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Political Article Archive for 2012

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Politics

The Fiscal Cliff, A Self-Created Bi-Partisan Drama
by Kevin Zeese
Posted December 30, 2012

politician created phony crisisThe fiscal cliff is a self-created bi-partisan drama that demonstrates the failure of traditional politics and the need for mobilized resistance and a new independent political movement. The mass media and operatives from the Democratic and Republican parties have raised all sorts of imagined fears to provide cover to unnecessary cuts to health, retirement and social programs, while marginally increasing taxes on the wealthiest. But watch out,this is really only the set-up for the payback to big business interests that bankrolled the 2012 elections.

President Obama is on track to be the first Democratic president to cut Social Security benefits at a time when pensions are disappearing and it is the primary source of income for elderly Americans. Social Security does not add to the deficit as it has a $2.7 trillion surplus, expected to rise to $3.7 trillion according to the Social Security Trustees.Cuts to Medicare and Medicaid are also on the table;no doubt other safety net programs will also be cut. More...

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Why Billionaire Political Investors Will Keep Pouring Money Into Politics - Until They're Stopped
by Robert Reich
Posted December 13, 2012

pocket changeYou see, if and when they eventually win, these billionaires will clean up. Their taxes will plummet, many of laws constraining their profits (such environmental laws preventing the Koch brothers from more depredations, and the anti-bribery Foreign Corrupt Practices Act that Adelson is being investigated for violating) will disappear, and what's left of labor unions will no longer intrude on their bottom lines. And they have enough dough to keep betting until they eventually win. That's what it means to be a billionaire political investor: You're able to keep playing the odds until you get the golden ring.

Relative to their net worth, the billionaire investors have been playing for a pittance. Forbes magazine estimates Adelson's net worth at $21.5 billion. His Las Vegas Sands Corporation just approved a special dividend paying him about $1.2 billion this year, ahead of any possible tax increases that might emerge from congressional budget negotiations. More...

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Susan Rice, Top Candidate for Secretary of State, Has Millions Tied to Canadian Tar Sands
by Stephen Lacey
Posted November 30, 2012

Rice - conflict of interestMost of the attacks against Susan Rice, Obama's supposed top pick for Secretary of State, have come from Republicans. But now the left — mainly groups opposed to developing Canadian tar sands — may have some reasons to question Rice. According to a report from OnEarth Magazine, Rice has millions of dollars tied up in top Canadian energy companies — including TransCanada, the company pushing for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

The 1,700 mile Keystone XL pipeline would pipe carbon-intensive tar sands crude from Alberta to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. Because the pipeline crosses international borders, its approval falls under the jurisdiction of the State Department. That means Rice — or any other candidate tapped to head the State Department — would be responsible for approving or rejecting the project. More...

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Elite Intrigues and Military Purges: It's Not About Sex, Stupid!
by Prof. James Petras
Posted November 22, 2012

More to this than media reportsThe headline stories claim that CIA Director General David Petraeus resigned as head of the CIA because of an adulterous relation with his young biographer and that General John Allen, Supreme Commander of US troops in Afghanistan, was under investigation and his promotion to top commander of US troops in Europe was on hold, because, we are told, of his 'inappropriate' comments in the exchange of e-mails with a civilian female friend. We are told that a 'hard-charging' local FBI agent, Frederick Humphries, Jr., had uncovered amorous e-mails sent by General Petraeus to his girlfriend-biographer in the course of investigating a complaint of 'cyber-stalking'.

In other words, we are asked to believe that a single, low-ranking, zealous FBI agent has toppled the careers of two top US Generals: one in charge of the principle global intelligence agency, the CIA, and the other in command of the US and allied combat forces in the principle theater of military engagement – on the basis of infidelity and flirtatious banter!

Nothing could be more far-fetched simply on prima facie evidence. More...

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Why I'm Voting Green
by Chris Hedges
Posted October 30, 2012

Green PartyThe November election is not a battle between Republicans and Democrats. It is not a battle between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. It is a battle between the corporate state and us. And if we do not immediately engage in this battle we are finished, as climate scientists have made clear. I will defy corporate power in small and large ways. I will invest my energy now solely in acts of resistance, in civil disobedience and in defiance. Those who rebel are our only hope.

And for this reason I will vote next month for Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, although I could as easily vote for Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party. I will step outside the system. Voting for the "lesser evil"—or failing to vote at all—is part of the corporate agenda to crush what is left of our anemic democracy. And those who continue to participate in the vaudeville of a two-party process, who refuse to confront in every way possible the structures of corporate power, assure our mutual destruction. More...

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Before the Election was Over, Wall Street Won
by Naomi Prins
Posted October 24, 2012

Wall Street wins electionBefore the campaign contributors lavished billions of dollars on their favorite candidate; and long after they toast their winner or drink to forget their loser, Wall Street was already primed to continue its reign over the economy.

Savers, borrowers, and the economy are still losing money due to the preservation of the illusion of bank health. More critically, the big banks grew through acquisitions and the ongoing closures of smaller local banks that provided better banking terms to citizens. The big banks have more assets and deposits, on which they are over-valuing prices, and paying less interest than before, due to a combination of Fed and Treasury blessed mergers in late 2008, QE and ZIRP. Yet, we're supposed to believe this situation will somehow manifest a more solid and productive economy. More...

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Mitt Romney's Bailout Bonanza: How He Made Millions from the Rescue of Detroit
by Greg Palast
Posted October 21, 2012

 

A major new exposé on the cover of The Nation magazine called "Mitt Romney's Bailout Bonanza: How He Made Millions from the Rescue of Detroit." Investigative reporter Greg Palast reveals how Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney made some $15 million on the auto bailout and that three of Romney's top donors made more than $4 billion for their hedge funds from the bailout.

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How Do You Take Your Poison?
by Chris Hedges
Posted September 29, 2012

corporate oligarchyCorporate power, no matter who is running the ward after January 2013, is poised to carry out U.S. history's most savage assault against the poor and the working class, not to mention the Earth's ecosystem. And no one in power, no matter what the bedside manner, has any intention or ability to stop it.

If you insist on participating in the cash-drenched charade of a two-party democratic election at least be clear about what you are doing. You are, by playing your assigned role as the Democratic or Republican voter in this political theater, giving legitimacy to a corporate agenda that means your own impoverishment and disempowerment. Our corporate oligarchs are harvesting the nation, grabbing as much as they can, as fast as they can, in the inevitable descent. More...

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Feast of Fools
by Lewis Lapham
Posted September 21, 2012

illusion of democracyThe ritual performance of the legend of democracy in the autumn of 2012 promises the conspicuous consumption of $5.8 billion, enough money, thank God, to prove that our flag is still there. Forbidden the use of words apt to depress a Q Score or disturb a Gallup poll, the candidates stand as product placements meant to be seen instead of heard, their quality to be inferred from the cost of their manufacture. The sponsors of the event, generous to a fault but careful to remain anonymous, dress it up with the bursting in air of star-spangled photo ops, abundant assortments of multiflavored sound bites, and the candidates so well-contrived that they can be played for jokes, presented as game-show contestants, or posed as noble knights-at-arms setting forth on vision quests, enduring the trials by klieg light, until on election night they come to judgment before the throne of cameras by whom and for whom they were produced.

The cable-news networks meanwhile package dissent as tabloid entertainment, a commodity so clearly labeled as pasteurized ideology that it is rendered harmless and threatens nobody with the awful prospect of having to learn something they didn't already know. More...

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Where Is the Outrage over Money in Politics?
by Bill Moyers
Posted Sept 4, 2012

corruptionNo serious proposal to take the money out of politics, or even reduce its tightening grip on the body politic, will emerge from Tampa or Charlotte, so the sounds of celebration and merriment are merely prelude to a funeral cortege for America as a shared experience. A radical minority of the super-rich has gained ascendency over politics, buying the policies, laws, tax breaks, subsidies, and rules that consolidate a permanent state of vast inequality by which they can further help themselves to America's wealth and resources.

We are nearing the culmination of a cunning and fanatical drive to dismantle the political institutions, the legal and statutory canons, and the intellectual and cultural frameworks that were slowly and painstakingly built over decades to protect everyday citizens from the excesses of private power. The "city on the hill" has become a fortress of privilege, guarded by a hired political class and safely separated from the economic pressures that are upending the household stability, family dynamics, social mobility, and civic life of everyday Americans. More...

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Politics 101
by Unknown
Posted July 30, 2012

replace all the mokees at the same timeIf you start with a cage containing five monkeys and inside the cage, hang a banana on a string from the top and then you place a set of stairs under the banana, before long a monkey will go to the stairs and climb toward the banana.

As soon as he touches the stairs, you spray all the other monkeys with cold water.

After a while another monkey makes an attempt with same result ... all the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it.

Now, put the cold water away. Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one.

The new monkey sees the banana and attempts to climb the stairs. To his shock, all of the other monkeys beat the crap out of him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs he will be assaulted. Next, remove another of the original five monkeys, replacing it with a new one.

The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment...... with enthusiasm, because he is now part of the "team". Then, replace a third original monkey with a new one, followed by the fourth, then the fifth. Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs he is attacked.

Now, the monkeys that are beating him up have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs. Neither do they know why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey.

Finally, having replaced all of the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys will have ever been sprayed with cold water.

Nevertheless, not one of the monkeys will try to climb the stairway for the banana. Why, you ask? Because in their minds...that is the way it has always been!

This, my friends, is how Congress and the Senate operates... and this is why, from time to time:
ALL of the monkeys need to be REPLACED AT THE SAME TIME.

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Leaked Trade Doc Shows Obama Wants to Help Corporations Avoid Regulations
by Lori Wallach

Posted June 20, 2012

A draft agreement leaked Wednesday shows the Obama administration is pushing a secretive trade agreement that could vastly expand corporate power and directly contradict a 2008 campaign promise by President Obama. A U.S. proposal for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact between the United States and eight Pacific nations would allow foreign corporations operating in the U.S. to appeal key regulations to an international tribunal. The body would have the power to override U.S. law and issue penalties for failure to comply with its ruling. We speak to Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, a fair trade group that posted the leaked documents on its website. More...
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Senators Suck Up to Jamie Dimon, Get Paid for It
by George Zornick
Posted June 15, 2012

Government for saleIn fifty years, when historians look back upon the current era of unbridled financial sector influence on American government—unless all historians are by then employed at CitiBankofAmericaChaseOne Institutions of Higher Learning™—Wednesday's hearing of the Senate Banking Committee will be an instructive example of our perverse power structure. Jamie Dimon, CEO of the JPMorgan Chase, the country's largest bank, appeared before the committee after a clear screw-up: traders at JPMorgan placed a series of complex bets that resulted in $2 billion in losses and counting.

This should be of great concern to the Senate. Since deposits at JPMorgan Chase are backed by the federal government, risky market gambling could create the need for another massive public bailout of a normally profitable private bank.

But instead, a vast majority of the Senators at Wednesday's hearing repeatedly praised Dimon's wisdom and executive acuity while politely soliciting his opinion on how he thought his own bank should be regulated. That shouldn't be too surprising if one examines the bank's political giving--members of the committee received $522,088 of the bank's cash in recent years, with $296,557 going to Democrats and $285,531 to Republicans. More...

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State Politicians and the Public Pension Cookie Jar
by Steven Malanga
Posted June 11, 2012

Former mayor DaleyLegislators in dozens of states have crafted retirement perks that are even more generous than those of their government employees. As states and municipalities confront the crushing cost of pension promises, these elected officials are being asked to rein in a system they benefit from.

Illinois residents recently got a glimpse of the double standard at work when they learned how former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley had gamed the system. In early 2011, as he was ending his 22-year tenure, Mr. Daley complained of the growing cost of government and warned that rich pension benefits for public workers might sink Chicago's budget. But he didn't mention that he had exploited the system he was criticizing to boost his own final retirement package to $183,000 a year. More...

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The 14 characteristics of Fascism
by Dr. Lawrence Britt
Posted June 7, 2012

fascism is slaveryDr. Britt, a political scientist, studied the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia), and Pinochet (Chile). He found the regimes all had 14 things in common, and he calls these the identifying characteristics of fascism. Some of these include:

Corporate Power is Protected -- The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

Supremacy of the Military -- Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized. More...

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Harnessing People Power: Co-Option at Work in America Today
by Edmund Berger
Posted April 23, 2012

Co-opting movementsThroughout history change has been a perpetual tug-of-war between the different social classes. These great divisions have been recast again and again in various manifestations (the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, the have and have-nots, the 1% and the 99%), but they are always expressing the same common problem: progress, however far it takes us, cannot seem to shake off its built-in inequalities and injustices that always follow alongside it. This sentiment is not the subject of perpetual debate, however. It is most often found in the margins, outside the mainstream, only flickering into popular consciousness when the truly irrational nature of the dominant system reveals itself. These irrationalities serve to mobilize the multitude to demand change, yet the result of these mobilizations is a rationalization of underlying problems. Change does come, but it is limited and mutable, subject to its own changes. More...

This is a long but very well written and well documented article on how movements such as the Tea Party, Occupy, and others eventually become co-opted by the elites and the dominant system. One part of the co-opting is to get the movement to support political candidates. However, once these candidates are in office, they often become co-opted themselves by their political party, campaign donors and others. This is a must read for anyone who truly wants to understand this process and its implications.

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Why Obama's JOBS Act Couldn't Suck Worse
by Matt Taibbi
Posted April 23, 2012

License for fraudBoy, do I feel like an idiot. I've been out there on radio and TV in the last few months saying that I thought there was a chance Barack Obama was listening to the popular anger against Wall Street that drove the Occupy movement, that decisions like putting a for-real law enforcement guy like New York AG Eric Schneiderman in charge of a mortgage fraud task force meant he was at least willing to pay lip service to public outrage against the banks.

Then the JOBS Act happened. The "Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act" (in addition to everything else, the Act has an annoying, redundant title) will very nearly legalize fraud in the stock market. More...

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Partisan Confusion: Outside the Supreme Court While the Health Insurance Mandate is Debated
by Kevin Zeese
Posted March 29, 2012

Political confusionMy colleague, Margaret Flowers, asked two women carrying an Americans for Prosperity sign (a group opposed to Obama's law) whether they were on Medicare. They said "yes." "Do you like it?" Again, "yes." "Do you know Medicare is a government program?" A confused look. "Do you know the Republicans want to end Medicare, make it into private insurance?" "You don't know what you're talking about. You probably support Obama" and they started to walk away. "No, we oppose ObamaCare," the women stopped and listened again, "we think everyone should have Medicare. Don't you think it would be a good idea if every American could have the Medicare you have and like?" "Hmm, yes" then, more confusion in their faces.

Then, talking to the Democrats showed equal partisan confusion. I explained: "We oppose the Obama mandate because we want to end insurance control of health care. We support single payer, Medicare for all?" Response: "So do I." I asked: "Single payer ends insurance, and Obama's law entrenches insurance more deeply in control of health care, aren't those opposites?" Response, obviously not understanding what "opposite' means: "It's a step in the right direction." I ask: "How can it be a step in the right direction when it is going in the opposite direction?" More...

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A Tangled Web: Who's Making Money From All This Campaign Spending?
by Al Shaw, Kim Barker and Justin Elliott
Posted March 25, 2012

unlimited ANONYMOUS contributionsMany have been detailing the vast sums being raised by the presidential candidates and the super PACs supporting them. But where are all those millions being spent? Among other things, the answers can provide hints on potential improper coordination between campaigns and super PACs. Here are the 200 biggest recipients of spending by the major campaigns and most of the major super PACs.

More...

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Our Politicians Are Money Launderers in the Trafficking of Power and Policy
by Bill Moyers
Posted January 31, 2012

power dealersJohn Boehner calls on the bankers, holds out his cup, and offers them total obeisance from the House majority if only they fill it. That's now the norm, and they get away with it. GOP once again means Guardians of Privilege.

Barack Obama criticizes bankers as "fat cats", then invites them to dine at a pricey New York restaurant where the tasting menu runs to $195 a person. That's now the norm, and they get away with it. The President has raised more money from banks, hedge funds, and private equity managers than any Republican candidate, including Mitt Romney. Inch by inch he has conceded ground to them while espousing populist rhetoric that his very actions betray. More...

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How Super PACs Are Choosing Your Next President
by David Zeiler
Posted January 20, 2012

corporate takeover of governmentIt's no secret that the rich use their money to influence the ballot, but in this year's election cycle they have created a new, more insidious way to do it.

They are called super PACs and they are choosing your next President.

Super PACs (political action committees) have drawn attention in recent months because of their outsized influence on the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. These organizations can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money, with the only restriction being that the super PAC cannot "coordinate" with the candidate.

In a super PAC, individual donations of $500,000 to a $1 million or more are not uncommon. "The sky's the limit,"Columbia Law Schoolcampaign-finance expert Richard Briffault told USA Today. "We are back to the pre-Watergate era of unlimited amounts of money." More...

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Obama Nominates Carlyle Group Partner to The Federal Reserve Board of Governors
by Kevin Zeeze
January 2, 2012

change you can believe in?While on vacation in Hawaii, Obama tapped Jerome Powell to serve on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Powel served as the undersecretary for finance under the president George H. W. Bush and was a partner of The Carlyle Group. The Carlyle Group is a massive private equity firm and one of the largest defense contractors in the world.

They're made up of some of the most influential policymakers over the last five administrations including both Bush presidents, former Secretary of State James Baker III, former Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci, former Clinton Chief of Staff Mack McLarty, and former SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt to name a few.

Other notable investors in The Carlyle Group include the bin Laden family and the Saudi Royal Family. Coincidentally, George H. W. Bush was meeting at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Washington on the morning of September 11th with one of Osama Bin Laden's brothers. More...

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