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Monday, December 15, 2014

Many stories, one theme: Us Versus Them

The above video from Max Blumenthal is important for a number of reasons. In the first part, he talks about his travels in Germany, where he had to deal with being called an "anti-Semite" by the offspring of Nazis. Later in the presentation, he talks about the Weisenthal Center's opposition to a law which would have forbade American aid the neo-Nazi organizations.

Re-read the preceding sentence over and over until the full implications sink in.

You can read more about the matter on Alternet. It all has to do with Ukraine, of course. Apparently, the New Cold War against Russia trumps all other concerns.

Why are Israelis fighting with the neo-Nazis? There was a time when I would have considered the preceding sentence to be unthinkable, yet there it is in Ha'aretz...

Count me among the thirteen percent. In a new Gallup poll, thirteen percent of Americans think that the United States of America is the world's biggest threat to peace.
Thirty-seven percent of Mexicans and 17 percent of Canadians view their neighboring country with suspicion on the world stage. A surprising 13 percent of American respondents rated their own nation the biggest threat to world peace as well.
Ed Snowden's lawyer. The lawyer's name is Wolfgang Kaleck, and he thinks Europe should embark on a new aggressive effort to prosecute US officials involved with torture.
“If these people enter European territory, they need to know that they’ll run into severe trouble,” he told the Guardian.
“We have to talk about command responsibility. It’s not about the rotten apples, the Lynndie Englands and agents on the ground only,” he said, referring to the former US army reservist who was one of 11 – low-ranking service people convicted over abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

“Those who came back from interrogation sessions with blood on their hands have to be prosecuted, but if it’s only them, then it would be a late victory for the Bush government. We need to investigate the architects and planners of this systematic torture,” Kaleck said.
Coalescence. Here's an excellent piece by Mark Bittman in the NYT on the conjunction of the income inequality movement and the black lives matter movement.
The root of the anger is inequality, about which statistics are mind-boggling: From 2009 to 2012 (that’s the most recent data), some 95 percent of new income has gone to the top 1 percent; the Walton family (owners of Walmart) have as much wealth as the bottom 42 percent of the country’s people combined; and “income mobility” now describes how the rich get richer while the poor ... actually get poorer.

The progress of the last 40 years has been mostly cultural, culminating, the last couple of years, in the broad legalization of same-sex marriage. But by many other measures, especially economic, things have gotten worse, thanks to the establishment of neo-liberal principles — anti-unionism, deregulation, market fundamentalism and intensified, unconscionable greed — that began with Richard Nixon and picked up steam under Ronald Reagan. Too many are suffering now because too few were fighting then.
I've made this last point many times. Whenever libertarians make their case to the younger generation, they always focus on the social and cultural issues. I call this GLIT -- the Great Libertarian Infiltration Tactic: Here's the deal, prole: You can have your pot and your gay marriage -- just let Jeff Bezos do whatever the hell he wants. He is GOD ON EARTH.

A growing number of people see GLIT as the gimmick it is. It's a way of distracting us from the simple fact that America worked better in the 1950s and 1960s, when we were less libertarian and more "socialist." (The "S" word was not used then, but that label is now routinely applied to anyone who wants to go back to the old system.)
Meanwhile, the credibility of those who argue that employers “can’t afford” to raise pay — McDonald’s paid its C.E.O. $9.5 million last year — is nil. For one thing, there are examples of profitable businesses that treat their employees decently, and even countries where fast-food workers can make ends meet. And for another, underpaying workers simply shifts the cost of supporting them onto public coffers. As Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont says, “In essence, taxpayers are subsidizing the wealthiest family in America.” That would be the Waltons. (Incredibly, many Republicans still want the working poor to pay more taxes.)
Those would be the libertarian wing. Libertarianism is the single most murderous, most brutalizing, most destructive force in the world today.

Unbelievable! Ferguson opened the eyes of many to the systematic robbery being perpetrated by the cops in many parts of the country. And now they plan to step it up...
For the current year, the city is budgeting for higher receipts from police-issued tickets.

“There are a number of things going on in 2014 and one is a revenue shortfall that we anticipate making up in 2015,” Blume said. “There’s about a million-dollar increase in public-safety fines to make up the difference.”

Revenue from violations, which already represents the city’s second-largest source of cash after sales taxes, will rise to 15.7 percent of receipts in fiscal 2015, from a projected 11.8 percent this year, he said.
This, too, is libertarianism in action.

The riff-raff. The one percenters are coming up with plans to strip-mine, and ultimately dispose of, those annoying poor people...
A study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition concluded that an average American renter would need to earn $18.92 per hour -- well over twice the minimum wage -- to afford a two-bedroom apartment. "In no state," their report says, "can a full-time minimum wage worker afford a one-bedroom or a two-bedroom rental unit at Fair Market Rent." Over one-eighth of the nation’s supply of low income housing has been permanently lost since 2001.

Little wonder that so many people are homeless: over 600,000 on any January night in the U.S., tens of thousands of children, tens of thousands of veterans, and one of every five suffering from mental illness.
The poor half of America is victimized by the banking industry, which takes an average of $2,412 each year from underserved households for interest and fees on alternative financial services; by rental centers that charge effective annual interest rates over 100 percent; by payday lenders whocharge effective annual interest rates of over 1,000 percent; and by the burgeoning prison industry, which charges prisoners for food and health care and phone calls and probation monitoring and anything else they can think of.
The U.S. court system is flooded with cases for minor infractions, including loitering charges reminiscent of the infamous Black Codes of post-slavery years. The buildup of arrests has added one out of every three U.S. adults to the FBI's criminal database.

The poor are criminalized for lying down or sleeping in public; for sharing food; for simply having nowhere to go.
Krugman on the end of Dodd-Frank. Krugman argues the regulation of insured banks is not the real issue, since AIG and Lehman were not insured. But
After all, even if you believe (in defiance of the lessons of history) that financial institutions can be trusted to police themselves, even if you believe the grotesquely false narrative that bleeding-heart liberals caused the financial crisis by pressuring banks to lend to poor people, especially minority borrowers, you should be against letting Wall Street play games with government-guaranteed funds. What just went down isn’t about free-market economics; it’s pure crony capitalism.

And sure enough, Citigroup literally wrote the deregulation language that was inserted into the funding bill.
"This, too, is libertarianism in action."

About as much as Obama's drive into Syria is progressive in nature.
While you caught the Citigroup derivative deregulation provision in the Cromnibus bill, you missed the Kline-Miller amendment that guts ERISA protections for already-earned pension benefits. Once Obama signs it (and you know he will, because he's got his own retirement to think of, suckers), retirees will lose statutory protection for current benefits (meaning their pensions can be cut unilaterally, with no recourse).

Another fine piece of "bipartisan" legislation brought to you by the Uniparty!
JB: Oh yes it IS Libertarianism in action!
Exactly Joseph, i didn't want to go find the link; and Obama calls himself progressive too, right before asking to invade Syria. A naming of oneself doesn't make the identity real, or the extrapolation concrete.
You think the current writers at Hit and Run would say, "yea, great idea" there? Hell no they wouldn't. It's right there in the article. And yet something gets pulled up from 30-40 years ago in association is supposed to be some sort of damning evidence of all things libertarian? It's just lazy pedestrian slander with tribalisitic partisan flavors of meme to enhance the crowd.
Just some feedback on the terror incident here in Oz.

Manteghi Bourjerdi (AKA Sheik Man Haron Monis) was a sick individual, on bail despite being charged with accessory to the murder of his ex wife and setting her on fire, hand delivering offensive letters to widows of fallen Australian soldiers calling into question their role in Iraq and Afghanistan, and 40 counts of sexual assault. He was an Iranian refugee, a Shia who would have been killed on sight by Sunni ISIS. This was about a disturbed nut job, not an Islamic terrorist.

There has been one very good outcome. Someone started a hashtag and a social movement called I'll ride with you, offering to travel with Muslims who may feel under threat from popular backlash. It's good to see ordinary people have their heads screwed on right when it counts. Generally, the nation -- Muslims and non-Muslims -- have closed ranks. Nice to see.
Lucy Steigerwald with a nicer response than I can manage:
And much more representative of modern day libertarians than some reason article from 40 years ago.

She says something that is spot on too, I think of you too Joseph, and that is:" The problem is top-down and bottom-up, but since libertarians (and some conservatives) tend to mention the federal connection, progressives feel threatened and need to undermine them."

Not a comment, but a question. If Israel is the most vile, despicable country that exists, why is that? Is it A. Because Jews as a race are inherently evil and inferior (the Hitler approach), B. Because Judaism itself is inherently evil (the Shahak approach), C. The culture of Israel is evil as a result of the persecution visited upon them throughout history, sort of an abused child syndrome theory (in which case, of course, it should not ever allow Palestinians power over them since the Palestinians, having been tormented by the Jews, would no doubt be overly cruel to them) or D. Something else, which would be...what?
Polling tends to reveal that the majority of Americans support "socialist" economic policies. But neither of the two political parties care a whit about the voters, they are beholden to their funders. Libertarian nostrums on economics are promoted by the funders of the two political parties, they do not represent mainstream thinking in the public at large.

Past that, progressive candidates have to become sharper in their analysis and less defensive in response to typical criticism (i.e. "tax and spend"). But, even if they do, the message can be easily lost in a flood of attack ads. The Supreme Court's campaign spending rulings are the ultimate trump card.
"Libertarianism is the single most murderous, most brutalizing, most destructive force in the world today."

Saying it don't make it so. To make the claim it's the worst force in the world you have more explaining to do. Explain to a Libyan whose university was burned down by Al Qaeda why Ron Paul is worse than Hillary.-
"...Israel is the most vile, despicable country that exists...". I re-read this entire post joseph, and I couldn't find this statement anywhere.
The workforce in the country was also half of what it was now with most women working (and not having their labor taxed) in the home. I wonder what your thoughts are on this, Joseph, and I say that as someone that fully believes women should have the opportunity to work if they so wish. I'm not sure that it's an ideal situation, but I don't think it's possible to put that genie back in the bottle either.
@Propertius 1:37

We're headed for a world of hurt. Banks can inflate the housing bubble to gamble with derivatives using our savings and pension funds. With new laws the casino banks can harvest our pensions and savings to cover their losses. The US insurance of depositor savings can only cover billions while the deposits to be covered amount to many trillions. If the banks crash then everybody loses everything... pensions and savings. What a dark distopian future lies ahead, a very near future it seems.
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