Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Intelligence Matters

David Corn, who wrote for The Nation for years and now writes for Mother Jones, has an interesting take on the presidential election, which is in his new book and which he discussed in an interview on Democracy Now the other day (a transcript is below the video.)

He talks about how President Obama set up the narrative for the current election after the tea baggers were swept to power in 2010, specifically with how he proceeded during the debates over raising the debt ceiling limit, when Republicans, under the influence of the just elected tea bagger hoard, threatened to take to nation over the cliff unless huge cuts were made to the federal budget.

Obama argued that government is a force for good and that we as a people help each other out in hard times and we do that through government, and then he kept repeating that theme in other contexts.

It was a brilliant strategy and it worked, although you'd have to add that Obama was lucky to get Mitt Romney as an opponent, and that a lot of the credit has to go to the Occupy Wall Street movement for doing a lot of Obama's work for him when it changed the national debate to one in which class plays the central role.

Also, Corn, who released the secretly recorded video in which Romney talks about writing off 47 percent of the population, tells how that story unfolded, with the help of Jimmy Carter's grandson.

Jimmy Carter was pleased by how things unfolded.

Romney has campaigned against former President Carter almost as much as against Obama. Countless Republicans have used Jimmy Carter for a punching bag and it's no doubt been difficult for him to have his good name excoriated all these years. Jimmy Carter has been the very model of an ex president, devoting his life to causes of justice, building houses for the poor, mediating difficult conflicts, and going around the globe with his Carter Center observing elections, unlike Ronald Reagan who, the minute he left office, flew to Japan to make commercials for a million dollars each, and never did a thing as ex president to help anyone but himself.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Thanks, Susana

Scorn is still coming down on Susana Martinez and ridicule is still being heaped on New Mexico despite the governor's quick about face after she was widely criticized for trying to narrow the legal definition of rape.

I just got emails today containing links to two more articles. There have been dozens in nationally read news sites and blogs. I just did a Google search using the terms "Susana Martinez forcible rape" and it brought back 33,700 results.

Susana Martinez - Politico

One of the two new stories I read today contained a link to the widely read feminist blog Jezebel, which gives it pretty good to Martinez, and New Mexico.

"Apparently unwilling to be perpetually outshone by neighbor Arizona in the Batshittery Tour de USA, New Mexico has entered the War on Women fray with a truly heinous proposed change to how the state doles out assistance."

The Jezebel story even mocked us by showing a picture of the welcome sign you see at the New Mexico state line. How enchanting, to ask for public assistance when you're the victim of rape in New Mexico, the nation is thinking now, thanks to Susana Martinez.

Martinez, a first term Republican, began attracting that kind of widespread condemnation this past week when it became known she was trying to change state policy to make rape victims first try to get money from their rapists before they'd be eligible for social services, and for trying to make it so that only victims of "forcible rape" were exempt from this new requirement.

Republicans have already tried to narrow the legal definition of rape federally, with a bill co-introduced by Paul Ryan, the Republican vice presidential nominee, and by the notorious Missouri congressman Todd Akin, who started a firestorm by repeating the claim widely believed by the Religious Right that women who are victims of "legitimate rape" can't become pregnant because of it. "Legitimate rape" and "forcible rape" are used interchangeably in the anti abortion movement, which wants to narrow the definition of rape in order to reduce the number of abortions that are allowed under exclusions for rape in anti abortion laws.

A Martinez Administration spokesperson, after the governor quickly reversed course on the forcible rape language,  told the Huffington Post that the proposed changes didn't reflect Martinez' beliefs, and that Martinez used the term "forcible rape" because that's how the FBI describes rape, but that's not true. It once was, but the Obama Administration removed the word "forcible." Now, as far as the FBI goes, rape is rape.

Martinez, a lawyer, a former prosecutor, knows exactly what she's doing when it comes to legal language. In a proclamation issued earlier this year condemning rape she also used the term "forcible rape," as no less than The Guardian points out, and she used that language for a reason. She knows exactly how the term "forcible rape" narrows the legal definition of rape and why she wants it narrowed.

Martinez is keenly aware of the Republican Party's war on reproductive rights, of their attempts to make it difficult to get contraception, of their opposition to equal pay for women, of their efforts to make it harder and harder to obtain a safe and legal abortion. She knows full well that the strategy Republicans and their allies in the Religious Right are pursuing at the moment is to limit a woman's rights at the state level, to move state by state to undo the gains in equality women have made. Susana Martinez can claim ignorance, but she is well aware of her party's war on women because she's part of it. 


Or, What Happens To Your Mind When All You Listen To Is Rush Limbaugh and Fox News

Voters in Ohio, where the economy is heavily reliant on the auto industry, where the economy is much better than the national average because the auto industry has rebounded, comment on President Obama's bailout of the auto industry in a USA Today story.
But Melissa Love, 36, a Republican from Trumbull County and Romney supporter, is torn over the bailout. "That's a tough one," she said. "I was worried at the time that if we didn't bail them out what would happen. Now, I'm a little harder on it and don't think they should have done it. I don't know why."


Friday, September 21, 2012

(updated 9/22)

We're All Capitalists Now

I was telling a guy I know that there's a misperception of the upper class. Contrary to how they are generally portrayed by the media, and in an endless number of Hollywood movies, they are some mean, nasty people, and their society is mean and nasty, too. In social settings they are competitive with each other, undercut each other, embarrass each other. When they get together it's not a warm, fuzzy setting. They have class loyalty, of course. An Us versus Them mentality. They well know how important it is to keep we the writhing masses down. But these are not nice people, and they are most strikingly characterized, I have observed, by having a complete lack of a moral compass.

Reuters photo
The exception to this portrayal that comes to mind is the film Dangerous Liasons in which Glenn Close played a nasty ruling class woman who is eventually ostracized by society, not for being nasty but for being indiscreet about it, for threatening to blow the general public's image of the upper class, and more importantly, to negatively affect the image it has of itself.

This guy I was telling this to was having none of it. It was entirely outside his conception of the upper class. I didn't have time to go into how my particular viewpoint of the upper class had not come through casual observation from the outside, even if that provides enough evidence for many people to conclude that the upper class is at least no better than anyone else. I didn't say I'd been a newspaper reporter and that that gives you access to people and places most people don't have, and that I know a lot about how the upper class makes their millions that the average person doesn't know, and I didn't say that one of the great loves of my life was from an old upper class family, and that through knowing her intimately, and knowing her family and her circle, I got a lot of good insight into how they see themselves and the rest of us, and how they define themselves in opposition to us. He just thought I was talking nonsense.

His reaction is understandable. He has internalized the feeling that the members of the upper class are better than he is, as have many of us, because for his entire life he's seen the the upper class portrayed as having virtue and ability and intelligence at levels commensurate with their material wealth, none of which is anywhere near true.

In this election season some people are becoming aware through the words and deeds of Mitt and Ann Romney, the Republican presidential nominee and his wife, who were born into wealth and have known nothing but wealth, that the Romney's, at least, are nasty people,

Mitt just put another big hole in his sinking campaign ship with his surreptitiously recorded remarks showing his disdain for people who think they are entitled to do things like eat, and Ann has been caught on several occasions lecturing the American people as if they are ungrateful help wanting an advance on their salary.

The Romney's aren't well liked, as polls indicate, but the realization the Romney's aren't very nice people so far hasn't generalized into the notion that the upper class as a whole has its nasty side. 

A Product Of His Environment

One of the things the US Civil Rights movement accomplished was to make us aware of how racism affects one's self image, how we internalize feelings of racial inferiority and superiority. It pointed it out and showed us how to overcome it. Remember James Brown singing I'm Black and I'm Proud?

As I say, it's not surprising that my acquaintance thinks as he does about the upper class, and it shouldn't be surprising why he does, since the media and the film industry are owned and controlled by the upper class. Chicago teachers have just shown the world how much control the wealthy have over the education of the country's youth, and demonstrated that unless working people unite as an entire community and go to extreme measures to fight back, our youth are provided with their knowledge and values by billionaires like Penny Pritzker and the owners of Wal Mart.

Now that the Romneys are publicly demonstrating how they have internalized the feeling that they are superior to the rest of us, it might be a good moment to think about how we come to have our values, our beliefs, how we come to have what knowledge we have. To think about why we have the social relations we have, between classes and within classes.

The conceptions we have, of ourselves and others, the ways in which we relate to each other, individually and collectively, i.e, how we regulate society by a given form of government, are all dictated by one thing, our economic system, Capitalism. It regulates everything else. It defines the way we make our living and what we think about that. It defines how we realize the ideals that are put into our heads and it defines the ideals.

You can't blame the Romneys for the perception they have of themselves, any more than you can blame my working class acquaintance. Capitalism formed Mitt and Ann Romney, and it defines them. It defines me and you, and how and why we formed our beliefs and ideals. In that sense we're all Capitalists, working everyday to create, and recreate, over and over again, the form that formed us.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Do-Nothing Governor

Two New Mexico stories about two entirely different things, two seemingly unconnected stories, appeared at the top of the New Mexico section of my Google new page this afternoon. At least at first blush they seem unconnected.

Susana Martinez-Think
Stories rate high with Google because they are currently getting a lot of web hits. Either many people in New Mexico are reading them, or the stories have gone national. These two stories, one each, seem to fit each category.

One is about how New Mexico fared in the recently released US Census Bureau report that showed national declines in income and wealth for working folk while the rich were getting even richer. Basically we did a little worse than the national average. More children here lost health care coverage while nationally that number increased. That story was in a local business journal. It would be the one that's being read a lot locally.

The other story appears in a publication with broad national readership. Susana Martinez, our poplar Republican governor, is trying to reclassify rape in the way the religious right wants it defined, as in how Republican Missouri senate candidate Todd Akin talked about "legitimate rape" a few weeks ago and brought nationwide scorn upon himself and the Republican Party.

In the parlance of the Republican Religious Right, "legitimate rape" and "forcible rape" are the same thing. Those terms define good old brutal forced penetration and don't include things like incest, date rape and various forms of abuse of minors that are now legally considered rape in many states. In some new regulations Martinez is trying to get through, only women who are "forcibly raped" will be eligible for social services for the child that results from the rape and only if they can prove they were forcibly raped. Also, women who become pregnant through abuse or incest or date rape will have now to prove that they have first tried to get the child's father to support the child.

Think of a 16 year old girl who runs away to escape an abusive father and is staying in a shelter. I'm reminded of a case in Dallas a few years ago, a single father with a daughter. If she wanted to do any of the things teenagers want to do, she had to pay him first with sex. She was a cheerleader, and if she wanted to go to practice, she had to give him oral sex. If she wanted to leave the house for a game, she had to perform coitus with him.

In Susana Martinez' new New Mexico, this girl was not forcibly raped. If she runs away and then finds out she is pregnant, in order to get state support for the child, she will first have to go back and ask her father to support her child. Since what she went through wasn't what Todd Akin considers legitimate rape, she will have to go back and face her father and relive everything that has happened to her, and then Susana Martinez will help her, maybe.

It's been remarked that Susana Martinez really hasn't accomplished much in her first term as governor in terms of getting legislation passed or creating jobs. Which is very true, and by doing nothing, of course, she has accomplished widening of the gap between the rich and poor in New Mexico, which is the centerpiece of the Republican agenda, after all.

It remains to be seen whether she'll accomplish redefining rape the way Todd Akin wants it defined, and we don't know yet just how much of the religious right agenda of putting women back where they were in the 1950s she'll accomplish, which is really what's behind things like the redefinition of rape, but she's making progress already.

Women suffer the most when there's economic decline, and the lower New Mexicans sink in economic terms, the less able single women will be to support their children, and the more dependent they will become on abusive men and incestuous fathers and on governments that define women the way Susana Martinez does, which is the centerpiece of the Religious Right's agenda.

So in terms of furthering Republican economic and social agendas, Martinez, who switched from the Democratic to the Republican party to further her ambitions and whose name was bandied about as a possible vice presidential candidate, hasn't exactly been sloughing off. She may not have made it onto a national ticket yet, but you can't say she's not trying.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Life Is Good Improving
Class In America Today

From Timothy Scanlon's Facebook page

As the Romney-Ryan campaign lurches from disaster to disaster and Barak Obama solidifies his leads in important swing states, and "down ticket" candidates like Democratic US Senate hopefuls Bill Nelson in Florida and Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts also gain in the polls, in a CNN column, LZ Ganderson, referring to Mitt Romney's surreptitiously recorded remarks disrespecting people who don't make enough to pay federal incomes taxes, points out one of the great ironies of politics.

"Eight of the 10 states with the highest percentage of filers who didn't pay federal income taxes are red states that voted for John McCain in 2008: Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, Texas, Louisiana, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Idaho. Only New Mexico and Florida voted for Obama. Conversely, of the 10 states with the lowest percentage of filers who didn't pay federal income taxes, seven voted for Obama. Only Alaska, Wyoming and North Dakota voted for McCain."

Dave "Mudcat" Sanders, a Virginia politico who is a weekly guest on the Stephanie Miller radio show, a Liberal, Democratic party oriented program, was pointing out the mistakes Democrats make that cause them to lose Southern working class votes, like Al Gore promising to tighten gun control laws in 2000. He said Democrats focus too much on class and not enough on culture.

"Culture beats class every time," Sanders said.

Maybe in Virginia, a Southern state, it does. But where I grew up, in the rust belt Midwest, class is culture. I'll give you an example. In the South, it's respectable to be a supervisor. When I lived in rural South Carolina, if someone was a supervisor, that fact was in their obituary. In New Mexico, which shares some characteristics with the South, both having low wage economies that evolved from plantation economies, if I run into someone and we engage in conversation, if they are a supervisor, they work that fact into the conversation within the first sentence or two.

Where I grew up, Michigan, where not everyone was in a union but where the value of a well paying union job with good benefits was appreciated, you could become a supervisor if you wanted to, but you were seen as having gone over to the other side. People talked about you behind your back. "You know how he made supervisor, don't you?" someone would say. Some would just come out and say it. "Ass kisser."

The difference between the two cultures is the difference in the way class is viewed, and in the way a person's own class is viewed, favorably or unfavorably.

Barak Obama, who counts among his close friends billionaire hotel magnate Penny Pritzker and anti union DLC Democrats like Rahm Emanuel, has been no friend of the working class but has played the class card in this election, albeit in measured amounts as he has been aiming mainly at the few undecided voters in a few swing states some of which are in the South.

But he is pulling away from Mitt Romney, whose problems stem mainly from the fact that his reality is defined by his class. While it's been fun to see the Romney-Ryan campaign flail about, they are flailing because they never found a way to eat into the solid electoral vote lead Obama has maintained throughout the summer.

Remember that the Occupy Wall Street movement changed the way many Americans think about class. Republicans can no longer hurl epithets about waging class war whenever anyone mentions the unfairness of American society, not with any effect, because America as a whole is becoming more class conscious. They understand that there are sides.

It will take awhile for that fact to work its way into the cultures of places like South Carolina and New Mexico as fully as it has in some other places, but we can see from the fact that Obama is headed toward victory that it has begun to.

Obama is winning despite the fact that unemployment remains above eight percent, despite having created no jobs to speak of, despite leaving millions of foreclosed homeowners to fend for themselves while bailing out the criminals who are profiting from the foreclosures, despite etc., etc., and despite a recession with no end in sight and bleak prospects on the horizon as incomes and living standards continue their downward trends. But he's winning because he's not a Republican. The Republicans primary way to attract working class votes (besides race, which to a White Southerner who doesn't see her or himself as racist would be thought of as a cultural issue), using cultural issues like abortion and guns that push emotional buttons in people and distract them from class issues, isn't working any more.

Remember, too, that America is becoming relentlessly less White and made up more of people from other cultural backgrounds, to whom the American mythic narrative is foreign, who are from cultures that are more politically sophisticated in understanding class issues.

So how class conscious is America at this juncture?

How badly will Mitt Romney lose?



Monday, September 17, 2012

What's Behind The Chicago Teacher's Strike Is The Future Of Education In America

As the Chicago Teacher's Union strike approaches the one week point, a Chicago judge this morning refused the demand of close Obama ally and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to order teachers back to work by injunction and declare the strike illegal.
Chicago teachers-People's Voice

Although a tentative deal was reached over the weekend, the teachers union negotiating board voted to continue the strike until all teachers can read the agreement, which is delayed until Tuesday in honor of the Jewish New Year holiday Rosh Hashanah. Teachers want to avoid what happened during their last contract negotiations, when the school district, in typing up what was agreed to at the bargaining table, slipped in a sentence saying that the 4 percent raises it agreed to could be withheld if the district couldn't afford it, and the raises weren't paid.

Although the 29,000 teachers at the nation's third largest school district made some concessions in negotiations, Emaunel made even more and teachers prevented the "breakthrough" against union strength Emanuel sought. As a result he is being portrayed in the mainstream media as the loser in the strike, which infuriated him and led him to seek the injunction, where he was again rebuffed.

Chicago teachers rally in Grant Park-Chi Tribune
Emanuel is doubtless under pressure from the Obama campaign to end the strike. The strike enjoys broad support and has the potential to inspire a Wisconsin style or an Occupy style uprising. The strike not only has struck fear in an Obama campaign in the middle of an election but in other big city school boards; as soon as the Chicago strike was called, for instance, the Boston school board settled an impasse with teachers that had been ongoing for two years.

Context and History

Stories about the strike in the mass media display ongoing confusion, owing to confusion in the first stories about the strike that have been endlessly mimicked, and quite a bit of ignorance as to what the strike is over.

Karen Lewis, CPA president- photo Check Please

The importance of the Chicago teacher's strike cannot be understated. Chicago is considered the epicenter of the move by Neoliberalism to destroy public education in America. It is also, under the new leadership of the Chicago Teachers Union, the epicenter of the resistance against it, which is why a majority of Chicago's citizens and 2/3 of Chicago school parents support the strike, despite the Chicago media's blatant bias in favor of the Emanuel narrative that teachers are paid too much and are inept. It's why teachers everywhere and anyone interested in preserving public education are watching Chicago.

At the center of the movement to destroy public education are a host of figures on the Right, like the billionaire children of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, and on the nominal Left figures like Barak Obama, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama's former chief of staff and before that a conservative Chicago-area Democratic congressman, Penny Pritzker, heir of the Hyatt Hotel chain, one of Obama's chief fundraisers and one of the prime movers behind education "reform," and Arne Duncan, Obama's Education Secretary and immediately before that the mayoral-appointed czar of the Chicago school system, who instituted the widespread Neoliberal "reform" in Chicago public school system that Emanuel is trying to accelerate and that newly energized rank and file teachers are fighting against and trying to roll back.

Arne Duncan

Rahm Emanuel
Chicago teachers Union (CTA) president Karen Lewis is a chemistry teacher, who, before being elected union president was one of the organizers of a group called the Caucus of Rank and File Educators (CORE), which was formed to try to keep neighborhood schools open. The former union leadership's lack of backbone in the face of such Daley-Duncan-Obama "reforms" provided impetus for CORE's formation.

Chicago schools under Duncan became a testing ground for Neoliberal education "reforms" with their mania for merit pay, teacher testing and their promotion of charter schools. Duncan was appointed school czar when former Chicago mayor Richard Daley, another close Obama ally, took over the Chicago public school system in a legislative coup d-etat. The Chicago mayor now appoints the school board.

Karen Lewis-AP
 Make no mistake. The "reforms" are not about improving education, even if some naive proponents think so. They have two primary objectives.

One is breaking the back of the teachers unions, one of the remaining centers of union strength in America. That's where the mania with teacher testing comes in. Neoliberal reformers are trying to break existing union contracts and write new contracts in ways that make teacher employment contingent on test scores, not on the experience and education level of teachers.

A word about the benefits of testing. Tests are pushed incessantly despite there being no evidence that they improve education. Think about that. Mandatory testing is known to force an alteration in teaching so that instead of spending their time helping students learn to think critically and analytically and to ask questions and be curious, teachers must necessarily spend their time "teaching to the test," which amounts to rote memorization of likely test answers. That is not teaching.

Two, education "reforms" are about privatizing public education. That's where charter schools come in. Charters school rules allow anyone to apply for a charter to open a school and many of the recipients of charters are private companies whose goal it is to privatize education and profit from it. Like teacher testing, the privatization movement, which encompasses charter schools, which are free to hire non union teachers, is aimed at defeating the teachers unions.

A word about the benefits of charter schools. There's no evidence either that charter schools have been doing a better job of educating children, despite the fact that they are free to "cherry pick" the best students and send back to the public school any problem students and students who need extra help and despite the fact that they are not required to provide any of the extra assistance "special needs" students require. The data so far shows that, based on those test scores reformers love, charter schools do about the same or slightly worse than regular public schools.


Nowhere have Neoliberal solutions to government and education been pushed harder than in Chicago, under Richard Daley and Arnie Duncan and now Emanuel, and Chicago became the center of the push back with the formation of the movement now headed by current CTA president Karen Lewis.

As Tom Bertenshaw, a self described "conservative" teacher who only recently joined the union and who teaches at the prestigious Lane Tech public school, even teachers assigned to such "high end" public schools where the top students are sent and that receive all the money and supplies they ask for, are fed up with Emanuel's heavy handed way of dealing with teachers. As he and other teachers told Labor Notes, Emanuel's plan to close selected schools and to tie teacher employment to test scores was a blatant attempt to get rid of teachers with experience, simply to save the extra cost of paying them.

In 2010 union elections, Lewis and her CORE movement literally took over the Chicago Teachers Union, occupying all the important positions, and they have been leading the struggle against the Obama-Duncan-Daley-Emmanuel-Pritzker-Walton "reforms." Teachers nationwide are watching the Chicago strike and indeed many are headed for Chicago to participate in supportive rallies.

There is no less at stake than the future of public education in this country. Neoliberalism's goal is the privatization of everything, and inherent in that is the goal of a two tiered society. Not like the one we have now, where the rich can buy out but where someone else can still get a public school education that prepares them for college or anything else their dreams point them toward. Under Neoliberalism, the rich will have their private school system and have no responsibility for funding public schools or the for profit degree mills that replace them, which will exist only to train workers, to prepare the children of the poor to move into the low paying jobs with no future their parents were consigned to.

There is no less at stake in the struggle in Chicago than the future of public schools and public anything. There's no less at stake than the very idea of a commonwealth, the idea that we the people are entitled to hold anything in common whether it be public education, public space, or an old fashioned idea like democracy.



Steven Lendeman, a long time and reliable voice on issues of justice, discusses media attempts, led by the New York Times, to frame the strike unfavorably.

Juan Gonzalez, New York Daily News columnist and occasional Democracy Now host, discusses the Chicago teachers' demands and the rise of the movement led by Karen Lewis.

Note: It is illegal for teachers in Chicago to strike over non pay issues. Pay is an issue for Chicago teachers but not the reason for the strike. The reason is to save Chicago's public schools from drastic Neoliberal "reforms." For legal purposes, pay had to be given as the reason for the strike, which may have led to the initial media reports saying the strike was about pay. 


Sunday, September 16, 2012

You Can't Hide Your Ryan Eyes

Thought by now you'd realize
There ain't no way to hide your Ryan lies

                                                        The Eagles

Paul Ryan's burgeoning reputation for telling lies may yet overshadow his reputation as an Ayn Rand-influenced right wing wacko eager to devastate the living standards of working Americans to serve the interests of the rich.

Paul Ryan - R (WI)

Juan Cole has assembled a list of the Top 10 Repeated Lies by the Republican vice presidential nominee. They include claiming that Barak Obama was responsible for closing a General Motors plant in Ryan's home of Janesville, WI, that actually closed in 2008 when George W Bush was president.

In the Cole list Ryan falsifies facts about President Obama's achievements. He claims he opposed things he voted for and voted for things he opposed. Cole's list is primarily about the lies Ryan tells about governmental policies. Here are some Ryan lies Cole missed.

1. Ryan keeps claiming that Ronald Reagan freed the slaves.

2. Ryan claims that Barak Obama was born 35 minutes into the animated Walt Disney film Dumbo of the Circus.

3. Ryan insists that a million new jobs were created when congress passed his legislation lowering taxes on cats and dogs.

4. Although there's no evidence he was ever anything but a Republican, Ryan likes to say that having grown up in the union town of Janesville he began life as a Liberal Democrat but became a Republican due to the strength of conservative ideas. He often repeats the claim that he knew Karl Marx and that they had a brief affair during college.

5. Ryan also insists that his hero and ideological godmother Ayn Rand, who was an avowed atheist, was a member of the Catholic church he grew up in in Janesville. The reason he remembers this so well, he insists, is because she was always sitting in the front pew puffing away on a cigarette.

6. Ryan has claimed both to be the father of Snooki's child and its real birth mother.

7. Ryan claims that God directs his every decision, and that is how he knows it's his mission to end Medicare and Social Security. He says that because he takes everything to God in prayer he knows that on some days it's perfectly OK to not wear underwear.

8. Ryan claims that after reading Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead he was inspired to invent the iPhone.

9. Ryan likes to portray himself as a common man and says he spends lunch hours in his Capital Hill office clipping coupons. He also claims that when he and his wife were newlyweds their first car was a skateboard.

10. As for the success of his marriage, Ryan says the key to it is keeping the romance in it. One way he and his wife achieve this is by shouting "The Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear arms" to each other during lovemaking.

We're Not Laughing At You, But At Ourselves

History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce
                                                                        Karl Marx

There's a saying, "We're not laughing at you, we're laughing with you." In the case of the Republican vice presidential nominee, the saying might be somewhat different.

Paul Ryan - R (WI)
Paul Ryan is a natural born buffoon, in that he believes his own bullshit. Such people always undercut themselves and become easy targets. He will enjoy a long political career because he knows how to reinforce the beliefs of a segment of the population who believe their own bullshit, that want so badly to believe that self interest is not self interest, that selfishness is prudence and that fear is patriotism.

For many of the rest of us it delights us more to talk about Ryan's lies than to think about an elderly widow having to come up with more than $6,000 every year to replace what Ryan wants to steal from her Medicaid and give to the wealthy owners of insurance companies, but remember what happened last time a Republican candidate with little chance of winning was forced by the billionaire funders of the Republican party to put a right wing conservative Christian clown on his ticket.

In 2008, Sarah Palin became the teasing, titillating, buffoonish face of the right wing agenda and was blamed when it went down to humiliating defeat, yet in 2010, the year of the tea baggers, dozens of people with views exactly like hers were elected and the right wing took over the entire congress, including the nominally Democratic controlled Senate, which in fact is controlled by fiscal conservatives.

Recall how, early in the Obama Administration, so called Blue Dog Democrats, particularly Max Baucus, exercised complete control over what went into Obamacare. Recall the extension of the so-called "Bush era tax cuts" on the wealthy for four more years as a condition for extending unemployment benefits for a few months.

Recall the paltry size of the stimulus bill, which economists said was too small and which was several times smaller as a proportion of GDP than were stimulus measures enacted by other industrialized nations, including China. The stimulus package Obama put before a hostile congress lifted our economy out of recession, but barely. China's economy grew more rapidly and for a longer time, but it, too, slowed again, eventually, weighed down like the world economy by the US economy.

The ongoing stagnation of the world economy has given Capitalism the opportunity to accelerate the redistribution wealth upward that has been ongoing since the advent of the Reagan Era (documented here repeatedly) by lowering wages and benefits and via the still ongoing massive home foreclosures.

Sarah Palin moved on to the fantasy world of Reality TV and Fox News but her views remained, given voice and a degree of legitimacy by the fans at her rallies who shouted "USA, USA," people who identified with her clownish ability to believe her own bullshit, and were attracted by her beauty, people who, as has been pointed out, were being hurt economically but were convinced that conservative Republican policies were their salvation.

The same combination of characteristics Sarah Palin had make Paul Ryan appealing. He's good looking and believes his own bullshit. He's not afraid to tell it like they'd like it to be, not afraid to pretend that selfishness and fear are really the love and generosity of Jesus Christ, wrapped up in the American flag and entrusted to the Republican Party.

The millions who will vote for Ryan and Romney aren't going anywhere after the election just because Barak Obama will win his second term, any more than will the draconian, pro-wealthy, anti working class views Ryan is peddling, and until there's no more Capitalism, neither will the Capitalist ruling class who will never stop trying to implement them.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Poverty Of The Nation

(Updated 120913)

Poverty Rate Remains Unchanged, today's headlines announced.

What the headlines don't say is that incomes for the lower 80 percent dropped again. 

Average income for the Working Class, people who work for wages, which includes what they call the Middle Class, peaked in 1978 and is now 9 percent lower than that, according to the Census Bureau. 

This is not related to the recession. Remember, the recession is over. The economy is expanding slowly. Incomes should be rising slowly, too.

This is about the redistribution of wealth upwards. Top income earners saw a five percent increase in income. Their incomes are rising faster than the economy is expanding, which means that their gains came in part from the hides of the workers, via such things as lower pay and reduced benefits.

The poverty rate remains at a disgraceful 15 percent in the world's richest nation. Remember, too, that the official US poverty rate of $23,021 for a family of four is set much lower than poverty rates in other "developed" countries. If you're hurting here, you're hurting.

Incidentally, at the bottom of the poverty rate rankings is New Mexico, with 22 percent of the population below the poverty line, a fact that is entirely absent from the political discourse in the state. Just as it is absent from public discourse in the nation at large. The two major political parties control access to the ballet and determine what topics are discussed.

It's really no surprise that the declining living standard of the Working Class is absent from the discussion, since Democrats and Republicans have cooperated in implementing the Neoliberal economic model -- in plain English "trickle down," or Reaganomics -- that the US has operated under the for past 30 years. 


In a solemn ceremony in the US Capital today, following prayers, a moment of silence, and the playing of bagpipes, President Obama and members of congress began reading the names of the 1,455,590 Iraqi citizens killed so far during the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, the 4,801 US soldiers killed there, the 3,173 US-led coalition soldiers killed in Afghanistan, and the 12,008 known names of the estimated 20,000 Afghans civilians killed by our war against their country.

"As much as we grieve our own, those American citizens killed in the Twin Towers who we honored yesterday, their numbers pale in comparison to the victims of the military aggression we have carried out in their names," President Obama said after reading the first 2,737 names, the number he and each of 536 members of the house of representatives and the senate will read. In all, 1,467,131 names will be read.

House Majority Leader John Boehner followed the president. Before taking his turn Boehner told the estimated 1,200 members of the news media covering the ceremony that members of congress have spent weeks practicing the correct pronunciation of the mostly Arab names they will read. "We feel a special responsibility to get the names right," he said. "Each one of these people was an individual, with a family, a home, a complete life, a life that we, the American people, the congress and the president, ended. To honor them in this way is the least we can do."

Inside the capital building are several thousand Iraqis and Afghans, special guests of the president and congress, who are the latest group of people to have been flown to the US to receive free medical treatment for the injuries and disabilities they suffered as a result of the two wars. They are hearing the readings in person, while outside the capital a crowd estimated at between 25 and 30 million is hearing the names over loudspeakers. Real time TV ratings are showing a US television audience for the reading of the names of just over 250 million.

Allowing for five seconds to read each name it will take 2,037 hours to read all the names, or 84 days, or 12 weeks, or 3 months. At roughly the same pace it took 3 hours and 25 minutes to read the names of the 2,753 victims of 9/11.


Monday, September 10, 2012

The Invisible Man

By the time I saw the above photo, which was posted on the Facebook page of an Occupy group, the photo had been "shared" (re-posted, passed along) 736 times, and scores of comments had been posted about it.

Given what is known about the "digital divide" in America, and about the Occupy movement, it's a fair guess that those who shared, "liked" and commented on the photo were mainly White and "Middle Class." (Digital divide is a term used to describe the gap in internet access in this country between Whites and minorities. We know that whites are still the largest single racial grouping in the United States, and that the Occupy Movement, although it has tried to reach out to minorities, with some success, was begun by disaffected young Whites of middle income background.)

Violence against Occupy-retrieved at
Young White America is getting hip to police brutality. They experienced or witnessed the way some Occupy groups were treated by police from the beginning, with for example, the well publicized instances of police pepper spraying demonstrators in the face, some of whom were already being restrained by police. They experienced or witnessed the Obama Administration-coordinated crackdowns on Occupy encampments all over the country within a span of a week or two, after which many videos were posted showing armies of police rushing crowds of peaceful encampers with their clubs swinging.

I have to comment on the irony here -- two ironies, actually, a small one and a large one -- in young White America's becoming aware, now, of police brutality, and of their expressing it with a sign held up by a Black man.

The smaller irony is that there was a generation of 1960s and 70s young White Americans, the parents or grandparents of today's activists, who knew about police brutality but then forgot to tell their children about it.

Then, many young White Americans got a personal taste of police brutality, most famously perhaps outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention during what a commission later called a "police riot." (On the anniversary of that event, i.e., the 2012 Democratic National Convention, BBC Radio's World Service remembered the 1968 Chicago police riot with a segment that included news clips from the scene and an interview with Tom Hayden, one of the anti Vietnam War protest leaders.)

1968 Chicago Police Riot-Dennis Brac/Black Star
The members of the Counterculture and the anti Vietnam War activists who experienced or witnessed police brutality may have been a minority of their generation, but there were few of the generation at large who weren't aware of the term "police brutality" and of the fact that the police are one of the coercive arms of government. Some were OK with that, but everyone realized it.

The Vietnam War ended, the Reagan Era came, and the 60s and 70s were demonized and ridiculed because of the ongoing resentment by the conservatives who came to power during the Reagan Era over the societal changes that came about during those years. The 60s and 70s eventually were forgotten, in a sense, as, in the intervening years, most of that generation, activists included, came to live what you could term very typical American lives, supporting, either directly or with their inaction, the Reagan Era cultural counterrevolution. There's not a lot of evidence to indicate that the idealists of that time who dropped out and joined the silent majority retain their idealism or told the current generation about it.

An Irony Wrapped Inside An Irony

Twice this year, once in the aftermath of the killing of young Trayvon Martin in Florida and once on a radio program where they were talking about Kathryn Johnston, a 92-year-old Black woman killed in her home by Atlanta, GA police, I've heard Black men talk about how their mothers taught them how to act around the police, so that they would not be "inadvertently killed" by the police.

Karhryn Jonston-Atl Journal-Constitution
The term "police brutality" is probably more fully understood by Black Americans. The term was first given widespread currency when TV images showed Civil Rights protesters of the early 1960s being beaten by police. It was understood by members of the Black Panther Party, who saw their community building and self help efforts, and self defense efforts, stymied when the Party leadership was murdered by FBI agents and Chicago police.

America is a country where privilege and advantages are meted out first to the class of the wealthy, then to the remaining white Americans and finally, if there are any left over, to its minorities. It's debatable whether race or class (or gender, for that matter) has been the predominant force in American society, but it's a valid question to ask whether White "Middle Class" Americans, who adopt a sign warning about police being in the area, are aware of the advantages their status gives them. Class, not Race, is the major issue for the Occupy movement, and it's debatable to what extent young White America is aware of the historic role police have played in the enforcement of the racial dimension of the American social order.

Blacks, until recently the largest minority grouping, no doubt always were and no doubt still are aware of that role, being that they have born the brunt of it, but in the decades after the 60s and 70s, White Americans returned to having a favorable view of the police. TV shows about the police that show police in a favorable light have been some of the most watched shows during this era. Police have had no trouble getting government funding, which is a function of their standing in society and the perceived need for their services.

Although it's never been headline news, it's no secret that police spend a disproportionate share of their time harassing minority neighborhoods and that jails and prisons are filled with a hugely disproportionate number of minorities.

Amadou Diallo-AP
 Minorities are minorities because they are a minority share of the population, but minorities make up a majority of the prison population. Think about that. It's not just that "society" is discriminatory, that the way laws are enforced is discriminatory and that judges and juries are simply more likely to convict a member of a racial minority. It's more than the attitudes people hold in the secret chambers of their hearts or that emanate up from their unconscious fear of the other. The laws passed by society are discriminatory. For example, the penalties for possession of "crack cocaine," seen as the drug of choice of minorities and the poor, are far worse than the penalties for possessing cocaine, the drug of choice of the rich and well to do.

There are still blacks alive who remember Jim Crow, the name given to the system of enforced racial discrimination in America. All of White society, not just the police, participated in the enforcement of Jim Crow. It was enforced both legally, through such things as discriminatory housing laws and other forms of legal segregation, and illegally, outside the law. The regular lynching -- vigilante hanging -- of Black Americans that were committed in all parts of the country were routinely overlooked by police and other civil authorities, and in many cases police stood aside and allowed lynch mobs to take Black prisoners out of jail to be lynched.

Photo-Justice For Kenneth Chamberlain Sr
After formal Jim Crow largely disappeared as a result of the Civil Rights struggles of Black Americans in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, police again became the sole enforcers of racial hierarchy in America. White lawmakers wrote the laws, but the police enforced them. White Americas dictated the social code, which lawmakers wrote into law and which gave police the go ahead to head for the minority neighborhoods.

Whites dictate the social code that results in, today, New York City's notorious stop and frisk law being enforced in an overwhelmingly discriminatory way, with 87 percent of those stopped and searched being Black or Hispanic. Whites dictate the social code that routinely results in atrocities like the well publicized murders of Blacks by New York City police, as in the cases of Amadou Diallo and Sean Bell, unarmed men who were not just shot but died in a hail of police bullets. There's the case of Kathryn Johnston in Atlanta, and Kenneth Chamberlain Sr, the 68-year-old Black Marine veteran in White Plains, NY, killed by police after he inadvertently triggered his emergency medical response device.

The prevailing social code, written by those with the power to write it, dictates that police commit those killings and that they usually get away with it, and it dictates countless killings and spurious arrests across the United States. As noted by the Malcom X Grassroots Movement in its introduction to a report on 120 killings of Blacks in 2012, largely by police but also by security guards and self appointed civilian executioners, "...the use of deadly force against Black people is standard practice in the United States, and woven into to the very fabric of the society."

Shawn Bell-daughter Jada-Bell family
As the news web site Final Call, referencing the same report, puts it, "When George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, killed young Trayvon Martin in March of this year, sadly, members of the Black community were not surprised. In their view, these types of killings were nothing new, the difference in this particular case was it became highly publicized.


Screening Your Radar Screen

The Invisible Man is a mid 20th century novel by Ralph Ellison that describes the social invisibility of Black Americans. It's universally acclaimed as one of the best and most important books in American history.

It's debatable how many of the people who commented on the Facebook posting of a black man holding up a sign about police brutality are aware, consciously, of The Invisible Man and what it signifies, or if these young activists are aware, as they think about the meaning of the sign held up by the Black man, any more so than are Americans in general, of the tremendous amount of violence committed against Blacks by the police, without consequence, historically and presently.

To be fair, young Americans' attitudes about race are better than the attitudes of White Americans of the 1960s and 70s generation. They are more accepting, for example, of interracial relationships. In some ways, perhaps, race has become invisible to young Americans.

Like everyone always has been, young Americans are motivated primarily be self interest. One the main impetuses behind the formation of Occupy was young Whites' anger over the escalating cost of college. Class interest is self interest.

Black Americans are motivated by self interest, too. Yes, there is such as thing as unselfishenss, or self sacrifice, and it was part of what motivated the brave Civil Rights activists who faced the police and the dogs and the water hoses and the billy clubs, and self sacrifice, at least an awareness of self interest, were part of the idealism that informed the anti Vietnam War protests and the Counterculture.

But when I saw all those people commenting on the sign held up by the Black man, I had to wonder how many of the young White American commenters, despite their more enlightened attitudes about race, were aware that what the sign meant to that Black man might be something different than what it meant to them.

I, personally, think it's a good guess that they were not. But then again, the irony might be that I might be surprised, and in the interest of self interest, I hope so.



Douglas Ziegler, highest ranking uniformed Black member of the New York City Police Department.

Ziegler was sitting in his department issued SUV when two white plainclothes officers, thinking him suspicious, approached him with guns drawn and ordered him out of his vehicle.


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Bradley Manning

Bradley Manning supporters urge you to email the Obama campaign or call them at 312-698-3670 and ask why Manning hasn't been released.

The campaign records the subject of inquiries and Manning's supporters are trying to leverage the presidential campaign in their struggle to free Manning, 24, who has been held in prison by President Obama for more than two years for the crime of promoting democracy.

Actions have concentrated lately on Obama campaign headquarters around the country including this one in Austin, TX, located conveniently close to a source of hamburgers and tenderloin sandwiches. It was one of a series of protests that coincided with the Democratic National Convention where Obama, who was elected president after promising "the most transparent government in history," was nominated for a second term.

Running "the most transparent government in history" so far has included a record number of prosecutions of government whistleblowers under the Espionage Act, twice as many as all other presidents combined.

To be fair, when Barak Obama promised to run "the most transparent government in history" it's possible he wasn't talking about the history of the United States. Maybe when he said "the most transparent government in history" he was talking about the history of the Soviet Union under Stalin.

The court martial against Manning has been delayed repeatedly, most recently after Manning's attorney filed a motion asking that charges against him be dropped because Manning has been held in punitive detention for more than two years under conditions the UN has equated to torture.

Manning has been transferred to the US Army prison in Forth Leavenworth, KS, further from the media spotlight and his attorney. When he was being held in Guantanamo-like solitary confinement at the Marine base in Quantico, VA, supporters held constant protests outside the entrance and his Washington DC based lawyer could easily visit him.

Manning is charged with leaking thousands of classified US government cables to the whistleblower web site Wikileaks. The leaks have provided insight into US government diplomacy and militarism, most starkly perhaps with a cockpit video showing the murder of civilians in Iraq.  Some credit the leaks at least in part to initiating the Arab Spring uprisings, which began soon after cables were released revealing corruption by the government of Tunisia. The leaks have provided valuable insight to media and activists around the world into things they previously didn't know about their own governments.

 More information is available at Free Bradley Manning.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Can Bill Clinton Help The Dallas Cowboys Win?

Many headlines in the past two days have announced that organically grown meat and produce isn't any better for you than the standard stuff, based on a study released by Standford University that finds that organic foods on average don't contain more vitamins that other foods.

I don't know anyone who eats organic foods because they think they contain more vitamins. People buy organic because it's not laced with deadly chemicals (confirmed by the study but absent from the headlines), chemicals the food industry uses for pesticides and to speed up growth. People buy organic because it hasn't been genetically engineered, the consequences of which aren't known because the government has never made the food industry do any studies about it.

In the case of meat and poultry people buy organic because it hasn't been pumped full of growth hormones designed to make it balloon up as fast and as big as possible, just so it can be sold quicker for more profit, hormones that people then consume and which some people think is responsible for the obesity that the food industry blames on us and our lifestyle.

People buy organic because they're supporting a different kind of food supply chain, different growers and a different distribution system, all of which are more attuned to the wants and needs of their consumers and which are more likely to be concerned about something besides the bottom line, a system consumers have more control over and input into through food co-ops and farmer's markets.

Stanford, by the way, was founded by the Mitt Romney of his day, Leland Stanford, described in Wikipedia as a "railroad tycoon," and is a pretty conservative place. It's the home of the Hoover Institution, the ultra conservative think tank that puts out a lot of the propaganda you hear coming out of the mouths of Republican politicians. The Hoover Institution produced and continues to produce much of the propaganda that under girds Neoliberalism, the ongoing attack by Capitalism on the working class, which includes what we used to call the Middle Class but which thanks to Neoliberalism is quickly disappearing.

Condoleeza Rice teaches at Stanford.

(Note: On this day, former president Bill Clinton will be making a speech at the Democratic National Convention.)

(Note: On this day the National Football League season opens with a game between the Super Bowl winners the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys, who haven't won a Super Bowl since Herbert Hoover was president.)


Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Use at will - I did that

Mitt Romney, Vulture Capitalist. That's the way Texas Governor Rick Perry characterized Romney when Perry and the GOP's ultra conservatives thought he had a chance to snatch the nomination away from Romney.

Not that Capitalism isn't vulturistic in and of itself, but Mitt Romney has conducted his career in business in a particularly disgusting way.

The jobs Romney destroyed and the lives he's ruined as he piled up his ill gotten fortune are being tallied up, especially by the Boston Globe, where their Business and News sections have teamed up to do some stories about his vulture capitalist past, and in Rolling Stone, where rapidly rising star reporter Matt Taibbi has been taking Romney apart limb by limb. (If you're in a hurry, Business Insider sums up Taibbi's points nicely and concisely.)

The Obama campaign has also been getting the word out about Romney's predatory business practices, and don't expect the President to let up until he's won the election. As I've said before, Obama can give as good as he gets.

What's been coming out is that Romney bought companies using junk bonds, which are essentially high interest loans -- it's like buying a company with a credit card -- then he would transfer the massive debt to the company's books and make them pay him back. He then sold the company, leaving it saddled with debt, and in various ways, such as with management fees, and by forcing management to layoff workers, he sucked as much money out of the company as he could.

Some companies survived this trial by fire. They became leaner and more profitable. When that happened, Romney sold the company for a huge profit.

Sometimes the companies went bankrupt. You may have heard the stories about the steel mills in Kansas and South Carolina where workers lost their livelihoods, their pensions, everything.

In most of those cases, when the bankruptcy came, Romney had already sold out. In at least one of those instances, Stage Stores, shareholders filed a lawsuit saying Romney had lied about the company's profitability in order to inflate the share price before he sold his shares. The suit was later dropped for reasons I don't know.

Stage Stores has retail clothing stores throughout the West and does business here in New Mexico as Bealls. Romney put the company together, using junk bonds, by buying two large Houston department stores, the original Stage Stores, then two retail chains, Bealls and Palais Royale, combining them all to make one big company.

The Stage Stores deal (his $10 million investment netted him $175 million) was Romney's first really big deal. Romney had begun Bain Capital doing small, conservative, i.e. safe, venture capital deals. He found investors who put up money to help someone with a good idea get started in business.

But Romney changed suddenly in the 1980s when he met the Junk Bond King, Michael Milken. Milken, as you recall, was the superstar financier of the early Reagan years, who, when he and Romney met, was already under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission for fraud. Milken eventually went to prison for insider trading. What Milken did that was illegal, for the most part, was to do things to artificially inflate the price of a stock, then sell it.

Just like in the Stage Stores lawsuit brought against Mitt Romney a few years later.


Apology to Paul Ryan.

I've been disrespectful to Paul Ryan, the representative from Wisconsin who Mitt Romney selected as his running mate

I've been using a picture of Eddie Munster, the child star of the 1960s comedy TV program The Munsters, and labeling it Paul Ryan (R-WI).

Paul Ryan (R-WI)

I apologize to Mr Ryan and from now on will use his actual picture, starting with the one posted below.

Paul Ryan (R-WI)

 Anyone who thinks this is a picture of TV star Kristen Stewart needs to take a vacation. You owe me an apology. You owe Kristen Stewart an apology.

Electoral Vote Update

I've already predicted that Barak Obama win easily win re-election. He's a very smart guy and has no intention of losing, and he won't. Recall how the young, smart whiz kids Bill Clinton and Al Gore beat George HW Bush about the head and shoulders on their way to unseating him. Like Romney, Bush stood for nothing but his own ambition and adopted the positions he did only to get support from the conservative Republican base. Romney's a sitting duck for someone like Barak Obama.

As far as the national polling, which means nearly nothing, it's about even. Gallup has Obama one point ahead and reported today that Mitt Romney did not even get the traditional "bounce" in his poll numbers after the Republican National Convention.

In the important, state by state polls, which will determine the electoral vote count, Obama has maintained a comfortable lead since I last reported on this on August 19. CNN still has Obama at 237 electoral votes but has downgraded Romney from 206 to 191. (270 are needed to win, so the rest, in this poll 110, are still in play.) Larry Sabato has Obama leading 237 to 206, with 95 toss-ups. In this tabulation Obama slipped 10 while Romney stayed the same. Political Wire has it 332-206, with Obama ahead, whereas on the 19th they had it 284-241, so a big gain for Obama there at Romney's expense. Nate Silver at the NYT has it 308.2 to 229.8, a gain of 9.2 for Obama and a loss of 9.2 for Romney since Aug 27.


Some might think that by predicting an Obama victory I will jinx him. We should be so lucky.

Think Afghanistan. Think Bradley Manning and Julian Assange. Think drones and the cold blooded murder of civilians. Think presidentially ordered assassinations. Think internment by the military forever, without charge. Think internet censorship. Think the environment, oil drilling, pipelines. Think degraded air quality standards. Think the US-backed coup in Honduras under Obama and the never ending war against any country where they try to make things better for the masses, as Chavez is trying to do in Venezuela and the Castros in Cuba and Morales in Bolivia and as Lugo tried to do in Uruguay until the coup this summer organized by the Obama government put an end to that.

Think not one prosecution of any member of the Bush crime family, for all the torture, the renditions, the lies about weapons of mass destruction, the no bid multi million dollar contracts for people close to the administration, the murders by contractors, by the CIA, the murders in cold blood of civilians by US soldiers, caught on tape and exposed by Bradley Manning and Julian Assange.

Think whistleblowers. Think twice as many whistle-blowers prosecuted under the Espionage Act than by all other presidents combined. Think about what that means for a free press, an open government, a free, open society.

Think not one prosecution of the bankers and Wall Street billionaires who have robbed this country blind, who continue their fraud and deceit, and their theft from you and I, even as you read this. Not one prosecution. Not a single one.