In the Belly of the Beast: 6/22/11: Carbon Emissions Record, Food to Double in Price

INDEX (full text of stories follow Democracy Now headlines)

“Fascism is the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary sector of monopoly capital”

“If a Tree Falls”: New Documentary on Daniel McGowan, Earth Liberation Front and Green Scare

Former CIA Agent Glenn Carle Draws Agency Censorship With Chronicle of “War on Terror” Interrogation

Former CIA Agent Glenn Carle Reveals Bush Admin Effort to Smear War Critic Juan Cole

GOP blogger arrested at Netroots Nation for allegedly harassing two female bloggers for wearing Muslim head scarves, women fight back.

Rand Paul on Patriot Act Extension puts Obama to Shame

from Informed Comment by Juan





Headlines for June 22, 2011


Thoughts on Netroots Nation 2011

This was my first Netroots Nation (the annual progressive blog conference, 2,400 people attended this year), so I was full of empty places to store first impressions. It was a fascinating conference, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is inclined to join us next year.

Panels — Excellent. As professionally handled as any trade show panels I’ve attended. Obviously some were better than others, but on the whole, extremely well moderated, with a nice handle on the waste-my-time potential of run-on speakers and audience members. Didn’t happen nearly as much as you’d think for a convention of lively minds. Most panelists were very well prepared.

I attended, among others, some writing panels, some blogger panels, a great Afghanistan panel (Darcy Burner, Steve Clemons, two Representatives and a retired general), bunches of strategy panels, and some “countering right-wing tactics” panels. All very good.

Training — This was unexpected, the training sessions. I attended only a few (in my weaker moments, I consider myself already trained). But the ones I did attend were surprisingly informative. I’d single out Joel Silberman’s session, on media presence and projecting no further than the camera or mike, for top marks.

His session really was training, not faux-lecture, and everyone came away more skilled. The in-class exercises (and there were many) produced obvious and universal results. An example: The camera, being a very close eye, magnifies stillness or fidgeting, so stillness is king. Joel had the room do a grounding exercise (literally, getting connected to the ground) while standing, and after a minute, all fidgeting in the room stopped. Wow. Welcome to professionalism, and thanks a ton, Joel.

Meet-ups & greet-ups — This is an obvious comment, but still true; you meet people you only know online, and then meet a ton more. Progressives are a warm and welcoming group. That aspect of the conference is under-appreciated until you experience it. From big-names to trench-diggers (most of whom are heroes), there’s no end of inclusion. Feels great.

Obama — Many have written about the “theme” of the conference for them, for example, here or here or here(h/t Amanda Marcotte). For me, the theme was “What about Obama?” There’s a poll showing that 80% of NN11 attendees still support him. (It’s a smaller number, however, perhaps significantly smaller, who would work for him again, but the open support was there.)

Still, the dissatisfaction with Obama was palpable. There were plenty of party loyalists and a few headliners whose sheepskins weren’t perceived as disguises (for example, Debbie Wasserman Schultz) who came to sell. And some of the loyalists got sand kicked on their trousers from time to time (watch the vid and read Jane’s closing comments).

But most of the convention was in the middle — lots of good people from mainstream leftie orgs who will no doubt vote Dem, but who are hearing from the other 20% how Bush-like the Fierce Defender has turned out to be.

My take — The progressive movement is clearly moving away from Obama and the Beltway crowd. The hard-line Dem types are fighting a rear-guard action. And it’s the avant-garde, not the dead-enders, who are turning away.

What the avant-garde is turning to is up for grabs. A ship doesn’t turn on a dime, yet you can see and predict the motion in broad terms, and this ship is turning for sure, wherever it eventually docks. You heard it everywhere. There’s a crowd effect among many of the attendees, but the early adopters of separatism, those who’ve mentally broken away, are not going back to the Party except for specific candidates, and their numbers are growing, not shrinking. You can count that as good or bad, but it’s true.

Grayson & Feingold — I had a chance to meet both, and both are good progressives.

Grayson said frequently “we as progressives,” a strong self-identification, and I believe him. His actions, in the main, have shown it. Still, he’s a much stronger party loyalist than I realized before talking with him, and — in my opinion only — this is his Achilles heel. It was breaking news, for example, when he admitted in a small impromptu session that he’d now support a progressive primary challenger. For me, that’s a progressive given. He’s clearly off the fantasy candidate team for 2012, and may never be more than a far-left Party man.

I do hope I’m wrong, and he could prove me so. I wish he would. He’s further along now than two years ago. But again (in my opinion only), he has a way to go. I love his fire; I’d like him to take better aim.

Feingold, in contrast, seems to have broken loose. Before the conference, I caught this piece from TPM, in which he accuses Dems and Repubs of “corruption” (defined correctly as letting campaign cash cast your vote). In the piece, he’s quoted as calling out Steny Hoyer and Claire McCaskill (her). Not the party-loyalist thing to do. And his keynote address rung the same bell.

There’s going to be a primary challenge to Governor Scott (“Reporting for duty, Mr. Koch“) Walker of Wisconsin. The fight is in the states, and Feingold would make a great candidate — and a great progressive candidate — if he decides to take his career that way. He has his eyes on straight, knows what he’s looking at when he sees Beltway Dems, and seems to be less confused by the party-vs-principles thing. Here’s hoping.

The RightOnline conference — As you’ve read by now, there’s a shadow right-wing conference every year. This year it was in the main conference hotel (our conference itself was at the Convention Center, a short walk away). There are many reports of encounters.

I’ll just add two observations. Angry lefties who freelance their rage and cleverness for Breitbartean cameras — shouldn’t. Leave that to the pros, like Seder or Silberman. The untutored encounters look obnoxious, and the bad guys use the tape to play the false equivalency card. Here’s a tip: When you see clowns, smile.

And second, the right-wing film crews and celebs were covered in cops, the faux secret-service, curly eartail types. Linebackers looking to take you down, a serious authoritarian stink around them. And most likely true-believers themselves, Movement media hiring Movement muscle. In contrast, our “security” looked like mall cops, checking ticket stubs and reminding you when you dropped your popcorn. Quite the eye-opener.

(By the way, the way the logo worked, RightOnline could be read as Right-Online or RightOn-line. Right on, bro; very nice, in that manipulative adman sense.)


So that’s my trip report. Please post in the comments if you attended and want to tell your stories. I’d love to read them.

Support the coalition organizing University of Alabama at Birmingham

from PA Editors Blog by Political Affairs

From Organize UAB:

The 16,000 employees and 18,000 students at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and University Medical Centers are joining with Labor, Academic, Student and Community organizations to demand that their voices be heard and that they have a say in the decisions that effect their lives and livelihoods.
Medical, Maintenance, Housekeeping, Grounds and all hourly employees, are joining the United Steelworkers (USW). Professors, Teaching Assistants, and all academic employees are joining the Alabama Education Association (AEA) and the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). Students are joining the Student Labor Action Project (SLAP) and Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).

Join the effort at Organize UAB

Fox edits out Jon Stewart’s criticism of Fox exec

from AMERICAblog: A great nation deserves the truth by John Aravosis (DC)

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Surprise. From Media Matters:

Yesterday, Jon Stewart appeared on Fox News Sunday to discuss his sharp criticism of Fox News. But one uncomfortable reference to marching-order emails from a Fox News executive was cut from the program.

Speaking with host Chris Wallace, Stewart referenced emails from Fox News vice president and DC managing editor Bill Sammon to bolster his case that Fox News resembles “ideological regimes” who receive “marching orders.” Stewart told Wallace that Fox News “reminds me of, you know — you know, ideological regimes. They can’t understand that there is free media other places. Because they receive marching orders.” Stewart then said “and if you want me to go through Bill Sammon’s emails” but was cut off by Wallace.

Stewart was referencing a series of leaked emails that Media Matters released showing Sammon slanting his bureau’s reporting. In one email, Sammon ordered his news staff to cast doubt on established climate science. In another, Sammon directed staff not to use the phrase “public option,” but instead the GOP-friendly “government option” and similar phrases. Sammon also sent emails highlighting “Obama’s references to socialism, liberalism, Marxism and Marxists” in his 1995 autobiography and slanting Fox’s coverage of President Obama’s 2009 Cairo speech.

But viewers watching Fox News Sunday on-air wouldn’t have heard Stewart’s reference to Sammon because it didn’t appear on air. Stewart’s reference instead appears in the “unedited” interview that Fox News posted online.

Even After Years of Media Slams: Adults Often Wreck Youth Sports

from The Nation Blogs: Media Fix by Greg Mitchell

Hardly a week goes by — if you pay attention, as I still do — without an incident of threats, violence, or other unsavory activity at a youth baseball or soccer game, usually involving not kids but adults.   I was surfing TV last night and a cable talk show was up in arms over a mother on Long Island threatening a Little League manager and others when her son did not make the team’s travel squad (that’s her pictured below).  Often it’s a coach attacking an umpire, or a rival coach,  with words, fists or even a bat.   Or setting a horrid example by cheating again and again.

Even at a higher level of ball the adults in authority sometimes ruin it for children.  This past Sunday, my son and I went to the local minor league baseball park, which had just opened for the team’s first season, for a game on Father’s Day.  Yesterday the game ended with the opposing team’s manager nearly getting into a brawl [1] with the umps — in an area where kids gather for autographs after the game.  The manager?  As a Mets fan, my all-time favorite player — former Red Sox great Billy Buckner, who blew a ground ball, and the 1986 World Series,  by giving my team a second chance to win.

It’s disheartening that so little has changed since my days as a Little League manager (still the only local coach, ahem, to pilot a team here to the Final Four in New York State) and the many pieces in the media critical of adults who wreck youth sports.    A few years ago I wrote a book partly about this, titled Joy In Mudville, [2] an otherwise comic look at coaching my son one season.  Here’s a rather timeless  excerpt that relates to parents’ misbehavior.


The American Psychiatric Association recently sponsored a symposium entitled “Youth Sports: Character Building or Child Abuse?” Youth baseball takes place in a cultural milieu where fistfights between adults can break out on a ball field filled with children. It’s the kind of world where an umpire kicks a twelve-year-old catcher out of a playoff game for not wearing a “cup.” The catcher was a girl. Coaches, parents, and league officials argued about it for a week. Then the lawyers got involved. Only in America.

Although our season had ended early, the playoffs rolled on, climaxing in a typical Little League altercation.

The Giants and Rockies would meet in a three-game series to decide the champion. The Giants, coached by a burly Valley Cottage fellow, were heavily favored over the Rockies, managed by a Nyack photographer. It was another hot day at Memorial Park. Starting in the first inning, from near the Giants’ bench, the father of one of their players started heckling the veteran umpire on every close call. The ump called time and warned the father to cut it out, but the tall, muscular man said, essentially, “You and what army?” The Giants’ manager claimed he couldn’t control this guy.

So the ump threw the father out of the game (that is, out of the spectators’ section). Easier said than done, without the aforementioned army. Finally, under threat of forfeit, the heckler promised to not say another word to the umpire — and spent the remainder of the game taunting opposing players, reducing some of them to tears. After all that, the Giants ground out a 10-5 win. When the Rockies’ manager said he’d play the next day only if the league sent a board member to ump the game, one of the Giants’ parents called him a “wimp.”

The issue of adult violence in youth sports becomes scarier every year. Parents assault coaches with far more than words, and “Kill the ump!” no longer is an idle threat. In Riverdale, Georgia, a coach shot a father in the arm after the dad complained that his son was not pitching enough. A T-ball coach in Wagoner, Oklahoma, was sentenced to twelve days in jail for choking a fifteen-year-old umpire during a game. T-ball, incidentally, is a game played by five- and six-year-olds.

The majority of managers control their emotions — and a lifetime of sports frustrations — fairly well, but some believe in winning at all costs, leading to what is known as Little League Rage. In a recent article on this subject, The New York Times reported, “Adult misbehavior is becoming a familiar blight on children’s games in all sports….Fathers yell at coaches. Mothers belittle players. And umpires are attacked. Game officials have long taken verbal abuse, of course. But now they are shoved and spat on, even stabbed and shot.”

The national umpires’ association plans to offer members a new benefit: assault insurance. Still, it’s getting harder to find umps to absorb threats and abuse for $15 to $25 a game. Youth leagues in Houston, Texas, now require background checks on all coaches. Some leagues have stopped keeping score to dampen competitive flame-outs. A league in Jupiter, Florida, recently became the first to require all parents to take a one-hour “ethics” course.

“Parents and coaches have lost perspective on what sports is about,” an official with the umpires’ association observes. Consider the following incident: A youth baseball manager in Boca Raton, Florida, was recently charged with disorderly conduct for “mooning” players and fans from the pitcher’s mound after his team lost a tournament game. Witnesses said he stood on the mound, yelled at the opposing team, pulled down his pants, and exposed his back side. Then he turned around and did it again. He later told police he was simply bending down to pick up some caps and gloves. “I know my pants are constantly falling down,” he explained. “My wife calls it plumber’s butt.” Good line, but it sounds like his upstairs pipes are leaking.

A couple of years ago, ABC News documented the climax of a typical Little League season in Hagerstown, Maryland, for a two-hour Peter Jennings special. Jennings wanted to find out “what makes Little League so exciting and occasionally terrifying.” He certainly got his wish. The league’s all-stars — one of them a very talented girl — advanced far along the road to a state title. Their manager admitted, however, that he was a “sexist” and didn’t believe girls should be on the team or allowed to play Little League at all. “Girls should be cheerleaders,” he affirmed. Another manager got thrown out of a game for arguing with umpires, then verbally attacked a league official, leading to a one-year suspension.

The ABC microphones overheard a parent tell his boy, after he struck out in a big game: “When you get home I’m going to get you tonight, because you let me down…I’ll get you, buddy.” Confronted with this evidence, the father told Jennings that sometimes his son gets lazy and he has to hit him. His wife, sitting next to him, looked forlorn, and told Jennings that she didn’t agree with this philosophy. A viewer had to worry about what happened to her when she got home.

One player in the league, a talented catcher, gained a reputation as a troublemaker, harassing opposing players, umpires, and even his own coaches. “He’s bad,” his father told Jennings, “but not all bad.” When the kid got passed over for the all-stars, Dad ambushed the manager, knocked him down and kicked him, then told ABC he was “glad” he did it.

And this all happened at the end of one season in one league.

Looking ahead to another season, I worried about violence, even in our relatively sane league, for I’d heard stories about local coaches and fathers going Duke City out in the parking lot after a game.

Perhaps that’s why I always taught our Little League teams to have fun and not worry about hitting home runs. Most coaches say they don’t care about winning, and all of us lie, but I rarely pushed the competitive buttons. This led to a mixed record over the years.  Winning is nice — for one thing, it helps get parents off your back — but I’d gladly settle for breaking even every year.

Still, I enjoyed being back on a ball field and helping a few kids, while making sure that my son had fun and avoided playing for an evil manager. These are typical reasons dads coach Little League. Even the lunatics don’t want their kid playing for another lunatic.

Like this blog post? Read it on The Nation’s free iPhone App, NationNow. [3]

Will Italy be the next eurozone country to drop?

Nobody really thought Italy was part of the stronger economies in Europe but not many have predicted Italy would fail before Spain. The Financial Times is now saying just that. This would make the Greek/Ireland/Portugal problems look small. Financial Times:

Some analysts feel that Spain is the last bastion for the euro’s survival. We do not. We believe that the final battle will be fought on the picturesque shores of Italy, resulting in Rome’s emergence as either hero or villain with respect to the survival of the euro.

Most European politicians dearly want the “run” on several of its “club” members to end and its rescues to restore confidence.

This is, unfortunately, a dream that is likely to be shattered as the next domino – Spain – suffers the scrutiny of intense solvency analysis.

Harrisburg mayor tries to pray city out of financial ruin

If this is the best public officials can do in the modern industrialized world, there’s a serious problem. We used to be a country that valued math and science but with this collapse into prayer, there’s little hope of a city or state or country to succeed if prayer is the best that can be offered. These are not the Dark Ages so extremists like this need to quit acting like it is. For any businesses still left in that city, they better move quickly because it’s only going to get worse.

If all the brightest minds in Harrisburg’s government can’t solve the city’s financial problems, maybe God can.

That seems to be the thinking in Pennsylvania’s capital city, where Mayor Linda Thompson and a host of other religious leaders are about to embark on a three-day fast and prayer campaign to cure the city’s daunting money woes.

“Fascism is the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary sector of monopoly capital”

“If a Tree Falls”: New Documentary on Daniel McGowan, Earth Liberation Front and Green Scare

from Democracy Now! | Healthcare Reform by (Democracy Now!)

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Tree_buttonA new documentary, “If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front,” tells the story of environmental activist Daniel McGowan. Four years ago this month, McGowan was sentenced to a seven-year term for his role in two acts of politically motivated arson in 2001 to protest extensive logging in the Pacific Northwest—starting fires at a lumber company and an experimental tree farm in Oregon. The judge ruled he had committed an act of terrorism, even though no one was hurt in any of the actions. McGowan participated in the arsons as a member of the Earth Liberation Front but left the group after the second fire led him to become disillusioned. He was arrested years later after a key member of the Earth Liberation Front—himself facing the threat of lengthy jail time—turned government informant. McGowan ultimately reached a plea deal but refused to cooperate with the government’s case. As a result, the government sought a “terrorism enhancement” to add extra time to his sentence. McGowan is currently jailed in a secretive prison unit known as Communication Management Units, or CMUs, in Marion, Illinois. We play an excerpt from the film and speak with the film’s director, Marshall Curry. We also speak with Andrew Stepanian, an animal rights activist who was imprisoned at the same CMU as McGowan, and with Will Potter, a freelance reporter who writes about how the so-called “war on terror” affects civil liberties. [includes rush transcript]

Former CIA Agent Glenn Carle Draws Agency Censorship With Chronicle of “War on Terror” Interrogation

Interrogator_buttonWe speak with Glenn Carle, who served 23 years in the Clandestine Services of the Central Intelligence Agency. Carle’s book, “The Interrogator,” has just been published and tells the story of one of the most secret and sensitive CIA interrogations during the “war on terror.” Carle says he took part in the interrogation of a “high-value” al-Qaeda target kidnapped off the streets at an undisclosed site in the Middle East. The book chronicles this interrogation and Carle says that CIA censors initially tried to redact nearly half of the book’s first draft, which was still published with significant blacked-out omissions.

Former CIA Agent Glenn Carle Reveals Bush Admin Effort to Smear War Critic Juan Cole

from Democracy Now! | Healthcare Reform by (Democracy Now!)

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Cole_carle_buttonFormer top CIA counterterrorism officer Glenn Carle has revealed the Bush administration sought damaging personal information on Juan Cole, an academic and prominent critic of the Iraq war, in an attempt to discredit him. Carle says the Bush White House made at least two requests for intelligence about Cole, whose blog “Informed Comment” rose to prominence after the Iraq invasion. Carle refused to carry out the request. In a joint interview, Carle and Cole join us to discuss the explosive revelation and why Cole is now calling for a congressional investigation. “I think I was targeted because this was a propogandistic administration … full of people who thought they could pull the wool over the American people’s eyes,” says Cole. “The Bush administration was starkly at odds with the intelligence community as a whole, the CIA in particular, and the nation intelligence council even more so,” Carle says. “I do know the context of tension and hostility between the Bush administration and the intelligence community, and, more broadly, any critic of their policies.”

GOP blogger arrested at Netroots Nation for allegedly harassing two female bloggers for wearing Muslim head scarves, women fight back.

from AMERICAblog: A great nation deserves the truth by John Aravosis (DC)

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This is a really outrageous story.  But it has a happy ending.  Not only did the jerk get arrested, but a group of women fought back in quite a unique manner.  And there’s video.  And the arrest record is online – I’m printing it here since a number of conservatives, including PJTV, seem to be suggesting the guy never did this, nor was arrested.  Here you go.

Police report showing arrest of conservative blogger

Last week, during the Netroots Nation conference in Minneapolis, local GOP blogger John Hugh Gilmore, who blogs at Minnesota Conservatives, according to multiple witnesses (dozens of people were on the street watching and helping the women), walked by two Muslim women who were attending the Netroots Nation conference, and were walking down the sidewalk after dinner.  According to the witnesses, including one of the women he approached, Gilmore saw the women were wearing hijabs, or headscarves, traditional to more conservative Muslim women.  He stopped and asked them what they thought of a well-known woman who opposes the headscarf.  The women said they didn’t agree with her, Gilmore then approached the women and continued to push the conversation, even after the women asked him to leave them alone.

The witnesses say he then started taking pictures of the women, they asked him to stop, he continued taking the photos, and first one, then both women began to cry.  At some point, he reportedly told them to go back to their country – both women were American – and he either tried to call, or pretended to call, conservative activists Andrew Breitbart (this part was caught on tape). A crowd started to grow around Gilmore as several dozen Netroots Nations attendees realized the women were in trouble.

Unfortunately, not all the bystanders were American.  Included in those who came out to defend the women were two female Middle Eastern bloggers invited to visit our country as guests of the US State Department.  State has a media outreach program that, ironically, brings foreigners to the US to show them that, among other things, we’re not really as anti-Muslim as people think.  The women were Muslim, from Pakistan and Oman, and they got to watch what witnesses describe as an American man berating two women for practicing their Muslim faith. Fortunately they also got to witness dozens of other Americans defending, and protecting, the two women from the man.

The police were eventually called, and the man was arrested for disorderly conduct, among other things.  From Minnesota Public Radio:

A St. Paul blogger faces misdemeanor charges after he allegedly harassed two Muslim women last week in downtown Minneapolis.

Minneapolis police say John Hugh Gilmore, 52, who writes a blog called Minnesota Conservatives, caused a scene Thursday night on Nicollet Mall. Sgt. Bill Palmer, a police spokesman, said Gilmore appeared to be drunk when he confronted the two women wearing the Muslim headscarf known as the hijab.

“Mr. Gilmore made some comments that he didn’t believe the women should be in the United States, and that he thought that they were ruining America,” Palmer said.

In response to the provocation by the conservative blogger, a group of women attending the Netroots Nation conference, both Muslim and non-Muslim, decided to hold a “hijab flash mob” at the GOP blog conference being held at the Minneapolis Hilton (the conservative bloggers routinely hold their conference every year in our hotel). With less than an hour’s notice, the women descended on the hotel, donned hijab scarves, and marched their way up to the conservative blog conference.

That’s when things got interesting.

A guard wouldn’t let the women in to the conference.  They asked me what to do – I was there covering their flash mob – and I told them that we had security at our conference as well, so they should abide by the security’s wishes.  A few reporters were present, and asking questions, so one of the women began to explain why they were there.

Suddenly, a man from “PJ TV” stuck a microphone in front of the lead woman and started to question her. He got increasingly upset, and basically charged her, and me, with lying about the incident with the GOP blogger the other night, simply beacuse the woman couldn’t recall the name of the GOP blogger who had been arrested. You can watch the beginning of the woman’s statement, and the GOP “reporter” getting more and more upset with the woman, and with me.

I then turned off my video so I could explain, on behalf of the women, what happened the other night to the two Muslim women. Understandably, the women running the flash mob were unaccustomed to conservatives aggressively shouting at them. I however, am.

JoeMyGod got the rest of the video of me answering the jerk’s questions.  Watch the video.  Not the nicest people.  And of course, as the MN public radio story, and the police report I linked to above proves, we were right – he was a conservative blogger, as I had already explained, and he was arrested for harassing the women.  So much for PJ TV’s brand of “if you yell it enough times, it must be true” journalism.

Here’s JoeMyGod’s video of the PJ TV guy questioning the lead woman, and then me:

UPDATE: The PJTV guy, who really was a jerk, appeared on a broadcast about the anti-bigotry flashmob, with a clip showing how much of a jerk he was, and  they end with a “related” story about how people are using social media to recruit homegrown terrorists.  Get it?  Muslim-American women are using the blogs to protest a conservative blogger’s bigoted attack on Muslim women, so a “related” story is how “social media is being used to recruit homegrown Islamic terrorists.”  Tells you all you need to know.  (As an aside, what IS she wearing?)

And here’s the testimony of one of the witnesses who was present when the man harassed the women.


It’s funny, I’m not a big fan of hijabs.  I worry that, at least in some countries, they’re part of the cultural oppression of women (especially when I see women covered in black, head to toe, in 110 degree heat, and guys wearing blue jeans and fun t-shirts.  But I’m also not a big fan of men harassing women on public streets simply because they’re wearing a scarf on their head, or thinking they couldn’t be American simply because they’re Muslim.

It’s an odd way to fight the oppression of women by bullying them.

Here’s some final video of John Hugh Gilmore after he allegedly harassed the women, and right before he was arrested.  Video by Jeremy Ryan of, published with his permission.


As a final point, I will say that, to their credit, a few of the conservative bloggers who were watching the flashmob, and with whom I was speaking, were very concerned when they heard what had happened earlier to the two women on the street.  They asked me to send more information, to confirm that he was a conservative blogger, but they were legitimately not happy that someone would harass women like this.

PS As an aside, here’s a still shot of the PJ TV “reporter” who was all tough-guy with the women conducting the flashmob.  Note the very manly unlit cigar in his hand, and the even manlier manscaped eyebrows.  The true definition of tough guy…. in the Castro…. circa 1970.

Rand Paul on Patriot Act Extension puts Obama to Shame

from Informed Comment by Juan

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Sen. Rand Paul is among the few in Congress to oppose the 4-year extension of the misnamed PATRIOT Act, which violates the 4th Amendment against baseless and warrantless search of personal effects.


1.5 Million Female Wal-Mart Employees Lose Historic Sex Discrimination Case Before Supreme Court

from Democracy Now! | Healthcare Reform by (Democracy Now!)

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Walmart_buttonThe U.S. Supreme Court has unanimously dismissed the largest class action lawsuit in history filed by 1.5 million current and former female employees of Wal-Mart, who say they were allegedly paid less and promoted less often than their male counterparts. The Court found women who worked at Wal-Mart did not have enough in common to constitute a “class” in a class action lawsuit. It did not address whether Wal-Mart had discriminated against women, but in writing for the minority in part of the court’s ruling, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote that the “plaintiffs’ evidence, including class members’ tales of their own experiences, suggests that gender bias suffused Wal-Mart’s company culture.” We speak with former Wal-Mart employee Stephanie Odle, one of the original plaintiffs in the case. We also discuss the “limits of a courtroom remedy” in this case, and Wal-Mart’s anti-union efforts with Liza Featherstone, author of “Selling Women Short: The Landmark Battle for Worker’s Rights at Wal-Mart.” [includes rush transcript]

Teaching Economics, Big-Bank Style

from Dollars & Sense Blog by Susan Feiner

The New York Times, citing results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (publicized as “The Nation’s Report Card”), reports that “42 percent of high school seniors were deemed proficient in the 2006 economics test, a larger proportion than in any other subject over the last decade.” In this era of economic crisis, it would be easy to read this as good news. But doing so would be a big mistake.

Our schools have been snookered into delivering a K-12 economics curriculum designed and paid for by big the banks. JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, HSBC, and Wells Fargo fund the Council for Economic Education (CEE). CEE, the leader in K-12 economics education, advances an economics agenda indistinguishable from that of Fox News.

Banker compensation is now at stratospheric levels. According to Reuters, Wall Street financiers received $20.8 billion in bonuses last year on top of pay packets so ginormous they’re almost impossible to fathom. Check this out:

Compensation (pay, benefits, bonuses)

Bank of America          $35.1 billion

Wells Fargo                  $26.1 billion

JPMorgan Chase          $25.4 billion

Citigroup                      $22.6 billion

Goldman Sachs            $17.5 billion

Morgan Stanley            $16.0 billion

Total                            $142.7 billion

This money is too good to let anything get in the way. Think of it like this: the aggregate compensation of Wall Street’s big boys dwarfs the gross state product of 20 of the 50 states. Their booty is the equivalent of 5 Vermonts, or 3 Maines, or 2 New Mexicos, or all of Kansas.  Wrap your mind around that: the total output of Kansas, population 2.9 million, equals executive pay at 6 banks! The mind boggles.

So how startling is it to discover that they dump buckets of money lobbying Congress? Last year the American Bankers Association shelled out just over $3 million, Citigroup spent $5.8 million, JPMorgan spent $7.4 million, Wells Fargo spent $5.4 million, Bank of America spent $3.8 million, and Goldman Sachs doled out $4.6 million. When E.F. Hutton (Citigroup) talks, Congress listens.

One need not be a conspiracy theorist to see a pro-bank agenda wrapped up in a bank-funded economics curriculum.

The financial services industry lobbies for less regulation and less oversight, justified of course by appeal to the neoliberal mantra, “markets always and everywhere work best when left alone.” From kindergarten through twelfth grade, students are carefully tutored in the free market creed.

The Market Song

(Tune: “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean”)

“Markets are where we buy and sell things.
Markets are where we exchange.
We exchange as we buy and we sell things.
Producers, consumers exchange.”
“Markets! Oh, Markets!
Oh, Markets are where we exchange, exchange.
Markets! Oh, Markets!
Producers, consumers exchange.”

I am not making this up. Just check out the “Economic Songbook” on the web site of The Indiana Council on Economic Education, one of CEE’s affiliates.

How insidious are a few not-too-catchy tunes? By themselves, they’d be as laughable as they are dreadful. But these silly songs prep students for ingesting the free market ideology they’re force fed in high school economics.

Here are a few gems.

Banks and other financial institutions channel funds from savers to borrowers and investors.

Right. Either tell me another fairy tale or sell me a bridge. (They are for sale now—your friendly too-big-to-fail banker will be happy to broker a deal.)

Government-enforced price ceilings [set below the equilibrium price] and government-enforced price floors [set above the equilibrium price] distort price signals and incentives to producers and consumers. The price ceilings cause persistent shortages, whereas the price floors cause persistent surpluses.

Government-enforcement. “Gasp.” Distorted price signals. “Hurry, get my smelling salts.” Persistent shortages. “OMG. Help!” Persistent surpluses. “That’s right you fool workers, you won’t find jobs until you accept lower wages.”

The pursuit of self-interest in competitive markets generally leads to choices and behavior that also promote the national level of economic well-being.

Thank you CEE for letting us know how much we owe the Captains of Finance. Hats off to Mssrs. Blankfein, Cassano, Mozilla, Fuld, Rubin, Paulson … .

People’s incomes, in part, reflect choices they have made about education, training, skill development, and careers. People with few marketable skills are more likely to be poor.

And this explains pay gaps between males and females, blacks and non-blacks, even among those with the same educational credentials and job experience?

While these elements of the National Standards for Economics Education are banal, the curriculum’s insistence that change is impossible is even more insidious.

Pro-bank ideology aligns perfectly with the K-12 economics curriculum nowhere more clearly than in the view that pretty much any attempt by policy makers to spur economic activity—by using government spending to increase employment—is basically fruitless.

In the short run, increasing federal spending and/or reducing taxes can promote more employment and output, but these policies also put upward pressure on the price level and interest rates.

In the long run, the interest rate effects of fiscal policies lead to changes in private investment spending by businesses and individuals that partially, if not entirely, offset the output and employment effects of fiscal policy. (emphasis added)

Decoding econo-speak: a capitalist market system left to itself will naturally produce full employment and price stability. “Yippee!”

If you took this stuff at face value, you’d have to conclude that the raison d’être of economics is demonstrating the irrelevance of policy. Let’s hear it for laissez faire, invisible hands, and rational men.

Seriously folks, there’s not a shred of evidence to support the view that government intervention crowds out private sector activity. Yet this claim is repeated ad infinitum in all the economics textbooks at every level of instruction. Why? Because this is the stuff of neoliberal economics. It’s the status quo’s best defense. There’s no room for dissent.

“Hold on,” you say. “The CEE is an outlier; the whole of economics education is not such a blatent ad campaign for capitalism.” Nope. With few exceptions—thank you Dollars & Sense—economics education is little more than free-market boosterism.

The dismal state of economics education is not inevitable, but it will persist so long as the economics profession keeps its collective head up its individualist arse.

Susan Feiner is Professor of Economics and Professor of Women and Gender Studies at the University of Southern Maine. Her research on economics education has appeared in the American Economics Review, theJournal of Economic EducationGender & Society, and the Review of Black Political Economy. The National Science Foundation and the Ford Foundation provided generous support.

SEC confirms Congress above insider trading laws

It’s good to be da king! No wonder they’re all millionaires and are more concerned about tax cuts for the richest Americans rather than helping the middle class. Why should Congress benefit from secret information? Changing the law has to happen to level the playing field.

The SEC generally does not view trading on the basis of advance knowledge of Congressional action to be insider trading. Both House and Senate ethics manuals say that members of Congress are not supposed to make any personal profit from confidential knowledge, although no member of Congress has ever been publicly sanctioned for such trading.

Critics of the loose rules say they can’t prove that members of Congress or their staffs are actually trading and profiting from their positions, but they still believe that’s the only explanation for the returns members of Congress generate over time.

“It just boggles the imagination to think that members of Congress are so much smarter than we are and other traders that they just for some reason enjoy a much higher rate of return on their stock investments than the rest of us,” said Holman. “I just don’t believe that.”



NPR: Climate change: Public skeptical, scientists sure

from AMERICAblog: A great nation deserves the truth by John Aravosis (DC)


The American public is less likely to believe in global warming than it was just five years ago. Yet, paradoxically, scientists are more confident than ever that climate change is real and caused largely by human activities.

Something a bit strange is happening with public opinion and climate change.

We are a supremely gullible people and the Republicans are extremely good at lying.

Carbon Emissions Record, Food to Double in Price

from Informed Comment by Juan

It is hard to decide which is the worst news in the International Energy Agency’s new study.

The central piece of bad news is that as the world recovers from the 2008-2009 crash, it is spewing record amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. In 2010 human beings sent 30.6 gigatons of carbon into the air, 5% more than in 2008, beating that previous record.

A lot of the sources of emission are fixed coal and other hydrocarbon plants that will likely go on operating through 2020, suggesting that there will be annual increases in emissions into the next decade.

In turn, this steady production of atmospheric poison, which causes the atmosphere to retain the heat of sunlight and interferes with it being radiated back out into outer space, is likely to increase the average global surface temperature by more than 2 degrees. Climate scientists had hoped that international protocols and government efforts would hold the increase to that amount. An average increase of 3 degrees would suggest that in some times and places it would be hellish, with a deleterious impact on crops and human health.

Oxfam has just issued a warning that food staples will likely double in price by 2030, in part because of climate change. A billion people in the world go hungry already, and spend 80% of their income on food. If the world envisaged by Oxfam materializes, obviously there is the potential of widespread starvation.

The Big Oil and Big Coal executives attempting to stop efforts to reduce emissions are thus in effect mass murderers of a future generation.

America’s corporate police state has decided that ecological activism is a danger that it needs to spend millions combating. (In fact, genuine ‘eco-terrorism,’ as opposed to FBI entrapment of aging hippies, is rare.)

Given what is being done to the planet, the FBI should instead be having agents sit outside Big Oil and Big Coal corporate offices tracing how the money goes out from them to buy our political representatives (that is illegal, guys) and have them work against green energy and engage in climate change denial.

Aljazeera English reports:


Japan: Communists launch petition drive to shut down nuke plants

from PA Editors Blog by Political Affairs

JCP holds signature drive to shut down all nuclear power plants
June 12, 2011

The Japanese Communist Party carried out signature drives throughout Japan calling for a withdrawal from nuclear power generation on June 11 on the three month anniversary of the March 11 earthquake.

In front of Shibuya Station in Tokyo, about 50 JCP members, led by Policy Commission Chair Koike Akira and Lower House representative Kasai Akira, took part in the action. They collected nearly 300 signatures in just one hour.

Koike said to passers-by, “Earthquakes and tsunami are natural disasters, but a nuclear accident is a human-generated crisis due to government energy policy.” He stressed that a change in energy policy to one promoting renewable energy sources will make it possible to bring an end to nuclear power generation.

Kasai stated that the signature campaign calls on the government to withdraw from nuclear energy and set up a timetable to shut down all nuclear power stations. He asked people to sign the petition if they want all nuclear power plants in the nation to be shut down.

A similar signature petition drive was carried out in Osaka, taken part in by JCP House of Representatives member Miyamoto Takeshi.

This entry was posted in Background & Analysis, Civil Liberties, Climate Change, Corruption, Events, Nuclear Power, Obama, US Electoral Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

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