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EditorBlog (1504)


 aaaaapentbudg45(Photo: Ralff Somoff)

The National Priorities Project, an organization that analyzes the US budget, projects that "in fiscal year 2015, military spending is projected to account for 54 percent ofall federal discretionary spending, a total of $598.5 billion."

That does not include funding for the National Intelligence Programs - including the Central Intelligence Agency - which will separately receive $45.6 billion dollars in congressional discretionary funding in 2015, according to the Federation of American Scientists.

In addition, no one can accurately track all the military and intelligence discretionary spending buried in other line item allocations. This is because many projects related to military spending are intentionally concealed in unlikely funding areas.

That money is disproportionately going into the bank accounts of private defense contractors.


aaaajebsirJeb Bush continues the family tradition of backing policies that would compel workers to labor longer hours to make the wealthy richer. (Image: DonkeyHotey)

Indicating that he is completely cocooned in a 1% bubble - or that he simply has a self-serving and reckless disregard for the facts - GOP presidential aspirant Jeb Bush recently asserted that "people need to work longer hours to create a stronger US economy.

Statistical data indicates that as wealth has increasingly been consolidated upwards to a minute percentage of the US population, worker productivity has increased, as wages have remained stagnant. The impact of this phenomenon is that the rich profit from decades of rising productivity, with workers, on average, receiving no increased compensation.

As ABC News reported in its coverage of the Jeb Bush "longer hours" statement:

A 2014 Gallup poll found that already many Americans employed full-time report working, on average, 47 hours a week, while nearly 4 in 10 say they work at least 50 hours a week.

US workers toil more hours than workers in any other large, industrialized country, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

A couple of days ago, The New York Times published a telling chart (which you can view by clicking here and scrolling down) entitled, "The Growing Gap Between Productivity and Pay."


aaaaahistorydisneyThe US cannot long endure Disneyesque fantasizers who want to return to dangerous illusions about the nation's history. (Photo: Orange County Archives)

So what politicians and pundits who champion a return to the past - as if the US experienced some golden age of democracy and fairness - are really advocating is the entrenchment of a society ruled by white property owners and corporations.

Politicians who would lead us back to an illusionary historical model for the future are eroding the promise of democracy. They are trying to govern as if the US were the Magic Kingdom - but no wand of manufactured nostalgia will actually transform the moral infrastructure of this nation.

If we are to begin that process of transformation, we must first of all acknowledge the reality of our history.


aaaavotersuppressionUniversal suffrage in the US is still under vigorous attack. (Photo: Michael Fleshman)

A federal lawsuit is currently challenging a wave of voter restriction laws in North Carolina, according to a recent article on Facing South:

Arguments begin this week in federal court in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in N.C. NAACP v. McCrory, a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the most restrictive voting law in the nation. Outside the courthouse, voting rights advocates will gather for prayer, teach-ins and a mass march. They compare what's happening today to a watershed moment in the 20th century fight for voting rights.

"This is our Selma," said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, N.C. NAACP president. "The people of North Carolina are standing up — in the courts and the streets — because we refuse to accept the revival of Jim Crow tactics used to block access to the ballot for African-American and Latino voters."

Facing South reports that a Supreme Court ruling unleashed the latest round of disenfranchisement efforts against people of color:

Two years ago in June, the U.S. Supreme Court in the Alabama case Shelby County v. Holder struck down a key section of the Voting Rights Act, effectively lifting federal pre-clearance requirements for voting law changes in jurisdictions with a history of voter discrimination, most of them in the South. In the year following that ruling, at least 10 of the 15 states that had been covered in whole or part by pre-clearance requirements introduced legislation making it harder for voters to cast ballots.

Unfortunately, the clarion call for restrictive voting laws - based on patently false claims of "massive voter fraud" - is not confined to the South. For instance, just-announced GOP presidential hopeful Gov. Scott Walker has led the drive for restrictive voting laws in Wisconsin. Indeed, the voting limitations implemented by Republican legislatures in a number of states had their origins in the South.


aaaaanologo35More than a decade ago, Naomi Klein documented the global commodification of life by corporate branding. (Photo: ivana)

A July 9 article in The Washington Post details how many of contemporary rock, pop and rap music stars have sold their images and music to corporate branding:

Things you might see this summer: Taylor Swift sipping from a bottle of Diet Coke. Kendrick Lamar slipping into a pair of Reeboks. Some Drake lyrics slapped onto a can of Sprite.... Drake has made it his job to sell more Drake — through rapping, through singing, through Nike, through Sprite.

But just as modern pop stars are expected to serve as captains of the consumable world, listeners need to remain savvy enough to locate music’s humanity in this convoluted entrepreneurial maze. And that becomes trickier as the ethics of selling out grow more complex.

It could be considered romanticizing that rock and roll, as well as popular folk music, represented a non-corporate blending of music and message. However, it should be recalled that rock and roll began as a genre that was in and of itself a threat to the status quo, sometimes in lyrics but also - in its early days - in its challenge to the puritanical mores of the US that marked the '50s.

It's crucial to note that the genre was originally rejected by many in the ruling social order because rock and roll had its roots in Black musical traditions and vocal artists such as Chuck Berry. In short, primarily because of racism, rock and roll was, at first, considered "dangerous."


aaaaaglasssThe repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act unleashed the big banks to go on a gambling spree. (Photo: theglobalmovement)

The odd couple of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) and Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) have teamed up to reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act, a piece of legislation that would essentially split commercial banks from investment banking institutions. A July 7 article in The Hill provides some background:

Glass-Steagall was first passed in 1933 but repealed during the Clinton administration, leading many progressives to argue that it contributed to the 2008 financial collapse.

Warren and McCain, along with their cosponsors, Sens. Angus King (I-Maine) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), said in a statement that the legislation would make big banks that are "too big to fail" smaller and safer and minimize the likelihood of a government bailout.

The bill, which they first introduced in the last Congress, would separate traditional banking with checking and savings accounts from financial institutions that offer services such as investment banking, which are riskier.

The repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in Bill Clinton's second term has become symbolic of the sharp neoliberal economic turn that made DC Republicans and Democrats fairly indistinguishable on the financial front, with both parties trumpeting laissez faire policies in relation to Wall Street. By the beginning of the new century, both parties supported the practice of unleashing Wall Street to engage in rash risk-taking, with very little accountability.


aaaaawallstgreed45Santa Cruz County, California, won't do business with Wall Street banks engaging in illegal practices.

Santa Cruz County, California, recently figured out a way to hold big banks who engage in illegal and destructive behavior accountable: Don't do business with them.

According to AllGov California, the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors,

acting on a request from Supervisor Ryan Coonerty, voted to “not do new business for a period of five years with Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS as specified, and further direct that the County unwind existing relationships with these five banks to the greatest extent feasible.”

That means the county won’t buy the banks’ commercial paper or investment services, and will withdraw whatever funds it can from them.

Coonerty, and others, are not happy with the way big banks savaged the global economy and paid a pittance for their misdeeds.

As BuzzFlash documented yesterday, the Department of Justice under Eric Holder chose to only go through the motions of appearing to punish egregiously errant "banks too big to fail" without legally mandating structural or executive changes.


aaaarevolvingdoorThe revolving door: The list of financial giants that Holder's Department of Justice - and his Covington & Burling bench team – have treated with kid gloves is exhausting. (Photo: Nick Amoscato)

Eric Holder just rejoined the gilded DC law firm of Covington & Burling, after a few week's of hiatus between his stint as attorney general and his new job, in which he'll cash in on the status gained through his former position.

Covington & Burling - an elite law office that specializes in white-collar defense of banks and corporations – maintained a chokehold on the Department of Justice during Holder's tenure as attorney general. Indeed, when Holder became attorney general, he appointed Covington & Burling law partners to head both the civil and criminal divisions of the Justice Department. When the head of the criminal division, Lanny Breuer, stepped down and returned in early 2013 to Covington & Burling with a salary exceeding $4 million a year, he was replaced by Mythili Raman. Raman, in turn, stepped down from overseeing the DOJ criminal division in 2014 to become a partner at, yes, Covington & Burling. 


aaaabnewsomeconfBree Newsome boldly seized the Confederate flag, taking direct action for freedom. (Image: Reposted with permission of the artist, Rebecca Cohen)

Subsequent to Newsome's arrest when she reached the bottom of the Confederate soldier memorial flagpole on South Carolina capitol state grounds, she released a statement to Blue Nation Review. In part, she wrote:

I realized that now is the time for true courage the morning after the Charleston Massacre shook me to the core of my being. I couldn’t sleep. I sat awake in the dead of night. All the ghosts of the past seemed to be rising....

This was real.

This was—this is—still happening....

It is important to remember that our struggle doesn’t end when the flag comes down. The Confederacy is a southern thing, but white supremacy is not. Our generation has taken up the banner to fight battles many thought were won long ago. We must fight with all vigor now so that our grandchildren aren’t still fighting these battles in another 50 years. Black Lives Matter. This is non-negotiable.

It is understandable why the July 4th ritual of filling the dark skies with glittering light, exploding sounds and whistles is so exciting to so many. However, watching fireworks is not enough to advance freedom in a nation that is madly in love with so many myths about liberty, instead of actively advancing it.

Thank you, Bree Newsome, for reminding us of that.


aaaaairaqwar55Early 2003 vigil in Washington DC against the Iraq War. (Photo: Elvert Barnes)

One of the most recent destructive legacies of the Bush administration's war with Iraq - launched on the foundation of choreographed lies - is the creation of ISIS. Add to that the implosion of Iraq in sectarian violence, the deaths and displacements of millions of people, and countless more negative consequences of the US invasion.

This autumn, two of the war's key proponents - Paul Wolfowitz and Scooter Libby - will teach a one-week course called "The War in Iraq: A Study in Decision-Making" in late October at the Hertog Foundation in Washington, DC.

According to The Hill, it doesn't seem like Wolfowitz, for one, is about to engage in any mea culpas:

In August [of 2014], Wolfowitz told The Hill the U.S. had 'won' the Iraq War in 2009.

He also said the Obama administration did not try hard enough to secure an agreement with Iraq to leave U.S. forces there after 2011.

It is likely that, in the course, Wolfowitz and Libby will adopt the Dick Cheney posture of blaming the bloody disintegration of Iraq and emergence of ISIS on President Obama for not continuing a large-scale military occupation of the country. 

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