Monday, October 31, 2011


In This Edition:

- 7 BILLION AND COUNTING (Center for Biological Diversity & World Watch Institute)
- Some Consequences of Teen Pregnancies in Western Industrialized Countries

Center for Biological Diversity

How many people are there on the planet, and how has the population grown?

The United Nations predicts the world population will reach 7 billion on October 31, 2011, and continue exploding till its hits 10 billion by century’s end. Global population doubled from 1 billion to 2 billion between 1800 and 1930, then exploded over the past five decades — doubling from 3.5 billion in 1968 to nearly 7 billion now.

How many people will there be at the end of the century?

According to a May 2011 U.N. report, the global human population will likely exceed 10 billion by 2100. This projection is higher than previous estimates, which predicted the population would peak at slightly more than 9 billion in 2050 and then begin to decline.

How does this affect plants and animals?

Population growth has an enormous impact on biodiversity, the suite of plant and animal species that make up our physical world. As the world’s human population grows unsustainably, so do its unyielding demands for water, land, trees and fossil fuels — all of which come at a steep price for other life forms already being forced into remote corners, deprived of food sources or outcompeted by introduced species. Most directly, population growth has led to massive habitat loss, overhunting and interruption of migration.

Is it affecting the rate of species extinction?

Most biologists agree we’re in the midst of the Earth’s sixth mass extinction event. Some have even begun to use the term “Anthropocene” to describe a new period of time on Earth. Species are disappearing up to 1,000 times faster than is typical of the planet’s history. This time, though, it isn’t because of geologic or cosmic forces but unsustainable human population growth.

What are some of the North American species that have already gone extinct because of overpopulation?

They include the woodland bison of West Virginia, Arizona’s Merriam’s elk, the Rocky Mountain grasshopper and Puerto Rico’s Culebra parrot. Each year researchers report discovering more than 15,000 new species around the world; at the same time, more than 90 species are going extinct every day.

How can we stop this?

One person at a time. One of the most important actions we can take is to speak out and speak up. For too long, overpopulation has been ignored by environmental groups and others, largely for political reasons. But at this point the facts can’t be ignored, and there are practical, real-world ways to begin addressing the crisis.

Forty percent of pregnancies are unplanned, and the majority of women in the world do not have access to birth control. These realities are often a result of women not being in decision-making positions.

We can reduce our own population to a sustainable level in a number of ways, including the empowerment of women, education of all people, universal access to birth control and a societal commitment to ensuring that all species are given a chance to live and thrive. These steps will decrease human poverty and overcrowding, raise our standard of living and help sustain the lives of plants and animals everywhere — and with them the natural systems on which our own lives and wellbeing depend.

Isn’t this just a problem for the rest of the world?

No. The United States has the world’s third largest population after China and India. At 2.1 children per woman, the U.S. fertility rate remains the highest among developed nations, which average around 1.6. The current U.S. population exceeds 300 million and is projected to grow 50 percent by 2050. By any ecological measure, we have exceeded our carrying capacity.

Isn’t the problem more about overconsumption?

It’s inextricably connected. Dramatic overconsumption has coincided with the population explosion. Consumption of resources — from land and water to oil, gas and minerals — has played a significant role in the loss of biodiversity around the globe. Reducing consumption is vital to curbing the extinction crisis, and so is stemming unsustainable population growth.

What are Endangered Species Condoms?

In 2010, through a network of more than 5,000 volunteers, the Center for Biological Diversity distributed 350,000 free condoms, packaged in boxes with images of endangered species. Distributed in all 50 states — as well as Canada, Puerto Rico and Mexico — they highlighted how runaway human population growth is driving species extinct at a cataclysmic rate. The Center is giving away 100,000 of these popular condoms in 2011 as part of its 7 Billion and Counting campaign.

You can find out more at our website.

What can I do to help with the population crisis?

Talk. The overpopulation crisis has been exacerbated by social reluctance to discuss problems involving reproduction and differing perceptions of the morality of reproduction. No doubt about it: This is a delicate subject. But it’s also essential that people begin to have the conversation.

Host or attend an event about the 7 billion milestone, endangered species and how to stem overpopulation.
Become one of our volunteer condom distributors.

Write a letter to the editorof your local newspaper and talk with, or write to, your elected representatives. Check out ideas to get you started with our Take-action Toolbox.

Become a member of the Center for Biological Diversity, Join our e-network, sign up for Pop X, our monthly e-newsletter about human population and species extinction, join us on Facebook and learn more on our resources page.

Donate to the Center’s overpopulation campaign so we can continue to expand our innovative overpopulation campaign.

As Global Population Surpasses 7 Billion, Two Clear Strategies for a Sustainable Future
Greater reproductive choice and measures to reduce resource consumption and waste are critical to reducing humanity's environmental impact

WASHINGTON - October 31 - As the global population surpasses 7 billion people sometime around the end of October, addressing the challenges associated with a still-growing world population will require a two-pronged response, according to experts with the Worldwatch Institute. The combined measures of empowering women to make their own decisions about childbearing and significantly reducing global consumption of energy and natural resources would move humanity toward rather than further away from environmentally sustainable societies that meet human needs.

. . . .

Teenage Childbearing and Long-Term Socioeconomic Consequences: A Case Study in Sweden

. . . .

Results: Compared with Swedish women who first gave birth at ages 20-24, those who were teenage mothers had significantly increased odds of each unfavorable socioeconomic outcome in later life, even after the data were adjusted for family socioeconomic situation and maternal birth cohort. For example, teenage motherhood was positively associated with low educational attainment (odds ratios of 1.7-1.9, depending on the specific age during adolescence when the woman gave birth), with single living arrangements (odds ratios, 1.5-2.3), with high parity (odds ratios, 2.6-6.0), with collecting a disability pension (odds ratios, 1.6-1.9) and with welfare dependency (odds ratios, 1.9-2.6). These trends were usually linear, with the highest odds ratios corresponding to women who had had their first child at the youngest age.
Conclusions: A longitudinal analysis of record-linkage data from Sweden supports the view that childbearing during adolescence poses a risk for socioeconomic disadvantage in later life—even for adolescents from relatively comfortable backgrounds and for those who studied beyond elementary school.
Family Planning Perspectives, 2001, 33(2):70-74
. . . .

The Children of Teen Parents

Poverty, inadequate social support, mothers’ lack of education, mothers’ cognitive immaturity, and greater maternal stress have all been suggested as possible factors contributing to poor social and educational outcomes for the children of teen mothers.

Social Barriers Faced by Adolescent Parents and Their Children

Howard Spivak, MD; Michael Weitzman, MD

From the Department of Pediatrics, Boston University School of Medicine (Drs Spivak and Weitzman), and the Division of Health Services, Boston University School of Public Health (Dr Weitzman).

Pregnancy and childbearing are well recognized as having significant, long-term consequences for teenagers. Recent literature documents an array of negative outcomes for children born to adolescents, with a range of factors identified as contributing to the problems observed in these children. These include (1) the characteristics of those teenagers most likely to become parents, (2) the social and economic consequences of early childbearing, (3) the increased biologic vulnerability of children born to teenagers, and (4) the nature of parenting by teenagers. It has been acknowledged that adolescent parents tend to come from high-risk families, have poor academic achievement, and live in our most disadvantaged communities and therefore, biologic, economic, and behavioral factors contribute to the increased likelihood of teenagers having children who are vulnerable to physical and developmental problems. Teenaged parents face many obstacles to economic and social success, and these further influence the environment in which their children grow up. Adolescents also experience many difficulties in adjusting to parenthood and display a range of suboptimal parenting practices. Whereas some of these factors appear highly resistant to change, others have clear clinical, programmatic, and policy implications.

(JAMA 1987;258:1500-1504)

[I have the article in PDF upon request.]

Friday, October 28, 2011

Bits & Pieces on domestic American politics from the Alternative Press

Just a "few" bits and pieces on domestic American politics tonight.

In This Edition:
[Edited 10/29/11]

- Dennis Kucinich on Occupy Wall Street & National Emergency Employment Defense (NEED) Act
- Recent Occupy Wall Street Polls (oldest first)
- Study Confirms Wealth Distribution in United States is Most Unequal Among Industrialized Nations
- CBO Study Shows Growing Inequality
- Noam Chomsky at Occupy Boston--Three Part Video
- Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (Bad) News
- Article on Rick Perry "Flat Tax"
- Bob Dylan--High Water [For Charley Patton]


Dennis Kucinich on Occupy Wall Street:

Friday, 28 October 2011

Dear Friends, 

An Iraq War veteran who survived two tours of duty gets his skull fractured in ... Oakland! 
53 activists arrested in Atlanta. SWAT teams deployed to boot out peaceful protesters. 

Recent actions against Occupy protesters are irresponsible and tragic. They're an assault on our democracy. These protesters are bravely exercising their right to freedom of expression, to bring attention to a political and economic system that's rigged against most Americans. I stand with them; and, all Americans -- left and right -- should join me in protecting their freedom to non-violently create change. 

This isn't a Democratic or Republican movement. It's not about one party or one policy. It's about standing up to a financial system that's completely backwards. Wall Street banks get billions in bailouts and emerge with massive profits. Most Americans see a program of austerity in a painful economic climate -- benefit cuts, high unemployment, declining wages, and crumbling infrastructure. Congress moved swiftly to "save" banks (something I strongly opposed), and now Congress is paralyzed, unable to create jobs and to save our middle class.

It's no surprise Americans are standing up. Our country's economic policies have consolidated and accelerated wealth to the top. One percent of Americans now control 42% of our wealth. It's not radical to think this is out of balance or to demand a government that is of the people and for the people. I've been to these protests, and I can tell you they're filled with honest, hard working Americans who are concerned with the direction of our country and our economic future.

I am deeply concerned. I'm concerned about an economic system which tethers job creation to China and big banks. We shouldn't have to borrow money from China -- or Japan or South Korea -- to get out of this ditch. We should stop the Fed from giving billions to the big banks. We have to take back the power to manage our own economy, to regain control over our monetary system, consistent with the U.S. Constitution. That's why, one month ago, I introduced the National Emergency Employment Defense (NEED) Act. The legislation would put the Federal Reserve under the Department of the Treasury, and it would help us recapture control of our financial system. As part of the NEED Act, Congress would use its constitutional power to invest in America, creating millions of jobs by putting billions of dollars directly into circulation. And since this money is adding real, tangible value to our national wealth, it will not generate inflation. 

We need a financial system that is of the people and for the people. We need to take it back from the big banks. We need economic and social justice. I will continue to support the Occupy movement. I will continue to fight for legislation, including the NEED Act, that sets America on a path of jobs for all, health care for all, education for all, retirement security for all, and peace.

Let's keep this movement alive. Let's keep fighting for economic and social justice. Keep occupying Wall Street. And, with your help, I'll keep occupying Congress. 

With respect, 

Dennis Kucinich 

P.S. Please forward this email to your friends and family, and share it on Facebook and Twitter. Let's spread this movement, and continue to support the Occupy protests.

Recent Occupy Wall Street Polls

4 Polls That Show Occupy Wall Street is Just Getting Started
By Lynn Parramore, AlterNet
Posted on October 24, 2011, Printed on October 28, 2011

After over a month of demonstrations, numerous dismissals, and thousands of arrests, Occupy Wall Street is gaining momentum. Over the last two weeks, polls have poured in revealing that Americans familiar with the protests largely support them. And since that familiarity will continue to increase, we can only conclude that the country's support for the movement will keep on growing. When you've got NYT pundit Charles Blow unfurling his hipster flag comparing OWS to legendary 90s band Nirvana, you know a tipping point has been reached!

Recent polls prove that when Americans hear this band, they dig it. Here’s a round-up:

Oct. 9-10 Time Magazine/Abt SRBI: This poll showed a 54 percent favorable rating of OWS, compared to a mere 27 percent thumbs up for the Tea Party.
. . . .

Oct. 13-16 United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll: Here, a majority of those polled – fully 59 percent – said that they backed the goals of the protests from what they "know about the demonstrations." And 68 percent supported the Democratic surtax on millionaires to pay for the cost of their jobs plan, a policy cited by OWS protesters in a recent Millionaire's March in New York City.

Oct. 17 Quinnipiac poll: This survey of New York City voters revealed that the Big Apple is on board with OWS. 67 percent agreed with the views of the Wall Street protesters and a whopping 87 percent believed it's okay that they are protesting.
. . . .

Bottom line: If this thing continues to grow – and there is every indication that it will – the Occupy Wall Street could become the definitive movement for an entire generation. On Sunday, Noam Chomsky addressed Occupy Boston and called the movement "unprecedented." "There's never been anything like it," said Chomsky. "If the bonds and associations that are being established at these remarkable events can be sustained through a long, hard period ahead – because victories don’t come quickly – it could turn out to be a real historic, a very significant moment in American history."

October 25, 2011 6:30 PM
Poll: 43 percent agree with views of "Occupy Wall Street"
By Brian Montopoli Topics Polling

Forty-three percent of Americans agree with the views of the "Occupy Wall Street" movement, according to a new CBS News/New York Times poll that found a widespread belief that money and wealth should be distributed more evenly in America.

Twenty-seven percent of Americans said they disagree with the movement, which began more than a month ago in lower Manhattan and has since spread across the country and around the world. Thirty percent said they were unsure. . . . .

Study Confirms Wealth Distribution in United States is Most Unequal Among Industrialized Nations

A new study released Thursday has found the distribution of wealth in the United States is among the most unequal among industrialized nations. The United States ranked in the bottom five on a combination of issues including poverty prevention, health and access to education—ahead of only Greece, Chile, Mexico and Turkey. The study was done by the German-based Bertelsmann Foundation. Meanwhile, a new study here in the United States has found New York State has the highest income inequality of all 50 states and that the New York City metropolitan region has the highest income inequality of any large metro area.

CBO Study Shows Growing Inequality
The Report:
Trends in the Distribution of Household Income Between 1979 and 2007

CBO Cites Income Inequality

Noam Chomsky at Occupy Boston--Three Part Video

Noam Chomsky at Occupy Boston: Video 1 of 3

Noam Chomsky at Occupy Boston: Video 2 of 3

Noam Chomsky at Occupy Boston: Video 3 of 3

See also:

Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction News

Democrats Offer Significant Concessions
Plan Is to the Right of Bowles-Simpson and Gang of Six

PDF of this statement (4pp.)

By Robert Greenstein, Richard Kogan and Paul N. Van de Water
Revised October 28, 2011

The new deficit-reduction plan from a majority of Democrats on the congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (the "supercommittee") marks a dramatic departure from traditional Democratic positions — and actually stands well to the right of plans by the co-chairs of the bipartisan Bowles-Simpson commission and the Senate's "Gang of Six," and even further to the right of the plan by the bipartisan Rivlin-Domenici commission. The Democratic plan contains substantially smaller revenue increases than those bipartisan proposals while, for example, containing significantly deeper cuts in Medicare and Medicaid than the Bowles-Simpson plan. The Democratic plan features a substantially higher ratio of spending cuts to revenue increases than any of the bipartisan plans.

Although the new plan thus moves considerably closer to Republican positions than any of the bipartisan plans, Republicans have been quick to reject it. . . . .

See rest here: Democrats Offer Significant Concessions

Article on Rich Perry "Flat Tax"

Rick Perry’s Flat Tax Plan: Not A Flat Tax

BRIAN BEUTLER OCTOBER 26, 2011, 6:00 AM 8647 64

The flat tax is such a popular idea in conservative circles that Texas Governor Rick Perry is trying to revive his presidential primary campaign by proposing one.

Except for the flat tax part.

It turns out Perry’s plan isn’t flat, doesn’t eliminate the current tax code, as many conservative elites claim to want, and would likely blow a huge hole in the federal budget.

Perry’s plan doesn’t scrap existing tax law altogether, but rather creates a new, parallel tax code that taxes individual and corporate income at 20 percent. Investment income would go untaxed. Every tax payer would have a choice between staying in the current system, or transferring over to the new one. But as Michael Linden, a tax expert at the liberal Center for American Progress, points out, the new, simpler, alternative code would constitute a tax increase for most Americans and a huge tax cut for wealthy Americans, creating incentives for a small well-to-do sliver of the country to make the switch, and for everyone else to stay put.

. . . .

“For most people who don’t have big capital gains and dividend income, they’re going to stay in the current system,” Linden explained. “It’s not a flat tax.”

. . . .

“For very wealthy people who do have big capital gains and dividends — they’ll take the new one, but even that’s not really a flat tax. It’s 20 percent on ordinary income and zero percent on investment income.”

. . . .

“The wealthy will end up benefitting from a very simple tax code, and they’re going to end up paying really low rates,” Linden said. “Of the richest 400 taxpayers, fully 66 percent of their total adjusted gross income came from capital gains and another seven percent came from dividends. So basically for the very wealthy you’re going to save nearly 75 percent of income from taxation. It’s just a massive tax cut for very wealthy.” . . . .

Bob Dylan--High Water [For Charley Patton]

They took away the previous, excellent, original version of "High Water" posted on October 28, so we are stuck with this:

For what its worth, a more recent, shall we say different, version of High Water. Lacks the power of the original because the words are secondary to the godawful gaudy, noise-filled performance. He's lost himself it seems to become a clownish performer, just an old shadow of who he was.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Police Riot at Oakland Occupy Wall Street Protest, + Glenn Greenwald Interview on Democracy Now!

[Edited 10/27/11]

In This Edition:

- Police Riot in Oakland: Iraq War Vet Hospitalized with Fractured Skull After Being Shot by Police
- The Times They Are A Changin'
- Glenn Greenwald on Occupy Wall Street and More
- Dean Baker--Doesn't NPR Know That the Wage Matters for Workers?
- Robert Reich on Flat Tax plus great interview on Letters & Politics
- Iris Dement Wasteland Of The Free


Since at least the Clinton administration, the police in America have been in training to act as an arm of the military, with many of the weapons that militarization implies, to control any outbreaks of discontent on the streets of our cities and hometowns. You can see it in the SWAT teams that converge on suspected crime scenes, but now it is being used to squelch first amendment rights to protest and free speech. More video footage is now available on YouTube from last night's (10/25/11) police riot in Oakland, California, exposing the violent, over the top, militaristic response by the elite to the threat of common people standing up for their free speech and other rights. Please also listen to the analysis of constitutional lawyer Glenn Greenwald on Democracy Now! Much More-- (below).

WEDNESDAY OCT 26, 2011 8:01 AM
Police Turn Oakland Into War Zone
(Updated 4:24 p.m. ET)

"As always, it's important to remember that regardless of police accusations, the charges against protesters listed above (sanitation issues, graffiti, etc.) are relatively minor offenses given the nature of this police retaliation in which OPD turned downtown Oakland into a war zone."

Incredible footage emerged from downtown Oakland last night - not of basic law enforcement efforts to maintain public "health and safety" as the police have been claiming - but of a war zone in which police shot tear gas, bean bags, wooden dowels, flash grenades, and rubber bullets at protesters.

Occupy Oakland video: Riot police fire tear gas, flashbang grenades

Tear gas! Thrown at Occupy Oakland!

[See article link for all videos and many photos]

Rather than using the weaponry once in a final effort to subdue the crowd, officers reportedly used them over and over again in what @OccupyOakland describes as a "relentless" assault on the thousands of activists gathered near City Hall.
. . . .
The police claim they were ever-so-distressed that they couldn't get medical responders through to attend to the wounded protesters, and they ultimately expressed this concern by shooting the remaining activists with tear gas and rubber bullets. Reportedly, activists retaliated by "throwing paint" on police officers.

Oakland Interim Police Chief Howard Jordan said that a total of 102 arrests have been made so far, but as of last night that number was still increasing. Eighty-five of those arrests were made early Tuesday when officers raided the Occupy Oakland encampment at Oscar Grant plaza along with an annex in Snow Park near Lake Merritt.

During the assault, police dressed in full riot gear as if preparing to battle a zombie horde or terrorist cell (photo by @garonsen). . . . .


Added 10/27/11:

Oakland Policeman Throws Flash Grenade Into Crowd Trying To Help Injured Protester


Iraq War Vet Hospitalized with Fractured Skull After Being Shot by Police at Occupy Oakland Protest

Showing a good example, Police reacted differently in Albany, NY.
New York cops defy order to arrest hundreds of ‘Occupy Albany’ protesters

By Andrew Jones
Monday, October 24, 2011

Occupy-Wall-Street-Revolution (Bob Dylan -The-Times-They-Are-A-Changin)‬

There was a time in recent years when I thought that the times were a changing in a totally different direction from what those of us who were young in the sixties actually thought, but as Dylan said, "don't speak too soon, For the wheel's still in spin," so perhaps after 40 or 50 years, the times might actually be changing. I'm not holding my breath, but I'm hopeful.

October 26, 2011

Glenn Greenwald on Occupy Wall Street, Banks Too Big to Jail and the Attack on WikiLeaks

The prominent political and legal blogger Glenn Greenwald comments on the growing Occupy Wall Street movement. "What this movement is about is more important than specific legislative demands. It…is expressing dissent to the system itself," says Greenwald. "It is not a Democratic Party organ. It is not about demanding that President Obama’s single [jobs] bill pass or anything along those lines. It is saying that we believe the system itself is radically corrupted, and we no longer are willing to tolerate it. And that’s infinitely more important than specific legislative or political demands." Greenwald also discusses the possible shutdown of the online whistleblower website WikiLeaks due to a "financial blockade" led by MasterCard, Visa and PayPal. "The reason why all these companies cut off funds is because the government pressured and demanded that they do so," Greenwald says. "So, no due process, no accusation of criminal activity. You could never charge WikiLeaks with a crime. They’re engaged in First Amendment activity. And the government has destroyed them through their pressure and influence over the private sector... WikiLeaks has shed more light on the world’s most powerful factions than all media outlets combined, easily, over the last year, and that’s the reason why they’re so hated."


Glenn Greenwald, political and legal blogger for His new book is called With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful. [See also: Democracy for the Few by Michael Parenti Must be totally out of print, glad I saved a copy or two]

Read Glenn Greenwald on

AMY GOODMAN: Our guest is Glenn Greenwald. With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful is his book. Glenn, your book is divided into interesting chapters. One is "Too Big to Jail." Talk about that.

GLENN GREENWALD: I think most Americans realize—and I think you see this driving the Occupy protest movement that you covered at the beginning of the show and that everyone is aware of now—that there wasn’t just economic—poor decisions that precipitated the financial crisis, but massive, system- and industry-wide fraud on the part of Wall Street and the banking industry. And yet, there has been virtually no criminal investigations of any kind, let alone prosecutions or accountability.

At the same time, the United States is the largest prison state in the world. We imprison more of our citizens than any country on earth, including China and India and other countries with many more times the people that we have, for even trivial infractions, things that no other country in the Western world imprisons people for. And this chasm between how we treat ordinary Americans in the justice system, imprisoning them for petty and trivial offenses, versus how we treat the world’s most powerful and wealthiest individuals, who can commit the kind of fraud on the massive scale that we saw in 2008 with no accountability, pure impunity, is really what drove me to write the book and I think is what is driving so much citizen anger.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: How do you explain, actually, the convergence of the two? The legal immunity for the elite classes, and at the same time—because the period coincides exactly, four decades. From 1972 to 2007, imprisonment rates in the U.S. increased fivefold, from 93 per 100,000 to 491 per 100,000.

GLENN GREENWALD: Right, well, one of the illustrative ironies is that Richard Nixon, of course, is—what I argue in the book, the pardon of Richard Nixon was the template that created how elite immunity is now justified and how it seeped into the private sector. And of course, Richard Nixon’s career, throughout the 1960s and then into the early 1970s, was made as a law-and-order Republican, demanding no leniency for criminals, harsher and harsher sentences for people who commit crimes. And this is the divergence between how the elite class treats itself when it commits crimes and how they treat ordinary Americans, what Occupy Wall Street calls the 99 percent, that has really destroyed the rule of law, because the rule of law ultimately was intended to be the sole anchor guaranteeing equal opportunity and equal treatment that would then legitimize outcome inequality, and we no longer have that.

. . . .

NERMEEN SHAIKH: I want to turn now to one of the—to Occupy Wall Street, because a lot of the things that the protesters say, you bring up in your book. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been critical of the Occupy Wall Street protesters. He recently said the protests were unproductive, since the biggest tax base for New York City was in fact Wall Street.

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: The protests, that are trying to destroy the jobs of working people in the city, aren’t productive. And some of the labor unions, the municipal unions that are participating, their salaries come from the taxes paid by the people that they are trying to vilify.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Your comments, Glenn?

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, this is the propagandistic template that has been used to try and persuade Americans that it’s not only something they should accept, but cheer for, when the wealthiest in our society are permitted to prosper without constraints. It was the Ronald Reagan cliché of "a rising tide lifts all boats," meaning the richer the rich get, the better off you are. And, of course, it’s in Michael Bloomberg’s interest to propagate this mentality, as well. And I think, for a while, Americans believed that. And yet, what they’re seeing now is that that’s actually completely untrue, that the richer the rich get, nothing trickles down. Inequality starts to explode, and their opportunities start to become destroyed, because the richest are able to use the power that accompanies that wealth, the political power, to ensure that the system doesn’t work [to] create equal opportunity, but works only to entrench and shield their own ill-gotten gains. So this kind of—these platitudes that Michael Bloomberg is spewing are no longer working, because people compare their own experience to what they’re teaching and see that it’s false.

AMY GOODMAN: You know, it’s interesting. You talk about the press secretary for Ford quitting, saying here we’re—you’re protecting the elite, and you have all these conscientious objectors that are going to jail. In a sense, would you describe this whole Occupy Wall Street movement around the country as a kind of conscientious objection to the system? These are conscientious objectors, too. You have more than 2,500 of them who have been arrested around the country. Compare that to the number of executives in the last two years, since the economy has just completely tanked, then the number of crimes that have gone unprosecuted.

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, it’s interesting. You watch the images, which are police state images, that you showed in Oakland, and we’ve seen this elsewhere, with pepper spray abuses and other kinds of police abuses. What this really is, is using the law to protect criminals, which are the people hiding in Wall Street buildings, from people who are really committing no crimes, who are exercising their constitutional rights of free speech and assembly. It’s exactly how the law has been perverted.

But this is, I think, a really important point that you just asked about. In the beginning, people were criticizing Occupy Wall Street, including people who might otherwise be sympathetic, on the grounds that they didn’t have any policy platforms, they didn’t have PowerPoint presentations of the legislation they wanted. And I wrote very early on in defense of them repeatedly, because I think that what this movement is about is more important than specific legislative demands. It is exactly what you just said, which is expressing dissent to the system itself. It is not a Democratic Party organ. It is not about demanding that President Obama’s single bill pass or anything along those lines. It is saying that we believe the system itself is radically corrupted, and we no longer are willing to tolerate it. And that’s infinitely more important than specific legislative or political demands.

AMY GOODMAN: And what it would mean for Wall Street executives to be held accountable, and watching President Obama go around the country—last Sunday, he dedicates the Martin Luther King Monument. Not miles away is Cornel West and others being arrested in front of the Supreme Court, Cornel West saying, "If Martin Luther King is being honored today, someone’s got to be arrested."


AMY GOODMAN: And having President Obama referencing Occupy Wall Street, saying he understands, but traveling the country raising millions of dollars for the Democratic Party, saying, well, the Democratic Party plans to raise, what, a billion dollars for President Obama’s 2012 run.

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, I mean, there’s clearly an effort on the part of the Democratic Party to co-opt the energy that is behind the Occupy movement and to reinject the Obama campaign with the enthusiasm that it had in 2008, and which it now lacks obviously. And the reason why that’s so destined to fail is because, although President Obama was funded overwhelmingly by Wall Street in 2008, that fact was not very extensively reported or appreciated. And yet, now people have seen him in office shielding Wall Street from investigations.
. . . .

Please read the rest of this important interview at Glenn Greenwald on Occupy Wall Street, Banks Too Big to Jail and the Attack on WikiLeaks. Greenwald comments on the "end" of the war in Iraq, government and corporate cooperation to destroy WikiLeaks and your privacy [Fascism], and more.

You probably know that Dean Baker (Center for Economic And Policy Research), a constant and valiant critic of mainstream media's inaccuracies in economic reporting, isn't exactly Atilla the Hun, but he is willing to take the politically dangerous position of saying there is something missing from NPR's reporting on immigration policy. NPR, in their frequent orgies of self adulation during fund raising drives, tells their listeners, oft repeated by the latter as they open their wallets, that they are God's gift to accurate and unbiased reporting. There are many examples testifying to the contrary (actually, they are just another agenda ridden media outlet), but here is a report by Baker that goes to the heart of their reporting on immigration:

Doesn't NPR Know That the Wage Matters for Workers?

Dean Baker, Center for Economic And Policy Research
Monday, 24 October 2011 05:23

Workers work for pay. Most of the country understands this fact, but apparently the reporters and editors at National Public Radio do not. A Morning Edition segment [sorry, no link yet] on the impact that Alabama's crackdown on illegal immigrants is having on the ability of farms in the state to get workers never once mentioned the wages being offered for this work.

The piece repeated complaints by farmers that they could not get citizens or green card holders to work in their fields because the work is too hard. The inability to get workers presumably reflects the pay being offered. For example, if the farmers were offering $40 an hour plus health care benefits, then they would likely be able to find people willing to work in their fields.

Of course offering higher wages would make most of these farms unprofitable, but it is not true that people in the United States are literally unwilling to do farm work. The question is the wage at which they would be willing to work.


The Flat-Tax Fraud, and the Necessity of a Truly Progressive Tax

Robert Reich, 10/21/11

Herman Cain’s bizarre 9-9-9 plan would replace much of the current tax code with a 9 percent individual income tax and a 9 percent sales tax. He calls it a “flat tax.”

Next week Rick Perry is set to announce his own version of a flat tax. Former House majority leader Dick Armey – now chairman of Freedom Works, a major backer of the Tea Party funded by the Koch Brothers and other portly felines (I didn’t say “fat cats”) — predicts this will give Perry “a big boost.” Steve Forbes, one of America’s richest billionaires, who’s on the board of the Freedom Works foundation, is delighted. He’s been pushing the flat tax for years.

The flat tax is a fraud. It raises taxes on the poor and lowers them on the rich.. . . .
Rather than merely oppose the flat tax, sensible people should push for a truly progressive tax – starting with a top rate of 70 percent on that portion of anyone’s income exceeding $5 million, from whatever source.

See link above for entire post by Robert Reich.

Robert Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written thirteen books, including The Work of Nations, Locked in the Cabinet, Supercapitalism, and his most recent book, Aftershock. His "Marketplace" commentaries can be found on and iTunes. He is also Common Cause's board chairman.


Robert Reich on Letters & Politics

Must listen audio for those seeking understanding of the progressive (as opposed to regressive) perspective from a person who has devoted his life to socio-economic theory/history, public service, and teaching.

Letters and Politics - October 24, 2011 at 10:00am

Click to listen (or download)


Iris Dement Wasteland Of The Free


The Unwelcome Guest - Billy Bragg and Wilco


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What NATO & Obama Have Wrought

[Edited 10/26/11]
Listening to the glee of our masters, both political and in media, at the death of Gaddafi, I was left feeling a bit more hopeless, a bit more angry, and perhaps, a bit more wise about the brutal facts of power left to the hands of the ruthless. When one faces ruthless people, as long as one faces that fact directly, one has to refine the response to their threat. Occupy Wall Street is a courageous beginning, but if they continue to be displaced from their occupations by the state power of militarized police [Apparently the local media doesn't think the protesters are members of the public], other tactics will have to be considered. The main point is that state power, whether international coalitions, national, or local, can be both overwhelming, and ruthless. Given the timid behavior of most people, one assumes they already get that.

But I digress.

The Western powers of the undemocratic UN Security Council, and the "defense" grouping called the "North Atlantic Treaty Organization," NATO, declared war on Muammar Gaddafi, for reasons, despite their claims, unrelated to humanitarian issues. Not unexpectedly, the west won their war over a small relatively defenseless nation. This is the well worn pattern. The problem they face now, not unlike the problems they faced in their illegal war against Iraq, is how to form a civil government that promotes more freedom and less suffering than that experienced under the government they deposed. Given that a civil, democratic government takes a back seat to Western access to Libya'a resources, that problem will likely go unnoticed, as will the war crimes committed by the "revolutionary" forces supported by the west. War crimes of the west, and their friends, are after all, not war crimes, but simply 'humanitarian" necessities, as in the bombing of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Dresden during the end of World War II, the napalming of villages during the Vietnam war, and the destruction of civilians and their infrastructure during the NATO war on Serbia/Yugoslavia. The fact that NATO and their proxy Libyan quislings destroyed Sirte and other Libyan cities, many civilians included, in order to save civilians from the imagined potential crimes of Gadadfi matters little. Once you get through the nonsensical hypocrisy of the given motives for the brutal and merciless use of force, one is only left with the stark motive of controlling resources.

So now, after the brutal NATO onslaught, and the illegal, perverted, and unbelievably cruel killing of Gaddafi, we are left, not with governance that provided for the people, but with the weasel-eyed Mustafa Abdel Jalil, and the nice folks you can watch in the following videos. Fine, uplifting, humanitarian work, as usual.

[See following link for all videos]
Gaddafi Sodomized By NATO Supported Rebels
Video shows abuse frame by frame (GRAPHIC)

An analysis appears to confirm that a rebel fighter sodomized Gaddafi with a knife.

By Tracey Shelton

October 25, 2011 "Global Post" -- SIRTE, Libya — An analysis of video obtained by GlobalPost from a rebel fighter who recorded the moment when Col. Muammar Gaddafi was first captured confirms that another rebel fighter, whose identity is unknown, sodomized the former leader as he was being dragged from the drainpipe where he had taken cover.

A frame by frame analysis of this exclusive GlobalPost video clearly shows the rebel trying to insert some kind of stick or knife into Gaddafi's rear end.


Pictures and Videos should only be viewed by a mature audience

'Video shows Muammar Gaddafi being sodomized'

I personally would call that something more than being "sodomized." It is actually a most vicious torture.

Gaddafi's Murder and International Law

By Craig Whitlock

Firoze Manji: Nothing in international law allows regime change and assassination of a leader.


Used and Abused
The Murder of Gaddafi, and the War Crimes of Western Powers

By Peter Baofu, Ph.D.

October 25, 2011 "Information Clearing House" -- - -
The jubilant reaction of Western powers and the foes of Muammar Gaddafi to his barbaric murder on October 20, 2011 raises some serious questions about war crimes committed by the Western-backed National Transitional Council (NTC) fighters and NATO forces.

There are two serious violations of international law here, namely, (1) in relation to the Third Geneva Convention in 1929 and (2) in relation to the UN Security Council Resolution #1973 in 2011. Let me explain first (1) the Geneva Convention and then (2) the UN Resolution hereafter.

(1) The first violation of international law concerns the Third Geneva Convention in 1929, which offers rights to prisoners of war (POWs), such that POWs have certain rights to be protected. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov rightly said on October 21, 2011 that, "in compliance with international law, the moment that a party to an armed conflict is captured, special procedures should be applied to him or her, including assistance, as well as a ban on killing such a person."

But this right was violated, when Gaddafi was captured alive (as POW) and was then repetitively verbally and physically abused before being shot dead shortly after. As "testified by the grainy mobile phone footage seen by the world of the former leader, bloodied and dazed, being dragged along by NTC fighters" in a gruesome way, "Gaddafi can be heard in one video saying 'God forbids this' several times, as slaps from the crowd [of NTC fighters] rain down on his head," as reported by Rania El Gamal for Reuters on October 23.

Then, he was executed by a young NTC fighter named Sanad al-Sadek al-Ureibi, who claimed that he shot Gaddafi after capture, because he did not want him alive; and other fighters celebrated with him after the summary execution. Worse, his dead body was then publicly displayed in a commercial freezer at a shopping center for more celebration.

This act of Western-backed NTC fighters is not only criminal but also barbaric. The foes of Gaddafi may argue that he deserves this fate, but two wrongs do not make a right (which is a well-known logical fallacy), and the answer to criminality is not more criminality. This blatant violation of the Geneva Convention then led Christof Heyns, the UN Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial executions, to charge on October 21 that "the manner of the deposed Libyan leader's killing could be a war crime," in a report by RT on October 22.

This criminal act by Western-supported NTC fighters is not just restricted to the case of Gaddafi's death but also be extended to the murder of his son (and others in the group). For instance, Gaddafi's son, Mutassim Gaddafi, was captured alive, together with his father, and, in a video released by NTC fighters, he was shown to be "alive in custody, and even casually smoking a cigarette" in a room (surrounded by armed NTC fighters), but in a few moments later, "other images show him dead with gunshot wounds to his neck and abdomen" in the same room, in a report by RT on October 21.

A technical question here is who should be responsible for this criminal act. There are at least five legal possibilities, namely, (a) the individuals who physically abused him and/or pulled the trigger, like Sanad al-Sadek al-Ureibi and others to be identified, (b) the specific unit of NTC fighters which participated in the capture of Gaddafi and his group, (c) the NTC leadership, (d) NATO forces because of their participation (or complicity) in the attack which led to the capture (and the subsequent murder), and (e) certain leaders of Western powers who have given wholehearted support to NTC from the start to encourage the violence against the regime.

It is not surprising that, at the beginning, the NTC tried to cover up the criminal killing by making up fictional stories and blaming others instead. For instance, NTC leader Mahmoud Jibril, first tried to defend NTC by making a dubious public statement to the press that Gaddafi was killed in a crossfire and was shot by one of his own loyalists. But this cover-up was questioned later, even by a senior member of NTC, Waheed Burshan, who said on October 22: "We found that he was alive and then he was dead. And as far as we can tell, there was no fight" (crossfire).

Even "British MP Jeremy Corbyn said that, as Gaddafi was captured alive, he should have been treated as prisoner of war, interrogated and put on trial," but "it looks that there was an element of mob rule in this, and he was indeed killed in the back of the truck," as reported by RT on October 20.

So now, both "the UN Human Rights Office and Amnesty International are calling for an investigation into Gaddafi's death as it raises concerns over what may be the unlawful killing of a prisoner," as reported by RT on October 22. U.N. human rights spokesman Rupert Colville even said on October 20 that he found it very disturbing when "you see someone who has been captured alive and then you see the same person dead....Summary executions are strictly illegal under any circumstances. It's different if someone is killed in combat....But if something else has happened, if someone is captured and then deliberately killed, then that is a very serious matter," as reported by Stephanie Nebehay for Reuters on October 21.

Unfortunately, because of the Western dominance in international legal bodies, any prosecution of war crimes committed by Western forces and their allies is very unlikely, as "Benjamin Barber, an analyst at a US think tank, does not expect anyone will be held accountable for the colonel's death," as reported by RT on October 22.

Now that Gaddafi was dead, the most tragic thing is that this gruesome murder "will cast doubt on the promises by Libya's new rulers to respect human rights and prevent reprisals. It would also embarrass Western governments which gave their wholehearted backing to the NTC," as reported by Rania El Gamal for Reuters on October 23.

Even British MP Jeremy Corbyn soberly warned that "this really does raise some question marks about the command and discipline of the NTC forces and what Libya is going to be like, not just tomorrow, but next month, next year and the next ten years."

Furthermore, according to Shirin Sagedhi, "the gruesome and public killing of Gaddafi was insulting to the people of Libya and the people of the region, as well as the 'idea that democratic forces would brutally kill someone like that,'" in a report by RT on October 22.

(2) And the second violation of international law concerns the UN Security Council Resolution #1973 in 2011, which set up a "no-fly zone" above Libya but did not authorize NATO forces to carry out an attack on any group who were not harming anyone but were fleeing from being attacked instead. Indeed, it was a French jet which "fired on Gaddafi convoy" when it was trying to flee from the ferocious attack by NTC fighers, as confirmed by French defense chief and reported by RT on October 20.

In this specific case, Gaddafi and his few bodyguards were under attack by NTC fighters when they were fleeing Sirte in a convoy, but NATO helped the NTC fighters and carried out an aerial attack (by a French jet) on Gaddafi's convoy (which led to Gaddafi's capture).

But this violates international law, in regard to the UN Security Council Resolution #1973, since, as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday rightly pointed out, "the attack on Gaddafi's convoy was directly at odds with the agreed task of guaranteeing a no-fly zone," because "in this specific case one cannot speak of protecting the lives of civilians, either because the convoy did not attack anyone" and was trying instead to escape from the ferocious attack by NTC fighters, or because there was no civilian around to protect (as an excuse) in the first place.

Russia's NATO envoy, Dmitry Rogozin, therefore accused NATO of being "directly involved in the operation to kill the former Libyan leader," since "apparently there were orders that oriented the military servicemen who are in Libya and that directed them to ensure the physical elimination of Gaddafi," as reported by RT on October 21.

Instead of showing respect towards international law, Western powers reacted joyfully to the killing, as shown by the elation of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who, when "learned about the death of Muammar Gaddafi via an SMS message" in an interview "filmed by CBS NEWS," exclaimed "Wow!" and thus joyfully said, "We came, we saw, he died!," as reported by Pravda on October 21. And her boss, President Obama, triumphantly announced that, "without putting a single U.S. service member on the ground, we achieved our objectives" of getting rid of Gaddafi and setting up a new regime.

In reaction to this Western joy over the killing, Rogozin thus observed that "the Western elation over the death of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi could have sadistic grounds," as he thus added: "The faces of the leaders of 'world democracies' are so happy, as if they remembered how they hanged stray cats in basements in their childhoods," as reported by RT on October 21.

In this way, Western mainstream media did not waste time to engage in spinning the whole murder into one of bashing Gaddafi and his historical legacy, without telling the rest of the world about the Western complicity in supporting Gaddafi in all these years of dictatorial rule.

For instance, only some years ago, "former British Prime Minister Tony Blair had no qualms doing business with Gaddafi and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi got cozy with him at a United Nations Summit in Rome," as reported by RT on October 21.

In the case of the U.S., the thoughtful comment by Matthew Rothschild on October 21 is worth mentioning: "The hypocrisy of the U.S. position could hardly be greater. In 2003, the Bush Administration rehabilitated Qaddafi, who became an ally of the United States in the 'war on terror.' In fact, the CIA used Qaddafi's intelligence service to torture detainees that the U.S. sent over to Libya. The CIA 'rendered' eight or nine detainees to Qaddafi's intelligence service, and sent questions along with for the torturers to ask, according to Human Rights Watch, in an interview with Democracy Now. The CIA may even have had agents present during some of the questioning. In 2008, Condoleezza Rice visited Qaddafi in Libya. The next year, Obama shook his hand, and John McCain offered him arms. When it was convenient for Washington to support Qaddafi, it did so. When it was convenient to attack him, it did so. But the Obama administration didn't attack Bahrain when it cracked down on people fighting for democracy against that kingdom. No, Washington even let Saudi Arabia, another kingdom, invade Bahrain to help put down the nonviolent uprising."

Many who do not know the history of modern Libya are not aware of the historical contributions of Muammar Gaddafi to his people and the region, even when he has his own failures. Consider, for instance, the following five important contributions by Gaddafi to his country and the region:

(a) He envisioned "the United States of Africa" and thus contributed to the formation of the African Union. In fact, "the African Union is basically the creation of Muammar Gaddafi, who saw it as a vessel for a stronger Africa," as reported by RT on October 20

(b) He succeeded in holding Libya together, which, according to Shirin Sagedhi, was previously fragmented by different "tribes and ethnicities."

(c) He transformed Libya to have "one of the highest GDPs per capita in Africa provide an extensive level of social security, particularly in the fields of housing and education," in a way that many sub-Saharan countries in Africa could only dream of, in the article on Libya by Wikipedia.

(d) He managed to avoid being dominated by the Soviet Union or the U.S. during the Cold War by masterfully playing the Soviet Union against the U.S. without being a puppet of the former. After the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War, he continued to fight against Western domination in the region and thus developed bad blood with Western powers.

(e) He overthrew the Kingdom of Libya in a bloodless military coup against King Idris in 1969 and thus brought Libya into the modern era (from monarchic feudalism).

All these achievements are no small feats for a ruler of a small country with only a few million people and thus have allowed Gaddafi to rule for 42 years.

This does not mean that Gaddafi has no failures. Surely, there are good examples to consider, like his personal vanity, his abuse of power, his ruthlessness, and the like. But who has no failures, for a man with his historical status in the modern era?

But all these achievements are now forgotten, as the West had finished using him, and Western mainstream media is now spinning his historical legacy, in accordance to the dominant rhetoric of Western powers in world media.

Yet, history has its final say: Muammar Gaddafi, in the end, is a historical figure in the modern history of Africa and for that matter, the Middle East, in spite of all his personal faults. And the war crimes by Western powers and their allies help perpetuating the vicious cycle of violence and of suffering in the world.

This article was first published by Pravda


Libya: Apparent Execution of 53 Gaddafi Supporters

Bodies Found at Sirte Hotel Used by Anti-Gaddafi Fighters

OCTOBER 24, 2011

The entrance to the Mahari Hotel in Sirte, where at least 53 persons were apparently executed. At the time of their killing the hotel was apparently controlled by anti-Gaddafi fighters from Misrata. The red graffiti on the right states "Tiger Brigade," the name of a prominent Misrata fighting group.

Bodies of persons lie in the garden of the Mahari Hotel in Sirte, immediately after they were put into body bags by local residents. At the time of their killing the hotel was apparently controlled by anti-Gaddafi fighters from Misrata. 53 persons were apparently executed at the site. . . . .

© 2011 Peter Bouckaert/Human Rights Watch

Thursday, October 20, 2011
Libya Before and After Image Shows What a NATO/UN Humanitarian Mission Looks Like
Activist Post

All hail humanitarian war. Regime change can be a bitch. Start with sanctions because of 'humanitarian' reasons. If they don't work, arm ragtag mercenaries and implement a 'no-fly zone' through an international body. If the rebels can't hunt down the defunct leader, then just bomb the hell out the country until a bloody carcass vaguely resembling the leader turns up. Then claim that the humanitarian intervention was a wild success. PS: Make sure you destroy enough of the infrastructure to secure a huge IMF bondage loan for reconstruction.

The before and after picture of Libya below shows what the U.S./NATO means by a humanitarian war:

[See link for photos, or just Google "Sirte Libya Destruction photos"]

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Swimming Against the Rural Western Mainstream in a World of Misconceptions

[Edited 10/21/11]
In This Edition:

- Lengthy Comments on Herald Op-Ed: "Sharing the protesters' anger, but worrying about my 401(k)"

- Additional Links on #Occupy Wall Street

- Iris Dement--Wasteland Of The Free


Comments on Herald Op-Ed: "Sharing the protesters' anger, but worrying about my 401(k)"

When, as an adult, I was able to explore the rural west, I was struck by its conservatism, as represented by the large majorities of registered Republicans and voting patterns in western rural counties. Millard County, Utah, where I once owned property and spent several months of each year, was a real shock, given that votes for Republican Presidential candidates hovered around 90%. When I moved to Grant, and then Baker County here in Oregon, similar feelings of minority political status surfaced, even though the political distribution was less lopsided and extreme than was the case in rural Utah. Only in these rural western counties had I experienced small town businesses putting pressure on local papers to tow a particular political line, and, at least in one case where the local businesses publicly spoke about removing their advertising, and thus the life-supporting revenue needed by the paper, if editorials or op-ed appeared with which they disagreed.

In the case of the small town commercial media, dependent on subscribers, and most importantly, on advertising revenue, one may reasonably suspect that when the opinions rendered by the local paper most often reflect the political makeup of the community, that it is the the local politics, especially those of the business interests that provide advertising revenue, that drives the opinions and articles rendered. On the other hand, one might also reasonably assume that people who pass the hiring filter at the local paper may reflect the political opinions of the publisher or owners who reflect the major political forces in the community. (After all, it is unlikely that a news outlet in business to make money is going to hire a howling progressive to run a paper in a conservative community.) Either way, it works out well for the commercial interest of the media outlet, with the only problem being that media likes to present themselves as the great objective voice that readers and viewers can trust, fair and balanced, as they say.

If anyone is aware of the local political demography here in Baker County, besides the County Clerk and political party heads, it is Jason Jacoby, editor of the Baker City Herald. He wrote a delightfully detailed article a while back (The urban-rural divide in Baker County; and eating crow on Dudley) that carefully described those demographics. His investigation revealed that:

- 46 percent of of all Baker County voters are registered Republicans.
- 28 percent of all Baker County voters are registered Democrats
- the rest, about 26 percent, are not affiliated with either party
- Within Baker City, "41.9 percent are registered Republicans, and 30.5 percent Democrats."

More telling perhaps, is, as Jayson says:

"Voter registration isn’t a foolproof way to gauge the political preferences of a populace, of course.

In the 2008 presidential election, for instance, Baker County voters went for Republican John McCain in a relatively big way — 64 percent."

So it is a bit complicated, but none-the-less, quite "conservative." Nothing, however, like rural Utah.

My take on all of this is that there isn't much difference between Republicans and Democrats in Baker County. Both parties here are really rather conservative, as they are nationwide. That's why some call them the two wings of the business party (or is that the war party?)

(I must admit, that I am particularly alone as a member of the Progressive Party aligned with the likes of Ralph Nader--do they still exist? Haven't heard much from them lately.)

Trust of media, of course, as opposed to trust of partisan bloggers like myself, depends on objective journalists, who try to stick to the facts, and check on whether those "facts" are actually facts. Otherwise, we would be left with demagogues, who report any notion, or recent email, as fact, and twist their falsehoods as they want, in order to please themselves and the political persuasion of their audience. Worse than self-admitted partisan bloggers perhaps.

Recall that Dan Rather, long-time anchor of CBS News was fired for reporting "facts" that may have actually been true:

"The documents [presented by 60 minutes in early 2009] suggested that Mr. Bush disobeyed an order to appear for a physical exam, and that friends of the Bush family tried to "sugar coat" his Guard service.

After a stubborn 12-day defense of the story, CBS News conceded that it could not confirm the authenticity of the documents and asked former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh and former Associated Press President Louis Boccardi to conduct an independent investigation into the matter.

Their findings were contained in a 224-page report made public on Monday. While the panel said it was not prepared to brand the Killian documents as an outright forgery, it raised serious questions about their authenticity and the way CBS News handled them."

Was Dan Rather fired for reporting the "facts" or for reporting questionable facts? Apparently there is at least a selective standard applied to the "facts" that commercial media journalists report, as opposed to those reported by "crazy" bloggers ("crazy blogger"--Dave Miller-"Think Out Loud"/OPB/NPR).

All of which brings me to a recent Jason Jacoby Op-Ed in the "Baker City Herald", which mocks the Occupy Wall Street movement "Sharing the protesters' anger, but worrying about my 401(k)."

In a county as conservative and ours, I have no doubt that it was well received by most.

About the Occupy Wall Street protests, Jayson, in his admirably sarcastic and flowery prose, says:

"Well, I kind of understand.
The economy stinks.

And Wall Street is the symbolic, and malodorous, heart of the putrefying American financial system."

and that:

"(. . . the presence of sign-waving hordes is as predictable as autumn rain puddles.)

What’s not clear to me, though, is which actions we’re supposed to take against the omnipotent cabal that controls America — the so-called 1-percenters — that will confer any tangible benefit on everyone else.

And by “we” I mean the voters.

Forgive my childlike innocence, but I still believe the best way to fix any mess in the halls of power is with the ballot, generally speaking a more potent slip of paper than the most cleverly phrased protest sign."

"Childlike innocence" indeed, and from such a bright guy! This full half page (The Herald will give you 350 word to express your opinion.) of mocking misrepresentations, with its barely veiled contempt for Americans practicing their rights to protest policies that have left them in dire straits, was printed on the Friday (10/14/11) before last weekend's unprecedented worldwide protests against the prevailing global financial system involving "1,500 cities, including 100 cities in the United States—all in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement that launched one month ago in New York City." See Democracy Now!

I understand why, after the outrageous Obama fraud, and many fruitless protests over the years, one might question whether these protests will go anywhere, but given their depth and breadth across this nation and the world, I wouldn't characterize them to be exactly "as predictable as autumn rain puddles."

What actions are we, Jayson says, "supposed to take?"

Hint--Something more than badgering cynicism and demagoguery.

Something more than inferring that the most important social movement in recent American history is insignificant.

Something more than saying that one is worried about their 401(k), which Wall Street no doubt trashed a few years ago anyway, along with the 401(k) s of millions of other Americans.

(See: Retirement Dreams Disappear With 401(k)s March 23, 2010

"(CBS) The effects of the current economic crisis have touched everyone. Even if you still have a good job and a paid up mortgage, chances are your monthly 401(k) statement will remind you that you've lost a good chunk of your savings.

Trillions of dollars have evaporated from those accounts that have become the prime source of retirement funds for a majority of American workers, affecting their psyche and their future. If you are still young enough, there's time to rebuild and recover, but if you are in your 50s, 60s or beyond the consequences can be dire, and its drawing attention to the shortcomings of a retirement system that has jeopardized the financial security of tens of millions of people."

Something more than the cynical or naive true believer notion that "'we' ,,, "the voters" can fix the problem with a vote" in a system controlled by big money and the political elite.

Something more than blind faith in a system that in recent decades has failed the majority of Americans time and time again--from the union busting, consequent wage depression, and deregulation of the Reagan administration, to the long-term flooding of the labor market via mass immigration policies, to the savings and loan fiasco, to the high-tech bubble, and on to the really monstrous and predictable collapse of the housing bubble. Boom and bust, over and over. It is a system that burns up decent hard-working Americans in one crisis and phony war after another, and then largely ignores them. Looks like the people are getting a little tired of it and are willing to start doing something about it, which of course scares the bejesus out of the comfortable, who came through these upheavals unscathed for the most part.

As Richard Wolff (Professor of Economics Emeritus, U. of Mass., Amherst) said recently ("Letters and Politics,"):

"If you lived with a [loved one] who was as unstable as Capitalism, you would long ago have moved out, or demanded that [the] other person get some professional help! But you live in an economic system that is unspeakably unstable, and you accept it."

The Herald Op-Ed speaks about the 1 percent, but doesn't tell us much about them. The one percent are but a symbol, used by #Occupy Wall Street, to represent the social and economic inequality in this country. The inequality in wealth and opportunity between the top one percent and those in the middle and below is so enormous that, once understood, crystallizes in general discontent, now represented by a movement that is about much more than the one percent.

According to Henry Giroux, (Got Class Warfare? Occupy Wall Street Now!):

"The richest 1 percent in the 1970s only took in about "8-9 percent of American total annual income," whereas today they take in 23.5 percent.(9) Furthermore, as University of California-Berkeley Professor Emmanuel Saez states in his study of inequality, 10 percent of Americans as of 2007 have taken in 49.7 percent of all wages, "higher than any other year since 1917."(10)"

No big deal to the presently comfortable I guess.

The Herald piece goes on to say that:

"Even if we seize a significant portion of the 1 percent’s allegedly ill-gotten gains, I don’t see how, if we spread this considerable sum among the 99 percent in anything resembling an equal formula, that anybody’s going to end up with much more than a couple payments on the mortgage."

Perhaps, but the claim is really just a straw man distraction from the real motivations and intent of the #Occupy Wall Street movement, which is not simply about taking the money of the 1 percent and sending checks to the 99%.

Right now I don't have those figures, and the article doesn't provide a citation for them either, just some speculation. What is missing from the Op-Ed's analysis, is any understanding that Occupy Wall Street's 1% is simply symbolic of our country's gross inequality in income distribution, and all that it entails. Inferring that Occupy Wall Street is busy devising a scheme to seize and divvy up the 1 percent’s booty so as to send out checks to the 99% is a gross mischaracterization and distraction from what they are really about, which in part is to create a more participatory and meaningful democracy where greed, fraud, and inequality are minimized, starting with Wall Street.

For the sake of argument though, here is a figure from Dean Baker, Center for Economic and Policy Research, concerning the effects on the typical family of the upward income distribution to the top 5%:

If Our Children Don't Do Better Than Us, It Will Be Because the Top 1 Percent Took It All

Monday, 17 October 2011 05:46

Robert Samuelson warns that our children may not do better than us. His warning is based on rising health care costs, aging of the population and the resulting rise in Social Security and Medicare expenses, and the risk of an end to productivity growth. Remarkably the upward redistribution of income doesn't feature in his story.

This is striking since upward redistribution is such a huge part of the picture. His example of workers not gaining is taken from a Health Affairs article that reported that 95 percent of compensation growth from 1999 to 2009 for a median four person family was eaten up by inflation and health care costs. However, if there had not been an upward redistribution of income over this period, compensation for a typical family would be about 10 percent higher (@$10,000 in today's dollars).

What about $10,000 per family, or at least a 10% increase in family income that was instead accrued by the top 5%? Is that enough money to pay the mortgage on foreclosed property owners for enough months to please the nervously comfortable?

And then there is this analysis, Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%, by Joseph Stiglitz:

It’s no use pretending that what has obviously happened has not in fact happened. The upper 1 percent of Americans are now taking in nearly a quarter of the nation’s income every year. In terms of wealth rather than income, the top 1 percent control 40 percent. Their lot in life has improved considerably. Twenty-five years ago, the corresponding figures were 12 percent and 33 percent.

One response might be to celebrate the ingenuity and drive that brought good fortune to these people, and to contend that a rising tide lifts all boats. That response would be misguided. While the top 1 percent have seen their incomes rise 18 percent over the past decade, those in the middle have actually seen their incomes fall. For men with only high-school degrees, the decline has been precipitous—12 percent in the last quarter-century alone. All the growth in recent decades—and more—has gone to those at the top.

In terms of income equality, America lags behind any country in the old, ossified Europe that President George W. Bush used to deride. Among our closest counterparts are Russia with its oligarchs and Iran. While many of the old centers of inequality in Latin America, such as Brazil, have been striving in recent years, rather successfully, to improve the plight of the poor and reduce gaps in income, America has allowed inequality to grow.

Economists long ago tried to justify the vast inequalities that seemed so troubling in the mid-19th century—inequalities that are but a pale shadow of what we are seeing in America today.

The justification they came up with was called “marginal-productivity theory.” In a nutshell, this theory associated higher incomes with higher productivity and a greater contribution to society. It is a theory that has always been cherished by the rich. Evidence for its validity, however, remains thin. The corporate executives who helped bring on the recession of the past three years—whose contribution to our society, and to their own companies, has been massively negative—went on to receive large bonuses. In some cases, companies were so embarrassed about calling such rewards “performance bonuses” that they felt compelled to change the name to “retention bonuses” (even if the only thing being retained was bad performance). Those who have contributed great positive innovations to our society, from the pioneers of genetic understanding to the pioneers of the Information Age, have received a pittance compared with those responsible for the financial innovations that brought our global economy to the brink of ruin.

Some people look at income inequality and shrug their shoulders. So what if this person gains and that person loses? What matters, they argue, is not how the pie is divided but the size of the pie. That argument is fundamentally wrong. An economy in which most citizens are doing worse year after year—an economy like America’s—is not likely to do well over the long haul. There are several reasons for this.

First, growing inequality is the flip side of something else: shrinking opportunity. Whenever we diminish equality of opportunity, it means that we are not using some of our most valuable assets—our people—in the most productive way possible.

Second, many of the distortions that lead to inequality—such as those associated with monopoly power and preferential tax treatment for special interests—undermine the efficiency of the economy. This new inequality goes on to create new distortions, undermining efficiency even further. To give just one example, far too many of our most talented young people, seeing the astronomical rewards, have gone into finance rather than into fields that would lead to a more productive and healthy economy.

Third, and perhaps most important, a modern economy requires “collective action”—it needs government to invest in infrastructure, education, and technology. The United States and the world have benefited greatly from government-sponsored research that led to the Internet, to advances in public health, and so on. But America has long suffered from an under-investment in infrastructure (look at the condition of our highways and bridges, our railroads and airports), in basic research, and in education at all levels. Further cutbacks in these areas lie ahead.

None of this should come as a surprise—it is simply what happens when a society’s wealth distribution becomes lopsided. The more divided a society becomes in terms of wealth, the more reluctant the wealthy become to spend money on common needs. The rich don’t need to rely on government for parks or education or medical care or personal security—they can buy all these things for themselves. In the process, they become more distant from ordinary people, losing whatever empathy they may once have had. They also worry about strong government—one that could use its powers to adjust the balance, take some of their wealth, and invest it for the common good. The top 1 percent may complain about the kind of government we have in America, but in truth they like it just fine: too gridlocked to re-distribute, too divided to do anything but lower taxes. . . . .

Alexis de Tocqueville once described what he saw as a chief part of the peculiar genius of American society—something he called “self-interest properly understood.” The last two words were the key. Everyone possesses self-interest in a narrow sense: I want what’s good for me right now! Self-interest “properly understood” is different. It means appreciating that paying attention to everyone else’s self-interest—in other words, the common welfare—is in fact a precondition for one’s own ultimate well-being. Tocqueville was not suggesting that there was anything noble or idealistic about this outlook—in fact, he was suggesting the opposite. It was a mark of American pragmatism. Those canny Americans understood a basic fact: looking out for the other guy isn’t just good for the soul—it’s good for business.

The top 1 percent have the best houses, the best educations, the best doctors, and the best lifestyles, but there is one thing that money doesn’t seem to have bought: an understanding that their fate is bound up with how the other 99 percent live. Throughout history, this is something that the top 1 percent eventually do learn. Too late."

See the rest of this important article, written over four months prior to the world-wide Occupy Wall Street protest.

Jayson: [I] "understand--kind of"?

Next comes the suggestion that we would be shooting ourselves in the foot if we redistributed wealth:

"Besides which, if we take all that money then who’s going to pay the taxes that keep Medicare and Medicaid and all those social programs afloat?"

This question implies that the rich are paying so much money in taxes that we are fortunate that things are arranged the way they are.

Thing is, as Warren Buffet recently explained (see "Stop Coddling the Super-Rich", the very rich folks like himself are paying a much smaller percentage of their income in taxes than do the middle class workers he employs. Buffett explains:

"If you make money with money, as some of my super-rich friends do, your percentage [in taxes] may be a bit lower than mine. But if you earn money from a job, your percentage will surely exceed mine — most likely by a lot.
To understand why, you need to examine the sources of government revenue. Last year about 80 percent of these revenues came from personal income taxes and payroll taxes. The mega-rich pay income taxes at a rate of 15 percent on most of their earnings but pay practically nothing in payroll taxes. It’s a different story for the middle class: typically, they fall into the 15 percent and 25 percent income tax brackets, and then are hit with heavy payroll taxes to boot.
Back in the 1980s and 1990s, tax rates for the rich were far higher [Higher still, like around 90% for top brackets, if you go back to the 1940's--Chris], and my percentage rate was in the middle of the pack. According to a theory I sometimes hear, I should have thrown a fit and refused to invest because of the elevated tax rates on capital gains and dividends.
. . . .
I would leave rates for 99.7 percent of taxpayers unchanged and continue the current 2-percentage-point reduction in the employee contribution to the payroll tax. This cut helps the poor and the middle class, who need every break they can get.
But for those making more than $1 million — there were 236,883 such households in 2009 — I would raise rates immediately on taxable income in excess of $1 million, including, of course, dividends and capital gains. And for those who make $10 million or more — there were 8,274 in 2009 — I would suggest an additional increase in rate.
My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice."

Here is another enlightening article:

How I Paid Only 1% of My Income in Federal Income Tax

"In a recent newspaper interview, I mentioned my absurdly low tax rate to illustrate the extent to which the tax system is biased in favor of the wealthy (my income varies widely from year to year, but is typically north of half a million dollars). My point was that with our country facing frightening budget deficits amid an ever-widening income gap between the rich and everybody else, I consider it both unwise and unfair that a former investment banker like myself pays less in taxes than working Americans with far lower incomes.

Among the dozens of emails I received in response were many from people who assumed that rich people avoid taxes through complicated strategies devised by an army of expensive advisors (many correspondents asked for the name of my accountant). But under our current tax system, the rich don't need high-priced lawyers who exploit obscure loopholes; I wasn't even trying to minimize my taxes (and, in fact, could have paid zero tax if I was). Warren Buffett has observed that if there's class warfare in this country, the rich are winning. I offer my 2009 tax return, then, as a flare to illuminate the battlefield.

Americans are understandably angry over the government's multi-billion-dollar bailouts of reckless bankers. But low tax rates on investment income have put far more money into Wall Street's pockets than the TARP bill did. Even President Obama's proposal to let the Bush tax cuts lapse for the richest Americans would leave a top marginal rate on capital gains and qualified dividends of just 20% -- half the proposed rate on labor income.

This difference creates a loophole you can drive a Rolls Royce through. . . . ."

My take is that if the wealth were redistributed downward, more revenue would be raised, because the lower brackets seem to always pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes. If, in addition, tax rates on the very rich were raised back towards what they used to be, assuming reasonable fiscal responsibility in Congress, our budget problems would be over.

But who cares about concentration of wealth in America, because, after all, Jayson says:

". . . such abominations [should not be used] as a pretext for, in essence, busting up an entire economic system. For all its faults, that system has contributed to a society in which even those in the lower tier of the 99 percent, were they to consider the matter soberly and honestly, must admit they’ve made out pretty well over the decades.

(Sure there are exceptions. But how many bloated-belly toddlers have you seen recently? And Africa doesn’t count.)
[Apparently, belly size is supposed to be the new standard for health and a satisfying and productive life. -Chris]

Yet dismantling the Wall Street oligarchy seems to be a theme among this budding protest movement.

This might sound satisfying when you’re striding down the street, aglow with populist solidarity, your critical thinking skills subsumed by the crude power of the crowd."

Whoa--wait a minute--"busting up an entire economic system?" "dismantling the Wall Street oligarchy?"

My take is that people participating in the protests want to see Wall Street and the financial system regulated in an effective manner (yes, they used to be) which prevents the sort of greed, fraud, bubble creation, and Too-Big-to-Fail behavior that has brought financial disaster, home foreclosures, and personal insecurity to many millions of Americans.

And given the thought and facts that went into the Op-Ed, don't get me started on "critical thinking skills."

Jayson Jacoby, the editor of the Herald then states:

"I haven’t filched any of my meager dollars from some oppressed minority of laborers, either. I just show up for work when I’m supposed to.

There are tens of millions of Americans who do the same (although not as many as a few years ago). We’re all part of that mistreated middle class the protesters purport to represent, and as I said, many of us are equally disgusted by the more egregious abuses of crony capitalism."

Great Jayson, so glad you have a job you can show up to, with the family and all, but many millions of Americans who want one, with families and all, don't have one. But then maybe they can't produce mindless Op-Eds that cater to the well off and conservative patrons.

"Equally disgusted?" I'm thinking maybe they are not equally disgusted, but in fact much more disgusted, given that they don't have a paycheck and the security you now have. They might be disgusted because the homes they live in, or used used to live in, and had invested in, are now underwater or foreclosed upon. Maybe many of them, our younger generation, are wondering how they are ever going to pay off their gargantuan student loans in a system that has provided no jobs for them. They might even be wondering why their government doesn't provide free or subsidized higher education, as some other successful countries do. Maybe they don't have the national heath insurance for all that other western industrial nations provide. Perhaps an unforeseen health issue has caused them to go bankrupt. Perhaps it was not because they didn't want to "show up for work," but because the system controlled by the greed and criminal behavior of Wall street speculators, bought off politicians, and corporations, not to mention simple discrimination, caused the current economic disruption they are victims of.

The Op-Ed goes on to toss out yet another straw man:

"But I’d also wager that most of us would appreciate it if the marchers avoid trampling our 401(k)s while they’re clambering up to the penthouse to get their hands on those conniving 1-percenters."

Interesting imagery considering that the protests have thus far been pretty peaceful, aside from some bad behavior by the gendarmes.

Interesting too, because there is no mention of the harm done by the Wall Street bubble collapse to the 401(k)s of Americans lucky enough to have them. (See link above (

And then we are told:

"But speaking as a member of the people, I don’t want to spend my golden years eating ramen three times a day (or scraps of poster board) because one of the consequences of my power grab is that the market gobbled my retirement and excreted a few pellets of Social Security.

(And I probably won’t get those anyway.)"

I hate to be the one to inform the Herald that "the market" and the corporations have been gobbling up retirements for decades now. (Most recently, see again (

See also, for example:
Court approves termination of United Airlines pension plans

One suspects that some true believers still don't understand the game.

While I understand people's nervousness, given the mainstream media's constant propaganda about the coming end of Social Security, the reference to the collapse of Social Security is not supported by the facts and only serves as a self fulfilling prophesy. As more people, young people in particular, are led to believe that Social Security won't be there for them, these claims provide political support for it's dismantling. Then all people will have is their winnings or losses gambled on 401(k)s, if they are wealthy enough to have one.

According to Dean Baker, in the post mentioned above (If Our Children Don't Do Better Than Us, It Will Be Because the Top 1 Percent Took It All)
Monday, 17 October 2011 05:46

"it would take just 5 percent of the projected wage growth over the next 30 years to make the Social Security trust fund fully solvent for the rest of the century."

So there are some problems with the Op-Ed from my perspective. But then we get to the part that I found even more troublesome--the most flimsy "straw man" allegation of them all perhaps:

"But after perusing some of the material allegedly associated with their campaign, including a 13-point manifesto, I see little reason to trust my financial future to their judgment."


"I hate to be cynical but it may well be that the protesters aren’t motivated mainly, or even largely, by a beneficent concern for the well-being of ordinary, politically obtuse Americans like me.

Consider, for instance, demand number three on that manifesto I mentioned: 'A guaranteed living wage income regardless of employment.'

I have no idea if most, or even many, of the people participating in the various protests consider this a reasonable demand.
But I hope not."

These concerns are apparently in reference to a bogus manifesto that was circulating on the internet as early as October 9, 2011. But it was false.

The disclaimer is prominent at the top of the list:
Admin note: This is not an official list of demands. This is a forum post submitted by a single user and hyped by irresponsible news/commentary agencies like Fox News and This content was not published by the collective, nor was it ever proposed or agreed to on a consensus basis with the NYC General Assembly. There is NO official list of demands.

In the first edition of “The Occupied Wall Street Journal,” published a week or so earlier, they wrote:

"We are daring to imagine a new socio-political and economic alternative that offers greater possibility of equality. We are consolidating the other proposed principles of solidarity, after which demands will follow."

"No list of demands"
We are speaking to each other, and listening.
This occupation is first about participation." [The No list of demands statement was repeated in issue #2. ]

and that:

"Through a direct democratic process, we have come together as
individuals and crafted these principles of solidarity, which are points of
unity that include, but are not limited to:

- Engaging in direct and transparent participatory democracy;

- Exercising personal and collective responsibility;

- Recognizing individuals’ inherent privilege and the influence it has on all interactions;

- Empowering one another against all forms of oppression;

- Redefining how labor is valued;

- The sanctity of individual privacy;

- The belief that education is human right; and

- Endeavoring to practice and support wide application of open source."

They also said:

"Even now, three weeks later, the elites and their mouthpieces in the press continue to puzzle over what we want. Where is the list of demands? Why don’t they present us with specific goals? Why can’t they articulate what they need?

The goal to us is very, very clear. It can be articulated in one word — REBELLION. We have not come to work within the system. We are not pleading with the Congress for electoral reform. We know electoral politics is a farce. We have found another way to be heard and exercise power. We have no faith in the political system or the two major political parties. And we know the corporate press will not amplify our voices which is why we have a press of our own. We know the economy serves the oligarchs. We know that to survive this protest we will have to build non-hierarchical communal systems that care for everyone.

These are goals the power elite cannot comprehend. They cannot envision a day when they will not be in charge of our lives. The elites believe, and seek to make us believe, that globalization and unfettered capitalism are natural law, some kind of permanent and eternal dynamic that can never be altered. What the elites fail to realize is that rebellion will not stop until the corporate state is extinguished. It will not stop until the corporate abuse of the poor, the working class, the elderly, the sick, children, those being slaughtered in our imperial wars and tortured in our black sites, stops. It will not stop until foreclosures and bank repossessions stop. It will not stop until students no longer have to go into massive debt to be educated, and families no longer have to plunge into bankruptcy to pay medical bills. It will not stop until the corporate destruction of the ecosystem stops, and our relationships with each other and the planet are radically reconfigured.

And that is why the elites, and the rotted and degenerate system of corporate power they sustain, are in serious trouble. . . . ."

A difficult task, for sure.

What troubles me, more than Jayson printing things he admits may not be true, even as he attacks them (straw men), is that somehow the Occupy Wall Street protestors "aren’t motivated mainly, or even largely, by a beneficent concern for the well-being of ordinary, politically obtuse Americans like me." Why would someone admit they lack political intelligence and sensitivity, and then suspect that the protesters might not be concerned about them? Could it be that protesters may not be concerned and beneficent towards people that are clearly hostile to them? Beats me. I do hope the statement is not yet another version of the "I'm doing OK, so what's wrong with you?--get a job!" mantra that seems so prevalent in conservative circles these days. Seems to me that the Occupy Wall Street folks are trying to create a more fair and democratic system (spare me the rhetoric about a "republic" unless you also want to talk about the "general welfare" mentioned in the preamble to the Constitution!) that benefits everyone, even newspaper editors that disparage them.

That's what it is about folks, from their own journal. It is not about the Straw Men erected by the media so as to discredit and trivialize a promising movement that the media and the comfortable see as threatening. It is in fact a serious movement with the best of intentions and values, backed by action and sacrifice, about real hope and social change--one that could bring something valuable to the whole of society, as well as to the oligarchs and their apologists.


Got Class Warfare?
Got Class Warfare? Occupy Wall Street Now!


Former Financial Regulator William Black: Occupy Wall Street a Counter to White-Collar Fraud

Dylan Ratigan Show--Occupy Wall Street--Not Left-Right, Republican Democrat--William Black, David Degraw

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Chris Hedges: "This one could take them all down." Hedges on OWS w/ OccupyTVNY -- 10/15/11


Occupy Wall Street (FULL) Interview with Chris Hedges Part 1


Public and 'Occupy Wall Street' Movement Agree on Key Issues

SEC Cases Bypass Top Execs to Target Employees for Negligence


Iris Dement--Wasteland Of The Free

Living in the wasteland of the free...

We got preachers dealing in politics and diamond mines
and their speech is growing increasingly unkind
They say they are Christ's disciples
but they don't look like Jesus to me
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

We got politicians running races on corporate cash
Now don't tell me they don't turn around and kiss them peoples' ass
You may call me old-fashioned
but that don't fit my picture of a true democracy
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

We got CEO's making two hundred times the workers' pay
but they'll fight like hell against raising the minimum wage
and If you don't like it, mister, they'll ship your job
to some third-world country 'cross the sea
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

Living in the wasteland of the free
where the poor have now become the enemy
Let's blame our troubles on the weak ones
Sounds like some kind of Hitler remedy
Living in the wasteland of the free

We got little kids with guns fighting inner city wars
So what do we do, we put these little kids behind prison doors
and we call ourselves the advanced civilization
that sounds like crap to me
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

We got high-school kids running 'round in Calvin Klein and Guess
who cannot pass a sixth-grade reading test
but if you ask them, they can tell you
the name of every crotch on MTV
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

We kill for oil, then we throw a party when we win
Some guy refuses to fight, and we call that the sin
but he's standing up for what he believes in
and that seems pretty damned American to me
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

Living in the wasteland of the free
where the poor have now become the enemy
Let's blame our troubles on the weak ones
Sounds like some kind of Hitler remedy
Living in the wasteland of the free

While we sit gloating in our greatness
justice is sinking to the bottom of the sea
Living in the wasteland of the free
Living in the wasteland of the free
Living in the wasteland of the free

Iris DeMent & Emmy Lou Harris - Our Town