Showing posts from February, 2010

Favorable Ratings of Labor Unions Plummet in US.

Not surprisingly the US has a low rate of unionization compared to many other countries. It seems that media hype about big labor driving up costs and overly rich pensions and benefits works to turn those lack such benefits to blame unions and look at them unfavorably. This will make things even more difficult for the working class in a time period when capital can use the recession and financial problems in some corporations to roll back wages and benefits that it took years of hard fought battles for the unions to win. Of course in some cases fat cat union bosses seem more interested in lining their own nests or furthering their own power rather than fighting for better conditions for their members. Even so it would make more sense for workers to join unions and improve them and their own situation rather than leave themselves vulnerable to whatever their bosses want.
Favorability Ratings of Labor Unions Fall Sharply

Favorable views of labor unions have plummeted since 200…

Wall Street Shifts Funding to Republicans

Many people who complain about how Wall Street is being bailed out by Obama and spending huge sums getting the financial system back in shape will now turn to the Republicans after Obama makes threatening noises about regulation which has thrown a scare into the Street. During the campaign Obama received lots of donations from Wall Street but now Wall Street is trying to take advantage of the backlash against Obama and will go back to feeding their traditional favorites the Republicans.

Wall Street shifting political contributions to Republicans

By Dan Eggen and Tomoeh Murakami Tse
Washington Post Staff Writer

Commercial banks and high-flying investment firms have shifted their political contributions toward Republicans in recent months amid harsh rhetoric from Democrats about fat bank profits, generous bonuses and stingy lending policies on Wall Street.

The wealthy securities and investment industry, for example, went from giving 2 to 1 to Democrats at the start of 2009 to providing almos…

House Abandons Intel Budget Vote over opposition to torture ban.

So let's get this straight. The Obama administration is opposed to torture and supposedly has outlawed it but it is not in favor of punishing anyone for using it! Maybe the US just opposes torture in principle but is not in favor of taking any measures that might actually discourage its use even if it is illegal.
News From - -

House Abandons Intel Budget Vote Over Opposition to Torture Ban

Posted By Jason Ditz
House Democrats stopped a vote last night over the $50 billion classified intelligence budget following growing opposition from Republicans and moderate Democrats to a provision which would have criminalized the torture of detainees.

Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI)The “Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Interrogation Act of 2010” specifically banned a long list of forms of abuse and torture, and threatened interrogators with 15 years in prison for violating the bans. Interrogators would face up to life in prison if they tortured the detainee to death.


Ahmed Chalabi Rides Again in Iraq

Ryan Crocker may be correct about Chalabi's motivation that he is an opportunist and a nationalist--although his nationalism is pro-Shia and anti Sunni it would seem. However, he seems to be more interested in his own political advantage rather than anything else and he has been consistently anti Baath party. This made him a darling of the US before the US invasion and occupation. He was one of the foremost purveyors of false intelligence about Weapons of Mass Destruction. Rather than being no one's agent Chalabi is an agent for whichever group can advance his own agenda. When he was the darling of the US he was probably also working with Iran. Now he also may be working with Iran. However, should allying with Iran prove a hindrance he will drop the relationship in a moment. If there were a game of survivor among politicians Chalabi would probably win a gold medal!
Ahmed Chalabi's renewed influence in Iraq concerns U.S.
By Ernesto Londoño and Leila Fadel
Washington Post Fo…

Who is afraid of Big Brother?

Very few it would seem at least if they are politicians. No doubt everyone will see this as directed against terrorists so it will be hunky dory. Apparently this is so routine that it does not even need debate. Authorities can demand to know what you read, and can keep you under surveillance even though there is nothing linking you to a terrorist organisation! All of this is just added in without any debate tacked on to a bill that has nothing to do with the Patriot Act. This is from
House Abandons Privacy Protections, Approves PATRIOT Act
Parts of Act Were Poised to Expire Sunday
by Jason Ditz,
The House of Representatives narrowly averted allowing the US Patriot Act to expire, abandoning all the proposed privacy provisions to the bill and approving it exactly as worded by the Senate in a vote earlier this week. Parts of Patriot Act would have expired Sunday, but passed through the Senate without debate.

The vote, incredibly enough titled the “Medicare Physician Payment R…

Tea Party People are well educated and reasonably well off.

So maybe this is a re-incarnation of the new leftists of the sixties as the new right of the new millenium. Anyway, it would seem as the short clip shows neither average Americans as far as education is concerned and are reasonably well off.

This is from the latimes.
Most 'tea party' followers are baby boomers reliving the '60s
A poll debunks assumptions about the movement, showing that it's largely middle-class, college-educated, white and male.
|By Jim Spencer and Curtis Ellis
Oceans of ink, terabytes of blog space and an eternity of television time have been devoted to the latest object of media fascination, the "tea party" movement. Now (finally!), a poll conducted by CNN gives us some hard data on the Tea Party Nation.

Neither "average Americans," as they like to portray themselves, nor trailer-park "Deliverance" throwbacks, as their lefty detractors would have us believe, tea partyers are more highly educated and wealthier than the rest…

Article by Michael Lebowitz on Socialism.

Lebowitz was in Venezuela for some time. In this article he discuses Vietnam as well which he visited recently. This is from the Socialistproject.Lebowitz is an emeritus professor of economics at Simon Fraser University in B.C. Canada.

The B u l l e t
Socialist Project • E-Bulletin No. 315
February 20, 2010


Socialism: the Goal,
the Paths and the Compass
[Presentation of “El Socialismo no CaedelCielo: UnNeuvoComienzo” at the 2010 Havana Book Fair, 18 February 2010.]

Michael A. Lebowitz
There's an old saying that if you don't know where you want to go, any road will take you there. As I've said on many occasions, this saying is mistaken. If you don’t know where you want to go, no road will take you there. In other words, you need an understanding of the goal. You need a vision for the future.

Marx had a very clear vision. It was a vision of a society which would permit the full development of human being…

Terrorism Law, the New McCarthyism

This law will have all sorts of repercussions. It is already creating difficulty for negotiations between the New People's Army the Communist Party of the Philippines and the Philippine government. The type of ridiculous outcomes of the law are obvious in the case of Retired Philippine General Raymundo Marque. He had visited the US several times but on one visit he was apprehended with his wife (who had actually come to the US for medical treatment) and eventually flown back to the Philippines. His crime was that he had associated with the New People's Army and even helped in negotiations for a peace agreement. Never mind he is a retired general in the Philippine armed forces or a business consultant for the Philippine National OIl company or that he had visited the US previously, he is on the list of people associated with terrorism.

Peninsula Peace and Justice Center

- Terrorism Law, the New McCart…

Jeff Huber: Marjah Madness

Huber is very critical of McChrystal's strategy and doubts that it will work. Certainly the Afghan forces did not really lead the Marjah assault but the US marines. Huber could have mentioned that the Afghan police are to take over security in time and they are even less battle ready or trustworthy than the Afghan armed forces. While there is no doubt that NATO forces will eventually gain control of Marjah they may face endless harassment. Marjah is just a prelude to trying to clear out Kandahar a far larger city and a much bigger job. There are quite a few US casualties already. The American people who are providing this cannon fodder may put political pressure on Obama to withdraw. Original - -

Marjah Madness

Posted By Jeff Huber

As journalist Gareth Porter said in a recent interview with Real News, Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s offensive in Marjah, Afghanistan, is "more of an effort to shape public opinion in the United States than to shap…

Juan Cole: Five questions for the Afghan Surge

As usual Juan Cole provides interesting and insightful commentary on events. He points out in his questions the great difficulties that the new Afghan policy poses. At the same time some of the important Taliban leaders have been captured in Pakistan. Cole thinks that NATO is doing better in Pakistan than in Afghanistan. However, this remains to be seen. Leaders can be replaced and there seems to be still plenty of violence in Pakistan, the Zardari government is weak and corrupt, and the Pakistanis are probably still more concerned about India than Islamic extremism. This is from juancole.

Monday, February 22, 2010
Five Questions for the Afghan Surge;
Or, Getting Past the Hype

Gen. David Petraeus, a straight shooter, admitted on Meet the Press Sunday that the Afghanistan War will take years and incur high casualties.. His implicit defense of President Obama from Dick Cheney on the issues of torture and closing Guantanamo will make bigger headlines, but sooner or later the American public…

Current Offensive Just First Step in Afghanistan

It is taking quite a while just to occupy all of Marja let alone set up some stable local government. The idea that the Afghan police can keep order is surely fantasy. They are often corrupt and hated by the local population. The local population may want the Taliban back and NATO out as the lesser of two evils. This is how the Taliban took control in the first place not because they were liked but because they could provide some peace and security. We will have to see but I expect that there will be continued harassment of NATO or Afghan authorities and many civilian deaths.
As this article points out Marjah is just the first step. It will be just the first of many drives in which there will be significant casualties for the US and other NATO allies. As the fall of the Dutch government shows, in many countries the Afghan mission is a death knell for governments that support the mission.
Many commentators have pointed out that the Afghan forces are not first and foremost in this…

Nothing is coming up Roses in Georgia

It seems that the revolutions fostered by the US around the Russian periphery are going awry. The Ukraine has already turned back towards Russia mainly because the Orange movement government was not able to improve economic conditions in the Ukraine significantly. Saakashvili in Georgia faces basically the same problem plus the fact that he lost out in his attempts to regain control of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Now it seems unlikely that they will ever rejoin Georgia however much Georgia complains about the situation. NATO may not be at all anxious to grant Georgia membership especially with Saakashvili at the helm. He himself faces mounting opposition which he is trying his best to crush. Original - -

Georgia: Nothing Is Coming Up Roses

Posted By Justin Raimondo

The Russo-Georgian war of 2008 provides the clearest current example of how war propaganda works – and how counter-propaganda can negate it and turn the tables on the War Party.

You’ll rec…

Joseph Palermo, A Hundred Years of War.

This is a very hard hitting article showing how in part actions by the US itself helped foster Islamic extremism. He might have mentioned the US support for jihad against the Evil Empire in Afghanistan as well! There is a lot of blowback involved in what is happening. As Palermo points out a lot of the actions of the US such as drone attacks are themselves a form of terrorism. Of course acts of states or at least of the good states are never terrorist by definition. This is from the Huffington Post.

Joseph A. PalermoAuthor/Associate Professor of History

A Hundred Years of War

Are we really supposed to get excited and rejoice in the targeted assassination of enemy leaders? President Obama might end up making things worse for the opposite reasons Liz and Dick Cheney tell us. He's so unsure of himself in military matters he's leaving the big decisions to shortsighted generals.

Drone attacks are terrorism too. Killing entire families, including women and children, in the "border&…

Jeffrey Sachs: Obama in Chains

As Sachs points out there are many features of the present situation in the US that make it difficult if not impossible for Obama to pass policies that are necessary to help the US recover from its present malaise. Many of these roadblocks are of Obama's own making such as his continued promises not to raise taxes. He may consider this as political necessity but then these promises will be of no avail if the economic situation gets worse and the social safety net and infracture is in tatters.

This is from project-syndicate.

Obama in Chains
Jeffrey D. Sachs

NEW YORK – It is hard for international observers of the United States to grasp the political paralysis that grips the country, and that seriously threatens America’s ability to solve its domestic problems and contribute to international problem solving. America’s governance crisis is the worst in modern history. Moreover, it is likely to worsen in the years ahead.

The difficulties that President Barack Obama is having in passing h…

Malalai Joya condemns ridiculous Afghan military strategy by NATO.

Joya was kicked out of the Afghan parliament for stating the obvious that it contained war lords that were guily of many human rights abuses. She usually covers her head and face entirely when she goes out in public to avoid assassination. She is critical both of the Taliban and of NATO and the Karzai government. As she rightly points out the Afghan police are notorious for corruption so that they will not likely impress the citizens of Marjah when they take over! Joya's comments on the London Conference on Afghanistan seem appropritate.

Joya condemns 'ridiculous' military strategy

By Glyn Strong


Afghanistan's "most famous woman" has voiced deep scepticism about Operation Moshtarak's aims and its impact on Afghan civilians.

"It is ridiculous," said Malalai Joya, an elected member of the Afghan parliament. "On the one hand they call on Mullah Omar to join the puppet regime. On another hand they launch this attack in which defenceless and poor …