Politics

Michael Moore – Dear President Obama: Your Visit Is Too Little Too Late

April 29, 2016

ear President Obama — Finally, after months of us begging you to come to Flint, you’ve decided to visit next Wednesday. I know this will make many people happy and grateful. But, as one who voted for you twice and was thrilled beyond belief over your election, I’m sorry to tell you your visit is too little too late. You say you’re coming to “listen to the people of Flint.” Sir, they’ve been poisoned for two damn years. You’ve known about it since October. There’s nothing to listen to. Unless you’re bringing the entire U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to dig up and replace the 75,000 lead pipes, plus the Attorney General to arrest Governor Rick Snyder, then this is just another photo-op and half-baked list of new promises we don’t need. If you’re coming to make one of those “we need to rebuild America’s infrastructure” speeches, don’t bother. This is NOT an infrastructure problem – it’s a hate crime and mass poisoning of Black and poor people that NEVER would happen if this were Bloomfield Hills or Grosse Pointe or any other white town. It was done in order to give a billion-dollar tax cut to the rich. Every

Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman – Is Hillary Stealing the Nomination? Will Bernie Birth a Long-Term Movement?

April 29, 2016

t this delicate moment in the primary season, we all need to take a deep breath and evaluate what comes next. Bernie Sanders has a mathematical chance to win. But Hillary seems the likely Democratic nominee. Donald Trump has an army of delegates. But if he doesn’t win on the first ballot, Paul Ryan could be the Republican nominee. Oy! For a wide variety of reasons, we believe Hillary and Bernie could beat Trump. But we’re not sure about Ryan, who we find absolutely terrifying. Key is the stripping of our voter rolls. Millions of Democrats have already been disenfranchised. In a close race, that could make the difference. Also key is the flipping of the electronic vote count, which few on the left seem to be willing to face in all its depressing finality. Both are explored in our new Strip & Flip Selection of 2016: Five Jim Crows & Electronic Election Theft (introduced by Mimi Kennedy and Greg Palast) at www.freepress.org and www.solartopia.org. As Greens, we believe this election’s most critical imperative is that Bernie convert the HUGE upwelling of mostly young grassroots discontent he has ignited into a long-term multi-issue movement. His success won’t be measured by whether he wins the nomination

Snowden Revelations Led to ‘Chilling Effect’ on Pursuit of Knowledge: Study

April 29, 2016

National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden’s 2013 mass surveillance revelations caused a drop in website browsing, particularly in internet searches for terms associated with extremism, an example of the most direct evidence yet that the spying operations exposed in the leak had a “chilling effect” on the lawful pursuit of information, an impending report has found. The paper, due to be published in the Berkeley Technology Law Journal, argues that the curtailing of browsing for words like “al-Qaeda,” “jihad,” “Iraq,” and “nuclear enrichment” shows that people have become scared to learn about “important policy matters” due to the fear of government surveillance. Researchers found “compelling evidence for chilling effects associated with online surveillance,” as well as “important insights about how we should understand such chilling effects and their scope, including how they interact with other dramatic or significant events (like war and conflict) and their broader implications for privacy, U.S. constitutional litigation, and the health of democratic society,” the paper states. Lead author Jonathan Penney, a PhD candidate at Oxford, analyzed Wikipedia traffic in the months before and after Snowden’s 2013 revelations. He found a 20 percent drop in page views of Wikipedia articles on terrorism, particularly those that mentioned car bombs,

George Zornick – Trump Might Be Able to Beat Hillary, if He Weren’t Such a Misogynist

April 28, 2016

Never mind the strip-club lighting or the Duck Dynasty guy smiling in the background. Having successfully blocked Ted Cruz’s path to 1,237 delegates, Donald Trump previewed a powerful general-election message against Hillary Clinton: He bashed her husband’s administration for signing the North American Free Trade agreement and tagged Hillary as a candidate bought by Wall Street. Whether by accident or design, Trump has understood like few others seeking the presidency what a powerful factor trade-related job loss is. Just this week, a landmark study confirmed that areas walloped by the loss of jobs to outsourcing and imports were much more likely to move either far to the right or far to the left when it came time to vote. “Exposure to import competition is bad for centrists,” one researcher told The New York Times. “We’ve known that political polarization and income inequality track each other, but that pattern is simply a correlation. We’ve now found a mechanism for how economic changes create further political divisions.” In a remarkable confluence of events, Trump has come along as a self-funded candidate able to buck GOP orthodoxy on trade and exploit this issue in a general election at the very moment Republicans appear poised to run against Hillary Clinton,

Sanders backs Obama “kill list,” troops to Syria

April 28, 2016

Towards the end of a town hall meeting in Philadelphia broadcast last Monday night over MSNBC, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders declared his support for the Obama administration’s program of assassination by drone-fired missiles and its steady build-up of US troop strength in Syria and Iraq. These statements underscore the unity across the bourgeois political spectrum, among all the presidential candidates of the Democratic and Republican parties, in favor of stepped-up military intervention in the Middle East, including the use of drones that have killed thousands of civilians. The discussion was initiated by a 29-year-old Sanders supporter, not by MSNBC host Chris Hayes, the moderator of the town hall—a significant fact, since no journalist for the corporate-controlled media has pressed any of the candidates about drone missile assassinations or other lawless actions by the Obama administration. Read

THICH NHAT HANH – The World We Have

April 28, 2016

Only when we combine our concern for the planet with spiritual practice will we have the tools to make the profound personal transformations necessary to address the coming environmental crisis. Thich Nhat Hanh offers us the guiding principles for a new ecospirituality of mindful living. We are like sleepwalkers, not knowing what we are doing or where we are heading. Whether we can wake up or not depends on whether we can walk mindfully on our Mother Earth. The future of all life, including our own, depends on our mindful steps. We have to hear the bells of mindfulness that are sounding all across our planet. We have to start learning how to live in a way so that a future will be possible for our children and our grandchildren. I have sat with the Buddha for a long time and consulted him about the issue of global warming, and the teaching of the Buddha is very clear. If we continue to live as we have been living, consuming without a thought to the future, destroying our forests and emitting greenhouse gases, then devastating climate change is inevitable. Much of our ecosystem will be destroyed. Sea levels will rise and coastal

Tom Engelhardt – The Real Meaning of Donald Trump

April 27, 2016

“Low-energy Jeb.” “Little Marco.” “Lyin’ Ted.” “Crooked Hillary.” Give Donald Trump credit. He has a memorable way with insults. His have a way of etching themselves on the brain. And they’ve garnered media coverage, analysis, and commentary almost beyond imagining.  Memorable as they might be, however, they won’t be what last of Trump’s 2016 election run.  That’s surely reserved for a single slogan that will sum up his candidacy when it’s all over (no matter how it ends). He arrived with it on that Trump Tower escalator in the first moments of his campaign and it now headlines his website, where it’s also emblazoned on an array of products from hats to t-shirts. You already know which line I mean: “Make America Great Again!” With that exclamation point ensuring that you won’t miss the hyperbolic, Trumpian nature of its promise to return the country to its former glory days. In it lies the essence of his campaign, of what he’s promising his followers and Americans generally — and yet, strangely enough, of all his lines, it’s the one most taken for granted, the one that’s been given the least thought and analysis. And that’s a shame, because it represents something new in our American age. The problem, I suspect,

Jim Sleeper – The Best Reason for Bernie Sanders to Fight On: Hawkish, Neoliberal Clintons Need a Watchful Eye From Progressives

April 27, 2016

Because Bernie Sanders didn’t do nearly as well in three of the five “the Acela primaries” — so named because Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Rhode Island are all on the route of Amtrak’s high-speed Washington-to-Boston Acela route—as he did in heartland primaries and caucuses last month, the wise and the mighty of the Democratic Party and the press who regularly travel that route will now call more loudly than they already have for him to stand down as a candidate and to focus his and his supporters’ energies instead on helping Hillary Clinton to discredit Donald Trump or any Republican opponent. But it’s worth noting that Rhode Island, which Sanders won handily, was founded by the extraordinary dissent Roger Williams, who fled the Massachusetts Bay Colony’s established Puritan orthodoxy, power, and apparent legitimacy in 1636 to establish a refuge for religious tolerance and friendliness toward Indians, among whom he lived and whose languages he actually learned. Some of the founders of Connecticut had fled Puritan orthodoxy, too and were even more democratically inclined. Read

GARY LEGUM – What everybody missed about Charles Koch’s “endorsement” of Hillary Clinton

April 27, 2016

Let us start by dispensing with one of the funniest fictions that spread around social media on Sunday: No, Wichita billionaire and supervillain from a “Naked Gun” movie Charles Koch did not endorse Hillary Clinton for president. The comments that set off much finger-pointing and cries of “Aha! We told you Hillary is a tool of conservative billionaires!” came towards the end of this interview Koch gave ABC’s Jonathan Karl on the Sunday show “This Week.” The libertarian billionaire was making the not-at-all-debatable-or-controversial point that under George W. Bush, the size of government and its debts grew at a rate of about two and a half times what it had been under Bush’s predecessor, Bill Clinton. This led Karl to ask if Koch thinks “another Clinton” will be a better president than a Republican: KARL: So is it possible another Clinton could be better than another Republican– Read

Paul Rosenberg – Gutless Democrats Fear Fights: Why Triangulating Neoliberal Clintonites Back Big Business Over People

April 27, 2016

As the Democratic primary heated up to the boiling point, one particular line of attack on Bernie Sanders had the distinctively Karl Rove-ian stench of attacking Sanders’ strength. Vox [3], Slate [4] and AEI [5] all bought the spin and struck the same theme: “If Bernie Sanders cares about poor people, how come he doesn’t want to trade with them?” But even more than Rove, we can catch a distinctive whiff of Thatcherism here: There is no alternative; either we do trade on neoliberal terms or else we head back to caveman status. We can’t do things in a more equitable manner, we’re being told, even though history repeatedly shows that we can—replacing monarchy with democracy, abolishing slavery, getting rid of child labor, establishing equal rights for women. All these equalizing advances we’ve come to take for granted were unthinkable once: There was simply no alternative… or, again, so we were told. Economist Dean Baker debunked the underlying argument [6] on his “Beat the Press” blog as the attack on Sanders first appeared, and elaborated his critique [7] more fully in a piece solicited by the Washington Post—which then declined to run it. Baker first noted that conventional economic theory calls for rich countries to run surpluses with developing countries—supplying the capital they need to develop—and that
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