Thursday, May 7, 2009

Phony Liberals

Something smells at Whole Foods by Sharon Smith at

There was a time in decades past when liberalism was defined in part by its principled defense of the right to collective bargaining. That liberal tradition was buried by the market-driven neoliberal agenda over the last three decades, allowing companies like Whole Foods to posture as progressive organizations when their corporate policies are based upon violating one of the most basic of civil rights: the right of workers to organize and bargain collectively. Indeed, Whole Foods has ridden its progressive image to absorb its smaller competitors and emerge as a corporate giant.

As the Texas Observer argued recently, "People shop at Whole Foods not just because it offers organic produce and natural foods, but because it claims to run its business in a way that demonstrates a genuine concern for the community, the environment and the 'whole planet,' in the words of its motto. In reality, Whole Foods has gone on a corporate feeding frenzy in recent years, swallowing rival retailers across the country...The expansion is driven by a simple and lucrative business strategy: high prices and low wages."

Indeed, Whole Foods now stands as the second largest anti-union retailer in the U.S., beaten only by Wal-Mart. Most of Whole Foods' loyal clientele certainly would--and should--shudder at the comparison.

BTW, Whole Foods is one of the companies working hard to fight EFCA.

It doesn't matter what clothes you wear to a business meeting. It doesn't matter if you wear shorts and hiking boots to a business meeting instead of a suit and tie, if the result of the meeting is still the downgrading of employee health care and fighting hard to deny the employees the basic human right to organize and collectively bargain together.

The Mad Men did well

The Mad Men did well by John Pilger via SocialistWorker.

One of those brilliant John Pilger pieces where if I start quoting it, I'll quote the whole dang thing. Or else fear I've left off something important. Highly recommended that you click the link and go read the whole thing.

It is not surprising that the polls are showing that a growing number of Americans believe they have been suckered--especially as the nation's economy has been entrusted to the same fraudsters who destroyed it. Lawrence Summers, Obama's principal economic adviser, is throwing $3 trillion at the same banks that paid him more than $8 million last year, including $135,000 for one speech. Change you can believe in.

To me, the question of the day is what is the left going to do with all of these 'growing number of Americans' who 'believe they have been suckered'. What Brand Obama showed us all to clearly is that these people desperately want change. All they had to do was to bundle up a young politician and have him say the words 'Change' and 'Hope' repetitively, and the people flocked to him.

They didn't flock to Obama because he'd been the leader of a movement for a generation and had thus earned people's trust. They flocked to him because they desperately want change and any bit of hope they can cling to.

So, what's the left going to do? The stage has been set. The people are desperate for hope and change. The people feel suckered that they haven't gotten it from Obama like they feel they were promised. So what's the left going to do?

The right knows this is a very dangerous time for them. Their flagship brand has been discredited so badly that the opportunists like Spectre who joined the party to obtain power are now leaving the party to retain power. Their flagship Republican brand would have a hard time getting elected as dog-catcher right now. And growing numbers of Americans are feeling suckered by Obama and the Democrats who are playing their role of stand-in replacements for the Republicans.

The stage is set for the American people to embrace a real alternative and real change. Of course, great effort will go into making sure this doesn't happen. The airwaves are full of cries of socialism at the most modest corporate-friendly reforms. Not so much to argue against those reforms, which will gladly be accepted if it limits the damage. No, those cries are part of the bigger picture to stave off any real change from the people.

Meanwhile, we see troops being deployed home and assigned to NorthCom. We see Brand Obama telling us that its vital to spy on the American people like never before. We see the Department of Fatherland Security churning out report after report defining anyone who isn't in on the scam as a dangerous 'extremist'. Their reports focus on groups that try to organize citizen opposition to corrupt government.

All of that should not scare us. Instead, it should be taken as a sign of the tremendous opportunity that is presenting itself. The people yearn for change. Only the left can provide that change, as all others only provide phony covers for more of the same. If there was ever a moment of for the left to be energetic, for the left to be unified, for the left to be working hard to claim back some of our constitutional freedoms, some of our economic freedoms, some of our rights to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, then this is the time.

What's the left going to do? What's the left doing in your area? Who's out and active? Who's timid and doing nothing? Who are supporting Obama just because he's not a Republican, and who's out really working and trying to seize the day? And if no one else is in your area, grab a friend and try to begin.

Police Powers

We are constantly told that we must give the police more powers. We are constantly told that we can of course trust the police to only use these powers to protect us, and that they'd never abuse those powers.

How's that working out?

Police prying into stars' data on

Law enforcement personnel looked up personal information on Patriots star Tom Brady 968 times - seeking anything from his driver's license photo and home address, to whether he had purchased a gun - and auditors discovered "repeated searches and queries" on dozens of other celebrities such as Matt Damon, James Taylor, Celtics star Paul Pierce, and Red Sox owner John Henry, said two state officials familiar with the audit.

The Criminal Offender Record Information system, with its massive databases of criminal records, driving histories, car ownership, and Social Security numbers, is intended to provide police and prosecutors with complete portraits of individuals who have been arrested or brought into the court system. Reports are available to other users such as landlords and some employers conducting background checks on prospective tenants and job seekers. Access is supposed to be restricted to authorized law enforcement users, who are specially trained.

Of course, investigators can check on famous names to see how often they've had their privacy violated. But, what about the next-door neighbors to these police officers? What about the guy who's trying to date some girl they like? Or some guy who crosses paths with one of these police officers and maybe gets into some conflict with them? How many other times and in how many other ways has this database been mis-used?

And of course, there's never in history been a corrupt officer who would access this data for others in return for payment. Anyone want to guess on how many times organized crime has accessed this database by paying a police officer to look up someone?

There are reasons why people have always felt that the best protection of the liberty of citizens is to prevent the police from collecting this data in the first place. Human nature being what it is, its a pretty sure bet that once the database is created that it will be mis-used.

And, if you read closely, its not just the police who have access to this. Its also 'landlords' and employers doing background checks. Hope you enjoy everyone in the world having access to lots of information about you that is in no way related to any criminal activity. Like what car you own. Like what your social security number is. Like where you live. Nice to know all that's out there the next time you steal a girl from some angry jerk.

More war, from the folks who brought you the last war ... the NY Times.

A Full-Court Press for Pakistan War by Chris Floyd at Counterpunch.

Follow the link to read the excellent article about the current propaganda wave being foisted upon the American people to justify yet more war ... this time in Pakistan.

Here's what struck me. The article quotes a NY Times article from an anonymous source inside the Taliban. The really strange part is that they refer to this anonymous person, who just happens to be saying everything Obama and the war-mongers want to hear, as a "Pakistani logistics tactician". What the heck is a 'logistics tactician'?

In military jargon, 'logistics' means supplies. The people involved in logistics are the people who make sure the soldiers have food, water, toilet paper, ammo etc. Translate it to 'supply sergeant' or 'supply officer', and you would be close.

In military jargon, a 'tactician' is the commander making combat decisions on a small scale in battles. If you watch old war movies, when the character says 'Joe, take three men and go around on the flank and hit them from over there', that's a tactician. Usually its a lower ranking officer like a lieutenant or a captain, or it could be an experienced sergeant leading his troops.

These seem to be two very different roles. The guy who brings toilet paper up to the troops at the front, and the guy who leads the troops at the front at the lowest levels of a battle. So, what the heck is a 'logistics tactician'? Does he send bowls of rice around the right flank to have the rice attack the enemy from over there?

Just in case there was some new military jargon I wasn't aware of, I typed "logistics tactician" into google. Every hit on the first two pages of results referred to this NY Times story. As near as I can tell, the NY Times is just making this up, and created this mumbo-jumbo, fancy sounding title for their anonymous source. Of course, if the job title for the anonymous source is something the NY Times has obviously just made up, then one has to wonder if they whole anonymous source was made up as well.

Remember, in the lead up to the Iraq War, the NY Times used the same sort of stories based on anonymous sources to pump up the war. We later learned that most of this came from Judy Miller sitting talking to Dick Cheney's staff.

IAEA detects highly enriched uranium ... in Egypt

High-enriched uranium traces found in Egypt: IAEA by Reuters

The key to this story is to notice how the IAEA detected this.

The report, which described global IAEA work in 2008 to verify compliance with non-proliferation rules, said the highly enriched uranium (HEU) traces turned up in environmental swipe samples taken at the Inshas nuclear research site in 2007-08.

The HEU was discovered alongside particles of low-enriched uranium (LEU), the type used for nuclear power plant fuel.

The IAEA took 'environmental swipe samples' during an inspection, and analysis of those turned up the presence of highly enriched uranium. The Egyptians say that they believe it came from "contaminated radio-isotope transport containers"

Now, think a bit about Iran. IAEA inspectors there have never detected highly-enriched uranium in Iran. The war-mongers constantly tell us that Iran has a nuclear bomb program despite this. From this article, we know how hard it would be to hide such work. The IAEA inspectors, through simple little swipe samples, are able to detect the presence of highly enriched uranium. Their tests can pick up and identify traces of this, even if it is in minute quantities from contanimated transport containers.

Yet, the war-mongers would want us to believe that Iran can be producing the many pounds of the same HEU that would be needed for nuclear weapons without these same inspectors using the same tests detecting even a whiff of it.

Yeah, right. Just remember, the same war-mongers and the same media outlets were telling you that Iraq had nuclear weapons as well.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Too much ....

On ....

US, Iraq at Odds Over Extending Pullout

Surprise, surprise surprise. Obama's been acting like this agreement between Iraq and the US was non-existent since his inauguration. In all the 'debates' about Iraq in this administration, the fact that there is already a signed agreement with Iraq spelling out the pullback and withdrawal dates is never mentioned. Now Iraq expects the US to abide by this treaty. The Iraqis should come over here and talk to some of the surviving descendants of American Indians to get an idea on how much a treaty means to the US Gov.

Iraq Bombs May Slow U.S. Pullout as Splits Fuel Fresh Violence
The recent spate of bombings in Iraq means U.S. officials may have to keep troops there longer than they planned, and Iraqis may have to live with a higher level of violence than they wish.

Surprise, surprise, surprise. Even the slow pullout proposed by Obama might be given an excuse to be ignored. And interesting how the Iraqis don't get to decide on the 'level of violence' in their own country.

Israeli Military Exercise Over Gibraltar Raises Specter of Iran Strike

Israel continues to threaten to attack Iran. Remember, somewhere down below on this blog is an item with quotes from Obama officials who say their only concern is that this doesn't happen until they feel the time is right.

Gates plans to reassure allies on Iran outreach

In a sane world, the US would be trying to reassure people that there might not be another war, this time with Iran. But, in this world, Gates is over there 'reassuring' people that the US 'outreach' to Iran is doomed to fail.

"And I just think it's important to reassure our friends and allies in the region that while we're willing to reach out to the Iranians, as the president said, with an open hand, I think everybody in the administration, from the president on down, is pretty realistic and will be pretty tough-minded if we still encounter a closed fist."

As a side note, its interesting how much 'foreign policy' the military conducts these days. Isn't it the President and the State Dept that should be conducting foreign policy?

Officials: Gitmo court system likely to stay open

You didn't really think Obama was going to change very much from what Bush was doing, did you? And, remember the story from last week, that the US is now saying there are 50 to 100 people held at Gitmo that they can't put on trial and can't release. There's a fundamentally un-American idea for you, holding people without giving them a trial.

Calif.'s Harman Rails Against Wiretapping That Ensnared Her

Here's a funny one for you. In the funny-ironic category. The Democratic Congress lady who supported every Bush (and now Obama) initiative to spy on American citizens is upset that she was spied upon. Remember, as ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, Harman (like Speaker Pelosi), would have been briefed on the issues like spying and torture by the Bush White House. She never complained at what was being done, never worked to stop it, and consistently worked to support it. But, now she's upset that she wasn't immune to what she so enthusiastically approved for the rest of us.

Robert Fisk’s World: Right to the very end in Iraq, our masters denied us the truth

The sentence ‘millions of Iraqis now live free of oppression’ is pure public relations

At least as a Brit, Mr. Fisk can speak of 'the end' of his country's involvement in Iraq. Here in America, there is no end in sight. Obama's weak withdrawal promises still planned on leaving many more troops in Iraq than the UK ever had there to begin with. And, as you saw above, the US is now saying that we now have excuses not to even follow through on Obama's tepidly slow withdrawal. Short of a revolt of the American people in the 2010 elections, the US will still have many, many troops in Iraq at the end of Obama's term.

Gates optimistic on 2010 US defense budget success

Gee, I'm sure he is. Since the Democrats have approved every one of Bush's military budgets in the past, and are proposing and pushing their own increases in military spending. Even in a depression and with budget deficits approaching 2 trillion dollars, the modern Democrats say we have to spend more and more and more on 'defense'. I wonder why Gates is optimistic?

Gates told CNN that he has been surprised by the limited scope of criticism aimed so far at his recommendations for the Pentagon budget for fiscal year 2010, which begins Oct. 1, and had heard some "important voices raised in support."

"I'm relatively optimistic, actually," he said in the interview, which was taped last week. "I think we've presented, as one news magazine referred to it, a radically sane set of proposals. They don't represent a cut, and where we have eliminated one program, you have added to others."

Israel 'ups questioning of Gaza patients'

It said the Shin Beth had interrogated minors, photographed patients against their will; harassed, cursed and intimidated patients during questioning; and returned to Gaza patients who did not cooperate.

People seeking to leave Gaza for medical treatment find themselves "between a rock and a hard place" as they also face pressure from the Hamas rulers of Gaza, the group said.

Israel continues to show what a kind, wonderful humanitarian country they are. First they blockade Gaza and thus deny people medical care they need. Then, they target the clinics and the hospitals during their 'war'. Then, when people are forced to beg Israel to be able to travel somewhere else for medical care they need, this is how they are treated.

Gaza costs Israel its reputation for press freedom

Israel had a reputation for 'press freedom'? Well, I guess compared to even worse places. But, for years, any reports you've seen from Israel have been cleared by government censors. Just like Saddam used to do in Iraq. And its always been a sure bet that no Isreali media would publish something the Israeli military didn't want published.

And, this study is from "Freedom House", which is a highly-biased right-wing group in the US. If the crazy right-wingers are starting to criticize Israel, then ....

Over on CounterPunch ....

The AIPAC Spy Case by James Abourezk.

Note very carefully that while the Bush administration was willing to pursue espionage charges related to AIPAC, the Obama administration quickly dropped those charges during its first 100 days in office. Well, I guess its a change. For an administration that's offered remarkably little change, that's something. Of course, Obama was always rather vague on which direction he would be changing in.

So lets see, if you try to give money to a Palestinian charity, you'd better do a lot of investigation of that group because the US DOJ will threaten to charge you with supporting terrorism if you give to a group that knows another group that's connected to some 'wrong' group. But, an Israeli lobbying group can pass around top-secret US documents and there are no charges filed.

This is why the Founders felt that a nation that was a 'rule of law', instead of rule by imperial fiat, was an important guarantee of liberty. What a quaint notion, that the law should apply equally to everyone.

Obama's War Budget by Jeff Leys.

Details on Obama's off-budget(just like Bush), supplemental, supposedly 'emergency' (too make constitutional) war budget request. Obama want's $200 billion more for the wars. That's $75 billion more for the remainder of budget year 2009 (now to Oct), and $130 billion more for this year.

Gawd I'm glad we elected the Democrats to stop these wars so we can use this $200 billion instead to help our own citizens in this crashing economy.

From Huffington Post ...
Why Are Bankers Still Being Treated As Beltway Royalty?

Because dear Arianna, that Democratic Party you so gladly helped into power is bought and owned by the bankers. They pumped $20 million or more into Obama's accounts, and who knows how much into other Dem campaigns. Arianna, what the heck did you expect? That Obama and the Democrats would then turn around and bite the hand that's given them millions? What a fool!

Of course, we'll see fake progressives like Arianna make some noise in opposition about this. That is from now until 4 to 6 months before the next election. Then they'll go into full campaign mode telling us how we need to elect the banker's candidates next time as well.