* ASSASSINATING THE RULE OF LAW
By Leonard C. Goodman, In These Times
Of all the promises made by candidate Barack Obama, it was his promise to end the lawlessness of the Bush years by closing Guantanamo, ending torture and restoring the United States’ reputation for justice that got me out in the streets and knocking on doors. And it is President Obama’s failure to keep these promises that makes it impossible for me to support him again.
President Bush’s foreign policy was roundly criticized by most of the world and by candidate Obama. Following 9/11, Bush’s foreign policy was simple: If my administration decides that you are a terrorist or a terrorist supporter, we reserve the right to invade and occupy your country, kill you or send you halfway around the world to a prison camp.
To implement this policy, administration lawyers wrote memos making it all legal for their masters. First, Bush’s lawyers declared that the one-sentence “Authorization for Use of Military Force” enacted by a frightened Congress one week after September 11, 2001, authorized undeclared wars and the mass incarceration of terror suspects.
But Bush’s team wanted still more power—they wanted legal authority to torture suspects. So Bush’s lawyers wrote memos stating that torture under the president’s command would not violate federal law (which proscribes “torture”), or the U.N. Convention Against Torture, as long as the torturer lacks the intent to cause “prolonged mental harm” or “death or organ failure.” One of these memos, authored by Office of Legal Councel attorney Jay Bybee, included a convenient section called “Interpretation to Avoid Constitutional Problems.” […]
* MAKING THE MOST OF COOPERATION
By Lee Romney, Los Angeles Times
[…] The flurry of democratic enterprise has been guided by Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, a former schoolteacher who visited Mondragon, Spain, and recognized a possible path out of the poverty and unemployment that plague her city.
The Basque hill town is dominated by Mondragon Corp., a web of cooperatives that employ 83,000 workers and together represent Spain’s seventh-largest business. Co-op clusters based on Mondragon’s model have emerged in Cleveland and the Bronx, N.Y., among other cities.
Richmond, with a 16% unemployment rate, hopes to follow suit.
The city’s industrial roots date back more than a century, when it was home to the Santa Fe Railroad terminus and a Standard Oil refinery. World War II shipyards swelled the population to nearly its current 103,000. But Richmond has struggled since and is regularly listed among the nation’s 25 most dangerous cities.
Since August, Bay Area co-op veteran Terry Baird — a burly man with a gray beard and a penchant for South African freedom songs — has been on the city payroll, helping to piece together cooperative ventures in Richmond’s economically barren pockets.
Mondragon Corp. was created in 1956 and fine-tuned over half a century, McLaughlin said, “but you have to start somewhere. One of the prerequisites of starting a co-op is need, and that is something that we have in Richmond.”
Demand matters too. Baird aims to start small, with food and service co-ops such as a plumber’s collective that won’t require hefty upfront investment. Then the city hopes to bring government and other big employers on board, setting up ventures to meet their buying needs. […]
*THE MAGIC OF DIASPORAS
Immigrant networks are a rare bright spark in the world economy. Rich countries should welcome them
[…] Government as well as business gains from the spread of ideas through diasporas. Foreign-educated Indians, including the prime minister, Manmohan Singh (Oxford and Cambridge) and his sidekick Montek Ahluwalia (Oxford), played a big role in bringing economic reform to India in the early 1990s. Some 500,000 Chinese people have studied abroad and returned, mostly in the past decade; they dominate the think-tanks that advise the government, and are moving up the ranks of the Communist Party. Cheng Li of the Brookings Institution, an American think-tank, predicts that they will be 15-17% of its Central Committee next year, up from 6% in 2002. Few sea turtles call openly for democracy. But they have seen how it works in practice, and they know that many countries that practise it are richer, cleaner and more stable than China.
As for the old world, its desire to close its borders is understandable but dangerous. Migration brings youth to ageing countries, and allows ideas to circulate in millions of mobile minds. That is good both for those who arrive with suitcases and dreams and for those who should welcome them.
* MEASURING CORPORATE TAX DODGERS BY INDUSTRY
By John Iacovelli, OpEdNews.com
Most U.S. citizens understand that through a variety of loopholes, U.S. based corporations have reduced their U.S corporate tax burdens tremendously over the last forty years. With a new study just published, we can gauge, comparatively, which specific industry categories are the worst offenders. This article documents this via rough extrapolation and provides a bar chart showing tax payments by industry category in 2009, and what they would have paid with a 25% corporate income tax, no loopholes. First the graph, then the explanation, and finally, the data table. For each industry, the bottom bar shows what they paid. The top bar shows how much more they would have paid at 25%:
* OVER HALF OF ALL U.S. SUBSIDIES GO TO FOUR INDUSTRIES. GUESS WHICH ONES?
By Joe Romm, Think Progress
Citizens for Tax Justice has analyzed corporate tax rates from 2008 to 2010. The report [PDF] examines over half of the Fortune 500 companies.
Perhaps it’s no surprise that the richest industries get the biggest subsidies, starting with finance and Big Energy. That’s how the 1% operate.
Notably, 56 percent of the total tax subsidies went to just four industries: financial, utilities, tele-communications, and oil, gas & pipelines.
But hey, Solyndra got a $500 million loan and went bankrupt so that is story the media focuses on over and over again, rather than the big robbery in broad daylight.
* WHY DO LIBERALS KEEP SANITIZING THE OBAMA STORY?
By Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic
When I pleaded with liberals to stop ignoring President Obama’s failures on civil liberties, foreign policy, and the separation of powers, treating them as if they didn’t even merit a mention, the quintessential example of the troubling phenomenon hadn’t yet been published. Now it has. In New York, one of America’s premier magazines, Jonathan Chait, a sharp, experienced political writer, has penned a 5,000 word essaypurporting to defend the president’s first term. It is aimed at liberal critics who, in Chait’s telling, naively expected too much.
Tellingly, as Chait writes for affluent urban liberals who railed against the Bush Administration’s excesses in the War on Terrorism, he neither desires nor feels compelled to grapple with President Obama’s approach to foreign policy, national security, or homeland security. The closest he comes in a piece overwhelmingly focused on domestic policy and political maneuvering is the breezy assertion that Obama “has enjoyed a string of foreign-policy successes — expanding targeted strikes against Al Qaeda (including one that killed Osama bin Laden), ending the war in Iraq, and helping to orchestrate an apparently successful international campaign to rescue Libyan dissidents and then topple a brutal kleptocratic regime.”
Isn’t that something?
Apparently it isn’t even worthy of mention that Obama’s actions in Libya violated the War Powers Resolution, the president’s own professed standards for what he can do without Congressional permission, and the legal advice provided to him by the Office of Legal Counsel.
In Chait’s telling, expanded drone strikes in Pakistan are a clear success. Why even grapple with Jane Mayer’s meticulously researched article on the risks of an drone war run by the CIA, Glenn Greenwald’s polemics on the innocent civilians being killed, or Jeff Goldberg and Marc Ambinder’s reporting on the Pakistani generals who are moving lightly guarded nuclear weapons around the country in civilian trucks as a direct consequence of the cathartic bin Laden raid. […]
But it won’t do for smart writers and prestigious publications to keep writing big think pieces about Obama’s tenure that read as if some of its most significant, uncomfortable moments never happened; as if it’s reasonable for an informed liberal to vote for him in Election 2012 as happily as in 2008. Civil liberties and executive power and war-making aren’t fringe concerns, or peripheral disappointments to lament in the course of leaving them to Charlie Savage and Jane Mayer. […]
* LIFE AFTER OCCUPATION
From Mobile, Ala., to Chicago, lessons in the importance of holding territory
By Arun Gupt, Salon
The post-occupation movement is taking shape across America. In New York, Occupy Wall Street is mulling next steps now that Zuccotti Park has been politically cleansed.Oakland, Calif., and Portland, Ore., have been evicted. And other occupations are staring at imminent police action, including New Orleans, Detroit and Philadelphia.
In Chicago, which has been unable to secure a public space, the Occupy movement is trying to figure out how to sustain a public presence through a harsh winter while staging creative actions that capture attention. And while Occupy Mobile in the conservative stronghold of Alabama was shut down two weeks ago without much attention from the national news media, the local movement has not gone quietly into the night, providing one answer to the question: Can an occupation movement survive if it no longer occupies a space?
The answer, based on my visits to occupation sites around the country, is: “Yes, but …” […]
* EUROPEAN COURT OF JUSTICE SAYS ISPs CANNOT BE FORCED TO BE COPYRIGHT COPS
By Mike Masnick, Techdirt
from the good-for-them dept
Last Thursday, as many of us in the US were getting ready for a nice turkey dinner, the European Court of Justice issued a very nice ruling we should all be thankful for, saying that it is against EU law to require an ISP to set up a filtering system to prevent copyright infringement.
EU law precludes the imposition of an injunction by a national court which requires an internet service provider to install a filtering system with a view to preventing the illegal downloading of files.
Such an injunction does not comply with the prohibition on imposing a general monitoring obligation on such a provider, or with the requirement to strike a fair balance between, on the one hand, the right to intellectual property, and, on the other, the freedom to conduct business, the right to protection of personal data and the freedom to receive or impart information. […]
* WES CLARK AND THE NEOCON DREAM
By Glenn Greenwald, Salon
In October, 2007, Gen. Wesley Clark gave a speech to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco (seven-minute excerpt in the video below) in which he denounced what he called “a policy coup” engineered by neocons in the wake of 9/11. After recounting how a Pentagon source had told him weeks after 9/11 of the Pentagon’s plan to attack Iraq notwithstanding its non-involvement in 9/11, this is how Clark described the aspirations of the “coup” being plotted by Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and what he called “a half dozen other collaborators from the Project for the New American Century”:
Six weeks later, I saw the same officer, and asked: “Why haven’t we attacked Iraq? Are we still going to attack Iraq?”
He said: “Sir, it’s worse than that. He said – he pulled up a piece of paper off his desk – he said: “I just got this memo from the Secretary of Defense’s office. It says we’re going to attack and destroy the governments in 7 countries in five years – we’re going to start with Iraq, and then we’re going to move to Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran.”
Clark said the aim of this plot was this: “They wanted us to destabilize the Middle East, turn it upside down, make it under our control.” He then recounted a conversation he had had ten years earlier with Paul Wolfowitz — back in 1991 — in which the then-number-3-Pentagon-official, after criticizing Bush 41 for not toppling Saddam, told Clark: “But one thing we did learn [from the Persian Gulf War] is that we can use our military in the region – in the Middle East – and the Soviets won’t stop us. And we’ve got about 5 or 10 years to clean up those old Soviet regimes – Syria, Iran [sic], Iraq – before the next great superpower comes on to challenge us.” Clark said he was shocked by Wolfowitz’s desires because, as Clark put it: “the purpose of the military is to start wars and change governments? It’s not to deter conflicts?” […]
By Washington’s Blog
As I observe the zombie like reactions of Americans to our catastrophic economic highway to collapse, the continued plundering and pillaging of the national treasury by criminal Wall Street bankers, non-enforcement of existing laws against those who committed the largest crime in history, and reaction to young people across the country getting beaten, bludgeoned, shot with tear gas and pepper sprayed by police, I can’t help but wonder whether there is anyone home. Why are most Americans so passively accepting of these calamitous conditions? How did we become so comfortably numb? I’ve concluded Americans have chosen willful ignorance over thoughtful critical thinking due to their own intellectual laziness and overpowering mind manipulation by the elite through their propaganda emitting media machines. Some people are awaking from their trance, but the vast majority is still slumbering or fuming at erroneous perpetrators.
Both the Tea Party movement and the Occupy Wall Street movement are a reflection of the mood change in the country, which is a result of government overreach, political corruption, dysfunctional economic policies, and a financial system designed to enrich the few while defrauding the many. The common theme is anger, frustration and disillusionment with a system so badly broken it appears unfixable through the existing supposedly democratic methods. The system has been captured by an oligarchy of moneyed interests from the financial industry, mega-corporations, and military industrial complex, protected by their captured puppets in Washington DC and sustained by the propaganda peddling corporate media. The differences in political parties are meaningless as they each advocate big government solutions to all social, economic, foreign relations, and monetary issues.
There is confusion and misunderstanding regarding the culprits in this drama. It was plain to me last week when I read about a small group of concerned citizens in the next town over who decided to support the Occupy movement by holding a nightly peaceful march to protest the criminal syndicate that is Wall Street and a political system designed to protect them. My local paper asked for people’s reaction to this Constitutional exercising of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. Here is a sampling of the comments:
“What are those Occupy people thinking?! The whole concept is foreign to me. There are always going to be the haves and the have nots. Get over it. Blame yourself for not paying more attention in school or not working hard enough. Just wish people would take responsibility.”
“If they worked half as hard actually working as they do being a pain in everyone else’s ass, they’d be rich! Being born does not guarantee success or wealth. Only hard work does. Maybe we should let them all occupy a jail cell or two.”
“If the goal is to irritate hardworking suburban commuters on their way home, that sounds like the perfect time and location.”
“Let’s hope they don’t pitch tents and trash Lansdale. They need to look for a job, not occupy the streets.”
“I work, and even if I wasn’t working I wouldn’t (march); I would be out looking for a JOB!”
I was dumbfounded at the rage directed towards mostly young people who haven’t even begun their working careers and have played no part in the destruction of our economic system underway for the last 30 years. The people making these statements are middle aged, middle class suburbanites. They seem to be just as livid as the OWS protestors, but their ire is being directed towards the only people who have taken a stand against Wall Street greed and Washington D.C. malfeasance. I’m left scratching my head trying to understand their animosity towards people drawing attention to the enormous debt based ponzi scheme that is our country, versus their silent acquiescence to the transfer of trillions in taxpayer dollars to the criminal bankers that have destroyed the worldwide financial system. I can only come to the conclusion the average American has become so apathetic, willfully ignorant of facts and reality, distracted by the techno-gadgets that run their lives, uninterested in anything beyond next week’s episode of Dancing with the Stars or Jersey Shore, and willing to let the corporate media moguls form their opinions for them through relentless propaganda, the only thing that will get their attention is an absolute collapse of our economic scheme. Uninformed, unconcerned, intellectually vacant Americans will get exactly that in the not too distant future.
The oligarchy of moneyed interests have done a spectacular job convincing the working middle class they should be angry at 20 year old OWS protestors, illegal immigrants and the inner city welfare class, rather than the true culprits – the Federal Reserve, Wall Street banks and mega-corporations. This is a testament to the power of propaganda and the intellectual slothfulness of the average American. U.S. based mega-corporations fired 864,000 higher wage American workers between 2000 and 2010, while hiring almost 3 million workers in low wage foreign countries, using their billions in cash to buy back their own stocks, and paying corporate executives shamefully excessive compensation. The corporate mainstream media treats corporate CEO’s like rock stars as if they deserve to be compensated at a level 243 times the average worker. The S&P 500 consists of the 500 biggest companies in America and while the executives of these companies have reaped millions in compensation, the stock index for these companies is at the exact level it was on July 9, 1998. Over the last thirteen years workers were fired by the thousands, shareholders earned 0% (negative 39% on an inflation adjusted basis), and executives got fabulously rich. […]
* THE DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION BILL: ONLY HOPE IS THE UDALL AMENDMENT
By Jeralyn, TalkLeft
Unfortunately, the Senate is scheduled to vote Monday or Tuesday on the 2012 Defense Authorization bill with the horrible detainee provisions. The bill is a primer for indefinite military detention until the end of time, considering it encompasses more than al Qaida and the war on terror is endless. It gives the military total control over detainees.
Sen. Levin and McCain are pushing for a vote on new Amendments for Monday evening. The bill is S. 1867, introduced on Nov. 15. You can read or skim the 682 pages here. The detainee matters are in Subtitle D, starting on page 359 with Section 1031. They go through page 378 and Section 1037. The Congressional Record for Nov. 18 has the most recent events, including a statement by Sen. Levin as to why he thinks the Levin/McCain Amendment is more than fair and the Administration’s objections are unfounded.
The text of Udall’s Amendment is here. Essentially, it would strike the detainee provisions and instead insert a timetable to come up with a new plan.
Here’s the action page to tell your senator to vote for the Udall Amendment.
The time has passed for “tweaks” to the provisions. The best course now is for Udall’s amendment to pass and for nothing to be included in the Senate bill on detainees. […]