Monday, October 27, 2008

Salon Radio: ACLU on the U.S. Army's domestic deployment - Glenn Greenwald -

Salon Radio: ACLU on the U.S. Army's domestic deployment - Glenn Greenwald - "Last month, The Army Times reported that for 'the first time an active [U.S. Army] unit has been given a dedicated assignment to NorthCom, a joint command established in 2002 to provide command and control for federal homeland defense efforts and coordinate defense support of civil authorities.' The brigade, the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, has spent most of the last four years fighting a war in Iraq, and will now be assigned on a permanent basis to engage in numerous domestic functions -- including, as the article put it, 'to help with civil unrest and crowd control.'

In response to the announced deployment, I wrote about the long-standing legal prohibitions against the use of the U.S. military for law enforcement purposes inside the U.S., and asked: 'Why is a U.S. Army brigade being assigned to the 'Homeland?'"

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan (October 26, 2008) - Did We Just Strike Syria?

The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan (October 26, 2008) - Did We Just Strike Syria?

GRITtv with Laura Flanders » Iraq Vet Crushed by Police Horse at Presidential Debate

GRITtv with Laura Flanders » Iraq Vet Crushed by Police Horse at Presidential Debate

Last Wednesday, while presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain debated domestic policy issues in front of a live television audience at the Long Island campus of Hofstra University, Nassau county police faced off with a few hundred spirited but peaceful demonstrators. And using excessive force, police -- on horses and in full riot gear -- trampled several people including Iraq vet Nick Morgan. I-Witness Video member Emily Forman captured the ensuing bedlam, police violence, and injuries on tape.

Earlier that night, a group of protesters from Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) had, in accordance with a pre-announced plan, assembled on the streets outside the Hofstra University venue where the debate was being held. IVAW had informed the police in advance that several of their members would be participating in a symbolic, non-violent, civil-disobedience action: attempting to deliver two questions for the candidates. The group has engaged in similar actions before, at the Democratic National Convention in Denver and the Republican National Convention in St. Paul. Last week, at the presidential debate, the veterans hoped to ask Barack Obama if he would support soldiers who do not want to be deployed to an illegally occupied Iraq, and to ask McCain why he has voted against funding for the Veterans Administration since the beginning of the war in Iraq.

But the veterans' efforts to stage a peaceful protest last week were countered by violent police actions. After a small group of veterans was calmly taken into custody in a choreographed arrest, the police became very aggressive. The police commander on the scene ordered the horses and lines of riot police to push the crowd from the street onto the sidewalk. Mounted police officers charged into the assembled vets and other protesters, pushing the frightened people backwards and up onto the sidewalk. Riot police then forced some demonstrators to the ground, where police horses rode over them.

Former Army Reserve Sergeant Nick Morgan was caught under the hooves of a horse ridden by Nassau County police officer Quagliano. The horse stepped on Morgan's face, breaking his lower orbital (cheekbone) in three places. Bleeding heavily from his face, Morgan drifted in and out of consciousness until another police officer appeared and dragged him away from the scene. After a delay in which Nassau County police refused to take Morgan to the hospital, he was finally taken to Nassau County Medical Center, handcuffed to a gurney, given Motrin and a prescription for antibiotics, and sent on to jail.

Besides Morgan, several others were injured in the crush of horses and police, including Nadine Lubka, whose nose was broken. Fifteen people in total were arrested; they all received disorderly conduct charges.

Except for a brief Associated Press story and some video and photos uploaded to CNN's iReport website by citizen journalists, there has been almost no corporate media coverage of this story.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan (October 24, 2008) - Face Of The Day

One-year-old Mason Hook is held by his mother Suzie Fetterman after being presented with the American flag during a burial service for his father, Spc. Michael Hook, at Arlington National Cemetery October 24, 2008 in Arlington, Virginia. The group burial was held for 14 U.S. soldiers who died Aug. 22 in Multaka, Iraq, from injuries sustained when their helicopter crashed.
The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan (October 24, 2008) - Face Of The Day

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Firedoglake » A Modest Proposal

Firedoglake » A Modest Proposal: "A friend just suggested to me that the US needs to cut its military budget. To this, I say nonsense!

The US needs to spend more on the military! I mean it's spending half the world's military budget and in return has a military which can't even win against rabble whose entire budget isn't even a rounding error of the US military*. So imagine if the US spent only 25% of the world's military budget, the horrible danger it would be in. Those dangerous Canadians and Mexicans would invade immediately.. It's called the Department of Defense because the US is surrounded by enemies ready and able to invade the US.

In fact, since the US is losing in Afghanistan, I suggest the US add another 92K troops. It's really the best use of America's money. Expand the US military, because the one you've got now can't do the job with only half the world's military budget"

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Tomgram: Aziz Huq, Imperial Pretensions and the Financial Crunch

Tomgram: Aziz Huq, Imperial Pretensions and the Financial Crunch

Timeline of the Great Depression - interesting parallels

Timeline of the Great Depression: "TIMELINES OF THE GREAT DEPRESSION:
This adds a little context to our present day difficulties. Paralleles include the non interventionist freemarket approach which actually aids the rich with its tax structure. Unions and social services are gutted. Wealth becomes more and more concentrated with the top 1 percent.

Differences: A greater middle class presence, more immediate government intervention (or is it just another Bush Co raid on our treasury).

You also get a perspective on the opposition to Roosevelt's policies which might recur in an Obama administration, included lawsuits and an attempt by bankers at armed rebellion which was foiled by our own Smedley Butler.

1920s (Decade)

* During World War I, federal spending grows three times larger than tax collections. When the government cuts back spending to balance the budget in 1920, a severe recession results. However, the war economy invested heavily in the manufacturing sector, and the next decade will see an explosion of productivity... although only for certain sectors of the economy.

* An average of 600 banks fail each year.

* Organized labor declines throughout the decade. The United Mine Workers Union will see its membership fall from 500,000 in 1920 to 75,000 in 1928. The American Federation of Labor would fall from 5.1 million in 1920 to 3.4 million in 1929.

* Over the decade, about 1,200 mergers will swallow up more than 6,000 previously independent companies; by 1929, only 200 corporations will control over half of all American industry.

* By the end of the decade, the bottom 80 percent of all income-earners will be removed from the tax rolls completely. Taxes on the rich will fall throughout the decade.
* By 1929, the richest 1 percent will own 40 percent of the nation's wealth. The bottom 93 percent will have experienced a 4 percent drop in real disposable per-capita income between 1923 and 1929."


* The conservative Supreme Court strikes down federal child labor legislation.


* President Warren Harding dies in office. Calvin Coolidge, becomes president. Coolidge is no less committed to laissez-faire and a non-interventionist government.
* Supreme Court nullifies minimum wage for women in District of Columbia.


* The stock market begins its spectacular rise. Bears little relation to the rest of the economy.


* The top tax rate is lowered to 25 percent - the lowest top rate in the eight decades since World War I.


* Between May 1928 and September 1929, the average prices of stocks will rise 40 percent. The boom is largely artificial.


* Herbert Hoover becomes President.

* Annual per-capita income is $750. More than half of all Americans are living below a minimum subsistence level.

* Backlog of business inventories grows three times larger than the year before.

* Recession begins in August, two months before the stock market crash. During this two month period, production will decline at an annual rate of 20 percent, wholesale prices at 7.5 percent, and personal income at 5 percent.

* Stock market crash begins October 24. Investors call October 29 Black Tuesday. Losses for the month will total $16 billion, an astronomical sum in those days.


* By February, the Federal Reserve has cut the prime interest rate from 6 to 4 percent. Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon announces that the Fed will stand by as the market works itself out: 'Liquidate labor, liquidate real estate... values will be adjusted, and enterprising people will pick up the wreck from less-competent people'.


* No major legislation is passed addressing the Depression.

* The GNP falls another 8.5 percent; unemployment rises to 15.9 percent.


* This and the next year are the worst years of the Great Depression. For 1932, GNP falls a record 13.4 percent; unemployment rises to 23.6 percent.

* Industrial stocks have lost 80 percent of their value since 1930.

* 10,000 banks have failed since 1929, or 40 percent of the 1929 total.

* GNP has also fallen 31 percent since 1929.

* Over 13 million Americans have lost their jobs since 1929.

* International trade has fallen by two-thirds since 1929.

Congress passes the Federal Home Loan Bank Act and the Glass-Steagall Act of 1932.

* Top tax rate is raised from 25 to 63 percent.

* Popular opinion considers Hoover's measures too little too late. Franklin Roosevelt easily defeats Hoover in the fall election. Democrats win control of Congress


* Roosevelt inaugurated; begins 'First 100 Days'; of intensive legislative activity.

* A third banking panic occurs in March. Roosevelt declares a Bank Holiday; closes financial institutions to stop a run on banks.

* Alarmed by Roosevelt's plan to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor, a group of millionaire businessmen, led by the Du Pont and J.P. Morgan empires, plans to overthrow Roosevelt with a military coup and install a fascist government modelled after Mussolini's regime in Italy. The businessmen try to recruit General Smedley Butler, promising him an army of 500,000, unlimited financial backing and generous media spin control. The plot is foiled when Butler reports it to Congress.

* Congress authorizes creation of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Farm Credit Administration, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, the National Recovery Administration, the Public Works Administration and the Tennessee Valley Authority.

* Congress passes the Emergency Banking Bill, the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, the Farm Credit Act, the National Industrial Recovery Act and the Truth-in-Securities Act.
* Roosevelt does much to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor, but is concerned with a balanced budget. He later rejects Keynes' advice to begin heavy deficit spending.

* The free fall of the GNP is significantly slowed; it dips only 2.1 percent this year. Unemployment rises slightly, to 24.9 percent.


* Congress authorizes creation of the Federal Communications Commission, the National Mediation Board and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

* The economy turns around: GNP rises 7.7 percent, and unemployment falls to 21.7 percent. A long road to recovery begins.

* Sweden becomes the first nation to recover fully from the Great Depression. It has followed a policy of Keynesian deficit spending.


* The Supreme Court declares the National Recovery Administration to be unconstitutional.

* Congress authorizes creation of the Works Progress Administration, the National Labor Relations Board and the Rural Electrification Administration.

No Joy in Hooverville |

No Joy in Hooverville |

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Cost of War and Apathy

A High Price for Looking the Other Way |

Retired U.S. Ambassador Charles Dunbar, speaking recently at Kent State University about the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, observed that "bombing civilians saves (our) soldiers' lives."

Just so: Bombing is cheaper than boots on the ground. Fairly small, safe crews can quickly dispatch numbers that it could take hundreds of ground troops days and casualties to kill.

Indeed, the Global War On Terror (GWOT) itself has been cheaper than diplomacy and treating our neighbors fairly and humanely. It's cheaper in terms of money, not least because the rich, smart and powerful can profit by financing and selling high-tech ordnance and equipment (not only to the United States and friends, but to enemies) The rich and powerful make money by brokering oil, services and mercenaries, and by selling consumer goods with infotainment of war, bombings mayhem, and torture.

The costs of the GWOT and most wars are borne by the poor, ignorant and powerless -- by poor people living in "enemy" territory who pay with their lives, by non-rich Americans, whose children serve in the Armed Forces and who pay with inadequate medical care, underfunded education, crumbling infrastructure and deregulation and privatization of basic community services.

The costs of this war are borne heavily by poor people and ecosystems in South America, Africa and Asia. Residents of our Gulf Coast have suffered "collateral damage" from storms of a planet overheating dangerously for the profit of international corporations.