Saturday, November 5, 2011

Open Letter from Harvard Econ 10 Students

The following letter was sent to Greg Mankiw by the organizers of today’s Economics 10 walkout.

Wednesday November 2, 2011

Dear Professor Mankiw—

Today, we are walking out of your class, Economics 10, in order to express our discontent with the bias inherent in this introductory economics course. We are deeply concerned about the way that this bias affects students, the University, and our greater society.

As Harvard undergraduates, we enrolled in Economics 10 hoping to gain a broad and introductory foundation of economic theory that would assist us in our various intellectual pursuits and diverse disciplines, which range from Economics, to Government, to Environmental Sciences and Public Policy, and beyond. Instead, we found a course that espouses a specific—and limited—view of economics that we believe perpetuates problematic and inefficient systems of economic inequality in our society today.

A legitimate academic study of economics must include a critical discussion of both the benefits and flaws of different economic simplifying models. As your class does not include primary sources and rarely features articles from academic journals, we have very little access to alternative approaches to economics. There is no justification for presenting Adam Smith’s economic theories as more fundamental or basic than, for example, Keynesian theory.

Care in presenting an unbiased perspective on economics is particularly important for an introductory course of 700 students that nominally provides a sound foundation for further study in economics. Many Harvard students do not have the ability to opt out of Economics 10. This class is required for Economics and Environmental Science and Public Policy concentrators, while Social Studies concentrators must take an introductory economics course—and the only other eligible class, Professor Steven Margolin’s class Critical Perspectives on Economics, is only offered every other year (and not this year). Many other students simply desire an analytic understanding of economics as part of a quality liberal arts education. Furthermore, Economics 10 makes it difficult for subsequent economics courses to teach effectively as it offers only one heavily skewed perspective rather than a solid grounding on which other courses can expand. Students should not be expected to avoid this class—or the whole discipline of economics—as a method of expressing discontent.

Harvard graduates play major roles in the financial institutions and in shaping public policy around the world. If Harvard fails to equip its students with a broad and critical understanding of economics, their actions are likely to harm the global financial system. The last five years of economic turmoil have been proof enough of this.

We are walking out today to join a Boston-wide march protesting the corporatization of higher education as part of the global Occupy movement. Since the biased nature of Economics 10 contributes to and symbolizes the increasing economic inequality in America, we are walking out of your class today both to protest your inadequate discussion of basic economic theory and to lend our support to a movement that is changing American discourse on economic injustice. Professor Mankiw, we ask that you take our concerns and our walk-out seriously.


Concerned students of Economics 10


Thanks to William Black's Blog for the lead on this.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Murdoch Pattern of Misconduct

Open Letter to the Federal Communications Commission:

Dear FCC members:

Forget the political implications for a moment and envision what you'd LIKE to do to the Murdoch media syndicate.

The Occupy movement is your signal that the time has come to act on visions like that prompted above.

Paul Krugman is right, again: Pattern of Misconduct

Now it's time for the FCC to act.

To Contact the Commissioners via E-mail

Chairman Julius Genachowski:
Commissioner Michael J. Copps:
Commissioner Robert McDowell:
Commissioner Mignon Clyburn:


Saturday, October 8, 2011

End Corporate Personhood

Take it from a Tennis Ball, we need to end corporate personhood. This could be a tangible demand of the #Occupy movement, that is, amend the constitution to Get Corporate Money Out of our elections.

The following 4-min video is a remake of the VlogBrothers 2007 YouTube call-to-action ala the Nerdfighters "Project for Awesome".


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Banking Establishment Ripoff Exposed in MSM

Thinking Americans know the sordid story:

Since the financial crisis, Bank profits are UP 136%... But Bank lending is down 9%.

Perhaps a more interesting story is that this is featured in a mainstream media article; Time Magazine, September 26, 2011, "After Three Years and Trillions of Dollars, Our Banks Still Don't Work."

I could take issue with the phrase "our banks;" yes, we should "own" them having bailed them out, but frankly, instead of we owning the banks, the banks turned the US Treasury and Federal Reserve into lending institutions for the benefit of the banks and the people reaping profits from those corporations.

But, don't let me tarnish the good news with side issues. Time Magazine deserves credit where it is due.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

We Didn't See it Coming

For Some reason, my comments on Paul Krugman's blog don't seem to stick. Below is my comment on his post entitled: How We Failed

The "We didn't see it coming" thing drives me crazy. My experience in seeing it [the bubble burst] coming is reflected in three clear memories.

First, The Great Unraveling by... some economist from NJ, pretty much had me change my ARM to a fixed rate mortgage a couple years before the bust.

Second, people with good jobs in my solid middle class neighborhood were saying, "If I had to buy my [modest row] house today, I couldn't afford it." I remember exactly where I was, walking my dog.

Third, it was going to by systemic: "Systemic Risk: Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Role of OFEHO," February, 2003, which lost Armamndo Falcon his job.


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Israel's Spring

Israel is a country where a tiny minority of families and individuals control a hugely disproportionate amount of wealth.

Last Saturday [Aug 6], hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets of a Middle Eastern city.

Demanding change, they were fed up with the ruling elite and said their government was no longer listening to its people.

Sound familiar? The protests have continued and have grown.

Source: BBC Israel's 'social protests' rattle Netanyahu government Aug, 12, 2011.

Will the US have its own version? If policy makers continue on their same path we will. An early test will be October 6, 2011 in Washington, DC.

Oct. 6
14th & Pennsylvania, Ave., NW
12 Noon

Tag Line:
Human Need, Not Corporate Greed. This is an occupation.

More on Oct. 6 DC Day 1 of the US Spring


Friday, September 2, 2011

Democracy-building in Maryland

Taking Back the Budget Debate


Tues., Sept. 20, 7:30 p.m.
Silver Spring Civic Center
One Veterans’ Place (Fenton & Ellsworth)
Silver Spring

Turn your anger and outrage over the budget deal into ACTION!

Speakers: Rep. Donna Edwards, State Senator Roger Manno, economist Heather Boushey, IPS Fellow Karen Dolan
Master of Ceremonies: The NAACP’s Elbridge James
Music: Singer/songwriter Christina Van Norman

You will have the opportunity to ask your questions and then to help us organize for real, progressive solutions.

Here’s our action agenda:

* Put America back to work
* Institute a fair tax system
* Protect Americans’ health and save the environment
* Preserve Social Security
* Bring all the troops and military contractors home

Don’t miss this important event--invite all your friends!

Our Money . . . Our Voices . . . Our Budget Priorities

Sponsored by Fund Our Communities, Bring the War Dollars Home
A Maryland Coalition


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Game in a Nutshell

Bailouts put the private debts onto the public (tax payer) balance sheet. Now Congress and the White House are poised to finish the job by putting that debt onto the backs of America's most vulnerable people.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Who are the Tea Party Rank and File?

Someone actually has data!

Beginning in 2006 we interviewed a representative sample of 3,000 Americans as part of our continuing research into national political attitudes, and we returned to interview many of the same people again this summer. As a result, we can look at what people told us, long before there was a Tea Party, to predict who would become a Tea Party supporter five years later.

They're not the mass media portrays them to be:

... while the public image of the Tea Party focuses on a desire to shrink government, concern over big government is hardly the only or even the most important predictor of Tea Party support among voters.

To that leads to the obvious question:

So what do Tea Partiers have in common? They are overwhelmingly white, but even compared to other white Republicans, they had a low regard for immigrants and blacks long before Barack Obama was president, and they still do.

What else do they have in common?

  • Number 1 predictor is being Republican.
  • Social conservatives, who oppose abortion, for example.
  • Desire to see religion play a prominent role in politics.
  • Small Government is low on the list.
Source: David E. Campbell, an associate professor of political science at Notre Dame, and Robert D. Putnam, a professor of public policy at Harvard. Crashing the Tea Party.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Talking Point: US Government Debt and Jobs

Job, Jobs, Where are the Jobs?

The talking point is simple. Average Americans are not spending money, and the economy is stalled, because they don't have much money. It's no use giving tax breaks and low interest rates to product manufacturers, because the people who would normally buy their products don't have money. People need jobs.

It is debatable whether the American public is responsible for 70% of domestic spending on goods and services, but by sheer number their spending potential is huge. They might make up 70% of domestic spending if they had money to spend, but they don't have good jobs.

Why not? Government policies over the past several decades, supply-side (trickle-down) tax policies and corporate globalization policies, have created a record wealth gap. A study by three Citigroup analysts indicates that the top 1% of Americans earn as much annual income as the bottom 60% and the top 1% possess as much wealth as the bottom 90% of Americans. The analysts concluded “economic growth [in the US] is powered by and largely consumed by the wealthy few.” [1] This is borne out by recent statistics showing that growth in domestic product sales have declined at discount stores and have grown in high-end stores and luxury products.

The Solution:

The government needs to set policies to put money in the pockets of average Americans, and I'm not talking about a $600 check; it needs to be tens of thousands per year, which simply put means temporarily creating jobs. The money for these jobs needs to come from the places that it is being hoarded: The richest 1% of Americans and transnational corporations who have benefited greatly from government policies over the past few decades.

After people have had government-sponsored jobs for several years, they will have the money to buy more products and services they need. This will create a market for private sector products and, in turn, support more jobs in the private sector. Eventually, the government can get out of business of job creation.

And yes, these jobs will require more government revenue in the near-term, but will also generate new revenues. In the long run, we'll be more likely able to pay down the US Government debt.

Agree? Let policy makers know:


1. Can the Middle Class be Saved? Atlantic Monthly, September, 2011.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Talking Point: Debt and Medicare

Are Medicare & Medicade the Problem?

First, Medicare is not part of the general budget deficit & associated debt problem. That's because Medicare, like Social Security, has a dedicated fund separate from the general fund. It should be managed as a separate dedicated fund, not lumped into the general budget debate.

Second, if we spent per capita what every other industrial nation spends on health care, we would not have a long-term Medicare solvency problem. If we simply focus on cutting Medicare and Medicaid, we’re just shifting the rising costs to those least able to pay them: the elderly, the disabled and the poor, or people on their death bed. Is that the American way?

Solutions: First, we need to cut health care costs (not services). Second, in the next few decades, we all need to pay a little more out of our FICA payroll deductions to cover the fact that the baby boomers are reaching old age (maybe from 1.45% to 1.75% or something). After the wave of baby boomers passes, the deductions could decrease. Finally, if Congress insists on mixing the dedicated fund of Medicare with the general fund, then we should insist on cutting corporate welfare and increasing revenue from corporate profits to help meet Medicare's needs.

Wanna take Action? Start by calling Senator Kerry's office and tell him to get better control of his message (He is one of the super committee members). Here's a recent statement of his:

... the real problem for our country is not the short-term debt. We can deal with that. It’s the long-term debt. It’s the structural debt of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, measured against the demographics of our nation.

Unfortunately, his statements are playing into the hysteria that is enveloping the mentality that these safety nets should be cut. We need to re-frame the debate.

For Your Convenience:Sources:

DemocracyNow! August, 12, 2011.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Wall Street Crash

"The Wall Street crash doesn't mean there will be any general or serious business depression."
-- Business Week
November 14, 1929

Sources: "The working person's history of the great depression," Show me the Money, Issue 10, Autumn 2001.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Once Upon a Time

"The outlook is for the end of the decline in business during the early part of the 1931, and steady... revival for the remainder of the year."

-- The Harvard Economic Society's Weekly Letter,
November, 15, 1930

Note: In 1931, the economic squeeze of the depression forced the Harvard Economic Society to suspend publication of the Weekly Letter.

Source: "The working person's history of the great depression," Show me the Money, Issue 10, Autumn 2001.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Second Helicopter in Two Weeks

I don't remember hearing about another helicopter shot down less than two weeks ago in Kunar province. A search of Google news and Google suggests it was mentioned by obscure outlets. This post, with "Kunar" and "Helicopter" in the labels list will rank high on Google 'cuz there ain't no competition.

I guess that's par for our debilitated, commercial mainstream media; a US helicopter gets shot down and it isn't news if no Americans die.

I'm reminded of Orwell and the perpetual war.


Sunday, July 31, 2011

GDAE Podcast Episode 49

  • Economist James Galbraith: Reality check on the Washington "Debt Crisis".
  • Journalist, media critic and political analyst John Nichols: The Unraveling Murdoch News Corp media empire. Were crimes also committed in the United States?

  • Ralph Nader: Common Ground with the Tea Party? This might be true for the principled libertarians within the Tea Party.

Play Episode 49 (32 min):


Monday, April 18, 2011

Sometimes it's Worth Saying the Obvious

It took a while, but now it is generally accepted that the United States of America is a world Empire. There are references to "US Empire" on mainstream magazine covers, numerous books lay out the history in detail and now we even hear references to the US Empire in decline.

What isn't as widely acknowledged, but should be generally accepted is that the United States, and the World for that matter, is in the midst of a class war. Sadly, some of the inertia in the class war resides in common people who perpetuate the notions that 1) government is inherently bad and 2) that if we are going to have taxes at all, then the taxes on the wealthy class should be very low so they can invest and create jobs.

A government of the common people can be a very beneficial thing. Ask someone with Veterans medical care, someone who benefited from the GI Bill who wouldn't have been able to go to college without it, someone with a monthly social security check or someone with medicare. I could go on with the highway system, which some smart people would deride that saying the car corporations pushed the US government to fund the highways and that we should have invested in mass transit instead, but you get the idea; if we the people have a shared vision, we can efficiently and effectively use our government to pool the resources to do it. That great American "can-do" thing. So, future visions of a Utopian anarchism aside, a government of the people, as opposed to "of the corporations", is a good thing.

"But if the government spends the money it will displace it from being spent in private sector and distort the free market." Frankly, the private sector does a fine job of distorting the free market with speculations that have no connection to the real economy and do not provide jobs. The tax cuts for the rich don't just go to buying McMansions and Hummers, that money chases the next speculative bubble and distorts commodity prices in ways that make it impossible for dairy farmers to buy the grains they need. The private sector isn't investing to avoid and manage the next environmental disaster or rehabilitate our crumbling sewers, bridges and other infrastructure. Lots of money chasing the next bubble, but not investing in world class broadband digital infrastructure. Why? Investments in tangible things that affect the real economy are difficult, and many "rich people" want to get richer quicker "in the market", not get their hands dirty with long term investments difficult and risky things like developing new innovations. The magic of the "invisible hand" of wealthy people is more a myth than a reality.

So, it is becoming passe' to say that the Wall Street class caused the problem, were bailed out by middle-class tax payers, are continuing to get tax cuts and the cost is falling on middle class tax payers. We see it in "austerity" plans and "debt control" plans that are taking the form of cuts to programs that help the lower and middle class people, cuts that forestalled investment in infrastructure maintenance, environmental restoration and much more. And we're told that we cannot raise taxes on the wealthy 1% of the people who now hoard 40% of the nation's wealth.

There is a phrase that describes the struggle surrounding this situation and it's "class war."


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Wealth Gap and Revolution

Lately I've been dwelling on the social strains caused by the wealth gap in the US. Everyone should know the difference between "income gap" and "wealth gap;" income being the annual revenues and wealth being the accumulated revenues or savings. The wealth gap is actually more pronounced than the income gap, but both have been growing for several decades. A recent statistic on wealth gap:

The top 1% of Americans own 40% of the wealth.

The word hoarding comes to mind as does a famous quote:

There is, inherent in the capitalist system, a tendency to self-destruct. - Schumpeter, 1942.

We see it happening before our very eyes playing out in the Washington budget debate. The notion, that giving the wealthy class, or owner class, tax cuts to spur growth is a widely held belief in our society. But this simplistic rule only makes sense when money is tight and production capacity at factories is tight and in need of investment to expand, neither of which hold today; we don't need any more production capacity and even if the owner class were to produce more, the commoners don't have the money to buy the stuff.

What we face is a market that is saturated with production capacity, but no money among we the little people, because the money is being hoarded and used for non-productive speculation. Buying commodities, like grains, industrial metals, oil & gas, have become disconnected from the real economy and turned into a gambling playground for the wealthy (not just Americans).

The tendency is for this kind of hoarding to create social instability (dare I say "revolution"?).
People are catching on to this, and the big questions are 1) will we get to the point where enough people become so destitute that they don't have anything, and thus don't have anything to loose if they rise up? 2) will the honest, wise wealthy people change policies before this happens, if only to save themselves?

Stay Tuned.


Show Me the Money, Zine, Autumn, 2001, Tony Honeycut.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Attacked by Washington Post Pop-up Ad

Wow, my mac PowerBook just had a siezure, chugging and chugging, rainbow wheel, for a long time, seemingly frozen dock... barely got to my Finder file directory... then I saw a black and red Washington Post advertisement box. I clicked it off and *sigh* the chugging dissipated, rainbow wheel went away, I had my computer back.

Does the media trust do this on purpose? Was I just hacked? WTF? Just paranoid? LOL


San Jose, CA Board of Ed Stands with WI Unions

Jan Jose, CA Board of Education approves resolution in support of Wisconsin public workers - MORE

Paste into Twitter:


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Purpose of the Economy

The field of economics is rife with bias due to powerful selfish interests that influence this social science.

Science or art or what? Henry Hazlitt, in 1946, suggested that "The whole of economics can be reduced to a single lesson, and that lesson can be reduced to a single sentence:"

The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.

I'm not sure this encapsulates the whole of economics, but it does define what the economy should provide for society. That is, it should operate for the broader benefit of society and not merely for the minority establishment. This is the purpose of the economy and this principle should underlie the study of economics.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Masses Know their Place

From an elitist writing on "The Revolt of the Masses." He separates the elite from the masses.

There exist, then, in society, operations, activities, and functions of the most diverse order, which are of their very nature special, and which consequently cannot be properly carried out without special gifts. For example: certain pleasures of an artistic and refined character, or again the functions of government and of political judgment in public affairs.

Previously these special activities were exercised by qualified minorities, or at least by those who claimed such qualification. The mass asserted no right to intervene in them; they realised that if they wished to intervene they would necessarily have to acquire those special qualities and cease being mere mass. They recognized their place in a healthy social system.


The Revolt of the Masses, Jose Ortega Y Gasset, original 1930, translation from Spanish, 1932. W.W. Norton & Co.


Monday, March 21, 2011

US Economy in the Pocket of 1/100th of 1 Percent

This graphic is jaw-dropping. The yellow ball, representing the wealth of one one-hundredth of one percent (0.01%), doesn't even fit into the graphic. Whereas the bottom 90% of Americans is the tiny blue ball.

How Rich are the Superrich?

The top 400 of America's richest aristocrats hoard as much wealth as the bottom 155,000,000 people. - Michael Moore at a Madison, WI rally, March 5, 2011.


Mother Jones, It's the Inequality Stupid, March/April, 2011.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

GDAE Podcast - Episode 43

We Are Wisconsin

  • Security Industrial Complex: A concern of both conservatives and progressives. Coleen Rowley, former FBI agent discusses the glut of information being collected and the needle-in-a-haystack syndrome.

  • Has the Sleeping Giant Awoken? Michael Moore Madison, WI speech, 3/5/11.


Selfish Interests Bias Economics

An insight published in 1946 that holds true today:

Economics is haunted by more fallacies than any other study known to man. This is no accident. The inherent difficulties of the subject would be great enough in any case, but they are multiplied a thousandfold by a factor that is insignificant in say, physics, mathematics or medicine -- the special pleading of selfish interests.

Source: Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Impeach Clarence Thomas: Step 2

Impeach Clarence Thomas

2nd Step: Contact Media outlets. Ask them to follow the Missouri Bar Association's investigation of Clarence Thomas.

Some of the issues regarding Clarence Thomas: Throw Clarence Thomas Off the Bench

My Message to Media Outlets:

A complaint has been filed with the Missouri Bar Association to investigate Judge Clarence Thomas for allegations regarding his taxes. Given other widely publicized partisan activities by Mr. Thomas, the association is being asked to measure the weight of broader evidence relative to rules of conduct for a lawyer.

I would like your organization to follow this news story. Please add me to an interest e-mail list for people following your future investigations into this matter.

The Missouri Bar contact information follows:
ph: 537 635 4281
fax: 573 635 2811

For Your Convenience:Step 2.5, Twitter this link of the story linked above:

See Step 1

Originally Posted on GDAEman Blog


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Remove Clarence Thomas: Step 1

Impeach Clarence Thomas

1st Step: Contact Missouri Bar Association.

Support a complaint that has been filed with the MO Bar mentioned in this piece: Throw Clarence Thomas Off the Bench
ph: 537 635 4281
fax: 573 635 2811

Step 1.5, Twitter this link:

My Message:

I support the complaint filed with your association to investigation of Judge Clarence Thomas for allegations regarding his taxes. Given other widely publicized partisan activities by Mr. Thomas, the association has a solemn responsibility to relax the boundaries of its investigations. The Missouri bar must measure the weight of the broader evidence relative to rules of conduct for a lawyer, rules that should be more closely scrutinized for an exemplary member of society like a supreme court justice.

Thank you for considering this matter. I would like to be added to an interest e-mail list for people interested in following your future decisions and actions on this matter.


Go Johnny Saundersgdaeman_scroll_small

Saturday, February 19, 2011

US Tax Payer Dollars at Work in Bahrain

If you haven't seen video footage of Mideast autocratic government crack-down, you should see the following: Very Short Video Clip

Bahrain's Army Supported by US Taxpayers (45 Sec.)

Share the link with others:

Phone numbers for Embassies in WashDC:
#Libya 202 944 9601
#Bahrain 202 342 1111
#Yemen 202 965 4760

The US 5th Fleet is stationed in Bahrain. Is that why they are so afraid of popular democracy?


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Stop Illegal Search and Seizures by ICE

Take Action on Unconstitutional Search and Seizure.

Darrell Issa, Chair Committee on Oversight & Government Reform
Ph (202) 225-3906
Fax x3303

It is unconstitutional for ICE to copy contents of computers, cameras, phones at the US boarder w/o warrant. Arbitrary lists made by the Executive Branch do not constitute a warrant. Ask Issa to hold hearings.

Share/tweet DN! program link:

Share w/ conservative groups. Principled conservatives are our allies on civil liberties. Local Tea Party groups, NRA, John Birch Society, Lew Rockwell, libertarian groups.

BRANDON JOURDAN: When I flew into New York from Haiti, after I’d worked for two weeks covering rebuilding projects on schools in Haiti, I had first heard on the intercom that they wanted everyone to have their passports out. I pulled my passport out. When I walked out onto the skyway, two Immigration and Customers Enforcement officers took me by the arm and led me to a Homeland Security room.

BRANDON JOURDAN: They took me to, I guess, a Homeland Security office within the JFK airport. At that point, they began looking through all of my clothes, everything. I strategically put a copy of the First and Fourth Amendment in my bags, because this has happened before, and also on my computer and my smartphone and on my hard drives. They took my journal, all my business cards, all that. They said they were going to photocopy them all. They took—

AMY GOODMAN: Did they explain why they were doing this?

I asked them, “Why are you doing this?” They basically said, “You’re on a list. We don’t know why. These are orders"—

AMY GOODMAN: You’re on a list?

Yeah. And “These are orders from Washington.” And they copied my hard drive. They copied my laptop. They copied every single one of my compact flash cards that I use for my camera, which is absurd to me, because I was documenting people building schools and a country devastated by an earthquake.


Democracy Now! 2/15/11
"Authorities Search and Copy U.S. Journalist’s Notes, Computer and Cameras After Returning from Haiti"


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Clarence Thomas is a Corporate Operative

I could go on and on about Clarence Thomas, but anyone reading this already should know that he is not acting in good faith. He is not a fair judge and he needs to go. How he got on to the US Supreme Court... well, we know that story too.

So, how do we do that? We know that when right-wingers want to get rid of someone, they have an uncanny way of making it happen (add list here). Part of it is access to more accumulated money (they are staunchly capitalistic). Part of it is access to levers of "the liberal media," which is closely related to the first point. But, in the end it often comes down to rabid numbers of right wing ditto-heads who pick up the phone, write letters and e-mails to bring about a sense of pressure.

Now it's our turn with Clarence Thomas. We can contact our members of the US House of Representative for starters and call for impeachment hearings. We can also contact media outlets asking that they invest more in the back story on and current unfolding stories on Thomas.

For Your Convenience:a href="">gdaeman_scroll_small

Monday, February 14, 2011

Opinion Polls Spark Revolution

Somewhere I read that one of the triggers that sparked the Egyptian uprising was on-line opinion polls. I've not looked into it, but it stands to reason that if you start asking people about their greatest concerns about the current situation and hopes for democratic change, then you begin to plant the seeds for that change.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

What Does Egypt Mean for US Democracy?

People have been partaking in well deserved celebrating in Egypt. The relief and joy have brought tears to many... tears and smiles.

Yet I must confess a bit of foreboding, as in a great novel, which is what we are living. Some have begun putting it into words. I paraphrase, "Egypt could move forward and simply become a liberal democracy, like the United States, dominated by corporate institutions and beholden to moneyed masters with debt and other ropes tying the hands of the people. Paying for the financial sins of past dictators."

Part of this money can be clawed back from accounts in Switzerland and via the sale of ill gotten properties. But it's not just the accumulated wealth of Mubarak's family, but of many National Democratic Party operatives AND many former military officers.

Beyond that, what occurs to me is that it doesn't stop at Egypt, or stop at the other blatant authoritarian regimes in the middle east. And in the United States we have our own privileged class that has increasingly abused wealth and the power of corporations to corrupt our electoral and legislative system. The decision making process in the United States is rigged toward those with money and positions of power.

For the revolution in Egypt to be fully successful, we must root out the undemocratic corruption in the United States. Egypt has exposed the hypocrisy and undemocratic behavior by the United States over the years regardless of political party in power. This behavior reflects the wishes of a privileged establishment that must be challenged if we are to aspire to honest democracy.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

AP Removes Reference to "Establishment" from Musharraf Article

I recently emailed an AP article to myself on the subject of former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf being linked to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. I was particularly interested in the following reference describing a United Nations investigation of Bhutto's killing:

The U.N. officials were not tasked with finding out who the exact culprits behind the killing were. But they identified two main threats facing Bhutto — Islamist extremists like al-Qaida and the Taliban who opposed her links to the West and secular outlook, and members of the "Pakistani Establishment," the term used locally to refer to a powerful and shady network of military, intelligence, political and business leaders said to actually control the country.

When I went back to the article the reference was gone. Of course, Musharraf was part of that "establishment." Not to loose the main point of my interest, we in the United States have our own "establishment" that strongly influences both major political parties.

It's been a preoccupation of mine very recently; as Egypt was ousting Mubarak a gnawing thought kept surfacing. The ouster of Mubarak doesn't really matter unless they also challenge the broader establishment's hold on power.

Something else that was removed from the AP article was a reference to Baitullah Mehsud, the late leader of the Pakistani Taliban:

"A joint investigation team in its report to the court has found Musharraf guilty of being involved in the conspiracy and abetting to kill Benazir Bhutto," said Zulfikar Ali Chaudhry, the lead prosecutor.

He said the probe has evidence that Musharraf was "completely involved" through Baitullah Mehsud, the late leader of the Pakistani Taliban, and that prosecutors are seeking a murder trial. He did not elaborate.

Musharraf has always denied any role in Bhutto's death and scoffed at critics who said he did not do enough to protect her. Mehsud, who was killed in a U.S. missile strike in 2009, also denied targeting Bhutto.

It struck me as convenient that Mehsud is no longer around to testify.

I found the full original article saved elsewhere (February 12, 2011):

ISLAMABAD (AP) — A Pakistani court issued an arrest warrant Saturday for former President Pervez Musharraf in connection with the assassination of ex-premier Benazir Bhutto, while government investigators accused the retired general of involvement in the slaying.

Though he does not yet face any charges, the developments mark a major escalation of legal troubles for Musharraf, a one-time U.S. ally who went into self-exile in Britain in 2008 after being forced out of the presidency he secured in a 1999 military coup.

The accusations of a role in Bhutto's death were leveled by a government now run by Musharaff's rivals. They make it nearly impossible for him to fulfill pleges to return to Pakistan and lead a new political party.

Bhutto was killed Dec. 27, 2007, in a gun and suicide bomb attack after returning to Pakistan to campaign in elections Musharraf agreed to allow after months of domestic and international pressure. Musharraf blamed the Pakistani Taliban, an al-Qaida affiliated group, for the attack, but government prosecutors now allege he was part of the plot to kill the popular former premier.

"A joint investigation team in its report to the court has found Musharraf guilty of being involved in the conspiracy and abetting to kill Benazir Bhutto," said Zulfikar Ali Chaudhry, the lead prosecutor.

He said the probe has evidence that Musharraf was "completely involved" through Baitullah Mehsud, the late leader of the Pakistani Taliban, and that prosecutors are seeking a murder trial. He did not elaborate.

Musharraf has always denied any role in Bhutto's death and scoffed at critics who said he did not do enough to protect her. Mehsud, who was killed in a U.S. missile strike in 2009, also denied targeting Bhutto.

Musharraf's lawyer, Mohammad Ali Saif, said his client was innocent of any allegations but had no plans to contest them in court, where he's been ordered to appear on Feb. 19.

"This is just a drama. It is all politics," Saif told The Associated Press. He said Pakistani investigators never tried to reach Musharraf about the case, whose proceedings are closed to the public.

The new accusations and arrest warrant stem from a case against two security officials accused of being derelict in their duties to protect Bhutto. Musharraf has not been indicted, but the court is conducting preliminary hearings about the accusations against him, and he will have an opportunity to defend himself.

A U.N. investigation into the assassination said Musharraf's government didn't do enough to ensure Bhutto's security and criticized steps taken by investigators after her death, including hosing down the crime scene and failing to perform an autopsy.

The U.N. officials were not tasked with finding out who the exact culprits behind the killing were. But they identified two main threats facing Bhutto — Islamist extremists like al-Qaida and the Taliban who opposed her links to the West and secular outlook, and members of the "Pakistani Establishment," the term used locally to refer to a powerful and shady network of military, intelligence, political and business leaders said to actually control the country.

After her death, Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party rode a wave of public sympathy to garner the most seats in the February 2008 elections. Months later, the party forced Musharraf to quit the presidency by threatening impeachment. He later left for London, and has since spent a good deal of time on the lecture circuit, including in the United States.

Britain does not have an extradition treaty with Pakistan, but the British government can decide to extradite those accused of crimes on a case by case basis.

Federal Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan said if the court requests it, the government will contact Interpol about bringing Musharraf in.

The U.S. backed Musharraf for much of his military rule because he was, at least officially, an ally in the American-led war on global terrorism, and provided Washington assistance in pursuing militants who used Pakistan's soil as a hideout to prepare attacks in neighboring Afghanistan.

But many in Pakistan resented his alliance with the U.S., and his domestic missteps, including attempts to fire the chief justice of the Supreme Court, pummeled his popularity, leading to mass protests that ultimately forced Musharraf to bend and allow fresh elections.

The new Pakistani president and head of the ruling People's Party is Asif Ali Zardari, Bhutto's widower. He also supports the U.S. and has backed offensives against militants on Pakistani territory.

Also Saturday, a man detonated explosives as army troops prepared to storm his hideout in northwest Pakistan, killing himself and wounding at least three soldiers, a senior army official said.

The blast occurred outside the town of Bhat Khela in Khyber Pakhtunkwa province after troops acting on a tip from residents surrounded a militant hideout, Brig. Saeed Ullah said. Soldiers killed a second militant in the shootout that followed the explosion.

Ullah said security forces detained five men from the area on suspicion of sheltering the militants, who he said were planning a suicide attack in the Swat Valley. Bhat Khela is located about 30 miles (50 kilometers) west of Mingora, the main town in Swat.

The Pakistani army launched a major anti-Taliban offensive in 2009 in Swat, a one-time tourist haven largely overrun by militants beginning in 2007.

Though the monthslong offensive was hailed a success, militant activity is still reported in the picturesque region and concerns are growing that the insurgents could rise again.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Egypt: Ghonim and Said

Friends of mine, even politically aware friends, ask what's up with the Egyptian "revolution"? Why are they revolting? Most of my friends aren't aware of what is meant by "brutal dictatorship". Khaled Said is the unfortunate classic example.

Khalid Said

On June 18, 2010, the Christian Science Monitor (CSM) reported that:

Egyptian businessman Khalid Said died during what witnesses say was a brutal public beating by police officers on June 6 in Alexandria, [Egypt].

He was described as "an affable, middle-class man." The CSM reported that:

The government’s first official autopsy report claimed that Said died from asphyxiation after swallowing a plastic bag of narcotics when he was approached by police. Said’s family and witnesses at the Internet cafe where police apprehended him tell a different story, saying police began the abuse in the cafe, then dragged him outside, where they beat him to death.

Said was reportedly targeted because he intended to make public a video that allegedly shows police officers dividing the spoils of a drug bust. Graphic pictures of the injuries that killed Said, coupled with the public nature of his beating death ... have propelled his tragic case to prominence, largely through posts on social-networking sites and blogs.

The following photo of Said, prominently displayed on a Facebook site, drives home the word "brutal."

Another Facebook website entitled "We are all Khalid Said" is credited with promoting the uprisings widely said to have begun January 25, 2010. Until recently, the initiator of "We are all Khalid Said" website was unknown.

What was known, however, was that Wael Ghonim was snatched from the streets of Egypt by plain-clothed police. He was widely described on Tweets in late January as a "Google Executive"People of Egypt feared the worst as the days passed with no word on the fate of @Ghonim, as he was known on Twitter. Video of Ghonim being snatched chilled people who understood what the word "brutal" means in the phrase "brutal dictatorship".[1]

Arrest widely said to be Google Exec Wael Ghonim

Then, on February 7, 2012, Wael Ghonim was released. Egyptian blogger @Sandmonkey and @ SultanAlQassemi tweeted the some of the first translations of an interview with Wael Ghonim with Dream TV. Some of Ghonim's statements, roughly translated & tweeted by SultanAlQassemi follow (not originally tweeted in this order):

I was taking a taxi, suddenly four people surrounded the car, I yelled "Help me, Help me" I was blindfolded then taken away. [Doesn't fit with video above, but see link to video with English subscripts below]

They wanted details, information. "Are the people who planned this outsiders?" We didn't do anything wrong, this was an appeal

The interrogators wanted to know if outsiders were involved. I convinced them this was a purely Egyptian movement.

The treatment was very good, they knew I was a good Egyptian. I was blindfolded for 12 days, I didn't see their faces.

I kept thinking "are people thinking of me?" I was wondering if my family knew where I was, my wife, dad, mother.

I can't claim I know what happened when I was inside. I didn't know anything until one day before I left.

I met with the Minister of Interior today. He was sat like any other citizen. He spoke to me like an equal. I respected that

I told the Interior Minister if I stripped naked & told people that I was beaten even without marks they would believe me.

I told the Interior Minister we have two problems 1- we don't talk to each other, this must be solved, 2- There is no trust

There were several men in the room with me & the Minister of Interior. I asked him if I can speak about this he said as u wish

The youth on the streets made Dr Hossam Badrawi (General Secretary of NDP [Mubarak's political party]) drive me to my house today

I am not a hero. I was only used the keyboard, the real heroes are the ones on the ground. Those I can't name.

I spent all my time on computer working for my country. I wasn't optimistic on the 25th but now I can't believe it

The DreamTV interview with Wael Ghonim, with subtitles, the day he was released.

[1] The film repeats, the second time in slow motion. Notice a point in the film in which three police are walking @Ghonim away when fourth police comes in from the right of the screen and lifts off one of his feet as he violently grabs @Ghonim's by the hair, yanking his head down.


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Egypt and Twitter

I've been closely following the Egyptian revolution... mostly via Twitter.

The near-real-time information out of Egypt was almost addictive. Then there is the ability to effectively chat with people in the midst of the revolution. I've had exchanges with a hand full of people in Egypt, asking questions, sending good will, and even a get well for someone fighting the flu in the midst of it all.

Will keep this short.

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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Two Years of Bush Officials Looking Over their Shoulders

Before I get started I have to say that Obama's choice of Daley for his Chief of Staff is it. $#^!& Obama. He just shot himself in the foot.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming....

Remember two years ago, when Obama was coming into office, we wondered if the new administration would hold Bush administration officials accountable for their crimes? Crimes like illegal wiretapping and surveillance, placing Republican Party operatives into US attorney positions in line for future federal judge positions, various instances of obstructing justice and misleading Congress, like intentionally under estimating the cost of the prescription drug law? Oh yea, starting a war of aggression on false pretext, again misleading Congress, renditions, torture. The only one we ever hear about these days is torture as if all the other supposedly 269 broken laws are just too petty to deal with.

All of the above citations are from the Jan/Feb 2009 issue of Mother Jones. Karen Greenberg wrote an article called "The People vs. Dick Cheney," that raised the question and the options for "bringing the Bushies to account."

Just to look back a little, here are the ways Greenberg identified Bush could be brought to account:

  • A Rouge District Attorney: Based on a legal strategy by the famous prosecutor, Vincent Bugliosi, any county of the approximately 2,700 district attorneys, at any time in the future (multiply 2,700 by 10 as different individuals are cycled thru over the coming years) could prosecute Bush for the deaths of soldiers in the DA's county that died in Iraq.
  • Ticked-off Lawyers: Bush administration lawyers, John Yoo, David Addington, Alberto Gonzolez, Jay Bybee brought shame to the profession. Many in the legal community would like to re-establish the credibility of the profession. If they can't make criminal charges stick, they can seek to have Bush lawyers de-barred, and in the case of Jay Bybee, impeached from the federal judgeship he currently holds.
  • The United Nations: Secretary General Kofi Annan said, explicitly, the Iraq war was illegal. The UN could find crimes were committed, as it did in the case of US dirty war against Nicaragua (mining its harbors); however, enforcement of the findings lies with the UN Security Council. Still, it's a way of bringing out the facts.
  • International Criminal Court: Another long shot, but it is a potential forum.
  • The Garzon Factor: Spanish judge Baltizar Garzon went after Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, having him arrested in Britain. The same could occur some day to various Bush officials. We saw the gears of that process start turning on CIA agents involved in renditions and Guantanamo torture, only to be stopped under intense political pressure according to recently leaked State Department cables.

Many of these avenues don't require Obama to do anything except stay out of the way. A gutsy local DA, a determined foreign judge could start a legal process. Each simple, incremental step would stand on its own merits, leading to its own logical conclusion, taking on a life of its own. Bush officials know this, which is why they've hired lawyers, bought legal insurance, etcetera. They will live the rest of their lives looking over their shoulders.