the holistic radical

September 29, 2008

Stop this Bailout! Kick out Palin! Stop Raping Homeowners!

A trifecta of non-conservative reporting in today’s NY Daily News. Man, when your own party is saying your veep candidate should step down, you know you have a problem in making choices.

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Calls rise among Republicans for Sarah

Palin to step down from GOP ticket

BY THOMAS M. DeFRANK and DAVID SALTONSTALL
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS

Sunday, September 28th 2008, 9:53 AM

Sarah Palin faces the biggest test of her month-old candidacy with this Thursday’s vice presidential debate, but many Republicans are already convinced the Alaska governor is not ready for prime time – and may never be.

“It was fun while it lasted,” conservative National Review columnist Kathleen Parker regretfully concluded last week. “But circumstances have changed since Palin was introduced as just a hockey mom with lipstick.”

Those “circumstances,” Parker and others are now saying, include not just the Wall Street meltdown – a crisis that seems to cry out for seasoned leadership – but also Palin’s choppy, tenuous, even unintelligible answers to the few questions she has fielded on her own.

Palin’s interview last week with CBS’ Katie Couric is Exhibit A – a frightening glimpse, say fans and critics alike, into what happens when Palin is allowed to speak without a script.

“It’s very important when you consider even national-security issues with Russia,” she told Couric in explaining why being able to see Russia from Alaska should count as foreign policy experience on her résumé. “It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right next to, they are right next to our state.”

On the Wall Street meltdown and polls showing Republican nominee John McCain slipping, she added, “What I think Americans at the end of the day are going to be able to go back and look at track records and see who’s more apt to be talking about solutions and wishing for and hoping for solutions for some opportunity to change, and who’s actually done it.”

It made some GOP veterans yearn for Dan Quayle.

“You needed the Jaws of Life to pry a coherent sentence out,” moaned one Republican operative.

Palin’s uneven answers may help to explain why her handlers have let her grant only a handful of media interviews so far.

It may also explain why her poll numbers have started to slip, as in a Fox News poll last week that showed her favorable ratings dipping to 47% from 54%.

Republican guru Ed Rollins believes Team McCain did Palin a disservice by keeping her so walled off from the press.

Palin was thrust straight into the big leagues with ABC’s Charlie Gibson and Couric (and a softball toss with conservative Fox News host Sean Hannity).

“They put her in storage,” said Rollins, “and it broke her confidence.”

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/2008/09/27/2008-09-27_calls_rise_among_republicans_for_sarah_p.html?print=1&page=all

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Right-wingers are scapegoating hardworking American families

Saturday, September 27th 2008, 8:06 PM

http://assets.nydailynews.com/img/2008/09/28/alg_gygi-drawing.jpgDarren Gygi

Conservative activists are busy concocting an utterly revisionist history of how America got into the current economic crisis.

Predictably, the talking points issued by right-wing bloggers, talk-show hosts and columnists lay blame on their favorite targets: Democrats, liberals, big government, neighborhood organizations – and above all, those irresponsible poor people who kept foolishly trying to snag a bit of the American Dream by becoming homeowners.

The starting point of the attacks  is the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act, a splendid and important piece of legislation requiring federally insured banks and thrifts to negotiate with local communities about providing financial services fairly throughout their entire service area.

Back when I worked as an activist in central Brooklyn, it was CRA that required bankers to bargain with churches, block associations and other groups about keeping branches open, depositing bank funds in community credit unions, donating bank furniture to neighborhood groups and so on.

I spent so much time arranging reinvestment deals that the state Banking Department – under Republican Gov. George Pataki – offered me a job monitoring bank compliance with the law. (I declined.)

The law was – and remains – an important corrective to decades of red-lining, in which banks would take in millions in savings and bank deposits in low-income areas but refuse to lend any of it to even the most creditworthy families and businesses in those neighborhoods.

It isn’t a mandate with hard-and-fast penalties and loads of onerous regulations. Banks are only required to try to serve all parts of their business area – and the penalty for noncompliance is maybe getting denied permission to merge or expand operations in the future, an exceedingly rare occurrence.

Nor has the law ever been exclusively about extending mortgage loans: Banks can also open branches in underserved areas, offer low-cost checking accounts, sponsor financial seminars and make donations to community organizations.

In other words, CRA represents America at her best: a good-faith attempt to get big, self-interested institutions to expand opportunities to hardworking people who would otherwise be left on the outside looking in.

But you’d never know that from listening to the right-wing echo chamber, which would rather add insult to economically injured families. Typical of the tone is an error-filled video diatribe prominently posted on the Drudge Report Web site.

“Deregulation did not cause this. A bad government regulation caused this that made Main Street banks become predatory lenders to fulfill a government mandate to offer souped-up, shell game ‘affordable mortgages,'” the video says. “Bad social engineering caused this.”

Repeating a lie won’t make it true. For starters, CRA only applies to federally insured depository banks – not the investment banks, loan syndicators, mortgage brokers and other Wall Street players that fueled the subprime crisis. According to congressional testimony this year by Michael Barr, a law professor at the University of Michigan, 80% of subprime loans were made by those market players.

And nationwide, the number of agreements created between banks and community groups from 1977 to 1991 was only $8.8billion, a pittance compared with the hundreds of billions in shaky subprime loans now featured in the headlines.

Did some low-income Americans agree to risky loans that they knew full well they couldn’t pay? You bet. Did others try to game the system? Sure. But those were the exceptions, not the rule.

The Community Reinvestment Act was an opportunity-expanding watershed – in exactly the right way. It stands in a line with the 1932 Home Loan Bank Act, created at the height of the Great Depression, and the 1968 Fair Housing Act that outlaws racial discrimination in housing.

And guess what? Anti-government conservatives opposed each one of those landmark reforms, too.

This isn’t about policy. What we’re really seeing is a cramped, callous view of society in which the poor and the striving middle class are entitled to nothing in the way of help from the rest of us – not capital, not laws, not political activism, not even sympathy.

All those things are reserved for the Wall Street types, whose well-being and year-end bonuses, we are told, are now the nation’s highest priority.

There is plenty of blame to go around in this economic swamp. But the fiction being peddled by ideologues only helps the real crooks slip away.

elouis@nydailynews.com

http://www.nydailynews.com/opinions/2008/09/27/2008-09-27_rightwingers_are_scapegoating_hardworkin.html?print=1&page=all

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A whole lotta nothing: McCain, Obama offer not even two cents worth of wisdom on bailout

Saturday, September 27th 2008, 3:59 PM

John McCain delivered platitudes about forcing accountability ...Richards/Getty

John McCain delivered platitudes about forcing accountability …

... and Barack Obama spoke in generalities about protecting taxpayers. But neither offered any clear analysis or insight on the bailout.Dunand/Getty

… and Barack Obama spoke in generalities about protecting taxpayers. But neither offered any clear analysis or insight on the bailout.

For those who like boxing metaphors to score debates, here’s the most frightening one to come out of Friday night’s fight: Neither Barack Obama nor John McCain laid a glove on the financial meltdown.

That both men are trying, Muhammad Ali style, to dance like a butterfly around the crisis reveals neither has come to grips with the severity and its implications for the next President. After they delivered their platitudes about protecting taxpayers (Obama) and forcing accountability (McCain), their wells ran dry of ideas.

With the daily headlines filled with warnings of another Great Depression, we really do have something to fear: that our next President isn’t up to the job.

Obama and McCain railed vaguely against outdated regulations, but the same might be said of their campaigns. The world one of them will inherit has changed since they started running nearly two years ago, only they don’t seem to get it. Maybe the next bank failure will wake them up.

Then again, maybe not. The collapse of Washington Mutual happened hours before their first debate, yet it rated nary a word. It was the largest bank failure in American history. Ho-hum.

The disconnect is startling. Neither candidate would commit to voting for or against the proposed $700 billion bailout that could be finalized today. Nor could they talk about it with any plain-English detail. Do they even understand it?

McCain, who correctly said Wednesday the bailout discussions were more important than the debate, changed his mind Friday and never explained why. Perhaps the complexity of the issue and the lack of a risk-free political path convinced him the debate was actually safer turf than taking a stance on the largest government intervention ever.

Polls show that only about one-third of Americans support the bailout, yet the men vying to be responsible for it ducked the chance to explain to a huge TV audience why it is good or bad and what might happen next. They stuck to the tired refrain that the plan is more about saving Main Street than Wall Street, a Madison Avenue slogan as bloodless as it is outdated.

Moderator Jim Lehrer‘s prodding to detail how the crisis would reshape their economic plans was fruitless. Asked what they would cut in response to the new realities, the candidates fell back on promises crafted in the relatively flush times of last year.

They have their talking points and they’re sticking to them, facts be damned.

In biographical terms, Obama and McCain are unconventional candidates. But with a few exceptions – Internet fund-raising and made-for-YouTube ads – they are running utterly conventional campaigns.

They promise to be different, but I’m increasingly getting the creepy feeling that more of the same is what we’re in for, no matter who wins. The national landscape has changed in the blink of an eye, but the candidates are on autopilot.

We’re also getting a good lesson about why no senator since JFK has been elected President. The stereotype about Washington being the problem has more than a kernel of truth. Insiders navigate arcane procedures, busily scoring inside-baseball points while giving lip service to the global forces scaring the bejesus out of 300 million Americans.

It’s telling that Obama and McCain both deferred to congressional leaders of their parties during the summit with President Bush on Thursday. Instead of seizing the chance to set the agenda, they handed the baton to the people who either created or ignored the crisis while it was happening.

Come to think of it, that description also fits the two men who want to be President.

mgoodwin@nydailynews.com

http://www.nydailynews.com/opinions/2008/09/27/2008-09-27_a_whole_lotta_nothing_mccain_obama_offer.html?print=1&page=all

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September 1, 2008

The Politically Incorrect thing to say

Filed under: elections, national policy, politics — Tags: , , , , , , , — sesame seed @ 2:23 pm

In this “politically correct” age, we’re supposed to look beyond things, superficial things, like race and gender, and judge people by their merit. People even thinking of voting for McCain because Palin is part of the picture aren’t just politically incorrect, they’re showing a complete failure of imagination. Folks, Alaska is not the nation, and she isn’t experienced. (She also has poor taste in jewelry—come on, you want a VP who wears hoops? Not to be blunt, but is it Pennsylvania Avenue or South Philly? I know our culture is getting completely crass & trashed—before the fall of Rome, absurd decadence to the lowet-common-denominator—but there’s one thing to have a puppet government and other for them to cut their “populist” facade and be in appearance as elitist as they are in actuality.) Ovaries or testes, both parties show the same kind of betrayal—selling this country out to multinational corporations and big bankers while taking the carpet out from under the middle class and instituting fascist police-state surveillance and military mechanisms in order to get away with their injustice. These big bankers love neve-ending wars that drain infrastructure and resources so we are perpetual slaves to their money, their policies, their visions of the future. Those are the facts of the matter.

April 9, 2008

What is the Significance of the National Debt?

It’s a good indicator of how we ruined a once solid economy.

http://www.naturalnews.com/022931.html

Comments by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger

As we wind our way towards an election between the professional liars that have been put forward as candidates for U.S. President, it seems to be a great time to remind us all about the issue being routinely ignored by virtually everyone (except Ron Paul, of course, who was never really embraced by the “please lie to me” mainstream public). To what issue am I referring? The national debt, of course.

As you can see in this bumper sticker, the way to annoy a liberal is to “get a job,” as the pop culture bumper sticker says. To annoy a conservative, all you have to do is “defend the Constitution.” But how do you annoy everybody? That’s simple: Explain the national debt.

Americans don’t want to hear about the national debt. It’s like a family living paycheck to paycheck, maxed out on their credit cards, trying to pretend the collection notices are all being lost in the mail. They don’t want to admit they have no ability to actually pay off the debt they’ve incurred by pursuing a flamboyoant lifestyle, blowing wads of cash on high-priced wines, luxury vehicles, and an occassional line of coke — they desperately want to imagine they can keep living on money that appears from nowhere, regardless of how much they owe to everybody else and the fact that their incomes don’t even come close to matching their expenditures.

Too bad every household in America doesn’t have its own Federal Reserve, huh? If it did, we could all just print money to pay off our debt, save our skins, and ignore the fundamentals of economics. But even in Washington today (and New York), the Federal Reserve is too busy bailing out greedy, criminally-operated banks to turn much attention to the much larger issue of the United States’ national debt. Apparently, saving the banks is more important than anything else, and the Fed is now committed to destroying the U.S. dollar through runaway hyperinflation in order to prevent a few rich bankers from facing the consequences of their outrageous sub-prime lending sprees.

America runs its finances like a crack addict

But let’s get back to the national debt for a moment. The United States government is broke. The only reason it’s been able to operate for this long is because other nations and foreign central banks have been foolish enough to keep lending the U.S. government more money. It’s like giving cash to a crack addict and hoping he will somehow seek out a drug rehab center on his own.

This is the person who never gets a job, never makes an honest living, but yet somehow manages to hit up everybody else for cash. You know how it works: “I need to buy a car to get a job,” they say. And then when you pony up the cash for their car, they get drunk and wreck the car, and they never try very hard to get a job in the first place. They keep spending and spending, tossing money down the drain on blows of crack, meth, heroin or booze. They promise to go into rehab someday, if you’ll only help them through “the next month” with a little more cash. This is the life of a drug addict. (Do you know one? Everybody does, it seems…)

America is that drug addict. It borrows cash from the central banks around the world, blowing it all on Medicare prescription benefits signed into law by Bush (money for drugs, see?). It spends trillions on military campaigns that accomplish nothing positive, yet enrage the global community and recruit lifelong enemies of this nation. Notice how the price of oil has more than tripled since the war with Iraq started? It’s so bad now that truck drivers are going on strike over the price of diesel.

America spends money not merely like a drunken sailor, but like a crack-addicted sailor with a wheelbarrel piled high with one-hundred dollar bills, locked in a room full of Gov. Spitzer’s favorite hookers and a suitcase spilling over with blow.

Don’t dare explain the national debt to anyone

But try to explain the simple workings of finance, debt and economics to the uninformed, and you’ll be accused of being a doomsayer, a pessimist, or — the worst insult in today’s fear-based society — unpatriotic! How dare you point out the economic truths that will soon bring this country’s federal government to its knees! Such blatant truths shall not be tolerated… especially not in a country whose entire financial system is based on a cascade of fictional financial instruments propped up by nothing more than wishful thinking and Enron-style accounting fraud.

Let me translate all this for you in serious terms: The United States is already broke. The Federal Reserve is destroying the currency. The U.S. dollar will soon be virtually worthless. There is no saving the dollar, and there’s no saving the savings of any U.S. citizen foolish enough to be holding dollars when the music stops. The Federal Reserve has already decided to do anything in its power to save the rich bankers; even if it means destroying the value of all the dollars held by hard-working Americans. The day will come, folks, when your savings accounts will all be “recalibrated” and you’ll be given ten cents on the dollar while the Fed slinks away with 90% of your savings, using it to bail out overpaid bank owners.

And the federal government? Under a long string of presidential crooks — Democratic and Republican alike — it has decided to pursue a dangerous experiment called, “What happens if we never pay our debtors while running up more debt?” That experiment, not surprisingly, will end in the financial demise of this nation. (But there’s good news: A new, better system may emerge from the dust of the greenback… keep reading…)

You can’t defy the laws of gravity… nor economics

These aren’t careless predictions, by the way. These are simple observations the follow the fundamentals. Why are the nations of the world fleeing the U.S. Treasury debt auctions? Why are dollars increasingly worthless everywhere except in the United States itself? The answer is because the Fed is hyperinflating the currency to save the banks, even while the government is snorting yet more crack and spending unprecedented levels of increasingly-worthless dollars on drugs and war (or, as they call it, “medication and defense”).

Hence the bumper sticker: Annoy everyone. Explain the national debt. People don’t want to hear this. They’d rather imagine none of these problems exist; that debt doesn’t matter; that unlimited dollars can be created out of nothing with zero impact on peoples’ savings; that the U.S. government is wise enough to avert financial disaster. These are the hopes of the deluded. These are precisely the ramblings of Enron’s accountants before the crash, or dot-com stock pushers before that crash. They’re the slobbering blatherings of all the people who said housing prices will never fall, and therefore everyone will get rich off the never-ending housing price booms!

Being right does not make you popular

I’ve spend many years pointing out the idiocies of the deluded. I publicly predicted the dot-com crash and began warning people to get out of the market in 1998 – 2001. (This is a matter of public record, not some wishful hindsight.) I also publicly predicted the collapse of the housing market right here on this website, beginning nearly two years ago. And now, those predictions that once seemed “radical” are the Wall Street Journal’s front page news. What am I predicting now? Like I said, it’s not a prediction, it’s just an observation.

It’s like observing gravity. If you toss something into the air, you can be confident it’s going to come falling back to the ground. You don’t have to “predict” gravity; it’s a law of the universe. It works by itself, like clockwork, regardless of what you want it do to (I’m ignoring near-light speed travel, relativity, quantum physics, and all that fun stuff for the purposes of this metaphor, by the way, for those readers who are physicists). Likewise, when you see a nation throw its dollars into the air, spending its way to oblivion, ignoring its debt and ramping up its spending to even higher levels, it doesn’t take much of a prediction to know that it’s all going to fall back to the ground in a grand economic collapse.

So I’m not even calling the coming collapse of the U.S. government a “prediction.” It’s just common sense. It’s as obvious as gravity. If you don’t believe me, do the math. There is no mathematical solution to the current financial crisis facing not merely the banks and the currency, but the federal government itself. The only unknown factor is WHEN things will happen. Can the Fed help the economy limp along in a state of near-collapse for another year? Perhaps. Five years? Maybe. Ten years? I doubt it.

Now for the good news: The good news is that the U.S. federal government will eventually go bankrupt. Yes, that’s the good news! Because after the financial chaos passes (which will not be fun, believe me), we have a chance to create a new society, a new currency and a new, honest system of government that actually represents the People for a change. The current cabal of corruption and criminal behavior that sits in Washington and pretends to protect the interests of the voters is about to find itself on the receiving end of an angry mob. The 200+ year experiment called The United States of America is in its final chapter. But out of its failure, we can learn important lessons. We can learn things that will help us create a better future society. Lessons like:

• Never let a private company (the Federal Reserve) control the money supply.

• Never let “representative” legislators vote in your place. Insist on a DIRECT Democracy in the next society. (We don’t need Senators and Congresspeople, folks. The whole concept is long since outdated, and most Senators and Congresspeople are crooks.)

• Never let a government abandon the gold standard for its currency. If you do, that government will inevitably hyperinflate the currency and leave the people broke.

• Never let corporations run the government. If you do, your government will become a branch of the corporations, and the regulators (like the FDA, USDA, etc.) will become agents of corporate-sponsored terrorism that abandon all ethics and destroy the health and safety of the People.

• Never allow the centralization of power in one branch of government. For example, do not allow the creation of Executive Orders we’ve seen signed by the President.

• Never allow one man (the President) to commit acts of war. Didn’t we learn this after Vietnam?

• Never allow people from industry to take jobs in the government where they become biased, pro-corporate pushers of everything from pharmaceuticals to beef.

• Never allow politicians to censor scientists.

• Never allow the population to be dumbed-down through sub-standard public schools that only raise a generation of obedient workers, not skeptical thinkers.

• Never allow the media to control the population through advertiser-supported propaganda and violent programming.

• Never allow politicians to destroy citizens’ rights. When they attempt to do so, march on your capitol (in a non-violent way, of course). Arrest the politicians. Prosecute them for crimes against the People.

• Never allow corporate lobbyists to have access to lawmakers. If you do, you’ll end up with a corrupt government that only protects corporations, not the People.

• Never allow your government to operate in secret, with secret prisons, secret wiretapping laws and secret war “evidence” that is never made public. Secrecy breeds corruption. Honest societies do not need to conduct their judicial processes in secret.

• Never allow corporations to play God with the food supply by genetically modifying the crops.

• Never allow corporations to be granted intellectual property ownership over seeds, genes, animals and medicines. If you do, you will one day wake up impoverished, “homeless on the continent your fathers conquered,” to quote Jefferson.

• Never allow banks to operate on a fractional reserve system of loans and money creation that’s just begging for a series of cascading failures.

… I could go on, but you get the point. We have learned some very tough lessons over the last 200+ years, and once this present government collapses, it is crucial that we apply those lessons in creating a new system that abandons tyranny and embraces genuine freedom. We will have this opportunity soon. Many Americans will lose their life savings on the journey towards this new opportunity, but if we maintain our collective vision of a brighter future society, I believe we can create something much better out of the ashes of this failed experiment called the United States of America.

Please note: In no way do I support violence of any kind in creating a new society in the aftermath of this current one. I only support collaboration, openness, freedom and great respect for all living creatures as well as our sacred planet Earth. I believe the passing of this failed government is a blessing, not a curse, and I believe the collapse of the U.S. dollar will ultimately help awaken many to the tough but rewarding decisions that will face us all in the very near future. We must consciously decide to take back our freedoms, our rights and our futures from a system of corporate and government control that has destroyed our planet, exploited our people, and stolen our savings. But if can make the rights decisions based on creating a more promising future for our children, then the rewards will be unimaginable.

We the People hold the power to create a new society based on the freedoms and promises once held sacred in this land. Be ready to play your role, a constructive role, in the aftermath of this current society. And do not be surprised when gravity kicks in and this entire fictional government charade comes crashing down along with the fractional reserve banking system, the criminal Federal Reserve, the war-mongering politicians and the endless, endless debt. There is no way out now other than collapse and rebirth.

I can’t say when it will come, or exactly how it will play out. I only urge us all to remain positive, informed and constructive. The coming chaos will be painful in the short term, but out of the ashes of a failed society, we can work together to rebuilt a new one based on real freedom, honest money, sensible medicine and limited government.

February 10, 2008

Fascismwatch: an SS? A Gestapo? A Secret Police?

When the police grow this large, anyone not in the police will become a criminal.  

WHY is this not front page news?

WHY is this being conducted through private-sector partnerships, not subject to public scrutiny?

WHY is there no outrage?

WHY is our government preparing to declare martial law? Will it happen, say, right before the election?

Write to your newspapers, people. Do not take this lying down. Then vote Ron Paul.

Oh, you think a woman will stop this? Clinton was on the board of Wal-Mart for 6 years while her husband was governor of Arkansas (discussed on Bill Moyer’s journal–I get the podcasts). Do you think she really cares about people? What has Wal-Mart done for wages, job stability, and quality of life for your community?

Support alternet:

AlterNet

FBI Deputizes Private Contractors With Extraordinary Powers, Including ‘Shoot to Kill’

By Matthew Rothschild, The Progressive
Posted on February 8, 2008, Printed on February 9, 2008
http://www.alternet.org/story/76388/

Today, more than 23,000 representatives of private industry are working quietly with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. The members of this rapidly growing group, called InfraGard, receive secret warnings of terrorist threats before the public does — and, at least on one occasion, before elected officials. In return, they provide information to the government, which alarms the ACLU. But there may be more to it than that. One business executive, who showed me his InfraGard card, told me they have permission to “shoot to kill” in the event of martial law. InfraGard is “a child of the FBI,” says Michael Hershman, the chairman of the advisory board of the InfraGard National Members Alliance and CEO of the Fairfax Group, an international consulting firm.

InfraGard started in Cleveland back in 1996, when the private sector there cooperated with the FBI to investigate cyber threats.

“Then the FBI cloned it,” says Phyllis Schneck, chairman of the board of directors of the InfraGard National Members Alliance, and the prime mover behind the growth of InfraGard over the last several years.

InfraGard itself is still an FBI operation, with FBI agents in each state overseeing the local InfraGard chapters. (There are now eighty-six of them.) The alliance is a nonprofit organization of private sector InfraGard members.

“We are the owners, operators, and experts of our critical infrastructure, from the CEO of a large company in agriculture or high finance to the guy who turns the valve at the water utility,” says Schneck, who by day is the vice president of research integration at Secure Computing.

“At its most basic level, InfraGard is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the private sector,” the InfraGard website states. “InfraGard chapters are geographically linked with FBI Field Office territories.”

In November 2001, InfraGard had around 1,700 members. As of late January, InfraGard had 23,682 members, according to its website, http://www.infragard.net, which adds that “350 of our nation’s Fortune 500 have a representative in InfraGard.”

To join, each person must be sponsored by “an existing InfraGard member, chapter, or partner organization.” The FBI then vets the applicant. On the application form, prospective members are asked which aspect of the critical infrastructure their organization deals with. These include: agriculture, banking and finance, the chemical industry, defense, energy, food, information and telecommunications, law enforcement, public health, and transportation.

FBI Director Robert Mueller addressed an InfraGard convention on August 9, 2005. At that time, the group had less than half as many members as it does today. “To date, there are more than 11,000 members of InfraGard,” he said. “From our perspective that amounts to 11,000 contacts . . . and 11,000 partners in our mission to protect America.” He added a little later, “Those of you in the private sector are the first line of defense.”

He urged InfraGard members to contact the FBI if they “note suspicious activity or an unusual event.” And he said they could sic the FBI on “disgruntled employees who will use knowledge gained on the job against their employers.”

In an interview with InfraGard after the conference, which is featured prominently on the InfraGard members’ website, Mueller says: “It’s a great program.”

The ACLU is not so sanguine.

“There is evidence that InfraGard may be closer to a corporate TIPS program, turning private-sector corporations — some of which may be in a position to observe the activities of millions of individual customers — into surrogate eyes and ears for the FBI,” the ACLU warned in its August 2004 report The Surveillance-Industrial Complex: How the American Government Is Conscripting Businesses and Individuals in the Construction of a Surveillance Society.

InfraGard is not readily accessible to the general public. Its communications with the FBI and Homeland Security are beyond the reach of the Freedom of Information Act under the “trade secrets” exemption, its website says. And any conversation with the public or the media is supposed to be carefully rehearsed.

“The interests of InfraGard must be protected whenever presented to non-InfraGard members,” the website states. “During interviews with members of the press, controlling the image of InfraGard being presented can be difficult. Proper preparation for the interview will minimize the risk of embarrassment. . . . The InfraGard leadership and the local FBI representative should review the submitted questions, agree on the predilection of the answers, and identify the appropriate interviewee. . . . Tailor answers to the expected audience. . . . Questions concerning sensitive information should be avoided.”

One of the advantages of InfraGard, according to its leading members, is that the FBI gives them a heads-up on a secure portal about any threatening information related to infrastructure disruption or terrorism.

The InfraGard website advertises this. In its list of benefits of joining InfraGard, it states: “Gain access to an FBI secure communication network complete with VPN encrypted website, webmail, listservs, message boards, and much more.”

InfraGard members receive “almost daily updates” on threats “emanating from both domestic sources and overseas,” Hershman says.

“We get very easy access to secure information that only goes to InfraGard members,” Schneck says. “People are happy to be in the know.”

On November 1, 2001, the FBI had information about a potential threat to the bridges of California. The alert went out to the InfraGard membership. Enron was notified, and so, too, was Barry Davis, who worked for Morgan Stanley. He notified his brother Gray, the governor of California.

“He said his brother talked to him before the FBI,” recalls Steve Maviglio, who was Davis’s press secretary at the time. “And the governor got a lot of grief for releasing the information. In his defense, he said, ‘I was on the phone with my brother, who is an investment banker. And if he knows, why shouldn’t the public know?’ ”

Maviglio still sounds perturbed about this: “You’d think an elected official would be the first to know, not the last.”

In return for being in the know, InfraGard members cooperate with the FBI and Homeland Security. “InfraGard members have contributed to about 100 FBI cases,” Schneck says. “What InfraGard brings you is reach into the regional and local communities. We are a 22,000-member vetted body of subject-matter experts that reaches across seventeen matrixes. All the different stovepipes can connect with InfraGard.”

Schneck is proud of the relationships the InfraGard Members Alliance has built with the FBI. “If you had to call 1-800-FBI, you probably wouldn’t bother,” she says. “But if you knew Joe from a local meeting you had with him over a donut, you might call them. Either to give or to get. We want everyone to have a little black book.”

This black book may come in handy in times of an emergency. “On the back of each membership card,” Schneck says, “we have all the numbers you’d need: for Homeland Security, for the FBI, for the cyber center. And by calling up as an InfraGard member, you will be listened to.” She also says that members would have an easier time obtaining a “special telecommunications card that will enable your call to go through when others will not.”

This special status concerns the ACLU.

“The FBI should not be creating a privileged class of Americans who get special treatment,” says Jay Stanley, public education director of the ACLU’s technology and liberty program. “There’s no ‘business class’ in law enforcement. If there’s information the FBI can share with 22,000 corporate bigwigs, why don’t they just share it with the public? That’s who their real ‘special relationship’ is supposed to be with. Secrecy is not a party favor to be given out to friends. . . . This bears a disturbing resemblance to the FBI’s handing out ‘goodies’ to corporations in return for folding them into its domestic surveillance machinery.”

When the government raises its alert levels, InfraGard is in the loop. For instance, in a press release on February 7, 2003, the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Attorney General announced that the national alert level was being raised from yellow to orange. They then listed “additional steps” that agencies were taking to “increase their protective measures.” One of those steps was to “provide alert information to InfraGard program.”

“They’re very much looped into our readiness capability,” says Amy Kudwa, spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security. “We provide speakers, as well as do joint presentations [with the FBI]. We also train alongside them, and they have participated in readiness exercises.”

On May 9, 2007, George Bush issued National Security Presidential Directive 51 entitled “National Continuity Policy.” In it, he instructed the Secretary of Homeland Security to coordinate with “private sector owners and operators of critical infrastructure, as appropriate, in order to provide for the delivery of essential services during an emergency.”

Asked if the InfraGard National Members Alliance was involved with these plans, Schneck said it was “not directly participating at this point.” Hershman, chairman of the group’s advisory board, however, said that it was.

InfraGard members, sometimes hundreds at a time, have been used in “national emergency preparation drills,” Schneck acknowledges.

“In case something happens, everybody is ready,” says Norm Arendt, the head of the Madison, Wisconsin, chapter of InfraGard, and the safety director for the consulting firm Short Elliott Hendrickson, Inc. “There’s been lots of discussions about what happens under an emergency.”

One business owner in the United States tells me that InfraGard members are being advised on how to prepare for a martial law situation — and what their role might be. He showed me his InfraGard card, with his name and e-mail address on the front, along with the InfraGard logo and its slogan, “Partnership for Protection.” On the back of the card were the emergency numbers that Schneck mentioned.

This business owner says he attended a small InfraGard meeting where agents of the FBI and Homeland Security discussed in astonishing detail what InfraGard members may be called upon to do.

“The meeting started off innocuously enough, with the speakers talking about corporate espionage,” he says. “From there, it just progressed. All of a sudden we were knee deep in what was expected of us when martial law is declared. We were expected to share all our resources, but in return we’d be given specific benefits.” These included, he says, the ability to travel in restricted areas and to get people out. But that’s not all.

“Then they said when — not if — martial law is declared, it was our responsibility to protect our portion of the infrastructure, and if we had to use deadly force to protect it, we couldn’t be prosecuted,” he says.

I was able to confirm that the meeting took place where he said it had, and that the FBI and Homeland Security did make presentations there. One InfraGard member who attended that meeting denies that the subject of lethal force came up. But the whistleblower is 100 percent certain of it. “I have nothing to gain by telling you this, and everything to lose,” he adds. “I’m so nervous about this, and I’m not someone who gets nervous.”

Though Schneck says that FBI and Homeland Security agents do make presentations to InfraGard, she denies that InfraGard members would have any civil patrol or law enforcement functions. “I have never heard of InfraGard members being told to use lethal force anywhere,” Schneck says.

The FBI adamantly denies it, also. “That’s ridiculous,” says Catherine Milhoan, an FBI spokesperson. “If you want to quote a businessperson saying that, knock yourself out. If that’s what you want to print, fine.”

But one other InfraGard member corroborated the whistleblower’s account, and another would not deny it.

Christine Moerke is a business continuity consultant for Alliant Energy in Madison, Wisconsin. She says she’s an InfraGard member, and she confirms that she has attended InfraGard meetings that went into the details about what kind of civil patrol function — including engaging in lethal force — that InfraGard members may be called upon to perform.

“There have been discussions like that, that I’ve heard of and participated in,” she says.

Curt Haugen is CEO of S’Curo Group, a company that does “strategic planning, business continuity planning and disaster recovery, physical and IT security, policy development, internal control, personnel selection, and travel safety,” according to its website. Haugen tells me he is a former FBI agent and that he has been an InfraGard member for many years. He is a huge booster. “It’s the only true organization where there is the public-private partnership,” he says. “It’s all who knows who. You know a face, you trust a face. That’s what makes it work.”

He says InfraGard “absolutely” does emergency preparedness exercises. When I ask about discussions the FBI and Homeland Security have had with InfraGard members about their use of lethal force, he says: “That much I cannot comment on. But as a private citizen, you have the right to use force if you feel threatened.”

“We were assured that if we were forced to kill someone to protect our infrastructure, there would be no repercussions,” the whistleblower says. “It gave me goose bumps. It chilled me to the bone.”

Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive.

© 2008 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/76388/

February 4, 2008

Great post by Jon Rappoport about what this election really means

Filed under: elections, Ron Paul — Tags: , , , , , , — sesame seed @ 1:09 am

I’m really enjoying receiving Jon Rappoport’s email newsletters and I wished I’d joined earlier. Here’s a great post. He all but endorses Ron Paul, but leaves it to you to make the key inferences about what this election is really about, or should be about: getting the government out of people’s lives and wallets. I believe more in social welfare than he does, however, and I do believe there should be a nationalized health insurance (one not in the pocket of Big Pharma, to boot). There’s no reason why a social safety net (that is, an ECONOMIC safety net) has to be the same thing as state-sponsored fascism. We can have economic, communal, municipal security without imperiling our liberties. It’s called using our tax dollars to build housing and schools, not prisons, and stop paying the big bankers at the Federal Reserve to print our currency. Getting out of Iraq would also help balance the books immensely.

PLATITUDES OF THE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN

FEBRUARY 4, 2008.  Let’s run down the short list:

CHANGE.  Everyone suddenly started mouthing that one right after Obama won Iowa.

HOPE.

WASHINGTON IS BROKEN.

EXPERIENCE.

I’LL BE READY ON DAY ONE.

Since when is the federal government supposed to be in charge of hope and change?  I vaguely recall the whole idea behind the Constitution was limiting the size and influence of the government, thereby guaranteeing individual freedom.  Of course, that was probably just a dream I had.

Those who fondly remember JFK will make three basic assertions about his plans:

HE WANTED TO SHATTER THE CIA INTO A MILLION PIECES.

HE WANTED TO GET OUT OF VIETNAM.

HE WANTED TO TAKE THE POWER TO COIN MONEY AWAY FROM THE FEDERAL RESERVE AND PUT IT BACK IN THE HANDS OF CONGRESS.

Assuming JFK really wanted to accomplish these goals, it was all about shrinking the role of government.

Obama.  Hillary.  McCain.  Mitt.  When out of their mouths we get various high-flying sentiments, they are mostly talking about government taking the lead.

Why should government take the lead?

Why should people look to government to inspire them?

Might it be because people can’t inspire themselves?

In that case, the problem lies elsewhere, and the solution does, too.

It reminds me of Christmas.  The time for giving.  That’s the only day for giving?  People need redoubled shopping opportunities and more debt and a story about a child’s birth to motivate them?

People need an election to galvanize them?

Washington is not broken because the two sides of the aisle are hammering each other.  It’s not broken simply because special interests are controlling the agenda.  It’s broken because it was never meant to be this big and this much trouble.

Example: Why in the world does the FDA have the power to give approval to new medical drugs on the basis of whether they’re effective?  That’s none of their business.  The consumer can decide that on his own.  We don’t need a (corrupt) federal agency to make rulings of this kind.

Update on Hillary:  AP is reporting she suggests the possibility of garnishing the wages of people who’d refuse her universal healthcare plan once it is in effect.

How do you like them apples?

You work for a company.  Your employer is paying into the universal health plan (because he has to).  You, however, say, “No thanks, I don’t want to be insured under this plan.”  Boom.  Your wages are garnished.

It takes everyone (under the gun) to pay into the plan so “it is affordable,” according to Hillary.

Beautiful.

Yeah, It Takes a Village, but the village has to be under the control of a dictator.

JON RAPPOPORT   www.nomorefakenews.com

We need a Super Tuesday strategy–a game plan

Filed under: elections, Ron Paul — Tags: , , , , , , , , — sesame seed @ 12:55 am

OK–Listen up, New Yorkers. Clinton can’t win her home state. That would send a really bad message. She hasn’t been a great senator and, besides, we really don’t want her for President. Why don’t we want her for President? Three reasons out of many: 1) She is relying on people not to think about her policy proposals or her husband’s administration and just think of the fact that “she’s a woman” and we need a woman president–which is true, we should get a woman president soon, like in many other nations, but not one that (reason 2) continues a dynasty in the White House. I was brought up in a country where anyone could be president, there were no dynasties and no aristocracy or plutocracy where a select few took turns trading power among themselves.

Therefore, Obama needs an overwhelming show of support to beat out Clinton. A good show beating Clinton in her home state (as indicated on TV that day and with exit polls, etc.) will hopefully influence other states to push Clinton out as well, whereas a good showing by Clinton in her “home” state (uh, she ran for Senate in NY the first time saying publicly that she was not using it as a stepping-stone to presidency–how not manipulative at all) would not so tacitly endorse her to other states–it would send the message that New Yorkers think she’s done a “good job” as Senator and would make a good president, neither of which is true.

New York, Get Clinton Out of the Race!

New York, Vote Obama for the Primaries!

New York, Vote Ron Paul in the General Election!

Do not vote McCain–Giuliani endorsed McCain so he could try to get on McCain’s ticket later as his running mate. Keeping Giuliani out of the White House now means keeping McCain out. Sorry, McCain, politics is the bedfellows you keep.

My apologies to Ron Paul as well–but we need to get Clinton out on the democratic side first before we can really vote for Paul. A Clinton vs. Paul general election would be harder to fight than a Paul v. Obama election. Really, if we had more than a stupid two-party system, this “game plan” calculation wouldn’t be necessary. Ah, well, once they put in electronic voting machines everywhere, it will barely matter who anyone votes for, and campaign finance will be more of a joke than it is already. Paper ballots now! It’s a big country, yes, but do you really need to know by midnight who won? Are we in that much turmoil that power can’t transition calmly if it takes a couple of days?

I’d still love to see a Paul-Obama ticket, or a Paul-Kucinich ticket.

Suggestions for this game plan? Make a comment.

January 20, 2008

Giuliani’s Agenda–Please do not vote for this man

Filed under: elections, politics — Tags: , , , — sesame seed @ 7:22 pm

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Silver tongue may haunt Rudy Giuliani

Sunday, January 20th 2008, 4:00 AM

Rudy Giuliani made millions as a lawyer and consultant, but he pocketed far more by giving $100,000-a-pop speeches to corporate bigwigs – many who would likely hope for a friendly ear in a Giuliani White House.

The Republican presidential hopeful has released details on 126 speeches he gave in 2006 and early 2007, when he exited the lucrative speakers’ circuit and hit the campaign trail in earnest.

But an exhaustive review of public documents by the Daily News has identified a total of 280 speeches that the former mayor has given since leaving City Hall in 2002, many to powerful corporate interests who paid him handsomely – and whose lobbying of Washington will unquestionably continue no matter who wins the White House.

The groups include a drug company active in embryonic stem-cell research, as well as a hospital association working to add “flexibility” to the nation’s immigration laws – both hot-button issues within the GOP.

The list – representing an estimated $25 million in income for Giuliani between 2002 and 2007, based on his typical fees – poses an unusual source of potential conflicts.

As President, Giuliani would have oversight of contracts and policies affecting industry groups that have directly paid him big bucks in the past, experts noted.

Of the 280 speeches Giuliani is known to have made since 2002, roughly 220 were to private, business-oriented groups in the U.S. Of those groups, 44 already employ lobbyists in Washington, disclosure forms show.

“This is kind of a subtle way for corporations to spread their influence,” said Bob Edgar, a former Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania and now president of Common Cause, the national campaign finance watchdog group. “If you’ve given someone $100,000 for an hour-long speech and [you] call the White House asking for a meeting, my guess is that meeting will be held.”

The speeches are perhaps the least investigated, but not only, source of potential business conflicts in Giuliani’s past.

The former mayor remains a partner at his consulting firm, Giuliani Partners, as well as at Bracewell & Giuliani, the Texas-based law firm that has carried his name since 2003.

He has so far refused to release a complete client list from either firm. But a review of court records, business filings and other publicly available documents has turned up some 175 legal and consulting clients, many with backgrounds that seem ready-made for political attack ads.

They include Saudi Arabia’s oil ministry, owners of nuclear reactors, a pharmaceutical giant fined for fraud, a tobacco company and even an admitted cocaine smuggler who later developed a system for tracking down terrorists.

Aides to the former mayor have argued that Giuliani was simply giving speeches “to a wide range of companies that wanted to hear him speak about his own unique experiences and lessons on leadership.”

“Rudy Giuliani is his own candidate, and he will continue to run for President on the issues and ideas he believes are important to the future of this country,” said Giuliani spokeswoman Maria Comella, adding that he is not alone in the speech-making department.

Mike Huckabee, a former Baptist minister and GOP rival, collected $35,000 in speaking fees last year from drug-maker Novo Nordisk, a leading advocate for embryonic stem-cell research, Politico.com has reported.

Giuliani’s general response to his past business ties is that his firms performed good, honest work and he has stepped down from any day-to-day dealings. He has also argued that many of his law firm’s clients predated his arrival in 2003.

That’s a degree of separation, however, that does not exist for Giuliani on the speaking fees – they were paid directly to him and typically amounted to more money per speech than the average American family makes in a year.

Many of those who paid Giuliani $100,000 or more for an hour-long speech represent interests that could prove troubling to Republican voters.

He pocketed $48,000, for instance, from Novartis Pharmaceuticals, a company that has been active in embryonic stem-cell research.

He received an undisclosed sum from the American Hospital Association, which has worked to increase flexibility in immigration laws – a position not embraced by many GOP voters – to let hospitals employ more foreign-trained nurses.

In other cases, Giuliani seems to have largely adopted the policy goals of groups who swelled his bank account in the years after he left City Hall.

They include several health care companies and associations, among them Assurant Health, a leading underwriter of health insurance policies bought by individuals who paid Giuliani $40,000 for a speech in July 2006. Giuliani has made growing the individual market for insurance a centerpiece of his health care plan.

The former mayor also spoke to the American Nuclear Society (ANS), nuclear power’s main industry association. Giuliani the candidate has vowed to expand nuclear power as part of a plan to push the country toward energy independence.

Recently, the ANS lobbied Congress, the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency on issues related to disposal of high-level nuclear waste, according to lobbying disclosure reports filed with the U.S. Senate.

dsaltonstall@nydailynews.com

List from Daily News Article

Couldn’t find the associated graphic on the Daily News website, so here is a list from the callout box associated with the above article, which practically replaces the article, which itself is a little vague with the proper names.

Follow the Money

Here are Rudy Giuliani’s main sources of income in recent years, as well as some of the politically wired or controversial clients and audiences he has accepted fees from as a lawyer, consultant or speaker.

Giuliani Partners LLC: A consulting firm. Income reported by Giuliani for 2006: $4,108,328. Clients have included:

  • Seisint Inc.–Giuliani Partners hooked up with Florida-based Seisint in 2002, but the company hit the skids amid concerns that its data-tracking product violated privacy. It didn’t help when one of the company’s founders, Hank Asher, admitted to smuggling cocaine earlier in life.
  • Purdue Pharma–The maker of the painkiller OxyContin, Purdue hired Giuliani to help address growing PR and security woes after OcyContin became a popular black market drug. Purdue and three top executives ultimately pleaded guilty to marketing fraud and paid $634 million in fines.
  • Entergy Nuclear–Entergy operates Westchester County’s Indian Point nuclear power plant, which has faced growing public opposition since 9/11 over safety questions. The company also hired Giuliani to develop a security plan.
  • Qatar–Giuliani Safety & Security has provided counterterrorism advice to Qatar, an emirate on the Persian Gulf. Qatar’s Interior ministar, Sheik Abdullah bin Khalid al-Thani, is suspected by some former U.S. officials of protecting Al Qaeda suspects.

Bracewell & Giuliani

The mayor’s Texas-based law firm. Income reported by Giuliani for 2006: $1,200,901. The firm’s legal and lobbying clients have included:

  • Saudi Arabia’s oil ministry–The firm is representing Saudi Arabia’s oil ministry in a Texas lawsuit on the same side as Citgo, which is controlled by Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez–another former Bracewell client.
  • The Scooter Store–The firm lobbied the Feds on Medicare coverage of power scooters. The store later agreed to pay $4 million in fines and give up $43 million in Medicare reimbursements over Justice Department allegations the company made false advertising claims to wheelchair patients.
  • News Corp.— The firm helped Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. lobby against the Indecent and Gratuitous and Excessively Violent Programming Control Act, a bill aimed at keeping graphic sex and violence off TV.
  • UST Public Affairs Inc.–The world’s leading producer of smokeless tobacco, including marquee brands Copenhagen and Skoal. Giuliani’s firm lobbied against a bill that would prevent tobacco firms from selling products through the mail.

Speeches

Giuliani has disclosed his fees from 126 mostly corporate groups that he addressed in 2006, but he gave many more in prior years. Income reported by Giuliani for 2006: $11,390,000. Audiences over the years have included:

  • Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. –The drug company has been active in embryonic stem-cell research, a controversial issue among evangelical voters.
  • American Hospital Association–The nation’s leading hospital advocacy group, it has lobbied Washington to increase “flexibility” in immigration laws to let hospitals employ more immigrant nurses–a hot-button topic for the GOP.
  • Assurant Health–The company is a leading underwriter of health insurance policies bought by individuals. Giuliani has made growing that market for individual health policies a centerpiece of his health care plan.
  • American Nuclear Society–The nuclear industry’s leading association, the ANS has recently lobbied Congress, DOE and EPA on issues related to disposal of high-level waste. Giuliani has vowed to exapnd nuclear power aspart of a plan to push the country toward energy independence.”

Sources: Federal Election Commission, U.S. Senate Lobbying Disclosure Database

NY Daily News, Sunday, January 20, 2008, page 22.

January 18, 2008

Still the economy, stupid—Will this election help the middle class and the poor?

Without a stable middle class, this country has no reason to survive, and there will be mass discontent.

As this article points out, making a middle class salary no longer signifies that one can have a middle class quality of life due to inflationary pressures. In other words, a dollar worth less makes survival difficult for everyone, especially the middle class and the poor.

Maybe the dollar’s so low because we have a huge national debt and because we import almost everything, making few products here. That’s how buying American-made whenever available really does matter–it’s not jingoistic as much as it is good economic and environmental policy. When we lose our manufacturing infrastructure, all we have are desk-jockey jobs, inequitably distributed to those who have “educational,” family-based or other connections–the precise opposite of a meritocracy; instead we have a hierarchy based on appearances and credentials which are purchased more than earned. That’s why, unfortunately, an American education still means nothing.

The bubble is beginning to burst. With this election, we have out last chance to set priorities, make changes, and fix inequities. The middle class and the poor are beginning to not be so distant–and as such, they need to align politically in this election to help each other out. If they can move beyond racism and geographical and local segregation to see their common interests (and please not vote for Giuliani or Clinton, picking Obama, Paul, or Kucinich instead), real change can finally begin to happen with those numbers.

If we decide to do nothing, or keep doing what we have been doing, things will only get worse.

One problem: where is Ron Paul in this article?

newsday.com/news/opinion/ny-opwhe165539332jan16,0,7517032.story

Newsday.com

Candidates lack concrete plans to aid middle class

BY JENNIFER WHEARY AND THOMAS SHAPIRO

Jennifer Wheary is a senior fellow at New York-based public policy organization Demos, and Thomas Shapiro is director of the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University’s

January 16, 2008
The primary election results so far show that candidates need to work harder. The fact that the race is still open does not mean we voters can’t make up our minds. It means we are thinking very carefully about what’s best for the country and what policies will bring about true change.

Addressing economic insecurity among the middle class has been a recurring theme among the contenders and a top concern in the polls.

Candidates have played to this concern, but only superficially. Politics often turns into a game of appearances, so that it’s not about who has the solutions but who has the best sound bites.

We’ve seen a large sampling of sound bites from candidates from both parties about what it takes to strengthen the middle class. This has mostly amounted to bickering about whether tax reform or a massive mortgage bailout or better trade policy or health care reform is the magic bullet.

What we haven’t seen from anyone is a true understanding of what being middle class means, and what it should be.

Being middle class means having financial security. That security requires the education level necessary to find a good job and the ability to afford housing and essential living expenses. It requires having enough financial assets to provide a safety net for troubled times and a nest egg for the future. It means having adequate health insurance to ensure that financial stability is not eroded in the event of an unforeseen illness.

Tens of millions of American families earning a middle-class salary are unable to meet these basic conditions.

Only about one in three middle-class families has the critical mass of financial assets, higher education, affordable housing, adequate income and health insurance needed for long-term economic security. In fact, one out of four families is so weak in these areas that it is in danger of slipping out of the middle class.

The troubling signs do not stop there.

More than half of middle-class families have no net financial assets whatsoever or debt levels that exceed their assets.

More than one in five middle-class families has less than $100 left over each week after covering essential living expenses such as food, housing, clothing, transportation, health care, personal care, education, personal insurance and pensions.

More than a quarter of middle-class families match the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s definition of being housing burdened – spending more than 30 percent of their after-tax income on housing.

In nearly one in four of middle-class families, at least one member lacks health insurance of any kind.

In the age of appearances, our candidates have chosen to overlook the implications of these hard facts.

It is time to send them a clear message. The middle class does not need a Botox bolster, a series of superficial, short-term sound-bite solutions. We need a complete makeover.

This requires vision and bold new ideas, not bickering among opponents or across congressional aisles. It’s time to push past appearances and challenge our campaigners to engage in a serious national discussion about how to build a broader and more secure middle class.

This is no easy task. It requires that candidates lose the platitudes and describe concrete plans to make it easier for low- and moderate-income families to enter the middle class and for those already in the middle class to stay there.

Why should candidates go the extra mile?

When you count up those Americans who either have earnings that fall below middle-class incomes (below 200 percent of the poverty line) or have middle-class incomes but lack the basic pillars of economic stability, middle-class financial security eludes an estimated 70 million working-age households.

And that’s the kind of number that can turn the tide of an election.

January 13, 2008

The Difference Between Being Educated and Being Influenced and What it Means for How You Vote

Filed under: elections, mediawatch, politics, Ron Paul — Tags: , , , — sesame seed @ 11:57 pm

A comment on how the media is treating this election, ignoring Ron Paul (which, if most poeple knew for the economic and diplomatic changes he is for, would vote for him) and making the de facto rae Hillary or Obama or both v. Giuliani.

People aren’t getting informed, they’re just getting influenced. There’s a big difference between being educated and being influenced. And I think we have a lot of influenced people; I wouldn’t say we have a lot of educated people. The consequences for democracy are huge. When once in democracy we believed we needed a commonly, communally educated populace, now we have sold that ideal out and are settling for an influenced population, a highly suggestible population who will go along with pretty much anything as long as you sell it to them.

January 12, 2008

Dark Age for Women: Hillary Clinton Makes Women Look Bad

Women, are you going to be voting for someone who uses stereotypes of women in order to win over another candidate (Obama, for you democrats) who is far more qualified and policy-minded?

Clinton is not the “candidate for women;” she is abusing women with her displays. She is setting women’s rights back at least two decades. Powerful women, stand up and vote on the issues, not on identity politics.

Yes, Obama is more qualified in that he is not resorting to emotions, and is sticking to policy issues. He is qualified in that the “greatest nation in the world” should have a president that looks like a large amount of its population, after 43 presidents that didn’t represent most of its population: i.e., nonwhite and immigrant, the people who are constantly being exploited. This here is not identity politics; this here would be representation for the issues for people who have been constantly denied representation. White women have not been constantly denied representation in this country. It’s safe to say they have a fair amount of power now, and it’s time they shared some of it. We don’t need a Clinton dynasty. Clinton is running on her name alone. Don’t be fooled, don’t be lulled, don’t buy the mainstream media hype that the Clinton era was some kind of glorious time–though it may now look marvelous compared to what Bush & Co. have put us through for two terms. Some of us didn’t benefit when the “wind blew up all sails” in the Internet-boom of the 90s. Some of us were still poor in the 90s. And note I said the “Internet boom” of the 90s. Clinton I cut welfare in the 90s, to the point that if there was a major recession tomorrow (it is on its way), many of the poor and middle class would be hard-pressed to get benefits now–the welfare infrastructure in this country, as well as the rest of the government, has been eroded to a skeleton, to allow for more corporate subcontracting when a major disaster should strike. Any economic upswing in the 90s was not due to government creativity or policy as much as it was due to the novelty of the Internet–and that’s why we’re having hard times now, because that glittering has worn off and we don’t know what the next gimmick will be. And we are a country of gimmicks, because all of our jobs and manufacturing are outsourced to overseas nations. Woe to the American who was failed by the educational-indoctrination system, then cannot fit themselves into the bureaucratic-job-legal-aboveground system of employment–they’ll next be employed in a prison or FEMA concentration camp. Welcome to the future.

The amount of time you’ve been in the status-quo Washington DC Beltway does not make you qualified, Hillary.

Haven’t women been fighting for decades to not be treated like stereotypes, especially the stereotype that they’re emotional and can’t be decisive? Isn’t that the excuse behind the “glass ceiling”?

It is economics, stupid. It’s always been all about the economics. Voting doesn’t matter much if you can’t eat, if your housing is substandard and overcrowding, if your salary (unlike that of Congress members) doesn’t go up every year with inflation/cost-of-living-increases, but your rent goes up 10% a year. What’s Hillary’s economic policy?

Please look beyond the Democratic-Republican paradigm/circus and see that there is a candidate who actually knows something about economics: Ron Paul. He’s on the Republican ticket, but is actually closer to Libertarian values.

Though I may not agree with all of Ron Paul’s takes on social issues, I see that social issues are really caused by ECONOMIC INEQUALITY and disparities in the distribution of wealth, and that when economic issues are really attended to (instead of taxing the poor and middle class and using tax dollars for corporate welfare and defense contracts), the government will not need to step in on social issues to keep the domestic peace. Indeed, the Founders would turn over in their graves to see the extent to which our government intervenes in SOCIAL issues involving our freedom of CHOICE and liberty–what we can eat, how we can dress on the job or in school, what documents we must carry to travel, what substances we can put in our bodies, what substances the State feels everyone must have in our bodies (i.e., vaccines), etc.

But, for God’s sake–this may be our last free election in this rapidly-transforming-to-fascist-nation–if you must vote for a Democrat,–I guess because you like the label–please do not vote for Clinton. Vote for Obama. I’d love a Paul-Obama ticket or an Obama-Paul ticket, or some combination with Kucinich with one of them in a top cabinet post.

A vote for Clinton is a vote for power as it’s always been.

And we all know how power corrupts.

December 13, 2007

Today’s Education, Kids

These links will be added to the side in the near future, and I’ll fix the duplications later. Also, some links may be broken. They’ll be checked soon.

I am not endorsing everything on each of these sites. Use your common sense. I am not a “no planes” theorist or really any kind of theorist; I’m just trying to codify the barrage of links out there, so beginners can know how to start their own research.

LooseChange911.com

911inplanesite.com

“The Road to Tyranny” from prisonplanet.com or infowars.com

911truth.org

NY911truth.org

911blogger.com

rense.com

erichufschmid.net –The Author of “Painful Questions,” behind the film “Painful Deceptions”

copvcia.com / fromthewilderness.com –Mike Ruppert Exposes War Games on 9/11, CIA connection to drug money, and more. Must View: “Truth and Lies of 9/11,” strong evidence of US government knowledge, if not complicity, in the attacks.

ReOpen911.org–Demand a real, impartial, independent investigation, asking the hard questions. Unlike what the “9/11 Commission” found, how the attacks were financed is kind of relevant to how they actually played out. Don’t let the government insult your intelligence, or they’ll start taking your liberties.

martiallaw911.info –MArtial Law Planned for the US–and probably before the 2008 elections, according to some rumors. It is vital that everyone votes in the 2008 elections and that we have paper ballots for this election. Let’s remember how the 2000 election outcomes were decided. And let’s finally abolish the electoral college.

socialism.com –Capitalism is the problem, and “a linear system on a finite planet cannot survive,” as so eloquently stated on the excellent short film, “The Story of Stuff,” featured below. Neoliberalism is runaway, ruthless greed. Socialism is not the New World Order. The “free market” kills. In the”free market,” you’re worthless unless you’re continually producing or consuming.

globalfreepress.com

september11th.org–9/11 visibility

sf911truth.org–from San Francisco

pentagonresearch.com–about “Flight 77.” Some people think the “no planes” theory about the Pentagon incident is “disinfo.” Be aware of this, and think for yourself.

unansweredquestions.org

The New Pearl Harbor –9/11 was the new Pearl Harbor, the event needed to get a diverse society to rally behind an illegitimate global, endless war– http://www.p-fritz.net/w/newph.htm#part1

flight93crash.com

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Names of People associated with 9/11 research and truth movements

You can google for any of their webpages or publications or films just by searching for their names.

Davis Ray Griffith

Alex Jones

Barry Zwicker

Dave Von Kleist (behind 9/11 In Plane Site)

Mike Ruppert

Jason Justice & Dylan Avery

Rick Siegel

Eric Hufschmid

Jimmy Walter

Paul Thompson

Phil Jayhan

US Congress–Honorable Cynthia McKinney

FBI Whistleblower–Sibel Edmonds

Charlie Sheen

Ed Asner

Thierry Meyssan

Mindy Kleinberg–made a widow by the 9/11 attacks, speaking out and asking real questions

Phil Jayhan

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Necessary Viewing–Short but comprehensive video: Story of Stuff–puts the system we are all in into perspective, and underlines the need for awakening and change.

Reuse and recycle, yes, but reduce! Buy durable goods and stop buying all the time and stop throwing out stuff.

Fifty years ago, planned obsolescence and perceived obsolescence were designed to make the US a consumer economy, rather than a producing economy.

This lifestyle is good for a few and bad for most and worse for the planet we all ultimately have to share and nurture.

George Carlin said it best (paraphrasing): “The planet’s not in peril; it’s people are fucked. The planet will shake us off like a bunch of fleas.” In millions of years, trees, mountains, and water will recover. But if we alldon’t want to be clawing ourselves to death, we’d better scale down our consumption now.

Must view. Free and easy to understand, nontechnical. Tell everyone you know. storyofstuff.com

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December 11, 2007

Ron Paul speaks out against S. 1959–calling it for what it is–an attack on free speech on and off the Internet

from Rense.com

People, please read this and read the proposed law and think about how vague it is and how unlikely “violent radicalization” is, and how precious our rights are, and what is being threatened. Email your senators.

http://www.rense.com/general79/attck.htm

Ron Paul – HR 1955 (Now S. 1959)


An Attack On Internet Freedom

12-6-7

Note also – Ron Paul was one of only TWO Congressmen who voted against this second enormous attack on internet freedom and your rights in general.   
 
House OKs Draconian ‘Illegal Images’ Sweeps In WiFi Bill
http://www.news.com/8301-13578_3-9829759-38.html?tag=nefd.top
 
The House Vote was 409 to 2.  Not one Democrat opposed the ludicrously-named ‘SAFE Act.’ Two Republicans did: Rep.
Ron Paul, the libertarian-leaning presidential candidate from Texas, and Rep. Paul Broun from Georgia. The ‘Congress’ still refuses to read, honor and obey the Constitution. -ed
 
 
‘Homegrown Terror’ Act An Attack On Internet Freedom? 
By Rep. Ron Paul
 
Before the US House of Representatives, December 5, 2007
 
I regret that I was unavoidably out of town on October 23, 2007, when a vote was taken on HR 1955, the Violent Radicalization & Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act. Had I been able to vote, I would have voted against this misguided and dangerous piece of legislation. This legislation focuses the weight of the US government inward toward its own citizens under the guise of protecting us against “violent radicalization.”
 
I would like to note that this legislation was brought to the floor for a vote under suspension of regular order. These so-called “suspension” bills are meant to be non-controversial, thereby negating the need for the more complete and open debate allowed under regular order. It is difficult for me to believe that none of my colleagues in Congress view HR 1955, with its troubling civil liberties implications, as “non-controversial.”
 
There are many causes for concern in HR 1955. The legislation specifically singles out the Internet for “facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process” in the United States. Such language may well be the first step toward US government regulation of what we are allowed to access on the Internet. Are we, for our own good, to be subjected to the kind of governmental control of the Internet that we see in unfree societies? This bill certainly sets us on that course.
 
This seems to be an unwise and dangerous solution in search of a real problem. Previous acts of ideologically-motivated violence, though rare, have been resolved successfully using law enforcement techniques, existing laws against violence, and our court system. Even if there were a surge of “violent radicalization” ­ a claim for which there is no evidence ­ there is no reason to believe that our criminal justice system is so flawed and weak as to be incapable of trying and punishing those who perpetrate violent acts.
 
This legislation will set up a new government bureaucracy to monitor and further study the as-yet undemonstrated pressing problem of homegrown terrorism and radicalization. It will no doubt prove to be another bureaucracy that artificially inflates problems so as to guarantee its future existence and funding. But it may do so at great further expense to our civil liberties. What disturbs me most about this legislation is that it leaves the door wide open for the broadest definition of what constitutes “radicalization.” Could otherwise nonviolent anti-tax, antiwar, or anti-abortion groups fall under the watchful eye of this new government commission? Assurances otherwise in this legislation are unconvincing.
 
In addition, this legislation will create a Department of Homeland Security-established university-based body to further study radicalization and to “contribute to the establishment of training, written materials, information, analytical assistance and professional resources to aid in combating violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism.” I wonder whether this is really a legitimate role for institutes of higher learning in a free society.
 
Legislation such as this demands heavy-handed governmental action against American citizens where no crime has been committed. It is yet another attack on our Constitutionally- protected civil liberties. It is my sincere hope that we will reject such approaches to security, which will fail at their stated goal at a great cost to our way of life.

November 29, 2007

“Third Rail” or Red Herring?

Filed under: elections, immigration, national policy, NAU, North American Union, politics, the future — Tags: , , — sesame seed @ 4:37 am

People, immigration, contrary to what the “talking heads” said after the CNN debates (I refuse to participate in the branding of democracy further by calling them the YouTube debates–might as well be honest, then, and call them the Google debates) is not an emerging “third rail” of American politics. With the North American Union a near certainty, followed by the complete erosion of your civil liberties and the tracking of your every move–if not your every keystroke–immigration will not matter. And for the globalist elistist capitalists who need cheap labor to eliminate the middle class and perpetuate their enslavement motives further, they are truly just using this non-issue to tip the election to the hands of Hilary Clinton. Hilary will do nothing on immigration–her husband was in the Trilateral Commission!

Notice how suddenly the campaign has become de facto Clinton v. Guliani–before the primaries have even happened. I did not see the whole debate, but the clip of McCain v. Ron Paul on the Iraq War did not seem to make Paul look good–at least by the time it was repackaged into a “clip.”

Americans, the changes that impact your life most are not going to appear on the nightly news. You have to start believing this. You have to debote a little less time to your entertainment in the short term and a little more energy researching issues that will hit you in the long term: monetary reform, getting out of war, what globalization really means. And the cultivation of your own soul would be nice. I am not trying to force my view on anyone, though my slant is not hidden here. You should read the links I have provided as well as do you own investigating and apply some reason and common sense. These issues are too important to rely on someone else’s information, or hearsay, especially when it is not public information, or when it is not transparent, how much money is behind the dominant messages, the conventional explanations.

I have been looking into Ron Paul lately and have been very impressed. I will vote for him. Do your own research. I would like a day when I am not pleading with you, America, to use your long untapped intellect.

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