Allison Kilkenny: Unreported

The nation’s other non-BP disasters

Surely, the BP disaster deserves the obsessive coverage it has received (thus far). But at the risk of missing some other important stories, I want to briefly address two somewhat overlooked catastrophes – one that has already taken place, and one that possesses the potential to be horrific, but we still have time to stop.

Many Americans would be surprised to hear there’s another domestic oil spill – in Salt Late City. (via)

Chevron says a hole the size of a quarter caused their pipeline to rupture around 33,000 gallons of oil into the creek.

The manager of Chevron’s refinery in the Salt Lake City area said Monday that the company believes the rupture in the 10-inch pipeline was caused by an electrical arc that traveled through a metal fence post. Mark Sullivan says the arc acted like an electrical torch, causing the hole.

Sullivan couldn’t say how long the pipeline was leaking before Chevron was notified of the problem Saturday morning. But Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker says residents could smell the odor of petroleum overnight Friday.

The spill has coated about 300 birds at area creeks and ponds, and the oil is possibly threatening an endangered fish.

Chairman of the Salt Lake City Council,  J.T. Martin, calls the event a horrible tragedy.

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Interview with author and activist, Tariq Ali

Posted in activism, atheism, Barack Obama, BTR, Citizen Radio, politics, religion by allisonkilkenny on April 8, 2009

tariq_061229102525399_wideweb__300x375Citizen Radio interviews Tariq Ali, celebrated intellectual and the man who famously debated Henry Kissinger. A world-renowned activist, who the Rolling Stones named the song “Street Fighting Man” after, Tariq Ali spends the hour talking with Citizen Radio.

Tariq Ali talks with Citizen Radio about a range of subjects from the true definition of Socialism to his discussions with Malcolm X, and how he thinks atheists and religious people can work together to make the world a better place.

Listen here. Transcript is posted below. Please feel free to repost both the interview and transcript, but please credit Citizen Radio.

Tariq Ali is the author of the new book, The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power.

Citizen Radio airs every Wednesday on BTR. Episodes available 24/7 in our archives.

Jamie Kilstein: Recently, on FOX News – and actually all news stations – we’ve kind of been hearing Obama denounced as a Socialist. They’ll be like, “No one wants socialized healthcare,” or “socialized banks,” and I think, for the first time, there are some people who are like, “Yeah, we do. We kind of do. That sounds really nice.” But Obama didn’t have anyone who represents single-payer healthcare at his health conference, and the banks are getting our money, and we’re not getting anything in return. So first, I wanted you to give the actual definition of Socialism because I think it’s mischaracterized a lot here, and second, why you think decrying Socialism has been such a successful scare tactic in a country where rich-poor divide is so large.

Tariq Ali: There are many definitions of Socialism. The simplest way to define it, I guess, would be: the ownership of public utilities and things important to the economy and the land by the state in the interests of the common people. I would go beyond that and say where public utilities are owned by the state, my definition of Socialism would also include the people, who work in these utilities, playing a part in determining how they are run, and not allowing the state to nominate bureaucrats to them. That has never really happened anywhere, but given the crisis into which Socialism fell in the ‘90s, I think you need more and more democracy at every level of functioning.

Read the rest of the interview behind the cut.

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Conservatives Shit Themselves Over Obama’s Anti-NAFTA Trade Representative Pick

Posted in Uncategorized by allisonkilkenny on December 3, 2008

(My headline, not David’s. David is a very nice man.) 

David Sirota

Hide your children! It's Xavi!

Hide your children! Its Xavi!

My dad used to tell me that when you watch baseball and you see a fly ball hit into the outfield, you have to watch the outfielders and not the ball to get a sense of where the ball is going. It can be the same thing in politics – you often have to watch the reaction of key sets of people to understand the policy implications of a given move.

So in light of that, when Karl Rove and the conservative commentariat are praising a president’s move – any president’s – it’s a sign that the move is an out. However, when corporate lobbyists and right-wing think tanks are criticizing a president’s move, that’s a great sign that it’s going to be an extra-base hit – and that’s exactly what’s happening in the wake of the news about trade critic Rep. Xavier Becerra being appointed the next U.S. Trade Representative:

“We’re pretty concerned about some of the past statements he’s made on issues such as Nafta,” says one well-plugged in business lobbyist…

While [Becerra] voted for Nafta, he later said he regrets having done so. More recently, he voted against the Central American Free Trade Agreement, but did vote for a trade pact with Peru. At times he has been highly critical of the global trading system, calling it “broken completely” in 2006 before voting against a trade deal with Oman.

“It’s troubling; to oppose Nafta is in many ways to lash out symbolically against trade,” without understanding the benefits of that agreement says Philip Levy, a former Bush administration trade official now with the American Enterprise Institute. “You want the chief person who has to make the case to the American public for trade to recognize what those agreements did.”

I love the part from the American Enterprise Institute hack equating opposition to NAFTA to somehow not “recognizing what those agreements did.” It’s the old binary frame that portrays those in favor of job-killing, wage-destroying, environment-raping corporate-written trade agreements as Serious and Enlightened and those who want a new trade model as Know-Nothing Luddites.

Becerra likely knows all to well what NAFTA did. It’s not that hard to see it when you walk the streets of many places in the United States, or when you bother to simply look at the data. We’re going to need a trade representative who understands the pitfalls of our current policies in order to make sure, as Businessweek says, that the jobs created by the economic rescue package are created here in America, and not abroad.

The fact that his nomination has corporate lobbyists and the conservative D.C. Establishment worried is a very good thing indeed.

The Debate Over Obama’s First “Broken Promise”

Posted in Barack Obama, politics by allisonkilkenny on December 3, 2008

barack-obama-capitolHuffington Post

The Obama team’s decision to drop the idea of forcing oil and natural gas companies to pay a tax on their windfall profits has caused a firestorm among liberals and small business coalitions.

As first reported in the Houston Chronicle, Obama’s reference to a windfall profits tax, which he articulated during the campaign at a time of skyrocketing gas prices, had been removed from the transition team’s Website, change.gov:

President-elect Barack Obama has quietly shelved a proposal to slap oil and natural gas companies with a new windfall profits tax.
An aide for the transition team acknowledged the policy shift Tuesday, after a small-business group discovered the proposal — touted throughout much of the campaign — had been dropped from the incoming administration’s Web site.

“President-elect Obama announced the policy during the campaign because oil prices were above $80 per barrel,” the aide said. “They are below that now and expected to stay below that.”

At liberal blog Campaign For America’s Future, David Sirota writes:

Between this move and the move to wait to repeal the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, it seems like the Obama team is buying into the right-wing frame that raising any taxes – even those on the richest citizens and wealthiest corporations – is bad for the economy. Of course, that frame is debunked by history. And while sure, it’s OK to rack up deficits so as to spend our way out of the economic crisis, it’s sorta silly to ignore the tax moves that could be implemented to limit those deficits where possible.
Oh, and one last thing – if oil prices are down and oil industry profits are truly down, what’s the harm in passing a windfall profits tax? Even if you buy the right-wing nonsense about a windfall profits tax “hurting the industry” or “hurting the economy” when it is applied, if there really are no windfall profits to tax, then it won’t be applied.

 

On Mother Jones’ blog, Nick Baumann wrote a post asking, “Did Barack Obama just break his first camaign promise?”:

Obama talked about a windfall profits tax as early as April. As crude oil prices topped $110 a barrel, Obama promised to “put a windfall profits tax on oil companies and use it to help … families pay their heating and cooling bills and reduce energy costs.” And in August, the Democratic nominee issued a campaign ad that promised “a windfall profits tax on big oil to give families a thousand dollar rebate.” The windfall profits tax was a key point of contention between President-elect Obama and McCain in June, when McCain criticized Obama for the plan, calling it “dangerous”.

The removal was noticed by the American Small Business League which fumed in a press release:

The American Small Business League questions whether the sudden elimination of this issue is a further indication that large corporations are already demonstrating their ability to influence the Obama adminstration…
President-elect Obama owes the American people an explanation as to why these campaign promises have been pulled from his agenda.

10 Ways the Corporate Media Tried to Make You Think Obama Was a Liberal

Posted in Barack Obama, politics by allisonkilkenny on December 3, 2008

 

barack-obama-capitolFiredogLake

1. Cherry picked a 2007 National Journal ranking which concluded that Obama was the most liberal Senator. This despite the fact that it was an outlier with a deeply flawed methodology that no other ranking confirmed, and only a true nitwit would swallow credulously the notion that Obama was more liberal than Russ Feingold or Bernie Sanders.

2. Nodded approvingly as Clinton campaign pushed “Obama is too liberal” meme. Ignored the fact that even in the National Journal ranking, of the 267 issues on which they both cast votes in 2007, they differed by only 10 votes. “The policy differences between Clinton and Obama are so slight they are almost nonexistent to the average voter,” said Rutgers University political scientist Richard Lau.

3. Turned into complete bobbleheads as McCain campaign and a woman who excised the letter “g” from the alphabet endlessly repeat the same.

4. Refused to listen when “liberal bloggers” pointed out that Obama wasn’t all that liberal.

5. Assumed that the only thing meaningful about Obama’s expression of admiration for Ronald Reagan was that it pissed off liberal bloggers.

6. Hyperventillated over Jeremiah Wright as if he was capable of some kind of Vulcan mind control.

7. Deduced, like Larry Kudlow, that if given the chance Obama would appoint Bill Ayers Secretary of State.

8. Preached the gospel of America as “center-right nation” after the election when all evidence was to the contrary, because — well, they and all their friends are “center right” and that must mean something.

9. Demanded that Obama must “govern from the center” to makethemselves the country happy.

10. Reacted with shock and delight when Obama appoints “conservative” Hillary Clinton, a woman whose voting record on Iraq was nearly identical to his own, as Secretary of State — repudiating liberal bloggers who were obviously hoping for Bill Ayers.

 

The Summers Conundrum

Posted in Barack Obama by allisonkilkenny on November 13, 2008

 dr-lawrence-h-summers-82Alternet.org via The Nation

Mark Ames explains why Barack Obama’s possible appointment of Lawrence Summers will be bad news, and deliver inevitable disappointment earlier than expected.

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We all know in the backs of our minds that Barack Obama’s incredible victory will eventually be followed by disappointment. But does it have to come so soon, and hit so hard? The answer will be yes, if Lawrence Summers is named treasury secretary in the president-elect’s cabinet, as many observers believe will be the case. Summers was one of the key architects of our financial crisis — hiring him to fix the economy makes as much sense as appointing Paul Wolfowitz to oversee the Iraq withdrawal. And when you look at the trail of economic destruction Summers left behind in other crisis-stricken countries who sought his advice in the past, then “terror” might be a more appropriate word than “disappointment.”

The conventional wisdom is that Summers is the “centrist” choice — Fareed Zakaria (“I think Summers is an extraordinarily brilliant guy”) and David Gergen (“Larry Summers would be superb at this job”), two titans of centrism, both weighed in Sunday on the Stephanopoulos show in favor of Summers. And yet so far the debate over Summers has been largely confined to two outrageous moments in his career: his 1991 World Bank memo calling Africa “UNDER-polluted,” and his more recent declarations, while serving as president of Harvard, about women’s genetic inferiority in math and science. By themselves, these two incidents might be dismissed as merely provocative in a maverick-moron sort of way, as many of Summers’ supporters argue; but in the context of Summers’s track record, in which he oversaw the destruction of entire economies and covered up cronyism and corruption, his Africa memo and sexist declarations aren’t exceptions but rather part of a disturbing pattern.

From the start, Summers has been on the wrong side of Obama’s supporters. In 1982, while still a graduate student at Harvard, Summers was brought to Washington by his dissertation advisor Martin Feldstein, the supply-side economist, to serve on Ronald Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisors. Those first years in the Reagan administration were crucial in the right-wing war against New Deal regulation of the banking system and financial markets — a war that Reagan’s team won, and that we’re all paying for today. Although Summers eventually identified himself with the Democratic Party — albeit the right wing of that party — nevertheless, as the New York Times‘s Peter T. Kilborn wrote in 1988:

 

He worked for 10 months as a top analyst in President Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers when his mentor, Martin S. Feldstein, was running it, and his colleagues don’t recall him venting anti-Reagan heresies then ….

 

“One of the ironies of this business is that Summers’s economics are quite close to Feldstein’s,” said William A. Niskanen, who was a member of the Feldstein council.

It’s ironic if you expected Summers to be a liberal Democrat — but par for the course in the context of Summers’s real record. Some fifteen years after Summers’s stint in the Reaganomics war room, he reappears as one of the key villains fighting to suppress the regulatory efforts of a top official, Brooksley Born, who was trying to call attention to the dangers of the unregulated derivatives, such as credit swap defaults, which today are considered the key to the current economic crisis.

But let’s return to the Summers timeline. After his stint in the Reaganomics brain trust, he returned to Harvard to serve as one of the university’s youngest professors. In 1988, he was Michael Dukakis’s chief economic advisor, but when that campaign failed to bring Summers to power, he turned to America’s great rival, the former Soviet Union, to try out his economic experiments. In 1990, Lithuania, a restive Soviet republic seeking independence, hired Summers to advise on that country’s economic transformation. Poor Lithuania had no idea what it got itself into. This was Summers’s first opportunity to tackle a country in economic crisis and put his wunderkind theories into practice. The results were literally suicidal: in 1990, when Summers first arrived, Lithuania’s suicide rate was 26.1 per 100,000 and falling. Just five years after Summers got his hands on Lithuania’s economy, life became so unbearable under the economic transition that the suicide rate nearly doubled to 45.6 per 100,000, worse than any other ex-Soviet republic in transition. In fact, it was the highest suicide rate in the world, suggesting something particularly harsh and brutal about the economic transition in that country as opposed to the others, where suffering and pain were common. Things got so bad that in 1992, after just two years of Summers-nomics, the traumatized Lithuanians voted the communist party back into power, the first East European nation to do so — even though just a year earlier Lithuanians actually died on the streets fighting communism.

Fresh off his success in Lithuania, Summers moved to the World Bank, where he was named the chief economist in 1991, the year he issued his famous let’s-pollute-Africa memo. It was also the year that Summers, and his Harvard protg Andrei Schleifer (who worked with Summers on the Lithuania economic transformation), began their catastrophic “rescue” of Russia’s crisis-ridden economy. It’s a complicated story involving corruption, cronyism and economic devastation. But by the end of the 1990s, Russia’s GDP had collapsed by more than 60 percent, its population was suffering the worst death-to-birth ratio of any industrialized nation in the twentieth century, and the financial markets that Summers and Schleifer helped create had collapsed in what was then the world’s biggest debt default ever. The result was the rise of Vladmir Putin and a national aversion to free markets and anything associated with Western liberalism.

But that’s not all. Summers, through Schleifer, was also tainted with some of that country’s corruption, which resulted in a US Justice Department lawsuit against Schleifer and others. While Schleifer was being paid by US taxpayers to advise the Russians on capital markets in the 1990s, his wife, Nancy Zimmerman, bought and traded Russian equities for a Boston hedge fund she ran — they even used Schleifer’s US taxpayer-funded offices to run Zimmerman’s Moscow-based hedge fund operations.

How close were Larry Summers and Andrei Schleifer? According to former Boston Globe economics correspondent David Warsh, Summers and Schleifer “were among each other’s best friends,” and Summers taught Schleifer “as an undergraduate, sent him on to MIT for his PhD, took him along on an advisory mission to Lithuania in 1990, and in 1991, shepherded his return to Harvard as full professor, where he was regarded, after Martin Feldstein and Summers, as the leader of the next generation.”

In 2000, the Justice Department sought $102 million in damages from Schleifer, one of Schleifer’s Harvard associates and Harvard University in a conflict-of-interest suit resulting from Schleifer’s role as the lead US adviser to Russia’s economic reforms — questioning the way Schleifer and his wife profited from his position. Schleifer’s Harvard team in Moscow was funded by USAID in a no-bid contract, and supported by Summers as soon as he moved into the Treasury Department in 1993. So Schleifer benefited from his relationship with Summers twice: first, by getting a choice contract as the US government’s man in Moscow in the 1990s when Summers was in power in the US government, one that benefited his wife’s hedge fund (earlier this year, Portfolio suggested that the Schleifers’ hedge fundsmade them billionaires ). Then after Schleifer returned to Harvard to face the lawsuit, Summers, now president of Harvard, presided over a controversial settlement that all but let his protg off the hook. Thanks to pressure by Summers, Schleifer kept his chair at Harvard, where he continues to teach today.

Summers’s other favorite man in Russia was Anatoly Chubais — who consistently ranks at the top of Russia’s “ most hated man” polls. Chubais was executor of the Russian government’s privatization program, in which state companies worth tens of billions of dollars were handed over to insiders for a fraction of their worth in blatantly rigged auctions. Summers praised Chubais as a “demigod” and called Chubais and his free-market cohorts “the dream team.” In September 1998, after Russia’s capital markets collapsed, along with billions in US-taxpayer-backed loans, Chubais boasted to a Russian newspaper, “We swindled them.” By “them,” he meant the Western and American aid institutions that funded his reforms.

In light of all of the corruption, cronyism and devastation that have marked his career, Summers’ statements about an under-polluted Africa or intellectually-inferior women no longer seem like provocative eccentricities but part and parcel of the Summers shtick. And now there’s talk that President-elect Obama may hand the keys to national treasury to Summers — meaning that he’ll be in charge of overseeing a trillion-dollar taxpayer bailout of the entire financial industry, a process already rife with conflicts of interest, cronyism and corruption — as detailed by Naomi Klein.

The bailout, as currently implemented, threatens to devastate America’s economy much as Russia’s and Lithuania’s were devastated before. The idea that this is exactly the right time and place to put Larry Summers in charge of our economy’s future is so frightening that it makes the Sarah Palin vice presidential choice seem almost quaint by comparison. Let’s hope the rumors are wrong.

Mark Ames is a contributor to eXiledonline.com. He is the author ofGoing Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan’s Workplaces to Clinton¿s Columbine and Beyond.

Intelligence Policy to Stay Largely Intact

Posted in Barack Obama, torture by allisonkilkenny on November 11, 2008
Former National Counterterrorism Center chief John Brennan, leader of Obama's intelligence-transition team. (AP)

Former National Counterterrorism Center chief John Brennan, leader of Obama intelligence transition team. (AP)

Wall Street Journal

WASHINGTON — President-elect Barack Obama is unlikely to radically overhaul controversial Bush administration intelligence policies, advisers say, an approach that is almost certain to create tension within the Democratic Party.

Civil-liberties groups were among those outraged that the White House sanctioned the use of harsh intelligence techniques — which some consider torture — by the Central Intelligence Agency, and expanded domestic spy powers. These groups are demanding quick action to reverse these policies.

Mr. Obama is being advised largely by a group of intelligence professionals, including some who have supported Republicans, and centrist former officials in the Clinton administration. They say he is likely to fill key intelligence posts with pragmatists.

“He’s going to take a very centrist approach to these issues,” said Roger Cressey, a former counterterrorism official in the Clinton and Bush administrations. “Whenever an administration swings too far on the spectrum left or right, we end up getting ourselves in big trouble.”

On the campaign trail, Mr. Obama criticized many of President George W. Bush’s counterterrorism policies. He condemned Mr. Bush for promoting “excessive secrecy, indefinite detention, warrantless wiretapping and ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ like simulated drowning that qualify as torture through any careful measure of the law or appeal to human decency.”

As a candidate, Mr. Obama said the CIA’s interrogation program should adhere to the same rules that apply to the military, which would prohibit the use of techniques such as waterboarding. He has also said the program should be investigated.

Yet he more recently voted for a White House-backed law to expand eavesdropping powers for the National Security Agency. Mr. Obama said he opposed providing legal immunity to telecommunications companies that aided warrantless surveillance, but ultimately voted for the bill, which included an immunity provision.

The new president could take a similar approach to revising the rules for CIA interrogations, said one current government official familiar with the transition. Upon review, Mr. Obama may decide he wants to keep the road open in certain cases for the CIA to use techniques not approved by the military, but with much greater oversight.

The intelligence-transition team is led by former National Counterterrorism Center chief John Brennan and former CIA intelligence-analysis director Jami Miscik, say officials close to the matter. Mr. Brennan is viewed as a potential candidate for a top intelligence post. Ms. Miscik left amid a slew of departures from the CIA under then-Director Porter Goss.

Advisers caution that few decisions will be made until the team gets a better picture of how the Bush administration actually goes about gathering intelligence, including covert programs, and there could be a greater shift after a full review.

The Obama team plans to review secret and public executive orders and recent Justice Department guidelines that eased restrictions on domestic intelligence collection. “They’ll be looking at existing executive orders, then making sure from Jan. 20 on there’s going to be appropriate executive-branch oversight of intelligence functions,” Mr. Brennan said in an interview shortly before Election Day.

The early transition effort is winning praise from moderate Democrats. “He’s surrounded himself with excellent people — an excellent bipartisan group,” said Rep. Jane Harman, a California Democrat who is chairwoman of the House homeland-security subcommittee on intelligence.

Civil-liberties and human-rights advocates, who helped Mr. Obama win election, are seeking both a reversal of Bush administration policies and expanded investigations into possible illegal actions when the administration sought to track down terrorists after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“We need to understand what happened,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington office.

Most of those being discussed as candidates for director of national intelligence and director of the CIA have staked out a middle ground between safeguarding civil liberties and aggressively pursuing nontraditional adversaries.

Mr. Brennan is a leading contender for one of the two jobs, say some advisers. He declined to comment on personnel matters. Gen. James L. Jones, a former North Atlantic Treaty Organization commander; Thomas Fingar, the chief of analysis for the intelligence director; Joan A. Dempsey, who served in top intelligence and Pentagon posts; former Rep. Tim Roemer of Indiana, who served on the 9/11 Commission; and Ms. Harman have also been mentioned. Ms. Harman has also been cited as a potential secretary of homeland security.

“I’m very flattered that some folks somewhere think I would be qualified for a number of positions,” she said. “But I’m also looking forward to an eighth term in Congress working on many of these issues.”

None of the others could be reached for comment.

Another option for Mr. Obama would be to retain current intelligence Director Mike McConnell, who has said he would stay on for a reasonable time until a successor is named. CIA Director Michael V. Hayden also is open to considering an extension of his time in office, according to a senior intelligence official.

However, Mr. Obama voted against Mr. Hayden’s nomination as CIA director to signal his frustration with the administration’s warrantless-surveillance program, which Mr. Hayden helped launch as National Security Agency director.

Write to Siobhan Gorman at siobhan.gorman@wsj.com

Demand Nassau County Drop Charges Against Hempstead 15

Posted in Barack Obama by allisonkilkenny on November 10, 2008

ivaw-1Call the Nassau County D.A. and demand they drop charges. 516-571-3800 

Background:

HEMPSTEAD, NY — Ten members of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) and five of their civilian supporters will be arraigned here Monday, November 10th for “Disorderly Conduct” stemming from arrests at a non-violent demonstration at Hofstra University during the final presidential debate.

The peaceful demonstration, designed to force veterans’ issues into the campaign spotlight, was responded to with police brutality resulting in serious injuries to one Iraq veteran when he was trampled by a police horse that charged onto a sidewalk.

IVAW’s Nick Morgan suffered a shattered cheek bone, among other injuries, after he was pulled to the ground by police and stepped on by one of their horses. He is still undergoing a series of reconstructive surgeries to repair damage done by the Nassau County Police Department.

It remains unclear how the entirety of the Hempstead 15 will plead to charges Monday, but one member, Sgt. Matthis Chiroux, vowed never to submit to police brutality or the infringement of his constitutional rights to peacefully assemble.

“The near killing of a veteran on a sidewalk is fine, but peacefully assembling to have grievances redressed by our leaders is disorderly? I don’t think so, America,” said Chiroux. “I will fight this to the bitter end to ensure our names are cleared and members of the NCPD are held accountable for their crimes against veterans and the U.S. Constitution.”

Supporters of the Hempstead 15 will begin assembling at 8 a.m. Monday at the First District Court of Nassau County located at 99 Main St., Hempstead, NY. The arraignment hearing is scheduled to begin at nine.

For more information or to arrange coverage, contact Jose Vasquez at 917-587-3334 or jose@ivaw.org.

——————
VIDEO OF HOFSTRA ACTION AND POLICE BRUTALITY:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HvV_6OoqhVw&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eupU-StpCqM&watch_response

NAOMI WOLF INTERVIEWS MATTHIS CHIROUX ABOUT HOFSTRA ACTION:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahP4Y-8_JgY

Yes We Can ________

Posted in Barack Obama by allisonkilkenny on November 9, 2008

319193018v1_350x350_frontIt’s a new day and a new slogan for Obama supporters. Overnight, the infamous “Yes We Can” transformed into “Yes We Did.” Voters proclaimed it from their Facebook statuses, their Twitter updates, and I even saw the affirmation branded across the chest of a baby’s jumper.

A strange thing happens when you ask an Obama supporter what the subject of their slogan entails. What did they do? Most reply that the “Did” means collectively supporting and electing the first African-American president. Anyone with a beating heart knows this is indeed a momentous occasion, and it’s very moving to see relatives of MLK celebrating the evolution in American society.

But by that definition of the “Did,” the journey is over. Yes We Did Elect A Black President. For some, the slogan means Yes We Did Elect Someone Better Than Bush. True, but by that definition, John McCain would have been better than George Bush, and I like to give Obama supports more credit than assuming they would vote for the lesser of two evils.

Other Obama supporters claim a massive overhaul of the executive agenda is their “Did.” And early signs are encouraging with the Obama camp claiming they’re ready to reverse the Bush administration’s stacks of ill-conceived executive orders. However, there is no collective citizen mandate rumbling from the people to help guide Obama’s fledgling White House.

If the people aren’t asking anything of Obama, then he owes them nothing in return. That’s like you right now being pissed at me for not having mailed you twenty dollars. You didn’t ask me for money, so why should I have sent you anything? (I’m not giving you money.)

Yes We Did What? Elect Barack Obama on good faith alone? It appears Obamanites think their journey is over, and that good people are at the helm, and all will be well.

But Obama is indebted to Wall Street for about $9.5 million. That amount of cash transforms into favors once your guy gets elected. Obama will be hesitant to strongly regulate the billions of bailout dollars if the people he’s dealing out the cash to are his donation buddies. On day one, Wall Street will thrust a litany of demands before president Obama, but the American people will not be represented in the Oval Office. Yes We Did Leave Our President with the Wolves.

Others claim the “Did” is a movement toward universal health care. It’s totally illogical to assume Obama will defy his insurance company friends and his past rhetoric, and suddenly adopt single-payer health care. Thousands of physicians have already gone on record to say that Obama’s idea for a hybrid of private health insurance plans and government subsidies will not work, and in fact has already failed in Oregon, Minnesota, Washington and several other states, including Massachusetts, whose second go-round at incremental reform is already failing.

It’s not enough to know in the warmest places of your little hearts that Obama really is a good man, and he wants to end Americans’ suffering. The American people have to swiftly demand single-payer health care, or the insurance companies will greet Obama at the White House and quickly neuter any plans for universal health care coverage.

Yes We Did Elect a Good Man. President-elect Obama does seem like a decent guy, and a good family man, but the government system doesn’t care if he’s a good man. It’s impossible for Obama to keep his fingers on the pulse of the nation when he’s living in a severed limb like Washington. It will take an engaged citizenry living in the real, breathing world to help him fight every step of the way.

Now is the time to outline a plan for the Big Four, four ultra-important demands that need to be addressed within the first 100 days. I would suggest something like: universal health care, strong regulation of the bailout cash, ending the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan (enough of this Afghanistan is the “good war” silliness,) and serious movements toward building a green economy and ending our dependency on foreign oil.

Google the issue nearest and dearest to your heart, find a local group that shares your agenda, and get together. Your strength is in numbers. If you’re not really the go-out-and-change-the-world type, just add your name as a contribution, or open your wallet to an already established Progressive group like November5.org.

It’s not enough to simply watch over president Obama, either. As director Eugene Jarecki explains, the three branches of government are like the stand-off in a Quentin Tarantino film with each body aiming a gun at someone else. It’s not enough to change one part. We have to change them all. Obamanites must also monitor the behavior of their Congressional representatives and put pressure on them to implement the Big Four.

If all of this sounds like a lot of work, it’s because it is. But that’s the point. Democracy is a constant battle to suppress the evil motives of corrupt politicians. Or, in the words of our beloved Dubya: “If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I’m the dictator.”

He will be missed.

Add your voice to the Yes We Are forces. Yes We Are Living Wage Warriors. Yes We Are Congress Watchdogs. Stay alert, engaged, and don’t be afraid to offer Obama some tough love. He can take it. He’s already asking for help with his Change.gov website, so get working.

This is an exciting time. Unlike the bullheaded asshole playing Snood in the White House for the past eight years, Barack Obama is an intelligent, reasonable, open politician that we have the chance of influencing if we are at the negotiation table alongside Big Business. But we have to demand our seat the table. No one is going to come hand it to us.

So I would suggest the Yes We Did camp change their slogan to Yes We Will Be, or Yes We Are, but they can’t quit yet.

Welcome?

Posted in Barack Obama, politics by allisonkilkenny on November 8, 2008

I’m a bit of a statistics nerd, so I like to keep track of how people find my website. Recently, I’ve noticed disturbing patterns in the searches bringing people to my site.

Let me know if I’m being overly paranoid, or if I should officially greet my loyal following of clit-sucking racists.

PS: This is somewhat tongue-in-cheek. I’m sure they’ve come across my blog by accident or out of some angry desire to read what the enemy is writing. Still, WELCOME REDNECKS! 

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