Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Photo by joanneleon. January, 2013
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This is horrific. F'ing horrific. This is a guy who was not nominated for any jobs that required confirmation during Obama's first term because of his involvement with the torture program. Now he's the unelected and unconfirmed drone assassination czar and he can make it through the confirmation process? Were any deals cut to assure his confirmation? This is the same guy who blatantly lied to the American people saying that no civilians have ever been killed by the drones and he continues to lie about that (via report of conversation with him by Medea Benjamin). He is also the guy in charge of data mining and building files on innocent Americans at the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) aka the Minority Report Center. Way to go, Obama, putting Cheney Brennan in charge of the CIA. He didn't have enough rogue power already?
This is from Marcy, someone who has written more about Cheney Brennan over the past four years than perhaps anyone else.
The Seduction of John Brennan’s “Moral Rectitude”
As has been floating over the last few days, Obama will reportedly appoint John Brennan CIA Director later today.
I’m actually far more worried about Brennan’s control over other programs, particularly profiling Americans (though NCTC owns much of that task now). Remember, in addition to having ties to torture, Brennan was in charge of profiling for Dick Cheney’s illegal wiretap program. And he’s the guy who decided it’d be great to give the NCTC unfettered access to any federal database. This man loves data mining, and we should expect to see more of it from the CIA.
And remember, Brennan is a liar. A proven liar on this and a number of other issues. As well as a key instigator for the self-interested leaking the Administration would criminally punish coming from others. He spends a great deal of energy telling useful but not factually accurate stories to spin the Administration’s counterterrorism programs.
So I can’t help but think the people hailing his “moral rectitude” have been seduced by an old spook. Because every story that claims Brennan has some kind of higher ethics or a plan to put order to our out-of-control CT programs is either followed–or has the proof within itself–that the moral rectitude is the PR, whereas the embrace of unchecked power seems to be backed by his actions.
Statement from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on December Jobs Report
WASHINGTON - January 4 - The economy added 155,000 net new jobs in December, sufficient to keep the official unemployment rate steady at 7.8 percent, but not enough to make a dent in long-term unemployment. Deep problems remain in our economy and labor market—under-employment remains at 14.4 percent, wages are barely growing, and too many workers are seeing their skills atrophy as they sit on the sideline of our economy. Our urgent focus must be on investment that creates jobs and lays the foundation for sustainable growth and shared prosperity.
Almost nothing would be more foolish right now than a trillion dollars of austerity, as the sequester would require, or the Fix the Debt CEO plan to undermine America’s already threadbare social safety net. As the European experience shows, austerity kills recoveries. And threats to take the economy hostage by refusing to extend the debt ceiling extension would clearly endanger our economy and our country.
Obama considers broad restrictions on gun sales
The administration of President Barack Obama is considering a broad array of measures to curb the nation’s gun violence, including more than just a reinstatement of a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition, The Washington Post reported Sunday.
Citing multiple people involved in the administration’s discussions, the newspaper said a working group led by Vice President Biden is seriously considering several measures: universal background checks for firearm buyers, tracking the movement and sale of weapons through a national database, strengthening mental health checks, and stiffening penalties for carrying guns near schools or giving them to minors.
To push these measures through Congress, the White House is developing strategies to work around the National Rifle Association, the report said.
NRA’s Vision: A Nation Packing Heat
Last year, Congress stopped the National Institutes of Health from spending any money that might be construed as advocating or promoting gun control. There’s even a section that was snuck into President Obama’s Affordable Care Act that prevents doctors from collecting information on their patients’ gun use. Denise Dowd, an emergency-care physician in Kansas City and adviser on firearms issues to the American Academy of Pediatrics, told the Post, “This illustrates the fact that the NRA has insinuated themselves into the small crevices of anything they can to do anything in their power to prohibit sensible gun-safety measures.”
As Wayne LaPierre’s brazen call for an armed populace makes clear, the odds don’t favor common sense. Several members of the new Congress are reintroducing bills that would change the gun laws and USA Today reports that the White House is “likely” to issue its recommendations January 15, but there are always those legislators willing to do the gun lobby’s bidding as they profess their love of the Second Amendment and wait like hungry house pets for the next NRA campaign donation.
The Financial War Against the Economy at LargeWell I guess this could be me or any one of us. Ironically, today I am heading up for an Occupy Sandy visit. Another reason to put me on a list? If you had asked me ten years ago whether I would ever end of on a government list I would have laughed. Now? Not so much.
Today’s economic warfare is not the kind waged a century ago between labor and its industrial employers. Finance has moved to capture the economy at large, industry and mining, public infrastructure (via privatization) and now even the educational system. (At over $1 trillion, U.S. student loan debt came to exceed credit-card debt in 2012.) The weapon in this financial warfare is no larger military force. The tactic is to load economies (governments, companies and families) with debt, siphon off their income as debt service and then foreclose when debtors lack the means to pay. Indebting government gives creditors a lever to pry away land, public infrastructure and other property in the public domain. Indebting companies enables creditors to seize employee pension savings. And indebting labor means that it no longer is necessary to hire strikebreakers to attack union organizers and strikers.
Workers have become so deeply indebted on their home mortgages, credit cards and other bank debt that they fear to strike or even to complain about working conditions. Losing work means missing payments on their monthly bills, enabling banks to jack up interest rates to levels that used to be deemed usurious. So debt peonage and unemployment loom on top of the wage slavery that was the main focus of class warfare a century ago. And to cap matters, credit-card bank lobbyists have rewritten the bankruptcy laws to curtail debtor rights, and the referees appointed to adjudicate disputes brought by debtors and consumers are subject to veto from the banks and businesses that are mainly responsible for inflicting injury.
The aim of financial warfare is not merely to acquire land, natural resources and key infrastructure rents as in military warfare; it is to centralize creditor control over society. In contrast to the promise of democratic reform nurturing a middle class a century ago, we are witnessing a regression to a world of special privilege in which one must inherit wealth in order to avoid debt and job dependency.
State of FearTo that list (intimidation by right-wing fringe groups and the state's massive intrusion into the privacy of activists on the left), I would add attempts at suppression of dissent by selected hyperpartisans on the left enforcing lock-step behavior of lifelong Democrats, who are considered not sufficiently loyal and/or too critical of the current head of the party, on party supporting blogs and other online forums, via peer pressure (a bit of an understatement), smear campaigns, calls for banning and other sorts of individual and organized manipulation.
Shannon McLeish of Florida is a 45-year-old married mother of two young children. She is a homeowner, a taxpayer and a safe driver. She votes in every election. She attends a Unitarian Universalist church on Sundays. She is also, like nearly all who have a relationship with the Occupy movement in the United States, being monitored by the federal government. She knows this because when she read FBI documents obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) through the Freedom of Information Act, she was startled to see a redaction that could only be referring to her. McLeish’s story is the story of hundreds of thousands of people—perhaps more—whose lives are being invaded by the state. It is the story of a security and surveillance apparatus—overseen by the executive branch under Barack Obama—that has empowered the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security to silence the voices and obstruct the activity of citizens who question corporate power.
The combination of intimidation tactics by right-wing fringe groups, which speak in the language of violence and hate, with the state’s massive intrusion into the personal affairs of the citizen is corporate fascism. And we are much farther down that road than many of us care to admit.
Since the spring of 2012 McLeish has co-hosted a morning radio show called “Air Occupy” (also streamed online) with Liz Myers and Jerry Bolkcom. They have interviewed, among others, Alexa O’Brien, the organizer of US Day of Rage, and Carl Mayer, the lead attorney in the case Hedges v. Obama, a challenge to the indefinite detention clause of the National Defense Authorization Act. Immediately after “Air Occupy” posted on YouTube the interview about the lawsuit against the NDAA, YouTube permanently banned the radio show on the ground of “violating community standards”—a ban that usually is imposed for graphic, violent or gory images or pornography. According to YouTube’s guidelines, a poster is allowed three “strikes” before an account is terminated. “Air Occupy” had received no notice of “strikes” or warnings of any kind from YouTube.
McLeish worries about how being a target of FBI attention will affect her life. “Can the inclusion of my name and information on a federal law enforcement domestic terrorist watch list impact my ability to make a living and provide for my children?” she asked. “Can I be subject to retribution of some kind through the NDAA’s new provisions or to federal surveillance due to interviewing other activists or in addition to my involvement in Occupy protests? I can’t afford an attorney to protect myself.”
When people talk about how Pres. Obama and the Democratic leadership are poor negotiators, I think it is a matter of perspective. If you look at things from the perspective of the 1%, they don't seem like very bad negotiators at all, do they? And it's not just the laws that are passed, it's also the way that they are (or aren't) implemented and enforced, and both of these functions are the responsibility of the executive branch, not the legislative branch, though Schoolhouse Rock doesn't go into that level of detail about what happens after a bill is signed and regulations and enforcing agencies take over the process. Just look at the Dodd-Frank bill for one good example. And these zombie giveaways to oil & gas industry just never seem to die, despite the perennial protests against them by Democrats on the floor of the House and Senate and during campaign ads and stump speeches. But even during a time when our president claims that shared sacrifice is needed and that everybody needs to feel some pain, he negotiates a bill in which the zombie tax breaks survive. Note the magnitude of this too. Supposedly, we had to agree to make nearly all of the Bush tax cuts permanent in exchange for temporary extended unemployment benefits which are worth $30 billion. These zombie tax giveaways to Big Oil are worth much more than that.
Big Oil's Billions in Tax Perks Survive Fiscal Cliff DealThe article below... Chilling.
Everything was supposed to be "on the table" in the crafting of deal to avert the so-called fiscal cliff. But in the end, congressional Democrats and Republicans skipped over some of the most glaring tax perks and giveaways. Case in point: Congress didn't touch billions of dollars a year in freebies to the oil and gas industry that pad the profit margins of companies such as ExxonMobil and BP.
The final fiscal cliff deal does not touch oil and gas subsidies, confirms Rory Cooper, a spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.). Ending the costliest tax breaks for oil and gas companies would have raised tens of billions of dollars in revenue. Trimming just a handful of these breaks for the big five companies—BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Shell—would've raised $24 billion over the next decade. President Obama's 2012 budget proposal called for ending 13 breaks benefiting oil and gas companies of all sizes; it would have saved $46 billion over 10 years.
Truthdigger of the Week: Malala Yousafzai
“I have a new dream,” she said in a New York Times documentary called “Class Dismissed,” which showed the Taliban’s attempt to deprive Pakistani girls of education. “I must be a politician to save this country. There are so many crises in our country. I want to remove these crises.”
[...] she was released from Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham late last week. She suffered no physical paralysis and can walk with help, but doctors say the right side of her body may be weak in the future. Likewise, she may not fully recover her ability with language.
[...] If she returns to Pakistan, the possibility of a second, successful assassination will hang over her like a sword of Damocles.
Yousafzai became a spokeswoman for female education once her identity was revealed to the public as early as December 2009. She appeared on television and in the news, sometimes with her father, who had gained a reputation as one of the few people who had resisted the Taliban.
“Those were the most terrible days—the darkest in our history,” her father told a reporter at the Institute for War and Peace Reporting. “We spared no efforts to speak up against terrorism and that struggle brought us into the limelight.” His daughter “got influenced by what was going on and gradually she joined me in our struggle against extremism.”
Blog Posts and Tweets of Interest
The best way for John Brennan to definitively distance himself from Bush's torture would be to endorse prosecution. trib.al/7AgEbag— Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth) January 7, 2013
@adamgoldmanap Was just wondering that myself. Who gets to be the Cheneyesque gateway to Obama on NatSec issues now?— emptywheel (@emptywheel) January 7, 2013
@speechboy71 It doesn't occur to you that articles that describe his "rectitude" always describe him as a careless killer?— emptywheel (@emptywheel) January 6, 2013
The Rolling Stones- Miss You
Avril Lavigne - When You're Gone (Live at The Orange Lounge)
Nelly - Hot In Here
Remember when progressive debate was about our values and not about a "progressive" candidate? Remember when progressive websites championed progressive values and didn't tell progressives to shut up about values so that "progressive" candidates can get elected?
Come to where the debate is not constrained by oaths of fealty to persons or parties.
Come to where the pie is served in a variety of flavors.
"The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum." ~ Noam Chomsky