Friday, October 21, 2011

Big $$$ Continues To Take Over Local Schools (As Well As Rest of Country), Obama's Military/CIA Takes Over Africa & Their Majesties' Edicts/Defeating Jobs Bills!


David Sirota knows about this first hand:

When the same elites who fund federal elections start pouring unfathomable sums of money into our community’s school board races, it robs us of the last promise of democracy: the hope that while wealth and power dictate federal and state policy, every person can still have a small impact on his or her own local community.As many major campaigns as I’ve worked on, and as much experience Emily has in the public policy arena, we didn’t realize that local races had become this corporatized. Maybe we were naive, or overly idealistic, but the point is that something has gone deeply wrong in America when elections about our local schools have becomes yet another chess board for oligarchs.

Even knowing all of this, I (obviously) still want my wife to win — and lord knows, that’s because as her (admittedly super-biased) husband, I think she’d be great at the job, not because of any personal or financial reason. After all, being on the school board in Denver, as in so many other towns, is an unpaid position that will force her to spend lots of time away from her other work and from her family.

But along with wanting her to win, I also want our family’s experience to be a small, microcosmic reminder about how high the stakes now are in every level of our politics. Big money is intent on owning every public institution from the White House to the schoolhouse. You need to know that if you ever think of running for office — and, as important, you need to remember it the next time you get your ballot.

It’s easy to delude yourself into thinking that the only elections that matter are celebritized presidential and Senate contests, and that local elections for your school board or town council or county commission don’t count. Clearly, that’s not the case. The most powerful people of all sure think those local races do matter — and they’re now willing to spend what it takes to exploit your apathy and rob those elections from you.

(David Sirota is a best-selling author of the new book "Back to Our Future: How the 1980s Explain the World We Live In Now." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado. E-mail him at ds@davidsirota.com, follow him on Twitter @davidsirota or visit his website at www.davidsirota.com.  More David Sirota)

And speaking even more of David Sirota . . . he brilliantly exposes the plutocracy's response to the OccupyEveryStreet movement:

Hear ye, hear ye! Let it be known that in this 10th month of the first year of His Majesty King John Hickenlooper’s reign, the sovereign governor of the Kingdom of Colorado handed down an edict closing the grounds of the Capitol palace to the public and ordering his praetorian guard to arrest the peaceful Occupy Denver protesters assembled at the castle gates.

This royal order, which made big headlines last week, was all about intimidating imagery. Just as King John had hoped, the iconic photograph to emerge from the sweep was a front-page Denver Post photo of a heavily armed police officer menacingly guarding the Capitol — a deliberate visual message telling the despot’s subjects to retreat or face consequences. He later told a reporter that he was aiming to preemptively crush “something that could easily catch on.”

Back on the East Coast, it was much the same, as His Majesty King Michael Bloomberg issued a decree stating that as a benevolent despot, he would “allow” his Manhattan subjects to occupy Wall Street (as if the mayor has the power to grant — or withhold — democratic rights). But then King Mike quickly sent his police force in for mass arrests, standing down only after a wave of outrage from the larger serfdom watching on television.

This might all sound like Medieval Europe, but it’s not. It’s America circa 2011, as these clashes are now taking place everywhere.

Alas, it’s a predictable situation. Horrifying economic inequality has prompted the bottom 99 percent of income earners to finally exercise their constitutional rights to protest. In response, the nobles in the top 1 percent are demanding their political puppets make clear that such dissent will not be tolerated — and they expect their demands to be followed. This country’s landed gentry, after all, spent a lot on campaign contributions to make sure their hand-picked autocrats were installed in governors’ and mayors’ offices, and now they’re having those autocrats engineer a whole new kind of bailout.

Read on for the full effect.

Love him or hate him (or ignore him if you can), but John Pilger knows quite a bit about what's going on in the black world (er, special ops, etc.) and you should too:


John Pilger

Global Research, October 20, 2011

On 14 October, President Barack Obama announced he was sending United States special forces troops to Uganda to join the civil war there. In the next few months, US combat troops will be sent to South Sudan, Congo and Central African Republic. They will only "engage" for "self-defense", says Obama, satirically. With Libya secured, an American invasion of the African continent is under way.

Obama’s decision is described in the press as "highly unusual" and "surprising", even "weird". It is none of these things. It is the logic of American foreign policy since 1945. Take Vietnam. The priority was to halt the influence of China, an imperial rival, and "protect" Indonesia, which President Nixon called "the region’s richest hoard of natural resources ...the greatest prize". Vietnam merely got in the way; and the slaughter of more than three million Vietnamese and the devastation and poisoning of their land was the price of America achieving its goal. Like all America’s subsequent invasions, a trail of blood from Latin America to Afghanistan and Iraq, the rationale was usually "self defense" or "humanitarian", words long emptied of their dictionary meaning.


In Africa, says Obama, the "humanitarian mission" is to assist the government of Uganda defeat the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), which "has murdered, raped and kidnapped tens of thousands of men, women and children in central Africa". This is an accurate description of the LRA, evoking multiple atrocities administered by the United States, such as the bloodbath in the 1960s following the CIA-arranged murder of Patrice Lumumba, the Congolese independence leader and first legally elected prime minister, and the CIA coup that installed Mobutu Sese Seko, regarded as Africa’s most venal tyrant.

Obama’s other justification also invites satire. This is the "national security of the United States". The LRA has been doing its nasty work for 24 years, of minimal interest to the United States. Today, it has fewer than 400 fighters and has never been weaker. However, US "national security" usually means buying a corrupt and thuggish regime that has something Washington wants. Uganda’s "president-for-life" Yoweri Museveni already receives the larger part of $45 million in US military "aid" – including Obama’s favourite drones. This is his bribe to fight a proxy war against America’s latest phantom Islamic enemy, the rag-tag al Shabaab group based in Somalia. The RTA will play a public relations role, distracting western journalists with its perennial horror stories.

However, the main reason the US is invading Africa is no different from that which ignited the Vietnam war. It is China. In the world of self-serving, institutionalised paranoia that justifies what General David Petraeus, the former US commander and now CIA director, implies is a state of perpetual war, China is replacing al-Qaeda as the official American "threat".

When I interviewed Bryan Whitman, an assistant secretary of defense at the Pentagon last year, I asked him to describe the current danger to America. Struggling visibly, he repeated, "Asymmetric threats ... asymmetric threats". These justify the money-laundering state-sponsored arms conglomerates and the biggest military and war budget in history. With Osama bin Laden airbrushed, China takes the mantle.


Africa is China’s success story. Where the Americans bring drones and destabilisation, the Chinese bring roads, bridges and dams. What they want is resources, especially fossil fuels. With Africa’s greatest oil reserves, Libya under Muammar Gaddafi was one of China’s most important sources of fuel. When the civil war broke out and NATO backed the "rebels" with a fabricated story about Gaddafi planning "genocide" in Benghazi, China evacuated its 30,000 workers in Libya.

The subsequent UN security council resolution that allowed the west’s "humanitarian intervention" was explained succinctly in a proposal to the French government by the "rebel" National Transitional Council, disclosed last month in the newspaper Liberation, in which France was offered 35 per cent of Libya’s gross national oil production "in exchange" (the term used) for "total and permanent" French support for the NTC. Running up the Stars and Stripes in "liberated" Tripoli last month, US ambassador Gene Cretz blurted out: "We know that oil is the jewel in the crown of Libyan natural resources!


The de facto conquest of Libya by the US and its imperial partners heralds a modern version of the "scramble for Africa" at the end of the 19th century.

Like the "victory" in Iraq, journalists have played a critical role in dividing Libyans into worthy and unworthy victims. A recent Guardian front page carried a photograph of a terrified "pro-Gaddafi" fighter and his wild-eyed captors who, says the caption, "celebrate". According to General Petraeus, there is now a war "of perception ... conducted continuously through the news media".

For more than a decade the US has tried to establish a command on the continent of Africa, AFRICOM, but has been rebuffed by governments, fearful of the regional tensions this would cause.

Libya, and now Uganda, South Sudan and Congo, provide the main chance.WikiLeaks cables and the US National Strategy for Counter-terrorism reveal, American plans for Africa are part of a global design in which 60,000 special forces, including death squads, already operate in 75 countries, soon to be 120.

As Dick Cheney pointed out in his 1990s "defense strategy" plan, America simply wishes to rule the world.

That this is now the gift of Barack Obama, the "Son of Africa", is supremely ironic. Or is it? As Frantz Fanon explained in Black Skin, White Masks, what matters is not so much the colour of your skin as the power you serve and the millions you betray.

For more information on John Pilger, visit his website at www.johnpilger.com

Think it's important to put some of those 20-30 million un-and-under-employed back to work?

These folks don't. (Kick their butts out next election if you care! Psst. Olympia Snowe married a scumbag?)

I doubt many senators read Andy Coghlan's and Debora MacKenzie's enlightening feature in New Scientist this week about the capitalist network (i.e., a manifestation of the 1%) that runs the world... runs it primarily to benefit not society but themselves, their families and their circles. And this isn't some kind of political polemic; it's science... so, right, conservatives can stop reading right now.

An analysis of the relationships between 43,000 transnational corporations has identified a relatively small group of companies, mainly banks, with disproportionate power over the global economy.

...The idea that a few bankers control a large chunk of the global economy might not seem like news to New York's Occupy Wall Street movement and protesters elsewhere. But the study, by a trio of complex systems theorists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, is the first to go beyond ideology to empirically identify such a network of power. It combines the mathematics long used to model natural systems with comprehensive corporate data to map ownership among the world's transnational corporations (TNCs).

...The work, to be published in PloS One, revealed a core of 1318 companies with interlocking ownerships (see image). Each of the 1318 had ties to two or more other companies, and on average they were connected to 20. What's more, although they represented 20 per cent of global operating revenues, the 1318 appeared to collectively own through their shares the majority of the world's large blue chip and manufacturing firms-- the "real" economy-- representing a further 60 per cent of global revenues.

When the team further untangled the web of ownership, it found much of it tracked back to a "super-entity" of 147 even more tightly knit companies-- all of their ownership was held by other members of the super-entity-- that controlled 40 per cent of the total wealth in the network. "In effect, less than 1 per cent of the companies were able to control 40 per cent of the entire network," says Glattfelder. Most were financial institutions. The top 20 included Barclays Bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co, and The Goldman Sachs Group.
Wednesday night Harry Reid filed cloture to break the Republicans' filibuster of the first piece of President Obama's jobs legislation - this bill to authorize $35 billion to keep teachers, policemen and firefighters employed and to pay for it with a pathetically small and inadequate tax on millionaires.

Only money above a million dollars in annual remuneration would be subject to the tax, but, needless to say, even that's too much for the Republicans.
Miss McConnell deceitfully referred to it as "a proposal to raise taxes on 300,000 business owners in order to send money down to states so they don’t have to lay off state employees."

Over half the members of the Senate - probably close to 60% now - are millionaires themselves and aren't eager to raise their own taxes... not even a tiny little bit. Wouldn't the decent thing be for the millionaires in the Senate to recuse themselves for voting on legislation that would have a significant effect on their own wealth? Among the super-rich decamillionaires in the Senate, 11 are filibustering the jobs bill, 10 Republicans and one quasi-Democrat:


Bob Corker (R-TN)- $96 million
Jim Risch (R-WY)- $87 million
Olympia Snowe (R-ME)- $45 million
Lamar Alexander (R-TN)- $40 million
Miss McConnell (R-KY)- $32 million
John McCain (R-AZ)- $26 million
Ben Nelson (D-NE)- $18 million
Johnny Isakson (R-GA)- $13 million
Dick Shelby (R-AL)- $10 million
John Barrasso (R-WY)- $10 million
Jim Inhofe (R-OK)- $10 million

As Jamison Foser pointed out, narrowing in on fake moderate Olympia Snowe, "when Sen. Olympia Snowe explained her vote against the Senate jobs bill last week, she identified only one provision of the bill she disagreed with: the surcharge on taxpayers who earn more than $1 million in adjusted gross income." Not counting herself, that's 374 people in the state of Maine, a state suffering immense unemployment.

"Snowe's vote against a jobs bill that would greatly help Maine simply because it would raise taxes on about 375 of the state's richest residents doesn't make much sense-- but it's certainly easier to understand if Snowe and her husband [a notorious crook] are among those fortunate few," Foser concludes. Greg Sargent was just as straight to the point at the Washington Post before the vote.


Let’s be as clear as possible: Any Democratic or Republican senators who vote this week against the $35 billion package of aid to the states are putting the very narrow interests of an infinitesimal few over the interests of many thousands of their own constituents.

The Senate vote is on whether to send billions to the states to avert teacher layoffs and to facilitate the hiring of more teachers and first responders-- a key provision of Obama’s jobs plan. This would be paid for by a 0.5 percent surtax on millionaires. As of now, it’s unclear how a handful of moderate Senators in both parties will vote, because they have “stimulus spending” and they oppose hiking taxes on the rich.

So here’s a way look at this: How many people would be impacted by this proposal in each state represented by each on-the-fence senator? And how does that compare to the number of constituents in each of those states who would pay that 0.5 percent surtax? And keep in mind, the impact of one teaching job is far vaster and affects far more people than the impact of the surtax on one constituent, which is only paid on income over one million dollars.
Sargent singles out 7 wealthy senators who his sources told him were on the fence:

* Snowe and fellow-Mainer Susan Collins, where $117 million in aid to the state will be lost so that 374 people (+ Snowe) wouldn't have to pay an extra 0.5% on income over a million dollars a year.

* Tennessee's two multimillionaire senators, Alexander and Corker, who had to think about turning down 9,400 education jobs and over $596 million for their state to help out the 2,450 people who make over a million dollars a year-- like themselves.

* Ben Nelson, who was willing to snub 2,800 education jobs in Omaha, Lincoln, Kearney, North Platte and across the state ($176 million) so that himself and 1,049 Nebraskans making over a million dollars a year won't have to pay a pittance more for the public good-- even though Nelson's wealthiest constituent, Warren Buffett, has endorsed the idea.

* John Tester, who once billed himself as a populist - but that was when he was running for the Senate 5 years ago - was looking at turning down 1,400 education jobs ($90 million) so that 340 millionaires wouldn't have to pay the tiny tax.

* And, of course, West Virginia's right-wing Democrat, Joe Manchin, always eager to screw working people on behalf of the wealthy, had to balance 2,600 education jobs ($162 million into West Virginia's hard-pressed economy) against 580 who make over a million dollars a year in his state.
The Senate voted at 10 last night and the Republicans managed to block allowing the debate to proceed. Reid's motion to end their smarmy filibuster lost 50-50, Lieberman plus 2 ultra-conservative Democrats - Pryor (AR) and Nelson (NE) - voting with Miss McConnell to keep the filibuster going.

Tester, at least, had seen the light, but not one Republican - not Scott Brown and not Olympia Snowe (both of whom are up for reelection next year) - crossed the aisle to support teachers, policemen, firemen or their own states' economies. President Obama's statement (which rings unauthentic since it singles out Republicans instead of Republicans + Lieberman, Pryor and Nelson):


For the second time in two weeks, every single Republican in the United States Senate has chosen to obstruct a bill that would create jobs and get our economy going again. That’s unacceptable. We must do what’s right for the country and pass the common-sense proposals in the American Jobs Act. Every Senate Republican voted to block a bill that would help middle class families and keep hundreds of thousands of firefighters on the job, police officers on the streets, and teachers in the classroom when our kids need them most.

Those Americans deserve an explanation as to why they don’t deserve those jobs-– and every American deserves an explanation as to why Republicans refuse to step up to the plate and do what’s necessary to create jobs and grow the economy right now.

We must rebuild the economy the American way and restore security for the middle class, based on the values of balance and fairness. Independent economists have said the American Jobs Act could create up to two million jobs next year. So the choice is clear. Our fight isn’t over. We will keep working with Congress to bring up the American Jobs Act piece by piece, and give Republicans another chance to put country before party and help us put the American people back to work.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers sounded more authentic in her outrage:

The senators who voted “no” late Thursday night on the Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act have once again squandered the chance to help our kids, communities and the economy by putting teachers back in the classroom, and ensuring that police officers and firefighters protect our neighborhoods.

The 50 senators who voted against the jobs measure showed a callous disregard for our kids’ futures and the safety of our neighborhoods. The no-voters are more concerned about protecting the wealthiest Americans from a half-cent-per-dollar tax increase than about helping our kids and ensuring safe communities. These senators are clearly out of touch with the American people. This week’s CNN/Gallup poll found that 75 percent of Americans support the Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act.

Our nation is in a state of economic emergency that requires an immediate response. The unrelenting layoff of teachers and first responders is putting educational quality and the safety of our cities and towns at risk. The $35 billion jobs bill would support nearly 400,000 education jobs and keep thousands of police officers and firefighters on the job. By asking millionaires and billionaires to pay an extra one-half of 1 percent, the jobs plan would strengthen the economy without adding to the deficit.

With a deep and grinding recession causing disinvestment in our schools, the American people are sick and tired of having their concerns about the future ignored by some members of Congress. It’s time to set aside the political gamesmanship and do what is right for our students, for the safety of our communities, and for our country.
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2 comments:

One Fly said...

Yup - laying ground work for more war fronts. Met this guy who was young and retired who said he spent the last last three years in Kenya. Very elusive as to what he did there. My money says CIA or something similar.

Suzan said...

Your money is good, baby.

They are all over Africa.

And can take out any regime anywhere, which they have just proved.

Again.

Hope your new place is nice!

Love ya,

S