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Archive for July, 2010

Some Racist And Fascist Elements Of Arizona’s Anti-Immigrant Law On Temporary Hold. Judge Implements Block On Controversial Elements Until Courts Sort Them Out.

The law written and/or backed by racist groups such as FAIR still went into effect Thursday.

The racist roots of the Arizona anti-immigrant law has been presented at American Commentary Blog but if anyone needs a refresher, here’s a reminder

But no matter what side one may view the debate, many of Americans do not really know the beliefs and dark ties to history those that have brought the law forward have. They also, might not be familiar with the true motivations of the political class either. Let’s start by taking a look at a piece done by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show and what was discussed.

Looking at the April 26th 2010 show and it transcripts, we gather the following insight

Before this bill was actually signed into law, we told you about the guy who introduced it in the first place. It’s this guy, Republican state senator Russell Pearce. Mr. Pearce is famous in Arizona for having sent an email to his supporters that included a white nationalist screed – accusing the media of pushing the view of ‘a world in which every voice proclaims the equality of the races, the inerrant nature of the Jewish ‘Holocaust’ tale, the wickedness of attempting to halt the flood non-White aliens pouring across our borders…’ Mr. Pearce sent that around to all his supporters, a move he latter apologized for. Russell Pearce is also famous for having been caught on tape hugging a neo-Nazi. …

But if you want to meet the guy who’s taking credit for writing the new law. That would be a gentleman named Kris Kobach. Kris Kobach is a birther. He’s running for secretary of state in Kansas right now. His campaign website today brags ‘Kobach Wins One in Arizona.’

The guy who helped write Arizona’s new ‘immigration’ bill is also an attorney for the Immigration Reform Law Institute. That’s the legal arm of an immigration group that’s called FAIR – the ‘Federation For American Immigration Reform.’ FAIR was founded in 1979 by a man named John Tanton. Mr. Tanton is still listed as a member of FAIR’s board of directors.

That’s FAIR, who helped write Arizona’s new anti-immigrant law. After John Tanton got FAIR off the ground, for nine of the first years of the group’s existence, the group reportedly received more than a million dollars in funding from something called The Pioneer Fund. The Pioneer Fund describes itself as a group formed ‘in the Darwinian-Galtonian evolutionary tradition, and the eugenics movement.’

Let’s take a look at some of the work of Heidi Beirich in her SPLC Intelligence Report on John Tanton and FAIR called, “Where Anti-Immigrant Zealots Like Lou Dobbs Get Their ‘Facts’” . Here are some note worthy quotes

At the center of the Tanton web is the nonprofit Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the most important organization fueling the backlash against immigration. Founded by Tanton in 1979, FAIR has long been marked by anti-Latino and anti-Catholic attitudes. It has mixed this bigotry with a fondness for eugenics, the idea of breeding better humans discredited by its Nazi associations. It has accepted $1.2 million from an infamous, racist eugenics foundation. It has employed officials in key positions who are also members of white supremacist groups. Recently, it has promoted racist conspiracy theories about Mexico’s secret designs on the American Southwest and an alternative theory alleging secret plans to merge the United States, Mexico and Canada. Just last February, FAIR President Dan Stein sought “advice” from the leaders of a racist Belgian political party. …

As long ago as 1988, when a series of internal 1986 documents known as the WITAN memos were leaked to the press, Tanton’s bigoted attitudes have been known. In the memos, written to colleagues on the staff of FAIR, Tanton warned of a coming “Latin onslaught” and worried that high Latino birth rates would lead “the present majority to hand over its political power to a group that is simply more fertile.” Tanton repeatedly demeaned Latinos in the memos, asking whether they would “bring with them the tradition of the mordida [bribe], the lack of involvement in public affairs” and also questioning Latinos’ “educability.” …

In 1994, Tanton’s Social Contract Press republished an openly racist French book, The Camp of the Saints, with Tanton writing that he was “honored” to republish the race war novel. What Tanton called a “prescient” book describes the takeover of France by “swarthy hordes” of Indians, “grotesque little beggars from the streets of Calcutta,” who arrive in a desperate refugee flotilla. It attacks white liberals who, rather than turn the Indians away, “empty out all our hospital beds so that cholera-ridden and leprous wretches could sprawl between white sheets … and cram our nurseries full of monster children.” It explains how, after the Indians take over France, white women are sent to a “whorehouse for Hindus.” In an afterword special to Tanton’s edition of the novel, author Jean Raspail wrote about his fears that “the proliferation of other races dooms our race, my race, to extinction.”

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton blocked parts of the Arizona Law until the courts decide their fate as they violate the supremacy clause of the Constitution whereby the jurisdiction of immigration lies with the federal government, not with the states and she felt the need to separate them out. In a report by the AP titled, “Judge Blocks Parts of Arizona Immigration Law“, it says

The law will still take effect Thursday, but without many of the provisions that angered opponents — including sections that required officers to check a person’s immigration status while enforcing other laws. The judge also put on hold a part of the law that required immigrants to carry their papers at all times, and made it illegal for undocumented workers to solicit employment in public places.

This was done both as a matter of law reserved for the federal government and protection for those who are either legal residents or American citizens of Hispanic or Mexican descent as stated in this from Common Dreams,

“There is a substantial likelihood that officers will wrongfully arrest legal resident aliens under the new (law). By enforcing this statute, Arizona would impose a ‘distinct, unusual and extraordinary’ burden on legal resident aliens that only the federal government has the authority to impose.”

Indeed, even the whitest of America’s bigots themselves could not prove they are citizens or legal residents without carrying their birth certificates or some other type of documents. The 36 page court decision can be read here.

Will the adjustments to Arizona’s immigration law prevent the Republican Party practice of minority voter suppression?

As pointed out in a previous report on American Commentary Blog about the Arizona Republican Party’s history of intimidation, harrassment, and voter suppression of latino citizens and Greg Palast’s investigative journalism, the timing of pushing this law quickly through could arm them with another weapon or excuse in this practice for the upcoming elections. Arizona’s 21st century version of Bull Connor, Sheriff Arpaio, was quoted in an AP report titled, “Arizona sheriff not relenting after court ruling” as saying,

“It’s my job,” said Arpaio, standing beside a sheriff’s truck that has a number for an immigration hot line written on its side. “I have two state (immigration) laws that I am enforcing. It’s not federal, it’s state.”

Seems there is more confrontation coming from America’s new red state confederate movement. Indeed, in a report by CBS News, the U.S. Marshall’s office is reporting threats have been made against Judge Bolton. That’s par for the course in any eliminationist movement (intimidation of officials).

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Reports Indicate Shirley Sherrod Will Sue Andrew Breitbart Over Doctored Video Tape.

Meanwhile, the RNC plans to have Breitbart speak at their Election Countdown fundraiser in California.

While the Republican party has invited the infamous video prevaricator and race baiter Andrew Breitbart to speak to their “base” in their “Election Countdown” Beverly Hills fundraiser, the latest victim of his vile shenanigans, fired USDA Shirley Sherrod, is planning a lawsuit. The AP is reporting

Ousted USDA employee Shirley Sherrod says she will sue conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart, the Associated Press reports.

This should be interesting as we watch the Republican Party and Breitbart promoter Fox “News” spin events. Will this be a potential embarrassment to their would be donors or a sense of pride of their party’s exploitation of race and lies? We shall see as the Party attempts to embrace its darker elements.

Velvet Revolution Lawyer Sends Letter To Maryland AG Requesting Prosecution of Breitbart, O’Keefe, And Giles For Violating Maryland’s Privacy Laws.

Meanwhile, Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack apologizes to Shirley Sherrod for his giving creedance to Breitbart’s dishonest and racist tactics along with The Fox “News” Channel’s echo chamber that made her their latest scalp.

Kevin Zeese, an attorney for Velvet Revolution sent a letter early this month to Maryland state Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler and State’s Attorney Patricia Coats Jessamy asking them to prosecute James O’Keefe, Hannah Giles and Andrew Breitbart for violating Maryland’s Privacy Statute. It included the following,

Under Maryland’s Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Act, it is unlawful to tape record a conversation without the permission of all parties. See Bodoy v. North Arundel Hosp., 945 F. Supp. 890 (D. Md. 1996). Additionally, recording with criminal or tortuous purpose is illegal, regardless of consent. Disclosing the contents of intercepted communications with reason to know they were obtained unlawfully is a crime as well. Violations of the law are felonies punishable by imprisonment for not more than five years and a fine of not more than $10,000.

I also call upon your office to bring conspiracy charges against Andrew Breitbart for paying and directing O’Keefe and Giles and then directly carrying out the distribution of the illegally obtained tapes, also a felony under applicable Maryland law. Mr. Breitbart is the director of BigGovernment.com, an internet website that pushes far right propaganda and he has used the ACORN tapes as a fundraising tool for his operations.

We believe that the case for criminal prosecution has been made stronger by the release of four official reports on the criminal conduct of these three individuals, which I have linked below, and by the recent arrest of Mr. O’Keefe in Louisiana for his illegal entry into Senator Landrieu’s Senate Office in order to tamper with her telephone system. The House Judiciary Committee, the former Connecticut Attorney General, the California Attorney General and the General Accounting Office prepared these reports.

Each of these reports paints a damning picture of O’Keefe, Giles, and Breitbart, who went on a multi-state crime spree, invading the privacy of ACORN staffers nationwide, taping their conversations and then editing them to create the appearance of illegality and impropriety by ACORN/staffers. Each of these reports makes clear that neither ACORN nor its staffers committed crimes but that O’Keefe, Giles, and conspirator Breibart did. In fact, the California Attorney General granted O’Keefe and Giles immunity in exchange for the unedited copy of their illegal tape, which showed that the tape was intentionally edited to portray a harmful picture of ACORN.

Indeed, as reported here at American Commentary Blog back in January in a report titled,”While Karma Catches Up To Republican Brownshirt James O’Keefe And A Mentor, Propagandist Breitbart, Examination Of Fellow Thugs In The Landrieu Office Phone Tampering Attempt Turns Up Questionable Connections That Require Official Investigation.”, the growing body of lawsuits were beginning in Pennsylvania and Maryland. Also, the Landrieu break in was mentioned as well as questionable connections of O’Keefe’s Brownshirts he was partnered with. Robert Flannagan is the son of William Flanagan, acting U.S. attorney for the Western District of Louisiana and Stan Dai had a connection to the Director of National Intelligence. As reported by Lindsay Beyerstein at Alternet in “James Bond Wannabe Part of Right-Wing Plot To Tamper With Senator’s Phones“,

The circumstances of Dai’s arrest are difficult to square any theory that the men were just checking the protocols of Landrieu’s phone system. A federal law enforcement official told the Associated Press that one of the four suspects was arrested a few blocks away in a car with “a listening device that could pick up transmissions.” Another anonymous official told MSNBC that the man in the car was Stan Dai. It’s unclear why the listening device wasn’t mentioned in the affidavit. The U.S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Louisiana declined my request for further comment. …

In 2008, Dai served as associate director of the Intelligence Community Center of Academic Excellence at Trinity Washington University. The ICCAE is funded by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and charged with recruiting the next generation of spooks. A university official assured Laura Rozen of Politico that Dai was a civilian whose job with the university ended in 2008 when the grant money ran out.

Last June, Dai was a featured speaker on torture and terrorism at a “CIA Day” for students in the Junior Statesmen of America’s summer school. The mission of the Junior Statesmen, according to the organization’s Web site, “is to strengthen American democracy by educating and preparing high school students for life-long involvement and responsible leadership in a democratic society.” The students visited Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, Va., and then returned to Georgetown for a series of lectures.

Dai was a speaker at a CIA program called “Annual Junior Statesman Summer School” as reported here and the brochure of the event showed some interesting things,

Let’s look at the brochure or packets from the CIA program at which Dai was a speaker called “Annual Junior Statesman Summer School” Speakers Program. It cites his occupation as “freelance consultant”. It lists his career history as a former Assistant Director of the Intelligence Community Center of Academic Excellence at Trinity Washington University, as serving as the Operations Officer of a Department of Defense irregular warfare fellowship program, and also as an Undergraduate Fellow on Terrorism of the Foundation for the Defense of the Democracies (a neoconservative think tank with ties to Richard Perle).

It should be noted that consultant is a common cover for covert agents as indicated in a recent interview by Valerie Plame Wilson though it could be legitimate.

The Use Of Racism As A Political Tactic By The Right

Racism has been a tool for many governments throughout history for taking or holding power from the time of slavery, to the rise of fascism in Europe in the 20’s and 30’s up to today’s political tactics of the right in the United States. Since the Civil Rights Act was enacted by the Johnson administration, the Republicans under the Nixon administration developed what has come to be known as the Southern strategy to take advantage of white resentment. Since the age of Reagan and voo doo economics for the rich, multi-national corporations, and the military industrial complex, it has become worse. To vilify any of the people’s money going to the people for their benefit instead of everything for corporate interests, scapegoats have been needed. The have nots needed to be divided to vote against their interests and racism has provided the perfect weapon. And now that the Democrats elected Obama, the right has reached for old racist themes such as he is a socialist or Marxist (like they called Dr. Martin Luther King) though he has governed center to center right and the echoes of the racist “send them back to Africa” theme can be seen in the birther movement. The reappearance of dog whistles of the old south has opened the door for tools like Breitbart and he hasn’t disappointed. Add in the false race baiting stories generated by Fox “News” that has led to the destruction of ACORN, the bogus “New Black Panthers” story, the Van Jones firing, and now the firing of Shirley Sherrod, while dismantling the public square and attacking the themes of the 14th amendment, and has become way too obvious to deny or ignore. But Breitbart may have bitten off more than he can chew as Sherrod is contemplating whether or not to sue.

Disgusting Display

Two disgusting displays have emerged from this whole Sherrod affair. The first was done by Breitbart and Fox News (and subsequently on cue by “mainstream” reporting). In what can best be decribed as there is no low too low to go for the cause behavior, Breitbart edited a speech to the NAACP by Sherrod to make her out to be racist in her job with the Department of Agriculture when the speech was about overcoming the murder of her father by a white farmer and subsequent negative feelings to help a white farmer save his farm while working for a non profit organization before her job at the Department. She was glad she did because it wasn’t about race but about helping the poor. Breitbart’s vile and vicious artistry initially even fooled the NAACP as they condemned Sherrod before fact checking and then issuing a quick apology. The second disgusting display was Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack’s “quick response” firing of Sherrod without getting her side of the story, fact checking the claims, or facing her. This is following a pattern that has become all to familiar, which is tap dancing to right wing media like puppets on a string. That is because Obama’s administration is too populated by members of Will Marshall‘s DLC or “New Democrats“, the group of Democrats that are moderate conservatives (rebranded “centrists”) that have controlled the Democratic party policy since the 1980’s. They spend way too much time running away from the “L” word and dismissing fellow Democrats they view as “too liberal” as well as working to defeat “too progressive” or “liberal” branded legislation or amendments without examining the merits. The Democrats need “New Democrats” alright, the old ones that put right before wrong instead of political calculation before what is right. The right wing takes no prisoners and has named us that do not agree with their politics as enemies and unAmerican. There is no middle in their absolutism and eliminationism. This is a battle for survival.

Target, Among Others, Takes Aim At Hispanics And Restaurant Wait Staff Workers In Minnesota. Citizens United Case Bears Its Fruit.

In this age of near total corruption of the legislative process in the United States by multi-national corporations and the military industrial complex which has led us to the brink of financial collapse and endless war, the Supreme Court case Citizens United v. FEC effectively designed to shut off voter remedy has borne its first fruit. A new Political Action Committee named Minnesota Forward funded by the Target Corporation, Polaris, Hubbard Broadcasting, and others has thrown its money behind the “Tea Party” like GOP candidate in Minnesota’s governor’s race, Tom Emmer. Mr. Emmer has called for lower than minimum wage wages for restaurant servers or wait staff and has praised Arizona’s unconstitutional Immigration law that was written or crafted by racist political elements.

At the Wecome to O So Minnesota blog website, George Campbell has suggested a letter writing campaign to Target Corporation CEO Gregg W. Steinhafel. How this will effect the public image of these corporations and/or bottom line, time will tell. Join in if you like.

Advancing Long Held Republican Right And Libertarian Dreams. Defunding and Privatizing Entitlements and Public Education. Can The Obama Administration and the Democratic Leadership Council Pull It Off?

In a speech to The Economics Club in Grand Rapids Michigan on June 2nd, 2010, former president George W. Bush first bragged on his use of torture, a war crime, and then speaking of his greatest regret as reported by Ted Roelofs of the Grand Rapids Press,

Bush said his greatest disappointment as president was failing to push through Social Security reform, a major campaign issue of his in 2004. Bush said Republican leadership balked at the proposal, saying it would cost them votes: “And the leadership of our party looked at me and said no.”

Indeed, many Republicans have wanted to do away with the last vestiges of FDR’s New Deal, namely social security and medicare by privatizing them along with public education and put them to rest once and for all. Indeed, whenever the more hard right Republican presidents, representatives or senators have wanted to put an end to these, the Democratic party has fended them off. But Bush’s lament may be premature. Since it took Democrats and a Democratic party to create these social contracts with its aging population to keep them out of poverty, one supposes it will take Democrats and a Democratic president to put an end to them and that time appears to be on the horizon. Especially a Democratic party that is run by the Democratic Leadership Council or DLC as it has become to be known by informed people. What millions of Americans seem not to realize is that the Democratic party today is no longer the party of the New Deal economic philosophies and the common citizen that once made it the most popular party for a generation. At the Institute for Policy Studies website “Right Web, Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy“, the profile on this group that seized control of America’s oldest party, is described

The DLC was established in the wake of President Ronald Reagan’s 1984 landslide victory, in which he won 49 states, over Democrat Walter Mondale. During the Democratic convention in San Francisco, Mondale had successfully beat back a challenge from Gary Hart, who predicted that unless the Democratic Party adopted a new image it would be decisively defeated. Mondale proved unable to respond effectively to charges from the Republican right and neoconservative Democrats that the Democratic Party was the party of progressives-which Jeane Kirkpatrick variously labeled as the “San Francisco Democrats” and the “blame America first” Democrats-who were out of touch with mainstream America. As Dan Balz and Ronald Brownstein concluded in their book Storming the Gates, “Mondale’s landslide defeat exposed as a dead end the vision of regaining the White House by mobilizing an army of the disaffected with a message of unreconstructed liberalism.”

Pondering the Mondale defeat, a gathering coalition of Southern Democrats and northern neoliberals expressed concerns that the Democratic Party faced extinction, particularly in the South and West, if the party continued to rely on its New Deal message of government intervention and kept catering to traditional constituencies of labor, minorities, and anti-war progressives. In 1985, Al From, an aide to Rep. Gillis Long (D-LA), took the lead in formulating a new messaging strategy for the party’s centrists, neoliberals, and conservatives. Will Marshall, at that time Long’s policy analyst and speechwriter, worked closely with From to establish the DLC and then became its first policy director.

Also in describing the advance of the DLC and the “Third Way” (substituting traditional government functions with private for profit corporate interests), it says

In a 1986 conference on the legacy of “Great Society” of the Johnson administration, DLC chairman Gov. Charles Robb of Virginia took up the neoconservative critique of liberalism first articulated in the early 1970s by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Norman Podhoretz, and other neoconservatives. According to Robb, “While racial discrimination has by no means vanished from our society, it’s time to shift the primary focus from racism-the traditional enemy without-to self-defeating patterns of behavior-the enemy within.” This speech signaled the end of the “New Politics” of the 1960s and 1970s in the Democratic Party and the rise of a new social conservatism in the party. Robb’s speech opened room for Democratic Party stalwarts to back away from political agendas that proposed government initiatives to address poverty, discrimination, and crime, and to join the traditional conservatives and neoconservatives in opposing affirmative action, social safety-net programs, and job-creation initiatives. Thus, the New Democrats of the DLC added their voices to the chorus of those calling for stiffer sentences, an end to affirmative action, reduced welfare benefits, and less progressive tax policies.

Clinton/Gore was the first DLC presidency and the DLC has been firmly in control of the Democratic party ever since. And ever since 1980, Milton Freidman economic theories, a flattening tax rate with the wealthiest paying historically less in federal income taxes, a rise in corporations paying little or no income taxes to the federal government while taking jobs overseas with “free trade” agreements (major reasons for deficits), deregulation (which led to the financial meltdown we have experienced) and massive miltary industrial complex spending (the most in history) has been the norm no matter which party has had control. There has been no Keynesian economic theory being practiced (what is considered New Deal or modern era Liberal) since Richard Nixon was president. And in the Bush administration, we got all right wing economic ideology bullet points enacted (with the help of DLC and Blue Dog Democrats). What we ended up with was a collapsed financial system, a rapidly contracting economy instead of a growth economy, job loss and falling wages instead of more jobs and lifting all boats, and we even had war thrown in (which the right uses in trying to discredit New Deal policies by saying World War II helped the economy instead). Many Americans started looking around for another FDR type and thought they may have found such leadership in Obama’s speeches about hope and change. But as Harold Ford said in an interview concerning his position in the party and new head of the DLC in an article by Chris Cilliza in the Washington Post titled, “Harold Ford Jr.’s Seat at the Party

“This is the incubator,” Ford said of the DLC, which was founded in 1985 in the wake of Ronald Reagan’s landslide reelection. “If you look at the last ten great domestic policy ideas in the last 10-15 years … 75 percent have come out of this organization.”

While the DLC has drawn considerable criticism from the liberal blogosphere for advocating so-called Republican lite policies, Ford insisted that the organization is miscast by its Democratic detractors. “I don’t view it as a conservative or liberal or moderate or not moderate,” he said. “If you have a great idea, a strong idea you have the best minds in our party to work with.” (From, however, sounded a more feisty note: “Democrats have to win as a coalition party,” he said. “We can’t win any other way.”)

Ford predicted the DLC will play a major role in the issues debate that unfolds in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary process. The group will not side with any one candidate, he said, even though the organization has close ties to a number of potential nominees, from Vilsack to Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and Joe Biden (Del.) to Gov. Bill Richardson (N.M.). Even Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) has expressed interest in “find[ing] ways he could work with the DLC,” according to Ford. (Ford describes Obama as a “personal friend” and says they talk regularly.)

Enter The National Commission on “Fiscal Responsibilty” and Reform

Some of the myths created to attack social security by the right involve the idea that the United States spends too much on its very meagar social safety net, it is a ponzi scheme, is responsible for the national debt, and it is approaching insolvency. In this age of corporate media monopolies and right wing media propaganda, you can even go to small towns in “middle America” where you can hear people not educated in macroeconomics in any sense parroting these things as if they were speaking something noteworthy instead of jabber wockey. In writing about anti-entitlement billionaire Peter Peterson and his Peter G. Peterson Foundation created off of a $1 billion grant, Dean Baker for Truthout.org wrote in a piece titled, “Big Lies and Social Security: Peter Peterson’s Retirement is Secure

Like most of the granny bashers, Peterson routinely played fast and loose with the facts. For example, while warning about the poverty facing future generations, he suggested cutting the annual Social Security cost of living adjustment because the official consumer price index (CPI), to which retirees benefits are indexed, overstates the true rate of inflation. However, if the CPI really overstates inflation, then incomes are rising much more rapidly than the official data show; and future generations will be far richer than we could possibly imagine. (If income rises by 4 percent and the inflation rate is 3 percent, then real income has risen by 1 percent. But if our measure of inflation is wrong, and the rate of inflation is just 2 percent, then real income has risen by 2 percent.)…..

I recall hearing Mr. Peterson pontificate for an hour, completely unchallenged, on a major public radio talk show. At one point, he assured his audience, with reference to the solvency of Social Security, “trust me, there is no trust fund.” Mr. Peterson repeated this lie verbatim, just in case the meaning escaped his audience.Of course, there is a Social Security trust fund that holds more than $2 trillion in government bonds. Under the law, these bonds are to be repaid from general revenue, which comes almost entirely from the personal and corporate income tax. In other words, the bonds held by the Social Security trust fund, which are supposed to pay the Social Security benefits of retired workers, are effectively tax obligations for wealthy people like Mr. Peterson. If the bonds held by the Social Security trust fund are never repaid, Mr. Peterson and/or his heirs could save tens of millions of dollars from their future taxes. It shouldn’t be surprising he is trying to convince the public that the trust fund doesn’t really exist.

In addressing common lies like those by commission co-chair (of the new The National Commission on “Fiscal Responsibilty” and Reform) Alan Simpson, Nobel Prize economist Paul Krugman wrote in his New York Times column titled, “Zombies Have Already Killed The Deficit Commission

Social Security is a government program funded by a dedicated tax. There are two ways to look at this. First, you can simply view the program as part of the general federal budget, with the the dedicated tax bit just a formality. And there’s a lot to be said for that point of view; if you take it, benefits are a federal cost, payroll taxes a source of revenue, and they don’t really have anything to do with each other.

Alternatively, you can look at Social Security on its own. And as a practical matter, this has considerable significance too; as long as Social Security still has funds in its trust fund, it doesn’t need new legislation to keep paying promised benefits.

OK, so two views, both of some use. But here’s what you can’t do: you can’t have it both ways. You can’t say that for the last 25 years, when Social Security ran surpluses, well, that didn’t mean anything, because it’s just part of the federal government — but when payroll taxes fall short of benefits, even though there’s lots of money in the trust fund, Social Security is broke.

So in keeping with backing the DLC and the conservative Blue Dogs and in a show of “bipartisanship” (a word DLC Democrats use when implementing Republican ideas and rejecting all amendments and legislation from real progressives and liberals), Obama created this “deficit” commission (called The Cat Food Commission by liberals and true progressives). The two co-chairman that have been appointed are well known enemy of social security and medicare, former rep. Alan Simpson (R) and DLC public budget cutter under Clinton, former chief of staff Erskine Bowles. The commission has been “partnered” with right wing groups such as the Heritage Foundation, The Committee for a Responsible Budget, The New America Foundation, and the DLC’s Progressive Policy Institute (not really progressive, but corporatist and neoconservative like the AEI). Simpson has recently caused a stir by calling social security recipients “lesser people” which spurred MoveOn.org to send a letter requesting his removal as co-chair. Saying it is responsible for current deficits and the debt is irresponsible since it is the only spending connected to a dedicated tax and a currently solvent trust fund and is purely an ideological argument. Any needed adjustments can be made through tweaking or raising the cap. And the rise in the costs associated with medicare is directly related to the rise in the for profit healthcare sector. If this administration were really concerned with the rising cost in this regard, they would have expanded medicare or some similar single payer system across a wider healthier population instead of making tax payers pay for the added private sector health insurance profits to prop up their stock prices. And let’s put to bed this notion that federal income taxes are too high on individuals and corporations impeding job growth and that further cuts in domestic non-military spending and federal income tax rates are needed. They are the lowest in 60 years which if this ideology were true, we would already be near full employment. What we need is something like the WPA again for infrastructure for a temporary kick (a stimulus directed at economic activity). The reason unemployment is up and tax receipts are down is a lack of domestic economic activity. Until people are buying products in the marketplace, there will be no big increase in hiring or business reinvestment. There is no demand. Without hiring or if the continued decreases in wages occur there will be less economic activity. The federal income tax rate is not currently in play. Privatization of entitlements is nothing more than a stock market scheme to prop up stock prices (which could actually create a false evaluation bubble). Haven’t we had enough of that? And if the United States defaults on its bond obligations in the social security trust fund, U.S. treasury bonds and notes will lose their AAA rating. If that happens, the foreign countries holding US bonds which are propping up the tax cuts for billionaires and multi-national corporations as well as the massive military industrial complex and its two elective wars, will dump them probably inducing near total collapse. It could still happen with the bone headed decision to freeze domestic spending while still spending huge amounts on the military and war.

Suffer The Children Part Two

On April 11th, 2010, this author wrote, “Suffer The Children. The War On Public Education. One School District’s Story.” The piece is about how the Tea Party, backed by right wing organizations and big money, took over the school board election of Wake County, NC, the state’s largest school system and intended to end the highly regarded and successful diversity program it had and replace it with “neighborhood schools” zoning, with charter schools and privatization. In it, I wrote

With the rise of Ronald Reagan’s presidency, anti-federal government rhetoric, and the rise of political based economics largely discredited previously by economists as “voo doo” economics, ideological and financial pressures have mounted. Income tax cuts at the top became prevalent and the Department of Education funding cut. This has produced strains on state and local governments to fund education more resulting in the rise of property taxes on America’s middle class. In economic downturns such as the one we have been in since 2007, the results are state and local governments become deluged in red ink with no cushion. For many who have memories before “Reaganomics”, there wasn’t these large property and local tax increases, lotteries, and such. With the Reagan revolution and the rise of Milton Freidman’s Chicago School of economics, there has come the idea that privatization is the model of the future. Privatization can best be described as getting rid of what is public and instead funding private interests as a replacement (through tax payer dollars or public debt usually accompanied with tax cuts, tax “credits” for private schools and/or inflating the money supply). However, private interests, more than not, conflict with the public interest and do not share the same goals.

And on the Wake County system (which wasn’t broken), I wrote

Its diversity program was based on socio-economic factors and its success was accomplished with a magnet school program which helped draw diverse people into schools in different neighborhoods. It created diversity on every level, socio-economic, racial or ethnic, disability or ability, regardless of neighborhood demographic or location. One of its goals was to achieve no more than 40% of a schools population being dependent on subsidized lunches and allowed for even distribution of resources through all schools independent of neighborhood make up….

The article also went on to mention that Tom Oxholm was a Republican accountant that was elected in the GOP landslide of ’94 and was part of a group to show that the school system was wasteful with taxpayer money, but came to the conclusion this was not so and co-authored the aforementioned book (“A School District’s Journey to Excellence: Lessons from Business and Education”). He determined the Wake School System was efficiently managed and was actually a bargain. He also cited the Wake County Board of Commissioners with chronically underfunding it.

On the background of vouchers and charters, I borrowed and quoted the history of this movement from the UCLA study titled, “Equity Overlooked: Charter Schools and Civil Rights Policy“,

School choice is a longstanding concept with important early historical roots in the days of resistance to southern desegregation. Although eventually blocked by the Supreme Court, one early reaction to Brown v. Board of Education was to shut down public school districts and provide state-financed vouchers allowing white students to attend private schools (referred to as segregation academies). “Freedom of choice” plans, another popular southern resistance strategy, were versions of token integration. In what was often an atmosphere of violence, intimidation and virulent opposition, black students were given the opportunity to “choose” to transfer to majority white schools. These plans were used for years to effectively preserve segregation. In 1968, more than a decade after Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court ruled in a case from New Kent County, Virginia, that “rather than further the dismantling of the dual system, the plan has operated to simply burden children and their parents with a responsibility be] placed squarely on the School Board.” Freedom to choose in New Kent meant that, three years after the strategy was adopted, no white student in the county had elected to attend the segregated black school, and 85% of the county’s black students were still attending all-black schools. Similar patterns were documented across the South.

In both vouchers and freedom of choice plans, educational choice was used in the aftermath of Brown as a way to circumvent desegregation.

During this same time period, economist Milton Friedman proposed a model for education reform, based on his economic philosophy, calling for the privatization of public schools.

So with the (false) media framing that Obama is an extreme liberal and progressive pushing for an expansion of “big guvmint”, Obama’s Secretary of Education would be for the previous Wake County “government schools” approach of a free and appropriate education for every child regardless of socio-economic status, race, or disability instead of the new “Tea Party” school board philosophy, right? Wrong. Not only is Arne Duncan pushing for similar schemes (at least in the form of charters), he is closing schools in poor neighborhoods, firing teachers, and attacking the Teachers’ Union. He is also taking away the professionalism of teaching credentials by taking billions of public money that should be going to school districts in hard times and giving it to organizations like Teach For America to provide for less experienced, lower wage people to teach our children for these private backed or charter school interests. When are you going to wake up America and quit listening to people giving you alternative realities (WMD’s anyone?) and a failed financial sector with “too big to fail” bank bailouts because they took away the regulatory Glass-Steagall Act and replaced it with the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act? When you have to pay a privateer to go to the bathroom with your declining wages?