December 24, 2006

I will be taking a short break from my blog for about a week. I'll be back in the first week of January. See you then.

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"Fiscally Imperiled Social Security"?
The Washington Post's fantasies
by Seth Sandronsky

Political fantasy, anyone?  Such fantasizing is a strange brew that can involve the daily press when it comes to the finances of Social Security. President George W. Bush aims to work next year with Democrats to fix the "fiscally imperiled Social Security system," the Washington Post reported December 20. more...

December 23, 2006

The Crucible Of Impeachment: If Not Now, When?
by Robert Weitzel  
When once a republic is corrupted there is no possibility of remedying any of the growing evils but by removing the corruption . . . every other correction is either useless or a new evil.
- Thomas Jefferson

If Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson of South Dakota were unable to remain in office because of health reasons, his replacement would be appointed by the state‚s Republican governor, effectively returning control of the Senate to the GOP and Dick Cheney.

Initially, the thought of losing the precious 51-49 margin in the Senate disturbed me. But when I remembered that Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the new Democratic Speaker of the House, said that impeachment is „a waste of timeš and „is off the table,š I thought, so what if the Dems do lose the Senate. It‚s back-scratching politics as usual in Washington regardless.

How is it possible that a member of Congress can say it is „a waste of timeš to impeach a president who has liedųunder oath of officeųto justify invading a nonbelligerent country, conspired to torture prisoners and to strip them of their constitutional rights, illegally spied on American citizens, violated international treaties against aggressive war and treatment of POW‚s, and, quite possibly, is complicit in treason and war profiteering? Think Valerie Plame and Halliburton!

Rabbi Hillel asked of a different time and circumstance, „If not now, when?š

Precisely. When? more...

December 22, 2006

Chavez Landslide Tops All In US History
by Stephen Lendman
Time (Magazine) also failed to report they held an online poll for "Person of the Year" and then ignored the results when they turned out not to their editors' liking.  "Time's Person of the Year is the person or persons who most affected the news and our lives, for good or for ill, and embodied what was important about the year." It turned out Hugo Chavez won their poll by a landslide at 35%. 

Well almost, as explained below. Hugo Chavez Frias' reelection on December 3 stands out when compared to the greatest landslide presidential victories in US history.  Except for the close race in 1812 and the electoral deadlock in 1800 decided by the House of Representatives choosing Thomas Jefferson over Aaron Burr, the very earliest elections here weren't hardly partisan contests at all as the Democrat-Republican party of Jefferson and Madison was dominant and had everything its own way.  It was like that through the election of 1820 when James Monroe ran virtually unopposed winning over 80% of the vote. A consistent pattern of real competitive elections only began with the one held in 1824, and from that time to the present Hugo Chavez's impressive landslide victory beat them all. more...

December 21, 2006

A Contract With Corporate America
By Philip Mattera and Charlie Cray

Philip Mattera heads the  Corporate Research Project, an affiliate of Good Jobs First. Charlie Cray is director of the Center for Corporate Policy. They can be contacted about the Corporate Reform Initiative, a new collaboration among corporate campaigners and policy experts helping Congress challenge excessive corporate power.

The midterm election demonstrated a deep dissatisfaction with the Bush administration‚s handling of the war and with the cornucopia of corruption that infected the Republican-controlled Congress. Yet it was more than a partisan victory for the Democrats. It also represented a popular backlash against business-friendly policies that have left many Americans behind. 

The new Congress faces a staggering list of corporate abuses that have been ignored by lawmakers for yearsųincluding executive pay levels that remain out of control, rampant contract fraud and war profiteering in Iraq and at home, widespread corporate tax avoidance, the offshoring of well-paying jobs, and the shredding of health, safety and environmental standards. It‚s enough to keep many congressional committees working overtime for years.

But the election must be seen as much more than a rejection of government of the Halliburtons, by the Enrons and for the Pfizers. It was also a sign that the myth of the good corporate citizen providing for broad prosperity has been punctured, providing an opportunity for deep change in the entire relationship between government and big business.

Some of the initial measures planned by Democrats, such as a minimum wage increase and a rollback of oil industry tax breaks, will begin to rectify the situation. But much more needs to be done. Twelve years ago, when the Republicans won control of Congress, they proposed a Contract with America. Now is the time for what might be called a Contract with Corporate Americaųan effort to put limits on the power of big business. more...

December 20, 2006

Iraq Study Group Report:
Defeat With Honor

by CHRISTIAN PARENTI

Having read the national bestselling paperback The Iraq Study Group Report, I am not so convinced by much of what I am reading about it from writers on the left. Many progressives have interpreted the document's real message as a call for "Stay the Course Lite" or as a not-so-cloaked argument for privatizing Iraq's massive petroleum reserves. (Of course the centrality of oil in all of this should never be in doubt, but the situation in Iraq has spun out of control in ways that go far beyond privatization schemes. And of course the ISGR is predicated on salvaging US imperial power, redeploying it and rebuilding. Pointing out such things is like "discovering" that the sun again came up in the east.)

Nor are the pundits of the gray center getting it: They seem bogged down in the report's seventy-nine suggestions. Shift US troops to advisory roles? Will Iran come to the table in good faith?

In a strange inverted fashion, I am most compelled by the readings that have emerged from the far right. They understand the document for what it is: an abject admission of total failure. Rush Limbaugh summed it up best when he mocked the document as "The Iraq Surrender Group Report."

Limbaugh is totally correct. That's what it is: a plan for defeat with honor. To put the report in very simple terms, its message is: The United States got its ass kicked, time to go. Or, if you prefer a direct quote: "The ability of the United States to shape outcomes is diminishing. Time is running out." And later they ponder how to "avert catastrophe." more...

December 19, 2006

Catastrophic Failure
Foundations, Nonprofits, and the Continuing Crisis in New Orleans
by Jordan Flaherty

Fifteen months after New Orleans became an international symbol of governmental neglect and racism, the city remains in crisis.  Students are still without books, healthcare is less available to poor people than ever, public housing is still closed, and infrastructure is still in desperate need of repair. In an open letter to funders and national nonprofits released yesterday, a diverse array of New Orleanians declared, "From the perspective of the poorest and least powerful, it appears that the work of national allies on our behalf has either not happened, or if it has happened it has been a failure."

In conversations this week with scores of New Orleans residents, including organizers, advocates, health care providers, educators, artists and media makers, I heard countless stories of diverted funding and unmet needs. While many stressed that they have had important positive experiences with national allies, few have received anything close to the funding, resources, or staff they need for their work, and in fact most are working unsustainable hours while living in a still-devastated city. more...

December 18, 2006

Women Lose Ground in the New Iraq
By Nancy Trejos    
Once they were encouraged to study and work; now life is "just like being in jail."     

Browsing the shelves of a cosmetics store in the Karrada shopping district, Zahra Khalid felt giddy at the sight of Alberto shampoo and Miss Rose eye shadow, blusher and powder.

Before leaving her house, she had covered her body in a billowing black abaya and wrapped a black head scarf around her thick brown hair. She had asked her brother to drive. She had done all the things that a woman living in Baghdad is supposed to do these days to avoid drawing attention to herself.

It was the first time she had left home in two months.

"For a woman, it's just like being in jail," she said. "I can't go anywhere." more...
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