Henry A. Giroux writes for Truthout: "If we listen to the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and an increasing number of their ilk, free-market fundamentalism is not only sexy, it is an argument against the very notion of politics itself and the power of the government to intervene and protect its citizens from the ravages of nature, corrupt institutions and an unregulated market. In this discourse, largely buttressed through an appeal to fear and the use of outright lies, free-market capitalism assumes an almost biblical status as an argument against the power of government to protect its citizens from misfortune and the random blows of fate by providing the most basic rights and levels of collective security and protection."
Obama, One Year On
Katrina Vanden Heuvel writes for The Nation: "Barack Obama was elected president at a time defined by hope and fear in equal measure. It was a remarkable moment in our country's history--a milestone in America's scarred racial landscape and a victory for the forces of decency, diversity and tolerance. For the first time in decades, electoral politics became a vehicle for raising expectations and spreading hope while it mobilized millions of new voters. Obama's was a campaign built on the power and promise of change from below. At the same time, he was elected as the nation was rapidly sinking into the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression."
Obama One Year Later: The Audacity of Winning vs. The Timidity of Governing
I had arranged to meet David Plouffe on Saturday afternoon at a Starbucks on Wisconsin Avenue in Washington. The night before, a copy of his new book, The Audacity to Win: The Inside Story and Lessons of Barack Obama's Historic Victory, was waiting for me when I checked into my hotel at midnight. I flipped it open, read a few lines and was hooked. I spent the rest of the night reading it. Plouffe has written the most important political book of the year (for reasons I'll get to in a moment). It's also completely gripping. It reads like a thriller. Even though you know how it ends, you quickly get caught up in every twist and turn of perhaps the most remarkable campaign in American history.
Too Big to Fail?:Why All the President's Afghan Options Are Bad Ones
Tom Engelhardt writes for TomDispatch.com: "In the worst of times, my father always used to say, "A good gambler cuts his losses." It's a formulation imprinted on my brain forever. That no-nonsense piece of advice still seems reasonable to me, but it doesn't apply to American war policy. Our leaders evidently never saw a war to which the word "more" didn't apply. Hence the Afghan War, where impending disaster is just an invitation to fuel the flames of an already roaring fire."
Recommended Audio: Turthdig podcast - Scott Ritter on Afghanistan: Don't Believe the Hype
Is the war in Afghanistan worth the sacrifice of even one American life? Former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter says, “No! ... We are allowing the battle in Afghanistan to be defined by a domestic American political imperative. There is no urgency in Afghanistan, there is urgency in Washington, D.C.”
Unlearning the CIA
Christopher Ketchman writes for CounterPunch: "When I first met ex-CIA officer Bob Baer in Washington DC, I thought, The guy looks nothing like George Clooney. But Clooney, who won an Academy Award playing Baer in the film Syriana, had in fact captured something about the posture, the pathos, the weariness of a CIA man who spends too many years getting filthy in the field – in the peculiar mire of the Middle East, no less – risking his life and being ignored for it. Clooney in the film cycles among the suits at Langley, the cubicled bureaucracy, looking somewhat like the only sane man in a mental ward."
Claim: CIA Sent Prisoners Abroad to Be Boiled Alive and 'Raped with Broken Bottles'
Daniel Tencer writes for the Raw Story (via ALterNet.org): "The CIA relied on intelligence based on torture in prisons in Uzbekistan, a place where widespread torture practices include raping suspects with broken bottles and boiling them alive, says a former British ambassador to the central Asian country. Craig Murray, the rector of the University of Dundee in Scotland and until 2004 the UK's ambassador to Uzbekistan, said the CIA not only relied on confessions gleaned through extreme torture, it sent terror war suspects to Uzbekistan as part of its extraordinary rendition program."
Italian Court Finds CIA Agents Guilty of Kidnapping Terrorism Suspect
John Hooper reports for The Guardian (UK): "Twenty-three Americans were tonight convicted of kidnapping by an Italian court at the end of the first trial anywhere in the world involving the CIA's "extraordinary rendition" programme for abducting terrorist suspects. The former head of the CIA in Milan Robert Lady was given an eight-year jail sentence for his part in the seizure of Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, known as Abu Omar, who claimed that he was subsequently tortured in Egypt. Lady's superior, Jeff Castelli, the then head of the CIA in Italy, and two other Americans were acquitted on the grounds that they enjoyed diplomatic immunity."
Bank Failure Friday Fells Another ‘Healthy Bank’ Bailout Recipient
Jake Bernsteing reports for ProPublica: "San Francisco-based United Commercial Bank has become the first recipient of TARP bailout money to be shut down by the FDIC. Last year, regulators approved a $299 million taxpayer funded injection into the bank. That money, which was supposed to go to only “healthy banks,” is now gone. The FDIC estimates United Commercial’s failure will cost the agency’s deposit fund about $1.4 billion. Our resident TARPologist, Paul Kiel, reported a few weeks ago that United Commercial Bank and three other supposedly “healthy banks” were in deep trouble. On November 1, CIT, another of the four, filed for bankruptcy protection. The collapse taxpayers lost $2.33 billion in TARP money invested in CIT."
Shifting the Burden From Main Street to Wall Street: Why We Need a "Tobin Tax"
Ellen Hodgson Brown comments for Truthout: "Wall Street bankers have been called today's 'welfare queens,' feeding at the public trough to the tune of trillions of dollars. They are taking from the taxpayers and not giving back. These banks were rescued so they could make loans, take deposits and keep our money safe. But while that is what banks used to do, today the big Wall Street money comes from short-term speculation in currency transactions, commodities, stocks and derivatives for the banks' own accounts."
We Are What We Trade and How We Trade It
David Sirota writes for Truthdig.com: "Trade and globalization: When not referencing blockbuster sports transactions or raucous street protests, debates over these abstract terms can give Ambien and Jack Daniels a run for their money as a cure for insomnia. Of course, that’s the problem—the rules governing what we buy and sell are now playing such a decisive role in almost every major policy that we’re falling asleep at our peril."
‘Brutal Milestone’ for Unemployment
Christopher Flavelle reports for ProPublica: "The big news: Unemployment hit 10.2 percent in October. The New York Times’ Paul Krugman called the 10 percent mark a 'brutal milestone,' and the news prompted more criticism of the stimulus. The AFP reports that President Obama will give a speech this afternoon to address the latest jobless numbers. Meanwhile, questions keep coming about the jobs 'saved' by the stimulus. The Sacramento Bee concludes that of the 110,000 jobs reportedly saved by stimulus money in California, as many as one-quarter 'probably were never in danger.' California State University officials first reported saving 26,156 jobs with the $268.5 million in stimulus dollars received by the university system—then backtracked. The money quote comes from CSU spokeswoman Clara Potes-Fellow, who told the Bee, 'This is not really a real number of people … It’s like a budget number.'"
House Passes Health Care Reform Bill
Alex Koppleman writes for Salon.com: "The House of Representatives took a historic step on Saturday night, passing the Democrats' healthcare reform bill and bringing supporters closer to passing the first major overhaul of the U.S. health in almost half a decade. As the time allotted for the vote expired, cheers and applause broke out on the floor of the House. In order to pass the bill, Democrats needed a majority, or 218 votes. They got 220 -- 219 Democrats, and a single Republican, Louisiana Rep. Joseph Cao. Voting against were 39 Democrats and 176 Republicans.
How Does a Religious Cult Have the Clout to Delay Health Care Vote?
Adele Stan writes for AlterNet: "Just when it seemed the stars were aligning for an historic vote tomorrow on health-care reform legislation in the House of Representatives, anti-choice Democrats are balking, saying that the plan would permit the indirect flow of federal dollars to fund abortion. Led by Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., a member of the Capitol Hill religious cult known as The Family, and spurred on by the Catholic bishops, anti-abortion Dems are contesting the fact that some small number of private insurance plans offered via the bill's insurance exchange scheme may offer coverage for abortion -- even therapeutic abortion. Where the federal dollars come in is via the subsidies for which lower-income people would be eligible for buying insurance through the exchange."
Global Privatization of Education Policy
George Thompson writes for The Daily Censored: "The recent conflict of interest case of Lorna Earl in Ontario is merely the symptom of a growing trend in Canada and the rest of the world: the privatization of educational policy itself. Earl’s complete bafflement as to why her case was sent to the conflict of interest commissioner in Ontario is itself a strong indication of the extent to which working as both a key influencer of policies and running a consultancy which stands to benefit from such policies has come to be seen as normal. Taking a closer look at a few of only the most visible conflicts of interest in Ontario will provide an opportunity to learn how the privatization of policy is taking place there and elsewhere."
The Inflated Promise of Natural Gas
Stan Cox writes for CounterPunch: "Holding out the prospect of vast new domestic reserves, the natural gas industry is promising to make the United States an energy-rich nation once again. But we should be careful what we wish for. Spending those riches could endanger water supplies for millions of Americans while still failing to solve the climate crisis. Electric utilities have expanded their use of gas because gas-fired plants can be 'turned up' to meet high peak power demand more quickly than can coal-fired plants. Natural gas is also more climate-friendly than coal and less menacing than nuclear energy."
Gays, Lesbians Elected in Record Numbers on Tuesday
Gaypolitics.com writes: "Openly gay and lesbian candidates swept to victory in local and state races across the country last night, according to results released today by the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund. The group, which endorses openly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) candidates, endorsed a slate of 79 contenders for 2009 races, a new record for a non-federal election year. Of those, 49 won their races outright and six are still unfinished. Thirteen additional openly gay candidates also won Tuesday."
Christopher Lisotta writes for The Nation: "Before November 2008, Tanner Efinger was just another 24-year-old working at a bar in the city of West Hollywood, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) center of Los Angeles. "I was really not a political person, even a little bit," he says. 'I didn't even know who Nancy Pelosi was and didn't really understand what a senator was.'"
How the Media Enables Government Lies
James Bovard writes for CoutnerPunch: "Why do politicians so easily get away with telling lies? In large part, because the news media are more interested in bonding with politicians than in exposing them. Americans are encouraged to believe that the media will serve as a check and a balance on the government. Instead, the press too often volunteer as unpaid pimps, helping politicians deceive the public."
Low-Power FM and What the Media Won't Tell You about the Media
Amber Sands comments for Truthout: "There's a classic problem for progressives who want to change the media: the media doesn't like to cover itself. Especially not when it comes to issues that challenge the status quo of corporate control. It's like turning to the military for news about the peace movement, or asking Big Oil to report on climate change legislation."
FCC Fine Print Could Undermine Open Internet
Tim Karr writes for Save the Internet: "Buried in the fine print of the FCC’s proposed Net Neutrality rules is a potential loophole that if left open would undermine the future of Internet freedom. So says a group of prominent law professors who on Monday told the FCC that its proposed rules don't sufficiently define what the agency means by its use of the terms 'non-discrimination' and 'reasonable network management.'"
Net Neutrality Required to Spur Innovation
Nicholas Economides writes for the Financial Times (UK): "For the first time in history, the majority of the Earth’s population is connected by a global communications network. Unlike traditional information networks, such as newspapers, radio and TV, however, the internet is based on interactive communication. It has allowed for a revolutionary real-time participation of users."
Copps: Maybe Bradcasters Deserve to Loss their Spectrum
John Eggerton reports for Broadcast and Cable: "FCC Commissioner Michael Copps took it to broadcasters again Tuesday, saying that if the FCC can't rejuvenate shuttered newsrooms, put the brakes on 'mind-numbing 'monoprogramming'' and otherwise turn the tide (he calls it a "tsunami"), of consolidation, then 'maybe those who want the spectrum back have the better of the argument after all.' He was referring to calls from wireless and computer companies, and an FCC outreach to broadcasters, to reclaim some, or even all, of their spectrum for wireless broadband."
Pentagon Pursuing New Investigation into Bush Propaganda Program
Brad Jacobson writes for The Raw Story: "The Pentagon’s Office of Inspector General is conducting a new investigation into a covert Bush administration Defense Department program that used retired military analysts to produce positive wartime news coverage. Last May, the Inspector General’s office rescinded and repudiated a prior internal investigation’s report on the retired military analyst program, which had been issued by the Bush administration, because it “did not meet accepted quality standards for an Inspector General work product.” Yet in recent interviews with Raw Story, Pentagon officials who took part in the program were still defending it by referencing this invalidated report."