Sunday, April 08, 2012
--Noam Chomsky, "Public Education, 'Failure by Design'" (Information Clearing House).
-- Jill Stein, "Jobs numbers won't return 'The Stolen Decades'" (Jill Stein for President).
First up, we thank all who participated this edition which includes Dallas and the following:
The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.
We thank them all.
What did we come up with:
-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.
If so, you follow some crappy media.
AP, Foreign Policy, AFP, Think Progress and oh-so-many others whore houses posing as news outlets repeated the 112 number.
Where did it come from?
The Iraqi government.
Quick question: Is the Iraqi government a disinterested party when it comes to the rate of violence in the country?
Answer: No, not at all.
Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister and thug of the occupation, is attempting to reassure Big Business that Iraq is safe. He's attempting to convince Iraqis that the violence has ended. Nouri's a liar.
What kind of an independent press files an article with claims by the government without even attempting to check those claims?
Iraq Body Count was made famous by the press and, when Bully Boy Bush was in office, they couldn't stop citing it. In fact, back then, even the White House used IBC's numbers.
Since the press refuses to keep their own count, shouldn't they at least be expected to check the Iraq Body Count number and see if it matches up with what the Iraqi government is claiming?
That, of course, would be reporting and not stenography -- which must be why it never occurred to so many claiming to be news outlets.
If they'd bothered to check, they would have seen that while the Iraqi government was insisting only 112 people died, IBC placed the count at 295.
Given the choice between an independent body that themselves built up or the government, why are they running with government numbers? Why are they not, at the very least, contrasting the so-called official figure with the number Iraq Body Count tabulates?
Oh, yeah, that would require actual work.
TV critics made Roots, The Day After, The Doll Maker, The Burning Bed, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, Nobody's Child, A Killing In A Small Town, Evil in Clear Water, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, All In The Family and more possible. No, they didn't act in them, write them, direct them or produce them, but they fostered a climate that made them possible.
They took their role seriously, as advocates for entertaining TV, as advocates for better representation by race, by gender, by ethnicity. They took their roles seriously and they made a huge difference.
Today, we've got TV babies. As Matt Dillon explains in Drugstore Cowboy, "All these kids, they're all TV babies. Watching people killing and f**king each other on the boob tube for so long it's all they know. Hell, they think it's legal. They think it's the right thing to do." We're not concerned with the sex aspect but the violence and the detachment is incredibly troubling.
The finest critic of any genre or medium during the 20th century was Pauline Kael and she didn't praise or practice detachment. A film had to involve her, had to pull her in. Inside jokes, the chuckle in the hand, they meant nothing to her. And as the most prominent critic and writing at the then-still-mattered The New Yorker, Kael had tremendous influence.
Then there's the anti-Kael, distant, detached, catty for the sake of catty and more: Maureen Dowd. Bob Somerby sees Creeping Dowdism everywhere. We think Dowd's writing has sometimes been on the money but more often been intensely troubled and toubling. Unlike Bob Somerby, we know Dowd's body of work which includes more than the New York Times. We're familiar with the bad entertainment articles she's written (and we're talking years before the awful Tina Fey piece). We're aware of all the doctoring a non-New York Times publication had to do when Dowd flirted with an entertainment career.
Most of all, we're aware of the hallmark of Dowd's writing across the board: Errors, errors, errors. And they're not really accidental. Accidental could be caught and fixed after publication. Dowd's form of error is, for example, wanting to compare some man to Sophia Loren so therefore quoting one of Anne's lines from Un homme et une femme . . . even though Anne was played by Anouk Aimee, not Sophia Loren.
Correcting those type of errors renders writing useless because the whole piece was built around them. And what's really amazing is that sort of thing is what ended Dowd's freelance career in the 90s but that sort of thing has never been a problem for The New York Times. What film magazines would not accept, The New York Times allowed to become standardized practice. And from the still popular, if not as prestigious, paper, she's led The Charge of the Niche Brigade.
The Charge of the Niche Brigade is a pack of writers who have a sense of self-importance not warranted either by their body of work or by their stature on the world's stage. But you couldn't reduce serious problems to the trivial if you had any sesne of perspective. They are the Dadaist Hugo Ball's works (and working principle) come to life.
Which explains why so many TV shows are so removed from anything recognizable or remotely lifelike. TV Babies launched The Charge of the Niche Brigade when they should have been decrying 'writers' who seemed to think, for example, stealing Tootsie was creating something. Where earlier writers wrote about experiences they'd had and were going through, TV Babies only know how to write about what they watched, what someone else wrote.
Which is how you get, among other shows, Community. The still struggling sitcom plays like Dowd's scripting it, as though she came up with a (not so great) idea and then grafted elements onto it. As facts don't matter to Dowd, characters don't matter to Community and, as Rebecca has noted, they frequently betray characters such as Troy, Avid and Brita to force a laugh or (copied) plot line.
This happens with no complaints from the TV Babies.
Racism? They encourage racism and homophobia. They pretend otherwise. If they smell blood in the water, if they think a show is destined to fail, they'll suddenly feign interest in racism and homophobia. But if it's one of their pets, they say nothing.
Tina Fey's increasingly hideous show cracks 'jokes' about rape, gays, Jews, African-Americans and women and the TV Babies chuckle as they gather at the Water Cooler. And, in the process, a new generation of TV Babies is sprouting right now assuming this is how you write funny.
Sexism? The only time TV Babies pretend to give a damn about the way women are portrayed is when they're trashing one of those rare shows that stars a woman. Suddenly, they want to pose as feminists then, writers who care about the way women are portrayed. They did nothing to decry the use of women as wallpaper in one male dominated show after another but when their (sexist) sensibilities are offended they will pose as a feminist to attack, for example, the sitcom Whitney.
Or Maya Rudolph's performance as Ava on Up All Night. They're insta-feminists when they rush to assure you that Maya's awful and over-the-top and blah, blah, blah. A clue for the TV Babies of the Water Cooler Set, when you only pose as feminists when you're trying to take down women, no one takes you seriously as a feminist. As for Maya, she's hilarious. She's not playing a secretary on Mad Men (which probably really irritates them), she's playing Ava -- a one-name brand, a daytime TV megastar whose every move is studied and copied. That's who she is playing and she's playing the part beautifully.
Meanwhile, a new development. A stay-at-home parent's life has been taken up by the TV Babies who want a job and more scenes for the parent. It's so different than anything they've wanted before from TV's stay-at-home Moms. Of course, this time the stay-at-home Mom is played by Will Arnett and that explains their sudden concern.
They're concerned for Awake as well. A dreadful show that's bombed in the ratings is spit polished in press releases passed off as press each week while the same group of TV Babies work overtime to trash Ashley Judd and her new series Missing.
Missing is a solid show with twists and turns and spills and chases. If it starred any failed movie actor, the TV Babies would be panting in joy as they furiously darted their hands below the waist. But it stars a woman so they work overtime to destroy it. Here's a bit of reality you may have missed last week if you follow the TV Babies: Missing is ABC's first new Thursday night hit in years.
Their desire to pimp Awake is actually a gift because it comes as they attempt to bury Missing because it allows anyone paying attention to grasp how much they lie. Many times when trashing a show starring a woman, they'll insist, if ratings are strong, that it's actually low in the 18 to 49 demographic the woman's failing to deliver. But Awake? It's got the worst 18 to 49 demographic so when they pimp it and savage Missing, they're revealing yet again how untrustworthy they are.
But you should really be suspicious of them anyway just for their lust over that demographic. CBS is mocked and made fun of because its audience trends older. That hasn't prevented CBS from being the number one rated network. And what does it say about these alleged independt 'reporters' that they write these pieces glorifying or condemning a show based upon the age of the viewer?
It goes to the hollow at their core, the lack of any depth, the destruction of self and others that Hugo Black's work foresaw. They leave no lasting impact because they offer nothing but empty words strung together. If Dowd and the TV Babies were characters in a Woody Allen film, they'd be Dusty in Hannah & Her Sisters -- basing art purchases on how much wall space they needed to fill.
In the end, life is whatever a series of events add up to. Take The Bionic Woman and how different it all could have been. A different actress could have played Jamie Sommers:
* if Lindsay Wagner had decided to pursue a career as a child actress and taken a TV offer while performing in This Property Is Condemned.
* if she'd enjoyed fronting the rock group she was a member of briefly in 1968.
* if her acting hadn't impressed Monique James and led to her being placed under contract with Universal
* if Frank Price had realized a year or two later that Steve Austin needed a girlfriend
* if Lindsay's 14-year-old half-sister hadn't been a fan of The Six Million Dollar Man
Alter any of the above and Jamie Sommers might have been played by someone else. Remove Lindsay Wagner in the role and Jamie might well have died after the original two-part episode of The Six Million Dollar Man the way everyone planned for her to do.
While executive producer Harve Bennett cast Wagner because he knew she'd leave an impression (in Two People, she reminded him of Judy Garland), even he wasn't prepared for how much of an impression she made though writer Kenneth Johnson seemed prepared for the massive audience outrage over Jamie's death.
The story of TV bionics is one of chance as well. Lee Majors, a big TV star due to Big Valley, was added to the cast of Owen Marshall to beef up the ratings and, while doing that show, did an ABC movie of the week based on Martin Caidin's Cyborg in which Majors played astronaut Steve Austin who was wounded in a crash and receives replacement limbs (both legs and the right arm) and a new left eye costing the government six million dollars -- these are bionics, able to perform better than limbs and eyes people are born with. The government doesn't just give out of generosity, they expect Steve to work as a spy. The TV movie was such a success in March of 1973 that ABC ordered two more for the fall (while Majors continued filming Owen Marshall). The three TV movies led to the TV series that kicked off in January of 1974 and concluded in March of 1978.
In the second season, Steve returns to Ojai where he grew up and reunites with former high school flame Jaime who's now a professional tennis player. This time around, they set a wedding date; however, before they can walk down the aisle comes a skydiving trip in which Jamie is badly injured and Steve convinces everyone to give Jaime bionics -- two legs, a right arm and a right ear. As the two-part episode winds down, Jaime's body begins rejecting the new limbs and, following an operation, Steve is given the news that Jaime died on the operating table.
That's where the fans kicked in. They weren't going to have it. And ABC brought her back in season three for another two-part episode which aired in September of 1975. Jaime didn't die. She was going to but was placed in a cryogenic coma. When she emerges from her coma, she doesn't remember Steve at all. And she's plagued by headaches leading everyone to conclude that Steve and Jaime might need to live apart.
That sets the stage for the spin-off series The Bionic Woman (January 1976 to May 1978). 2010 saw the first season released on DVD in the US while seasons two and three were released last year.
For a variety of reasons, season three is the finest and, if you're only buying one boxed set, the must-have.
Though Steve and Jamie would reteam for two 80s TV movies (The Return of the Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman and Bionic Showdown) and one 90s TV movie (Bionic Ever After?), not everyone thought Steve and Jamie belonged together. In seasons one and two of The Bionic Woman, Jaime would pop up in six episodes of The Six Million Dollar Man while Steve would show up in five episodes of The Bionic Woman. Both programs aired on ABC.
Season three saw The Bionic Woman move to NBC and though the OSI's Oscar (Richard Anderson) and Rudy (Martin E. Brooks) appeared on both programs, Steve stayed on ABC. [Oscar's assistant Peggy (Jennifer Darling) appeared only on The Bionic Woman in the final seasons of both shows.]
The lack of crossover allows Jamie not to be perceived as waiting for Steve (or, more importantly, audiences waiting for them to get back together). So Wagner gets to perform opposite Dale Robinette in one episode and the two show a warmth that makes you hope Park Ranger Roger will be back. He's not but Christopher Stone (below with Wagner) shows up in the third season as Jaime's boyfriend Chris Williams for five episodes.
Others showing up in this DVD set include Academy Award winner Helen Hunt as a young girl from another planet, Christopher Knight (Brady Bunch's Peter) as the boys who loses Max (the bionic dog), Neile Adams-McQueen (actress, dancer and Steve McQueen's first wife), Keenan Wynn and Evil Knievel. And, yeah, we said the bionic dog.
Max. His story opens the third season when Jamie is at OSI and discovers two men yelling at a dog. He's lethargic and depressed and won't do what they want him too. His backstory, Jaime learns is that he pre-dates Steve and her and was Rudy's first successful bionics subject. But Rudy believes that Max has grown dangerous and needs to be put down. Jaime disagrees and argues he's depressed from being cooped up. She ends up running off with him when Oscar backs Rudy's plan to put Max down.
In the mountains, she figures out that Max goes nuts around fire -- a lighter, a lit fire place. Sadly, she realizes it moments before a forest fire breaks out Max is being shot at. They manage to escape and Oscar and Rudy agree Max should live with Jaime.
Though that alone was enough to fill out two episodes, Max does something even more important. When the OSI believes he's going mad and/or his bionics are betraying him, Jaime asks if the plan is to put her down when she's no longer of use to the OSI? That question is the theme of the third season.
Jaime started with the OSI in part to have something to do with her new and bionic life and also due to guilt over the government bringing her back from death. Though usually 100% successful on all of her missions throughout the program's three seasons, Jaime always comes off much happier when she's in her classroom teaching middle schoolers.
There will be moments throughout the season that deal with change and destiny and moments where its clear that the OSI is not a compatible fit for Jaime. Or for others. We'll see scientists angry that the OSI and the government have ripped off their work -- one will attempt to blow things up, the other will fake his own kidnapping. All of these elements lead up to the series finale where Jaime decides to leave the OSI only to learn that talk that she can was never sincere and that she'll basically be kept a prisoner by the government. This comes on the heels of Jaime having to protect a young girl (child of a defector) -- a bratty, young girl -- who sees Jaime's artificial limb and freaks out asking, "What is that? What are you?" If bratty seems harsh, picture the little brat doing the same thing to the survivor of a car accident or combat who receives an artificial limb.
She tries to reassure the girl that she's normal in a conversation that echoes her admitting she's bionic to Chris in "Pyramid" -- but that conversation had gone much easier. The little brat insists upon calling her "the robot lady" and worse.
So questions that have been emerging throughout the third season come to head as Jaime makes a decision she explains in a voice over:
Dear Oscar, I think I know what's been bothering me these past few weeks. It's, uh, it's the OSI. It's that 100th of 1% of the world that deals with espionage and security and secrets and paranoia. This minute piece of life has become my whole existence. Almost everything I do, every day, relates to it. And I've got to get back to some reality. I never asked for this arm -- this army called the OSI. I didn't even really enlist. I was drafted. Oscar, you've been so kind to me and you've been fair and, in spite of the system, you've even been loving. But I'm -- I'm tired of answering the bugle. I'm tired of being called a winner just because Rudy's genius made it impossible for me to lose. And I'm tired of looking in the mirror and seeing an OSI agent instead of a woman. I'm just tired. Tired. I feel like i have been on the front line for three years. Now I know it's going to take a little adjustment to get back into civilian life and, realistically speaking, I could be taking a chance by not being under Rudy's constant surveillance but no one knows if that's actually necessary. And the way I'm feeling now, it's more important to me to find out if I can live a normal life. I'm willing to take the chance. It goes without saying that I'm going to miss you all very much. But my mind is made up. And, as of today, I am resigning from the OSI.
They won't let her go. They're prepared to drug and kidnap her. Whatever it takes. So when Oscar tips her off to the cage they have waiting for her, Jaime goes on the run. As she confronts the reality of what she's up against and who she is, she makes a conditional return to the OSI provided they follow her terms.
Her strong work the previous season had resulted in Lindsay Wagner winning the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Dramatic Series. As the third season demonstrates, she would have been a good choice for that year as well. She also created a memorable character who battled evil doers and Fembots (Jaime runs from the Fembots below) without murdering anyone. In the process, Lindsay Wagner brought to life one of TV's most vivid female superheroes.
Gladys L. Knight observes in her book Female Actions Heroes: A Guide to Women in Comics, Video Games, Films and Television:
From a sociological point of view, The Bionic Woman had perhaps an even greater impact, changing as it did the perception of strong and independent women beyond the intention even of its creators. Because of Sommers, young girls across the country had a female action hero to emulate, one who broadened the horizons of a generation.
Kenneth Johnson created the character on paper and wrote many of the episodes. He deserves tremendous praise and applause. But Lindsay Wagner brought the character to life and the series they worked on was a combination of their vision. Few TV shows ever leave a strong impression. Most are all too quickly forgotten. The Bionic Woman, far more than The Six Million Dollar Man, survives in warm memories because it had levels to it and humanity at the core. It was an action show with humor and with several important themes including perseverance and peace.
[All screen snaps are from the third season DVDs. When Elaine wrote about the show at her site -- here and here -- several readers wrote to inform her the DVD set was currently on sale in Target stores for $19.99. We checked. Right now it is on sale. We can't guarantee that it will stay that amoungt -- currently it's on sale for $19.99 at Amazon as well -- the list price is $26.98. It's a five disc set with 22 episodes, commentary on the two parter "The Bionic Dog" by writer James D. Parriott; commentary on "Brainwash" by Bionic Collector James Sherrid; Q&A with Lindsay Wagner; photo gallery' and "On the Run" commentary with writer Steven E. De Souza.]]
But it's far from his only problem.
Might we suggest that America's first topless president has other problems to address first?
As Cedric's "Look at the bitchy girl Barack Obama" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! HE'S A REAL BITCH!" point out, he's really not coming off masculine, manly or even mannish in his latest attempt to be the 21st century's Rex Reed.
He declared of perceived Republican rival Mitt Romney that Romney "said that he's 'very supportive' of this new budget. And he even called it 'marvelous' -- which is a word you don't often hear when it comes to describing a budget. It's a word you don't often hear generally."
Will his latest use of bitchery lead journalists to remember all the time it popped up before? Will Catty Barack be the new Malibu Barbie or, more likely, New Coke?
Barack has many problems including the wars, following the Constitution and the economy. If he wants to add to that by begging people to start referring to him as "a little bitch," we can get on board with that. We're just not sure it's an election winner for him.
We're 100% sure that someone that sits like Barack (above with KRG President Massoud Barzani) doesn't need to be making an election issue out of someone else's perceived manhood.
Both Ford and Bailey spoke at the conference and their speeches were featured on the broadcast as was one by Black Agenda Report's Margaret Kimberley:
Another speaker featured on the broadcast was International Action Center's Sara Flounders.
And Glen Ford (above) didn't just attend and speak, didn't just feature on the radio program, he also wrote about it at Black Agenda Report:
I was privileged to present the coordinating committee's draft of the Action Plan to UNAC's national conference in Stamford, Connecticut, this past weekend. "This action plan does not just target some U.S. wars," said the committee's statement. "It does not target the currently unpopular wars. It does not shy away from condemning wars that remain acceptable to half the population because the real reasons for them are obscured in the rhetoric of humanitarian intervention. It does not advocate that we avoid putting U.S. boots on the ground by mounting embargoes that bring economic devastation on the peoples of Iran. It does not condone war by other, more sanitized, means. It does not cheer on wars that minimize U.S. combat deaths by the use of robotic unmanned planes or the highly trained murder squads of the Joint Special Operations Command. It does not see war by mercenary as somehow less threatening to the peoples of the world and the U.S. than war by economic draft. It does not give credit to Washington for removing brigades from one country in order to deploy them in the next."
The document demands an end to "all wars, interventions, targeted assassinations and occupations" and U.S. withdrawal from "NATO and all other interventionist military alliances."
UNAC's reasoning is rooted in the principle that all the world's peoples have the inherent right to self-determination, to pursue their own destinies -- the foundation of relations among peoples, enshrined in international law but daily violated by the United States.
where both hosts were among the speakers.
Massoud Barzani (above) is President of the Kurdish Regional Government -- three semi-autonomous provinces in northern Iraq. Last week, he was in DC and spoke Thursday at a Washington Institute for Near East Policy event. It was a major speech and one that should have been heavily reported on. Instead it was largely ignored (among the few outlets noting the speech were The Washington Post and ABC Radio News). C.I. was present and transcribed the speech for Thursday's "Iraq snapshot."
President Massoud Barzani: My visit to Washington came at the invitation of the US government in order to talk about the situation in Iraq, in the wider region, and also the situation between Kurdistan region and Iraq in detail.
Yesterday, during our meetings with the President, the Vice President and other officials of the US administration, we have talked about all of these issues in detail.
I'm sure many of you know that the people of Kurdistan have sacrificed a great deal and have shed a lot of blood for the sake of building a federal, democratic and pluralistic Iraq. But you always are mindful of the fact that, had it not been for the US support and assistance, without the sacrifices of men and women in uniform, the sacrifices that have been made, this objective would not have been achieved and the regime would not have been toppled. So we got a golden opportunity to build a new Iraq, an Iraq that's federal, democratic, pluralistic, an Iraq that's new and better.
And also to be clear that what's the composition of this new Iraq? It's three main pillars that constitute Iraq. It's the Kurds, the Shias and the Sunnis. Having said that, we have to be mindful of the fact that we have other national minorities living with us, that they have to be respected, they have to be equally treated. We've got the Turkomen, the Chaldean Assyrian, the Syriac and also an Albanian minority. But we also have to realize that in terms of nationalities, Iraq is made up of two main nationalities: Arabs and Kurds.
I can say that in Kurdistan we have an experience that to a great extent has been a successful one. I cannot claim that this is an ideal experience without any flaws or shortcomings. But I can say for sure that the security stability situation is very good. The economy and social activies are good. Socially we have made a lot of progress. We in the region have adopted a tolerant policy. We have not resorted to revenge and retaliation. We have opened a new page and therefore we have been able to provide a safe and secure environment and to protect our people. And for that, we are grateful to the support and assistance that we have received from own own people but also thanks to the dedication of the security and law enforcement people. And the safe and secure environment has been the reason for inviting and attracting foreign companies and here lately American oil companies have also started to come to the region and start their investment and other activities.
I will give you some brief examples to show you the difference that we have made and theprogress that we have made. After the fall of the regime in 2003, the GDP [Gross Domestic Product] per capita for individuals in the Kurdistan region was $275 per annum and now it exceeds $5,000. And also the electricity rate was 57%. It has reduced or dropped to 16%. Regarding other services and mainly electricity, we've been able to improve that sector. I can say that we're almost able to provide electritiy to all the main cities and townships and rural areas. In certain areas, we have got four hours of electricity. What has come to the Iraqi Treasury from 2003 until now, it has exceeded half-of-a-trillion [dollars]. You can check that information to see what kind of electricity has been provided in other parts of Iraq which does not exceed three to four hours.
There are one million people under arms [security forces] but still terrorism and the threat of terrorism continues. Iraq is facing a serious crisis today.
Yesterday, we have discussed that very frankly with the President, the Vice President and it's going to one-man rule. It's going towards control of all the establishments of state.
So we have got a situation or we ended up having a situation in Baghdad where one individual is the Prime Minister and at the same time he's the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, he's the Minister of Defense, he's the Minister of the Interior and the Chief of the Intelligence and lately he has sent a correspondence to the president of the Central Bank in Iraq that that establishment would also come under the Prime Minister.
Where in the world would you find such an example?
We as the people of Kurdistan, we believe that this government has come to be as a result of the blood that we have shed and as a result of the sacrifices that we have contributed. We are eager to see the situation reformed. Therefore, we will not leave Baghdad for others.
So, therefore, we see the situation in Iraq that it requires to be ruled in partnership -- for that power-sharing and partnership to consist of the Kurds and the Arabs -- both the Shia Arabs and the Sunni Arabs.
Of course, we have to be mindful of the fact that the Iraqis themselves have to find solutions for the problems. When they try to find solutions for themselves, then their friends in the international community can help. But if they wait for others, for the outsiders to help solve their problems, they will wait forever and they will not see solutions. They have to do it themselves.
It's very natural to have relations with the neighboring countries and also with the international community. But also specifically with the neighboring countries in order to exchange views and to exchange ideas about this but not to give them an opportunity to interfere int he internal affairs of Iraq or for them to come to solve the problems or for them to act on behalf of the Iraqi people. The Iraqis have to do it themselves.
Jill Stein (above) is running for the Green Party's presidential nomination. This is her "Jobs numbers won't return 'The Stolen Decades':"
With the first quarter 2012 federal jobs report due out tomorrow, Dr.Jill Stein warned that attempts to spin the economic news to favor the Obama administration should not be allowed to mask the reality of the ongoing economic crisis experienced by working people.
"We need to look for more than downticks in unemployment that are not significant when compared to the enormous economic losses that Americans have suffered in recent times. We are years away from getting back to the 5% unemployment rate we had before the recession, and even at that rate, things were falling apart for tens of millions Americans. The economy before the recession was transfering wealth from working people to the super rich. Now almost half of Americans are living in poverty or near poverty."
According to Stein, the 1980s began 30 years of what she called “The Stolen Decades” in which the real wages and purchasing power of the average American worker began to flatline, and the wages of corporate CEOs shot up dramatically.
"Unemployment is a serious concern. Equally devastating has been the fact that stagnant wages are not letting people get ahead. Workers are dropping out of the middle class. Workers are not able to save for retirement. After adjusting for inflation, the federal minimum wage is $2.75 lower than it was 40 years ago. These have been the stolen decades for working people."
Stein noted that the so-called ‘signs of recovery’ do not offer any hope to the urban poor, overwhelmingly people of color, who have struggled with mass unemployment, extreme poverty, and lack of economic opportunity for many years.
"When you're dealing with the harsh reality of youth employment rates above 50% and major segments of the community trapped in a lifetime of crushing poverty, you don't want to hear your government officials brag about how well their economic policies are working. You want to hear about plans for decisive action. That's why I'm advocating for a Green New Deal that will provide all the jobs we need - full employment - in the hard-hit communities where we most need them."
"We need major policy changes to bring economic security to the working people of America" Stein asserted. "The fundamental flaws of an economic policy dictated by Wall Street are apparent, even if they have sometimes been masked by periods of apparent growth that were actually financed by unsustainable credit card and housing debt. Wealth that should be invested in our local economy to create jobs is being put in the hands of the super rich who build factories abroad instead. Families disintegrate while the income of the richest few surges upward. This is changing America in a way that we must not accept."
"With the loss of a generation’s worth of pension savings and home equity, middle class Americans who once though they had achieved security are staring into the abyss. And for years we told our children that a college education was the key to economic security. Today, an education is often is not enough. Students are coerced into accepting massive student loans they may never be able to repay given the poor job market they face upon graduation. And we're forcing young people to go to work for wages that are often half of those that their parents earned for the same job.”
“Whatever job numbers are released tomorrow, there is no cause for celebration of this administration’s policies. If elected, I will show Obama’s Wall Street advisors the door, and we'll bring in the kind of progressive economic team that advised Roosevelt with his original New Deal. We’ll return the wealth that was stolen from working people and invest in America’s future.”
VETERANS FOR PEACE
NATIONAL OFFICE: 216 S. Meramec Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63105
PHONE: (314) 725-6005 FAX: (314) 725-7103 E-MAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org
6 April 2012
Contact: Leah Bolger, email@example.com, 541-207-7761
David Swanson, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-329-7847
20-Year Veteran to Face Jail Time for Act of Civil Disobedience
Disruption of Congressional “Super Committee” could result in 6-month sentence
Retired Naval Commander Leah Bolger will appear in court Thursday, April 12th 2012 on charges stemming from her arrest on October 26th, 2011. Bolger, who is a peace activist and the President of Veterans For Peace, interrupted a public hearing of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, commonly known as the Super Committee.
In a calm, articulate manner Bolger spoke for nearly a minute in the well of the Senate hearing room before Capitol Hill police escorted her out and placed her under arrest. Prominent social activist Ben Cohen praised Bolger for her courageous stand in this video which includes footage of her action: http://youtu.be/aZVtPhVBM5Q Bolger accused the sole witness, Chief Budget Officer Douglas Elmendorf, of obfuscating the true costs of military spending, and implored the Committee to enact the people’s plan for reducing the deficit—end the wars and tax the rich.
Ralph Nader, a member of Veterans For Peace, applauded retired Naval Commander, Bolger's effort to challenge the Super Committee for a minute of an un-scheduled reminder that cutting much needed social programs that saves lives rather than cutting the bloated military budget and taxing the 1% is Congressional insanity. "The government is dysfunctional, working for corporate interests rather than providing for the peoples necessities. Bolger showed what active citizens should be doing peacefully-- confronting the corruption head on and making sure the public knows what is really going on. She should be honored for her actions."
Bolger was a member of the Occupation of Washington, DC at Freedom Plaza. The occupation protested the Super Committee by holding an Occupied Super Committee hearing which was aired on C-SPAN, see CSPAN Coverage of Occupied Super Committee Hearings, and produced its own report. By cutting military spending and taxing the wealthy, the Occupied Super Committee reached the ten year deficit targets set by President Obama and Congress in two years, and was able to fund a jobs program, forgive student debt and secure social programs. See The 99%’s Deficit Proposal: How to create jobs, reduce the wealth divide and control spending. As a result of the actions of Bolger, the Occupy movement and other activists, the Super Committee, which had been on course to cut Social Security and Medicare, decided not to issue a report.
A press conference will be held at 8:30 am, Thursday April 12th in front of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, 500 Indiana Ave NW, Washington DC. Those scheduled to speak and/or answer questions include:
Leah Bolger, defendant, President of Veterans For Peace (VFP)
Mark Goldstone, attorney for the defendant
Art Brennan, NH Retired Superior Court Associate Justice, member of VFP
David Swanson, author, activist, radio host, member of VFP
Repost from Great Britain's Socialist Worker.
This article should be read after: The key lessons of Bradford West
How Respect won in Bradford West
by Anindya Bhattacharyya
George Galloway pulled off a spectacular political comeback on Thursday of last week by winning the Bradford West parliamentary by-election by a landslide.
Galloway, standing for Respect, beat the Labour candidate Imran Hussain by 18,341 votes to 8,201. Galloway won 56 percent of the vote on a 50 percent turnout.
The Tories—who came second in Bradford West at the 2010 general election—were pushed into third place by anger at their budget for the rich. The Lib Dems lost their deposit.
A key factor behind Galloway’s win was anger at the Labour establishment in Bradford, which took voters for granted and delivered nothing.
Labour’s candidate Imran Hussain is deputy leader of Bradford council. Labour has pushed through £67 million in cuts in the city, slashing over 1,000 jobs.
Galloway supporters told Socialist Worker of their anger at how Bradford’s city bosses had presided over ten years of decay and mounting youth unemployment.
“I’m 21 and I’ve never had a job, although I’m always applying for them,” said Aqil Fiaz campaigning for Respect outside Girlington primary school.
“The jobs that are there are mostly in call centres in Leeds. A friend of mine works nights there and he has a law degree.”
Respect’s supporters were ecstatic at their victory. “It’s absolutely brilliant,” said Umit Yildiz, a lecturer at Bradford College who was involved in the campaign. “This was about young people breaking with tradition and voting for an anti-war and anti-cuts party.”
While there were specific factors in Bradford that propelled Galloway to victory, his win is a boost for the left in Britain. It underlines the potential for building grassroots opposition to Tory austerity.
Galloway was a Labour MP in Glasgow for 18 years until he was expelled for his opposition to the Iraq War. He won Bethnal Green & Bow for Respect in 2005, defeating pro-war Labour MP Oona King. But he failed to win the neighbouring seat of Poplar & Limehouse in 2010.
Wasab Khan, 24, is one of many volunteers who drove Respect’s victory. He spoke to Socialist Worker on polling day about the problems faced by young people in Bradford.
“They’ve just opened a brand new police station,” he says.
“They’ve got the money to pay all those police officers. But if they really wanted less crime they could spend that money on community centres.”
Wasab was stopped by the police last week while driving a Respect speaker car. The police searched the car, took him to the station and then released him.
“They were just wasting my time,” he shrugs.
Wasab says the media makes things worse by racialising the situation and presenting crime as an “Asian” or “Muslim” problem. These stereotypes don’t reflect the reality of living and working in Bradford, he adds.
“I work in a call centre. It’s very mixed race. We all want the same thing—it’s about dignity.”
He saw Galloway’s arrival in Bradford as a chance to shake up the city’s politics and address its longstanding problems.
“We’re lucky to have him here. I think he’ll make a difference. But we’ll see what changes he can make in three years.”
Shabana Bashir works in Bradford teaching English to speakers of other languages. She has been a Respect activist for a few years and stood in the 2010 local election.
“I got involved because we need change round here,” she told Socialist Worker. “Education is going downhill. Buildings are crumbling. Jobs are disappearing. I worry that my children are going to grow up in a different world.”
Arshad Ali was the Respect candidate in Bradford West at the 2010 general election and Galloway’s election agent for the by-election.
He told Socialist Worker, “It’s incredible—the young people are definitely educating the older ones.”
Galloway’s arrival in Bradford had crystallised a longstanding disaffection with Labour, he adds. “When I stood for Respect people would say, ‘We love what you stand for but we know you can’t win.’ The difference with Galloway is that we know he can win.
“Labour don’t know what’s hit them. There have been defections in droves. People are fed up with being told to vote on family lines rather than on principle.”
The following should be read alongside this article:
© Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original.
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