Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Motherfucking Cop Doing What Cops Do Best




How many incidences like this are NOT caught on camera? Whether it's cops bashing people's heads in with clubs, or soldiers taking sadistic pleasure in murdering civilians, this kind of behavior is not some isolated occurrence, on the contrary, it is widespread and typical.

Cops and soldiers are trained to use force and violence and relish any opportunity to employ it for whatever reason.

You notice nobody stepped in to help? They were probably all afraid. That's just what authority wants; keep the people in line through fear and intimidation...or you're next.

Ask yourself this; if that were your daughter, or sister, or wife, or girlfriend in this video, what would you do?

Support Our Troops?

A group of  US Army soldiers in Afghanistan killed innocent civilians and then posed with their bodies. On Monday, March 21, 2011, SPIEGEL published some of the photos.

How many "exceptions" like this must we tolerate? How many more scenes of dehumanizing barbarity do we have to witness before we realize that this is the norm of war?
War is always a war against civilians. When you go to war against a tyrant, who do you kill? You kill the victims of the tyrant.
War, because of what it does to human beings, cannot be justified. ~ Howard Zinn
This image shows the body of Gul Mudin, the son of a farmer, who was killed on Jan. 15, 2010. A member of the "kill team" is posing behind him.

In this image, a different soldier poses with the same corpse.

This photo of two dead men comes from the collection of one of the suspects.
If we really cared about "our troops" we would demand that they return home.
He's the one who gives his body as a weapon of the war, and without him all this killing can't go on. 
He's the Universal Soldier and he really is to blame. His orders come from far away no more. They come from here and there and you and me, and brothers can't you see, this is not the way we put the end to war. ~ from Universal Soldier - Buffy Sainte-Marie

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Friday, March 18, 2011

Daniel Ellsberg and Ralph Nader - It's Time to Raise Our Level of Informed Indignation

from Democracy Now! 3/18/2011



STOP THESE WARS

Veterans For Peace 

The War Crimes Times 

U.S. Soldier Ethan McCord speaking about the civilian massacre documented in WikiLeaks's April 2010 video disclosure of Apache helicopter footage of a New Baghdad attack that took place in 2007, allegedly released by PFC Brad Manning. McCord's story was delivered to attendees of the United National Peace Conference, which took place in Albany NY the weekend of July 23-25, 2010. Produced by the United National Peace Conference Media Project, powered by The Sanctuary for Independent Media and the Hudson Mohawk Independent Media Center.



An Open Letter of Reconciliation and Responsibility to The Iraqi people from Ethan McCord and Josh Stieber

Ralph Nader on Democracy Now 3/18/2011 - Nuclear Plants are Technological Insanity

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The government and the industry will defend nuclear power in the U.S. until the last mutation.

Why are we playing Russian roulette with the American people for nuclear plants whose principle objective is simply to boil water and produce steam?

Phone White House comment number 202-456-1111 and demand public hearings in every area where there is a nuclear plant so people can see what the hazards are; what the risks are; how farcical the evacuation plans are (duck and cover); how costly nuclear power is.

no new licenses; shut down aging plants and earthquake risk ones; phase out entire industry; we're going to be left with radioactive waste for hundreds of thousands of years with no permanent repository.

The Nader Page

Democracy Now!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

ACT NOW TO END THE WAR IN AFGHANISTAN

By Dennis Kucinich - Monday, March 14, 2011
Two weeks ago, nine Afghan children between the ages of nine and fifteen were killed by a NATO strike after being mistaken for insurgents. General Petraeus issued an apology and promised to investigate the killings, but news of their deaths quickly sparked anti-U.S. protests. They were killed in the Pech Valley, an area of Afghanistan once considered vital to U.S. military strategy. But now the U.S. military will soon be withdrawing from the Pech Valley after realizing that our presence was destabilizing the area.

The reality is our presence is destabilizing more than the Pech Valley -- it's propping up a corrupt regime and fueling an insurgency, all while Afghan's see little to no improvement in their lives. And it's destabilizing Americans at home. While vital services and benefits get cut -- such as the Community Development Block Grants and the WIC program which provides low-income expecting mothers and infants with proper nutrition -- we continue to fund an expensive war with no end in sight.

Last Wednesday, joined by members of both parties including Representatives Ron Paul, Walter Jones, Pete Stark, Bob Filner, and Barbara Lee, I announced a new bill to bring an end to the war in Afghanistan by the end of this year. Our legislation invokes the War Powers Resolution of 1973 (pursuant to section 5(c)), which, if enacted, would require the President to withdraw U.S. Armed Forces out of Afghanistan by December 31, 2011. This legislation has bi-partisan support, and, according to a recent Rasmussen poll, a majority of Americans want us out of Afghanistan by the end of the year. A vote will be held on Thursday. We could end the war this week.

There is simply no rationale for continuing American involvement with no end in sight, rising deaths for civilians and our brave soldiers, declining public sentiment, and serious economic pain at home. Continuing our involvement in Afghanistan is not affordable, it's not just, and it hurts American foreign policy interests. It's time to go.

While Congress pulls unemployment benefits from suffering Ohio families and proposes slashing health care benefits, vital children's programs, and veterans' services all because we're "broke", it continues to fund a war that has cost us more than $455 billion. We are told we should cut funding for assistance to low-income families with one hand, while with the other hand tens of billions of dollars are approved for a war that does nothing to further our national security. The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation estimates that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan cost the average American family of four almost $13,000 last year.

Our priorities are simply out of sync. Desperately needed unemployment benefits were filibustered last year because the costs to provide them were not offset with spending cuts or revenue increases. But we are not required to offset the costs of war, even when the war is completely funded by borrowed money - money we have to pay back with interest on the backs of our children and grandchildren.

And we are spending all this money on a war that is a waste of time, blood, and treasure. And the situation is getting worse, not better. 2010 was the deadliest year of the entire campaign. 700 brave soldiers, mostly Americans, were killed. Civilian deaths are on the rise too -- up 15% in 2010. As we approach the one-year anniversary of the commitment of an additional 30,000 troops and over $36 billion to the surge in Afghanistan, it is clear our strategy is not working. And we cannot afford to sustain it any longer.

The American people are being asked to shoulder the costs for wars that undermine our national, moral and economic security and opposition is growing. We must ask ourselves whose nation we are building when we ask people here at home to give up benefits they have earned in order to nation-build abroad.

We must not let this continue. Please call your Congressperson now -- and ask them to support House Concurrent Resolution 28 to end the war in Afghanistan. We're expecting a vote on Thursday, so please act now.

Republican Governors - Stealing From The Poor and Middle Class To Give To The Rich



john kasich, ohio - cut funding to public schools by 25%; slash $12 million from children's hospitals, $16 million from an adoption program for children with special needs, $1 million from food banks; tax cuts for oil companies, tax cut for the rich, repeal of the estate tax

rick scott, florida - slash corporate income tax; cut medicaid and education funding by $4 billion each

larry o'neil, georgia house leader - pushed for a budget that cuts corporate taxes by 33% while increasing health care costs for state workers by 20%

tom branstad, iowa - wants corporate income tax cut and a freeze on school spending

sam brownback, kansas - eliminating corporate income tax all together, cutting $50 million to education

paul lepage, maine (tea party governor) - tax cut for maine's richest 1%, property tax hike for middle class

tom corbett, pennsylvania - corporate tax cut, freeze on teacher's salaries

nikki haley, south carolina - wants to end corporate income tax, cut physical education from schools, medicaid reductions

rick snyder, michigan - (from: michaelmoore.com - letter to my fellow michiganders
Gotten the House and Senate to pass bills giving him "Emergency Management" powers such as the ability to appoint a corporation or a CEO who could literally dissolve town governments or school boards, fire the elected officials, nullify any local law and run your local governmental entity. That company then would have the power to immediately declare all collective bargaining contracts null and void.

Proposed giving business a whopping 86% tax cut while raising everyone's personal taxes by 31%! And much of that tax hike he believes should be shouldered by -- I kid you not -- senior citizens and the poor! He says these two groups have not been "sharing the sacrifice" the rest of us have been burdened with. So his budget proposes a $1.8 billion tax CUT for business and a $1.75 billion tax INCREASE for the rest of us, much of it from the poor, seniors and working people -- even though the top 1% in Michigan ALREADY pay a lower state tax rate than everyone else does!

Together with the legislature, introduced over 40 anti-labor bills in just the first two months of this session! They have wasted no time and have caught most people off guard. Much of this is being rushed through right now before you have a chance to raise your voice in objection.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Dennis Kucinich (Vegan-OH) on The Ed Show Asking for Full Briefing on Nuclear Issues 3/15/11



Here is the letter Congressman Kucinich sent to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission:
Dear Chairman Jaczko:
As the situation in Japan forces us to reconsider our definition of “unlikely,” I am writing to request a detailed description of the specific actions the NRC will take to ensure measures are taken to provide a level of protection of public health and the environment for all Americans that exceeds the level of protection provided at the failing Japanese nuclear power plants like Fukushima Daiichi.  A briefing to Members of Congress in which you explain the actions should accompany the report.
Specific safety issues addressed should include, but not be limited to a history of plant operator malfeasance and/or ineptitude; the flaws in the Mark I reactor design; the risks posed by earthquakes and tsunamis, floods, power outages, fires and intentional aircraft crashes; and the specific criteria for revoking or denying a license to operate.
As the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs, Stimulus Oversight and Government Spending of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, I look forward to hearing how the NRC will act swiftly to learn important lessons from the tragedy in Japan.
Operators of nuclear power plants with demonstrated poor safety records should not be allowed to continue to put the public at risk.  Though there are several examples of companies whose past performance has shown that they should not be operating a nuclear power plant, the story of Davis-Besse, operated by FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company (FirstEnergy) is instructive.
On June 9, 1985, FirstEnergy allowed a 12-minute interruption in the feedwater flow to the steam generators, which was cited as a “potential catastrophe.”  In 2002, Davis-Besse’s reactor head corroded nearly all the way through because it was “weakened by years of neglect.”  A former NRC top safety official, Harold Denton, stated in 2004 that these two incidents represent the nuclear “industry’s second and third-lowest points after Three Mile Island.”
FirstEnergy’s employees tried to conceal the truth about the 2002 incident from the NRC using “tricks, schemes, or devices . . . to deliberately mislead” the agency.  David Uhlmann, chief of the Justice Department’s environmental crimes section, said that FirstEnergy showed “brazen arrogance” and “breached the public trust” by withholding information about the reactor head incident.  Federal prosecutors described the reactor head incident “as one of the biggest cover-ups in U.S. nuclear history.”
FirstEnergy paid a record fine of $33.45 million as a result of its actions.  Of that amount, a record $28 million was the fine that First Energy paid “to avoid being criminally prosecuted for lying to the government about the dangerous condition of Davis-Besse’s old reactor head,” according to then-U.S. Attorney Greg White in 2006.
The total fine was merely 1% of FirstEnergy’s profits in 2004.  While these may have been record fines, they were a mere slap on the wrist for FirstEnergy, creating little incentive to protect the public.  This conduct is the product of an inveterate, corrupt culture of long standing deceit and corner-cutting on safety.  With such an abysmal record, they, and other nuclear power plant operating companies with poor performance records should not be allowed to continue to operate nuclear power plants.
As you know, I have repeatedly called for the denial of FirstEnergy’s application to continue to operate Davis-Besse beyond its designed life span.  Until there is adequate accountability, incentives to place profits before safety will persist.
The Fukushima Daiichi plant that is currently considered to pose the greatest threat to human health uses the General Electric Mark I reactor design.  The Mark I has been criticized by NRC staff and others for failing to perform one of its primary functions: containing radiation in the event of a problem with the reactor.
The three explosions at Daiichi reactors 1, 2 and 3 that released radioactive substances have illuminated this design flaw.  The U.S. has nuclear power plants with the Mark I design in Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Vermont.  Most are operating at or past their design life and most have recently received 20-year extensions of their operating license.
The Fukushima Daiichi power plant was supposedly designed to withstand extreme events such as earthquakes and tsunamis.  It failed, and the success of efforts to prevent meltdowns at Fukushima Dainii power plant, Tokai nuclear power plant, and Onagawa power plant have yet to be determined.
The NRC must review the ability of all nuclear power plants in the U.S. to withstand multiple simultaneous events that could wipe out entire redundancy systems.  Plants on or near earthquake faults like San Onofre in Southern California and Perry on Lake Erie in Ohio are particularly vulnerable.
In the New York Times Monday, Michael W. Golay, professor of nuclear science and engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said, “Utilizing cost-benefit judgments, every nation with nuclear power has set the strongest earthquake that its nuclear plants must survive intact considerably below the level of the Japanese earthquake.”  We must do better than to rely on a safety standard which has demonstrated that it would bring us to the brink of a nuclear catastrophe.
Other ongoing safety issues at nuclear power plants in the U.S. pose risks similar to those at the Japanese nuclear power plants.  Power outages or floods could cripple primary and secondary core cooling systems.  Widespread fire protection deficiencies have not been rectified.  Most nuclear power plants in the U.S. remain vulnerable to an intentional aircraft crash.  Each of these vulnerabilities merits serious scrutiny.
Bringing our nuclear power plants up to a more suitable safety standard will be expensive. The new reality created by the Japanese nuclear reactors will force us to re-imagine what is possible and, therefore, what must be done. Professor Golay summarized the false choice that exists in the prevailing attitude about nuclear power safety options:
In considering the nuclear hazards of strong earthquakes, it’s useful to note the results of a study, which I led from 2001 to 2004, for Tokyo Electric Power Company. The study addressed whether to devote resources to provide robust public protection from nuclear risks that could arise in the event of strong earthquakes or to focus such efforts and researches on the direct effects of the earthquake.
We concluded that any earthquake strong enough to damage the reactor, and thus expose the public to harmful radiation, would be much more dangerous to the public in its direct effects, and that it would be more beneficial to devote efforts and resources to general preparedness.
When the choice is between building a reactor that can survive a major earthquake and preparing the public for a major release, the latter wins.  This a false choice about ways to direct scarce resources that facilitates profit for a select few, while placing enormous risks on the rest of us.  If the citizens of the U.S. and the world cannot be adequately protected from the risks of nuclear power, then nuclear power should not continue to exist and we should turn to cleaner, safer alternatives.
If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Sincerely,
Dennis J. Kucinich
Member of Congress

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Iowa Considers Bill to Criminalize Undercover Videos At Farms

from Democracy Now! 3/15/11
and here is an article from The Associated Press - AG Industry, lawmakers try to limit secret videos

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In Iowa, lawmakers are considering a bill that would make it illegal for animal rights activists to go undercover and record video of farm animal abuse. Backed by Iowa’s agriculture industry, the bill would impose fines and prison sentences on anyone who seeks agricultural employment in order to capture footage. In recent years, undercover videos have revealed shocking conditions at a number of locations and have led to plant closures and meat recalls.
Did you see the way that "big, tough" fuckin' asshole redneck kicked the poor, innocent, defenseless calf? If you saw someone kicking a dog or a cat like that you would be outraged, but because it's a farm animal no one gives a shit about that. These animals are just as capable of feeling pain and emotions as any pet, yet people do very little to protect them. Why? Probably because most of the cruelty inflicted upon these animals is out of view or because they stupidly think that eating animals is necessary so it doesn't matter how they are treated.

Farmers in Iowa, Wisconsin and other places are supporting workers whose collective bargaining rights may be stripped away from them, but no one has any right to bitch about their ill treatment when they are enslaving, abusing and acting like bullies toward other creatures...simply because they can or because there is money to be made in it.

As long as people are allowed to get away with this kind of cruelty, we will never have a kinder, more compassionate and fairer world. I'm an atheist but I can appreciate the passage in the bible that reads:
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. ~ Matthew 25:40
If we cannot respect the rights of "the least of these my brethren" not to have harm inflicted upon them by us, then we have no business referring to ourselves as a humane and civil society.

The Ed Show 3/14/11 - Republicans Propose Cuts To Disaster Warning Services


Strict building codes and early warning systems in Japan, due to government regulations, likely saved countless lives, but house republican leader Eric Cantor defends republican proposals to slash funding to organizations such as the USGS, The National Weather Service and NOAA, which provide disaster warning and emergency services to millions of Americans.

The Ed Show 3/14/11 - Republicans & Fox News Downplay Nuclear Disaster


Lamar Alexander (R-TN) downplays risk of nuclear energy while at the same time accepting campaign contributions from Babcock & Wilcox, a company that builds nuclear reactors.

From: Nuclear Meltdown in Japan: Warned Since Many Years, Mathaba.Net
"Our world faces a crisis as yet unperceived by those possessing the power to make great decisions for good and evil. The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe." ~ Albert Einstein

He envisioned two choices - abolish all forms of nuclear power or face extinction. No one listened. The Doomsday Clock keeps ticking.

Monday, March 14, 2011

George Bush Can Barely Contain His Laughter When Reflecting Upon The Misery Caused By Hurricane Katrina

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President Obama Allowing Torture of Bradley Manning to Continue

When George W. Bush was interviewed by Matt Lauer back in November of 2010, he said he allowed the continuation of using the tortuous practice of waterboarding because:
the lawyer said it was legal. He said it did not fall within the anti-torture act. I’m not a lawyer. But you gotta trust the judgment of the people around you, and I do.
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Well now president Obama is also trusting the judgment of the people around him when the Pentagon told him that the conditions which Bradley Manning is forced to endure are:
appropriate and are meeting our basic standards.


In Bush's case, he was just looking for people who would tell him what he wanted to hear and then taking their advice, but Obama is trusting the judgment of the very people who are involved in the mistreatment of Manning.

When it comes to American presidents justifying the use of torture, it seems Pete Townsend was right when he wrote the words, "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss".

Senator Al Franken (D-Minn) - Where Are Our Values?

Sen. Franken's Floor Statement on Tax Cuts and Unemployment Insurance, December 3, 2010.

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M. President, I was presiding this Monday when one of my friends on the other side of the aisle was speaking on the floor on a very important topic. He said, "We need to do everything to see that the deficit does not increase." Now, less than a week later, he is going to vote to increase the deficit by $700 billion. That's an impressive reversal, don't you think?

Now, many of my colleagues on the other side ran for reelection this fall saying that the deficit is a cancer.  We owe it to our children and our grandchildren to cut the deficit.  Well, congratulations.  Because one of your first votes back you're going to vote to put over $9,300 more debt on the head of every child in America.

And what is that for? To give an average tax cut of a $100,000 to Americans making over $1 million a year.
Now my friends on the other side of the aisle have been saying to us, "Haven't you learned the lesson of the election?"  I don't recall permanent tax cuts for millionaires being on any ballot.  In fact, let's take a look at the exit polls conducted by Edison Research, the exclusive provider of the National Election Exit Polls for all of the major TV networks and the Associated Press.  And in their poll, they found that roughly sixty percent of Americans wanted to end tax cuts for those making over $250,000.  And more recently, a Quinnipiac poll said that only 35 percent of Americans wanted the Bush tax cuts extended for those with incomes over $250,000.

And, of course the American people feel this way.  They know what's been happening over the last twenty years in this country.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, during the past 20 years, 56 percent of all income growth went to the top one percent of households.  Even more unbelievable-a third of all income growth went to just the top tenth of one percent.  The wealthy have done extremely well for themselves over the past twenty years.  Unfortunately, this is while the middle class has done decidedly worse.

When you adjust for inflation, the median household income actually declined over the last decade.  During those years, while the rich were getting richer, the rest of working America was struggling to keep up.

 We've been growing apart.  And the American people know this.  And now, working Americans are forced to listen to the Republicans as they demand "Everyone needs to share the pain.  We're all in this together."

The IRS published a study analyzing the tax returns of the wealthiest 400 Americans.  Together, in 2007, they brought in nearly $138 billion dollars.  Want to take a guess at what their average effective tax rate was?  Just over 16 and a half percent.   Is that really sharing the pain?  Are they really sharing in the pain just like everybody else?

Now frankly, I'm a little tired of being lectured by Republicans on the deficit.  We all know that Bill Clinton inherited the largest deficit in history from George H. W. Bush and then handed George W. Bush the largest surplus in history.  And George W. Bush nearly doubled the national debt.  He also handed Barack Obama the largest deficit in history.  And, of course, my friends on the other side of the aisle controlled the Congress for most of those Bush years.

Now today, we're talking about how to get our economy going and keep deficits down at the same time.  And what we're discussing right now is whether to restore the Clinton marginal tax rate on the very wealthiest of Americans.  Now I remember when he raised the tax rate on the top 2%.  Republicans said that would kill the economy.

Newt Gingrich.  Remember him?  (I'm sorry. To protect his anonymity, I'll just call him, Newt G.) On August 5, 1993, he said, "I believe this will lead to a recession next year.  This is the Democrat machine's recession, and each one of them will be held personally accountable."

Senator Phil Gramm.  Remember him?  He said, "The Clinton plan is a one-way ticket to recession.  This plan does not reduce the deficit...but it raises IT and it puts people out of work."

Governor-elect John Kasich said, "This plan will not work.  If it was to work then I'd have to become a Democrat." Congratulations, Ohio, on electing a Democratic governor.

22.7 milion jobs and a giant surplus later, George W. Bush waltzes into office and says, 'Hey, we're running a surplus.  The people deserve a tax cut.'  Now let's recall what he said about his tax cut.  He said, over and over again, and I quote, "by far the vast majority of the help goes to those at the bottom end of the economic ladder."  Wow.  That sounds like the bottom got a vast majority of the tax cuts.

They didn't.  Actually, the bottom 60 percent of Americans got just 14.7 percent of the Bush tax cuts.  And the top one percent got 29.5 percent of the tax cuts.  Exactly double.  Let me repeat that.  The top 1 percent got double of what the bottom 60 percent did.

The results of this new policy?  Massive deficits.  Only one million new jobs over the eight years of his presidency.  One million.

And now my friends in the minority want to go back to that discredited economic philosophy.

The fig leaf here is small business.  They attack us and say that not cutting taxes on the richest Americans will hurt small business.  Well, it seems that to my friends on the other side of the aisle some small businesses are more important than others.  Why did they block us for months from passing the Small Business Jobs Act, which gave tax cuts to small businesses and created a $30 billion line of credit for small businesses on Main Street?  Why did they oppose the HIRE Act that gave large tax cuts to small businesses to encourage them to hire unemployed workers?  Well, it seems that these aren't the small businesses that my friends are so concerned about.

When you and I think about a small business, we picture the mom and pop grocer down the street, or maybe a hardware store, or a small precision manufacturing operation.  We probably think of them as small businesses because they are, well, small.  They probably have a few employees, one location, and make a modest but comfortable living doing it.

And Republicans are trying to scare us into believing that the grocer and hardware store owners will shutter their doors if we return the top two tax brackets to their previous levels.  But that's simply not the case.
In reality, only 3 percent of small businesses would be affected by this change.  Yet, you'll hear Republicans tout that those top 3 percent of businesses make up 50 percent of total small business income.  And that tells you one important thing-that those 3 percent of small businesses aren't really small businesses.  Only under the broadest, most arbitrary of definitions are these businesses "small."

When many of my friends on the other side of the aisle talk about small businesses, they're including anybody who uses a flow-through business entity-so an S corp or a partnership.  They're not defining a small business by its size or profits or the number of people they employ.  They're defining it on a technicality.

Under their definition, Bechtel, the fifth largest company in the U.S., is a small business.  The Koch brothers, who run a petroleum company with nearly $100 billion in annual revenue, they are considered a small business.  They're worth about $16 billion - each!  Law firm partners and Wall Street bond traders are considered small businesses.

So really, Republicans are using the mom and pop grocery store to defend the continuation of these tax cuts, but in reality, the only people they're really helping are the Bechtels and Kochs of the world, and maybe Derek Jeter, Inc. and Mel Gibson, Inc., other likely "small business" beneficiaries.

And at the same time that Republicans are demanding unpaid-for tax cuts for the Koch brothers, they're insisting that we pay for a continuation of the emergency unemployment insurance program.  They want to pay for it even though unemployment benefits have been shown to be an extremely effective stimulus - in fact, one of the most effective stimulus measures.  Why?  Because when unemployed workers gets their checks for a couple hundred dollars, they go to their local mom and pop grocery store and buy food. They spend that money, right away, in their communities. . . in real small businesses.

It's the holidays.  Can they afford to buy a small Christmas present for their kids?  I'm worried there are those among us who would say "no, no presents."

So Republicans say that these unemployment benefits are too expensive and will add to the deficit.  They demand that these unemployment benefits must be paid for.  Tax cuts for the richest people in America?  No need to pay for those.  Adding $700 billion to the deficit-or actually $830 billion when you factor in extra interest payments?  No problem.

You know, I hear my friends on the other side say, we're going to have to make some hard choices.  I agree.  The deficit is a problem, and getting it under control will take shared sacrifice.

There are a lot of Minnesotans who have to make hard choices now.  Maybe it means giving up the second car.  Maybe it means no summer camp for the kids.  Some communities in Minnesota have had to go to a four day school week, because there just isn't the money there.

Some Minnesotans have been hit even harder.  Their unemployment insurance was cut off earlier this week, because of us.  They've got a lot of hard choices right now.  Where are they going to live if they can't pay their mortgage or the rent?  Food or medicine or heat?  How do I give my kids anything resembling a Christmas?  These are people who lost their jobs and desperately want to find work.

But we can't pass unemployment insurance for them unless it's paid for.  But for the owners of Bechtel or Pricewaterhouse Coopers-yeah, they're a small business too-the sky's the limit.

You know, I'm Jewish.  So I don't know the New Testament all that well.  But I know Matthew.  "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of my brethren, you did for me."  I went to a union hall not long ago.  Building trades.  A carpenter came up to me.  Big strong guy.  Rough, calloused hands.  Tears in his eyes.  He had gotten just a little bit of work here and there in the last 18 months.  He said to me, "I never took unemployment before.  I hate it.  But if it weren't for my unemployment insurance, I wouldn't be in my house."

Making tough choices means doing one thing and not another.  And right now, we're faced with that choice.  If we can't agree to help people like that carpenter by continuing emergency unemployment benefits, how can we live with ourselves?  How can we think that we're doing our jobs?  The choice before us is clear this holiday season-lend a hand to those who simply can't get by without the help, or give $100,000 in average tax cuts to people making over a million dollars.

Where are our values?  What are we doing here?  It's almost Christmas.  We'll be leaving here to go spend time with our families.  We've got jobs, we've got great jobs.  I think this is the greatest job, trying to make people's lives better back in Minnesota.  So I ask again, what are we doing here?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Inheritance (1964) - The History of Labor in America

"The labor movement arose from the need of the individual worker to protect his interests and promote his welfare in a competitive society. The labor union is the tool that compounds the scattered forces of the individual workers and uses their collective strength to improve their working lives and to assert their social power." ~ From The Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America: A Study in Progressive Trades-Unionism by Charles Elbert Zaretz

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Synopsis from Turner Classic Movies:

Commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, the film traces the growth of the American labor movement from immigrant arrival at Ellis Island through union participation in the civil rights struggle of the sixties. Focusing on the garment industry, the documentary exposes conditions in the sweatshops and ghettos of New York, Chicago, and Rochester, and depicts the police brutality accompanying protest. Among the labor martyrs eulogized are the strikers Charles Lazinskas, Samuel Kapper, Ida Brayman, and the ten Chicago Republic Steelworkers murdered while marching on Memorial Day, 1937. Union champions represented include Jane Addams of Hull House, Mrs. Raymond Robins of the Women's Trade Union League, Harold Ickes, Sidney Hillman, Clarence Darrow, Fiorello LaGuardia, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

The Inheritance AFL-CIO soundtrack album.
and from Film & History:

The Inheritance (Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, 1964) Fans of labor documentaries are divided into two groups: those who have seen The Inheritance more than 100 times and those who have not reached—but certainly will—this exalted status. This documentary truly deserves its reputation as a “classic,” for both its content and its production and a showing never fails to rouse the spirit of solidarity in everyone who watches it.

Produced in the mid-1960s by a union which no longer exists about traditions which have been buried by the years, The Inheritance set such a standard for labor documentaries that there have been virtually no other attempts at such a vast and comprehensive depiction of the American labor movement. At a time when labor history often deals with microscopic—and generally trivial--moments, this documentary had the ambition to try to squeeze 200 years of history into one hour.

This documentary was financially supported by the union, produced and constructed by a talented collection of blacklisted writers and musicians, with a stirring narrative by Robert Ryan (once cast, ironically, as a Communist in the movie I Married A Communist).The Inheritance tries to present the whole story of the labor movement in the United States from immigrants trudging through Ellis Island to the rise of industrial unionism. The documentary combines techniques which were, for the time, extraordinary: archival photos carefully panned and mixed with grainy movie footage, a variety of narrative voices, including expert reproduction of immigrant accents, creating an unsurpassed feeling for the workers movement.

Supporting the narration, the labor songs, supervised by Millard Lampell, a blacklisted member of The Almanac Singers, and sung by Woody Guthrie, Tom Paxton and Judy Collins, are wonderful and seem, like the documentary as a whole, timeless. The strengths of this documentary are also its weakness: with its emphasis on the particular history of the ACWA, many of its figures and references—to the various strikes in the New York City needle trades, for example—may make it difficult for an audience of workers to understand. The documentary glories the ACWA’s first president, Sidney Hillman, and his dedication to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, with whom he had such a close relationship that “check it with Sidney” became a common expression of the New Deal. At the same time, a documentary showing the development of a union movement among immigrant workers seems timely in the 21st century when immigrant workers and their status are so controversial.

The documentary is openly partisan and free of any hesitation: most bosses are evil, industrial unionism is good, The New Deal is good, so is World War II, but not so much World War I. The nuclear arms race presents a problem and the civil rights movement, just reaching its full strength when the documentary was released, was a momentous social movement.

There is no higher tribute to this movie than its constant use, more than 40 years after its first release. Recently, when a student in my labor studies program, working as an internal organizer for the CWA at Verizon, wanted a history of the union movement to show to a group of new stewards and mobilizers, without hesitation I gave her my copy of The Inheritance. Copies of the video (only in VHS format, I think) are still available through the Labor Heritage Foundation or the Illinois Labor History Society.

From The United States Code, Title 29, Chapter 7, Subchapter II - National Labor Relations, Section 151:
It is hereby declared to be the policy of the United States to eliminate the causes of certain substantial obstructions to the free flow of commerce and to mitigate and eliminate these obstructions when they have occurred by encouraging the practice and procedure of collective bargaining and by protecting the exercise by workers of full freedom of association, self-organization, and designation of representatives of their own choosing, for the purpose of negotiating the terms and conditions of their employment or other mutual aid or protection. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Did They Die In Vain?

by Congressman Alan Grayson

On May 4, 1886, in Haymarket Square in Chicago, the public rallied peacefully in support of 40,000 workers in Chicago who had gone on strike, to win the right to organize. The police attacked, and eight died.
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("The great industrialists all, I think, woke up, at least at times, in the middle of the night in a cold sweat and worried about revolution. It was impossible not to entertain the potential for serious social unrest and indeed political and economic revolution in this country, when the rewards of this extraordinary moment of change in capitalism were being so unequally distributed. And they knew it. Field knew it. Pullman knew it. Swift knew it. Armour knew it. They couldn't not know it and that was a very scary possibility for people like Field." ~ Nancy Koehn, historian)

On July 6, 1892, in Homestead, Pennsylvania, 3800 workers went on strike, to win the right to organize. Three hundred hired and armed goons attacked them. Five people died.



On April 20, 1914, in Ludlow, Colorado, 1200 coal miners went on strike, to win the right to organize. The Colorado National Guard attacked their shantytown, and burned it to the ground. Nineteen people died. Two women and 11 children were asphyxiated, and they burned to death.



Here and around the world, many people have fought and died, so that you and I would have the right to organize.

And so that 250,000 public workers in Wisconsin would have that right, too.

This is not exactly a new idea. Six months after the Ludlow Massacre, President Wilson signed the Clayton Act, prohibiting the prosecution of union members under Antitrust Law. That was almost a century ago.

Two decades later, during the Franklin Roosevelt's first term as president, he signed the National Labor Relations Act into law. It protects the right to organize. That was over 75 years ago.

The right to organize also is a fundamental principle of international law. Over 150 countries have ratified the "Right to Organize" Convention, an international treaty. It was adopted in 1949, over 60 years ago.

So why are we even talking about this, 11 years into the 21st century?

Because the teabaggers want to "take back America." They want to take it back, all right -- take it all the way back to the 19th century. When there was no right to organize. When people worked for a dollar a day. When grown men competed against children for jobs. When women were barred from most jobs entirely. When you worked until you died.

Not to mention slavery.

I want to see an America that is healthy and wealthy.

They want an America that provides cheap labor to our corporate overlords. An America where the middle class is chained by debt.

We didn't ask for this fight. But we have no choice except to fight back. For the survival of the middle class in America. For us, for our children, and for our grandchildren. And so that the victims in Haymarket, in Homestead and in Ludlow did not die in vain.

As Cardinal Spellman said 45 years ago, "it is a war thrust upon us, and we cannot yield to tyranny."
I'm ready to fight for what's right. What about you?

Scott Walker - Manure Spreader

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Corporation (2003)

Watch the full length movie

Naomi Klein on The Rachel Maddow Show 3/8/2011

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MADDOW:  The Michigan house has already passed and the Michigan Senate is about to pass a bill that sounds like it is out of a dystopian, leftist novel from the future.  If you think that Republican governors across the country are using fiscal crisis as a pretext to do stuff they otherwise want to do, this is something I don‘t think I ever would have believed Republicans even wanted to do.

But this is what they are proposing.  It hasn't really gotten much national attention.  But please, just check this out.  Governor Rick Snyder‘s budget in Michigan is expected to cut aid to cities and towns so much that a lot of cities and towns in Michigan are expected to be in dire financial straights.  Right now, Governor Snyder is pushing a bill that would give himself, Governor Snyder, and his administration, the power to declare any town or school district to be in a financial emergency.

If a town was declared by the governor and his administration to be in a financial emergency, they would get to put somebody in charge of that town, and they want to give that emergency manager they just put in charge of the town the power to, quote, “reject, modify, or terminate” any contract the town may have entered into, including any collective bargaining agreements.

So, this emergency person who gets put in charge of a town deemed to be in financial crisis by the governor‘s administration, this emergency person gets to strip the town of union rights, unilaterally, by their own personal authority.  But this emergency person also gets the power under this bill to suspend or dismiss elected officials.  Think about that for a second.  It doesn't matter who you voted for in Michigan, it doesn't matter who you elected, your elected local government can be dismissed at will.

The emergency person sent in by the Rick Snyder administration could recommend that a school district be absorbed into another school district.  That emergency person is also granted power specifically to disincorporate or dissolve entire city governments.

What year was your town founded?  Does it say so like on the town border as you drive into town?  Does it say what year your town was founded?  What did your town‘s founding fathers and mothers have to go through in order to incorporate your town?

Republicans in Michigan want to be able to unilaterally abolish your town and disincorporate it, regardless of what you as a resident think about it.  You don‘t have the right to express an opinion about it through your locally elected officials who represent you, because the Republicans in Michigan say they reserve the right to dismiss your measly elected officials and to do what they want instead because they know best.

The version of this bill that passed Republican-controlled Michigan house said it was fine for this emergency power to declare a fiscal emergency invoking all of these extreme powers.  It was fine for that power to be held by a corporation.

So swaths of Michigan could, at the governor‘s disposal, be handed over to the discretion of a company.  You still want your town to exist?  Take it up with the board of directors of this corporation that will be overseeing your future now.  Or rather don‘t take it up with them.  Frankly, they are not interested.

Instead of thinking of Michigan as the Upper and Lower Peninsula, let‘s think about Amway-stan, right?  The area between Pontiac and Flint could be a nice Dow Chemical-ville, maybe.

The power to overrule and suspend elected government justified by a financial emergency.  Oh, and how do you know when you‘re in a financial emergency?  Because the governor tells you you‘re in a financial emergency.  Or a company he hires to do so does that instead.

The Senate version of the bill in Michigan says it has to be humans declaring the fiscal emergency.  The house bill says a firm can do that just as well.

This is about a lot of things.  This is not about a budget.  This is using or fabricating crisis to push for an agenda you‘d never be able to sell under normal circumstances.

And so, you have to convince everyone that these are not normal circumstances.  These are desperate circumstances.  And your desperate measures are therefore somehow required.

What this is has a name.  It is called shock doctrine.

Joining us now is Naomi Klein, columnist at “The Nation,” fellow at The Nation Institute, and author of the book “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster, Capitalism,” which is in effect book-length warning of all this.

Naomi, thank you for being here.

NAOMI KLEIN, “THE SHOCK DOCTRINE”:  Glad to be with you, Rachel.

MADDOW:  Do you see disaster capitalism at work in these state budget fights?  Because I do.

KLEIN:  Yes, I definitely do.  And—but it‘s important to remember that these guys have been at this for 30 years.  I mean, they‘re part of an ideological movement and they believe in a whole bunch of stuff that‘s not very popular.

You know, there are some policies in the ideological Republican playbook that a lot of people like: everyone likes a tax break.  But if you talk about you‘re privatizing the local water system, busting unions, privatizing entire towns, things like this, if you run an election and say this is what I plan to do, you—chances are you will lose that election.  And this is where crises come in.  They are very, very handy, because you can say we have no choice.

You don‘t have to win the argument any more.  You just have to say the sky is falling in.  We have to do this.  You can consolidate power.

We remember this from the Bush administration.  They did this at the federal level.  After 9/11, they said, we have a crisis, and we have to essentially rule by fiat.

So, the first stage is to consolidate power.  But that‘s not the end goal.  It‘s just to hoard the power.  It‘s then to auction off the states because these guys really don‘t believe in the governments that they are running.  I mean, this is a really old story.

But, you know, if you look at what‘s going on in Wisconsin, why are

why are they so desperate to tie the hands of unions?  Why are 16 states facing similar battles?

Unions are the final line of defense against privatization of the public sector.  Unions are the ones who fight privatization of the school system, of the water system, of the power system.  That‘s where the real money is.

I mean, you got to keep our eye on the prize, because there‘s a lot of money to be made in the kinds of crony deals that could be rammed through when you have all of that power consolidated in the governor‘s office.

MADDOW:  So, you think that this is about trying to achieve ideological aims that people wouldn‘t necessarily vote for, but also about changing the process, sort of putting our thumb on the scales so that the process is easier for them to keep making more decisions like this in the future?

KLEIN:  Well, absolutely because unions are a political force.  I mean, they represent their members, but they also give them a political voice.  And you know, in that fake conversation with David Koch when Scott Walker thought he was talking to David Koch, there was something really revealing that he said.  He said, “This is our moment to change the course of history.”  That‘s what he said when he thought he was talking to David Koch.

MADDOW:  And the reason he purports to have identified that moment is because Wisconsin has a budget deficit.

KLEIN:  Right.

MADDOW:  And so, therefore, that gives you a reason to change the course of history.

KLEIN:  Change the course of history to lock in the whole wish list of policies, and he specifically compared himself to Ronald Reagan and the air traffic controller strike.  This was his moment and he said that was the moment that ended communism.

And you know, what‘s the crusade that they‘re fighting here?  And they really want a corporate monopoly state.  They don‘t want any counter veiling force balancing out the power of corporations.

And so, unions are also a political force at the national level, at the state level.  And we‘re in this bizarre situation where Citizens United has allowed corporations essentially to go nuclear on the political stage.

If you think of this as a kind of war, one side just got nukes.  They are absolutely unconstrained.  And now, they‘re going after the slingshots that the other side has.

MADDOW:  Right.  The one level—the one pseudo bit of competition they have got in terms of big money in politics.  I mean, unions are able to pull the resources of their members in order to try to compete with these big guys.  But they are the only ones who even crack the top 10 in terms of corporate giving.

KLEIN:  Exactly, exactly.  So, there are a few different things—different agendas going on.

MADDOW:  Are you heartened by the way this worked out in Wisconsin?  Protests in Wisconsin effectively stopping what was happening there, even as the national Republican Party decided to adopt Wisconsin as their signal fight for the country.

KLEIN:  I mean, I‘m so heartened by it, Rachel.

MADDOW:  Yes.

KLEIN:  I mean, it‘s extraordinary.  And I mean, just listening to your opening commentary—you know, this very well may be the turning point.  And what we‘re seeing is that when people do fight, they sometimes win, which is a really well-kept secret, that, you know, in all the sort of mocking of protests and glib post modern times, sometimes they win.  Especially if you‘re willing to do more than, you know, just go to a march once.  And just the tenacity of people in Madison, it‘s so inspiring.

MADDOW:  But when you have traveled around the world documenting disaster capitalism and shock doctrine, when you have—and I know you traveled around speaking on this topic as well—what have you been able to find out about what makes more effective resistance?

KLEIN:  Yes.

MADDOW:  I mean, people stand up against this stuff whenever it happens.  Sometimes they do so in a way that works, and sometimes they do so in a way that doesn't work.  What makes the difference whether or not people can win against this?

KLEIN:  Well, the key is to name it while it‘s happening.  And, you know, that‘s why—that‘s why I wrote this history, a history of how the right has won around the world by exploiting these moments of crisis, because this has been their signature tactic.  But we have not been onto them.

If—the whole point of using a crisis, of using a shock is that in those moments of crisis, we‘re disoriented.

MADDOW:  Yes.

KLEIN:  And—but if we made it while it is happening as people have been doing in Wisconsin, then the tactic doesn't work.  But, in addition, to that, you also have to say—you also have to have your own story about what is really causing the crisis.  And also, if you do have a budget deficit, and there are many states that genuinely are facing budget crisis because of a crisis that was created on Wall Street—

MADDOW:  Right.

KLEIN:  -- that was moved to Main Street, this crisis, as we know, was deepened by the policy decisions that were made, the decision to bail out banks that instead of bailing out homeowners, instead of bailing out workers.  And what that means is that your tax base collapses.

So, your tax base collapsed.  And now, we have to pay for the crisis again.  First, we paid with a bailout.  And now, people are paying with it, these budget cuts.

So, I think the really key part of their resistance is that people are saying, you know what, if you—if you really need some money, why don‘t you go where the money is?  Why don‘t you go to the people who have all the money and putting their own proposals on the table?  Whether that means Bank of America for not paying taxes, or whether that means defense contractors, whether that means oil and gas companies

And that is also deflating the strategy of we have no choice because, of course, there are all kinds of choices.

And what this fight is really about is not unions versus taxpayers, as we‘ve been told.  It‘s a fight about who‘s going to pay for the crisis that was created by the wealthiest elite in this country.

MADDOW:  Right.

KLEIN:  Is it going to be regular working people or is it going to be the people who created the crisis?  And that‘s the debate we need to have.

MADDOW:  Understanding it and explaining it is—I mean, it‘s stupid to say that‘s half the battle, but, in this case, I think it really is and you are helping.

Naomi Klein, it‘s really nice to see you again.  Thanks for coming in.

KLEIN:  Thank you.  Thanks, Rachel.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

It's Time For a General Strike!

Michael Moore on Democracy Now! 3/10/2011 "This is a Class War": Michael Moore Calls for Renewed Pro-Democracy Movement as Anti-Union Bills Approved in Wisconsin and Michigan

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Stand Up! Stand and Unite!
Footage of the rallies across America against various union busting bills and other measures to limit the rights of the working class, set to the music of D.O.A - General Strike

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Michael Moore on Rachel Maddow 3/9/2011

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Shock Doctrine - Naomi Klein on Democracy Now 3/9/2011

From Democracy Now! democracynow.org, the war and peace report

Part 1: Naomi Klein on Anti-Union Bills and Shock Doctrine American-Style: "This is a Frontal Assault on Democracy, It’s a Kind of a Corporate Coup D’Etat" Transcript

Part 2: Naomi Klein: Tim DeChristopher Guilty Verdict Exposes "Double Standard" of How "Oil and Gas Companies Privatize Profits...Externalize the Cost" Transcript

Part 3: “My Fear is that Climate Change is the Biggest Crisis of All”: Naomi Klein Warns Global Warming Could Be Exploited by Capitalism and Militarism Transcript