Chris Hedges writes for Truthdig.com: "Corporate forces, long before the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, carried out a coup d’état in slow motion. The coup is over. We lost. The ruling is one more judicial effort to streamline mechanisms for corporate control. It exposes the myth of a functioning democracy and the triumph of corporate power. But it does not significantly alter the political landscape. The corporate state is firmly cemented in place."
Recommended Audio: GRIT TV - Citizenship is a Long-term Game
In the wake of what some called the worst week for democracy since Bush v. Gore, with the Democrats seeming to give up after losing one Senate seat and the Supreme Court allowing unlimited corporate influence on elections, GRITtv turns to Melissa Harris-Lacewell, Princeton professor, Nation contributor, and author of Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought for some clarification–and consolation. Harris-Lacewell offers some thoughts on why it’s lazy and dangerous to refer to political opponents as crazy, on the way the health care reform process has provided a valuable civics lesson, and how political campaigns are beholden to money.
Can Obama Fight?
David Corn writes for Mother Jones: "Two days after Republican Scott Brown's upset win in Massachusetts, the Obama administration proposed two new measures that would limit the ability of big financial institutions to wheel and deal. In announcing these initiatives—one of which would prevent investment banks from playing the market with their own cash—President Barack Obama got rather feisty:"
What we've seen so far, in recent weeks, is an army of industry lobbyists from Wall Street descending on Capitol Hill to try and block basic and common-sense rules of the road that would protect our economy and the American people. So if these folks want a fight, it's a fight I'm ready to have. And my resolve is only strengthened when I see a return to old practices at some of the very firms fighting reform.Justice Alito's Conduct and the Court's Credibility
Glenn Greenwald writes for Salon.com: "As I wrote at the time, I thought the condemnations of Rep. Joe Wilson's heckling of Barack Obama during his September health care speech were histrionic and excessive. Wilson and Obama are both political actors, it occurred in the middle of a political speech about a highly political dispute, and while the outburst was indecorous and impolite, Obama is not entitled to be treated as royalty. That was all much ado about nothing. By contrast, the behavior of Justice Alito at last night's State of the Union address -- visibly shaking his head and mouthing the words "not true" when Obama warned of the dangers of the Court's Citizens United ruling -- was a serious and substantive breach of protocol that reflects very poorly on Alito and only further undermines the credibility of the Court. It has nothing to do with etiquette and everything to do with the Court's ability to adhere to its intended function."
Blocking Bernanke is Smart Economics, Smart Politics for Dems
John Nichols writes for The Nation: "If the Democratic Party wants to lose – or, to be more precise, wants to lose badly in 2010 and 2012, it need only maintain its current loyalty to the most powerful interests on Wall Street. The United States already has a party of Wall Street. It does not need two."
Geithner Must Go--and the Future of the Fed
William Greider comments for The Nation: "The first casualty of the president's political debacle will likely be Timothy Geithner, the severely over-confident treasury secretary well known as a lapdog of Wall Street. Geithner was effectively repudiated by the president last week when Barack Obama abruptly announced a new, more aggressive approach to financial reform. But the immediate threat to Geithner is the scandal of collusion and possibly illegal behavior gathering around the Federal Reserve Bank of New York for its megabillion-dollar takeover of insurance giant AIG."
Pentagon Time Tick...Tick...Tick...
Tom Engelhardt writes for TomDispatch.com: "Back in 2007, when Gen. David Petraeus was the surge commander of US forces in Iraq, he had a penchant for clock imagery. In an interview in April of that year, he typically said: 'I'm conscious of a couple of things. One is that the Washington clock is moving more rapidly than the Baghdad clock, so we're obviously trying to speed up the Baghdad clock a bit and to produce some progress on the ground that can perhaps give hope to those in the coalition countries, in Washington, and perhaps put a little more time on the Washington clock.'"
Pentagon Budget Runs Rampant
Aris DeMarco comments for Truthout: "No matter how one looks at it, the United States has the strongest military in the world. Ever. Period. We have more weapons, more advanced technology, and spend more cash on our troops. Thus, the US military has the greatest ability to make war on other countries, the greatest ability to seek out, target and destroy any enemies of the state."
Corruption in Afghanistan: It's Even Worse Than You Think
Daniel Schulman reports for Mother Jones: "Earlier this month, Afghan President Hamid Karzai fought back against allegations of pervasive graft within his government, telling Al Jazeera that 'the Western media has blown corruption totally out of all proportion in Afghanistan.' Perhaps Karzai should have a conversation with Antonio Maria Costa, the United Nations' drug and crime czar. His office released a report on Tuesday concluding that in the past year Afghans paid out $2.5 billion in bribes and kickbacks—the equivalent of 23 percent of the country's gross domestic product. The income generated by corruption is exceeded only by the booming opium trade, which brings in an estimated $2.8 billion annually. 'In other words, this is shocking, drugs and bribes are the two largest income generators in Afghanistan,' writes Costa, who heads the UN's Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in the preface of the study."
The Antiwar Peace Movement Needs a Restart
Kevin Zeese comments for Truthout: "In his first year President Obama broke several war-making records of President George W. Bush. He passed the largest military budget in US history, the largest one-year war supplementals and fired the most drone attacks on the most countries. He began 2010 asking for another $30 billion war supplemental and with the White House indicating that the next military budget will be $708 billion, breaking Obama's previous record."
Freedom vs. The Public Option
George Lakoff comments for Truthout: "Which would you prefer, consumer choice or freedom? Extended coverage or freedom? Bending the cost curve or freedom? John Boehner, House minority leader, speaking of health care, said recently, 'This bill is the greatest threat to freedom that I have seen in the 19 years I have been here in Washington.... It's going to lead to a government takeover of our health care system, with tens of thousands of new bureaucrats right down the street, making these decisions [choose your doctor, buy your own health insurance] for you.'"
Let the Uninsured Die
Garrison Keillor writes for Salon.com: "There they all were on the Sunday-morning chatfests, droning on about the anger of the American people as shown by the election in Massachusetts of a pickup truck to the U.S. Senate -- ever ready, as pundits are, to take one good story and extrude it into a national trend portentous with meaning. One could draw other conclusions from that election -- the importance of actually campaigning, for one, and not vacationing in the Caribbean -- but OK, maybe anger was a factor. Nobody looks on the marathon healthcare debate as a noble chapter in political science. No legislator is going to have a hospital named for him in honor of his heroic work. (Maybe a parking ramp.)"
James Bond Wannabe Part of Right-Wing Plot to Bug Senator's Phones
Lindsay Beyerstein writes for AlterNet: "Earlier this week, four young men were arrested for allegedly scamming their way into the New Orleans offices of U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and trying to tamper with the office telephones. All four were criminally charged with entering a federal building under false pretenses to commit a felony."
Amateur Filmmaker Accused of Entrapping ACORN Employees Arrested by Federal Agents
Jason Leopold and Mary Susan Littlepage report for Truthout: "Federal law enforcement officials on Monday arrested conservative filmmaker James O'Keefe and three other men for allegedly trying to wiretap the phone system in Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu's New Orleans office."
Howard Zinn: The Historian Who Made History
David Zirin writes for the Huffington Post: "Howard Zinn, my hero, teacher, and friend died of a heart attack on Wednesday at the age of 87. With his death, we lose a man who did nothing less than rewrite the narrative of the United States. We lose a historian who also made history."
Recommended Audio: The Progressive Radio Show for 18 January
Matther Rothschild interviews John Nichols and Robert McChesney as they discuss their new book, “The Death and Life of American Journalism.”
How will SCOTUS Decision Affect Corporate Media?
Karl Frisch writes for Media Matters: "In 2004, the United Church of Christ produced a television commercial promoting its inclusive approach to organized faith. The ad showed two nightclub-style bouncers guarding the rope line of a church as they denied entry to a gay male couple, several people of color, and a man in a wheelchair. By contrast, a white family of four had no problems getting through."
New FCC Commish Challenges Minority Groups on Net Neutrality
Mathew Lasar writes for Ars Technica: "The Federal Communications Commission's newest Democrat, Mignon Clyburn, had some interesting comments to make about net neutrality on Friday at the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council's Social Justice summit. They came as the rush to stop the FCC from implementing its proposed Internet non-discrimination rules is in full force. And leading the charge are groups that, ironically, say they're opposed to discrimination, among them the MMTC."
Institutions or Infrastructure? The Real Opportunity for Online Journalism and Democracy
Josh Wilson writes for SavetheNews.org: "Want to save the news? Stop worrying about journalism institutions, and start worrying about journalists. Much of the discussion about media and journalism is about institutions and their relationships with citizens. The issues — that journalism institutions must be transparent, accountable, and provide real value and relevance to the community — are clear enough."
Does Fox News Coverage = GOP Campaign Contribution?
Eric Boehlert writes for Media Matters: "With its open and aggressive cheerleading -- not to mention on-air fundraising -- for Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown last week, Fox News crossed yet another threshold in its unabashed transformation into a purely political entity. Now completely turning its back on producing any semblance of independent journalism, Fox News eagerly flaunts its role as GOP kingmaker."
'Net Neutrality' Key to Free and Open Internet
Josh Silver and Craig Aaron write for The Hill: "When it comes to Internet freedom, the United States of America can be a beacon to the rest of the world. But we must start at home. On Friday, The Hill published an attack on our organization Free Press from an industry-funded hit man trying to distract policymakers with hyperbole, character assassination and fear-mongering. This screed didn’t say much about the crucial issue of Network Neutrality, but it used a lot of scary words like 'bloodthirsty,' 'radical,' 'neo-Marxist' and 'fringe' designed to scare policymakers."