Thursday, October 31, 2013

War Criminal





The Center For Constitutional Rights is urging Canadians to nab Dick Cheney while he's in Toronto to give a speech today. There are places where Cheney and George W Bush don't go because there are outstanding war crimes arrest warrants for them.

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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Radicals In The Family





I mainly just wanted to post this picture. It's from a little collection of IWW photographs at the Harry Bridges Center web site.

Harry Bridges was a long time leader of the Longshoreman's Union and made it into one of the most radical and powerful unions in the country. It remains so today, especially on the West Coast where Bridges came out of. The Harry Bridges Center For Labor Studies is part of the University of Washington.

The link to the photos opens up a little slide show of IWW photographs. The IWW, The Industrial Workers of the World, was once a powerful force in the US, especially in the western states. It was the first to organize miners and lumbermen. Bridges started out at the IWW and adopted many of its tactics for Longshoremen. He, like the IWW, believed more in direct action than in contracts. He believed in showing your power. If they don't do what they said, walk out. Maybe smash some machinery on the way. He knew that whenever the working class unites the ruling class folds in a minute.

Think about all this spying on us. It's focused on environmentalists, activists, on Occupy, on people who could get the rest of us riled up. In Germany, Angela Merkel is criticizing the US harshly every day now for the NSA spying on her and German citizens, not because she's against spying but because she knows the European working people are getting restless. She's the Queen of Austerity, her version of Reaganomics for Europe, and under her Germany has gone from a high wage economy to a low wage economy. She's always makes sure their anger is directed somewhere -- those lazy Greeks, immigrants, now the US.

By now you probably know that wealth and income inequality is back about where it was when these old photographs were taken. The men and women in these pictures were your grandparents, your uncles and aunts. They lived under a savage form of Capitalism, one that's returning. They made the living standard we enjoy today, that our children are seeing slip away.



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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

O Tireneers

I downloaded the audio book* O Pioneers by Willa Cather yesterday and listened to maybe a fifth of it last night. It's about immigrants in Nebraska  in the latter 1800s, especially Swedes, particularly one family. It was tough out there on the Great Plains in the beginning, according to the book. The father dies. There are two boys, 17 and 19, but he leaves the eldest child, a daughter, in charge, and over the next couple decades she increases the family holdings and wealth until they are all well to do with their own farms, with her having the most land and wealth.

That's about where I am now in the book. Based on what I've heard so far, I'm kind of surprised I don't hear this book referred to in "feminist circles." I may have, but not enough for me to have thought of it as a feminist tract. Maybe there are non feminist parts forthcoming.


The Phoenix driver I relay with in Holbrook gave me a trailer with a flat tire last night. Right in the middle of the tread it had one of those sheet metal screws of the type they fasten tin siding on tin buildings with. It was about 1/4 inch in diameter. He probably wasn't aware it was in there, but it was out of air when he got to Holbrook.

The freight I haul is "time sensitive," as we say. People are waiting for it back in Albuquerque and it has to be sorted out, loaded into vans and delivered by 10 a.m. The Phoenix driver was very late last night and I'd already be getting back in Albuquerque at 8 or  8 :15.

With a flat, one has a choice -- call someone out to fix it in Holbrook, and wait for them, or, try to make it past the New Mexico weigh station at Gallup. You have eight trailer tires. These are light loads, and you can easily run with one flat tire, and from a distance it's hard to see that it's flat. If they stop you at the weight station, they'll make you stop there and call someone out to fix it, so you'll wait pretty much the same amount of time either way. But if the tire stays in one piece and doesn't come apart, there's a good chance you'll get through the weigh station without them seeing it.

I won't say which choice I made. The NSA is reading, too.



* There are many, many fine books and short story collections available at Librivox.org, where volunteers make audio recordings of books that are in the public domain.



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Monday, October 21, 2013

Things Democrats Don't Talk About

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Not to mention the water and sewer systems, the electric grid, or schools, public and private that are either directly financed by the people or receive the same benefits provided at public expense that you do and have most of their teachers and administrators trained for them at public expense, or the fact that the regulations you whine about actually help you by creating a level playing field, so cheaters can't undercut you, which is enforced at the peoples' expense, not yours.
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Well, OK, one Democrat talks about this, a little. Elizabeth Warren, but these kinds of quotes always come from obscure publications. She doesn't say this stuff on This Week With David Brinkley or whatever those weekend shows are called now.

And you can bet, nobody from New Mexico says these things. Not the head of the Democratic Party here, no senators or congress members from here.

They talk about things around the periphery, that won't change the fundamental structure of the economy, or peoples' conceptions about it, or slow down the stream of corporate campaign money they live off of.

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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Which Side Are You On?


"Amidst record corporate profits, a booming stock market and levels of social inequality greater than at any point since the Great Depression, workers are being told there are no resources to maintain wages and benefits."

That quote from an article about the public transportation workers strike in San Francisco this week sums it up pretty well.

With more wealth in this country than ever, Democrats, from President Obama on down, are telling you to suck it up. During the recent political theater in DC, no Democrat ever said the budget doesn't have to be cut. The argument was over how much, and the way to go about it.

In his remarks immediately following the shutdown, when the world thought he had stood up to the Republicans and won, Obama said this:

"The challenges we have right now are not short-term deficits; it’s the long-term obligations that we have around things like Medicare and Social Security.  We want to make sure those are there for future generations." 

That language, where these programs need "reform", is Republican language for cuts to these programs. It's how he's been going after them all along, implying that they are broke.

No New Mexico Democrat has stood up to say that Social Security and Medicare are off limits, even as they read news accounts of record profits and the massive inequality of wealth and income in the US. Martin Heinrich, Tom Udall, Ben Lujan, Michelle Grisham, all sit mute, quietly begging for donations so they can keep their positions of privilege and status, while seniors wonder whether the Unites States, the richest country in history, is about to return to the days when almost half of its senior citizens retired into poverty.

The US is not just the richest country in history, it's richer right now than it ever was. And yet living standards and wages for working people are in decline, and seniors face spending their last years wondering what will happen to them.

If this doesn't disgust you, you know which side you're on.



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Monday, October 14, 2013

Obama: I Will Cut Social Security And Medicare

"And, by the way, if anybody doubts my sincerity about that, I’ve even put forward proposals in my budget to reform entitlement programs for the long haul, and reform our tax code in a way that would close loopholes for the wealthiest and lower rates for corporations and help us invest in new jobs and reduce our deficits.  And some of these were originally Republican proposals, because I don’t believe any party has a monopoly on good ideas.  So I’ve shown myself willing to go more than halfway in these conversations."

That's from President Obama during a press conference this week. The transcript is available at the White House web site.

For the uninformed, when they talk about "entitlements" they are talking about cutting Social Security and Medicare. The term can also include food stamps, child nourishment programs and so on, but these other programs amount to a tiny fraction of the federal budget.

The excuse for cutting Socials Security and Medicare, of course, is that the government doesn't have enough money to pay for them.

And Obama's reason for cutting taxes -- again -- for the rich? How else can he claim the government doesn't have enough money?



Note how everything -- every tax rich people pay -- starts going down fast around 1980, when Reagan came in. Charts demonstrating this are easy to find on the internet. These are from the Visualizing Economics web site by Catherine Mulbrandon, who has a degree in economics and writes popular books on income and wealth. They are just the first ones I came across in a web search for "tax rates United States graph."

Not being mentioned is the fact that the deficit has been going down.

 

On top of all this, the US government will continue to give away $85 billion a month of our money to the rich by way of the "quantitative easing" program, in which the Federal Reserve buys US Treasury Notes -- which are loans we who still pay taxes pay back with interest. Selling them allows the US Treasury to print up an equal amount of money, which the rich have used to buy stocks, which is why all the stock markets are at record highs.

If you are interested, here is the US government's accounting of who holds US Treasury notes. China has roughly 20 percent followed closely by Japan.

Another interesting thing: It's been in the Left leaning media all along and I've written about Obama's war on whistleblowers and his administration's hyper secrecy. Now it's all comprehensively outlined in a study by The Committee to Protect Journalists conducted under Leonard Downie Jr., a professor of journalism at Arizona State University.

This is the most secretive administration ever, veteran journalists interviewed for the study say. Which is one reason more Americans aren't aware of how Obama has been fleecing them.


As a matter of interest, here's another graph from Visualizing Economics that shows where the rich and poor live in the United States.



The dark red areas are primarily centered on Indian Reservations, like the Navajo Nation on the NM-AZ border and the Sioux Reservations in South Dakota -- Pine Ridge, Standing Rock, etc. This map shows it a little irregularly because it's divided up by county. It probably came straight off US Census data.

New Mexico has only a couple of small areas that aren't some shade of pink, which means that we're poor, just not as poor as the Indians. Another swath of red and pink is along the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. When I drove in the oil fields in Pennsylvania and New York I worked with a guy from "The Valley," from a little town up the river from Brownsville. He missed The Valley and talked about it all the time. His woman was in The Valley, on the Mexican side, and he was soon was back in The Valley.

The big chunk of red along the Mississippi River, encompassing the flood plain along the Mississippi, is what's known as the Mississippi Delta, or simply The Delta, where the blues were born.


An article on the Yahoo News web site talks about the massive disparities in wealth and income that have developed in the past ten years, the era of Bush and Obama. It notes that incomes have been flat since 1970. You can find charts on the internet that show they are actually in decline now. Income and living standard.

As these decline, as more low wage jobs replace good wage jobs, and as more seniors go into poverty after the Obama Social Security and Medicare cuts, the red areas on the map will start to engulf the rest of the country. Maybe we can expect some more good music, and more tea baggers marching around Washington carrying confederate flags with Republican politicians in tow, and more lynchings. More blues.



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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Republicans Bring Economic Disaster Down On New Mexico

Meanwhile, NM Businesses Are Using Obamacare 

"Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories are preparing to halt operations by Oct. 21 and furlough most of their 18,000 New Mexico employees if the federal government shutdown is not resolved before then, lab officials confirmed Tuesday."

This is a big deal. The Republican Journal, embarrassed and wanting to downplay the fact that Republicans are ruining the local, US and world economies, has the news buried at the bottom of its business section web site page as I retrieve this.

Eighteen thousand represents 2 percent of the state's 900,000 workforce, so in one swoop the state's unemployment rate will go from 6.8 to 8.8 percent, and of course this doesn't count the federal employees who have already been laid off. Nor does it count the effects of the looming disaster as the political theater in Washington continues. The IMF has warned that the world economy is already in danger of slipping back into recession

On a happy note, New Mexico's small businesses are flocking to the state's Obamacare employer web site. More than 500 businesses have signed up more than 1,000 employees so far.

The business site is working well, while the individual site is having the same problems many states' sites are having.

The Journal also buried this news in the back of the paper while trumpeting in large print on page one the re-election of a mayor who has overseen a full term of economic stagnation in the state's biggest town as "Historic."


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Monday, October 7, 2013

Here It Comes

Obama Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Sunday, Oct  6, 2011:

"We are happy to negotiate on reasonable policies with entitlement reform..."

As noted in the previous two posts the president plans to use the current budget charade to achieve his longstanding goal of cutting Social Security and Medicare.* Treasury Secretary Lew made the talk show rounds Sunday to signal that the president is ready to do the deal.

House Speaker John Bohner meanwhile was preparing the public from his side of the bargain:

"Let’s look at what’s driving the problem,” he said. “10,000 baby-boomers like me retiring, every single day. 70,000 this week. 3.5 million this year. And it’s not like there’s money in Social Security or Medicare. The governments, over the last 30 years, have spent it all."

A flat out lie, of course, like the notion that Democrats represent the interests of the American working class.

It'll be interesting to see New Mexico's Democrats try to finesse this. In a sick, fascinating way it'll be interesting to see it play out. Social Security and Medicare. The two prize pieces of the New Deal. Put on the chopping block by a Democrat.

Maybe now people will wake up.



*I've written about this many times. Use the search box in the right column and type in Social Security.
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Sunday, October 6, 2013

And

At a big rally in Detroit Friday to protest the bankruptcy sale of millions worth of art owned by the city-owned Detroit Institute of Art, that was organized by the Socialist Equity Party, which has a presence in Detroit, the party's assistant national secretary Larry Porter said,

“There are 400 billionaires in America who have a combined net worth of over $2 trillion. This government is pouring $85 billion into the stock market every month. There is money. The issue is who controls the wealth. The Democrats and Republicans are united in an assault against the working class."

Which lends credence to my post below about how Democrats and Republicans use these debt crises debates as smokescreens to transfer wealth from the working class to the ruling class. They all agree the government is broke. They all agree programs that benefit us have to be cut. They all agree the rich shouldn't help pay for government. That the rich need lower taxes. That military spending and other welfare programs for the rich have to be funded.

There's more money in the country now than there ever has been. The media does sometimes report nowadays that the rich have done great during the recession, doubling their incomes and wealth, but never in the context of the theft of our wealth that occurs whenever you hear Democrats and Republicans whine about the government being broke.

New Mexico's pitiful Democrats in Washington have been posting pathetic little complaints on their Facebook pages politely and meekly accusing Republicans and the Tea Party for the charade being played out in the media, but they'll line up and vote for the deal their president is engineering with Republicans to slash government programs that benefit us, give tax breaks to the filthy rich and slash Medicare and Social Security. Then they'll call it something else and give themselves credit for saving us from the Republicans and Tea Party.

As we hand over this big stinking pile of crap to the next generation I can only hope they have more guts and intelligence than we do.


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Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Fix Is In

Not being mentioned in news coverage of the partial shutdown is the fact that the budget deficit has been declining every year since 2009, as demonstrated in this graph from USGovernmentSpending.com.


Republicans aren't saying it. Democrats aren't. The president isn't.

Both Republicans and Democrats plan to let the shutdown be overtaken by a debt ceiling limit debate in which the political theater that's gone along with the annual debt ceiling debates for three years now will be easier to conduct.

While that political theater played out, both parties were agreeing to slash spending on programs that help the working class -- hence the declining deficit -- and to further enrich the already filthy rich both parties serve. And because of the political theater, both sides were able to announce afterward that they'd been true to their voters. Democrats and Republicans who needed to vote for or against a specific bill could, and did, but the final result was always the same. More wealth was transferred upward. The wealth created by our labor. And not one Democrat stood up to complain.

Not being mentioned in the current hyperventilating who wins politically and who loses news coverage is the fact that President Obama is once again offering to cut Social Security and Medicare, to cut taxes on the rich, and to cut government spending to the level dictated by Republicans, i.e. "$42 billion lower than the previous Democratic proposal."

Not being mentioned is that fact that while the other day the president had a who's who list of ruling class members over to the White house for tea, no one from the working class has been asked to stop by; no union members, no laid off government employees, no laid off employee of any kind who will miss the next house payment or not be able to buy shoes for their kids. 

Not being mentioned is the fact that Obama, as reported by the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, has already offered Republicans a deal that "replaced certain cuts implemented by the sequester with over a half trillion dollars in cuts to Medicare and Social Security."

The fix is in again, and again, we lose.


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