Saturday, February 19, 2011

Time to Topple Corporate Dictators

Normally, I only excerpt other pieces, and provide a link to the full piece. But, what Mr. Nader is saying now is too important to rely on people following a link .... so , here it is in its entirety.

In the Public Interest
Time to Topple Corporate Dictators
By Ralph Nader

The 18 day non-violent Egyptian protests for freedom raise the question: is America next? Were Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine around, they would likely say “what are we waiting for?” They would be appalled by the concentration of economic and political power in such a few hands. Remember how often these two men warned about concentrated power.

Our Declaration of Independence (1776) listed grievances against King George III. A good number of them could have been made against “King” George W. Bush who not only brushed aside Congressional War-making authority under the Constitution but plunged the nation through lies into extended illegal wars which he conducted in violation of international law. Even conservative legal scholars such as Republicans Bruce Fein and former Judge Andrew Napolitano believe he and Dick Cheney still should be prosecuted for war and other related crimes. The conservative American Bar Association sent George W. Bush three “white papers” in 2005-2006 that documented his distinct violations of the Constitution he had sworn to uphold.

Here at home, the political system is a two-party dictatorship whose gerrymandering results in most electoral districts being one-party fiefdoms. The two Parties block the freedom of third parties and independent candidates to have equal access to the ballots and to the debates. Another barrier to competitive democratic elections is big money, largely commercial in source, which marinates most politicians in cowardliness and sinecurism.

Our legislative and executive branches, at the federal and state levels, can fairly be called corporate regimes. This is corporatism where government is controlled by private economic power. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt called this grip “fascism” in a formal message to Congress in 1938.

Corporatism shuts out the people and opens governmental largesse paid for by taxpayers to insatiable corporations.

Notice how each decade the bailouts, subsidies, hand-outs, giveaways, and tax escapes for big business grow larger. The word “trillions” is increasingly used, as in the magnitude of the rescue by Washington of the Wall Street crooks and speculators who looted the peoples’ pensions and savings.

It is not as if these giant companies demonstrate any gratitude to the people who save them again and again. Instead, U.S. companies are fast quitting the country in which they were chartered and prospered. These corporations, which were built on the backs of American workers, are shipping millions of jobs and whole industries to repressive foreign regimes abroad, such as China.

Over 70 percent of Americans in a September 2000 Business Week poll said corporations had “too much control over their lives.” It’s gotten worse with the last decade’s corporate corruption and crime wave.

Wal-Mart imports over $20 billion a year in products from sweatshops in China. About a million Wal-Mart workers make under $10.50 per hour before deductions—many in the $8 an hour range. While Wal-Mart’s CEO makes about $11,000 a hour plus benefits and perks.

This scenario has metastasized through the economy. One in three workers in the U.S. makes Wal-Mart level wages. Fifty million people have no health insurance and every year about 45,000 die because they cannot afford diagnosis or treatment. Child poverty is climbing as household income falls. Unemployment and underemployment are near 20% levels. The federal minimum wage, adjusted for inflation since 1968, would be $10.00 per hour now. Instead, it is $7.25.

Yet one percent of the richest Americans have financial wealth equivalent to the bottom ninety-five percent of the people. Corporate profits and compensation of corporate bosses are at record levels. While companies, excluding financial firms, are sitting on two trillion dollars in cash.
Sorry to interrupt Mr. Nader, But the richest one percent are also those who almost entirely fund political campaigns in this country. From

Total US Population (estimate) = 296,410,404
Pct of US adult population giving $200 = 0.36%
Pct of US female adult population giving $200 = 0.19%
Pct of US male adult population giving $200 = 0.46%
Pct of US adult population giving $2,400 = 0.06%
Now that you can connect the dots between who pays for the campaigns and who's getting all the benefits, ie, the same people, back to Mr. Nader ....
On February 7, President Obama showed us where the power is by walking across LaFayette Park from the White House to the headquarters of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Before a large audience of CEOs, he pleaded for them to invest more in jobs in America. Imagine, CEOs of pampered, privileged mega-companies often on welfare and in trouble with the law sitting there while the President curtsied.

With Bill Clinton in the Nineties, corporate lobbies tightened their grip on our country by greasing through Congress both NAFTA and the World Trade Organization agreements that subordinated our sovereignty and workers to the global government of corporations.

All this adds to the growing sense of powerlessness by the citizenry. They experience hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths and many more injuries every year in the workplace, the environment, and the marketplace. Massive budgets and technologies do not go to reduce these costly casualties, instead they go to the big business of exaggerated security threats.

While the ObamaBush deficit-financed wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have been destroying those nations, our public works here, such as mass transit, schools and clincs crumble for lack of repairs. Foreclosures keep rising.

The debt servitude of consumers is stripping them of control of their own money as fine print contracts, credit ratings and credit scores tighten the noose on family budgets.

Half of democracy is showing up. Too many Americans, despairingly, are not “showing up” at the polls, at rallies, marches, courtrooms or city council meetings. If “we the people” want to reassert our proper constitutional sovereignty over our country—we can start by amassing ourselves in public squares and around the giant buildings of our rulers.

In a country that has so many problems it doesn’t deserve and so many solutions that it doesn’t apply; all things are possible when people begin looking at themselves for the necessary power to produce a just society.

Tell your friends to visit Nader.Org and sign up for E-Alerts.


Ever wonder why the left is so divided ... Cointelpro goes private

How big business subverts democracy from the Guardian (UK)

But last week's spectacular series of leaks, counter-leaks and counter-counter-leaks revealed (and continues revealing) a disdain for free speech that shocked even us. It turns out that a consortium of private "cyber-security" firms were developing a $2m proposal to use a variety of sophisticated disinformation techniques to destroy the reputations of Chamber opponents, including public-interest, consumer-advocate and worker-rights groups such as US Chamber Watch and Change to Win. (The same firm was reportedly also proposing, in a presentation for Bank of America, a plot to destroy WikiLeaks, and to "neutralise" constitutional scholar Glenn Greenwald of

and then ....

More specifically, the firm proposed to (according to a leaked document) "create a false document, perhaps highlighting periodical financial information, and monitor to see if US Chamber Watch acquires it". To help make this happen, they'd "create a fake insider persona and generate communications" with Change to Win, a labour group the firm theorised might be allied to Chamber Watch. Maybe they'd even "create two fake insider personas, using one as leverage to discredit the other while confirming the legitimacy of the second". But it didn't stop there: the security firms proposed passing off the faked documents they'd created as the fabrication of Change to Win.

We wish we could credit these jokesters with some originality – especially given the fees they were planning to charge – but there's actually nothing new here. These dirty tricks are straight out of the playbook of COINTELPRO, the FBI's notorious 1960s programme of psychological warfare that, among other things, planted false reports and forged letters to destroy reputations. Lately, COINTELPRO tactics have been making a comeback on the right, inspiring a whole new generation of "dirty tricks" operators, along with their patrons in the rightwing media and their sponsors in Congress. But it isn't just "gross and offensive" kids (Andrew Breitbart's words) who are taking up old rightwing techniques. It's actually a very big business.

Two things to note, and one thing to take away from this.

Note 1 .... This is not published in an American newspaper. That's neither a surprise nor a coincidence. And what it should tell any thinking person is to not to give a single dime to an American paper until they do start to run stories like this. They used to. But not any more. Which is why I don't waste my time reading anything but the latest Nuggets score ... and even when it comes to sports, the local paper sucks. If I listened to those idiots, I'd be surprised Carmelo wasn't traded to New Jersey months ago.

Note 2 .... You will see no government prosecution of these activities. All of this is occurring with the blessing of the US government. This is of course because almost every Congressperson, Senator and even the President is bought by the same people this 'security firm' is pitching their services to. Most of the employees of such a firm were trained by your US tax dollars, and the US government, nor any state attorney general, seems to have any problems with them spying on private citizens and subverting American democracy.

And, what to take away from this. DON'T STOP ORGANIZING. You will of course run into forged documents and smear campaigns and subversive 'volunteers' who always seem to cause more trouble and fights than provide any help. If for instance, the local Green Party has people who want to start fights with anyone who tries to be active, and then spends most of their time trying to figure out which Democrats to endorse, then you've probably found them. Don't worry about it. Just go around them.

Take note of the people who are on your side. Take note of the people who help you out. Then stick with those people. When you get someone who's always causing trouble, just try to ignore them. Slide them out of the loop, and work with the people who actually help.

But, no matter what. Don't stop organizing. Don't get frustrated when your efforts are thwarted by the millions of dollars available from corporate America and from the corporate political parties. Just note who your real friends are, and move on. And keep on organizing. That's the key. Never stop organizing.

COINTELPRO has never gone away. Its just been privatized. That's ok, as long as we realize what's really going on when some agent provocateur seems to scuttle a bunch of hard organizing work with these sorts of dirty tricks. Just notice who were your friends, just notice who was being useful and helpful, and stick with them no matter what forged documents come up nor what the spies within will try to do to separate you. Stick with the people who help. Ignore, and move past, the people who don't.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Getting Weirder All the Time

OK, after seeing that its the Republicans, and especially the Tea Party Republicans who are trying to oppose our massive defense spending (see last post), now comes the latest installment of the World Keeps Getting Weirder.

Republican oppositon to Patriot Act increases, Democrat opposition decreases

In an interesting twist following Congress' historical failure to renew the Patriot Act last week, Democrats are migrating to the bill while Republican opposition is gaining. Opposition to the bill by Republicans has nearly tripled since last year's vote.

So, lets see what's going on.

We know voting Democrat didn't repeal the Patriot Act. The Democrats have had the majority of both the House and the Senate since 2006, yet never pushed such a bill. And, now, its a Democrat President and the Democrat in Congress who seem to want to see the Patriot Act extended.

Meanwhile, its the Republicans, and especially the newly elected Tea Party Republicans, who are keeping President Obama and the Democrats in Congress from extending Dubya's Patriot Act.

Would seem to be a surprise, unless you remember almost every Democrat voted for the original Patriot Act, with Sen. Feingold being the noticeable exception.

Gee, one would almost think that to end the war, or to get rid of anti-American "Patriot Act", the thing to do would be to vote Tea Party. The answer sure as heck wasn't to vote Democrat.

Except, this is an old an familiar pattern. The party in power alway favors things like expansive powers to spy on and arrest the citizens of the free and democratic country. The party out of power is always aghast at these awful acts of tyranny. Back when the original Patriot Act was passed, it was proposed and backed by the Republicans, while the Democrats cried about how awful it was. Now, with the Democrats in power, its the Democrats who support it, and its the Republicans who cry about tyranny.

Unfortunately, this is only because the Republicans aren't in control of the executive branch. Let the Tea Party get elected to real power in the executive branch, and they'll become big fans of reading everyone's email, just like Obama is now, just like Dubya was before him.

That's been American politics since Ronald Reagan. Each party howls in opposition when not in power. Each party continues exactly the same when in power. No matter who is in power, the Patriot Act remains.

It does however get hilariously funny watching the people switch roles and script books after an election. So, suddenly its the partisans who think Dubya was a fantastic President who now work against renewing Dubya's Patriot Act because its now Obama, who promised to at least refine if not repeal the Patriot Act, who now is the biggest pusher to have it renewed.

Warning, watching American politics can cause naseau from the rapid switching of positions. If it makes you sick, you have two choices. Turn off and watch American Idol. Or, don't vote for the politicians who always have money, but who switch positions on a dime because they have no ideals. Somebody keeps electing these people.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A World Turned Upside Down.

Get old enough in this surrealistic world, and eventually it seems as if everything gets turned on its head. After all, its the Democrats who pretend to be anti-war, and to be the party one would expect to try to cut defense spending.

Yet, it appears that if you are a voter who wanted to see defense spending cut, the correct answer was really to support the Tea Party.

Tea Party declares war on military spending

If Republican icon Donald Rumsfeld is booed at CPAC, even the sacred cow of the defence budget could come under the knife

Wow, so its the conservative Tea Party types who boo Donald Rumsfeld. The Democrats would not do that. The Democrats would greet Mr. Rumsfeld with respectful applause. Then run to the floor of the Congress to vote for higher and higher defense spending ... just like they've done every session since taking control of the Congress in 2006.

No, its the Tea Party, the people who the left derides as right-wing crazies, who boo Donald Rumsfeld and then appear to be serious about acting to cut back on our ridiculous 'defense' spending where we spend more than the rest of the world combined.

Who'd have see that coming?

Well, I guess I was part-ways there. I'd been saying for years that a vote for the Democrats was a vote for more war and more and more money wasted on 'defense'. That much was obvious from their actions. All one had to do was to watch war funding bills and bigger and bigger defense budgets go sailing through the Congress that the Democrats have controlled since 2006 to understand that much.

But, who'd have thought that the correct answer to finally get a Congress that would start to make even minimal cuts to this bloated defense budget was to vote TEA PARTY?

Later this year, we'll probably get to see a fight between the House on one side, and Obama and the Democratic Senate on the other side. Because it appears that it will be the House, where the Tea Party has influence, that might act to cut defense spending. While it will be the Democrat controlled Senate and the Obama White House who will continue their fight of the last four years to spend more and more and more and more on the military.

Want to know the effect of this on our society? Try looking for a civil engineering job. The only ones that exist are military contractors. That's a direct result of Democratic policy of raising the defense budget at the expense of the health of our economy. When all the money goes to 'defense', then that's where all the jobs will be. We're not building anything at home right now, but you can go be a defense contractor in Afghanistan.

It also means we'll have lots of big tanks and fast bomber jets, but less money spent on stuff like new schools, new hospitals, and rebuilding the crumbling infrastructure of the nation. The next time a bridge falls down and kills people in an American city, or the next time a levee fails and an American city gets flooded, then go find a few of those multi-tens-of-million-dollar fighter-bomber jets and pat them. Because that'll be what we bought instead of spending the money to repair that bridge or that levee.

And now, it looks like the best hope of those who want to see this change is to support the frackin Tea Party. Especially since the anti-war left was revealed to be largely a fraud when they quit the fight the day this officially became the Democrat's wars. When there is absolutely nothing from the anti-war left in trying to really challenge these wars and these defense budgets by trying to get some power in the Congress, I guess the Tea Party might indeed be the best bet in the vacuum that leaves.

If you are on the left and you don't like me saying that it seems the best way to cut back on our bloated defense spending is to vote Tea Party, then maybe the dang left needs to get off its rear and start running some anti-war, anti-defense spending candidates of their own. Of course, to do that, they'd have to challenge the Democrats. The left seems incapable of doing that. Which means that for now, its the left and the Democrats who support higher defense spending, while its the Tea Party that's trying to reign that in even by just a little bit.

This world is getting crazier by the day.