AlterNet.org: Eric Zuesse http://blog.alternet.org/authors/eric-zuesse en Let's Face It, Our Presidential Candidates Are Hucksters http://blog.alternet.org/election-2016/lets-face-it-our-presidential-candidates-are-hucksters <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1053440'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1053440" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Truthfulness isn’t ever their goal; winning and keeping power is.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://blog.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2016-03-28_at_1.51.25_pm.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p><a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2016/03/21/bill-clinton-knocks-obamas-awful-legacy/82094792/" target="_blank">Here</a> is Bill Clinton, the U.S. President who served Wall Street by removing all regulations on derivatives-trading and by ending FDR’s Glass-Steagall Act separation of investment-banking from consumer-banking, now telling an audience, that his successor George W. Bush had done this, and that Bush’s successor Barack Obama has unfortunately continued it. He said this on March 21st when explaining why everyone should vote for his wife to undo the ”awful” and “trickle-down” legacy of George W. Bush and Barack Obama:</p><p>"If you believe we can all rise together, if you believe we’ve finally come to the point where we can put the awful legacy of the last eight years behind us and the seven years before that when we were practicing trickle-down economics and no regulation in Washington, which is what caused the crash, then you should vote for her because she’s the only person who basically had good ideas, will tell you how she’s going to pay for them, can be commander in chief, and is a proven change maker with Republicans and Democrats and independents alike.”</p><p>(Clarification: Where he said “seven years” he meant eight years, and where he said “eight years" he meant seven years, because Bush had 8 years and Obama has thus far had 7.)</p><p>The truth is that just before Bill Clinton ended his Presidency he gave Wall Street exactly what it wanted: the ability to gamble with FDIC-insured money, so that Wall Street would be bailed out by taxpayers if their gamblers stopped gambling (‘investing’) and the financial system consequently froze up — which happened in 2008. George W. Bush didn’t make that change, Clinton did. Rotten as Bush was, Clinton was arguably even worse, but he’s now alleging that his wife will undo his own “trickle-down” legacy.</p><p><a href="http://www.donaldjtrump.com/media/donald-j-trump-remarks-at-aipac" target="_blank">Here</a> is Donald Trump, pandering to the far-right, ethnocentric-Jewish, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Israel_Public_Affairs_Committee" target="_blank">AIPAC</a> (American Israel Public Affairs Committee), who hate Palestinians and Iran, telling these racist ethnocentric Jews why they should support Trump for President — and opening by telling his suckers that he’s not going to “pander to” them:</p><p>"I didn't come here tonight to pander to you about Israel. That's what politicians do: all talk, no action. … My number one priority is to dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran. … We have rewarded the world's leading state sponsor of terror with $150 billion and we received absolutely nothing in return. … Iran is a problem in Iraq, a problem in Syria, a problem in Lebanon, a problem in Yemen, and will be a very major problem for Saudi Arabia. Literally every day, Iran provides more and better weapons to their puppet states. … We will totally dismantle Iran’s global terror network. Iran has seeded terror groups all over the world. During the last five years, Iran has perpetrated terror attacks in 25 different countries on five continents. They’ve got terror cells everywhere, including in the western hemisphere very close to home. Iran is the biggest sponsor of terrorism around the world and we will work to dismantle that reach.</p><p>Third, at the very least, we must hold Iran accountable by restructuring the terms of the previous deal. … The United Nations is not a friend of democracy. It's not a friend to freedom. It's not a friend even to the United States of America, where as all know, it has its home. And it surely isn’t a friend to Israel. … When I become President, the days of treating Israel like a second-class citizen will end on Day One. I will meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu immediately. I have known him for many years and we will be able to work closely together to help bring stability and peace to Israel and to the entire region.”</p><p>On February 17th, Trump told the <a href="http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2015/02/al-qaedas-bookkeeper-spills-beans.html" target="_blank">truth</a>: "Who blew up the World Trade Center? It wasn't the Iraqis, it was Saudi.” Not Iran, but Israel’s ally the Saud family, who are the chief financial backers of the overthrow-Assad operation (which Israel’s government likewise supports) and of the entire war against Iran and all Shia everywhere — including even Shia in Saudi Arabia itself — and who were <a href="http://web.archive.org/web/20160220201432/http://rinf.com/alt-news/breaking-news/al-qaedas-bookkeeper-spills-beans/" target="_blank">the chief funders of Al Qaeda at least until 9/11</a>, and (according to Bill Clinton’s wife Hillary Clinton, in private) even as late as 2009, were still <a href="http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2016/02/terrorists-arent-hitting-u-s-now.html" target="_blank">“the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.”</a> As regards Shiite ‘terrorist’ groups, there’s only one, Hezbollah, and its exclusive focus is against Israel, not against the West. In fact, the title of that State Department cable from her was about <a href="https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/09STATE131801_a.html" target="_blank">”Terrorist Finance: Action Request for Senior Level Engagement on Terrorism Finance,”</a> not about “Sunni Terrorist Finance,” because, she knows, all  Islamic terrorism, except what’s directed against Israel, is Sunni, none of it is Shiite. So: that cable of hers was sent only to U.S. Embassies in Sunni-run countries, not to <a href="http://embassy.goabroad.com/embassies-of/united-states" target="_blank">the U.S. Embassy in the only Shiite-run country where the U.S. has an Embassy, which is Syria</a>. The U.S. government is quite aware that terrorism (except against Israel) is strictly  Sunni-fundamentalist-Islamic, and that Syria’s ideologically secular, non-sectarian, government, has (like Russia’s secular non-sectarian government) always tried to crush it, never  supported it. The U.S. is allied with <a href="http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2015/10/the-saudi-dynasty-key-u-s-ally-tops-the-world-in-barbarism.html" target="_blank">the terrorist-financing countries, against Shiite-run countries</a>, because Shiite-run countries (specifically Syria and Iran) are allied with Russia, which the U.S. government <a href="http://rinf.com/alt-news/editorials/obamas-war-policies-show-pattern/" target="_blank">aims to isolate and ultimately conquer.</a></p><p>So: even when the hucksters who make it to the top of American politics tell the truth, it’s by accident. Truthfulness isn’t ever their goal; winning and keeping power is.</p><p>Americans are taught that things are like that in African countries, and in former Soviet-bloc countries, but not that this is the way America itself is; to say a thing like this here is verboten  in the ‘respectable’ ‘news’ media. It’s not publishable. It’s American samizdat. Any major news-medium that would publish it would be subject to severe sanctions; people would be <a href="http://yournewswire.com/cnn-journalist-governments-pay-us-to-fake-stories-shocking-expose/" target="_blank">fired</a>. They might even be treated worse — like Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, and Julian Assange — isolated, smeared, and possibly imprisoned. It destroys careers of the few authentic journalists. They’re supposed to be propagandists, instead. Even to call oneself a ‘journalist’ here is supposed to be  a lie. There’s virtually no remaining market for real journalism in the United States. The major advertisers won’t patronize it, and the government-funded ‘news’ media also don’t allow it. So: certain types of truth are simply not publishable here.</p><p>Huckster-politicians and their friends just thrive in such an environment. Like U.S. President Obama himself <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/05/28/remarks-president-united-states-military-academy-commencement-ceremony" target="_blank">says</a>, “The United States is and remains the one indispensable nation.” All other  nations are ‘dispensable.’ That’s something which Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, and Hillary Clinton, might equally say. But, of course, none of them would be “pandering.” They don’t do that — just ask them, and they’ll tell you they don’t (like Trump just did).</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1053440'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1053440" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Mon, 28 Mar 2016 10:49:00 -0700 Eric Zuesse, AlterNet 1053440 at http://blog.alternet.org Election 2016 Election 2016 election clinton trump sanders trump bill clinton politics Clinton: 'Coal Will Be Part of the Energy Mix For Years to Come, Both in the U.S. and Around the World' http://blog.alternet.org/election-2016/clinton-coal-will-be-part-energy-mix-years-come-both-us-and-around-world <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1052942'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1052942" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Hillary Clinton’s record is remarkably consistent, in serving the people at the top, by serving to them the people at the bottom.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://blog.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/4cb473a4521e8c6fa93c24d326e10efc8bd8949e.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>The <a href="http://downwithtyranny.blogspot.com/2016/03/clinton-coal-will-be-part-of-energy-mix.html">“Down with Tyranny” blog quotes Hillary Clinton’s statement</a> in a recent letter to Democratic U.S. Senator from West Virginia, Joe Manchin, assuring him that as President she won’t be overly aggressive to reduce the coal industry, because coal-mining jobs are at stake; thus: “Coal will be part of the energy mix for years to come, both in the U.S. and around the world.”</p><p>That blogger, who styles himself “Gaius Publius,” has excellent sources in the national Democratic Party, and he comments:</p><blockquote><p>Clinton uses job-concern as a reason to seem like we should proceed carefully. But after all, a great many people in the U.S. are out of jobs — many in disappearing industries — and yet I’ll be willing to bet money she either signs TPP or refuses to renegotiate it; then signs TTIP and TISA, and with them, says goodbye to the last jobs worth having, save those near the top.</p></blockquote><blockquote><p>So, jobs? Maybe she cares only in this case? Or maybe she cares about something else as well. </p><p>Personally, I don’t take her worrying about coal jobs any more seriously than I take her worrying about, say, manufacturing jobs. Remember, the Pennsylvania primary is coming soon, with West Virginia shortly after. And if she really cares about mitigating the aggressive destruction of the coal industry, there are ways to bail out people too, not just big carbon corporations and the banks that lend to them. …</p><p>I don’t think this is an unfair criticism of her, though some do think so. I find it an interesting implicit dog-whistle. “Don’t worry, coal bosses; we’ll foam your landing strip too.”</p></blockquote><p>The blogger analogizes this to the bail-out of Wall Street, which Clinton supports: he says that she favored there, and still does, bailing out the lenders instead of bailing out the borrowers, and he thinks that in the coal issue she will protect the coal companies instead of protect their workers.</p><p>Hillary Clinton’s record, her vaunted experience, is remarkably consistent, in serving the people at the top, by serving to them the people at the bottom. Here are some of the relevant headlines::</p><p><a href="http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2016/02/hillary-clintons-global-burning-record.html">“Hillary Clinton’s Global-Burning Record”</a></p><p><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eric-zuesse/hillary-clinton-backs-fas_b_7582738.html">“Hillary Clinton Backs Fast-Track on Obama’s Trade Deals”</a></p><p><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/05/hillary-clinton-foundation-state-arms-deals">“Hillary Clinton Oversaw US Arms Deals to Clinton Foundation Donors”</a></p><p><a href="http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2016/02/hillary-clinton-backed-major-republican-donors.html">“Hillary Clinton Is Backed by Major Republican Donors”</a></p><p><a href="http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2016/02/hillary-clintons-six-foreign-policy-catastrophes.html">“Hillary Clinton’s Six Foreign-Policy Catastrophes”</a></p><p><a href="http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2016/02/hillary-v-bernie-two-opposite-views-presidency.html">“Hillary v. Bernie: Their Two Opposite Views of the Presidency”</a></p><p>She’s <a href="http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2016/03/proof-ignorance-drives-clintons-voters.html">“the experience candidate,” in the view of voters</a>, as if the content of that experience doesn’t matter, and as if what matters instead is the posts she has occupied: First Lady for 8 years, U.S. Senator for 4 years, then Secretary of State for 4 years.</p><p>By contrast, Bernie Sanders has a <a href="http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/bernie-gets-it-done-sanders-record-pushing-through-major-reforms-will-surprise-you">record</a> of having been a civil-rights organizer for the Congress of Racial Equality while a student at the University of Chicago, then a mayor of Burlington, Vermont for eight years, the U.S. Representative from Vermont for 18 years, and a U.S. senator from Vermont for (so far) 10 years. </p><p>Donald Trump has no political record, except as a donor to the campaigns of Democrats and Republicans — and, of course, as the heir of NYC real-estate mogul Fred Trump, Fred’s son who continued the growth of Fred’s business.</p><p>To summarize: Hillary Clinton has a consistent record of having served well her billionaire donors. Donald Trump has a consistent record of having been served well by the politicians to whom he has donated. Bernie Sanders has a consistent record of having served well the public who elected him to public office. (That’s why <a href="https://morningconsult.com/2015/11/bernie-sanders-is-the-most-popular-senator-in-america/">he has the highest approval-rating of all 100 U.S. senators.</a>)</p><p>It’s common for politicians to lie, and anyone who judges a candidate on the basis not of what he/she has done but instead on the basis of what he/she tells voters what that given politician will do is judging the candidate on an invalid basis.</p><p>So: would it be reasonable to assert that anyone (other than her major donors) who votes for Hillary Clinton is simply a sucker? Reader-comments here are welcomed to discuss this question, providing reasons why or why not that’s the case.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1052942'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1052942" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Mon, 21 Mar 2016 07:02:00 -0700 Eric Zuesse, AlterNet 1052942 at http://blog.alternet.org Election 2016 Election 2016 Environment clinton election A Little-Known Way Our Political System Is Rigged to Favor the Establishment http://blog.alternet.org/election-2016/little-known-way-our-political-system-rigged-favor-establishment <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1052709'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1052709" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">You might not have heard of this ridiculous advantage to incumbency.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://blog.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2016-03-16_at_8.35.30_pm.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Did you know that if a given political party already has an incumbent in a particular political post, it’s standard practice in the United States for a political party to prohibit its voter-list to be purchased by anyone who’s not an incumbent office-holder in that party — including by someone who wishes to challenge or contest within that party the incumbent, in a primary election?<br /><br />Only incumbents have access to that crucial list — crucial for any candidate in a primary election (unless there is no incumbent who is of that party).<br /><br />Here’s an example:<br /><br />Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, a long-time unquestioningly loyal operative of Hillary Clinton, was selected by the Democratic President Barack Obama (though she had condemned Obama while he was running against Clinton in 2008) to run the Democratic National Committee, so that Obama’s Administration will be continued with little change by his (chosen) successor (just a change of the President’s name, and only a bit more of a neo-conservative on her foreign policies than he was). However, Ms. DWS has a very low approval-rating from her constituents, and a Bernie Sanders supporter wants to contest against her in a Democratic primary. But, <a href="https://medium.com/@Tim[email protected]uot;>he says:</a></p><p>Last week, I called the Florida Democratic Party to request access to the voter file database and software known as VAN that is routinely used by Democratic candidates across the country.<br /><br />I was told that our campaign would be denied access to this database because I am running against an incumbent Democrat, Debbie Wasserman Schultz. I was also told that any Democratic candidate running against an incumbent Democrat would be denied access.<br /><br />A reader-comment there was:<br /><br />I’ve learned that this is standard practice in most states, to block challengers from the same party going up against incumbents.<br /><br />I think it’s bullshit. I’ve asked people to give me some good reasoning why this is a standard practice, and *crickets*.<br /><br />In other words: Politicians campaign hypocritically saying they favor ’term-limits’ but universally support the real  reason (which isn’t the lack of term-limits; it’s the lack of fairness, such as this) why even the most vile incumbents get re-‘elected’ time and again: this thuggish custom of the Democratic and Republican political Parties, which blocks challengers from having access to the most crucial tool for becoming a Party’s nominee: the list of that Party’s registerd voters. Only the existing incumbent can buy that list. (Of course, if the ‘opposite’ Party has the incumbent in the contest, then the DNC/RNC will sell the person that list in order to yank the seat to their Party. The most-rigged part of American ‘democracy’ might be primary elections, not  general elections — which is what politicians most discuss in public as being rigged, such as especially both of GWB’s Presidential ‘wins’, which were exceptionally scandalous.)<br /><br />Among the many ways in which the United States is not a democracy, the operation of primaries by Parties which actually represent their incumbents and not at all the public, is an important one. And the incumbent politicians never publicize it. Only a few aspiring challengers ‘complain’ about it — and the public never likes a 'complainer.'<br /><br />What this means is that, if an incumbent serves well the donors who financed his/her campaign, then that person will almost certainly not be effectively challenged in a primary by someone else from that party, because that prospective challenger won’t even have access to the list of registered voted in that party. The only significant chance that the incumbent will be replaced (unless he/she quits and, say, becomes a lobbyist for those donors) is if the ‘opposite’ party can find a suitable person to run against him/her (by serving donors to the ‘other’ party — which donors might also be donors to both parties).<br /> </p><p>In other words: the political Establishment consists of the aristocracy and its servants — within both parties. Both parties serve the aristocrats, sometimes even the same aristocrats, but, in other matters, serve the agenda that’s shared among the richest people in both parties.</p><p>The only scientific study that has been done of the net results from such a system was described and linked-to <a href="http://www.commondreams.org/views/2014/04/14/us-oligarchy-not-democracy-says-scientific-study">here</a>. It found that in the U.S., the aristocracy rule; the public do not. And <a href="http://web.archive.org/web/20150805164144/http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eric-zuesse/jimmy-carter-is-correct-t_b_7922788.html">here</a> is a recent former U.S. President saying that his own experience and analysis of the U.S. political system is in accord with those findings.</p><p><br /> </p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1052709'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1052709" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 16 Mar 2016 20:24:00 -0700 Eric Zuesse, AlterNet 1052709 at http://blog.alternet.org Election 2016 Election 2016 News & Politics debbie wasserman-schultz Demcratic Party protecting incumbents This Election Is the Biggest Threat to the Aristocracy and Biggest Opportunity for Voters, Since at Least 1932 http://blog.alternet.org/election-2016/election-biggest-threat-aristocracy-and-biggest-opportunity-voters-least-1932 <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1052447'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1052447" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">For the first time since 1932, an American presidential campaign presents an opportunity for the public to overthrow the aristocracy. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://blog.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2016-03-13_at_12.54.10_pm.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><div>The historical significance of the 2016 U.S. presidential contest isn’t yet generally recognized. Consider the evidence regarding this historical significance, in the links that will be provided here, and from which the argument here is constructed:</div><p>For the first time ever, a Republican campaign ad against Hillary Clinton is entirely truthful about her and focuses on the most important issue facing voters:</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/e4LKAt1t_8M" width="560"></iframe></p><div>For the first time since 1932, an American presidential campaign presents an opportunity for the public to overthrow the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/05/hillary-clinton-foundation-state-arms-deals" target="_blank">aristocracy</a>. </div><div> </div><div>And, for the first time in U.S. history, a realistic possibility exists that the voters’ choice between the two parties’ presidential nominees might turn out to be between two enemies of the aristocracy: Bernie Sanders versus Donald Trump.</div><div> </div><div>However, if it turns out instead to be between Trump v. Clinton, then what will be the aristocratic backing of each?</div><div> </div><div>On Clinton’s side will be <a href="http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2016/03/corruption-works-hillary-clinton-example.html" target="_blank">Wall Street</a> — and this includes the ‘shadow banks’ (the non-“bank” sellers of what Bill Clinton and the Republicans caused to become unregulated <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shadow_banking_system" target="_blank">credit derivatives</a>), from which Hillary Clinton is also receiving donations, and from which the Clinton Foundation is supported and <a href="https://www.clintonfoundation.org/about/board-directors#FrankGiustra" target="_blank">overseen</a> — along with other Clinton funders).</div><div> </div><div>Clearly, this is the first presidential contest since 1932 in which the interests of the aristocracy versus the interests of the public will be presented to the voters, for them to decide which of the two sides they’re actually on.</div><div> </div><div>And, if the election turns out to be between Trump versus Sanders, then this will be the first U.S. presidential election ever in which both of the major-party nominees will have committed themselves to policies (Trump clearly on foreign affairs, Sanders clearly on domestic affairs) that the aristocracy vigorously oppose, and that present a severe threat to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eric-zuesse/jimmy-carter-is-correct-t_b_7922788.html" target="_blank">the aristocrats' continued rule of the country</a>.</div><div style="margin:0px;line-height:normal;font-family:Arial;min-height:14px"> </div> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1052447'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1052447" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Sun, 13 Mar 2016 07:18:00 -0700 Eric Zuesse, AlterNet 1052447 at http://blog.alternet.org Election 2016 Election 2016 clinton sanders trump gop dems election Is Sanders' Striking Success in New Hampshire a Sign of a National Political Shocker in the Making? http://blog.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/sanders-striking-success-new-hampshire-sign-national-political-shocker-making <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1049324'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1049324" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Polling continues to show the more people get to know Bernie, the more popular he becomes; and he whips Trump. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://blog.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_259200632_0.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>The latest New Hampshire Democratic primary poll indicates not only a current reality in that state, but an underlying and far more important national trend, a trend exhibited in N.H. that has bearing more broadly throughout the country, and that shows U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders already well on the road toward locking up the Democratic nomination, barring any future game-changing disclosures about one or both candidates, which are always possibilities in any political contest, and can never be ruled out. The same poll also shows Sanders performing more strongly against any Republican than Hillary Clinton would. This is not the way things looked to most prognosticators back on April 30th when Sanders started his campaign.</p><p>On June 1st, I bannered, <a href="http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2015/06/my-prediction-bernie-sanders-will-win-the-white-house.html" target="_blank">“My Prediction: Bernie Sanders Will Win the White House,”</a> based upon the early indications being clear, even then, that he would have a higher net-favorability rating from likely Democratic Presidential primary voters than Hillary Clinton. (The same analysis, from many polls, indicated also that Sanders would likely beat any Republican candidate in the general election.) Whereas far more Democrats at that time were familiar with Clinton than with Sanders, and therefore Clinton scored far higher in the national polls then than he did (and so she was presumed to be the contest’s front-runner), the determinant of the future trendline  for any candidate is net-favorability ratings, especially comparing “strongly approve” versus “strongly disapprove,” which ratios tend to be, especially at such an early stage in a contest, a far better predictor of the contest’s ultimate winner than are the sheer poll-numbers at such a time. What the latest New Hampshire poll, taken now near the end of the contest in N.H., shows, is that the campaign in New Hampshire, as it is nearing its end, is increasingly displaying a strong edge over Clinton that Sanders has on this most crucial of all ratios, which is propelling him toward a substantial margin of victory in this, the first, primary state.</p><p>The <a href="http://www.wmur.com/blob/view/-/37515904/data/2/-/5rwui0z/-/1-19-16-Democratic-primary-poll-results.pdf" target="_blank">CNN/WMUR New Hampshire Primary Poll</a>, sponsored by WMUR-TV and CNN, and conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, randomly surveyed New Hampshire adults and found 420 who indicated that they intended to vote in the Democratic Presidential primary on February 9th. Here are the results:</p><p><em>More than nine in ten (91%) likely Democratic Primary voters have a favorable opinion of Sanders, only 7% have an unfavorable opinion of him, 2% are neutral, and 1% don’t know enough about him to say. Sanders’ net favorability rating is an almost unheard of +84%. </em></p><p><em>Former Secretary of State and 2008 New Hampshire Primary winner Hillary Clinton also continues to be popular in the state – 65% of likely Democratic Primary voters have a favorable opinion of Clinton, 26% have an unfavorable opinion of her, 9% are neutral, and 1% don’t know enough about her to say. Clinton’s net favorability rating is +39%. </em></p><p><em>Sanders’ net favorability rating has steadily increased over 2015 from +34% in February to +67% in September to +84% in the most recent poll. Clinton’s has eroded through the same period, from +74% in February to +44% in September, and remaining at +39% in the latest CNN/WMUR poll. </em></p><p>The trendlines are starkly indicated in the following, from this N.H. poll:</p><p>“Sanders is the most electable Democrat as measured by net electability, the percentage who support a candidate minus the percentage who would not vote for that candidate under any circumstances. Sanders net electability score is +56%, while Clinton’s net electability score is +19%, and O’Malley’s is -26%. Clinton’s net electability rating has been declining over the past year while Sanders’ has continued to increase.”</p><p>What this crucial fact means is: the more that voters get to know about Sanders, the more they approve of him, whereas the more that they get to know about Clinton, the less they approve of her. (As regards O’Malley, voters still can’t see any reason for him to be running, other than self-aggrandizement.)</p><p>Regarding the general-election contest in N.H., a later headline that same day, January 20th, was based upon the same poll, but included the results also from Republican voters, the 413 who were planning to vote on February 9th in the Republican primary, and the headline was <a href="http://www.wmur.com/politics/wmur-poll-sanders-is-new-hampshires-favorite-general-election-candidate/37537024" target="_blank">“WMUR poll: Sanders is New Hampshire’s favorite general election candidate: Vermont Democrat fares better against top Republicans than Hillary Clinton.”</a> That result showed:</p><p><em>In a match-up of the current New Hampshire frontrunners in each party, Sanders leads Republican businessman Donald Trump, 57 percent to 34 percent, with 6 percent favoring another candidate and 3 percent undecided. Independents favor Sanders, 55 percent to 33 percent.</em></p><p><em>Clinton leads Trump, 48 percent to 39 percent, with 10 percent supporting another candidate and 3 percent undecided. Independents favor Clinton 43 percent to 34 percent.</em></p><p><em>U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who jumped to second place in the latest WMUR/CNN New Hampshire Primary Poll of Republican candidates, trails Sanders, 56 percent to 33 percent, with independents favoring Sanders, 56 percent to 24 percent.</em></p><p><em>Clinton has a much smaller lead over Cruz, 47 percent to 41 percent, with independents slightly favoring Cruz, 39 percent to 33 percent.</em></p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1049324'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1049324" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Sun, 24 Jan 2016 09:50:00 -0800 Eric Zuesse, AlterNet 1049324 at http://blog.alternet.org News & Politics Election 2016 News & Politics bernie sanders election 2016 The Myriad Ways Political Corruption and Mass Incarceration Go Hand and Hand http://blog.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/myriad-ways-political-corruption-and-mass-incarceration-go-hand-and-hand <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1049323'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1049323" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">In order to protect the profits of privately run prisons in the U.S., the federal government refuses to honor FOIA requests.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://blog.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_142194433.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Even if it might be the case that incarceration rates don’t necessarily correlate with corruption, they do necessarily reflect the extent to which a given nation’s government is (by means of its laws and its enforcement of those laws) at war against its own population; and, so, technically speaking, incarceration rates (the percentage of the population who are in prison) are supposed to reflect the prevalence of law-breaking within a given nation.</p><p>After all, by definition, people are presumed to be in prison for law-breaking, irrespective of whether the given nation’s laws are just — and if they’re not just, then this fact reflects even more strongly that the nation itself is corrupt. So, a high incarceration rate does strongly tend to go along with a nation’s being highly corrupt, in more than merely a technical sense — it’s almost more like being the definitive measure of “corruption.” So, the correlation between incarceration rates and corruption must be assumed to be high, and any measure of corruption which fails to at least include countries’ incarceration rates should be rejected. </p><p>Out of the world’s 223 countries, the U.S. has the world’s second-highest incarceration rate: 698 per 100,000, just behind #1 Seychelles, with 799 per 100,000. Seychelles doesn’t even have as many as 100,000 people (but only 90,024 — as many people as are in the city of Temple, Texas). By contrast, the U.S. has 322,369,319; so, the U.S. is surely the global leader in imprisonment. And, furthermore, #3, St. Kitts and Nevis, with an incarceration rate of 607 per 100,000, has only 54,961 people (as many people as are in the city of Columbus, Indiana). The only other country that might actually be close to the U.S. in imprisoning its own people is North Korea, which could even beat out the U.S. there, but wouldn’t likely beat tiny Seychelles: North Korea is estimated to have “600-800 people incarcerated per <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_incarceration_rate#North_Korea" target="_blank">100,000,”</a> and a total population of “24,895,000.”</p><p>Thus, for imprisonments, the U.S. really does have no close second: it’s the unquestionable global market-leader, for prisons and prisoners.</p><p>And this brings us to the market-leader for prisons within America itself, and to the stunning corruption that stands behind it. So, here’s that extraordinary example, and the story behind its corruption, which will provide a closeup view of America’s general corruption, from the top (including the government itself) on down: </p><p>In order to protect <a href="http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/GEO_Group" target="_blank">the profits</a> of privately run prisons in the U.S. (where <a href="http://ccrjustice.org/home/press-center/press-releases/immigration-detention-bed-quotas-private-prison-corporations" target="_blank">“Sixty-two percent</a> of detention beds are administered by private prison corporations,” meaning that most U.S. prisoners are being ‘served’ by for-profit corporations in for-profit-run prisons), the U.S. federal government is refusing to honor Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) requests by the Center for Constitutional Rights <a href="http://ccrjustice.org/home/what-we-do/our-cases/detention-watch-network-dwn-v-immigration-customs-and-enforcement-ice-and" target="_blank">(CCR)</a>, which is trying to find out why people are being imprisoned as illegal immigrants who ought not to be. Wrongly imprisoned people are a device by which private prison-operating companies keep their prison beds occupied and thus drawing income from the U.S. government, just like a high occupancy-rate is essential for a hotelier’s profitability.</p><p>But unlike in the hotel trade, this coercive bed-occupancy produces more than mere profits; it produces also distressed families, of those individuals who are yanked and unjustifiably imprisoned, families suffering needlessly. </p><p>It turns out that U.S. federal laws, passed mainly by the Republicans, but also with votes from corrupt Democrats, require (in <a href="https://www.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/3547" target="_blank">H.R.3547</a>) the U.S. government to pay for “a level of not less than 34,000 detention beds” for ‘illegal immigrants.’ (You can see that requirement being cited by the Republican interrogator of an Obama Administration official, Department of Homeland Security, at 1:03:00- in <a href="http://appropriations.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=371296" target="_blank">this video</a>, where the Obama official is being criticized for not locking up enough people to meet the law’s requirements.) (Republicans and other conservatives love to punish people, irrespective of justice; so, they want at least those 34,000 prisoners. To be concerned about justice, as the CCR is, is to be ‘soft on crime,’ as Republicans view it.</p><p>Instead of justice, Republicans seek revenge; thus, for example, <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/12/16/from-moderate-democrats-to-white-evangelicals-nearly-every-demographic-group-believes-torture-can-be-justified/" target="_blank">Republicans</a> overwhelmingly support torture against ‘terrorist’ suspects; Democrats overwhelmingly oppose it. Torture greatly reduces the trustworthiness of a suspect’s statements, but it always serves as a vent for revenge, even when the suspect actually had nothing to do with terrorism; so, Republicans strongly approve of torture. Similarly, the most-conservative Muslims approve of beheading ‘infidels.’ Conservatives everywhere, and in every faith, support harsh punishments; and the U.S. is a conservative country; so, sentences are long, and the conditions are harsh.)</p><p>However, the Obama Administration itself, even as it locks up, on some days, just shy of the legally mandated minimum of 34,000 accused ‘illegal immigrants’ (which shortfall is here drawing the ire of that congressional Republican in the video), is also <a href="http://ccrjustice.org/sites/default/files/attach/2015/12/Dkt%2087.Defs%20MOL%20on%20B4%20SJ.pdf" target="_blank">actively blocking</a> CCR from access to the information about how the government and private corporations set rates for immigration detention beds and facilities. CCR argues that private profits are being given higher priority by the Administration than is the welfare of the public; and, thus, that the General Welfare Clause of the U.S. Constitution is being violated here. </p><p>The Obama administration says that it won’t release the information, because to do so would “harm corporations competitively.” </p><p><a href="http://ccrjustice.org/home/press-center/press-releases/immigration-detention-bed-quotas-private-prison-corporations" target="_blank">CCR claims</a>, and the Obama administration is opposing their claim, that "there is essentially no competitive market in government contracts that could be harmed by the release of information, that there should be nothing proprietary about the terms of a government contract, and that the public has a right to understand how Congress funds immigration detention and how that funding is influenced.”</p><p>The Obama administration is arguing that if this same cost-information were being requested concerning any of the 38% of government-run prisons, then the FOIA request would be complied with, but that contracting-out or privatizing that function has freed the government from any such <a href="http://ccrjustice.org/sites/default/files/attach/2015/12/Dkt%2087.Defs%20MOL%20on%20B4%20SJ.pdf">obligation.</a></p><p>However, CCR is concerned specifically about that profit-motive here — that the revolving door between government service and the private sector might itself be a key part of the explanation for the government’s requiring that at least 34,000 people will be in prison for, or awaiting trial on charges of, ‘illegal immigration.’ CCR contends that the only reason why people should be imprisoned in America is that they’ve actually broken laws for which the correct punishment is a prison term. But the position of the U.S. government is contrary: if the beneficiary of someone’s imprisonment is a private corporation, the public shouldn’t necessarily be allowed to know what’s going on, nor why. And, so, that’s the issue here. Does a private corporation’s privacy-right exceed the public’s right-to-know? The government says yes; CCR says no. CCR argues that to privatize is not to immunize: the government has the same obligations to the public, regardless of how it has chosen to carry out its obligations — either directly, or else by contracting them out (such as here). The Obama Administration argues that a private corporation is private, protected from the public’s scrutiny — and that the corporation’s only obligations are to the government, not  to the public; thus, no such FOIA requests will be honored. </p><p>Here’s what’s not  in dispute about the case: the man who, in the first Obama Administration, was the head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations, <a href="http://www.geogroup.com/David_J__Venturella" target="_blank">David Venturella</a>, is now the top sales official at GEO Group, which is "the world's leading provider of correctional detention, and residential treatment services around the <a href="http://www.icefoundation.org/david-venturella.html" target="_blank">globe”</a> — and that’s also the first thing GEO says about itself, on its own <a href="http://www.geogroup.com/about_us" target="_blank">“Who We Are”</a> page. And Mr. Venturella is now being cited by the Obama Administration as an ‘expert,’ in order to deny CCA’s FOIA request.</p><p>As a GEO official, Venturella claims in his 22 December 2015 declaration in the <a href="https://ccrjustice.org/sites/default/files/attach/2015/12/Dkt%2092.Venturella%20Declaration%20on%20behalf%20of%20GEO.pdf" target="_blank">court case,</a> that, “the winning proposal in almost every Federal procurement competition is awarded to the lowest priced bidder,” and that, “The disclosure of GEO’s proprietary bed-day rates and staffing plans would result in substantial competitive financial harm to GEO.” He claims that, “Even with access to their larger competitors’ staffing plans, the smaller private companies do not have access to the capital needed to compete to win a large facility.” In other words: he pretends that GEO is one of “the smaller private companies.” But then he goes on to say (just in case a reader might happen to consider GEO not to be one of “the smaller private companies"): "The second stage would be acrimonious competition between the larger organizations, public and private, that will very likely lead to their withdrawal from the detention market as well, thereby leaving ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] with no viable detention service providers.” Venturella assumes here that ICE cannot itself own and operate its prisons. (He doesn’t say why; he merely assumes that it’s the case — perhaps that everything should be privatized, and must be privatized, so ICE shouldn’t run its own prisons.) And, he also is vaguely threatening there to abandon this market. He’s actually suggesting that, if the government were to require this information about cost and profitability to be released to CCA, then GEO might no longer even bid on this business — regardless of how profitable it is to them. And, he says, this would leave ICE “with no viable detention service providers.” </p><p>So: that (ridiculously and multiply false) argument is the reason why injustices to defendants in the U.S. immigration system must continue, Venturella, the salesman for GEO (his title is “Senior Vice President”), is here arguing. And, the U.S. government doesn’t challenge it, but instead unquestioningly accepts it. </p><p>Essentially, the Obama Administration is joining with GEO arguing that the profitability of private prison companies is more important than any injustices that might happen to be caused by Congress’s establishment of an arbitrary fixed and stable minimum number of prisoners every day — and, since the head of the top prison-company is saying that profits would be threatened by adhering to FOIA in this particular matter, the Freedom Of Information Act request in this case must be denied.</p><p>The basic  argument, in other words, is that privatization is more important than the U.S. Constitution and its General Welfare Clause.</p><p>How close are these contractors to  the government?</p><p>Here are five of the seven members of the <a href="http://www.geogroup.com/board_of_directors" target="_blank">Board of Directors</a> of GEO:</p><p>One is “Former Director, Federal Bureau of Prisons.”</p><p>Another is “Former Under Secretary United States Air Force.”</p><p>Another is “Executive Director, National League of Cities.”</p><p>Another is “Chairman and CEO of ElectedFace Inc.,” <a href="http://www.zoominfo.com/p/Richard-Glanton/8934263" target="_blank">which</a> “will connect people to their elected officials in every political district.”</p><p>Another is George C. Zoley, the company’s founder and CEO, who is also <a href="http://www.prwatch.org/news/2013/11/12320/meet-george-zoley-america%E2%80%99s-highest-paid-%E2%80%9Ccorrections-officer%E2%80%9D" target="_blank">“America’s Highest Paid ‘Corrections Officer.’”</a> In fact: "GEO Group's revenue in 2012 exceeded $1.4 billion and CMD [Center for Media and Democracy] estimates that 86% of this money came out of the pockets of taxpayers. CMD's investigation of GEO Group unearthed how the company's cost-cutting strategies lead to a vicious cycle where lower wages and benefits for workers, high employee turnover, insufficient training, and under-staffing results in poor oversight and mistreatment of detained persons, increased violence, and riots.” (If so, then that would add to the misery that’s produced by the improper imprisonments.)</p><p><a href="http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/GEO_Group" target="_blank">“According to Nasdaq</a>, major investors in GEO Group include: Vanguard, <a href="http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/BlackRock" target="_blank">BlackRock</a>, Scopia Capital (a hedge fund run by Jeremy Mindich and Matt Sirovich) <a href="http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Barclays_Bank" target="_blank">Barclays Global Investors</a>, <a href="http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Bank_of_New_York" target="_blank">Bank of New York Mellon</a>, and more.<a href="http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/GEO_Group#cite_note-132" target="_blank">[132]</a> George Zoley, CEO of GEO, is a major stockholder with over 500,000 shares.<a href="http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/GEO_Group#cite_note-133" target="_blank">[133]</a> For more on investors, see Ray Downs, <a href="http://www.vice.com/read/whos-getting-rich-off-the-prison-industrial-complex" target="_blank">‘Who's Getting Rich Off the Prison-Industrial Complex?'</a> Vice, June 2013.”</p><p>Privatization is very profitable. But not for everybody. Only for the well-connected. For everybody else, it’s just more poor and abused workers, and unjustly imprisoned people. But virtually all Republicans, and also the Obama Administration and other corrupt Democrats (and Obama will get his enrichment after he leaves office), think that privatization is necessary — even more necessary than is adherence to the U.S. Constitution, or than a justly ruled nation, and a prosperous public.</p><p>This type of government fits with America’s extraordinarily high incarceration rate. Looking under the hood of one dysfunctional car, one finds a dysfunctional motor.</p><p>But a few U.S. officials do whatever they can to reduce the country’s corruption. For example, the <a href="http://www.immigrantjustice.org/immigration-detention-bed-quota-timeline" target="_blank">“Immigration Detention Bed Quota Timeline”</a> shows that, in September 2015, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (who probably is the U.S. federal government’s leading campaigner against corruption) “introduces the <a href="http://www.sanders.senate.gov/download/justice-is-not-for-sale-act?inline=file" target="_blank">Justice is Not for Sale Act of 2015</a>, which seeks to end the bed quota among other criminal justice and immigration detention reforms. The bill is the first effort in the U.S. Senate to eliminate the bed quota. In addition, Reps. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), Keith Ellison (D-MN), and Bobby Rush (D-IL) introduce the bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.” </p><p>Those are the most progressive members of the U.S. Congress. Arrayed against them are the billions of dollars in political propaganda that cause the number of such progressives to be extremely few in the U.S. government. For that bill to pass in Congress, practically all conservatives would first have to become replaced by progressives, and by other supposed non-conservatives (called ‘liberals’), in Congress. Sanders says that it would require <a href="http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/news/politics/2015/05/26/sanders-begin-political-revolution/27991467/" target="_blank">“a political revolution,”</a> and he’s correct on that. But that’s the least likely type of “revolution” the U.S. might have. Perhaps Sanders knows this but doesn’t want to shock people, who are too indoctrinated to be able to accept the uncomfortably ugly truth, that things are probably already be too far gone for that type of “revolution” to be sufficient (even if feasible).</p><p>Everyone in Congress knows that this is the reality. On December 28, Huffington Post bannered, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/jon-stewart-sept-11-responders_567ab1e5e4b06fa6887f7bd8" target="_blank">“Why Jon Stewart Fought So Hard For 9/11 Responders: The former ‘Daily Show’ host went to Capitol Hill twice to help the people who had risked their lives get access to health care. It left him disgusted.”</a> He was shocked at how psychopathic almost all of the members of Congress are. Apparently, the closer you get to it, the worse it smells.</p><p><em>This story was originally posted at <a href="http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2016/01/12/how-corrupt-us-is-extraordinary-example.html" target="_blank">strategic-culture.org</a>.</em></p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1049323'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1049323" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Sat, 23 Jan 2016 00:00:00 -0800 Eric Zuesse, AlterNet 1049323 at http://blog.alternet.org News & Politics News & Politics corruption incarceration imprisonment Poll: 'Iraqis Are the Saddest & One of the Angriest Populations in the World' http://blog.alternet.org/world/poll-iraqis-are-saddest-one-angriest-populations-world <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1043260'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1043260" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The Gallup survey covered 1,000 adults in each of 148 countries during 2014. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://blog.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_59861155_1.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>The <a href="http://www.gallup.com/services/184871/2015-global-emotions-report.aspx">2015 Global Emotions</a> survey from Gallup finds that, “Iraqis Are Among the Saddest and One of the Angriest Populations in the World.” They explain:</p><p>“Iraq’s high Negative Experience Index score is largely attributable to the relatively high percentages of Iraqis who report experiencing each of these negative emotions. Majorities of Iraqis experienced worry (62%), physical pain (57%), sadness (57%) and stress (55%) the previous day, and half of Iraqis (50%) said they experienced anger. Iraqis lead the world in experiencing sadness and tie with Iran on anger (49%).”<br /><br />This Gallup survey covered 1,000 adults in each of 148 countries during 2014.<br /><br />The “Highest [11] Negative Experience Index Scores 2014” were, in order:<br />Iraq 56<br />Iran 50<br />Cambodia 46<br />Liberia 45<br />South Sudan 44<br />Uganda 43<br />Cyprus 42<br />Greece 42<br />Togo 42<br />Bolivia 41<br />Palestinian Territories 41<br /><br />The “Lowest [10] Negative Experience Index Scores 2014” were:<br />Uzbekistan 12<br />China 15<br />Mongolia 15<br />Myanmar 15<br />Russia 15<br />Taiwan 15<br />Rwanda 16<br />Kazakhstan 17<br />Kyrgyzstan 17<br />Turkmenistan 18<br /><br />Gallup reports: "The Negative and Positive Experience Indexes are not inversely related, so countries with the lowest negative scores do not necessarily have the highest positive scores. Many of the countries with the lowest scores on the Negative Experience Index are post-Soviet states, where people have typically reported both some of the lowest negative emotions in the world and some of the lowest positive emotions.”<br /><br />The “Highest [10] Positive Experience Index Scores 2014” were:<br />Paraguay 89<br />Colombia 84<br />Ecuador 84<br />Guatemala 84<br />Honduras 82<br />Panama 82<br />Venezuela 82<br />Costa Rica 81<br />El Salvador 81<br />Nicaragua 81<br /><br />The “Lowest [10] Positive Experience Index Scores 2014” were:<br />Sudan 47<br />Tunisia 52<br />Bangladesh 54<br />Serbia 54<br />Turkey 54<br />Afghanistan 55<br />Bosnia and Herzegovina 55<br />Georgia 55<br />Lithuania 55<br />Nepal 55<br /><br />There was a far smaller range between highest and lowest positive-experience scores (89/47), than between highest and lowest negative-emotion scores (56/12). The entire world ranges positive experiences 89/47, constituting a range or ratio of 1.9, but the amount of negative experiences ranges 56/12, or 4.7. It seems that the world is more happy than sad (since people are reporting more positive experiences than negative experiences), but that the sadness is concentrated in countries that have especially suffered wars, plagues, or sustained economic collapse.<br /><br />The extraordinary concentration of positive experiences in Central America is stunning, because the murder-rates there are also high. For example, <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/10/world/un-world-murder-rates/">Honduras has the world’s highest murder-rate</a>, yet it has the fifth-highest positive-experiences score. However, the latest year when Honduras’s negative-experience score was published, <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/171419/world-becoming-slightly-negative.aspx">which was in 2014 based on 2013 polling</a>, Honduras ranked 53 out of the 138 polled countries, or had the 53rd-highest negative-experience score. So: negative experiences were fairly high in the world’s murder-capital, but positive experiences were very  high there. Is the world’s murder-capital a fairly happy place?<br /><br />In <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/171419/world-becoming-slightly-negative.aspx">Gallup’s report last year</a>, in which 138 countries were surveyed during 2013, the nation with the lowest positive-experience score was Syria. That nation had the all-time lowest score of 36 (obviously, the war with ISIS was likely the main reason for that); Chad was the second-lowest then, at 52. But neither Syria nor Chad was even included in this year’s report (the report that’s based on 2014 data). However, the other lowest-ten nations on the latest-published positive-experience scores were likewise among the lowest-scoring nations last year. The bottom-ten-and top-ten lists look pretty similar, year-to-year. Stability in these scores is rather strong.<br /><br />The United States scored 25th out of 143 on the 2014 positive-experience index (showing on that as being a happy nation there), and 28th out of 138 on the 2013 negative experience index (showing as a happy nation on that too).<br /><br />Russia scored 87th out of 143 on the 2014 positive-experience index (showing as a rather unhappy nation there), and 132nd out of 138 on the 2013 negative-experience index (showing as an extremely happy nation there).<br /><br />China scored 45th out of 143 on the positive, and 123rd out of 138 on the negative.<br /><br />India scored 63rd out of 143 on the positive, and 48th out of 138 on the negative.<br /><br />Regarding Denmark, which is the country that leads most happiness-rankings, they’re 26th out of 143 on the positive, and 114th out of 138 on the negative. (That’s clearly a very happy country, in Gallup’s rating-system.)<br /><br />Sweden is 24th of 143 on the positive, and 108th of 138 on the negative.<br /><br />New Zealand is 21st of 143 on the positive, and 128th of 138 on the negative. (That might be the happiest country on Earth.)<br /><br />Uzbekistan is 32nd of 143 on the positive, and 138th out of 138 on the negative. That negative, of course, was from 2013, when Uzbekistan’s score on the negative was 13; but the latest, the merely partial, report from Gallup (with which the present article started) also showed Uzbekistan as having now the “Lowest Negative Experience Index Score” in 2014; it’s only 12. (Maybe Uzbekistan is even happier than New Zealand.)<br /><br />If these surveys from Gallup aren’t just a total mess; if they’re interpretable at all; then Uzbekistan indeed probably is the world’s stand-out happiest nation, being in the top 32/143 or 22%, for positive experiences, and in the bottom 138/138 for negative experiences — the #1 nation for absence  of negative experiences, or in the top 1% for lacking  negative experiences. If absence of negative experiences is even more important than presence of positive experiences (and that does seem reasonable), then Uzbekistan is probably the happiness-capital of the world. Maybe everyone should move to Uzbekistan? Has Gallup perhaps identified the best place on Earth to live — and it’s <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uzbekistan">Uzbekistan</a>?<br /><br />Gallup’s happenstance reporting about these surveys (why didn’t they report the complete scores, and rankings, for positive, and also for negative, at the same time?), and their failure to provide the complete rankings (not only the top-ten and bottom-ten), causes a large percentage of the enormous expense that they’re spent to generate these data, to be simply wasted — difficult if not impossible to interpret in any really meaningful way. Gallup’s management, at least of their reports if not also of their survey-questions, is clearly poor. But perhaps their polling isn’t quite so bad. In any case, their confusing system of international surveying on welfare (“negative experience” and “positive experience”) is a conceptual mess, unclear to interpret, if interpretable at all.<br /><br />Is Uzbekistan really the best place to live?</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2015 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1043260'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1043260" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 06:30:00 -0700 Eric Zuesse, AlterNet 1043260 at http://blog.alternet.org World World iraq gallup emotions survey poll Exposing the Flaws of the U.S. Media's Dangerous Ukraine Propaganda http://blog.alternet.org/world/exposing-flaws-us-medias-dangerous-ukraine-propaganda <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '997920'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=997920" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The press has taken a near-sighted view of the crisis, spinning in ways that only create a partial picture.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://blog.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_165367634.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p><em>The New York Review of Books</em> is a leading intellectual publication in the United States, and it (like all of the major U.S. “news” media) has "reported" on the Ukrainian civil war as having been incited by Russia's Vladimir Putin -- a simple-minded explanation, which also happens to be deeply false. The reality is that the residents of southern Ukraine, the part of Ukraine adjoining Russia, were overwhelmingly opposed to the overthrow of Ukraine's democratically elected President, Viktor Yanukovych, though they are portrayed in <em>NYRB</em> (and other “news” media) as being mere stooges of Russian propaganda for their opposing the coup that overthrew the President for whom they had voted overwhelmingly. (The only thing that America’s “news” media had<em> previously</em> reported about Yanukovych is that he was corrupt; but so were all of his predecessors, and U.S. media ignored this crucial fact. Selective reporting is basic to propaganda, and the U.S. major media are trained masters at it. Without a person’s knowing that Ukraine is by far <a href="http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GlobalCompetitivenessReport_2013-14.pdf" target="_blank">the most corrupt country in the former Soviet Union</a>, and the one with <a href="http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2014/03/ukraine-and-russia" target="_blank">the worst economic performance of them all</a>, Ukraine’s politics just can’t be understood at all: it has long been an extreme kleptocracy, ruled by psychopathic politicians, for the benefit of psychopathic oligarchs, who have robbed the country blind. That’s the deeper truth -- and it's key to understanding the current situation there.)</p><p>So: by digging into an example, the rot in U.S. “news” media will be dissected here, and the truth in Ukraine will be exposed here.</p><p>On 28 April 2014, <em>NYRB</em>'s reporter Tim Judah headlined from Donetsk in the south, <a href="http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2014/apr/28/ukraine-hate-progress/" target="_blank">"Ukraine: Hate in Progress."</a> He (falsely) analogized the opponents against that coup as being similar to the separatists in Yugoslavia whose ethnocentrism had produced the atrocities during the civil war that broke up Yugoslavia. Judah wrote: </p><p>"Talk to people manning the anti-government barricades and taking part in the demonstrations against Kiev [in the north] here, ... and one thing in particular is scary. After a day or two you realize that they all say more or less the same thing. ‘We want to be listened to,’ people say. The government in Kiev, which took power after the pro-European revolution there, is a ‘fascist junta’ backed by Europe and the US. It is as though the Russian media—which is widely watched and read here—has somehow embedded these messages into the heads of people and they have lost the ability to think for themselves. ... All that seems to be registering right now is a nationalist and hysterical drumbeat from Russia about the new Nazis of Kiev and their NATO masters. [Judah’s article provides no evidence against that ‘Nazis of Kiev’ viewpont; he simply ignores it, as if it’s not even worth checking out -- and he’s supposed to be a ‘reporter.’ Instead, he goes immediately into his mere assumption that the <em>rejectionists</em> of the coup are the source of his alleged ‘Hate in Progress.’] This is ominously reminiscent of what the Serbian media and other bits of the former Yugoslav media did when Yugoslavia collapsed. Then, Serbs were subjected to endless documentaries about Croatia’s wartime fascists, whom they were told were coming back. Now the Russian media says the fascists have returned."</p><p>Judah had spent about ten days in Ukraine, to do that story.</p><p>By contrast, the website OpedNews is no such prestigious source of news and commentary as <em>NYRB</em>, and it's far less influential. On 16 March 2014, they published a report from George Eliason, an American who didn't spend only ten days in Ukraine, but who instead lives in southern Ukraine; and it was titled <a href="http://www.opednews.com/articles/The-Nazis-Even-Hitler-was-by-George-Eliason-Exile_Genocide_Hitler-Brownshirts_Hitler-Youth-140316-321.html" target="_blank">"The Nazis Even Hitler Was Afraid of."</a> He provided a very different historical context, taken not falsely from Yugoslavian history and culture, but truly from Ukrainian history and culture (which is obviously far more relevant to the actual matter at hand here): </p><p style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13.333333969116211px;">"Even though the German SS had units dedicated to genocide, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) approached this mission [from Hitler's SS] with a zeal and barbarity that Hitler's own units could not muster." Eliason noted that, "The atrocities at Babi Yar [in northern Ukraine], and the accompanying brutality, were left to SS Nachtigall and the polizei. Both were Banderite [north Ukrainian]. The reason was simple. The brutal work of genocide at this level made even hardened German SS uncomfortable." Eliason documented that the politicians <a href="http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-u-s-has-installed-a-neo-nazi-government-in-ukraine/5371554" target="_blank">whom the U.S. had placed into power in the February 2014 coup</a> were "Banderite." He quoted "Dmitri Yarosh (Trizub and Pravy Sektor, and Assistant Secretary of Defense ... [in the U.S.-coup-imposed government]): 'It is better for us to build our own National State! Does that mean knives to the Moskals [Russian-speakers] and ropes to the Jews? Well, not so unsophisticated. There must be a Ukrainian authority in Ukraine; ... then forced Ukrainization. Russians do not like it? Well, go back to F#cking Russia! Those that don't want to go--we can help them. Russians are not even Slavs. ... Next we will liberate our lands: Voronezh, Kursk, Belogorod Oblast, and Kuban. These are all Ukrainian lands!'" Eliason noted: "The only problem is all of these Oblasts (regions) are in Russia!" Eliason, who lives in southern Ukraine, reported the reality that the visitor, Judah, didn't so much as even mention. The intense and aggressive hatred ran in the opposite direction: not northwestward from Russia in the southeast (such as Judah supposed), but instead southeastward against Russian-speaking Ukrainians and against Russia itself.</p><p>Lest one get the false impression that Eliason might have been selectively quoting there, this is what Yulia Tymoshenko, Obama's preferred candidate to win the 25 May 2014 election (she lost; she was too rightwing for most Ukrainians to vote for as President), had <a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-03-24/ukraine-leader-new-leaked-recording-8-million-russians-ukraine-must-be-killed-nuclea" target="_blank">said</a> in a tapped <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shG1b8DGnkU" target="_blank">phone conversation</a>, leaked public on 24 March 2014: “We must grab arms and go whack those damn katsaps [a Ukrainian word used to refer to the Russians in a negative tone] together with their leader ... I’ll use all my connections, I’ll raise the whole world – as soon as I’m able to – in order to make sure. .. not even scorched earth won’t remain where Russia stands. ... They must be killed with nuclear weapons."</p><p>Tymoshenko's ally, the oligarch <a href="http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2014/05/key-man-behind-may-2nd-odessa-ukraine-trade-unions-building-massacre-many-connections-white-house.html" target="_blank">Ihor Kolomoyski, masterminded the 2 May 2014 rounding-up and burning</a> of Odessa's proponents of independence from the Kiev regime. This incineration was done inside Odessa's Trade Unions Building, and this roasting of <a href="http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2014/05/western-media-blackout-reality-ukraine.html" target="_blank">more than 200 civilians</a> there was the event that sparked Ukraine's civil war, because it made unequivocal the hate against them coming from the Obama-installed leaders in the northwest. (Kolomoyski himself lived in Switzerland, with his <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ihor_Kolomoyskyi" target="_blank">$6 billion heisted fortune</a>.)</p><p>As the Canadian economist Michel Chossudovsky has documented, the Obama Administration placed <a href="http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-u-s-has-installed-a-neo-nazi-government-in-ukraine/5371554" target="_blank">leading fascists, and even some overt neo-Nazis</a>, at the top of the post-coup government. </p><p>Why should residents of southeastern Ukraine (an area that never admired Hitler) not fear being ruled by <a href="http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2014/05/ukrainian-civil-war-started.html" target="_blank">the people that Obama imposed to rule Ukraine</a>? The residents in that region are exposed to propaganda from both the east and the west, the north and the south. Americans, who are exposed only to our own nation's propaganda, won't know that Obama installed a fascist regime in Ukraine, but it's an established historical fact, and it's one known painfully well, first-hand, in southeastern Ukraine, no matter what America's “reporters,” such as Tim Judah, say to blur or distract from it. The owners of America's major "news" media don't want us to know it -- and they hire and fire such "reporters," so that very few of us will (and so that even fewer of us will know <a href="http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2014/05/ukrainian-civil-war-started.html" target="_blank">why this was done</a>).</p><p>It’s not just “Saddam’s WMD” that the U.S. major “news” media passed stenographically to the American public as “news reporting” from a lying White House. Nothing has basically changed; it’s merely a different war, that’s all. But this one’s against Russia, a much more potent target, and potentially far more catastrophic outcome for everyone. Done for only the international aristocrats, who enjoy “the great game.”</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2014 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '997920'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=997920" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 30 May 2014 16:36:00 -0700 Eric Zuesse, AlterNet 997920 at http://blog.alternet.org World Media World ukraine russia PBS Frontline Exposes (Softly) Bush and Obama Authorization and Coverup of NSA Illegal Surveillance of Americans http://blog.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/pbs-frontline-exposes-softly-bushs-and-obamas-authorization-and-coverup-nsa <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '993023'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=993023" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The bipartisan domestic spying clique gripping the U.S. began with W and continues with Obama.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://blog.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/mark_klein_att.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>The May 13 PBS "Frontline" documents that on Oct. 4, 2001, President George W. Bush signed a secret authorization for the NSA to see the "metadata" (the to-whom, and from-whom) records for all phone calls, and also "a lot of content of phone calls. They’re actually recording the voices — not for all of our calls, but for a lot of U.S. telephone calls." </p><p>Titled <a href="http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/government-elections-politics/united-states-of-secrets/transcript-61/">"United States of Secrets,"</a> the documentary reports that only about a half-dozen people were informed of this operation, which was called “the Program.” NSA chief Michael Hayden was informed of it and supported it. Attorney General John Ashcroft was informed of it, but he opposed it as being illegal, a direct violation of the Fourth Amendment, and also possibly of the First Amendment. The Justice Department was sidelined from it. President Bush's order was drafted not by the president's lawyer, Alberto Gonzales (though he supported it), but by David Addington, Vice-President Dick Cheney's legal counsel, who was asked to come up with an argument for its being constitutional, even if only a fig-leaf argument, which it turned out to be.</p><p>Within 30 minutes after the president signed the order, Addington placed it into his office safe, and he showed it to very few people, only on a need-to-know basis.</p><p>In the documentary, President Bush says to the public, "Nothing has changed, by the way. When we’re talking about chasing down terrorists, we’re talking about getting a court order before we do so." And: "It’s important for our fellow citizens to understand constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland because we value the Constitution." These statements were simply lies, as there was no court order for anything in “the Program.” For a long time, the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) Court wasn't even informed about the existence of the Program.</p><p>Employees at NSA who balked at breaking the law, and who refused to do what they thought to be wrong, were threatened by their superiors. Some were fired. Others tried to contact reporters, and were then prosecuted. Arthur Sulzberger, the controlling owner of the New York Times, and his editor, Bill Keller, blocked their own reporters, James Risen and Eric Lichtblau, from publishing the fact (communicated by the leakers) that Bush’s statements were lies. Thus, Bush was able to win re-election against John Kerry in 2004. But then, Risen got a book contract, and was able to publish the truth after the 2004 election, and so the New York Times finally allowed the truth to be published—too late for the public to absorb the fact that they'd been deceived by Bush.</p><p>The Dec. 15, 2005 news report was headlined, <a href="http://www.siliconinvestor.com/readmsgs.aspx?subjectid=53920&amp;msgnum=151421&amp;batchsize=10&amp;batchtype=Next">"Bush Secretly Lifted Some Limits on Spying in the United States After 9/11, Officials Say."</a> Online, it was headlined <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/16/politics/16program.html">"Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts."</a> The responses to this news story were largely from conservatives who accused the Times of being a voice of the Democratic Party, though the reality was more the exact opposite. The reality was that the Times hid (actively suppressed) this information, for as long as possible.</p><p>Furthermore, the story itself misrepresented some basic facts, in the direction of softening Bush's lies. The opening was:</p><blockquote><p>"Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials. Under a presidential order signed in 2002, the intelligence agency has monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants over the past three years in an effort to track possible 'dirty numbers' linked to Al Qaeda, the officials said. The agency, they said, still seeks warrants to monitor entirely domestic communications."</p></blockquote><p>Here is how “Frontline” reports the actual event:</p><blockquote><p>"On October 4th [2001], in a secret signing with Cheney, the president officially authorized 'the program'.”</p></blockquote><p>The NYT-implied Bush reluctance was a fiction. Cheney immediately, on 9/11, told his people to come up with proposals for whatever they thought needed to be done, and said he would get it done. Bush was 100-percent supportive of that attitude and of "the Program." Furthermore, the description provided by NYT of the Program understated its scope; and, to refer to "the court-approved warrants ordinarily required" was a lie, because those warrants were a legal requirement, which had been legislated shortly after Richard Nixon was booted from the White House for Watergate. Adherence to that law wasn't just "ordinarily required," but was always adhered to, because NSAers didn’t want to go to prison.</p><p>This documentary makes that fear of breaking the law clear, while the NYT report was highly sanitized. The "Frontline" documentary also reports Barack Obama's lies, showing Candidate Obama promising, "No more secrecy. That’s a commitment that I make to you as president." And, "I will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists without undermining our Constitution and our freedom. That means no more illegal wiretapping of American citizens." And, "No more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient. That is not who we are. That’s not what is necessary to defeat the terrorists."</p><p>The documentary makes clear that both Bush and Obama have consistently tried to imprison whistleblowers, within the NSA and elsewhere, who attempted to get word out about this rampant lawbreaking by the federal government. Edward Snowden was just the last of a long line of those. At one point, practically the entire top rung of the U.S. Justice Department was preparing to resign over this matter. NSA senior executive Thomas Drake was fired over it, prosecuted with the threat of life imprisonment, and when Obama ultimately couldn't find anything serious to charge him with, just stripped financially to pay his legal expenses.</p><p>However, the documentary itself is largely inaccurate. It presents the Program as being a response to 9/11, but actually the desire and intention to do it began almost as soon as George W. Bush entered the White House.</p><p>On Oct. 11 of 2007, <a href="http://wired.com/">wired.com</a> bannered <a href="http://www.wired.com/2007/10/nsa-asked-for-p/">“NSA Domestic Surveillance Began 7 Months Before 9/11, Convicted Qwest CEO Claims.”</a> Ryan Singel reported that Joseph Nacchio, the CEO of the phone company Qwest, claimed in court documents that he had been sentenced to prison because he decided in February 2001, a month after George W. Bush entered the White House, that he could not authorize his company to participate in warrantless wiretaps of Americans because such wiretaps would be illegal.</p><p>Nacchio’s April 2007 statement to the court was just now being released by the court. It said he “respectfully renews his objection to the Court’s rulings excluding testimony surrounding his Feb. 27, 2001 meeting at Ft. Meade with representatives from the National Security Agency (NSA) as a violation of his constitutional right to mount a defense. Although Mr. Nacchio is allowed to tell the jury that he and James Payne [Qwest’s government liaison] went into that meeting expecting to talk about the ‘Groundbreaker’ project,' a multi-billion-dollar NSA telecom contract, and that he came out of the meeting with optimism about the prospect for 2001 revenue from NSA, the Court has prohibited Mr. Nacchio from eliciting testimony regarding what also occurred at that meeting. [REDACTED, but presumably referring to demands by NSA for Qwest to permit federal snooping on Americans without court warrants.] The Court has also refused to allow Mr. Nacchio to demonstrate that the agency retaliated for this refusal by denying the Groundbreaker and perhaps other work to Qwest.”</p><p>In other words, Nacchio was alleging that this huge federal contract had been denied to Qwest because Qwest had refused to participate in Bush’s illegal warrantless snooping. This is before 9/11. In 2001, Nacchio sold some of his Qwest stock shares, and the Bush administration charged him with insider trading, because Qwest’s share-price declined after that sale. “Nacchio unsuccessfully attempted to defend himself by arguing that he actually expected Qwest’s 2001 earnings to be higher because of secret NSA contracts, which, he contends, were denied by the NSA after he declined in a Feb. 27, 2001 meeting to give the NSA customer calling records.”</p><p>The court refused to allow Nacchio to present to the jury any information regarding NSA’s demands, which Nacchio had turned down. Consequently, according to Nacchio’s lawyer, he was convicted and received a six-year prison sentence. Two days later, on Oct. 13, the Washington Post <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/12/AR2007101202485.html">reported that,</a> “A former Qwest Communications International executive, appealing a conviction for insider trading, has alleged that the government withdrew opportunities for contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars after Qwest refused to participate” in Bush’s NSA surveillance against Americans. “Former chief executive Joseph P. Nacchio, convicted in April of 19 counts of insider trading, said the NSA approached Qwest more than six months before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to court documents unsealed in Denver this week.” That would have placed it probably back in February 2001.</p><p>If Nacchio’s allegations were true, Bush was already organizing the illegal wiretapping against Americans months before 9/11 even occurred, and Nacchio’s prosecution was retaliation against his non-cooperation with Bush’s illegal NSA program.</p><p>A week later, on Oct. 22, the WP headlined <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/21/AR2007102101041.html">“Immunity for Telecoms May Set Bad Precedent, Legal Scholars Say.”</a> The Bush administration was trying to push through Congress immunity for Verizon and ATT, which, unlike Qwest, had participated in Bush’s illegal spying against Americans.</p><p>Bush’s proposal, now in 2007, was to retroactively legalize what those companies had done, even though this would constitute a form of ex post facto law: It would retroactively change the law in order to immunize those two companies. This type of ex post facto law is known as an “amnesty law,” because it retrospectively legalizes the defined activities. Article I Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution states: “No ... ex post facto Law shall be passed.” That includes an amnesty law (certainly of this type, though not necessarily of illegal immigration, since that isn’t a criminal violation). To Republicans, and to the conservative Democrats who also were pushing Bush’s legislation, the U.S. Constitution was merely an inconvenience.</p><p>On Nov. 5, 2007, the Electronic Frontier Foundation headlined <a href="https://www.eff.org/press/archives/2007/11/05">“AT&amp;T Whistleblower to Urge Senate to Reject Blanket Immunity for Telecoms,”</a> and reported that a retired AT&amp;T technician, Mark Klein, said, “My job required me to enable the physical connections between AT&amp;T customers’ Internet communications and the NSA’s illegal, wholesale copying machine for domestic emails, Internet phone conversations, web surfing and all other Internet traffic.”</p><p>The following day, the Austin American-Statesman bannered <a href="http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&amp;address=102x3056161">“AT&amp;T Whistleblower: Say No to Telecom Immunity.”</a>  Rebecca Carr reported that Klein said, “I have first-hand knowledge of the clandestine collaboration between one giant telecommunications company, AT&amp;T, and the NSA to facilitate the most comprehensive illegal domestic spying program in [U.S.] history.”</p><p>The next day, on Nov. 7, the Washington Post bannered <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/07/AR2007110700006.html">“A Story of Surveillance: Former Technician ‘Turning In’ AT&amp;T Over NSA Program.”</a> Ellen Nakashima reported Klein as saying, “This splitter was sweeping up everything, vacuum-cleaner style. ... The NSA is getting everything.” Klein described specific AT&amp;T “links to 16 entities,” including Global Crossing, Verizon, Level 3, Sprint, and Qwest. It was the central hub for all international U.S. telecommunications traffic. ABC concerned only with the Internet aspect, <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/story?id=3833172">“Big Brother Spying on Americans’ Internet Data,”</a> and reported Klein as asserting that, “An exact copy of all Internet traffic that flowed through critical AT&amp;T cables — e-mails, documents, Web browsing, voice-over-Internet phone conversations, everything — was being diverted to equipment inside the secret room.”</p><p>Although, according to Nacchio’s testimony, George W. Bush’s laying the groundwork for illegal spying against regular American citizens began well before the 9/11 attacks, the press in the United States continued to parrot unquestioningly the White House’s line, that the spying program began as a response to 9/11 in order to prevent a recurrence. Long afterward, Bush was still successful in getting the AP, the New York Times, and other news organizations, to put this dubious assumption before the American public, as a supposedly established fact.</p><p>On Dec. 6, 2007, the New York Times headlined <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/16/washington/16nsa.html?pagewanted=all">“Wider Spying Fuels Aid Plan for Telecom Industry,”</a> and reported that, “At stake” in the battle over retroactive immunization of the telecom companies “is the federal government’s extensive but uneasy partnership with industry to conduct a wide range of secret surveillance.” A lawsuit “claims that in February 2001, just days before agency officials met with Qwest officials, the NSA met with AT&amp;T officials to discuss replicating a network center in Bedminster, N.J., to give the agency access to all the global phone and e-mail traffic that ran through it.”</p><p>When these meetings with telcos were occurring, requesting these companies to provide the Bush administration access, which was prohibited by existing laws, such as the FISA act, President Bush was simultaneously shoving off anti-terrorism chief Richard Clarke, who was futilely trying to get the administration to pay attention to the Al Qaeda threat. So, Bush’s effort here had nothing to do with Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups. The Executive Order signed by Bush in October 2001 “legally” authorizing this spying was merely using 9/11 as the convenient excuse, a pretext, for something Bush had planned all along.</p><p>A lawyer for one of the whistle-blowing telecom employees said, “What he saw ... was decisive evidence that within two weeks of taking office, the Bush administration was planning a comprehensive effort of spying on Americans.” George W. Bush, at the time this news story appeared on Dec. 16 — six years after the Program’s start — was threatening the U.S. Senate, saying he would veto any FISA reauthorization that failed to provide his demanded unconstitutional retroactive immunity for the telephone companies. He needed them to be immune, because otherwise he himself would not be. After all, they were doing his bidding.</p><p>Thus, it was even more shameful that America’s major media continued peddling Bush’s lie that the illegal surveillance program was a response to 9/11 — a deception reinforced by the “Frontline” piece on May 13, 2014.</p><p>On the same day, Dec. 16, 2007, the headline that appeared at <a href="http://rawstory.com/">rawstory.com</a> was the very direct, <a href="http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&amp;address=389x2481607">“AT&amp;T Engineer Says Bush Administration Sought to Implement Domestic Spying Within Two Weeks of Taking Office.”</a></p><p>An attention-grabber like that isn’t what a U.S. president wants in a headline for such a news report. This story opened directly, by saying: “Nearly 1,300 words into Sunday’s New York Times article revealing new details of the National Security Agency’s domestic eavesdropping program, the lawyer for an AT&amp;T engineer alleges that ‘within two weeks of taking office, the Bush administration was planning a comprehensive effort of spying on Americans’ phone usage.’”</p><p>On account of the widespread lie that Bush’s surveillance program was a response to 9/11, Siobhan Gorman of the Wall Street Journal bannered on March 14, 2008, <a href="http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB120541517685733331">“Democrats Dig In for Surveillance Battle,” </a>and reported a “partisan battle” over retroactive telecom immunity, because 74 percent of Republicans (and a lower 52 percent of all respondents) polled by Princeton Survey Research Associates had said that, “Government surveillance of suspected terrorists without court permission” is “Generally right,” while 57 percent of Democrats (and 44 percent of all respondents) said it’s “Generally wrong.”</p><p>America’s conservative masses were passionately supportive of this surveillance; they were driven by fear, even if they were playing into the hands of the worst forces. Surveillance without a warrant isn’t just “Generally wrong,” it’s always wrong. Law-breaking by government is always wrong, especially when it threatens basic constitutional freedoms.</p><p>In June 2008, a large minority of congressional Democrats joined all but one Republican in a FISA “compromise,” H.R. 6304, which seemed to give the President what he wanted, because without it, Democrats would likely lose crucial seats in Congress. On June 20, 2008, Massimo Calabresi in Time bannered <a href="http://content.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,1816911,00.html">“Behind the Compromise on Spying,”</a> explaining how stupid it would have been for congressional Democrats to support the U.S. Constitution during this key election year.</p><p>America’s high-school civics teachers had failed disastrously, and so America’s voters possessed virtually no idea of what a constitutional democracy really was, much less of how to continue to be one. How, for example, could American voters intelligently evaluate the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates’ respective positions on warrantless wiretapping? A political game was being played here, and voters were the ultimate chips to be won or lost.</p><p>However, this new snooping law didn’t actually provide Bush protection after all. Buried in its Title II, Section 802 of the revised FISA law, was an obscure clause which restricted legal immunity to only things telecoms did that were “authorized by the President during the period beginning on September 11, 2001.” That was its key clause, and it hadn’t been in previous versions of the bill. In this new version, there was no immunity at all for anything which was illegal and which the President had authorized prior to 9/11, such as had been revealed by Joe Nacchio, and also by the AT&amp;T whistleblower Mark Klein, both of whom referred to illegal snooping demands by Bush occurring in February 2001.</p><p>Bush couldn’t very well veto this bill once it passed Congress; he had to sign it into law, because he claimed publicly that this snooping was a response to 9/11. Republicans in Congress couldn’t vote against the bill either, because it gave both them and the President what they were publicly demanding. The Democrats were now essentially calling the Republicans’ bluff on their demands, and doing it during a presidential election year in which the Republican Party was now widely loathed, and when Republican representatives and senators feared the real prospects of losing their seats. Basically, congressional Democrats had congressional Republicans, and the Republican President, caught in a political trap from which there was no way out.</p><p>So, the supposed telecom immunity was essentially a fiction. On Sept. 18, 2008, <a href="http://rawstory.com/">rawstory.com</a> bannered <a href="http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Domestic_spying_lawsuit_targets_Bush_Cheney_0918.html">“Domestic Spying Lawsuit Targets Bush, Cheney, NSA,”</a> and reported that, “Based on news reports and information obtained from former AT&amp;T employee Mark Klein, EFF [Electronic Frontier Foundation] alleges a massive surveillance apparatus has been trained on Americans to vacuum up information on virtually every telephone call, e-mail and Internet search to feed a massive database maintained by the NSA.”</p><p>When President Obama came into the White House, he continued, virtually unchanged, George W. Bush's bailouts of Wall Street, non-enforcement and non-prosecution against banksters, and rabid prosecutions against whistleblowers in government. He also refused to prosecute George W. Bush and Dick Cheney for their lawless regime, thereby establishing the precedent that the U.S. President is, in effect, above the law he's supposed to enforce. </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2014 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '993023'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=993023" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 15 May 2014 12:15:00 -0700 Eric Zuesse, AlterNet 993023 at http://blog.alternet.org News & Politics News & Politics PBS Frontline nsa citizen spying President George W. Bus president barack obama FISA Court Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court United States of Secrets USA Patriot Act Mark Kline at&t telcos Electronic Frontier Foundation wiretapping Edward Drake Edward Snowden Huffington Post Uncritically Trumpets Obama-Republican Big Lie About the Syrian War http://blog.alternet.org/huffington-post-uncritically-trumpets-obama-republican-big-lie-about-syrian-war <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '983918'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=983918" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">HuffPo buys into the questionable assumption that the sarin gas attack came from Syrian government forces instead of from jihadist rebels. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://blog.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/syriagas.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>On April 20th, Sabrina Siddiqui headlined at Huffington Post, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/20/bob-corker-ukraine_n_5182516.html" target="_blank">"Bob Corker: 'Assad Was Wise' To Kill 1,200 With Chemical Weapons And 'Embarrass' The U.S."</a> She didn't challenge the veracity of the Obama Administration's (and Republican Senator Corker’s) charge that the sarin gas attack came from Assad's forces instead of from jihadist rebels who were trying to oust Assad. But, evil though Assad is, that charge against him is a lie, which was definitively nailed down as such, by Seymour Hersh, on April 4th headlining at the London Review of Books, <a href="http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n08/seymour-m-hersh/the-red-line-and-the-rat-line" target="_blank">"The Red Line and the Rat Line:</a> Seymour Hersh on Obama, Erdogan, and the Syrian Rebels." The gas attack was perpetrated by Turkish Prime Minister Recip Erdogan's allies the jihadist al-Nusra rebels, who are allied in Syria with Al Qaeda, against Assad.</p><p>Earlier reports that had raised questions about Obama's lies on this matter were "George Washington" headlining 17 January 2014 at his blog, <a href="http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2014/01/syrian-chemical-weapons-fired-rebel-held-territory.html" target="_blank">"Weapons Inspectors: Syrian Chemical Weapons Fired from Rebel-Held Territory"</a>; Robert Parry at Consortium News on 23 December 2013, headlining, <a href="http://consortiumnews.com/2013/12/23/un-investigator-undercuts-nyt-on-syria/" target="_blank">"UN Investigator Undercuts NYT on Syria"</a>; and, even earlier, Matthew Schofield at McClatchy Newspapers on 21 August 2013, headlining, <a href="http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/01/15/214656/new-analysis-of-rocket-used-in.html" target="_blank">"New Analysis of Rocket Used in Syria Chemical Attack Undercuts U.S. Claims."</a> The U.S. major "news" media have played along with the Obama lies on this (as on some other matters), just as they did with George W. Bush's lies about "Saddam's WMD" that didn't even exist, and that hadn't existed since 1998 when they were all destroyed (as I documented in my 2004 book, Iraq War: The Truth).</p><p>Actually, Michael Calderone at HuffPo had headlined on 8 December 2013, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/08/seymour-hersh-syria-report_n_4409674.html" target="_blank">"New Yorker, Washington Post Passed On [i.e. Rejected] Seymour Hersh Syria Report."</a> So, HuffPo had itself reported the major media's complicity with Obama's now-dubious claim, before HuffPo resumed spreading that lie on April 20th, even weeks after Hersh had finally nailed it down. However, back at that time, in December, the Hersh charge hadn't yet been nailed down. It was first reported by Hersh on 8 December 2013, also in LRB, under the headline <a href="http://www.lrb.co.uk/2013/12/08/seymour-m-hersh/whose-sarin" target="_blank">"Whose Sarin?"</a> But then it was only a question, not yet an answer.</p><p>Not until Hersh's subsequent 4 April 2014 report, <a href="http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n08/seymour-m-hersh/the-red-line-and-the-rat-line" target="_blank">"The Red Line and the Rat Line,"</a> was it actually nailed down, as an Obama-Republican lie.</p><p>The performance of the U.S. news-media regarding the Obama Administration's lie concerning this matter is no better than was their performance in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. And, similarly, the U.S. major "news" (or propaganda) media are carrying water for the Administration on Ukraine. (For that issue, see the links ending <a href="http://www.alternet.org/print/obamas-first-amendment-defense-political-liars" target="_blank">this article</a>.)</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2014 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '983918'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=983918" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Mon, 21 Apr 2014 09:49:00 -0700 Eric Zuesse, AlterNet 983918 at http://blog.alternet.org Media News & Politics World syria sarin attack huffington post Obama's First-Amendment Defense of Political Liars http://blog.alternet.org/obamas-first-amendment-defense-political-liars <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '983153'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=983153" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The Solicitor General will defend deceptive campaigning before the Supreme Court. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://blog.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_146004131.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><div style="word-wrap: break-word;"><p>President Obama, through his U.S. Solicitor General, arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court, has now stated that lying in political campaigns isn't merely protected by the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech, but that it is an especially protected form of speech, which must not be hindered by any state government, such as by the state of Ohio. Ohio has outlawed such intentional deception of voters, and has established heavy criminal penalties against it, when it can be proven. The idea behind this law is that any democracy in which lying in political campaigns isn't penalized by severe penalties, won't remain a democracy much longer, but will instead descend into a kleptocracy: theft of elections themselves (via lies), so that they become just nominal "elections," which are controlled by whatever aristocrats can put up the most money, to lie the most effectively, to the biggest number of voters: lying-contests.</p><p>It's an important Supreme Court case. As Constitutional lawyer Lyle Denniston has noted, in his <a href="http://www.scotusblog.com/2014/04/argument-preview-attack-ads-and-the-first-amendment/" target="_blank">"Argument preview: Attack ads and the First Amendment"</a>: "In all of the history of the First Amendment, the Court has never ruled that false statements are totally without protection under the Constitution." However, this Supreme Court will have an opportunity to do that here, in the case <a href="http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/susan-b-anthony-list-v-driehaus/" target="_blank">SBA List v. Dreihaus</a>; or else, to do the exact opposite -- to open wide (even wider than they now are) the floodgates to political lies. </p><p>Public opinion (e.g., <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-weigant/are-political-lies-consti_b_5162824.html" target="_blank">this</a>), and the President of the United States (via his Solicitor General, to be discussed here below), seem to favor opening the floodgates. If that were to happen, then the recently unleashed outpouring of sheer corporate and billionaire cash (via the Citizens United decision, and the more recent <em>McCutcheon</em> decision) into political contests, will become even more unrestrained by (and disconnected from) any consideration of the truthfulness (or not) of this "free speech," so that the U.S. public will naturally be inundated by torrents, not only of aristocratic money pouring over public opinions, but of outright and provable lies financed by the richest aristocrats, polluting and poisoning those torrents, which will drench voters' minds, and will thus poison political outcomes (which is why that money is spent -- to do precisely this).</p><p>U.S. Solicitor General Donald B. Verilli Jr., in this case, <em>SBA List v. Dreihaus</em>, <a href="http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/publications/supreme_court_preview/briefs-v3/13-193_usa_pr.authcheckdam.pdf" target="_blank">wrote to the U.S. Supreme Court</a>, defending political liars’ rights:</p><blockquote><p>This case does not require the Court to determine precisely when an alleged chilling of speech [by the threat of being prosecuted for lying in a political campaign] constitutes hardship [being suffered by that liar], because it presents that issue in a unique election-related context that makes the hardship to petitioners [the liars] particularly clear. Petitioners [the liars] have sufficiently alleged that a credible threat of prosecution will chill them from engaging in [deceptive] speech relating to elections for public office, the very type of speech to which the First Amendment ‘has its fullest and most urgent application.’ Eu v. San Francisco Cnty. Democratic Cent. Comm., 489 U.S. 214, 223 (1989) (quoting Monitor Patriot Co. v. Roy, 401 U.S. 265, 272 (1971)). As petitioners explain (Br. 40), under Ohio law, candidates who are the subject of such [lying] speech can try to silence it by complaining to the [Electoral] Commission and thereby tying up the speaker [the liar] in administrative litigation during the short window of time in which the electoral speech [that person’s lie] would be most effective [at deceiving voters].4</p><p>The court of appeals largely disregarded these considerations in favor of focusing on evidence suggesting that the Commission proceedings [the investigation into the lie] did not actually deter [the liar] SBA List from disseminating its message [its lie]. Pet. App. 17a-18a. The court correctly recognized that evidence of how agency action [the investigation into that alleged lie] has affected a plaintiff’s conduct is an important factor in the hardship analysis. In this case, however, SBA List’s particular reaction to the Commission proceedings during the 2010 election cycle does not eliminate the objectively credible threat of prosecution that petitioners [SBA List] face if they engage in similar [lying] speech in future election cycles.</p></blockquote><p>When Obama's mouthpiece there, Verilli, quoted the phrase that's quoted in "<em>the First Amendment ‘has its fullest and most urgent application</em>’," in relation to this particular case and context, he was actually quoting from <a href="http://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/489/214/case.html" target="_blank">a case in which the court was saying</a> in regard to "California's prohibition on primary [party] endorsements by the official governing bodies of political parties," that (as that ruling said), "Indeed, the First Amendment 'has its fullest and most urgent application' to speech uttered during a campaign for political office." That statement didn't refer at all to lying in political campaigns. However, this is the type of cheap shot that the President's lawyer must take, in order to argue that lying is "<em>the very type of speech to which the First Amendment ‘has its fullest and most urgent application.</em>’'" He must lie in order to defend political lying as being protected by the U.S. Constitution.</p><p>I have <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eric-zuesse/obama-lied-about-obamacar_b_5161578.html" target="_blank">earlier argued that President Obama lied with exceptional skill in order to win the White House</a> -- and I say this as a Democrat who is opposed to conservatives (supporters of lies) of all parties, including the Democratic Party. So: Obama is really defending here his own practices, which won him the White House. This conservative "Democrat" is so gifted a politician that he could probably have won it with no lies at all, but he took the easy path, and now he is defending it as a matter of alleged Constitutional principle.</p><p>He's on the same side in this as the overt Republicans are. For example, the <a href="http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/publications/supreme_court_preview/briefs-v3/13-193_pet_amcu_cato-pjo.authcheckdam.pdf" target="_blank">friend-of-court brief on behalf of the Koch brothers' Cato Institute and their comedian P.J. O'Rourke</a>, argued in this case that, "No one should be concerned that false political statements won't be subjected to careful examination" (perhaps by historians, after the liar has been elected and long-since collected his reward, and the honest politician has sunk into obscurity). It's a race to the bottom they want, and conservative Democrats want it just as much as Republicans do. Cato/O'Rourke then went on to say: "A prohibition on lying devalues the truth. 'How can you develop a reputation as a straight shooter if lying is not an option?'" In other words: We must allow deception of voters, because otherwise all politics would be honest -- and that would be bad (for crooks like them, because politics then wouldn’t continue to be a lying-contest: the type where any real ‘straight shooter’ can’t have even any realistic chance at all of winning). Champion liars want to continue maintaining their advantage, not to yield it; and any law that’s enforced against political liars will remove their existing huge political advantage. Conservatives would still have most aristocratic money on their side, but no longer an unrestrained freedom to spread lies financed by that cash-advantage that they naturally enjoy.</p><p>With Obama arguing on the Republican side, and the Republicans arguing on the Republican side, how will the Republican U.S. Supreme Court rule on this matter? Let's guess.</p><p>It could be the final nail in the coffin of democracy in America: the official full implementation of aristocracy, plutocracy, oligarchy, crony capitalism, or whatever else one would call it. Maybe "fake democracy"? Oh, I forgot: we're already there. But this would take us much farther there.</p><p>If the reader wants to know how deeply the public has already been duped, just check out, for starters (besides that piece where I <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eric-zuesse/obama-lied-about-obamacar_b_5161578.html" target="_blank">earlier argued that President Obama lied with exceptional skill in order to win the White House</a>), these:</p><p>"<a href="http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/04/ukraine-obama-channeling-cheney.html" target="_blank">Ukraine: Is Obama Channeling Cheney?</a>"</p><p>"<a href="http://www.opednews.com/articles/The-Nazis-Even-Hitler-was-by-George-Eliason-Exile_Genocide_Hitler-Brownshirts_Hitler-Youth-140316-321.html" target="_blank">The Nazis Even Hitler Was Afraid Of</a>"</p><p>"<a href="http://www.opednews.com/articles/Ukrainian-Neo-Nazis-Declar-by-Paul-Craig-Roberts-Corruption_Power_Presstitutes_Russia-140227-604.html" target="_blank">Ukrainian Neo-Nazis Declare that Power Comes Out of the Barrels of their Guns</a>"</p><p>"<a href="http://www.opednews.com/articles/Privatization-Is-A-Ramp-Fo-by-Paul-Craig-Roberts-Corruption_Democracy_Media_NATO-140416-702.html" target="_blank">Privatization Is A Ramp For Corruption, and Insouciance Is a Ramp for War</a>"</p><p>"<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/17/nato-ukraine-dr-strangelove-china-us" target="_blank">Nato's action plan in Ukraine is right out of Dr Strangelove</a>"</p><p>And the Ukraine matter is just the tip of the lying iceberg here, several other portions of which I’ve covered extensively at <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eric-zuesse/" target="_blank">Huffington Post</a> and elsewhere.</p><p>Lying in politics is toxic to democracy. It’s destroying not only this country, but the entire world. Obama wants to protect it, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eric-zuesse/why-wont-obama-go-after_b_4661086.html" target="_blank">just like he protected</a> the banksters <a href="http://www.opednews.com/articles/Retiring-Obama-Administrat-by-Eric-Zuesse-Banksters_Corruption_Government-Corruption_Obama-Administration-140409-174.html" target="_blank">from prosecution</a>.</p></div><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2014 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '983153'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=983153" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 10:15:00 -0700 Eric Zuesse, AlterNet 983153 at http://blog.alternet.org Election 2016 Investigations News & Politics lying lies politics first amendment SEC Prosecutor Says SEC Top Brass Are Corrupt http://blog.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/sec-prosecutor-says-sec-top-brass-are-corrupt <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '980646'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=980646" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Prosecutor calls out institutional corruption.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://blog.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/sec_0.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Bloomberg News reported, on April 8, that a Securities and Exchange Commission prosecuting attorney, James Kidney, said at his recent retirement party on March 27, that his prosecutions of Goldman Sachs and other mega-banks had been squelched by top people at the agency, because they "were more focused on getting high-paying jobs after their government service than on bringing difficult cases." He suggested that SEC officials knew that Wall Street would likely hire them after the SEC at much bigger pay than their government remuneration was, so long as the SEC wouldn't prosecute those megabank executives on any criminal charges for helping to cause the mortgage-backed securities scams and resulting 2008 economic crash.<br /><br />His "remarks drew applause from the crowd of about 70 people," according to the Bloomberg report. This would indicate that other SEC prosecutors feel similarly squelched by their bosses.<br /><br />Kidney's speech said that his superiors did not "believe in afflicting the comfortable and powerful."<br /><br />Referring to the agency's public-relations tactic of defending its prosecution-record by use of what he considered to be misleading statistics, Kidney said, "It's a cancer" at the SEC.<br /><br />Two recent studies have provided additional depth to Kidney's assertions, by showing that Obama and his Administration had lied when they promised to prosecute Wall Street executives who had cheated outside investors, and deceived homebuyers, when creating and selling mortgage-backed securities for sale to investors throughout the world.<br /><br />President Obama personally led in this lying.<br /><br />On May 20, 2009, at the signing into law of both the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act and the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act, Obama said: "This bill nearly doubles the FBI's mortgage and financial fraud program, allowing it to better target fraud in hard-hit areas. That's why it provides the resources necessary for other law enforcement and federal agencies, from the Department of Justice to the SEC to the Secret Service, to pursue these criminals, bring them to justice, and protect hardworking Americans affected most by these crimes. It's also why it expands DOJ's authority to prosecute fraud that takes place in many of the private institutions not covered under current federal bank fraud criminal statutes — institutions where more than half of all subprime mortgages came from as recently as four years ago."<br /><br />Then, in the President's Jan. 24, 2012 State of the Union Address, he said: "Tonight, I'm asking my Attorney General to create a special unit of federal prosecutors and leading state attorneys general to expand our investigations into the abusive lending and packaging of risky mortgages that led to the housing crisis. (Applause.) This new unit will hold accountable those who broke the law, speed assistance to homeowners, and help turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many Americans. Now, a return to the American values of fair play and shared responsibility will help protect our people and our economy."<br /><br />However, two years later, the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Justice issued on March 13, 2014 its "Audit of the Department of Justice's Efforts to Address Mortgage Fraud," and reported that Obama's promises to prosecute turned out to be just a lie. DOJ didn't even try; and they lied even about their efforts. The IG found: "DOJ did not uniformly ensure that mortgage fraud was prioritized at a level commensurate with its public statements. For example, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Criminal Investigative Division ranked mortgage fraud as the lowest criminal threat in its lowest crime category. Additionally, we found mortgage fraud to be a low priority, or not [even] listed as a priority, for the FBI Field Offices we visited." Not just that, but, "Many Assistant United States Attorneys (AUSA) informed us about underreporting and misclassification of mortgage fraud cases." This was important because, "Capturing such information would allow DOJ to ... better evaluate its performance in targeting high-profile offenders."<br /><br />Privately, Obama had told Wall Street executives that he would protect them. On March 27, 2009, Obama assembled the top executives of the bailed-out financial firms in a secret meeting at the White House and he assured them that he would cover their backs; he promised "My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks". It's not on the White House website; it was leaked out, which is one of the reasons Obama hates leakers. What the DOJ's IG indicated was, in effect, that Obama had kept his secret promise to them.<br /><br />Here is the context in which he said that (from page 234 of Ron Suskind's 2011 book, "Confidence Men"):</p><blockquote><p>The CEOs went into their traditional stance. "It's almost impossible to set caps [to their bonuses]; it's never worked, and you lose your best people," said one. "We're competing for talent on an international market," said another. Obama cut them off.</p></blockquote><blockquote><p>"Be careful how you make those statements, gentlemen. The public isn't buying that," he said. "My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks."</p><p>It was an attention grabber, no doubt, especially that carefully chosen last word.</p><p>But then Obama's flat tone turned to one of support, even sympathy. "You guys have an acute public relations problem that's turning into a political problem," he said. "And I want to help. But you need to show that you get that this is a crisis and that everyone has to make some sacrifices." According to one of the participants, he then said, "I'm not out there to go after you. I'm protecting you. But if I'm going to shield you from public and congressional anger, you have to give me something to work with on these issues of compensation."</p><p>No suggestions were forthcoming from the bankers on what they might offer, and the president didn't seem to be championing any specific proposals. He had none: neither Geithner nor Summers believed compensation controls had any merit.</p><p>After a moment, the tension in the room seemed to lift: the bankers realized he was talking about voluntary limits on compensation until the storm of public anger passed. It would be for show.</p></blockquote><p>He had been lying to the public, all along. Not only would he not prosecute the banksters, but he would treat them as if all they had was "an acute public relations problem that's turning into a political problem." And he thought that the people who wanted them prosecuted were like the KKK who had chased Blacks with pitchforks before lynching. According to the DOJ, their Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) was "established by President Barack Obama in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes." But, according to the Department's IG, it was all a fraud: a fraud that according to the DOJ itself had been going on since at least November 2009.<br /><br />The IG's report continued by pointing out the Attorney General's lies, noting that on Oct. 9, 2012, "the FFETF held a press conference to publicize the results of the initiative," and:<br /><br />"The Attorney General announced that the initiative resulted in 530 criminal defendants being charged, including 172 executives, in 285 criminal indictments or informations filed in federal courts throughout the United States during the previous 12 months. The Attorney General also announced that 110 federal civil cases were filed against over 150 defendants for losses totaling at least $37 million, and involving more than 15,000 victims. According to statements made at the press conference, these cases involved more than 73,000 homeowner victims and total losses estimated at more than $1 billion.<br /><br />"Shortly after this press conference, we requested documentation that supported the statistics presented. ... Over the following months, we repeatedly asked the Department about its efforts to correct the statistics. ... Specifically, the number of criminal defendants charged as part of the initiative was 107, not 530 as originally reported; and the total estimated losses associated with true Distressed Homeowners cases were $95 million, 91 percent less than the $1 billion reported at the October 2012 press conference. ...</p><p>"Despite being aware of the serious flaws in these statistics since at least November 2012, we found that the Department continued to cite them in mortgage fraud press releases. ... According to DOJ officials, the data collected and publicly announced for an earlier FFETF mortgage fraud initiative - Operation Stolen Dreams - also may have contained similar errors."<br /><br />Basically, the IG's report said that the Obama Administration had failed to enforce the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act of 2009. This bill had been passed overwhelmingly, 92-4 in the Senate, and 338-52 in the House. All of the votes against it came from Republicans. The law sent $165 million to the DOJ to catch the executive fraudsters who had brought down the U.S. economy, and it set up the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, and had been introduced and written by the liberal Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy. President Obama signed it on May 20, 2009. At that early stage in his Presidency, he couldn't afford to display that he was far to the right of every congressional Democrat, so he signed it.</p><p>Already on Nov. 15, 2011, Syracuse University's TRAC Reports had headlined "Criminal Prosecutions for Financial Institution Fraud Continue to Fall," and provided a chart showing that whereas such prosecutions had been running at a fairly steady rate until George W. Bush came into office in 2001, they immediately plunged during his Presidency and were continuing that decline under Obama, even after the biggest boom in alleged financial fraud cases since right before the Great Depression. And, then, on Sept. 24, 2013, TRAC Reports bannered "Slump in FBI White Collar Crime Prosecutions," and said that "prosecutions of white collar criminals recommended by the FBI are substantially down during the first ten months of Fiscal Year 2013." This was especially so in the Wall Street area: "In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the largest projected drop in the rate of white collar crime prosecutions — 27.8 percent — was the Southern District of New York (Manhattan)."<br /><br />Another recent report documents lying by the Administration regarding its promised program to force banks to compensate cheated homeowners for fraud in their mortgages, and sometimes even for evictions that were based on those frauds. The investigative journalist David Dayen headlined on March 19, 2014, "Just 83,000 Homeowners Get First-Lien Principal Reductions from National Mortgage Settlement, 90 Percent Less Than Promised." He documented that, "the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development sold the settlement on a promise of helping 1 million homeowners, and the final number missed the cut by over 916,000. That ... shows the essential dishonesty [Obama's HUD Secretary Shaun] Donovan displayed in his PR push back in 2012. ... We're used to the Obama Administration falling far short of their goals for homeowner relief, whether because of a lack of interest or a desire to foam the runway for the banks or whatever. Even still, the level of duplicity is breathtaking."</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2014 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '980646'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=980646" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 11:10:00 -0700 Eric Zuesse, AlterNet 980646 at http://blog.alternet.org News & Politics Corporate Accountability and WorkPlace News & Politics sec financial corruption James Kidney wall street goldman sachs confidence men Helping Families Save Their Homes Act Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act President Obama Will Decide Whether to Accept Iraq's Legalizing Rape of Children http://blog.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/president-obama-will-decide-whether-accept-iraqs-legalizing-rape-children <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '980601'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=980601" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Iraqi girls as young as nine can be married off under new Jaafari Law.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://blog.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/iraqgirls.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>On Tuesday, April 8, Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki's Shiite-led Iraqi Government placed before his Parliament a bill, strongly supported by Iraqi men, and approved by the governing coalition of Shiites and Sunnis, which will allow men to rape girls even in forced marriages (Iraqi law already allows forced marriages), and which will allow men to divorce any wife who is above the age of nine.<br /><br />Currently, only females above the age of 18 are permitted to marry (or, it might be more accurate to say, to be married), under Iraqi law. This new law will enable even nine-year-olds to be sold off into "marriage."</p><p>Whereas, technically, women, in the post-invasion Iraq, are allowed to vote and otherwise participate in Iraqi politics, only few do, because the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein Government left the religious authorities in control of family matters; and, so, women who try to participate in politics generally become ostracized. The circumstances for women in Iraq were far better under Saddam's regime.<br /><br />Back on Nov. 1, 2013, President Barack Obama announced an increase in military aid to the Maliki Government, an increase that had been urged upon him especially by Republicans in Congress. President Obama will now have to decide whether to fulfill on that promise, or whether, instead, to suspend the aid if Iraqi men will turn into law this newly introduced bill, after the Iraqi Parliament comes back into session on April 30th. If the U.S. terminates that military aid, then the chances that Al Qaeda in Iraq (which had started there in 2003 as a result of the U.S. invasion) will take over the country and oust the current, U.S.-installed and Iran-allied Shiite-led government, will greatly increase.</p><p>In other words: for Obama to demand rejection of this child-rape bill would likely mean a return to the more-active U.S. military involvement in Iraq, which Obama had only recently ended in Iraq. Alternatively, it would mean a takeover of Iraq by Al Qaeda, or at least a renewed civil war there, ending in a failed state, which then would probably be ruled ultimately by Al Qaeda.<br /><br />The new bill, called the Jaafari Law, was described the following way by Hannah Strange, the Assistant Foreign Editor of Britain's Telegraph:</p><blockquote><p>"The Jaafari law, doesn't mention exactly from what age children would be able to wed but it does contain provisions for divorce for girls as young as nine, so we can do the maths on that one. It also effectively endorses marital rape by forcing women to submit to the sexual demands of their husbands and ensures that any wife entering into a divorce — whether of her own will or not — is punished with the loss of her children, by automatically granting the father custody of any offspring over the age of two." Ms. Strange goes on to say, "That this law is even being considered — and it is most likely to go ahead, given its hearty endorsement by the Iraqi cabinet — makes me want to rip my own skin off."</p></blockquote><p>On March 19, 2010, Yanar Mohammed in Baghdad told Amy Goodman of "Democracy Now!" radio, that the U.S. had abandoned the Iraqi people after destroying her country. She said that after the Saddam Hussein-era relatively secular constitution was replaced by the U.S.-installed government, "the [new] Constitution has established a state of inequality for women. There is an article in the Constitution, Article number 41, which has cancelled, almost cancelled for good, the civil rights, the minimal civil rights which women had under Saddam, under what was called the personal status law." Of course, the proposed Jaafari Law would go further, to enable men to rape girls with impunity, which they cannot now do.<br /><br />There also are problems in Iraq regarding the rights of homosexuals. On Dec. 14, 2013, the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq bannered "Campaign of Iraqi Gay Killings by Smashing Skulls with Concrete Blocks," and opened:</p><blockquote><p>New barbaric attacks started against the Iraqi lgbt in many cities like Baghdad and Basra while using inhumane methods such as hitting the head and body parts of gay victims with building concrete blocks repeatedly till death or by pushing them over high building roof which took place in Basra city. The actions of killings, torture, and dismembering against those who were described as 'adulterous' by Islamic Shia militias, besides hanging lists on the walls of several sections in Al-Sadr city and in Al-Habibea region, had all terrorized the society at large and especially the Iraqi lgbt community.</p></blockquote><p>If President Obama thoroughly abandons the Iraqi public (women, homosexuals, and all other Iraqi citizens), in order to wage the U.S. war against Al Qaeda, whom the U.S. invasion of Iraq brought to Iraq, then there will be an inevitable decline in the reputation of the U.S., not just inside Iraq, but everywhere.</p><p>Everyone in the world knows that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq, overthrew and replaced the Saddam regime, and set Iraq onto its present course (regardless of whether it's the course that George W. Bush wanted or even expected). (Imagine if a car crashes through barricades and into a crowd and kills lots of people — any gross incompetence on the driver's part won't excuse him of liability for what happened, and the same applies to Bush and our country in Iraq.)</p><p>The result of just "washing our hands" of the consequences, and blithely continuing to ignore the needs of the Iraqi people (including all of those terrified and even raped girls), could be bad for Americans, who will then have little credibility as proponents of democracy anywhere in the world.</p><p>If this is American "democracy," then trust in the U.S. will be gone (at least from the publics) around the world. The U.S. poured trillions of dollars into that invasion and lengthy occupation, only to replace a tyrant there with something far worse for everybody (except the mullahs' of Iran). Breaking Iraq means that the U.S. has an obligation to fix it, instead of just to say, "Oh, those people, they're not our obligation; we've left that country."<br /><br />The first album of the Michael Stanley Band, in 1975, was titled, "You Break It ... You Bought It!" The Iraqi people are not just "broken," but utterly destroyed. America now owns the result, whatever that will turn out to be.<br /><br />President Obama thus faces a predicament. This predicament will probably occupy much of his time between now and April 30th. The decision that he makes there could even impact the desire (or not) of Ukrainians to ally with "the West" or with Russia. It could have wide implications outside Iraq (though Iraq is, of course, chiefly where our obligation is, and long will continue to be).<br /><br />Even if the U.S. stops its military involvement in Iraq, George W. Bush made our bed there, and all Americans will be sleeping on it for a very long time to come, no matter what President Obama decides to do — or not to do.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2014 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '980601'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=980601" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 10:49:00 -0700 Eric Zuesse, AlterNet 980601 at http://blog.alternet.org News & Politics LGBTQ News & Politics World iraq Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki child marriage hate crimes violence against LBGTQ people yanar mohammed rape Iraqi women and girls Jaafari Law rights of the child U.S. imperialism U.S. wars Gallup Poll Shows U.S. Recession Never Ended http://blog.alternet.org/economy/invisible-hand-didnt-save-anybody-gallup-poll-shows-us-recession-never-ended <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '948134'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=948134" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">If it looks like a recession and quacks like a recession, it&#039;s probably a recession.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://blog.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/unhappypeople.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>In <span class="aBn" data-term="goog_1583076029" tabindex="0"><span class="aQJ">January 2014</span></span>, a <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/166871/americans-satisfaction-economy-sours-2001.aspx?version=print" target="_blank"><span style="color:#0b36a2">Gallup poll reported</span></a> that the percentage of Americans who say they are "satisfied" with the country's economy is 28 percent. That's down from 68 percent during Gallup's previous survey, taken in January 2001.</p><p>The second most steeply falling of its 20 survey questions was a 21 percent drop in satisfaction with "the role the U.S. plays in world affairs." By contrast, the steepest rise in satisfaction was on the state of the environment, which rose 23 percent, from 46 percent, to 69 percent satisfied with it now.</p><p>The only really stunning outlier in Galllup's findings on all 20 questions was the 40 percent plunge in economic satisfaction, shown during that 15-year period.</p><p>Although economists claim that the post-2008 <a href="http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-recession-ended-june-2009-nber-says-2010-09-20" target="_blank"><span style="color:#0b36a2">"recession" ended in June 2009</span></a>, most economists ignore facts about who owns what, or the unequal distribution of wealth. (That's measured by something called "Gini," and they don't include that when defining either "recession" or "boom".) Most economists overlook the fact that 95 percent of the income gains since the "recovery" started in June 2009 <a href="http://elsa.berkeley.edu/%7Esaez/saez-UStopincomes-2012.pdf" target="_blank"><span style="color:#0b36a2">have gone to the richest 1 percent of the U.S. population</span></a>.</p><p>Republicans especially don't care about the poor. For example, there was Romney's famous statement about the poorer 47 percent, whom he didn't concern himself about, but that's really just standard Republican thinking, no surprise there. Like economists' belief in the "invisible hand" of God, the view is based on admiration for the rich and contempt for the poor, attributing poverty to laziness, and wealth to such virtues as wisdom.</p><p>However, remarkably, more Republicans than Democrats are dissatisfied with the economy: Gallup's new report shows that whereas 56 percent of Democrats are satisfied with it, only 31 percent of Republicans are. Democrats are more satisfied with it because they are prejudiced to like President Obama because he's a Democrat. Similarly, Republicans are less satisfied with the economy because they are prejudiced to dislike him, since he's both a Democrat and black — a combination that holds little appeal to the conservative, white, Republican electorate.</p><p>When Gallup reported in 2001 <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/4765/public-dissatisfied-campaign-finance-laws-supports-limits-contributions.aspx?version=print" target="_blank"><span style="color:#0b36a2">its earlier findings</span></a>, it provided no breakdown by party, but did show that 68 percent of the public were satisfied, and only 27 percent were dissatisfied then, with the economy. Since this survey was taken at the end of the Bill Clinton boom and more than two months after George W. Bush, a Republican, had been elected to the presidency, and Clinton was both white and a Southerner, both of which attributes held appeal to Republicans, the optimism then was evidently shared by both Democrats and Republicans. What we have now is instead optimism only by Democrats, as if they constituted the richest 1 percent — the people who are benefiting. Other than Democrats, and the richest 1 percent (who are overwhelmingly, by about 70 percent, Republicans), Americans evidently think the U.S. recession is still continuing, even six years after Barack Obama became president.</p><p>Economists say the recession ended in June 2009, but the American public disagrees overwhelmingly with that assessment of the U.S. economy. Either economists are using false measures of "recession," or else the American public is wrong to be dissatisfied with the state of the U.S. economy. Maybe all economists should be fired unless they collectively proclaim their formulas to be false, and propose replacements for those false formulas that are empirically supportable — because the present ones clearly are not.</p><p>Economics isn't yet a science; it's not yet a field where the reigning theories are based upon the existing empirical evidence, but instead upon prejudices (the invisible hand of God, etc.), much like popular opinion also apparently is. But if someone stomps on your toe, and you say "Ouch!" and some expert tells you it's all in your head, you know the expert isn't much of one. That's the way it is, regarding the U.S. economy.</p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Theyre-Not-Even-Close-Democratic/dp/1880026090/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1339027537&amp;sr=8-9" target="_blank">They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010</a>, and of  <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007Q1H4EG" target="_blank">CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity</a>.</p> </div></div></div> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2014 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '948134'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=948134" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 16 Jan 2014 14:08:00 -0800 Eric Zuesse, AlterNet 948134 at http://blog.alternet.org Economy Economy Hard Times USA News & Politics gallup poll recession 2014 dissatisfaction u.s. economy Elizabeth Warren Comes Down Hard Against Keystone XL Pipeline While Hillary Clinton's Allies Push It Ahead http://blog.alternet.org/environment/elizabeth-warren-comes-down-hard-against-global-warming-separates-herself-hillary <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '939647'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=939647" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Warren stands up to a project that could enrich the Koch brothers by tens of billions.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://blog.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/photo_1375213735406-1-0.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>On Friday, December 20, Democratic U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren finally separated herself clearly from former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, regarding the issue of climate change and global warming.</p><p>TransCanada Corporation wants to build the Keystone XL Pipeline to carry oil from Alberta Canada's tar sands to two refineries owned by Koch Industries near the Texas Gulf Coast, for export to Europe. Hillary Clinton has helped to make that happen, while Elizabeth Warren has now taken the opposite side.</p><p>Secretary of State Clinton, whose friend and former staffer Paul Elliot is a lobbyist for TransCanada, had worked behind the scenes to ease the way for commercial exploitation of this, the world's highest-carbon-emitting oil, <a href="http://kochcash.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Embargo_Report.pdf" target="_blank">53% of which is owned by America's Koch brothers</a>. (Koch Industries owns 63% of the tar sands, and the Koch brothers own 86% of Koch Industries; Elaine Marshall, who is the widow of the son of the deceased Koch partner J. Howard Marshall, owns the remaining 14% of Koch Industries.)</p><p>David Goldwyn, who was former Secretary Clinton's <a href="http://goldwynstrategies.com/Content/David.aspx" target="_blank">Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs,</a> is yet another <a href="http://www.boldnebraska.org/entrix" target="_blank">lobbyist for TransCanada.</a> So, TransCanada has two of Hillary Clinton's friends working for it. Elliot and Goldwyn worked with Clinton's people to guide them on selecting a petroleum industry contractor (not an environmental firm or governmental agency) to prepare the required environmental impact statement for the proposed pipeline.</p><p>Secretary Clinton's State Department allowed the environmental impact statement on the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline to be performed by a petroleum industry contractor that was chosen by the company that was proposing to build and own the pipeline, TransCanada. That contractor had no climatologist, and the resulting report failed even at its basic job of estimating the number of degrees by which the Earth's climate would be additionally heated if the pipeline is built and operated. Its report ignored that question and instead evaluated the impact that <a href="http://www.opednews.com/articles/State-Department-s-Keyston-by-Eric-Zuesse-130326-371.html">climate change would have on the pipeline,</a> which was estimated to be none.</p><p><span style="font-size: 12px;">President Obama is </span><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eric-zuesse/the-kochs-have-bet-big-th_b_4175085.html" style="font-size: 12px;" target="_blank">now trying to force the European Union to relax its anti-global-warming regulations</a><span style="font-size: 12px;"> so the EU will import the Kochs' dirty oil. His agent in this effort is his new U.S. Trade Representative, Michael Froman, from Wall Street.</span></p><p>But on December 20, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/20/trade-representative-tar-sands_n_4482133.html" target="_blank">Senator Warren signed onto a letter criticizing</a> the Obama administration's apparent effort to force the European Union to agree to purchase this oil. As the Huffington Post's Kate Sheppard reported, "Six senators and 16 House members, all Democrats, wrote a letter to Froman on Friday asking him to elaborate on his position on the matter. 'If these reports are accurate, USTR's [the U.S. Trade Representative's] actions could undercut the EU's commendable goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in its transportation sectors,' these 22 Democratic lawmakers wrote."</p><p>This is, essentially, a rebellion by 22 progressive congressional Democrats against the Clinton-Obama effort to provide a market for the Kochs' oil. The letter was actually written by Representative Henry Waxman and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, and co-signed by senators Barbara Boxer, Ed Markey, Dick Durbin, Jeff Merkley, and Elizabeth Warren; and Representatives John Conyers, Jr., Barbara Lee, Raúl M. Grijalva, Rush Holt, Louise M. Slaughter, Jerrold Nadler, Judy Chu, Peter DeFazio, Anna G. Eshoo, Sam Farr, Peter Welch, Alan Lowenthal, Mark Pocan, and Steve Cohen.</p><p>What is at issue in the Keystone XL and Alberta tar sands matter is governmental policies that will determine whether the tar-sands oil will undercut the production-costs of normal oil. Right now, normal oil costs far less to mine, process, and get to market (because tar sands oil is so dirty and so landlocked). However, if the Kochs win, existing governmental policies will change in ways that will eliminate this cost-advantage of normal oil. The result would be increased sales and burning of the tar-sands oil, and thus reduced sales and burning of cleaner oil. That would throw into the atmosphere "more than $70 billion in additional damages associated with climate change over 50 years." That added $70 billion would be the added harms to the entire world, not to the owners of the tar sands.</p><p>The benefits to Koch Industries, from this competitive re-allignment in favor of tar-sands oil, have been estimated to be <a href="http://kochcash.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Embargo_Report.pdf" target="_blank">around $100 billion</a>. This would add about $45 billion to the net worth of David Koch, $45 billion to the net worth of Charles Koch, and $15 billion to the net worth of Elaine Marshall. (David and Charles Koch would then become the two wealthiest individuals in the world.)</p><p>On December 17, the Republican House budget chief, Paul Ryan, <a href="http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/e2-wire/193357-house-budget-chief-looks-to-tie-keystone-to-debt-ceiling" target="_blank">threatened to drive the U.S. government into default unless President Obama approves the Keystone XL Pipeline</a>.</p><p>President Obama holds the sole authority to approve or disapprove this project, because it crosses the international border. He has delayed this decision for years because he doesn't want to enrage the environmental community. Also, tipping his hand in that way would be a waste if he cannot first get Europe to weaken its environmental standards and allow this oil to compete in Europe with normal oil.</p><p>Senator Warren has now joined with the progressives on two big issues that arouse intense opposition from the aristocrats who finance most political campaigns. Warren opposes the taxpayer handouts to Wall Street, and she now also opposes the environmental handouts to the owners of the most harmfully polluting corporations, such as Koch Industries. (The <a href="http://kochcash.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Embargo_Report.pdf" target="_blank">other owners of tar-sands oil</a> are Conoco-Phillips, Exxon-Mobil and Chevron-Texaco.)</p><p>This could be a turning point in Elizabeth Warren's political career. She's no longer at war against only the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eric-zuesse/why-hillary-clinton-shoul_b_4293469.html" target="_blank">corrupution in the financial industry</a>, she is also at war against the environmental corruption so widespread in the Republican Party.</p><p>In another example of that environmental corruption, on Oct. 2, 2013, Joe Romm at Think Progress reported that "The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/10/02/2708911/fracking-ipcc-methane/" target="_blank">reports that methane... is far more potent a greenhouse gas</a>" than previously known, so bad it "would gut the climate benefits of switching from coal."</p><p>Just five days after that, Jon Campbell in upstate New York reported that at Hamilton College, <a href="http://polhudson.lohudblogs.com/2013/10/07/in-oneida-county-hillary-clinton-touts-u-s-oil-and-gas-production/" target="_blank">Hillary Clinton praised fracking for methane</a> by saying, "What that means for viable manufacturing and industrialization in this country is enormous."</p><p>If Warren won't be able to get either Wall Street or the oil patch to finance her political campaigns, how can she possibly rise within the power structure?</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2013 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '939647'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=939647" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Sat, 21 Dec 2013 13:25:00 -0800 Eric Zuesse, AlterNet 939647 at http://blog.alternet.org Environment Environment elizabeth warren Economic Opportunity Is Lowest In the Republican Bible Belt, Major Study Finds http://blog.alternet.org/economy/economic-opportunity-lowest-former-slave-states <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '938801'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=938801" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Class-rigidity is most extreme in the South, according to leading Harvard and Berkeley economists. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://blog.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2013-12-19_at_3.17.19_pm.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>The website <a href="http://www.equality-of-opportunity.org/index.php/city-rankings/city-rankings-100" target="_blank">Equality-Of-<wbr></wbr>Opportunity.org</a> was established this year by four leading economists from Harvard and Berkeley, and it now headlines their major findings, “Mobility in the 100 Largest Commuting Zones.” It ranks all 100 largest U.S. cities for the chances of a person born poor to rise from the bottom 20% to the top 20%.</p><p>Whereas all of the top 21 cities (NYC being ranked #21) are shown clustered there closely around 10% for the given place’s odds that a resident born in the bottom 20% will rise into the top 20%, all except just four of the bottom 21 cities are in Old Dixie. Here, the probabilities of rising from the bottom 20% to the top 20% range widely, between just 6.7% (one-third less than in the best locales) down to merely 2.6% (around one-quarter of the probability in the best locales), among these 21 bottom-ranked cities. </p><p>In other words: virtually all of this nation’s class-rigidity still remains in the U.S. South, even after the Civil War. New Dixie has replaced the aristocracy’s black slaves of Old Dixie, by the local (white) aristocracy’s institutionalized bigotry against poor people, now of all ethnic groups. What used to be their purely racist bigotry has, it seems, devolved into a crushing, pervasive, classist, bigotry in the South. </p><p>Explaining this would produce controversy, and unfortunately the researchers don’t even try. However, it is a striking finding, which demands an explanation.</p><p>For a century after Abraham Lincoln was shot in 1865, the North’s Protestant aristocracy increasingly supported the Republican Party, which gradually became, in a sense, the new version of the old aristocratic Southern Democratic Party, but now spread nationwide: oriented more toward concerns about the “free market” than about democracy. Government became subordinated to economics—not just any economics, but “free market” economics, whereas economics had virtually nothing to do with the U.S. Constitution, which was instead concerned with political matters: government.</p><p>With the advent of Democratic President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and his “New Deal” reforms and regulations during the Great Depression, and his starting of the Social Security system, this aristocratic hostility toward the Democratic Party intensified even more.</p><p>In FDR’s re-nomination acceptance speech in 1936, he said, “Economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power. Our allegiance to American institutions requires the overthrow of this kind of power. In vain they seek to hide behind the flag and the Constitution.” This was a speech that could be given today.</p><p>Then, as if to add insult to Protestant aristocratic outrage, the Catholic Democratic President John F. Kennedy finally committed the Democratic Party against the unquestionably bigoted South; and next, the remarkably progressive Democratic Texan President Lyndon Baines Johnson fatefully sealed this FDR-type Democratic Party, with the Civil Rights Acts, and also Medicare and Medicaid —all done to serve mainly the very same people, the middle-class and the poor, whom aristocrats traditionally have wanted instead to be suppressed, if not again enslaved (such as was the case in the Old South). For example, labor unions are routinely suppressed by aristocrats, because such unions challenge the "free market”— they challenge aristocrats’ hired managers, who no longer possess unrestrained control when a labor union is present. </p><p>Aristocrats call this "free market" of theirs simply “freedom,” meaning their own freedom, but also meaning (though never mentioning) the “freedom” of millions of have-nots to suffer unto their graves (via such class-rigidity as prevails especially in the South, and in underdeveloped countries around the world). These financial elite also sometimes call this free-market economics “tough love.” But no matter what the rationalization, the result for its victims is basically like a kiss of death; this is more that type of “love,” even when the proponents themselves actually sincerely believe it to be some sort of “love,” for the people who are actually suffering from this one-sided “freedom” of the aristocracy.</p><p>Republicans are proud of this “freedom,” or “discipline,” or “tough love”: they even sometimes call it the "opportunity society." That’s what pervades the South, the very same region of this country where economic opportunity is actually the lowest.</p><p>However, apparently enough Americans support this Orwellian operation, so that Republicans constitute a major party, which includes some of the very same people who suffer from it. This is the only way to explain the continued existence of the Republican Party as being a major political party in the U.S.</p><p>Nonetheless, this does not mean that today's Democratic Party is actually in favor of the poor—the Democratic Party of today just doesn't hate them as Republicans do. The clearest evidence of this came in a different study.</p><p>Princeton’s Larry M. Bartels posted to the Internet in 2002, updated in August 2005, his article, <a href="http://www.princeton.edu/~bartels/economic.pdf" target="_blank">“Economic Inequality and Political Representation,”</a> which examined the votes of U.S. senators on eight bills. He found that, “Republicans were about twice as responsive as Democrats to the views of high-income constituents,” but that, “There is no evidence of any responsiveness [of Senators] to the views of constituents in the bottom third of the income distribution, even from Democrats.”</p><p>Furthermore, “For Republican senators there is no evidence of responsiveness to middle-income constituents,” but only to the views of high-income constituents, and, “Democrats seem to have responded at least as strongly to the views of middle-income constituents as to the views of high-income constituents—though, once again, there is no evidence of any responsiveness to the views of low-income constituents.”</p><p>The popular myth has always been promulgated by Republicans that Democratic politicians engage in class-warfare against the middle-class, on behalf of the poor; but that’s just a blatant lie, whose purpose is to hide the very real class-war, by Republicans, against the middle-class, which is being waged successfully on behalf of the rich—the exact opposite of Republican claims. </p><p>Furthermore, “Senators seem to have been a good deal more responsive to upper-income constituents when a Republican was in the White House ... than they were with a Democrat in the White House.” </p><p>Perhaps this is the reason why even with a conservative Democratic president such as Obama, today’s far-rightwing Republican Party cannot get much of its wish-list filled. Bartels found “surprisingly strong and consistent evidence that the biases I have identified in senators’ responsiveness to rich and poor constituents are not due to differences between rich and poor constituents in [electoral] turnout, political knowledge, or contacting.”</p><p>In common parlance: Bartels found that ideology alone accounts for this difference. </p><p>He also considered the possibility posed by a 1995 study, which had shown that, “citizens in the top quarter of the income distribution ... provided almost three quarters of the total campaign contributions.” Could that be the answer —senators were simply voting for their contributors? Bartels found that only “two of the eight salient roll call votes [concerning the minimum wage, and abortion]” in his study could reasonably be explained on the basis mainly of campaign contributions; the other six could not. </p><p>A pronounced ideological component seems to have been involved in most senate votes. Republican senators voted overwhelmingly in favor of the rich, and Democratic senators voted equally often in favor of the rich and of the middle-class. Only in about one-quarter of the instances could political donations reasonably account for that.</p><p>It might also be worth noting that, even today, the purely racist tendency of the aristocracy is so great that it often is <a href="http://www.epi.org/publication/bp335-boa-countrywide-discriminatory-lending/" target="_blank">strong enough to outweigh their greed—discrimination is practiced even when it's unprofitable</a>. So: the traditional leftist "explanation" for conservatism (that it's purely based on greed) is false. The understanding that leftists have of rightists is basically the mirror-image of the way Fox News characterizes leftists.</p><p>The scientific studies that are being reported here constitute solid scientific findings, not opinions, and reporting them might come as interesting news to many readers, because our news-media unfortunately tend to be reluctant to report as news even the best scientific findings about ideology. But there is a difference between reporting on ideology, versus applying ideology (which an op-ed is supposed to do). This is therefore a news story, which brings together many studies that concern people’s ideology. If it happens to surprise anyone, then that would be simply because the major mainstream news media’s “neutrality” and “nonpartisanship” have required that they avoid reporting such facts as have been reported here. A lot of important facts are unreported for that reason. However, their being unreported has nothing to do with there being anything dubious about them.</p><p><em>*This article orignally stated that of all the 100 largest U.S. cities for the chances of a person born poor to rise from the bottom 20% to the top 20%,all except just three the of the bottom 21 cities are in Old Dixie. The correct number is four of the bottom cities. The article has been corrected. </em></p><div> </div> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2013 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '938801'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=938801" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 19 Dec 2013 12:14:00 -0800 Eric Zuesse, AlterNet 938801 at http://blog.alternet.org Economy Economy The Right Wing economic opportunity Far-Right Lobby Group ALEC Brags That All Politicians in Two State Legislatures Are Members http://blog.alternet.org/corporate-accountability-and-workplace/alec-brags-all-politicians-two-state-legislatures-are-members <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '935052'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=935052" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Politicians of two Midwestern states are in cahoots with one of America&#039;s most destructive organizations. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://blog.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/images/managed/storyimages_1334705197_aleclogos.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>The far-right American Legislative Exchange Council claims that every member of the state legislature in two states belongs to ALEC.</p><p>Recently leaked documents from the <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/841593-alec-docs.html" target="_blank">ALEC Board Meeting, Aug. 6, 2013, Chicago, Illinois,</a> list the number and percentage of each state's legislature that have signed onto ALEC. Under "# of Legislators," and "# of ALEC Members," Iowa has 150 in each column, and South Dakota has 105 in each column. The third column, for both states, shows the "% of ALEC Membership in Legislature" as being "100%." At the opposite end, the lowest percentage is 1%, in New York. The second-lowest is New Jersey, 2%. The third and fourth lowest, tied, are just 4%, in both Maine and Vermont. The fifth-lowest is New Hampshire, 6%. That table appears on page 39 of the report.</p><p>Page 20 presents the text of the oath of office that the leading ALEC member in each state must swear to in order to win or retain his position: "I will act with care and loyalty and put the interests of the organization first."</p><p>When asked about this, ALEC's senior director of public affairs <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/03/alec-funding-crisis-big-donors-trayvon-martin" target="_blank">told Britain's Guardian</a>, "All legislators are beholden to their constituents' interests first — if they are not, they will be held accountable at the ballot box."</p><p>In other words, if ALEC's lead legislator in any state violates his oath to ALEC, he stands to lose the vast campaign contributions from the corporations that fund ALEC. The purpose of those corporate campaign donations is to make sure that state legislators are "held accountable" to ALEC. ALEC survives by persuading conservative voters to vote for the stooges the corporations that fund ALEC want to write the laws for them.</p><p>In some countries, this is called corruption, or even fascism, but in the United States, it's called politics, or even (by the five Republicans on the U.S. Supreme Court) freedom of speech.</p><p>A few members of ALEC are conservative Democrats, whom the large corporations support only because most of the voters in those districts already know that the Republican Party is controlled by large international corporations (which are sometimes called, in the U.S., "Wall Street"). The best-financed Democrats in those less right-wing districts are usually the most conservative Democrats there.</p><p>This is how American politics is controlled from the top. It's also why the United States has <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eric-zuesse/us-is-now-the-most-unequa_b_4408647.html" target="_blank">the most unequal distribution of wealth of all of the world's economically developed nations</a>. When a few aristocrats control the minds of many fools, that's what happens, and it's not democracy but instead the Orwellian opposite, commonly called fascism.</p><p>Pages 15 and 17 of the report contain a "Memorandum" to ALEC from its law firm, explaining how the so-called "Jeffersonian Project, Inc., has been established as an organization exempt from tax," and by means of which sub-organization their mega-corporate sponsors can get tax-deductions for their lobbying expenses, via ALEC. The lawyer says, "The Jeffersonian Project is indirectly controlled by ALEC through a provision in its bylaws requiring that its board of directors be appointed (or removed) by ALEC."</p><p>These people aren't kidding around, and all other U.S. taxpayers have to take up the tax-load the controlling elite slough off in this way. Conservatives say that such "social services" (ALEC is, after all, an "educational organization") should be shed by government and performed instead by the private sector, via charities, which are really just ways for these people to get tax writeoffs for things like lobbying the legislators and propagandizing the public. It's a smart business plan, used by many astroturg groups whose top executives receive considerable remuneration for their services to the aristocracy.</p><p>The documents identify ALEC's national chairman as John Piscopo, of whom Wikipedia says, "In October 2012, he was one of nine US state legislators who went on an industry-paid trip to explore the Alberta tar sands, publicly described as an 'ALEC Academy'."</p><p>More than half of the tar sands are owned by David and Charles Koch, who are the chief financial backers of ALEC. ALEC is strongly pushing the Keystone XL Pipeline, 25 percent of which would be owned by the Koch brothers. The pipeline would carry the Kochs' tar-sands oil to two Koch refineries near the Texas coast for shipment to the European Union, but the EU's environmental laws prohibit such oil under the EU's anti-global-warming provisions. President Obama is trying to force the EU to weaken those regulations in order to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eric-zuesse/the-kochs-have-bet-big-th_b_4175085.html" target="_blank">increase the net worth of the Kochs by around $100 billion</a>. It seems that the Kochs don't need to pay Obama to do their bidding; perhaps he does this service out of his personal conservative respect for them, but it's not something he discusses publicly.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2013 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '935052'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=935052" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Tue, 10 Dec 2013 13:45:00 -0800 Eric Zuesse, AlterNet 935052 at http://blog.alternet.org Corporate Accountability and WorkPlace Corporate Accountability and WorkPlace alec U.S. Wealth Is Now the Most Concentrated at the Top Since 1916 http://blog.alternet.org/economy/us-wealth-now-most-concentrated-top-1916 <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '902231'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=902231" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The top ten-thousandth of the U.S. population have done very well under President Obama’s leadership, even if they had predominantly voted and contributed to Mitt Romney.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://blog.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/images/managed/topstories_wealth1.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>A new report shows that income in the U.S. in 2012 was more concentrated at the top than at any time since 1916. </p><p>A bit more than one twenty-fifth of all income in the U.S. is now being taken in by the top one-ten-thousandth of the U.S. population. That one rich statistical person is bringing in considerably more income than all of the poorest 2,000 people do in that same statistical 10,000 Americans.</p><p>We must go back nearly a hundred years to find a time when the top 0.01%, the top 1 in 10,000 people in the U.S., were making more than 4% of the nation’s total income, as they were in the latest calculated year, 2012. This figure of income-concentration among the top 0.01% was the all-time high 4.4% in 1916. In 1915, it was 4.36%. Before that, it was under 3%. And it has never again been anywhere near 4%, until 2012, when it broke through the 4% barrier yet again, for the first time in 97 years, at 4.08%. Other than in 2012, the highest it has been in recent decades was 3.53% in 2007, under Bush, at the peak right before the 2008 crash. This money-concentration is now more extreme than it was even then – even at Bush’s peak.</p><p>The details are being reported at the global academic database of income-distribution, which is called <a href="http://topincomes.g-mond.parisschoolofeconomics.eu/#Database:" target="_blank">“The World Top Incomes Database,”</a> and which is headed by the world’s four leading researchers on income-distribution: Tony Atkinson, Facundo Alvaredo, Thomas Piketty, and Emmanuel Saez.</p><p>Here is how this top-end income-figure has changed or evolved during the past century: After 1916, it gradually declined from 4.4% down to 1.67% in 1920. Then it rose again to 3.23% in 1928, right before the 1929 crash. Then, it gradually declined from there, to .97% in 1943. It then remained consistently between .97% and .50% until it reached back again above .97%, to 1.00% for the first time, in 1986, after which it passed 2% in 1992, and then passed the 3% mark in 2005.</p><p>However, after the 2008 crash, some people expected that this rise would stop, as it had stopped after the last crash; but, instead, it just continued rising under Obama, so that the 4% barrier was passed last year, in 2012.</p><p>This type of rise had never happened before – continuing to climb even after a Wall Street crash.</p><p>Evidently, the trillions of dollars in bailouts to Wall Street banks and to their top investors, which didn’t happen under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt during the 1930s, has been having the result that Wall Street and their friends could be expected to have sought: it has prevented them from sharing in the hardships that the public – who have bailed them out and are still experiencing lost jobs, lost pay, and lost wealth – are suffering through in the aftermath of 2008.</p><p>The top ten-thousandth of the U.S. population have done very well under President Obama’s leadership, even if they had predominantly voted for Mitt Romney, who promised them an even better deal. Wall Street donated <a href="http://www.opensecrets.org/pres12/contrib.php?cycle=2012&amp;id=N00000286" target="_blank">overwhelmingly</a> to the Republican Romney campaign, against Obama. A (supposedly) democratic election in 2012 offered American voters a choice between a hero for Wall Street, versus only an angel and savior for Wall Street; and voters chose Wall Street’s angel and savior, over Wall Street’s favorite. The result is now clear and undeniable, in the economic data.</p><p>It’s not like American democracy used to be. Perhaps the important question now is whether this is a real democracy at all – or is America now ruled by Wall Street, no longer really by Main Street?</p><p>Has the difference between the Democratic and Republican Parties degenerated to the difference between subservience to Wall Street, versus hyper-subservience to Wall Street? Is that what it really is coming down to, now?</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2013 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '902231'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=902231" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 27 Sep 2013 08:26:00 -0700 Eric Zuesse, AlterNet 902231 at http://blog.alternet.org Economy Economy News & Politics mitt romney Are Conservatives Easier to Manipulate? http://blog.alternet.org/conservatives-easier-manipulate <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '850824'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=850824" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Studies have repeatedly shown that conservatives are more susceptible to spin and lies. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://blog.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2013-06-05_at_2.46.07_pm.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; "><span style="color: blue; "><a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/162815/support-euthanasia-hinges-described.aspx" style="color: rgb(17, 85, 204); " target="_blank"><span style="color: blue; text-decoration: none; ">A Gallup Poll</span></a></span> on May 29 strikingly titled “U.S. Support for Euthanasia Hinges on How It’s Described” contains unambiguous new evidence that Republicans are more manipulable than Democrats—at least when the question concerns the important issue of whether or not a terminal patient’s request for assistance to die should be carried out by the person’s doctor. It reported that, “A May 2-7 Gallup survey finds 70% of Americans in favor of allowing doctors to hasten a terminally ill patient’s death when the matter is described as allowing doctors to ‘end the patient’s life by some painless means.’ At the same time, far fewer – 51% – support it when the process is described as doctors helping a patient ‘commit suicide.’”</p><p style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; ">The precise question in the latter instance was “When a person has a disease that cannot be cured and is living in severe pain, do you think doctors should or should not be allowed by law to assist the patient to commit suicide if the patient requests it?”</p><p style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; ">The remarkable finding was that 71% of Democrats, and 68% of Republicans, support a doctor’s ending a patient’s life by some painless means if the patient requests it and has a terminal illness, but only 60% of Democrats, and 41% of Republicans do when the question it phrased as “to assist the patient to commit suicide.”</p><p style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; ">That’s a fall-off from 71% down to 60% for Democrats – or a reduction of 15% – of Democrats, who can be manipulated by using different terminology; but it’s a fall-off from 68% down to 41% for Republicans – or a reduction of 40% – of Republicans, who can be manipulated by a mere synonymous rephrasing of the same question.</p><p style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; ">Or, to put that in the other way, based upon this poll, 85% of Democrats, versus only 60% of Republicans, were <i>not</i> manipulable on this issue – they responded to the issue itself, and not to the wording of it.</p><p style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; ">There is a vast amount of other empirical evidence showing that conservatives, and Republicans in particular, are more manipulable than non-conservatives.</p><p style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; ">A famous study by Jost, Glaser, Kruglansky and Sulloway, “Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition,” in the May 2003 <i>Psychological Bulletin</i>, found that prejudices were even stronger among conservatives than among the general population.</p><p style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; ">An October 2003 survey, “Misperceptions, the Media and the Iraq War,” from <a href="http://worldpublicopinion.org/" style="color: rgb(17, 85, 204); " target="_blank">worldpublicopinion.org</a> (formerly “PIPA,” or Program on International Policy Attitudes) found that the audience of Fox News is highly Republican, but failed to provide any detailed breakdown. A more detailed study of this question, issued by <a href="http://rasmussenreports.com/" style="color: rgb(17, 85, 204); " target="_blank">rasmussenreports.com</a> in June 2004, was headlined “Fox Fans Favor Bush 65% to 28%,” and noted, by way of contrast, that “CNN Fans Favor Kerry 63% to 26%.”</p><p style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; ">Furthermore, this survey found that, “In the race for Congress, Fox fans will vote for GOP candidates by a 56% to 25% margin. The CNN audience will vote Democratic by a 54% to 27% margin.” The PIPA study of “Misperceptions” and “the Iraq War” found: “The extent of Americans’ misperceptions vary significantly depending on their source of news. Those who receive most of their news from Fox News are more likely than average to have misperceptions. Those who receive most of their news from NPR or PBS are less likely to have misperceptions. These variations cannot simply be explained as a result of differences in the demographic characteristics of each audience, because these variations can also be found when comparing the demographic subgroups of each audience.”</p><p style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; ">On <span class="aBn" data-term="goog_413725034" style="border-bottom-width: 1px; border-bottom-style: dashed; border-bottom-color: rgb(204, 204, 204); position: relative; top: -2px; z-index: 0; " tabindex="0"><span class="aQJ" style="position: relative; top: 2px; z-index: -1; ">November 22,</span></span> 2011, <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/" style="color: rgb(17, 85, 204); " target="_blank">thinkprogress.org</a> headlined “Fox News Viewers Are the Most Misinformed: A Seventh Study Arrives to Prove It,” and Chris Mooney linked to each of the seven different studies that had been done of this subject, all of which found the same thing. The latest study was titled “Climate on Cable: The Nature and Impact of Global Warming Coverage on Fox News [FNC], CNN, and MSNBC.” This latest study closed by saying: “In sum, the results overwhelmingly support Hypothesis 4 [that FNC viewers rejected the reality of global warming, whereas CNN/MSNBC viewers accepted its reality], demonstrating that Fox News viewing is associated with lower levels of global warming acceptance, with the reverse true for CNN/MSNBC viewing. ... [Moreover, a separate finding was:] The views of Republicans seem to reflect the cable news outlet they watch, regardless of whether it is Fox or CNN/MSNBC. Democrats, on the other hand, do not vary significantly in their global warming beliefs as a function of cable news.”</p><p style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; ">In other words: whereas Democrats sought information, Republicans sought simply confirmation of their beliefs.</p><p style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; ">On March 22, 2012, <i>Forbes</i> presented its misleadingly subtitled “Media Map: Who’s Reading What and Where,” telling which news channels and newspapers had the largest audience-share in which regions. Fox was strongest in MS, then in AL, AR, WY, and SC, all very conservative states. The most deceiving news-source was also the one most watched in extremely conservative, generally highly Republican states.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2013 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '850824'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=850824" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 05 Jun 2013 11:38:00 -0700 Eric Zuesse, AlterNet 850824 at http://blog.alternet.org Culture republican conservative The World's Richest 8% Earn Half of All Planetary Income http://blog.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/worlds-richest-8-earn-half-all-planetary-income <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '846729'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=846729" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The top 1 per cent has seen its real income rise by more than 60 per cent over those two decades.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://blog.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2013-05-28_at_3.59.49_pm.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p> </p><p>The lead research economist at the World Bank, Branko Milanovic, will be reporting soon, in the journal Global Policy, the first calculation of global income-inequality, and he has found that the top 8% of global earners are drawing 50% of all of this planet's income. He notes: "Global inequality is much greater than inequality within any individual country," because the stark inequality between countries adds to the inequality within any one of them, and because most people live in extremely poor countries, largely the nations within three thousand miles of the Equator, where it's already too hot, even without the global warming that scientists say will heat the world much more from now on.</p><p>For example, the World Bank's list of "GDP per capita (current US$)" shows that in 2011 this annual-income figure ranged from $231 in Democratic Republic of Congo at the Equator, to $171,465 in Monaco within Europe. The second-poorest and second-richest countries respectively were $271 in Burundi at the Equator, and $114,232 in Luxembourg within Europe. For comparisons, the U.S. was $48,112, and China was $5,445. Those few examples indicate how widely per-capita income ranges between nations, and how more heat means more poverty.</p><p>Wealth-inequality is always far higher than income-inequality, and therefore a reasonable estimate of personal wealth throughout the world would probably be somewhere on the order of the wealthiest 1% of people owning roughly half of all personal assets. These individuals might be considered the current aristocracy, insofar as their economic clout is about equal to that of all of the remaining 99% of the world's population.</p><p>Milanovich says: "Among the global top 1 per cent, we find the richest 12 per cent of Americans, ... and between 3 and 6 per cent of the richest Britons, Japanese, Germans and French. It is a 'club' that is still overwhelmingly composed of the 'old rich'," who pass on to their children (tax-free in the many countries that have no estate-taxes) the fortunes that they have accumulated, and who help set them up in businesses of their own - often after having sent them first to the most prestigious universities (many in the United States), where those children meet and make friends of others who are similarly situated as themselves.</p><p>For example, on 22 April 2004, The New York Times headlined "As Wealthy Fill Top Colleges, Concerns Grow Over Fairness," and reported that 55% of freshman students at the nation's 250 most selective colleges and universities came from parents in the top 25% of this nation's income. Only 12% of students had parents in the bottom 25% of income. Even at an elite public, state, college, the University of Michigan, "more members of this year's freshman class ... have parents making at least $200,000 a year [then America's top 2%] than have parents making less than the national median of about $53,000 [America's bottom 50%].'"</p><p>Most of the redistribution that favors more than just the top 1% has occurred in the "developing" countries, such as China. However, a larger proportion of the world's population live in nations of Central and South America, Africa, etc., where today's leading families tend overwhelmingly to be the same as in the previous generation. They, too, near the Equator, are members of the "club," but there are fewer of them.</p><p>Milanovic finds that globally, "The top 1 per cent has seen its real income rise by more than 60 per cent over those two decades [1988-2008]," while "the poorest 5 per cent" have received incomes which "have remained the same" - the desperately poor are simply remaining desperately poor. Maybe there's too much heat where they live.</p><p>This study, in Global Policy, to be titled "Global Income Inequality in Numbers: In History and Now," reports that economic developments of the past twenty years have caused "the top 1 per cent to pull ahead of the other rich and to reaffirm in fact - and even more so in public perception - its preponderant role as a winner of globalization."</p><p>A preliminary version of Milanovic's findings, presented by him at an economic conference, can be seen <a href="http://ineteconomics.org/global-inequality-columbia-university">here</a>. A stunning summary video of Milanovic's research can be seen <a href="http://www.globalpolicyjournal.com/blog/16/05/2013/global-wealth-inequality---what-you-never-knew-you-never-knew">here</a>.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2013 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '846729'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=846729" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Tue, 28 May 2013 12:50:00 -0700 Eric Zuesse, AlterNet 846729 at http://blog.alternet.org News & Politics News & Politics inequality income America Is Far from #1 http://blog.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/america-far-1 <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '787849'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=787849" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The latest Global Competitiveness Report comparing 144 countries shows the sorry state of our country&#039;s development.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://blog.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/american_flag.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.727272033691406px;"><u style="font-size: 12.727272033691406px;"><span style="color: blue;"><a href="http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GlobalCompetitivenessReport_2012-13.pdf" style="color: rgb(17, 85, 204);" target="_blank"><span style="color: blue;">"The Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013,”</span></a></span></u><span style="font-size: 12.727272033691406px;"> by the World Economic Forum, is t</span><span style="font-size: 12.727272033691406px;">he latest annual ranking of 144 countries, on a wide range of factors related to global economic competitiveness</span>.</p><p style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.727272033691406px;">On each of their many rankings, #1 represents the best nation, and #144 represents the worst nation.</p><p style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.727272033691406px;">Gross Domestic Product is the only factor where the U.S. ranks as #1, which we do both on "GDP” and on “GDP as a Share of World GDP.”</p><p style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.727272033691406px;">Health Care has the U.S. ranking #34 on “Life Expectancy,” and #41 on “Infant Mortality.”</p><p style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.727272033691406px;">Education in the U.S. is also mediocre. On “Quality of Primary Education,” we are #38. On “Primary Education Enrollment Rate,” we are #58. On “Quality of the Educational System,” we are #28. On “Quality of Math and Science Education,” we are #47. On “Quality of Scientific Research Institutions,” we are #6. On “PCT [Patent Cooperation Treaty] Patent Applications [per-capita],” we are #12. On “Firm-Level Technology Absorption” (which is an indicator of business-acceptance of inventions), we are #14.</p><p style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.727272033691406px;"><span style="font-size: 12.727272033691406px;">Trust is likewise only moderately high in the U.S. We rank #10 on “Willingness to Delegate Authority,” #42 on “Cooperation in Labor-Management Relations,” and #18 in “Degree of Customer Orientation” of firms.</span></p><p style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.727272033691406px;"><span style="font-size: 12.727272033691406px;">Corruption is apparently a rather pervasive problem in the U.S. </span></p><p style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.727272033691406px;"><span style="font-size: 12.727272033691406px;">On “Diversion of Public Funds [due to corruption],” the U.S. ranks #34. </span><span style="font-size: 12.727272033691406px;">On “Public Trust in Politicians,” we are #54. On “Irregular Payments and Bribes,” we are #42. On “Judicial Independence,” we are #38. On “Favoritism in Decisions of Government Officials” (otherwise known as governmental cronyism), we are #59. </span></p><p style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.727272033691406px;"><span style="font-size: 12.727272033691406px;">On “Organized Crime,” we are #87. On “Ethical Behavior of Firms,” we are #29. On “Reliability of Police Services,” we are #30. On “Transparency of Governmental Policymaking,” we are #56. On “Efficiency of Legal Framework in Challenging Regulations,” we are #37. On “Efficiency of Legal Framework in Settling Disputes,” we are #35. On “Burden of Government Regulation,” we are #76. On “Wastefulness of Government Spending,” we are also #76. On “Property Rights” protection (the basic law-and-order measure), we are #42.</span></p><p style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.727272033691406px;"><span style="font-size: 12.727272033691406px;">Investors find somewhat shaky ground in the U.S. </span></p><p style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.727272033691406px;"><span style="font-size: 12.727272033691406px;">On “Strength of Investor Protection,” we are #5. On “Protection of Minority Shareholders’ Interests,” we are #33. On “Efficacy of Corporate Boards,” we are #23. On “Reliance on Professional Management,” we are #19. On “Strength of Auditing and Reporting Standards,” we are #37. On “Venture Capital Availability,” we are #10. On “Intellectual Property Protection,” we are #29. On “Soundness of Banks,” we are #80. On “Regulation of Securities Exchanges,” we are #39. On “Country Credit Rating,” we are #11. On “Government Debt [as a % of GDP],” we are #136. On “Effectiveness of Anti-Monopoly Policy,” we are #17. On “Extent of Market Dominance,” we are #9.</span></p><p style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.727272033691406px;"><span style="font-size: 12.727272033691406px;">Technology is moderately good here. The U.S. ranks #14 on “Availability of Latest Technologies,” #24 on “Internet Access in Schools,” #20 on “Internet Users [%],” #33 on “Internet Bandwidth [per user],” and #8 on “Mobile Broadband Subscriptions [%].”</span></p><p style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.727272033691406px;"><span style="font-size: 12.727272033691406px;">Infrastructure is fairly good in the U.S. We rank #25 on “Quality of Overall Infrastructure,” #33 on “Quality of Electricity Supply,” #30 on “Quality of Air Transport Infrastructure,” #19 on “Quality of Port Infrastructure,” and #20 on “Quality of Roads.”</span></p><p style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.727272033691406px;"><span style="font-size: 12.727272033691406px;">Taxes also definitely don’t qualify as being good in the U.S. We rank #69 on “Extent and Effect of Taxation,” in which the “Effect” that’s considered is reducing the “incentives to work or invest.” We are #103 on “Total Tax Rate,” #47 on “Number of Procedures Required to Start a Business” (which is an indirect tax), and #50 on “Prevalence of Trade Barriers” (both tariff and non-tariff).</span></p><p style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.727272033691406px;"><span style="font-size: 12.727272033691406px;">The U.S, overall, is very far from being #1 – not really in contention, at all, for the top spot. The rankings suggest instead that this nation is sinking toward the Third World. The nations that stand high on most of these lists are Finland, Switzerland, Singapore, New Zealand, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Japan, Canada, Qatar, Netherlands, Iceland, Ireland, and Hong Kong.</span></p><p style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.727272033691406px;"><span style="font-size: 12.727272033691406px;">The nations that generally rank in the bottom half of these rankings are the ones that are typically cited as being “Third World,” or poor.</span></p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2013 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '787849'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=787849" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 07 Feb 2013 15:52:00 -0800 Eric Zuesse, AlterNet 787849 at http://blog.alternet.org News & Politics Economy News & Politics united states ranking global competitiveness report