from Ted Rall’s Rallblog by Ted Rall
from Dollars & Sense Blog by Chris Sturr
A Call from Mike-Frank Epitropoulos: Mike Epitropoulos, author of Greece as a Demonstration Project(Dollars & Sense, May/June 2010) called me from Athens a couple of days ago. He’ll be writing another article for us soon about the situation over there.
In the meantime, check out this piece he wrote for his Znet page, The Stakes Are High. He’s responding in part to a great piece by Mark Weisbrot in the Guardian, Greece: Bond Slave to Europe, in which Weisbrot wonders how the American people would have responded if “the United States government had decided to reduce its federal budget deficit by more than $800bn–cutting spending and raising taxes to meet this goal. Imagine that, as a result of these measures, the economy had worsened and unemployment soared to more than 16%; and then the president pledged another $400bn in spending cuts and tax increases this year.”
Mike is teaching a study abroad course for students from the University of Pittsburgh, where he teaches political science, and has had a chance to see exactly how a group of American college students react to the austerity measures being imposed on the Greeks by their own government and by European politicians and bankers. (I love the idea of students who might have thought they were spending the summer enjoying Greek beaches and tourist sites actually getting something better: an historic lesson in political economy, viewed in real time.) Mike’s informal survey indicates that Weisbrot is right that Americans wouldn’t put up with such draconian austerity measures.
Also check out Weisbrot on how the demise of the euro wouldn’t be a bad thing–inasmuch as the euro has been a right-wing project all along: Why Save the Euro? from the Real News Network.
INDEX (full text of stories follow Democracy Now headlines)
Chicago Hyatt hotel allegedly turns heat lamps on striking workers; Hyatt heiress runs Obama campaign finance committee
- Al-Shabab Says Foreign Aid Ban Continues in Somalia
- Obama, Boehner Near Deficit Agreement
- Pentagon to Announce Readiness on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Repeal
- Greece, E.U. Reach New Bailout Deal
- Gaddafi Rules Out Talks with Rebels
- Syrian Forces Attack City of Homs
- Egypt Approves New Cabinet amid Ongoing Protests
- Ex-News Execs: James Murdoch Misled British Lawmakers on Hacking
- Britain Loses Bid to Dismiss Mau Mau Case
- Hacker Group Releases NATO Data Following Raids
- NASA Wraps Up 30-Year Space Shuttle Program
Bruce Bartlett says what you’re not supposed to say: Obama has governed as a moderate conservative, somewhat to the right of Richard Nixon. The frothing-at-the-mouth comments are an extra bonus.
And it is, of course, true; although Obama defenders would say that he had no option. Still, the point is that if you ask what Mitt Romney would probably be doing if he were in the White House and not trying desperately to convince his party that he shares its madness, it would look a lot like what Obama is doing.
There are, however, two crucial points to understand.
First, Obama gets no credit for his moderation, and never will. No matter how far right he moves, Republicans will move further right; and nothing he can do will keep them from denouncing him as a radical socialist.
I’d like to believe that it’s all 11-dimensional political chess; but at this point — after the midterm debacle, after the big concession on taxes without even getting a raise in the debt limit — what evidence do we have that Obama knows what he’s doing?
It’s very hard to avoid the impression that three things are going on:
1. Obama really just isn’t that into Democratic priorities. He really doesn’t much care about preserving Medicare for all seniors, keeping Social Security intact, and so on.
2. What he is into is his vision of himself as a figure who can transcend the partisan divide. He imagines that he can be the one who brings about a big transformation that settles disputes for decades to come — and has been unwilling to drop that vision no matter how many times the GOP shows itself utterly uninterested in anything except gaining the upper hand.
3. As a result, he can’t or won’t see what’s obvious to everyone else: that any Grand Bargain will last precisely as long as Democrats control the Senate and the White House, and will be torn up in favor of privatization and big tax cuts for the wealthy as soon as the GOP has the chance.
I hope I’m wrong about all this. But when has Obama given progressives any reason to believe they can trust him?
from AMERICAblog: A great nation deserves the truth by Joe Sudbay (DC)
Politico’s David Rogers and Carrie Budoff Brown report on the $3 trillion deal under discussion between Obama and Boehner. And, despite denials, it appears that Obama and Boehner are negotiating and the number is $3 trillion, mostly in spending cuts. Towards the end of the article is this nugget:
At the same time, the White House’s tactics in this situation most infuriate Senate Democrats, who complain that the president’s chief of staff, Bill Daley, is too quick to make concessions to Boehner, even at the party’s expense.
Yes, they are quick to make concessions at the White House. Like everyone, I’ve been trying to figure out what’s really going on. One trusted source told me that one problem is definitely Daley:
Bill Daley is behind the White House’s capitulation. He’s the Democrat’s Neville Chamberlain. It’s dominoes of caving — one cave leads to another. They are so desperate for a deal that they’ll take anything at any price. They won’t fight for anything.
Now, of course, Daley works for Obama. He hired Daley, who used to be on the Board of Third Way, the group always willing to sell out on Democratic principle. And, that’s what Daley is doing on Obama’s behalf.
It sounds like Obama’s Budget Director, Jacob Lew, got the crap kicked out of him at a meeting with Democratic Senators yesterday. They’re furious about the deal-making between Obama and Boehner:
Democrats were outraged about reports that Obama was willing to accept major spending cuts in exchange for reforming the tax code at some point in the future as part of a deal to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling.
Reid and other Democrats warned the administration officials in the meeting that they might not support a deal between Obama and Boehner if kept out of the loop.
“It was a heated session,” said a senior Democratic senator who attended the lunch. “There’s a basic lack of trust with the president.”
There is growing lack of trust between the President and his base. I realize people aren’t surprised anymore that Obama is caving. It’s not actually caving if this is what Obama really believes. Medicare and Social Security are on the table, thanks to Obama. Those items are there because the President wants them there. It’s who he is. And, Daley is a problem, but he’s doing what Obama wants him to do.
Chicago Hyatt hotel allegedly turns heat lamps on striking workers; Hyatt heiress runs Obama campaign finance committee
from AMERICAblog: A great nation deserves the truth by Gaius Publius
Via Matt Stoller, here’s one for the books. Obama’s national campaign finance chair is Penny Pritzker, who is also part of the family that owns the Hyatt hotel chain. One of whose hotels has a strike.
So here’s the chain:
- Obama–>finance chair–>hotel heiress–>unions–>strike
Look at the endpoints. See a problem waiting to happen?
Now for what’s actually happening in Chicago. Union employees at the Park Hyatt Hotel are on strike:
After 22 months of stalled negotiations, more Hyatt workers in downtown Chicago are on strike.
Hotel workers at the Park Hyatt at 800 N. Michigan Ave. kicked off a day-long strike Thursday morning to protest the working conditions of housekeepers. The strike coincides with housekeeper protests at Hyatts in nine other cities in the U.S., said Unite Here Local 1.
A one-day strike. And Hyatt, naturally, is not happy:
The Chicago-based hotel chain is the last hold-out in the city. Hilton’s unionized hotel workers approved a four-year contract in March and two months later, Chicago hotels owned by Starwood reached a settlement with the union, affecting 1,200 workers, bringing along an additional 16 other hotels representing 2,000 workers who piggybacked on the Starwood contracts.
The Hyatt negotiations have been the most contentious, punctuated by protests and religious leaders pledging to boycott the hotel chain.
So what does Hyatt do? They allegedly turn on the heat lamps, a possibly illegal act. Mike Klonsky:
It was already approaching 100° at 8 a.m. when I arrived the Park Hyatt where, after 22 months of stalled negotiations, hotel workers were staging a one-day picket to protest the hotel chain’s intolerable treatment of their housekeeping staff.
In case you didn’t know, Hyatt is owned by the Pritzker family. Heiress, Penny Sue Pritzker chairs Obama’s national campaign finance committee. She is also big player in Democratic Party politics as well as in the world of anti-union, corporate school reform and was recently appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to a seat on the Chicago school board.
Pritzker’s response to the Park Hyatt strikers was to turn on the hotel’s powerful heating lamps to try and bake the workers into submission on this brutally hot day. But this seemingly inhuman and probably illegal response seemed to have had just the opposite effect. Picketers began chanting, “Hyatt can’t take the heat, but we can!” The lamps were left on until word got out and media began to show up.
I appreciate that Klonsky saddles Penny Pritzker, an heiress, with the decision to cook out the union. Hyatt undoubtedly has minions to do that, and though she’s clearly involved in the family businesses, Pritzker may never have been consulted.
Still … the optics of this are just terrible. Remember the chain: Obama–campaign finance chair–hotel heiress–unions–strike. Now add “union busting” and the A-to-B reads:
- Obama–union busting
In addition, look at the bolded part of the middle paragraph above. Penny Pritzker is not your bon-bons–type heiress; she’s an active player, she runs things, and she’s very corp friendly. (This makes fascinating reading; note the “education reform” part. “Reform” means de-unionize and privatize.)
Obama needs people like her to hide their bright little anti-union light under the darkest bushel they can until this election is seriously over.
Why? Because frankly, I agree with Stirling Newberry — if labor unions ever did abandon the Democratic party, that party is over.
from Informed Comment by Juan
That the horrible terrorist attacks in Oslo on Friday that left some 90 persons or more dead– a bombing of the prime minister’s office and shootings at a Labor Party youth camp– were allegedly committed by a blonde, far right wing Norwegian fundamentalist Christian rather than by a radical Muslim group is being treated as a matter of surprise in some quarters. But if those journalists and analysts had been paying attention, they would not be surprised at all.
And in fact, kudos to Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store (a Labor Party member), who refused to speculate about who was behind the attacks before some evidence was gathered: “We’ve seen in Europe in recent years that politicians have been jumping to conclusions about suspects before investigations have been conducted, and we will not commit that error.” Give that man a medal!
Europol reports have long made it clear that the biggest threat of terrorism in Europe comes from separatist movements, then from the fringe left, then from the far right. In 2008, only one terrorist attack out of hundreds in Europe was committed by radical Muslims. In 2010, according to Europol [pdf], 7 persons were killed in terrorist attacks. Some 160 of these attacks that year were carried out by separatists. The number launched by people of Muslim heritage? 3. It would be silly to maintain that Muslim radicals do not pose a threat of terrorism; indeed, many plots were broken up by European police. But as an actually-existing phenomenon, terrorism in Europe is mainly the work of Christian-heritage people. For more on the Norwegian far right, see Firstpost.com.
Bill Maher and other public figures often say that while few Muslims are terrorists, terrorists are disproportionately Muslim. But this way of putting the matter is extremely misleading.
The suspect, Anders Behring Breivik, is anti-multiculturalist and believes that the Qur’an commands Muslims to be extremists. His attack on the Labour Party appears to have derived in part from its insufficient hate of people of other cultures. Breivik’s discourse, about Islam and the Qur’an being *essentially* evil, is part of the Islamophobia promoted by some right wing forces in the west; and his actions show where that kind of thinking can lead. I wrote in 2006:
“The hatemongers are well known. Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Cable News, Rush Limbaugh’s radio program and its many clones, telebimbos like Ann Coulter, Evangelical leaders like Franklin Graham, Congressmen like Tom Tancredo, and a slew of far rightwing Zionists who would vote for Netanyahu (or Kach) if they lived in Israel– Frank Gaffney, Daniel Pipes, Michael Rubin, David Horowitz, etc., etc.”
As anyone who studies the Old South in the US will tell you, turning some people into exemplars of the N-word requires that you punish in various ways the N-lovers.
Foreign Minister Store said it well (h/t CNN), defending liberty of belief and association against the Far Right attacks on them:
‘ “Today, free government was attacked, freedom of association was attacked, the spirit of youth was attacked. But we will kick back and say that these are values that are dear to us, and we intend to defend them and Norway will be recognizable tomorrow as the Norway our friends and partners around the world have known so far.”
The proponents of racial profiling who want to target some Orientalist imagination of the Muslim are extremely dangerous to our security, since they want to let European separatists, far leftists, and neo-Nazis off the hook while targeting Muslims, who commit little terrorism in Europe.
Today’s events remind us that we cannot profile evil and that terrorists come in all sizes, heritages, shapes and skin colors.
from Tikun Olam-תקון עולם: Make the World a Better Place by Richard Silverstein
Anders Behring Beivik, far-right terrorist accused of killing 80
A far-right Norwegian nationalist with ardent anti-Muslim views levelled savage blows at the mainstream political culture of his country with massive attacks on the government building housing the prime minister’s office and a summer camp at which young followers of the ruling Labor Party played. He killed 80 people. There are many questions raised by the savagery of this attack. How could Norwegian security allow such a thing to happen in the heart of Oslo, in a government facility housing the nation’s leader and political heart? How do we apprehend the enormity of the devastation and the fact that it was wrought by a far-right terrorist targeting the country’s liberal political leadership? But for me, another important question which no one, so far is asking is why did most of the world first think the terrorist/s responsible were Muslim, when the actual killer hates Muslims?
In fact, this is what the New York Times wrote in its story which did report the political affiliation of the killer:
Initial reports focused on the possibility of Islamic militants, in particular Ansar al-Jihad al-Alami, or Helpers of the Global Jihad, cited by some analysts as claiming responsibility for the attacks. American officials said the group was previously unknown and might not even exist.
There was ample reason for concern that terrorists might be responsible.
How’s that again? Are the only terrorists in the world Muslim? If so, what do we call a right-wing nationalist capable of planting major bombs and mowing down scores of people for the sake of the greater glory of his cause? If even a liberal newspaper like the Times can’t call this guy a terrorist, what does that say about the mindset of the western world?
It’s absolutely imperative for the world to face the fact that for every Islamist willing to resort to violence there is a right-wing nationalist willing to do the same. We can see that in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Equally important to note that while there may be some on the left who have resorted to violence (in this country in the 1960s for example), the overwhelming share of mayhem comes from the political right. We can see that in Israel, where the extreme settler movement assassinated a prime minister and murdered fellow Israeli Jews. The same holds true here in the U.S., where a white supremacist, Jared Loughner, recently murdered a federal judgeand several others in addition to nearly assassinating Gabrielle Giffords, a Jewish member of Congress.
Norwegian bloggers are reporting that Breivik is the author of a blog called Fjordman and that he’s guest blogged for Atlas Shrugs, Jihad Watch and Gates of Vienna “for years.” As Breivik, he publicly praised one of her posts. Elise Hendrick has translated a passage from Realisten which confirms that Fjordman and Breivik are one and the same:
According to his own statements, Anders Behring Breivik previously operated the blog ‘Fjordman’, and later wrote for many years under the pseudonym Fjordman for the anti-Muslim and Zionist blogs Gates of Vienna and Jihad Watch.
In fact, an intrepid friend of Elise’s has created a web page with the “collected works” of the miraculous Fjordman. Pretty soon there’ll be a Festschrift in his honor. And did you know he’s written a book (of course he has, he’s an articulate mass-murderer), Defeating Eurabia. It’ll only set you back 50 bucks to get a glimpse into the mind of an anti-jihadi terrorist. Here’s a favorable review of Geert Wilders magnum opus, Fitna penned by Fjordman. And don’t ya know that feminism leads to the oppression of women, natch. And Caucasophobia is racism, of course.
I was curious about the views of such an individual would be regarding Israel. And lo and behold, the educated terrorist doesn’t disappoint. Here is his Why Europeans Should Support Israel. With friends like this does Israel need enemies?
There may be people out there more knowledgeable about the minds of assassins, but I’ve rarely heard of articulate mass murderers. The most recent one that comes to mind is the Unabomber who wrote long treatises which were published unwillingly by several major newspapers. Perhaps readers can think of others. But generally, it appears that our man Breivik is a paragon of the pathological literary mindset.
I don’t think we can blame Robert Spencer or Pam Geller specifically for not being able to predict that one of their political allies would be a homicidal killer and terrorist. But still, if you lie down with dogs you’ll wake up with fleas. The brand of hate peddled by Geller and Spencer naturally attracts such a following. H/t Loonwatch.
Breivik’s Twitter account contains a single tweet:
One person with a belief is equal to the force of 100 000 who have only interests.
To which I’ve replied in a tweet of my own:
One person with homicidal right wing beliefs is equal to the force of 100,000 who think only Muslims can be terrorists.
My strong hunch is that there must be a substantial group which participated in this conspiracy. One man doesn’t make and plant two bombs and then travel to an island and kill 70 people alone.
Whether it is Israel, the U.S., or Norway, if we wear blinders which prevent us from seeing that Muslims are NOT the only people capable of mass political violence, then we have left ourselves vulnerable to the ascendancy of a violent far-right political culture. If you examine what happened in 1994, when Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated, the Israeli political liberal-centrist mainstream basically imploded after a series of Palestinian bombings and the onset of the first Intifada. All of which enabled the ascendancy of settler extremists and their Likud fellow travellers who have now taken control of Israel’s political discourse. People now forget that one of the most savage acts of political incitement was a speech delivered by Bibi Netanyahu from a Jerusalem balcony while members of the crowd brayed for blood vengeance against Rabin. The assassination followed shortly thereafter. Bibi, the Likud and the settlers have been the ones who gained the most politically from the murder.
I would never hold that the political left is wholly pure and virtuous, but when it comes to an impulse to violence those on the far-right largely have the market cornered.
from Mondoweiss by Alex Kane
Details on the culprit behind yesterday’s massacre in Norway, which saw car bombings in Oslo and a mass shooting attack on the island of Utoya that caused the deaths of at least 91 people, have begun to emerge. While it is still too early for a complete portrait of the killer, Anders Behring Breivik, there are enough details to begin to piece together what’s behind the attack.
Although initial media reports, spurred on by the tweets of former State Department adviser on violent extremism Will McCants, linked the attacks to Islamist extremists, it was in fact an anti-Muslim zealot who committed the murders. An examination of Breivik’s views, and his support for far-right European political movements, makes it clear that only by interrogating the nexus of Islamophobia and right-wing Zionism can one understand the political beliefs behind the terrorist attack.
Breivik is apparently an avid fan of U.S.-based anti-Muslim activists such as Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer andDaniel Pipes, and has repeatedly professed his ardent support for Israel. Breivik’s political ideology is illuminated by looking at comments he posted to the right-wing site document.no, which author and journalist Doug Sanders put up.
And then we have the relationship between conservative Muslims and so-called “moderate Muslims”.
There is moderate Nazis, too, that does not support fumigation of rooms and Jews. But they’re still Nazis and will only sit and watch as the conservatives Nazis strike (if it ever happens). If we accept the moderate Nazis as long as they distance themselves from the fumigation of rooms and Jews?
Now it unfortunately already cut himself with Marxists who have already inﬁltrated-culture, media and educational organizations. These individuals will be tolerated and will even work asprofessors and lecturers at colleges / universities and are thus able to spread their propaganda.
For me it is very hypocritical to treat Muslims, Nazis and Marxists differ. They are all supporters of hate-ideologies…(page 2-3)
What is globalization and modernity to do with mass Muslim immigration?
And you may not have heard and Japan and South Korea? These are successful and modern regimes even if they rejected multiculturalism in the 70’s. Are Japanese and South Koreans goblins?
Can you name ONE country where multiculturalism is successful where Islam is involved? The only historical example is the society without a welfare state with only non-Muslim minorities (U.S.)…(page 7)
We have selected the Vienna School of Thought as the ideological basis. This implies opposition to multiculturalism and Islamization (on cultural grounds). All ideological arguments based on anti-racism. This has proven to be very successful which explains why the modern cultural conservative movement / parties that use the Vienna School of Thought is so successful: the Progress Party,Geert Wilders, document and many others…(page 13)
I consider the future consolidation of the cultural conservative forces on all seven fronts as the most important in Norway and in all Western European countries. It is essential that we work to ensure that all these 7 fronts using the Vienna school of thought, or at least parts of the grunlag for 20-70 year-struggle that lies in front of us.
The book is called, by the way 2083 and is in English, 1100 pages).
To sums up the Vienna school of thought:
-Cultural Conservatism (anti-multiculturalism)
-Anti-authoritarian (resistance to all authoritarian ideologies of hate)
-Pro-Israel/forsvarer of non-Muslim minorities in Muslim countries
– Defender of the cultural aspects of Christianity
– To reveal the Eurabia project and the Frankfurt School (ny-marxisme/kulturmarxisme/multikulturalisme)
– Is not an economic policy and can collect everything from socialists to capitalists…(page 20)
Daniel Pipes: Leftism and Islam. Muslims, the warriors Marxists Have Been praying for.
The following summarizes the agenda of many kulturmarxister with Islam, it explains also why those on death and life protecting them. It explains so well why we, the cultural conservatives,are against Islamization and the implementation of these agendas… (page 27)
We must therefore make sure to inﬂuence other cultural conservatives to come to our anti-rasistiske/pro-homser/pro-Israel line. When they reach this line, one can take it to the next level…(page 41)
Breivik’s right-wing pro-Israel line, combined with his antipathy to Muslims, is just one example of the European far-right’s ideology, exemplified by groups such as the English Defense League (EDL). The EDL, a group Breivik praises, along with the anti-Muslim politician Geert Wilders, share with Breivik an admiration for Israel.
Anti-Muslim activists and right-wing Zionists share a political narrative that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is a “clash of civilizations,” one in which Judeo-Christian culture is under attack by Islam. Israel, in this narrative, is the West’s bulwark against the threat that Islam is posing to Europe and the United States. The nexus of Islamophobia and right-wing Zionism was clearly on display during last summer’s “Ground Zero mosque” hysteria, which culminated in a rally where Geller and Wilders addressed a crowd that included members of the EDL waving Israeli flags.
This comment by Breivik is one example of the twisted way in which Islamophobia and a militant pro-Israel ideology fit together:
Cultural conservatives disagree when they believe the conﬂict is based on Islamic imperialism,that Islam is a political ideology and not a race.
Cultural conservatives believe Israel has a right to protect themselves against the Jihad.
Kulturmarxistene refuses to recognize the fact that Islam’s political doctrine is relevant and essential. They can never admit to or support this because they believe that this is primarily about a race war – that Israel hates Arabs (breed).
As long as you can not agree on the fundamental perceptions of reality are too naive to expect that one to come to any conclusion.Before one at all can begin to discuss this conﬂict must ﬁrst agree on the fundamental truths of Islam’s political doctrine.
Most people here have great insight in key Muslim concepts that al-taqiiya (political deceit), naskh (Quranic abrogation) and Jihad. The problem is that kulturmarxister refuses to recognizet hese concepts.They can not recognize these key Muslim concepts. For if they do so erodes the primary argument that Israel is a “racist state” and that this is a race war (Israelis vs. Arabs) and not defense against Jihad (Kafr vs. Ummah)
Breivik’s admiration for the likes of Daniel Pipes is also telling, and should serve as a warning that, while it would be extremely unfair and wrong to link Pipes in any way to the massacre in Norway, Breivik’s views are not so far off from some establishment neoconservative voices in the U.S. For instance, both Pipes and Breivik share a concern with Muslim demographics in Europe. In 1990, Pipes wrote in the National Review that “Western European societies are unprepared for the massive immigration of brown-skinned peoples cooking strange foods and maintaining different standards of hygiene…All immigrants bring exotic customs and attitudes, but Muslim customs are more troublesome than most.”
Pipes’ and Breivik’s concern about Muslim and Arab demographics also recall the remarks of Harvard Fellow Martin Kramer, who infamously told the Herzliya Conference in Israel last year that the West should “stop providing pro-natal subsidies for Palestinians with refugee status…Israel’s present sanctions on Gaza have a political aim, undermine the Hamas regime, but they also break Gaza’s runaway population growth and there is some evidence that they have.”
Adding to the Israel/Palestine angle here is the fact that the day before the attack on the island of Utoya, aPalestine solidarity event was held there.
Why Breivik, and his accomplices if he had any, would attack young Norwegians remains unclear. But it probably had something to do with Breivik’s belief that European governments, and the Norwegian government, were run by “Marxists” allied with Islamist extremists who were bent on destroying Europe through “multiculturalism.”
Of course, support for Israel and its current right-wing policies do not automatically translate into support for extremist right-wing violence. But Palestinians, and the larger Arab and Muslim world, know far too well the consequences of Islamophobia and far right-wing Zionism. Now, it seems that Norwegians do too. While much remains to be learned about the attacks in Norway, it has exposed the dangerous nexus of Islamophobia, neoconservatism and right-wing Zionism, and what could happen when the wrong person subscribes to those toxic beliefs.
from Mondoweiss by Philip Weiss
Amazing. Neoconservative Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin blames the Norwegian horror on jihadists, and Jim Fallows nails her. Rubin:
We don’t know if al Qaeda was directly responsible for today’s events, but in all likelihood the attack was launched by part of the jihadist hydra.
She says we need to keep funding the war on terror and drags Gary Schmitt of American Enterprise Institute into it. He says: “But as the attack in Oslo reminds us, there are plenty of al-Qaeda allies still operating. No doubt cutting the head off a snake is important; the problem is, we’re dealing with global nest of snakes.”
Seven Seventeen hours after the Post item went up, six sixteen hours after its claims were shown to be false and hysterical, it’s still there, with no correction or apology.
Steve Clemons also weighs in on Rubin’s “fearmongering.”
Perhaps you should link the extremist violence from right wing fanatics, Christian religious zealots within our countries — within the US, within Norway, and elsewhere — to your pet causes. Would at least be more technically correct.
from AMERICAblog: A great nation deserves the truth by Gaius Publius
Keep in mind there are four discussions — revenue increases or not; safety net cuts or not; massive spending cuts or really massive spending cuts; McConnell’s complex clean bill offer.
This is about the revenue discussion only, and only on the Dem side. If the Tea Party caves to a Dem “best offer” — if they find a point where there’s no more juice in the orange and take what they have — what are the choices on the Dem side? What does that offer look like?
Here’s the Wash Post on the Democratic side of the discussion (my emphasis):
President Obama and House Speaker John A. Boehner rushed Thursday to strike agreement on afar-reaching plan to reduce the national debt but faced a revolt from Democrats furious that the accord appeared to include no immediate provision to raise taxes.
With 12 days left until the Treasury begins to run short of cash, Obama and Boehner (R-Ohio) were still pursuing the most ambitious plan to restrain the national debt in at least 20 years. Talks focused on sharp cuts in agency spending and politically painful changes to cherished health and retirement programs aimed at saving roughly $3 trillion over the next decade.
More savings would be generated through an overhaul of the tax code that would lower personal and corporate income tax rates while eliminating or reducing an array of popular tax breaks, such as the deduction for home mortgage interest. But the talks envisioned no specific tax increases as part of legislation to lift the debt limit, and the tax rewrite would be postponed until next year. … When “we heard these reports of these mega-trillion-dollar cuts with no revenues, it was like Mount Vesuvius. . . . Many of us were volcanic,” said Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.). … After a lunchtime meeting between Lew and Senate Democrats, Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) made no attempt to hide his anger, telling reporters that his caucus would oppose the “potential agreement” because it appeared to include no clear guarantee of increased revenue.
Reid goes on to discuss the president’s need for “balance” — “this can’t be all cuts” he is quoted as saying.
Given that the “balance” Obama offered earlier was heavily tilted toward spending cuts (80%–20% is not my idea of “balance”), and given that this was Obama’s pre-shrunk starting position (with room on the downside to negotiate to) — I wonder if a 95%–5% split would make the angered Reid and the “volcanic” Mikulski feel calmer or more dormant. How about 96%–4%? Or 99%–1%?
Clearly, any revenue increase in that range has to be called “token.” Would the Tea Party accept that? Dunno.
The other alternative is no revenue increase whatsoever, which Nancy Pelosi is talking about as we speak, so to speak (h/t Digby). And the way that’s being talked about is as a “later date” discussion about revenue. In other words, a phantom revenue increase, a shimmering ghost of one, perfect for those ready to pretend to believe.
So what will it be? Phantom revenue or token revenue? It’s amazing how small this discussion has been reduced to, and how little Team Legacy is going to get in exchange for those recovery-killing (and election-killing) spending cuts.
No drama? It’s been nothing but.
from AMERICAblog: A great nation deserves the truth by John Aravosis (DC)
1. Obama is being played. Boehner knows that the President is incapable of walking away from a deal, any deal. It was inevitable that Boehner would play the President at the last minute, hoping the President will give in like he always does when confronted by anyone. That’s what’s happening now.
2. Boehner is trying to look “strong” for the Teabagger wing of his own party.
3. The President did a decent job in his press conference of faulting the Republicans for the breakdown in talks.
4. The President also did his usual job of blaming the Democratic base for all of his woes, and worse, equating Social Security and Medicare advocates with Teabaggers. Be sure to remember the President’s latest personal attack on his base when “Obama for America” calls asking for money.
5. In contrast to the ease with which the President slammed his base today, he just couldn’t bring himself to blame the Republicans for the deficit and the national debt. He continually talks about both sides being to blame. He’s wrong. Look at this chart, based on CBO data, detailing where the deficit and the national debt came from – via the NYT :
|Click image to see larger version|
6. Look at how far the President caved so far.
– Agreed to make the debt ceiling about deficit reduction.
– Agreed to put Social Security and Medicare on the table.
– Agreed to cut more from programs than would be raised from taxes.
– Agreed to cut more than even the Gang of Six wanted.
– And we hear that the latest deals being discussed would have been exclusively spending cuts, with no tax increases at all.
7. What have the Republicans caved on so far? Nothing. A few members of Congress have agreed to some “revenue enhancements,” but not the leadership.
8. Even Nancy Pelosi caved today, agreeing to spending cuts without new taxes. She argued that she was at least able to save entitlements. That’s a bit like handing the bully half of your lunch money and claiming victory because he didn’t get the rest of it.
When it comes down to it, this is a negotiation between a hardline Republican and a man who desperately doesn’t want to be seen as a Democrat. With that in mind, it’s no wonder that the deal – like pretty much every deal of late – keeps veering more and more to the right. The President and his advisers seem convinced that Independents are 51% of the electorate. Good luck with that.
from Robert Reich
Not only is Social Security on the chopping block in order to respond to Republican extortion. So is Medicare.
But Medicare isn’t the nation’s budgetary problems. It’s the solution. The real problem is the soaring costs of health care that lie beneath Medicare. They’re costs all of us are bearing in the form of soaring premiums, co-payments, and deductibles.
Medicare offers a means of reducing these costs — if Washington would let it.
Let me explain.
Americans spend more on health care per person than any other advanced nation and get less for our money. Yearly public and private healthcare spending is $7,538 per person. That’s almost two and a half times the average of other advanced nations.
Yet the typical American lives 77.9 years – less than the average 79.4 years in other advanced nations. And we have the highest rate of infant mortality of all advanced nations.
Medical costs are soaring because our health-care system is totally screwed up. Doctors and hospitals have every incentive to spend on unnecessary tests, drugs, and procedures.
You have lower back pain? Almost 95% of such cases are best relieved through physical therapy. But doctors and hospitals routinely do expensive MRI’s, and then refer patients to orthopedic surgeons who often do even more costly surgery. Why? There’s not much money in physical therapy.
Your diabetes, asthma, or heart condition is acting up? If you go to the hospital, 20 percent of the time you’re back there within a month. You wouldn’t be nearly as likely to return if a nurse visited you at home to make sure you were taking your medications. This is common practice in other advanced countries. So why don’t nurses do home visits to Americans with acute conditions? Hospitals aren’t paid for it.
America spends $30 billion a year fixing medical errors – the worst rate among advanced countries. Why? Among other reasons because we keep patient records on computers that can’t share the data. Patient records are continuously re-written on pieces of paper, and then re-entered into different computers. That spells error.
Meanwhile, administrative costs eat up 15 to 30 percent of all healthcare spending in the United States. That’s twice the rate of most other advanced nations. Where does this money go? Mainly into collecting money: Doctors collect from hospitals and insurers, hospitals collect from insurers, insurers collect from companies or from policy holders.
A major occupational category at most hospitals is “billing clerk.” A third of nursing hours are devoted to documenting what’s happened so insurers have proof.
Trying to slow the rise in Medicare costs doesn’t deal with any of this. It will just limit the amounts seniors can spend, which means less care. As a practical matter it means more political battles, as seniors – whose clout will grow as boomers are added to the ranks – demand the limits be increased. (If you thought the demagoguery over “death panels” was bad, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.)
Paul Ryan’s plan – to give seniors vouchers they can cash in with private for-profit insurers — would be even worse. It would funnel money into the hands of for-profit insurers, whose administrative costs are far higher than Medicare.
So what’s the answer? For starters, allow anyone at any age to join Medicare. Medicare’s administrative costs are in the range of 3 percent. That’s well below the 5 to 10 percent costs borne by large companies that self-insure. It’s even further below the administrative costs of companies in the small-group market (amounting to 25 to 27 percent of premiums). And it’s way, way lower than the administrative costs of individual insurance (40 percent). It’s even far below the 11 percent costs of private plans under Medicare Advantage, the current private-insurance option under Medicare.
In addition, allow Medicare – and its poor cousin Medicaid – to use their huge bargaining leverage to negotiate lower rates with hospitals, doctors, and pharmaceutical companies. This would help move health care from a fee-for-the-most-costly-service system into one designed to get the highest-quality outcomes most cheaply.
Estimates of how much would be saved by extending Medicare to cover the entire population range from $58 billion to $400 billion a year. More Americans would get quality health care, and the long-term budget crisis would be sharply reduced.
Let me say it again: Medicare isn’t the problem. It’s the solution.
[This is drawn from a post I did in April, also before current imboglio]
from AMERICAblog: A great nation deserves the truth by Chris in Paris
As easy as he’s been with them, they ought to be giving him a lot more than this. Anyone with an ounce of respect for the public would have bothered to hold them accountable for their mess. CNBC:
In fact, the Center found that one-third of the money Obama’s elite fund-raising corps has raised on behalf of his re-election has come from the financial sector.
“Individuals who work in the finance, insurance and real estate sector are responsible for raising at least $11.3 million for Obama’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee,” the Center reported.
All of Obama’s bundlers have raised a minimum of $34.95 million.
from Robert Reich
The very idea that Social Security might be on the chopping block in order to pay the ransom Republicans are demanding reveals both the cravenness of their demands and the callowness of the opposition to those demands.
In a former life I was a trustee of the Social Security trust fund. So let me set the record straight.
Social Security isn’t responsible for the federal deficit. Just the opposite. Until last year Social Security took in more payroll taxes than it paid out in benefits. It lent the surpluses to the rest of the government.
Now that Social Security has started to pay out more than it takes in, Social Security can simply collect what the rest of the government owes it. This will keep it fully solvent for the next 26 years.
But why should there even be a problem 26 years from now? Back in 1983, Alan Greenspan’s Social Security commission was supposed to have fixed the system for good – by gradually increasing payroll taxes and raising the retirement age. (Early boomers like me can start collecting full benefits at age 66; late boomers born after 1960 will have to wait until they’re 67.)
Greenspan’s commission must have failed to predict something. What?
Remember, the Social Security payroll tax applies only to earnings up to a certain ceiling. (That ceiling is now $106,800.) The ceiling rises every year according to a formula roughly matching inflation.
Back in 1983, the ceiling was set so the Social Security payroll tax would hit 90 percent of all wages covered by Social Security. That 90 percent figure was built into the Greenspan Commission’s fixes. The Commission assumed that, as the ceiling rose with inflation, the Social Security payroll tax would continue to hit 90 percent of total income.
Today, though, the Social Security payroll tax hits only about 84 percent of total income.
It went from 90 percent to 84 percent because a larger and larger portion of total income has gone to the top. In 1983, the richest 1 percent of Americans got 11.6 percent of total income. Today the top 1 percent takes in more than 20 percent.
If we want to go back to 90 percent, the ceiling on income subject to the Social Security tax would need to be raised to $180,000.
Presto. Social Security’s long-term (beyond 26 years from now) problem would be solved.
So there’s no reason even to consider reducing Social Security benefits or raising the age of eligibility. The logical response to the increasing concentration of income at the top is simply to raise the ceiling.
[This post is drawn from one I posted in February — before Social Security was as on the chopping block]
from PA Editors Blog by Political Affairs
Joint Statement by AFL-CIO Pres. Richard Trumka and UFCW Pres. Joseph Hansen on White House Walmart Event
We are honored that President Obama asked us to serve on his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, charged primarily with rebuilding America’s middle class by creating good jobs. America’s working families urgently need leadership that will get Americans back to good jobs, paying taxes, spending in their communities and saving for retirement. The jobs crisis facing our nation threatens our long-term economic security, the strength and cohesion of our families and communities and our ability to compete successfully in the global economy.
Today’s White House event, which highlights Walmart’s expansion in urban areas, undercuts the message of the need for good jobs that can rebuild our middle class.
When Walmart opens in a community, it regularly displaces existing jobs with poverty-level jobs. Tens of thousands of Walmart associates qualify for and utilize food stamps, Medicare and Medicaid. In this time of budgetary stress, Walmart’s business model is subsidized on the backs of American taxpayers.
There is no economic justification for our nation’s largest private employer to pay wages so low that any of its employees qualify for public assistance. And there is no justification for highlighting a private employer with a business model based on suppressing wages for its 1.4 million hourly workers.
We call on the Administration to remain focused on the importance of a strong middle class and protecting and creating good jobs on the scale that is needed. We ask the Administration to stand with communities that have called on Walmart to strengthen the communities it enters rather than drive standards and wages down.
SEIU’s Mary Kay Henry: We Cannot Ignore Reality that Wal-Mart is America’s Chief Corporate Poverty Creator
Statement of SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry on the White House event recognizing retailers expanding their business in underserved areas. Wal-Mart is among the attendees.
“As the nation’s largest union of healthcare workers and as educators, child care providers, and social workers, we see the consequences every day of our failure to confront our country’s childhood obesity crisis and provide quality food, health, and education services in underserved areas.
“It’s vital that leaders like First Lady Michelle Obama continue to shine a light on this crisis and that we recognize responsible retailers like Safeway that step up their efforts to expand in underserved areas like they’ve done in neighborhoods in Los Angeles and Oakland. Safeway is not only bringing quality food into neighborhoods long abandoned by other grocery chains, they are also creating quality jobs in these communities.
“But we cannot ignore the reality that Wal-Mart is America’s chief corporate poverty creator. And that they are linking arms not with America’s workers to create good jobs but with right-wing politicians pushing job-killing policies and massive tax breaks for CEOs and millionaires. As our country’s largest employer, Wal-Mart’s corporate model of low wages and no benefits leaves millions of their workers unable to purchase healthy food or provide a good life for their families. And when Wal-Mart opens in a community, it can actually drive out good jobs and responsible employers.
“Wal-Mart should not be celebrated for false contributions to our communities and glitzy public relations campaigns that disguise their destructive policies. It’s time to hold America’s largest employer to a higher standard and demand that they produce quality jobs and do their part to increase opportunity and prosperity in our communities.”
HOFFA: TELL WALMART TO CREATE GOOD JOBS
Teamsters Leader Says Retailer Contributes To Economic Woes
Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa today issued the following statement about the White House event recognizing retailers that expand in underserved communities:
“I admire First Lady Michelle Obama for her work to improve the lives of American children. However, we are very concerned that companies like Walmart, which don’t pay their workers a decent wage, condemn children in this country to poverty, poor nutrition and shrinking prospects for their futures.
“Walmart’s CEO recently commented that the company’s shoppers are “running out of money.” That’s a big clue that the problem with our economy is the lack of good jobs.
“I urge the White House to reconsider its involvement with Walmart unless Walmart agrees to create the kind of good jobs that can provide its employees with a decent standard of living. In these hard times, we desperately need the White House to recognize employers that pay living wages, provide adequate health care and make positive contributions to the communities they serve. Walmart does not fit any of those categories. Only by creating good jobs in America will our economy recover.”
Statement of John W. Wilhelm, President of UNITE HERE about White House event with Walmart
Yesterday the White House hosted America’s number one low road anti-union employer at an event to highlight the First Lady’s laudable program to end childhood obesity. We at UNITE HERE are very disappointed by this needless affront to all who care about rising income inequality in America.
No company in the United States has done more to drive down wages of working Americans than Walmart, which pays wages so low that its own employees must resort to public assistance programs to feed their own families. No company in America goes to greater lengths to coerce its employees from joining a union than Walmart.
The root cause of rising levels of food-related illness, hunger, and “food deserts” in America is the refusal of companies like Walmart to pay working Americans enough to afford healthy food. How many Walmart workers live in food deserts or are receiving food assistance from taxpayers simply because the company will not pay fair wages and benefits?
Surely, the White House could have found other, more deserving companies to join the First Lady’s much-needed effort. In America, we can have good food and good jobs for those who produce and sell good food.
Statement by CWA President Larry Cohen on this week’s White House event
The Communications Workers of America commends First Lady Michelle Obama for her commitment to improving the lives of children and families across our country. However, companies like Walmart and others that pay poverty-level wages and deny workers the bargaining rights that would enable them to improve their own standard of living and have a voice on the job should not be applauded.
Times are tough for middle class and working families, because our economic system is broken. We change this by once again making collective bargaining a part of the fabric of the nation, and restoring the American Dream for millions of families who now are suffering. Bargaining rights are critical to any functioning democracy, and for a functioning economy.
But companies like Walmart refuse to acknowledge the critical importance of bargaining rights for our democracy and our economy.
Working families today are facing real economic crisis. They need good jobs, and the ability to bargain over wages, benefits and working conditions. While American workers are more productive than ever, they’re not sharing any of the benefits. Workers are falling further behind and it is companies like Walmart that contribute to this decline.
The National Labor Relations Board has recommended the cancellation of the results of an election last year between two unions to represent 43,000 employees in California’s largest hospital chain, Kaiser Permanente. The giant Service Employees International Union, or SEIU, beat out the much smaller breakaway National Union of Health Workers, or NUHW, in a bitterly contested race. But a National Labor Relations Board judge has now ruled SEIU was guilty of misconduct and collusion with Kaiser Permanente to influence the vote’s outcome. Democracy Now! co-host and New York Daily News columnist Juan Gonzalez comments on what he calls a “huge decision” for the labor movement. [includes rush transcript]
I can’t tell if Standard and Poor’s is run by children or Republicans. It’s one or the other.
They, along with the other credit rating agencies, seem to be following the GOP plan to a T. We simply “must” cut $4 trillion or else S&P will ruin the US’s credit rating forever. Funny, I don’t recall ever seeing S&P’s election certificate. But just as troubling as S&P’s attempt at a financial coup d’etat is their lockstep embrace of the Republican side of these negotiations. Though in all fairness to S&P, they’re also embracing the President’s position (which is still the Republican position) – that we simply must cut $4 trillion, to hell with the consequences on the anemic recovery.
I’m simply not entirely comfortable with some kid on Wall Street, who has no political sense whatsoever, deciding fiscal policy for the United States for the next decade, based on his pants-wetting assessment of how scary Washington politics is. If S&P is so rattled about the bickering over raising the debt limit, then they shouldn’t be rewarding that bickering by embracing the very thing the bickerers want, massive cuts. S&P could have simply said “pass a permanent debt increase, taking it out of congress’ hands forever,” but they didn’t. S&P isn’t trying to solve the bickering, they’re not worried about the debt limit, they’re embracing GOP economic theory and trying to shove it down Washington’s, and America’s, throat by financial fiat.
From National Journal:
GRAND BARGAIN MAY BE NEEDED TO AVOID ECONOMIC CALAMITY. Lawmakers’ bickering on the debt limit has so rattled investors that now, to pull the American economy back from the brink, they may need to execute a bipartisan “grand bargain” of a size that once seemed unfathomable, at a speed that appears near-impossible. The credit ratings agency Standard and Poor’s has indicated that it has so lost faith in Washington’s ability to tackle big problems – because of the difficulty in solving such a simple one as how to avoid default – that simply raising the debt limit won’t be enough to spare the United States from what would be an earth-shaking downgrade of its credit rating. Instead, the agency insists that lawmakers must agree to a $4 trillion package of deficit reduction, at least, as part of the debt-ceiling deal or soon thereafter.
PS I dont’ recall S&P ever registering as federal lobbyists. Someone should file a complaint against them.
UPDATE: Read more about how the man-children at S&P triggered the entire financial crisis.
Welcome to the new normal. The tax code helped get us into this situation so why not use it to push us out of it and add jobs?
Wages and salaries accounted for just 1 percent of economic growth in the first 18 months after economists declared that the recession had ended in June 2009, according to Sum and other Northeastern researchers.
In the same period after the 2001 recession, wages and salaries accounted for 15 percent. They were 50 percent after the 1991-92 recession and 25 percent after the 1981-82 recession.
Corporate profits, by contrast, accounted for an unprecedented 88 percent of economic growth during those first 18 months. That’s compared with 53 percent after the 2001 recession, nothing after the 1991-92 recession and 28 percent after the 1981-82 recession.
from Democracy Now! | Healthcare Reform by firstname.lastname@example.org (Democracy Now!)
After giving a nearly six-month tryout for the internet talk show host Cenk Uygur, the cable news channel MSNBC is preparing to instead award its 6:00 p.m. prime-time slot to the Reverend Al Sharpton. MSNBC President Phil Griffin offered Uygur a well-paid but lower-profile on-air slot, but Uygur rejected the offer, saying the decision to demote him was politically motivated. Uygur is known for aggressively interrogating leading Washington figures and challenging the political establishment, which he alleges made some MSNBC executives uneasy. He said Griffin had called him into his office in April and told him he had been talking to people in Washington and that they did not like Uygur’s tone. We speak with Uygur, who also blogs at several liberal websites and hosts a popular internet and radio show, “The Young Turks.” “It is corporate media… It’s not just MSNBC. You think that the CNN hosts can aggressively challenge government officials? I don’t think so,” says Uygur. [includes rush transcript]