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Corporatism and Fascism
Corporatism and Fascism
Not long ago, the most prominent supporters of the public option were touting it as essential for healthcare reform. Now, suddenly, it’s incidental.
In fact, many who were lauding a public option as the key to a better healthcare future are now condemning just about anyone who insists that the absence of a public option makes the new law unworthy of support.
Consider this statement: “If I were a senator, I would not vote for the current healthcare bill. Any measure that expands private insurers’ monopoly over healthcare and transfers millions of taxpayer dollars to private corporations is not real healthcare reform.”
That statement is as true today as it was when Howard Dean, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, made it three months ago in a Washington Post op-ed. But now, a concerted political blitz is depicting anyone who takes such a position as a menace to “real healthcare reform.”
After devoting vast amounts of time, money, energy and political capital to banging the drum for the public option as absolutely vital during 2009 and through this winter, countless liberal organizations and prominent Democrats in Congress have made a short-order shift.
You are now to understand that the public option isn’t essential—it’s expendable. And all of the sudden, people who assert that a public option is a minimal requirement for meaningful healthcare reform are no longer principled—they’re pernicious. Read more.
Last April, shortly after beginning his first term as president, Barak Obama promised that the war supplemental he requested from Congress would be the last one ever:
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Thursday that this will be the last supplemental spending request for the wars. The administration has already earmarked $130 billion for military operations next year, but officials have said they do not want that funding tagged “emergency.”
“The honest budgeting and appropriations process that the president has talked about falls somewhat victim to the fact that this is the way that wars have been funded previously,” Gibbs said. “So we can’t wait until the appropriations process is done in … August or September to fund operations in Iraq and Afghanistan in June.”
And suddenly a lot of the members of Congress who had opposed war supplementals in the past and promised not to vote for another one, decided “just this one last time” to go along. Read more.
Attorney Charolotte Dennett is on a mission, and it’s summed up in the title of her book, “The People v. Bush: One Lawyer’s Campaign to Bring the President to Justice and the National Grassroots Movement She Encounters Along the Way,” published by Chelsea Green Publishing in February. She made headlines in 2008 when she ran for attorney general of Vermont on a platform to prosecute President Bush for murder and signed up Vincent Bugliosi as her special prosecutor if she won. She lost but continues to push her cause. We posed a few questions to her by email. Read the rest, including the basis for her charges, three existing legal precedents, and Bush's (non)response.
Underscoring his administration’s commitment to continue the already eight and a half year long occupation of Afghanistan, President Barack Obama made a surprise visit today and delivered a speech declaring the war ‘absolutely essential.’
Citing 9/11, President Obama insisted that continuing the conflict makes all Americans safer, and assured the troops that “everyone” knows the importance of the continued occupation of the landlocked nation.
He also threw water on the notion that the war might come to an end any time soon, saying “the United States of America does not quit once we start on something.” He reiterated his confidence that the US would ultimately prevail.
But despite pledging to give the troops a clear mission and a clear goal, and insisting that they would “get the job done,” he didn’t make it at all clear what exactly this job was. His only hint at any mission beyond endless conflict was a reference to al-Qaeda in the region, though administration officials have repeatedly conceded that there are virtually no al-Qaeda members left in Afghanistan, and have not been in some time. Yet momentum and a sufficiently hawkish administration suggests the conflict will continue to find enemies wherever it can and continue indefinitely.
### This article reprinted in its entirety courtesy of Jason Dietz and Anti-War.com.
LOWKEY - OBAMA NATION (OFFICIAL VIDEO)
THIS TRACK is not an attack upon the American people
It is an attack upon the system within which they live
Since 1945 the United States has attempted to
Overthrow more than 50 foreign governments
In the process the us has caused the end of life
For several million people, and condemned many millions
More to a live of agony and despair
"NON-PARTISAN" THINK TANK THAT PLAYED A KEY ROLE IN AFGHAN ESCALATION GOT DEFENSE FIRM $
By Sherwood Ross
A Washington think tank that bills itself as "independent and nonpartisan" and that "played a key role in selling the escalation of the war in Afghanistan," is financed in part by military contractors, "The Nation" magazine says.
The Center for a New American Security(CNAS) exemplifies a new influence game, writes Nathan Hodge in the March 29th issue. "Think tanks, once a place for intellectuals outside government to weigh in on important policy issues, are now enlisted by people within government to help sell its policies to the public, as well as to others in government," he writes.
Michele Flournoy and Kurt Campbell, former Clinton administration officials, founded CNAS in 2007 and staked out a hawkish position on Iraq, Hodges said, opposing early deadlines for withdrawal. After Obama's election Flournoy was named to the No. 3 post in the Pentagon and Campbell heads up State Department's Asia bureau. What's more, "no fewer" than 14 CNAS "grads" landed slots in the (Obama) Defense and State departments, Hodge writes.
Journalists who accept financial support from CNAS say the organization does not influence their thinking. Greg Jaffe, a Washington "Post" reporter told Hodge CNAS "had zero control or influence" over the content of a book he wrote profiling Army leaders.
But Thomas Ricks, a senior fellow at CNAS and long-time military correspondent, last February published an Op Ed in The New York "Times" calling for keeping 30,000 to 50,000 U.S. troops to remain in Iraq for the long term. About the same time he broke a story on his ForeignPolicy.com blog that the top U.S. commander in Iraq had asked to keep a brigade in northern Iraq past President Obama's deadline for the withdrawal of combat forces.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.—John Yoo wants you to hate him. That's kind of his whole point. When he writes op-eds like this one—suggesting President Obama should thank him for enhancing executive power in wartime—what he really wants to do is make you grind your molars into powder. When he tells a room full of undergrads today that for some prisoners locked up at Guantanamo Bay "it's the first time these people have had medical or dental care in their lives"—perhaps so that they can have pretty teeth before you hurl them into a wall—he's doing it to be provoking. It's an old trick. Focus attention on the witch and the witch hunt, and away from the facts. Unfortunately for everyone, Yoo has been so terrific at making himself the witch in this hunt, he's made himself the issue. The same screaming masses he says are out to get him won't let him get a word in edgewise.
Yoo is at the University of Virginia today, giving a pair of speeches to promote his new book, Crisis and Command: A History of Executive Power From George Washington to George W. Bush. What's immediately clear is that there is really no point in hating John Yoo. As he has proved time and again, he is unfailingly polite, self-effacing, and willing to stand by grinning while protesters scream at him. Moreover, while he is adamant that he is the issue, he is equally insistent that he was just a midlevel attorney at the Justice Department, that he never even met Dick Cheney, and that the advice he offered in his infamous Bush-era "torture memos" was just of a "legal" nature." It was others who made the policy. Hating John Yoo is like hating a rodeo clown. But that doesn't stop his opponents from becoming precisely the sort of angry mob he loves to hate right back.
At his first stop this morning, at the University of Virginia's Miller Center of Public Affairs, it's immediately clear that there is no such thing as the law. Now there's just your law and my law. The winner is whoever screams loudest. If you believe we are holding "terrorists" at Guantanamo, Yoo is your hero. If you believe he's responsible for the abuse of innocents, he's a war criminal. Read more.
There was a deliberate attempt to thwart the normal process of government legal advice. Quite apart from the substance of the advice, the process itself suggests that government officials conspired to commit torture....Over the many months following the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush administration systematically ignored the normal interagency legal process, one designed to hash out hard legal questions and make sure principals get not just the advice they want but the analysis they need....
All this came long before the Summer of Torture later that year. In those months, as the directives to allow torture were being approved, administration officials sought legal advice only from those already committed to a predetermined outcome, not necessarily those with expertise. The State Department's involvement early in 2002 had been a mere happenstance, not to be repeated during Yoo's torture colloquium. We had but two days to respond to a massive memo by Yoo arguing against Geneva, a task made easier only because his memo was so thoroughly untenable under domestic and international law.
In 2002, Jay Bybee and John Yoo, a thoughtful, conservative law professor of mine during his first year at Berkeley in the early 1990s, advised George W. Bush's administration that it could -- let's call it what it was -- torture terrorism suspects. In the years since then, we have learned much about what happened, including the memos themselves. We know that Justice Department lawyers approved a range of abusive techniques, including waterboarding, that violated domestic and international prohibitions against torture.
But what we haven't done is account for how such legal advice could have made its way to the most senior officials of the Bush administration in the first place. Read more.
Former State Dept. Lawyer Wants Torture Commission
By Ryan J. Reilly | Main Justice
In a commentary for Foreign Policy published Thursday, David Kaye, executive director of the UCLA School of Law International Human Rights Program and an attorney-advisor in the State Department from 1995 to 2005, argued that the United States needs a torture commission to look at the policy during the George W. Bush administration.
“The story of that period is a cautionary one for any administration: Presidents and their most senior officials get advice from a system prone to politicized and occasionally ideologically-driven legal advice,” Kaye wrote. “Lawyers, for their part, must constantly guard against politicization and improper influence from the “client” — the administration.” Read more.
Bank of America, Wells Fargo Probably Won't Pay Income Tax for 2009
Annual reports suggest BofA and Wells Fargo won't have to pay federal income taxes for 2009.
By Christina Rexrode | Charlotte Observer
This tax season will be kind to Bank of America and Wells Fargo: It appears that neither bank will have to pay federal income taxes for 2009.
Bank of America probably won't pay federal taxes because it lost money in the U.S. for the year. Wells Fargo was profitable, but can write down its tax bill because of losses at Wachovia, which it rescued from a near collapse.
The idea of the country's No. 1 and No. 4 banks not paying federal income taxes may be anathema to millions of Americans who are grumbling as they fill out their own tax forms this month. But tax experts say the banks' situation is hardly unique.
"Oh, yeah, this happens all the time," said Robert Willens, an expert on tax accounting who runs a New York firm with the same name. "Especially now, with companies suffering such severe losses."
Bob McIntyre, at Citizens for Tax Justice, said he opposes the government giving corporations such a break.
"If you go out and try to make money and you don't do it, why should the government pay you for your losses?" McIntyre said. "It's as simple as that." Read more.
We decided that a good place to begin with unified action was to oppose the recent Supreme Court decision allowing corporations unlimited contributions to political candidates.
MICHAEL MOORE: A LOVE STORY
By Joan Wile
If you know the Upper West Side of Manhattan, you know there are probably more progressives per square inch here than in all the 50 states. So, it's no surprise that a big bunch of people showed up this evening at my small one-bedroom apartment in this highly liberal neighborhood to see Michael Moore's masterpiece, "Capitalism: A Love Story."
My event was one of MoveOn's 700 parties nationwide tonight to show the film in an effort to generate grass roots action against some of the evil excesses of capitalism rampant in the United States. These evils are powerfully exposed in Moore's movie -- the foreclosures on people's homes; the cancellation of jobs in order to make way for profits; the practice of taking out insurance on employees unbeknownst to them and then collecting large payments when they die (of which not one cent is shared with the family survivors), and all manner of other immoral practices so harmful to decent working Americans.
By Zach Carter, AlterNet
The battle for Social Security is on -- and the Times is fighting for the bad guys.
With health care reform finally signed into law, a new policy battle over Social Security is quietly but unquestionably building momentum. Make no mistake -- Wall Street is now doing its best to gut Social Security, and as a front-page article in yesterday's New York Times makes clear, the media is not ready to challenge them on it.
Like every other major institution in the public and private sectors, Social Security has taken a few licks from the current recession. But the problems are simply not very serious -- the entitlement program's trust fund currently stands at a massive $2.5 trillion -- that's trillion with a "t." If the federal government makes absolutely no changes to Social Security whatsoever, the program is currently projected to remain fiscally fit through 2037. The effects of the recession are included in that projection -- prior to the financial crash of 2008, Social Security was projected to remain solvent through 2041.
That wickedly satirical Ambrose Bierce described politics as "the conduct of public affairs for private advantage."
Bierce vanished to Mexico nearly a hundred years ago - to the relief of the American political class of his day, one assumes - but in an eerie way he was forecasting America's political culture today. It seems like most efforts to reform a system that's gone awry - to clean house and make a fresh start - end up benefiting the very people who wrecked it in the first place.
Which is why Bierce, in his classic little book, "The Devil's Dictionary," defined reform as "a thing that mostly satisfies reformers opposed to reformation." So we got health care reform this week - but it's a far cry from reformation. You can't blame President Obama for celebrating what he did get - he and the Democrats needed some political points on the scoreboard. And imagine the mood in the White House if the vote had gone the other way; they would have been cutting wrists instead of cake.
Give the victors their due: the bill Obama signed expands coverage to many more people, stops some very ugly and immoral practices by the health insurance industry that should have been stopped long ago, and offers a framework for more change down the road, if there's any heart or will left to fight for it.
But reformation? Hardly. For all their screaming and gnashing of teeth, the insurance companies still make out like bandits. Millions of new customers, under penalty of law, will be required to buy the companies' policies, feeding the insatiable greed of their CEO's and filling the campaign coffers of the politicians they wine and dine. Profits are secure; they don't have to worry about competition from a public alternative to their cartel, and they can continue to scam us without fear of antitrust action. Read more.
U.S. Plunges Central America Back To Era Of Coups And Death Squads
Rick Rozoff | Stop NATO | Blog site | March 26, 2010
March 24th of this year was the thirtieth anniversary of the assassination of Oscar Arnulfo Romero, the Roman Catholic archbishop of El Salvador.
His killing drew attention to the murderous rampages of death squads in that nation and throughout Central America as no other slaying had, although hundreds of thousands of civilians were slaughtered in El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras before and during the 1980s by paramilitary formations usually led by graduates of the U.S.'s School of the Americas and covertly funded by the same nation's Central Intelligence Agency.
Graduates of the Pentagon's School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia (now the equally euphemistic Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) include the man responsible for ordering Romero's killing, the late Roberto D'Aubuisson; Efrain Rios Montt, head of the military junta in Guatemala in 1982-1983 which perpetrated some of the worst atrocities in the nation's bloodstained history; and Romeo Vasquez Velasquez, who was dismissed as chief of the Honduran military on June 25 of last year and led the coup against President Manuel Zelaya three days later.
After being appointed El Salvador's top ecclesiastic in 1977 Romero, hitherto considered a doctrinal if not a political conservative, spoke out forcefully against the abuses of the country's military and the deaths squads linked to it.
Two months before he was killed he wrote to then U.S. President Jimmy Carter imploring him to desist from arming and training the Salvadoran army, particularly plans to "train three Salvadoran battalions in logistics, communications and intelligence," and criticizing the fact that three months before "a group of six Americans was in El Salvador...providing $200,000 in gas masks and flak jackets and teaching how to use them against demonstrators.” 
His appeal was ignored.
Americans desperately need healthcare. The need is so desperate that many are buying into a “something is better than nothing” philosophy to support a healthcare bill that actively works against their own interests. The bill that Barack Obama plans to sign into law is being dubbed a “reform,” but actually amounts to a corporate restructuring that will solidify the reliance on the same private insurance companies that have caused the crisis in the nation’s healthcare system. As single-payer activist, Dr. Margaret Flowers stated, “The Democratic Party has now moved so far to the right that they have just passed a Republican health bill.” This is no surprise, private insurers and pharmaceutical companies have flooded the electoral system with money in order to guarantee their continued ability to accumulate profits.
Junk Healthcare Plans and the Race to the Bottom
At nearly 2,500 pages, the bill contains a myriad of loopholes that will allow private insurers to continue nearly all of the immoral practices that have, according to a Harvard University study, resulted in more than 40,000 deaths per year due to treatable conditions. In fact, private insurers will now receive taxpayer funds to subsidize the sale of junk healthcare plans that the group Physicians for a National Health Program estimates will only cover 70% of people’s medical needs. This will likely spark a race-to-the-bottom as employers look to provide the minimum amount of coverage possible, insurer’s grab ever-increasing chunks of public money and people continue to face the prospect of soaring out-of-pocket costs, deep medical debts and death from treatable illnesses.
However, Americans have adjusted to profit driven healthcare by avoiding it. A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 6 out of 10 Americans had deferred or delayed what they understood as necessary medical treatment. To close this option, the Healthcare Bill lends the coercive power of government to private health insurers. For the first time in American history, citizens will be forced to purchase health insurance or face stiff annual fines. Such a mandate guarantees that millions of people will be herded into the new “health insurance exchanges,” an idea created by the Heritage Foundation, in order to fork over their money to private insurers. Estimates are that this will produce more than 20 million new customers for abusive insurers such as Humana, Oxford and Aetna. Read more.
K Street appears to have cashed in on the lengthy battle over healthcare reform.
About 1,750 businesses and organizations spent at least $1.2 billion in 2009 to lobby on health reform and other issues, according to a study from the Center for Public Integrity released Friday. A precise figure isn’t available because lobbying disclosure forms don’t require companies or other groups to itemize how much they spend to lobby on a particular issue.
The F Word: Step Toward Justice for Jamie Leigh Jones
By Laura Flanders | Smirking Chimp
Score one for Senator Al Franken.
Thanks to him, Jamie Leigh Jones, a former KBR employee who alleges she was gang raped by her coworkers will get her day in court.
I think we call that equal protection.
In Jones' case, it took an amendment to the 2010 defense appropriations bill. That's right, freshman Franken had to get up and suggest that government shouldn't be in the business of giving rewards -- or government contracts -- to companies that strip their workers of basic Constitutional rights, like the right to a jury trial.
Jones, lest we forget, has testified that she was raped and battered so badly by a group of her co-workers in Iraq that she required reconstructive surgery. Her assailants locked her in a shipping container for 24 hours without food, water, and she has testified before Congress that the company “warned her that if she left Iraq for medical treatment, she’d be out of a job." Read more.
While serving on the commission, Gorelick came under attack by conservatives for a March 4, 1995, memo she wrote while deputy attorney general.
In the memo, Gorelick instructed the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office to go beyond what is “legally required” in maintaining the wall between them and U.S. intelligence services.
Her opponents argued that her instructions stopped the sharing of information that might have prevented the 9/11 attacks.
Her defenders argued that Gorelick was only articulating policies that were already in place.
Jamie S. Gorelick, a former assistant attorney general in the Clinton administration and a member of the 9/11 commission, is keeping busy in the private sector.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Gorelick is one of the attorneys representing Steven Rattner in his negotiations with the New York state attorney general’s office and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Read more.
Companies using "squishy numbers" for "double" tax deduction, now taken away under new health insurance reform. Does the IRS allow you to "estimate" your figures?
ITHACA, NY — The Park Center for Independent Media (PCIM) at Ithaca College has announced that its second annual Izzy Award for special achievement in independent media will go to investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill, whose work in 2009 helped elevate the issue of abuse by military contractors to front-page news.
Scahill is the author of the international best-seller “Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army.” He will appear on campus to accept the award on Monday, April 19. Details of the event, which is free and open to the public, will be announced at a later date.
The Izzy Award is named after the legendary dissident journalist I.F. “Izzy” Stone, who launched his muckraking newsletter “I.F. Stone’s Weekly” in 1953 during the height of the McCarthy witch hunts. Stone, who died in 1989, exposed government deceit and corruption while championing civil liberties, racial justice and international diplomacy.
Citing his “persistence, independence and journalistic courage” in exposing military contractor abuses and human rights abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan, the judges honored Scahill as someone who “embodies the independent spirit of Izzy Stone.”
In continuous reporting throughout 2009, Scahill followed the trail of military contractors that he’d first pursued with his 2007 “Blackwater” book. His work appeared in many independent media outlets, including “The Nation,” “Democracy Now!” “AlterNet,” “The Huffington Post” and his own “Rebel Reports” blog. Mainstream news organizations eventually picked up the story, and this past January on MSNBC, Rachel Maddow ended an interview with Scahill about security contractors in post-earthquake Haiti by saying, “Whenever I read stories like this, even when you don’t write them, I think of you.”
Did DOD Have ANY Authorization for Torture after 2004?
By emptywheel | FireDogLake
There are a couple of things that have been bugging me about the authorizations DOD got for interrogations. It’s not clear what kind of authorization DOD used to justify detainee interrogations after the Yoo memo was withdrawn in 2003-2004–they had no overall interrogation approval from OLC. While it’s possible they were just relying on already-existing DOD documents, there are hints that DOD was either relying exclusively on the CIA’s more expansive authorizations (that included waterboarding), or they had some alternative approval that may not have involved OLC at all.
here and here), in March 2004, DOD requested approval to use–at the least–extended isolation with detainees. In response, Jack Goldsmith and Steven Bradbury started trying to replace the 2003 Yoo memo.
At precisely the same time, Goldsmith was working through the mess created by the Legal Principles document. As you recall, faced with clearly illegal conduct and with the opportunity to investigate that conduct themselves in 2003, CIA worked back channel with Jennifer Koester and John Yoo to summarize the legal advice given on torture, going so far as to claim certain techniques (like abdominal slap and diapers) had been approved when they hadn’t been. During that period, Koester and Yoo gave CIA an opportunity to review and provide input on the 2003 Yoo memo. Then, Koester and Yoo relied on the Yoo memo for several of the claims they made in the Legal Principles. That raises the possibility that one reason the Yoo memo was so bad (it was even more permissive than the Bybee One memo) was to help CIA avoid criminal liability for crimes already committed.
At the very least, this is proof that CIA and DOD were both relying on advice given to the other agency to justify their own agency’s actions. We know DOD used the Bybee memos (and oral authorization from Yoo based on that analysis) to authorize its treatment of Mohammed al-Qahtani in 2002-2003. And the Legal Principles show CIA was using the Yoo memo, written for DOD, to authorize its treatment of multiple detainees in anticipation of the CIA IG Report. In other words, though DOJ liked to maintain the fiction that the approval tracks for CIA and DOD were separate, they weren’t, at least not when John Yoo was involved. Read more.
The American Political Tradition
By Ray McGovern
Text of Ray McGovern’s prepared remarks at rally before John Yoo speaks this afternoon at the University of Virginia:
This morning I was reading the 11th grade AP American History textbook used in my granddaughter here in Charlottesville.
The textbook is titled: "The American Political Tradition and the Men who Made It." The author is Richard Hofstadter; the book has been around since 1948....almost as long as I have been around. It discusses the basics--the assumptions behind American ideals and American politics. It is what I was taught.
What the author is most clear about is the influence of Mr. Jefferson on other distinguished statesmen....including those not privileged to be Virginians — like Abraham Lincoln, who was a real Republican.
Back From Iraq, Injured War-Zone Workers Fight Insurance Giant AIG, Face Financial Ruin Civilian Contractors Accuse Insurer of Continuing To 'Delay and Deny' Claims
By Avni Patel | ABC News
Civilian contractors who were injured or wounded while supporting American troops in Iraq continue to face long battles with insurance giant AIG for payment of their disability claims, despite Congressional inquiries and calls to reform the system that has handled tens of thousands of disability claims from employees of overseas contractors.
The injured workers, including some wounded by small-arms fire or IEDs during insurgent attacks, complain that AIG has continued to "delay and deny" their claims nearly a year after a joint investigation by ABC News, ProPublica, and the Los Angeles Times first exposed serious problems with AIG's handling of disability claims under a government-funded insurance system. An analysis found that AIG challenged nearly half of the claims involving the most serious injuries.
"They will spend whatever it takes, or do whatever it takes, to berate, belittle and humiliate us," said Bill Carlisle, an injured Arkansas man who drove trucks in Iraq for nearly two years. Read more.
America's Secret Prisons
By Stephen Lendman
On January 28 in TomDispatch.com, Anand Gopal headlined, "Night Raids, Hidden Detention Centers, the 'Black Jail,' and the Dogs of War in Afghanistan," recounting unreported US media stories about killings, abductions, detentions, interrogations, and torture in "a series of prisons on US military bases around the country." Bagram prison, for example, is "a facility with a notorious reputation for abusive behavior," including brutalizing torture and cold-blooded murder.
Even worse is the "Black Jail," a facility consisting of individual windowless concrete cells with bright 24-hour lighting, described by one former detainee as "the most dangerous and fearful place" in which prisoners endure appalling treatment.
The pattern is predictable. US/NATO convoys are attacked or reports of Taliban forces are received. Americans respond accordingly, rounding up suspects, mostly innocent civilians, and detaining them for interrogations, torture, abuse and degrading treatment - not just in Afghanistan but in secret black sites globally, according to a January 26 UN Human Rights Council (HRC) report detailing practices engaged in by various countries including America, by far the world's worst offender in its war on terror - one waged against humanity for unchallengeable power and total global dominance.
Please click below to hear democratic consultant Bob Fertik discuss how American democracy is at stake due to the Supreme Court decision to allow unfettered corporate spending, including foreign corporate dollars, on U.S. elections: Listen to Bob Fertik on the Bill Press Show
1. Binding pledges from corporations not to buy or sell election ads
2. Strict laws against election spending by corporations with foreign owners, and by recipients of Federal contracts, bailouts, and subsidies. For other U.S. corporations, shareholders must approve election ads
3. Clean elections through publicly-funded Federal and state campaigns
4. A Constitutional Amendment to overturn the Supreme Court ruling so Congress and states can outlaw all corporate election spending
Walmart Fires Cancer Patient with Prescription for Medical Marijuana
Man Who Earned Associate of the Year Honors Fired by Employer Even Though Medical Marijuana Legal
By Tahman Bradley | ABC News
Even though Michigan resident Joseph Casias had a prescription from his doctor for medical marijuana, he was fired after a positive test for the substance by his employer, Walmart.
The news last November he'd been terminated was devastating for Casias, 29, who took great pride in his job, once earning the honor of Associate of the Year.
"It hurts. It hurts because I care. I care a lot about the store. I always wanted to make sure I do well," he told ABC News.
Casias started taking the medicine last June to cope with pain from sinus cancer and a brain tumor. He says the rare form of cancer causes him pain constantly and he almost died when he was first diagnosed.
Casias sprained his knee at work last November and underwent the routine drug test that follows all workplace injuries. Questioned about his positive test, Casias told management about his condition and presented a state card authorizing his marijuana use for medical purposes, but he was fired anyway. Casias says management told him Walmart does not honor medical marijuana cards. Read more.
In December, we argued the urgent need to make public A.I.G.'s emails and "key internal accounting documents and financial models." A.I.G.'s schemes were at the center of the economic meltdown. Three months later, a year-long report by court-appointed bank examiner Anton Valukas makes it abundantly clear why such investigations are critical to the recovery of our financial system. Every time someone takes a serious look, a new scandal emerges.
The damning 2,200-page report, released last Friday, examines the reasons behind Lehman's failure in September 2008. It reveals on and off balance-sheet accounting practices the firm's managers used to deceive the public about Lehman's true financial condition. Our investigations have shown for years that accounting is the "weapon of choice" for financial deception. Valukas's findings reveal how Lehman used $50 billion in "repo" loans to fool investors into thinking that it was on sound financial footing. As our December co-author Frank Partnoy recently explained as part of a major report of the Roosevelt Institute, "Make Markets Be Markets," such abusive off-balance accounting was and is endemic. It was a major cause of the financial crisis, and it will lead to future crises.
According to emails described in the report, CEO Richard Fuld and other senior Lehman executives were aware of the games being played and yet signed off on quarterly and annual reports. Lehman's auditor Ernst & Young knew and kept quiet.
The Valukas report also exposes the dysfunctional relationship between the country's main regulatory bodies and the systemically dangerous institutions (SDIs) they are supposed to be policing. The NY Fed, the regulatory agency led by then FRBNY President Geithner, has a clear statutory mission to promote the safety and soundness of the banking system and compliance with the law. Yet it stood by while Lehman deceived the public through a scheme that FRBNY officials likened to a "three card monte routine" (p. 1470). The report states: Read more.
Note: The bookstore links are not working yet, but will be soon.
You gotta see this! [Video above.] If this doesn't convince you that Timothy Geithner knew about the securities shenanigans that were going on at Lehman, than I don't know what will.
Keep in mind, that Geithner ran Lehman through 3 "stress tests" prior to bankruptcy; all of which Lehman failed, and yet, nothing was done. Anton R. Valukas--the examiner who wrote the 2,200 page investigative-report which was released on Thursday-- has provided plenty of information detailing Lehman's “materially misleading” accounting and “actionable balance sheet manipulation.”
In other words, they cooked the books. Read more.
The activist-police clashes in the sixties were bloody and violent. They were loud and terrible, and they made the news. Black protesters were attacked by police dogs. The moment the populace saw those images, everything changed. “The black community was instantaneously consolidated behind King,” said David Vann, who would later become mayor of Birmingham.
Now, imagine if dogs hadn’t been used, but the police instead utilized “non-lethal personal suppression projectiles.” In this world, the civil rights protesters in the sixties didn’t scream and fight. They just got kind of loopy, smiled, and walked home. Yes, technically the police prevented injuries, but the larger damage is much more severe. The police prevented political change. That may be a good thing for the regime of the moment, but it’s a bad thing for justice and society at large.
Bob Herbert recently wrote about the overzealous enforcement of “peace officers” assigned to New York City schools. The officers are accused of detaining, searching, handcuffing, and arresting students for silly things like drawing on desks, or handling — not using, but handling — cell phones in school.
In one case, a safety officer kicked in the door of a stall in the boys’ bathroom, wounding a student’s head. The officer’s response to questioning about the matter was: “That’s life. It will stop bleeding.”
Another student, this time a 5-year-old, was shipped off to a hospital psychiatric ward for throwing a tantrum.
These absurd reactions to normal childhood behavior is all part of “Zero Tolerance.” Six-year-old Zachary Christie faced disciplinary action after bringing a Cub Scout utensil that can serve as a knife, fork, and spoon to school. Apparently, the state of Delaware is terrified of children shanking each other, and after all, it’s the era of Zero Tolerance. Read more.