Thomas Paine

To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.

Monday, December 24, 2012

24 December - Notes in the Mail


Noam Chomsky | Unraveling the Welfare State
Author, historian and political commentator Noam Chomsky. (photo: Ben Rusk/flickr)
Noam Chomsky, Stuart A. Brown, Chris Gilson, European Politics and Policy
Excerpt: "Europe's policies make sense only on one assumption: that the goal is to try and undermine and unravel the welfare state."
READ MORE
Michael Tomasky | The GOP's Sabotage of Democracy
Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast
Tomasky writes: "America's problem is not Barack Obama and his alleged 'socialism,' but a political party that has become psychologically incapable of operating within the American political system."
READ MORE
India's Gang-Rape Protesters Defy Moves to Quell Outrage
Arup Roychoudhury, Annie Banerji, Reuters
Excerpt: "The Indian government moved on Sunday to stamp out protests that have swelled in New Delhi since the gang-rape of a young woman."
READ MORE
The Day I Almost Shot My Father
James Luria, Slate
Luria writes: "The details of my story are trivial, foolish, and totally pedestrian - and that's what makes guns so terrifying."
READ MORE
Killing the Messenger
Murtaza Hussain, Al Jazeera English
Hussain writes: "The targeting of journalists is recognised as a war crime under the Geneva Conventions."
READ MORE

FOCUS: Matt Taibbi | Karma is a Bitch

Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone
Taibbi writes: "How did Hubbard manage to analyze Countrywide and conclude that mass fraud in its underwriting procedures wasn't problematic? Easy: He didn't look at the underwriting!"
READ MORE

FOCUS: Michael Moore | Celebrating the Prince of Peace in the Land of Guns

Michael Moore, Open Mike Blog
Moore writes: "After watching the deranged, delusional National Rifle Association press conference on Friday, it was clear that the Mayan prophecy had come true. Except the only world that was ending was the NRA's."
READ MORE


Will Durst | The Intersection of Guns, Guns and Guns

Will Durst, Humor Times
Durst writes: "While the rest of the nation grieves, familiar opponents on The Gun Issue are focused more on making sure their groups' messages don't get trampled in the anticipated tsunami of sorrow."
READ MORE
Robert Parry | NRA Suggests a Police State
Robert Parry, Consortium News
Parry writes: "The irony of the NRA's crackpot idea for protecting America's children by dramatically expanding the use of armed guards is that the proposal would push the U.S. further down the path toward a police state."
READ MORE
William Boardman | Oil Over People in Texas
William Boardman, Reader Supported News
Boardman writes: "Michael Bishop was ready for his day in court against TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline, which is under construction in East Texas and approaching his homestead. The only trouble was - the court wasn't ready."
READ MORE
Oakland Lays Off 200 Police Officers, Gives $17 Million to Pro Sports Teams
Pat Garofalo, ThinkProgress
Garofalo reports: "Cities and states have seen their budgets decimated during the Great Recession, as revenue plunged due to dropping home prices and high unemployment."
READ MORE
Over 100 Killed By Syrian Warplanes
Steve Almasy, CNN
Almasy reports: "Scores of people who had been without bread for days were killed when Syrian warplanes bombed a bakery in the western village of Halfaya."
READ MORE




President Obama and Congressional Democrats are about to gut the social safety net and entrench record levels of inequality1 for decades to come — and they've got absolutely no reason to do so.
With his historic electoral win on November 6, Democratic control of the Senate, and a decisive mandate to raise taxes on the wealthy,2 President Obama is in perhaps the best position he's ever been to stand up to Republicans' bullying.3 The current debate over the so-called "fiscal cliff" is just the latest in a long string of GOP-manufactured crises4 designed to whip up public hysteria and put the president on the defensive.
We don't need to settle for a bad deal that both doubles down on decades of failed tax policy favoring the super-rich and punishes our communities for a deficit we didn't create.5 No deal would be better than a bad deal.
The so-called "fiscal cliff" is the year-end deadline for Congress to pass a budget deal redistributing the pain of $1.2 trillion in required spending cuts; if Congress doesn't act, we'll see automatic cuts of 8-10% across most federal agencies beginning January 2nd. Importantly, the automatic cuts can't touch Social Security, veterans' benefits, or critical low-income assistance programs like food stamps and Medicaid.6
Negotiations on an alternative to the "fiscal cliff" have been hijacked by the extreme right wing of the Republican Party. While vilifying the elderly, unemployed and working poor as undeserving "moochers" — and demanding that currently-protected social safety net programs go up on the chopping block7 — the GOP is working furiously to ensure continued tax breaks for the super-wealthy.8 Seemingly buckling under pressure, the president has gone from offering $350 billion in cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other entitlements to a whopping $750 billion.9
If a deal goes through, Obama will be the first Democratic president in history to cut Social Security.10 There is no reason to touch Social Security other than to expand it: this highly-successful, self-funded program is legally incapable of growing the deficit, and is running a multi-trillion dollar surplus.11 At the same time, the president is wavering on his central campaign promise: to ensure the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share by restoring Clinton-era tax rates on the top 2%.12
Such policies can only serve to deepen economic inequalities Black families have experienced for decades. Black folks are still experiencing unemployment at nearly twice the national rate,13 and throughout the recession too many of us have seen hard-fought economic gains disappear, with devastating effects on decreasing household wealth, personal savings and retirement options. Just one year into the recession, the median net worth of Black households had fallen by 83 percent — to merely $2,170.14 At Friday's press conference on the breakdown of fiscal cliff negotiations, President Obama quipped that "Everybody's got to give a little bit"15 — a remark that cuts deeply for those of us who have already given up so much.
We fought hard to reelect a president who promised that no matter what, "We're all in this together"16 — and categorically rejected the right-wing fraud that America can solve its economic problems by taking from the poor to give to the wealthy. Please join us in telling President Obama and Congressional Democrats to stand up for our communities and protect the social safety net.
Thanks and Peace,
-- Rashad, Matt, Arisha, Charlene, Kim, Fanna and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team
   December 24th, 2012
Help support our work. ColorOfChange.org is powered by YOU—your energy and dollars. We take no money from lobbyists or large corporations that don't share our values, and our tiny staff ensures your contributions go a long way.
References
1. "It's the Inequality, Stupid: Eleven charts that explain what's wrong with America," Mother Jones, 03-01-11
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/2025?t=9&akid=2765.707732.e2vvWD
2. "Obama Wins Almost 50% Republicans on Tax Mandate in Poll," Bloomberg, 12-11-12
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/2026?t=11&akid=2765.707732.e2vvWD
3. "What to do when you can’t get what you want," Washington Post, 12-11-12
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/2027?t=13&akid=2765.707732.e2vvWD
4. "Fiscal Cliff Fictions: Let’s All Agree to Pretend the GOP Isn’t Full of It," Time, 11-30-12
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/2038?t=15&akid=2765.707732.e2vvWD
5. "Never Mind the Fiscal Cliff, the ‘Reverse Subsidy’ Is the Real Crisis," Colorlines, 12-11-12
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/2039?t=17&akid=2765.707732.e2vvWD
6. "The Sequester Explained," Bipartisan Policy Center, accessed 12-21-12 (.pdf)
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/2040?t=19&akid=2765.707732.e2vvWD
7. "Stuck Between the Fiscal 'Cliff' and a Hard Place — But There's Another Way," Huffington Post, 11-27-12
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/2041?t=21&akid=2765.707732.e2vvWD
8. "'Fiscal cliff' efforts in disarray as U.S. lawmakers flee," Reuters, 12-21-12
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/2042?t=23&akid=2765.707732.e2vvWD
9. "CHART: All the fiscal cliff offers and counteroffers," Washington Post Wonkblog, 12-19-12
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/2043?t=25&akid=2765.707732.e2vvWD
10. "Explaining the Pure Cruelty of Obama's Gimmick, 'Chained CPI' in Simple Language," AlterNet, 12-20-12
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/2044?t=27&akid=2765.707732.e2vvWD
11. "Don't Cut Social Security — Double It," The Atlantic, 12-20-12
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/2045?t=29&akid=2765.707732.e2vvWD
12. "The President Negotiates With Himself," New York Times, 12-18-12
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/2046?t=31&akid=2765.707732.e2vvWD
13. "The African-American Unemployment Crisis Continues," ThinkProgress, 11-03-12
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/2047?t=33&akid=2765.707732.e2vvWD
14. "African-American Economic Gains Reversed By Great Recession," Huffington Post, 07-10-11
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/2031?t=35&akid=2765.707732.e2vvWD
15. "Still Time To Dodge The Cliff, Obama, Boehner Say," Associated Press, 12-21-12
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/2048?t=37&akid=2765.707732.e2vvWD
16. "Bill Clinton gives thumping endorsement to Barack Obama," The Guardian, 09-06-12
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/2049?t=39&akid=2765.707732.e2vvWD


This is the Weekly digest for Talk To Action [http://www.talk2action.org]. 
If you have received this email in error, just reply to  this message and say that you got it in error.Please mention that this email was sent for user number 7030.
---------------------------------------------------------Leaders of Christian Right Respond to Newtown Massacre, Fail to Mention Guns By Bill Berkowitz, 2012-12-21 10:41:40 
 <-- --="--" all="all" dominionism="dominionism" in="in" military="military" section:="section:" the="the" topic:="topic:" topics="topics">
Christian Right leaders continue to insist that the massacre at Sandy Hook
Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, which took the lives of 26
people, including 20 six and seven-year-old children, happened because
Americans have turned their backs on God. The list of prominent Religious
Right leaders spewing this unholy venom now includes Dr. James Dobson, the
founder and former head of Focus on the Family, Bryan Fischer, a popular
 American Family Association talk-show host, and Franklin Graham, the
president and CEO of the tax-exempt Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
These men are bound and determined to look every which way for reasons for
the massacre - abortion, same-sex marriage, video games - except at one
 staring them in their faces; the uncontrolled and widespread
accessibility of guns in this country.  

http://www.talk2action.org/story/2012/12/21/104140/73

----Hallelujah, Mike Huckabee, Hallelujah By Frederick Clarkson, 2012-12-21 09:55:40 
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When I was considering writing this post, at first I thought that too much
had already been said about Mike Huckabee's comments on the Newtown
massacre. But I now think that maybe there has been nowhere near enough.
  The horror affected most of us profoundly and all of us
differently. Many of us, on reflection, encountered eternal questions
about the meaning of life and death, and particularly, how such evil can
happen.   The religious among us come from  many different
traditions. But even the most orthodox among us know that whatever
revelations God (or gods) may have provided us; and whatever our
understanding of ancient texts may be, mysteries remain.  Many of us
are not part of a religious tradition.  And those of us who look to
science for answers may find that nothing we know, or think we know,
explains everything. Especially about Newtown.    And then there was
Huckabee.  

http://www.talk2action.org/story/2012/12/21/95540/716

----Measure Of Justice: Remembering The Battle Over Robert Bork By Rob Boston, 2012-12-20 10:39:00 
 <-- --="--" attack="attack" front="front" judiciary="judiciary" on="on" page="page" section:="section:" the="the" topic:="topic:">
I know it's not considered polite to speak ill of the dead, but I'm going
to bend that rule today to comment on Robert H. Bork, the former federal
appeals court judge and failed Supreme Court candidate who died yesterday
[http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-me-robert-bork-20121220,0,50808
43.story].Those of you who have been following church-state issues for a
long time might recall that President Ronald W. Reagan nominated Bork to
replace Justice Lewis Powell in the summer of 1987. Bork held extremely
conservative - some might say reactionary - views, and the possibility of
his elevation to the highest court in the land alarmed many groups. 

http://www.talk2action.org/story/2012/12/20/10390/909

----Who Knew that the Catholic Bishops Support Gun Control? By Frank Cocozzelli, 2012-12-19 07:43:30 
 <-- --="--" action="action" front="front" page="page" section:="section:" taking="taking" topic:="topic:">
Last Friday, in the small Connecticut town of Newtown, a disturbed young
man who should never had access to an assault rifle murdered his mother,
six educators, twenty children and then himself.  In a frighteningly
brief period a nation was plunged into grief.  What is now needed is
greater restrictions on assault weapons, perhaps with a buyback of those
weapons that are still accessible to other would-be deranged gunmen. Of
course this will trigger outcries of those who claim their Second
Amendment Rights are being trampled upon. There is one force that can
effectively answer this false charge if they choose to do so: Cardinal
Dolan and the Catholic bishops. Will they use that power? So far, they
have not.    

http://www.talk2action.org/story/2012/12/19/74330/006

----The Religious Right's Shameful Exploitation of the Newtown Massacre By Bill Berkowitz, 2012-12-18 13:45:33 
 <-- --="--" all="all" dominionism="dominionism" in="in" military="military" section:="section:" the="the" topic:="topic:" topics="topics">
It's commonplace for Religious Right leaders to blame the godlessness of
Americans for hurricanes, tornadoes, the 911 attack, and the gay rights
movement. And, as someone who regularly monitors and writes about the
Religious Right's activities, I am seldom surprised by the events its
leaders ascribe to godlessness. Nevertheless, even I was shocked by the
comments of two nationally prominent conservative religious leaders in the
wake of the Connecticut elementary school murders. Two of the most
shameful observations about the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School
in Newtown, Connecticut, which killed 26 people, including 20 children,
came from Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas Governor, Fox Television Channel
news contributor, and host of a Saturday night Fox television program, and
Joel Rosenberg, the best-selling author of apocalyptic novels.  

http://www.talk2action.org/story/2012/12/18/134533/31

----Christmas Confusion: Religious Right Keeps Looking For God In All The Wrong Places By Rob Boston, 2012-12-18 11:45:14 
 <-- --="--" analysis="analysis" christian="christian" front="front" of="of" page="page" right="right" section:="section:" topic:="topic:">
The broken record that is Mat Staver, founder of the Religious Right group
Liberty Counsel, is at it again: Christmas is under attack. Christmas is
under attack. Christmas is under attack.You could have fooled me. I
stopped in a local mall last weekend, and it sure looked to me like
Christmas was in full swing. On my way there, I passed more than one
church with a Nativity scene on its lawn. Based on the decorations on my
block alone, which include both the secular and the sacred, you'd have a
hard time not knowing it's Christmastime. 

http://www.talk2action.org/story/2012/12/18/114514/50

----Strange Gods: The Religious Right's Offensive Response To The Tragedy In Connecticut By Rob Boston, 2012-12-17 14:14:01 
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As soon as I heard about Friday's horrific school shootings in Newtown,
Conn., I knew it would only be a matter of time before some Religious
Right extremist blamed it on the lack of mandatory prayer in public
schools.It didn't take long. First out of the crazy box was former
Arkansas governor and erstwhile presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. 

http://www.talk2action.org/story/2012/12/17/14141/223

----Survivalism, Apocalyptic Aggression, and Violence By Chip Berlet, 2012-12-16 12:39:36 
 <-- --="--" all="all" front="front" page="page" section:="section:" topic:="topic:" topics="topics">
Adam Lanza carried out an act of apocalyptic violence in Connecticut,
killing 28 people and wounding another victim. Most of those dead were
children…most were just six years old.      We may never know
Adam’s motivations. The troubled man's aunt told a reporter that
Adam's mother Nancy was “something of a survivalist” and
“she worried about economic collapse and had been stockpiling."
Nancy Lanza had a collection of guns, including a Bushmaster rifle and at
least two automatic pistols. We cannot ask his mother why her son became a
murderer because apparently Nancy Lanza was Adams first victim.       
Fears of an upcoming economic collapse or other doomsday scenarios are
widespread given media attention to the absurd claim that an ancient Mayan
calendar predicts the end of time at the end of December. Other
speculative theories place the blame for the end of time on a variety of
causes.    There are threads connecting survivalism, apocalyptic
aggression, and violence, but they need sorting out. First of all, be
aware that most people who practice survivalism and most people who have
apocalyptic beliefs do not act out in violence.        Mitt Romney is a
survivalist as are all devout members of the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-Day Saints. Mormons are mandated by their religion to keep a cache
of food, water, and other survival supplies. Given a history of violence
against Mormons being pushed out of their homes by angry vigilantes, this
is not merely a strange quirk.       Given the widespread media
speculation about Adam Lanza’s psychological health, it needs to be
said that most people who suffer from some form of mental illness do not
act out in violence. Most of the media babble about Lanza’s mental
illness is not supported by psychological research much less a real
diagnosis. 

http://www.talk2action.org/story/2012/12/16/123936/05

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