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Government & Politics

Attacking Social Security

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  • Social Security’s attackers claim that they’re concerned about the program’s financial future. But their math doesn’t add up, and their hostility isn’t really about dollars and cents. Instead, it’s about ideology and posturing. And underneath it all is ignorance of or indifference to the realities of life for many Americans.
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  • Defense spending far outpaces spending on Social Security
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  • DC Politicians Beware: If You Mess with Social Security, You're Toast
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Paul Krugman, New York Times | NY

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Bob Heberle

Social Security turned 75 last week (Aug 8-14). It should have been a joyous occasion, a time to celebrate a program that has brought dignity and decency to the lives of older Americans.

But the program is under attack, with some Democrats as well as nearly all Republicans joining the assault. Rumor has it that President Obama’s deficit commission may call for deep benefit cuts, in particular a sharp rise in the retirement age.

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DC Politicians Beware: Voters Want the Employment Crisis Fixed -- If You Mess with Social Security or Deficits, You're Toast, Joshua Holland, AlterNet
A new survey finds a huge majority of Americans are in agreement about our biggest problem. Obama and the Dems better listen up.

The Best Oligarchy Money can Buy

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  • Revolving Door between Government and the Private Sector Reaches Appalling Highs
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  • “Three of every four gas and oil lobbyists [have] worked for the federal government.” --Washington Post
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Anthony Dimaggio, ZComm, in Axis of Logic

The symbiotic connection between government and business is reaching alarming levels in light of recent evidence, indicating that government officials and business executives are increasingly one and the same.  Consider the evidence that’s recently come to light.   

A recent study by the Washington Post finds that “three of every four gas and oil lobbyists [have] worked for the federal government”.

Among those currently lobbying for energy companies who have worked in government include 18 former members of Congress and dozens of former presidential appointees. Two of these former officials were directors of the Minerals and Management Service, a disturbing revelation considering that the agency has received strong criticism for granting 198 leases for oil wells following the April 30th Deepwater explosion in the Gulf, with BP the winner of 13 of those bids.  For those unfamiliar with the MMS, it gained infamy in late 2008 when it was reported by the New York Times that its employees were trading lucrative offshore drilling contracts for cocaine sex parties, funded by the oil industry (More on that story).

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These kinds of stories are usually the stuff of mystery and action thriller novels, but in the case of MMS-incest, the development simply looks like a failure of an agency to regulate private interests.   

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Summary: Barack Obama, Change We Can Believe In: Week of August 22

4 New Items including:

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  • Big Brother: Obama Demands Access to Internet Records, in Secret, and Without Court Review
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  • Other Countries Probing Bush-era Torture — Why Aren't We?
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David Culver, ed., Evergreene Digest

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Lisa Benson

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Big Brother: Obama Demands Access to Internet Records, in Secret, and Without Court Review, Tom Burghardt, Global Research

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  • Internet users do not give up their privacy rights when they log on, and the FBI should not have the power to secretly demand that ISPs turn over constitutionally protected information about their users without a court order.
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  • ACLU Report: Obama Continuing Bush-Era Torture Policies
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Obama's Hollow Victory, Joshua Green, The Atlantic

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  • An aid package to the states to prevent layoffs was funded by cutting the federal food stamp program. That's nothing to brag about.
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  • Robbing Peter to Pay Paul
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Other Countries Probing Bush-era Torture — Why Aren't We? Shashank Bengali, the McClatchy Newspapers, in Common Dreams
"That's part of why we're so concerned. The Obama administration, rather than investigate the abuses of the last eight years, has increasingly become an obstacle to accountability."

The 'Principled Left' Obama Needs, Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Nation

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  • In the last 18 months, the left has learned the hard way that it needs to be more independent of the White House to realize the change we’re seeking.
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  • The left has lost its nerve and its direction
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  • Hope Is Dead. Long Live The New American Independence Movement.
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The 'Principled Left' Obama Needs

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In the last 18 months, the left has learned the hard way that it needs to be more independent of the White House to realize the change we’re seeking.
The left has lost its nerve and its direction
Hope Is Dead. Long Live The New American Independence Movement.

Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Nation

When Barack Obama embarked on what most political insiders saw as an audacious campaign for the presidency, the question was whether a newly-elected senator from Illinois could entice Democrats to consider a contender other than a former first lady who proposed to be the first woman president and a former nominee for vice president who was saying important things about the growing economic divide in America. What ultimately won him the Democratic nomination in 2008 was a decision by the principled left—professional and amateur—that the one leading candidate who had expressed blunt opposition to the war in Iraq before it began had shown better judgment than Hillary Clinton or John Edwards.

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So it was that an exercise in political purism by the broad left put Obama on the path to the presidency. Now that Obama is president, however, his press secretary derides the "professional left" for being too pure in its demands on the White House. In point of fact, Robert Gibbs is wrong; at the most critical point in President Obama's tenure so far—when Congress was deciding how to vote on a health-care bill that Republicans predicted would be his "Waterloo"—the most left-wing members of Congress and their allies (professional and amateur) across America rallied to support a measure that was deeply disappointing to many of them.

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The left has lost its nerve and its direction, Chris Hedges, Philadelphia Inquirer
If the left wants to regain influence in the nation's political life, it must be willing to walk away from the Democratic Party, even if Barack Obama is the (president), and back progressive, third-party (officials) until the Democrats feel enough heat to adopt our agenda. We must be willing to say no. If not, we become slaves.

Hope Is Dead. Long Live The New American Independence Movement. The Pen
We are calling for all citizens of the United to declare that under no circumstance will they vote for any candidate associated with either the Democratic or Republican parties, and that we instead dedicate our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor, to electing worthy independents who can demonstrate a lifetime of public policy advocacy on behalf of the people, true citizen legislators.

Where Was The “Professional Left” A Year Ago?

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  • The under-reported scandal here is not that the White House tried to control and muzzle the professional left. The scandal is that the left, for the most part, complied.
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  • As Gibbs Attacks Progressive Critics, ACLU Says Obama White House Enshrining Bush-Era Policies
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Sally Kohn, Common Dreams

On May 12, 2009, I attended a briefing at the White House as part of a group of grassroots activists and community artists. Mike Strautmanis, Chief of Staff for the Office of Public Liaison and top White House advisor Valerie Jarrett, made some remarks about how community activists have a seat at the table as the Obama Administration sets the agenda for change. I raised my hand. Sometimes, I said, the role of advocates isn't to be inside at the table, but entirely outside the room, "creating the political space needed for change".

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Strautmanis bristled visibly. He criticized the "professional left" (he didn't use this exact phrase, but it's what he meant) for approaching the Obama Administration with an "outdated mindset", holding protest signs outside the fence instead of realizing what it means to be "inside the fence". At the same time, he not-so-subtly warned that those who criticized the Administration, instead of cooperating, would find themselves back on the outside.

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Related:
As Gibbs Attacks Progressive Critics, ACLU Says Obama White House Enshrining Bush-Era Policies, Amy Goodman, Democracy Now<http://www.democracynow.org>
It’s disappointing that the administration uses this kind of language to respond to thoughtful and considered criticism. I think it debases political discourse in this country. And part of the Press Secretary’s job is to make sure that political discourse is civil and informed.
ACLU Report: Obama Continuing Bush-Era Torture Policies
http://evergreenedigest.org/content/gibbs-attacks-progressive-critics-ac...

Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party by Max Blumenthal

Connecting the Dots of the GOP - Grand Old Psychopathology
The lesson for the U.S. and for the world can be summed up in one word: Beware.

Stephen Juan, Journal of Psychohistory

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Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Gary Kohls

It is rare for a journalist to draw upon psychology to analyze contemporary politics. It should be done more often as the pages of this Journal have argued for the combining of the study of psychology with the study of history over the last nearly four decades. How refreshing whenever a journalist contributes a book that is important reading for psychohistorians. Such a book is Republican Gomorrah by Max Blumenthal.

The book is very strong in describing the psychopathology that permeates so many of today's prominent personalities in the Republican Party leading to their poisonous policies and practices. Indeed, Blumenthal argues that psychopathology has captured the G. O. P. The many case studies of toxic personalities presented, each revealing a more twisted individual than the one before, will utterly engage the psychohistorian interested in contemporary U.S. politics. Blumenthal interviewed hundreds of people to write this book. Many were deep within the body of the G. O.P. beast. And many such individuals turn out to be beasts themselves. We see portrait after portrait of damaged individuals obsessed with opposing abortion, homosexuality, same-sex marriage, evolution, and the other components of the right-wing Christian fundamentalist agenda. The case of G. O. P. luminary Larry Craig, who fought all gay rights reforms yet is homosexual himself, is ironic in the extreme and memorable for the hypocrisy it reveals. The reality of the present G. O. P. is positively chilling with its ideology in the wake of 9/11 that one is either "with us or against us" in this self-righteous, extremist, White-supremacist, neo-fascist, imperialistic, anti-intellectual crusade for U.S. hegemony around the world and "family values" at home (based upon adherence to a literal translation of the Old Testament while ignoring more empathetic notions of the New). Considered together, Blumenthal's many cases compel the reader to conclude that the G. O. R is led by an extremely destructive and dangerous group of individuals who draw their ideology from an extremely destructive and dangerous group of ideologues, and who are willing to carry out extremely destructive and dangerous policies if given half a chance. Oozing psychopathology from every pore, these out-of-control and power-hungry "whack jobs" (a la Sarah Palin) are laying the tracks for a catastrophic train wreck. The lesson for the U.S. and for the world can be summed up in one word: Beware.

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As Gibbs Attacks Progressive Critics, ACLU Says Obama White House Enshrining Bush-Era Policies

It’s disappointing that the administration uses this kind of language to respond to thoughtful and considered criticism. I think it debases political discourse in this country. And part of the Press Secretary’s job is to make sure that political discourse is civil and informed.
ACLU Report: Obama Continuing Bush-Era Torture Policies

Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!

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As White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs attacks progressives for comparing President Obama’s polices to George W. Bush’s, we look at a new ACLU report on how the Obama administration is permanently enshrining into law many of President Bush’s most controversial policies.

The report, "Establishing a New Normal," warns: "There is a very real danger that the Obama administration will enshrine permanently within the law policies and practices that were widely considered extreme and unlawful during the Bush administration."

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Related:

ACLU Report: Obama Continuing Bush-Era Torture Policies, Deborah Weinstein,  TruthOut.org<www.truthout.org>, in AlterNet<www.alternet.org>
Fear of an unchecked, unaccountable government permeates the report, particularly in the section about targeted killings.
On torture, U.S. must clean house
http://evergreenedigest.org/content/aclu-report-obama-continuing-bush-er...

Summary: Barack Obama, Change We Can Believe In: Week of August 15

2 New Items including:

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  • ACLU Report: Obama Continuing Bush-Era Torture Policies
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  • The 'Professional Right' Goes Unchallenged by 'Amateur Left' in the White House
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David Culver, ed., Evergreene Digest

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Adam Zyglis

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ACLU Report: Obama Continuing Bush-Era Torture Policies, Deborah Weinstein,  TruthOut.org, in AlterNet

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  • Fear of an unchecked, unaccountable government permeates the report, particularly in the section about targeted killings.
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  • On torture, U.S. must clean house
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The 'Professional Right' Goes Unchallenged by 'Amateur Left' in the White House, Keith Olbermann Special Comment, Countdown, MSNBC, in Common Dreams

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