strange post, but I’m in a strange mood today. I hope it makes at least some sense. I realize I didn’t mention that today is the anniversary of 9/11, but JJ will have something about it later on.
So… what are you reading and blogging about today?
Evening Reads: The Barlow* EditionPosted: August 2, 2012 Filed under: 2012 presidential campaign, Black Agenda Report, Civil Liberties, corporate greed, GLBT Rights, Hillary Clinton, Human Rights, poverty, Women's Rights | Tags: american exceptionalism, Boehner of our existence, Chick-fil-A, Harry Reid, Michael Moore, the Constitution 19 Comments
Hey all, I’m filling in for Mink while she continues to rest up and recover from a nasty migraine. There’s no way I can compete with the excellent work she does on a daily basis, but I’ll try to do her Evening News space at least a fraction of the justice it deserves. Feel better soon, JJ! Sending you lots of healing energy!
So, I’d like to start with some reading on the Chick-fil-A idiocracy we live in, which IMHO, is the most definitive piece you’ll read about this mindboggling madness (though “The Chick Fellatio” gets an honorable mention.) Via Huffpo Gay Voices…
Chick-fil-A: 5 Reasons It Isn’t What You Think, by David Badash, founder and editor of The New Civil Rights Movement. I especially appreciated the last reason on the list:
5) Chick-fil-A is just exercising their First Amendment rights by running a business based on the Bible, right? Wrong. There’s a line between the “free exercise of religion” and violating the law. If Chick-fil-A is violating the law by discriminating against gay people, or by firing women so that they can be “stay home” moms, as one woman who is suing Chick-fil-A says in court documents, that’s not exercising religious expression or free speech, and that’s not a First Amendment issue. It may be, if the court decides, a violation of the law.
Thank you, David Badash!
Before I continue, I’d just like to note that we live in an era where a gun-toting embryonic chicken sandwich has more authority on interpreting the Bill of Rights and the Constitution than the average, living, breathing human being. Sad.
On the upside, Chick-fil-A manager goes against flock, sponsors gay pride festival! REFUDIATE DAT, HATERS!
Unfortunately, internal politics is a-roostin’…
“As all this news was swirling around yesterday about the Chick-Fil-A sponsorship for PrideFest, we started hearing that some people from within our own community are coming together to stand against us,” said Ryan Manseau, senior director for NH Pride Fest.
On Wednesday Manseau got a call about a major sponsor for Pride Fest being pressured by another local group to drop out because of the Chick-Fil-A sponsorship.
Let’s hope they get their feathers straightened out!
And, that is all I will link to on that. Otherwise, my puns will go further south than they already have… oops, I guess they just did 😉
Moving along. Michael Moore says… he wouldn’t say he supports Obama. And, the cow jumped over the moon.
Oh, but no worries! He and Susan Sarandon still hope O gets four more years. Well, ok. I guess that’s clarity of some sort…that means absolutely nothing.
Incidentally, because I know y’all are just dying to know. Here’s where Mona the Wonk stands:
- I’m Switzerland on Obama 2012.
- I don’t want to see Romney get four to eight years at any point on the space-time continuum.
- Hillary 2016.
Speaking of which… While I was in the airport en route from Houston to Chicago last week, I picked up a copy of the lastest issue of Foreign Policy on the stands. I hope to do a separate post on the Hillary feature soon. A good way for me to start exercising those blogger muscles again… 😉
In the meantime, I’d like to direct you to another feature in this edition of FP–Anthropology of an Idea, “American Exceptionalism: A Short History,” by Uri Freedman. Teaser:
On the campaign trail, Mitt Romney contrasts his vision of American greatness with what he claims is Barack Obama’s proclivity for apologizing for it. The “president doesn’t have the same feelings about American exceptionalism that we do,” Romney has charged. All countries have their own brand of chest-thumping nationalism, but almost none is as patently universal — even messianic — as this belief in America’s special character and role in the world. While the mission may be centuries old, the phrase only recently entered the political lexicon, after it was first uttered by none other than Joseph Stalin. Today the term is experiencing a resurgence in an age of anxiety about American decline.
An enlightening little timeline follows at the link. Fascinating tidbits like:
A group of American historians — including Daniel Boorstin, Louis Hartz, Richard Hofstadter, and David Potter — argues that the United States forged a “consensus” of liberal values over time that enabled it to sidestep movements such as fascism and socialism. But they question whether this unique national character can be reproduced elsewhere. As Boorstin writes, “nothing could be more un-American than to urge other countries to imitate America.”
Touche. Click over and give it a look.
A couple DC headlines for y’all before I close this…
Taylor Marsh on Reid’s tax charges against Romney:
Majority Leader Reid isn’t backing down. The problem is that he’s turning into the story.
Meanwhile Boehner has stopped crying or some other such development:
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Thursday he is “feeling better” about Republicans’ chances of holding the House than he did in April, when he said the party faced a “one in three” likelihood of losing the majority.
“Our team’s in pretty good shape,” Boehner said as he briefed reporters in the Capitol for the final time before Congress departs for a five-week recess. “Our members have worked hard. Frankly, our candidates and challengers out there — a lot of them have been through tough primaries. And I feel good about where we are as a team. We’ve got a lot of work to do between now and November, but our team is doing well.”
Boehner’s comments in the spring warning about the possibility of losing the House were seen as an intended wake-up call to Republicans in advance of the election season. Most political analysts now believe the chances that Democrats will win back the House in November are slim. They need a net gain of 25 seats, but most projections show them gaining only in the single digits.
In other news…Americans and all citizens of Planet Earth? Still screwed.
The always essential Glen Ford at the Black Agenda Report sums it up well:
The Poverties of a Decaying System
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
“This crisis of capitalism will be full of drama.”
A preview of new Census figures indicates that poverty in the United States will likely soon reach the highest levels in 50 years. Now, some of you optimists out there are saying: Well, there’s nowhere to go but up. Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily true. What I think is so depressing to many people about this particular historical juncture, is that there is absolutely nothing on the economic horizon on which even optimists can pin their hopes. There are no new industries on the verge of some huge explosion, no scientific breakthrough just around the corner. With education costs soaring, people can’t even hope to study themselves out of hard times.
It’s not a good time to be a child, because there is nothing sadder than growing up around adults who have themselves lost hope that our world will become a better place. It’s not a good time to be middle-aged, knowing that the Golden Age was 40 years ago, when the proportion of Americans in poverty was the lowest ever: only 11.1 percent. It’s expected to hit 15.7 percent under a president elected as an agent of Hope and Change.
But actually, there’s really nothing wrong with the world that a social revolution can’t fix. The fact that the two corporate political parties have no ideas worth listening to, simply means that the Democrats and Republicans can no longer even pretend that they can serve the 1% and take care of the rest of us at the same time. There’s no need to despair – just direct your political energies, elsewhere.
Well, now that I’ve brightened up your evening… 😉 … it’s your turn! Have at it in the comments, Sky Dancers.
*barlow: a girl, a flapper, a chicken.
Thursday ReadsPosted: January 19, 2012 Filed under: First Amendment, morning reads, Republican presidential politics, SOPA, the internet, The Media SUCKS, U.S. Politics | Tags: Barack Obama, Cayman Islands, Chris Dodd, Chris Hedges, civil liberties, Dream Act, immigration, indefinite detention, Mitt Romney, NDAA, Newt Gingrich, PIPA, Republican Debate, SOPA, South Carolina primary, tax shelters, the Constitution, the filthy rich, undocumented workers, War on Women 39 Comments
There’s another Republican Debate in South Carolina tonight. Can you believe it? This one is hosted by CNN. How much more of this torture can American stand? These debates just keep on coming! We’ll live blog this one later on, perhaps with some interesting variations on the theme.
Speaking of horrible things that never end, can you believe Obama is considering appointing Larry Summers to head the World Bank? Here I thought we were finally free of Summers, but the guy just won’t go away. He keeps coming back, no matter how ghastly of job he does. From Bloomberg:
President Barack Obama is considering nominating Lawrence Summers, his former National Economic Council director, to lead the World Bank when Robert Zoellick’s term expires later this year, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Summers has expressed interest in the job to White House officials and has backers inside the administration, including Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and current NEC Director Gene Sperling, said one of the people. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is also being considered, along with other candidates, said the other person. Both spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal White House deliberations….
A nomination of Summers would bring scrutiny of his previous stints in government, both as former President Bill Clinton’s Treasury secretary and Obama’s NEC director, as well as his tenure as president of Harvard University.
“Larry is controversial,” said Erskine Bowles, who served as Clinton’s chief of staff. “Anything you appoint Larry to, you know there are going to be some people who are going to take shots at him. But you know he’s a brilliant economist, which I think everybody recognizes.”
Oh really? If he’s so brilliant, then why is teaching college freshman? Why doesn’t he publish in academic journals? Why did he get fired by Harvard and the Obama administration? Enough with the retreads, Mr. President.
I’m sure you’ve heard by now that Mitt Romney has admitted he pays somewhere close to 15% of his income in Federal taxes. NPR’s Here and Now had an interesting discussion yesterday about how he and other richie-rich folks get away with this. I recommend listening to the show if you have time. Here’s a bit from the write-up:
“Carried interest is the way that hedge fund managers and private equity firm managers get paid when they do a deal,” Howard Gleckman of the Tax Policy Institute told Here & Now‘s Robin Young.
Gleckman says private equity firms bring in outside investors. To get in on the deals, investors pay the firms in two ways– an initial fee, and a 20 percent cut of future profits.
When the owners of private equity firms pay taxes on that compensation from the investors, they pay as if it were capital gains– so that means they are paying a top rate of no more than 15 percent.
“Ordinarily if they were paid like the rest of us in wages and salaries, they’d be paying a top rate of up to 35 percent,” he said.
Gleckman said the carried interest tax arrangement is completely legal and not uncommon.
Bob McIntyre of Citizens for Tax Justice said that this kind of income comes from work and should be taxed as such. And Gleckman agreed, saying that capital gains taxes are lower because the goal is to encourage people to risk their own money. Romney isn’t doing that.
Here’s another explanation at Bloomberg:
Romney, one of the richest men to seek the presidency, probably benefits from a controversial tax break that allows him to pay a lower overall rate than do millions of American wage-earners whose votes he’ll need to capture the White House.
That’s because private equity executives, as Romney was for 15 years when he ran Boston-based Bain Capital LLC, receive much of their compensation as “carried interest.” That enables them to treat what would be ordinary income for other service providers, taxed at rates as high as 35 percent, as capital gains taxed at 15 percent….
Yet those investments were largely made by Romney’s former partners with other investors’ money, not his personal funds. The vast majority of the resulting gains represent compensation for Bain’s work acquiring, sprucing up and selling individual companies, critics say.
“This is labor income for them, not a return on capital invested,” said Victor Fleischer, an associate law professor at the University of Colorado whose 2007 paper on the topic helped spark a move in Congress to try to change the law. “It’s a method of converting one’s labor into capital gains in a way that’s unusual outside the investment management industry. Ordinary people wouldn’t be able to do this.”
If Romney just paid his taxes like the rest of us, he’d probably be doing a much greater service to the country than if he becomes president. BTW, the articles says that Obama has paid 31% of his income in taxes for the last three years.
But that’s not all. Romney keeps millions of dollars of his vast wealth in the Cayman Islands, a well-know tax shelter.
Official documents reviewed by ABC News show that Bain Capital, the private equity partnership Romney once ran, has set up some 138 secretive offshore funds in the Caymans.
Romney campaign officials and those at Bain Capital tell ABC News that the purpose of setting up those accounts in the Cayman Islands is to help attract money from foreign investors, and that the accounts provide no tax advantage to American investors like Romney. Romney, the campaign said, has paid all U.S. taxes on income derived from those investments.
“The tax consequences to the Romneys are the very same whether the fund is domiciled here or another country,” a campaign official said in response to questions. “Gov. and Mrs. Romney have money invested in funds that the trustee has determined to be attractive investment opportunities, and those funds are domiciled wherever the fund sponsors happen to organize the funds.”
Bain officials called the decision to locate some funds offshore routine, and a benefit only to foreign investors who do not want to be subjected to U.S. taxes.
Whatever. The guy is filthy rich, pays very little of his income in taxes, and has no clue how most Americans live. His attitude is that capitalism is sacred and if millions of “little people” are hurt by the machinations of people like him, that’s just the way the cookie crumbles. And we shouldn’t have any safety nets for when things go wrong either. This man should never be POTUS.
A few more Romney items …
While he was at Bain Mitt used large donations of stock to the Mormon church to avoid paying taxes.
The New York Daily News got ahold of John McCain’s oppo research on Romney from 2008. “Talk about awkward,” the first line reads.
And here’s another awkward moment for the Mittster: Mitt Romney Allegedly Pulls Back Handshake Upon Learning That DREAM Act Advocate Is Undocumented.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney suddenly pulled back his hand after hearing that a young college student who greeted him at a New York fundraiser Tuesday night was undocumented, according to DREAM Act activists.
“He extended his hand to shake mine,” the young woman told The Huffington Post. “But once I said I was undocumented, he pulled his hand away from me.”
The 19-year-old college student, who asked to be identified only as Lucy because of her undocumented status, said she was also booed by Romney supporters as she was escorted out of a New York City fundraiser. One of the supporters told her to “go back to Mexico,” and she responded that she was “actually from Peru,” according to her account of the event.
Oops! There goes the Latino vote….
But we can’t forget that Romney still has at least one viable competitor for South Carolina’s delegates–food stamp obsessive and child labor advocate Newt Gingrich. Guess what Newt’s been up to? He’s using a fund-raising letter to threaten to punch out Barack Obama
Newt Gingrich’s campaign sent out a fundraising request to supporters this afternoon touting that the former speaker said he wants to knock Obama out, because, as the subject line of the email suggests, “A Bloody Nose Just Won’t Cut It.” The comment comes from a recent town hall where a questioner asked Gingrich how he would “bloody Obama’s nose.” “I don’t want to bloody his nose, I want to knock him out!” Gingrich responded. “This is exactly why Newt Gingrich is the candidate who must face Obama,” campaign spokesman RC Hammond says in the email, above a bright red “Donate” button.
You just can’t make this stuff up!
Conor Friedersdorf has an excellent response to Andrew Sullivan’s silly Newsweek article defending Obama’s accomplishments as President. I think Friedersdorf is a liberatarian, but his assessment on Obama is still on point. Check it out. I’ll just reproduce his list of Obama’s “accomplishments” here:
(1) Codify indefinite detention into law; (2) draw up a secret kill list of people, including American citizens, to assassinate without due process; (3) proceed with warrantless spying on American citizens; (4) prosecute Bush-era whistleblowers for violating state secrets; (5) reinterpret the War Powers Resolution such that entering a war of choice without a Congressional declaration is permissible; (6) enter and prosecute such a war; (7) institutionalize naked scanners and intrusive full body pat-downs in major American airports; (8) oversee a planned expansion of TSA so that its agents are already beginning to patrol American highways, train stations, and bus depots; (9) wage an undeclared drone war on numerous Muslim countries that delegates to the CIA the final call about some strikes that put civilians in jeopardy; (10) invoke the state-secrets privilege to dismiss lawsuits brought by civil-liberties organizations on dubious technicalities rather than litigating them on the merits; (11) preside over federal raids on medical marijuana dispensaries; (12) attempt to negotiate an extension of American troops in Iraq beyond 2011 (an effort that thankfully failed); (14) reauthorize the Patriot Act; (13) and select an economic team mostly made up of former and future financial executives from Wall Street firms that played major roles in the financial crisis.
Unfortunately, he didn’t include Obama’s many contributions to the war on women.
Speaking of Obama’s war on the Constitution, Chris Hedges is going to court to sue Obama over the indefinite detention portion of the NDAA.
Attorneys Carl J. Mayer and Bruce I. Afran filed a complaint Friday in the Southern U.S. District Court in New York City on my behalf as a plaintiff against Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to challenge the legality of the Authorization for Use of Military Force as embedded in the latest version of the National Defense Authorization Act, signed by the president Dec. 31.
The act authorizes the military in Title X, Subtitle D, entitled “Counter-Terrorism,” for the first time in more than 200 years, to carry out domestic policing. With this bill, which will take effect March 3, the military can indefinitely detain without trial any U.S. citizen deemed to be a terrorist or an accessory to terrorism. And suspects can be shipped by the military to our offshore penal colony in Guantanamo Bay and kept there until “the end of hostilities.” It is a catastrophic blow to civil liberties.
I spent many years in countries where the military had the power to arrest and detain citizens without charge. I have been in some of these jails. I have friends and colleagues who have “disappeared” into military gulags. I know the consequences of granting sweeping and unrestricted policing power to the armed forces of any nation. And while my battle may be quixotic, it is one that has to be fought if we are to have any hope of pulling this country back from corporate fascism.
Thanks to Hedges for putting his money where his mouth is.
I’ll end with this piece from Reuters: Sunk! How Hollywood Lost the PR Battle Over SOPA.
In the space of a couple of days, Hollywood and its content creators lost the public relations war over Internet piracy SOPA legislation — which now appears poised to crumble into a million bits of dust.
The messaging industry never had control of the message.
The tech guys found a simple, shareable idea — the Stop Online Piracy Act is Censorship — made it viral, and made it stick.
Hollywood had Chris Dodd and a press release. Silicon Valley had Facebook.
It shouldacoulda been a fair fight. But it wasn’t.
It seems that Hollywood still does not realize that it is in the information age. Knowledge moves in real time, and events move accordingly. The medium is the message in a fight like this.
I disagree that the fight is over, but it’s nice to see the battle for free speech and privacy getting some corporate media ink.
So … what are you reading and blogging about today?
The First Amendment is Well and Truly Dead.Posted: September 25, 2011 Filed under: Human Rights, jobs, Labor unions, Patriot Act, The Bonus Class, The Media SUCKS, U.S. Economy, U.S. Politics, unemployment, Violence against women | Tags: fascism, first amendment, Income Inequality, jobs, media blackouts, occupy Wall Street, Peaceful protests, police brutality, the Constitution, the left, Twitter censorship, unemployment 46 Comments
First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
From the New York Daily News: Wall Street protesters cuffed, pepper-sprayed during ‘inequality’ march
Hundreds of people carrying banners and chanting “shame, shame” walked between Zuccotti Park, near Wall St., and Union Square calling for changes to a financial system they say unjustly benefits the rich and harms the poor.
Somewhere between 80 and 100 protesters were arrested, and according the Occupy Wall Street website, some of them were held in a police van for more than an hour, including a man with a severe concussion. Back to the Daily News article:
Witnesses said they saw three stunned women collapse on the ground screaming after they were sprayed in the face.
A video posted on YouTube and NYDailyNews.com shows uniformed officers had corralled the women using orange nets when two supervisors made a beeline for the women, and at least one suddenly sprayed the women before turning and quickly walking away.
Footage of other police altercations also circulated online, but it was unclear what caused the dramatic mood shift in an otherwise peaceful demonstration.
“I saw a girl get slammed on the ground. I turned around and started screaming,” said Chelsea Elliott, 25, from Greenpoint, Brooklyn, who said she was sprayed. “I turned around and a cop was coming … we were on the sidewalk and we weren’t doing anything illegal.”
It’s over folks. We live in a police state. The right of the people to “peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” is no longer recognized by the powers that be. In the age of the Patriot Act, peaceful protest is no longer permitted. The government requires that groups have a permit before they can gather on the sidewalks of New York. Oh, and BTW, a number of people were arrested yesterday because they filmed incidents of police brutality.
Via Yves at Naked Capitalism, Amped Status reports that Twitter is now following the example of the corporate media in ignoring or blocking information about peaceful protests in the U.S.
On at least two occasions, Saturday September 17th and again on Thursday night, Twitter blocked #OccupyWallStreet from being featured as a top trending topic on their homepage. On both occasions, #OccupyWallStreet tweets were coming in more frequently than other top trending topics that they were featuring on their homepage.
This is blatant political censorship on the part of a company that has recently received a $400 million investment from JP Morgan Chase.
We demand a statement from Twitter on this act of politically motivated censorship.
It’s all very exciting when Egyptians or Libyans protest their governments, but when it happens here, well, the media pretends its not happening. So much for the First Amendment.
In an op-ed at The New York Times yesterday, Michael Kazin asks: Whatever Happened to the American Left?
America’s economic miseries continue, with unemployment still high and home sales stagnant or dropping. The gap between the wealthiest Americans and their fellow citizens is wider than it has been since the 1920s.
And yet, except for the demonstrations and energetic recall campaigns that roiled Wisconsin this year, unionists and other stern critics of corporate power and government cutbacks have failed to organize a serious movement against the people and policies that bungled the United States into recession.
Instead, the Tea Party rebellion — led by veteran conservative activists and bankrolled by billionaires — has compelled politicians from both parties to slash federal spending and defeat proposals to tax the rich and hold financiers accountable for their misdeeds. Partly as a consequence, Barack Obama’s tenure is starting to look less like the second coming of F.D.R. and more like a re-run of Jimmy Carter — although last week the president did sound a bit Rooseveltian when he proposed that millionaires should “pay their fair share in taxes, or we’re going to have to ask seniors to pay more for Medicare.”
I’m sure Kazin is a good guy–after all he is a co-editor of Dissent Magazine and wrote a book on the changes the American Left has accomplished. His op-ed is a fine historical article, but still, he does mention Wisconsin. It might have been nice if he had noticed that some young people are attempting to organize a peaceful protest on Wall Street and are being victimized by brutal NYC police for their efforts. Perhaps Kazin didn’t know about the NYC protests because of the media blackout.
At the Guardian UK, David Graeber had some kind words for the Wall Street protesters.
Why are people occupying Wall Street? Why has the occupation – despite the latest police crackdown – sent out sparks across America, within days, inspiring hundreds of people to send pizzas, money, equipment and, now, to start their own movements called OccupyChicago, OccupyFlorida, in OccupyDenver or OccupyLA?
There are obvious reasons. We are watching the beginnings of the defiant self-assertion of a new generation of Americans, a generation who are looking forward to finishing their education with no jobs, no future, but still saddled with enormous and unforgivable debt. Most, I found, were of working-class or otherwise modest backgrounds, kids who did exactly what they were told they should: studied, got into college, and are now not just being punished for it, but humiliated – faced with a life of being treated as deadbeats, moral reprobates.
Is it really surprising they would like to have a word with the financial magnates who stole their future?
I salute the young men and women from Occupy Wall Street who are fighting back as best they can against corporate-fascist law enforcement and the corporate-controlled media. I really hope it’s not too late for these young people to make a difference.
Twisting Personal Tragedy to Advance Unrelated and Evil Public EndsPosted: September 12, 2011 Filed under: Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, U.S. Economy, U.S. Military, U.S. Politics, Yemen | Tags: 9/11 Commission, Barack Obama, black sites, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, first responders, George W. Bush, individual rights and freedoms, Jersey Girls, Kristen Breitweiser, memories, rendition, September 11th, the Constitution, Torture 15 Comments
Yesterday, Minkoff Minx wrote a beautiful and eloquent post that described her personal experience of the tragic events of September 11, 2001. I was so grateful to read what she wrote, because she simply described her own experience and emotions about what happened. She didn’t try to speak for her husband or any of the the other survivors–just herself. She also shared some wonderful resources for getting in touch with how we felt on that day ten years ago, when our country was attacked by foreign terrorists.
On September 11, 2001, nearly 3,000 people lost their lives to terrorist attacks as they were either beginning their days at work at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon or traveling on airplanes scheduled to fly from Boston to Los Angeles, Washington D.C. to Los Angeles, and Newark to San Francisco. For the families and friends of those who died, life would never again be the same. Thousands of others, like Minx’s husband, survived, but their lives and those of their families were also forever altered.
Thousands more were either directly impacted by the trauma of witnessing the attacks close up from their homes in New York or Washington, DC. Thousands of first responders were also directly affected by the attacks and their aftermath, including people who traveled to NYC, DC, and PA to help search for survivors or to support first responders.
Those of us who helplessly watched the events as they played out on television were affected too, although few of us probably suffered from post-traumatic stress as a result. But we empathized with those who were directly impacted, and we felt the terrible shock of having our country attacked. I can remember how shocked I was that day. I was on vacation at a Rhode Island beach with my family. It was a gorgeous day and I was out sightseeing with my parents and my sister when we heard the news. My sister had spoken to someone in a museum store and heard that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. We headed back to the beach house as we listened to reports on the radio. My brother and his wife were watching TV at the beach house when we got back.
For the next couple of days we quietly read newspapers or watched TV. My sister’s husband drove out from Indiana to get her because the planes weren’t flying and she was very frightened. I had to go back to Boston to start teaching classes a couple of days later, and I recall that I felt nervous and jumpy while driving alone. Like many others, I was fearful of more attacks. At the time, everything was so confusing, I didn’t know what to expect. I also felt shame that two of the planes used in the attacks flew out of Logan Airport in Boston.
Most of us probably have clear memories of where we were and what we were doing that day and following days. We’re told told Americans pulled together after September 11, 2001, although I don’t really recall feeling that myself. But I have no doubt that millions of people empathized with those who were directly affected. As I mentioned above, many people took action by traveling to the places that were attacked to help in any way they could. Nothing that has happened since can change the basic caring and good will of the American people.
Yet for the past week, I’ve felt anger every time I saw the upcoming anniversary of September 11 being hyped on TV–the endless replaying of the videos of the planes hitting the towers; the preachy fake patriotism of the talking heads; the sudden reappearance of disgraced politicians George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld; the constant talk of “security” and the repetition of the words “the homeland,” which is so reminiscent of the Nazi term “the fatherland.” How could I not be angry after all that our government has done in the past ten years to supposedly avenge the lives lost on 9/11?
First there was the attack on Afghanistan, supposedly to catch Osama bin Laden. But when there was a chance to capture or kill bin Laden, Bush decided not to. Next came the barrage of lies from the Bush administration and from media sources like The New York Times and Washington Post, in order to get us into a second war in Iraq. Those wars have killed far more than 3,000 young American soldiers and perhaps hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghanis–and for what? No effort was made to confront Saudi Arabia–where most of the perpetrators and the financial support for the attacks came from. Over the past ten years we have seen the progressive erosion of our Constitutional rights in the name of “security” and “safety.” We have learned that our government captured and imprisoned people–often completely innocent people–without evidence or charges at Guantanamo, at Abu Ghraib, at Bagram, and untold other prisons around the world. We know that many of these people were tortured and killed. Americans voted for Barack Obama in hopes that he would end the pointless wars and stop the rendition and torture. Instead, he has continued the wars and continued to rendition people to foreign prisons where they will be tortured. He has ordered drone attacks in Pakistan and Yemen. He has continued the erosion of our Constitution rights and defended the Bush administration at every opportunity. These are the reasons I felt angry at the jingoistic celebrations of the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001.
And what has become of the survivors of the 9/11 attacks? Every effort was made to keep any compensation they received to a minimum. And what of the first responders who were exposed to the toxic environment at Ground Zero in NYC? They have been denied the help they need along with the recognition of what they suffered. The Bush administration resisted any investigation of why the attacks were not prevented, and when they finally allowed a 9/11 commission–largely because of the efforts of four 9/11 widows (The Jersey Girls), they kept the Commission from from going “too far” in holding anyone in the administration accountable.
It was healing for me to read Minkoff Minx’s post, because she spoke of her personal pain and losses and how she was living with the aftereffects. I was able to recall my pure memories of that day, and how I worried about the reactions of my students, how I tried to get discussions going in my classes so we could share our reactions. For a short time as I read yesterday morning’s post, I was able to recall the pure feeling of loss from that day ten years ago before the tragedy was twisted to start wars that would decimate our economy and pass laws that would erode our individual rights and freedoms.
Yesterday morning, Paul Krugman wrote a brief but heartfelt blog post expressing some of the feelings I’ve tried to express with my post today. I’m going to take the liberty of reproducing Krugman’s statement here:
September 11, 2011, 8:41 am
The Years of Shame
Is it just me, or are the 9/11 commemorations oddly subdued?
Actually, I don’t think it’s me, and it’s not really that odd.
What happened after 9/11 — and I think even people on the right know this, whether they admit it or not — was deeply shameful. The atrocity should have been a unifying event, but instead it became a wedge issue. Fake heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror. And then the attack was used to justify an unrelated war the neocons wanted to fight, for all the wrong reasons.
A lot of other people behaved badly. How many of our professional pundits — people who should have understood very well what was happening — took the easy way out, turning a blind eye to the corruption and lending their support to the hijacking of the atrocity?
The memory of 9/11 has been irrevocably poisoned; it has become an occasion for shame. And in its heart, the nation knows it.
For this brief blog post expressing his personal sadness over the way government, politicians, and media have twisted private tragedy to accomplish their own unrelated and corrupt ends, Paul Krugman has been attacked by right wingers and Islamophobics all over the internet. He has been called every name in the book for simply speaking his own truth. He has also gotten some support from liberal blogs, and other bloggers have discussed their own misgivings about the changes in our country after 9/11. I want to share a few of those reactions.
Nicole Belle at Crooks & Liars: While Thinking People Grapple With 9/11 Legacy, RWNJs Shoot The Messenger
Cliff Schecter at Al Jazeera English: 9/11 and Its Great Transformations
Kristin Breitweiser: No Place To Go But Up: Howard Schultz’ Upward Spiral 2011
Blue Texan at FDL: Krugman is Right: We Should Be Ashamed of What Happened After 9/11
Dave Weigel at Slate: Get Krugman!
I guess what I’m trying to say in this post is that ten years after September 11 2001, I still have faith in the basic goodness and caring of the American people, but I am even more suspicious of and cynical about the U.S. Government and the U.S. Media than ever before. I do think we need to be eternally vigilant, not about physical danger from foreign terrorists but from the constant psychological manipulations emanating from those who claim to be protecting and informing us.