Photo: Asia Kepka.
Taking Financial Reform into Our Own Hands
Stacy Mitchell writes for YES! magazine: "With the passage of the financial reform bill, giant banks see a golden opportunity to finally put the financial crisis, along with their culpability for wrecking our economy, in the rearview mirror. 'We are very pleased to have this certainty and closure,' declared Steve Bartlett when the House-Senate conference committee had finished negotiating. Bartlett is the president of the Financial Services Roundtable, a powerful big bank lobbying group that would like nothing more than to make this legislation the one and only policy response to the banking system's catastrophic failure."
The Path of Unemployment
Dean Baker writes for CounterPunch: "It has been two-and-a-half years since the recession officially began in the United States. While the economy has been growing for more than a year, unemployment remains near the 10.1 percent peak of October 2009. Few economists predict a rapid decline from its June level of 9.5 percent and, with stimulus being phased down over the next year, it is very plausible that the rate will edge higher in coming months."
Unemployment Extension 101: What You Need to Know
A Few Facts on the Deficit
Nick Baumann reports for Mother Jones: "The big Friday news dump this week is the Obama administration's projection that the federal budget deficit will reach a record $1.47 trillion this fiscal year. That is, the government will spend $1.47 trillion more than it takes in this fiscal year. There are a few things you should remember when you read about this..."
American Can't Afford It's Empire
Iraq Withdrawal? Obama and Clinton Expanding US Paramilitary Force in Iraq
Jeremy Scahill reports for The Nation: "As a candidate for president, Senator Hillary Clinton vowed to ban the use of private security contractors, which she referred to as mercenaries. "These private security contractors have been reckless and have compromised our mission in Iraq," Clinton said in February 2008. "The time to show these contractors the door is long past due." Clinton was one of only two senators to sponsor legislation to ban these companies. Fast forward to the present and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is presiding over what is shaping up to be a radical expansion of a private, US-funded paramilitary force that will operate in Iraq for the foreseeable future--the very type of force Clinton once claimed she opposed."
"Our American Heroes": Why It's Wrong to Equate Military Service With Heroism
Photo: *Kid*Doc*One* / Flickr.
Hidden Danger: How The GOP Could Kill Health Reform Without Repealing It
Brian Beuthler writes for Talking Points Memo: "For all the GOP chest puffing about reversing the new health care law, a full repeal, to put it generously, is a long-term project. Even if they retake the House in November, they almost certainly won't retake the Senate. Even if they retake both the House and the Senate, they'd still have to contend with the filibuster. And even if the filibuster weren't an issue, they'd still have to contend with a Presidential veto. All of that adds up to long odds, and they know it."
The Real Story of Racism at the USDA
Chris Kromm, Facing South: "'It's an astonishing development given the history of race relations at the USDA, an agency whose own Commission on Small Farms admitted in 1998 that 'the history of discrimination at the US Department of Agriculture ... is well-documented' - not against white farmers, but African-American, Native American and other minorities who were pushed off their land by decades of racially-biased laws and practices."
Marcia Alesan Dawkins writes for Truthdig.com: "Whether the election and presidency of Barack Obama has brought about lasting political change has yet to be seen. What is visible so far is that by electing Obama our nation has made a major breakthrough by overcoming racial and ethnic prejudice. For some, Obama’s presidency means that we’ve gotten beyond race, and therefore we’ve also gotten beyond racism. After all, we have a president who identified as African-American on the 2010 census. In Obama’s America, negative connotations of race are but a relic of the past. But does this mean that it’s now fair game to play the race card in ways that might have been considered politically incorrect before Obama’s election?"
Mark Williams Quits The Tea Party Express
Evan McMorris-Santoro reports for Talking Points Memo: "One of the most prominent men in the tea party movement, Tea Party Express spokesperson and former chair Mark Williams, is abandoning the group he helped propel into the role of the tea party's public face."
That's the question once again, this time as Shirley Sherrod, a Department of Agriculture official, is forced out of her job following the airing of a selectively-edited video of her speech at an NAACP banquet in March. The video, cut to make it appear as if the African-American Sherrod was a “reverse racist,” has since been released in full, clearing Sherrod.
But instead of even asking Sherrod to explain, the Agriculture Department pressed her to quit. She says that she received several phone calls from undersecretary Cheryl Cook, asking her to resign immediately because the video was "going to be on Glenn Beck tonight."
Of course, now Tom Vilsack, agriculture secretary, is “reconsidering.” The NAACP has reversed its earlier condemnation. But what does it mean for our country when the administration is so terrified of a controversy on a show that courts it, on a network that is a mouthpiece for the opposition, that they shove out people of color at the first goading punch?
It wasn't just progressive indie media that stood up for Sherrod. CNN and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution did the basic reporting required to clear Sherrod's name. You'd think the White House would by now be used to this misleading video stuff.
Imagine, as David Corn noted, any Bush official badgered to quit becasuse of something threatening to be on Rachel Maddow's show. Or on GRITtv, perhaps. As Corn said, “You don't allow ideological enemies -- who want you to fail -- to define the terms.”
But that's been Obama's M.O. The lesson needs learning and needs learning fast. The party of No and its loud-mouthed cable and blog counterparts are not going to work with you. They are going to try to destroy you.
As Yosi Sargent, another victim of Glenn Beck's red-and-race-baiting, tweeted this morning: “Grow a pair. Stand up for Shirley Sherrod.” We'd add -- a pair of eyes and ears. Fast.
What Happens Next?
Dahr Jamail and Erika Blumenfeld write for Dahr Jamail's Dispatches: "The Gulf Islands are considered a Gulf Coast treasure. These sparkling blue waters, white sand beaches, and fertile coastal marshes were designated a National Seashore in 1971 to protect the wildlife, barrier islands, and archeological sites along the Gulf of Mexico. They are home to fiddler crab, shrimp, flounder, oysters, blue crab, brown pelicans, osprey, great blue heron, raccoon, loggerhead sea turtle, Florida Pompano, shark, and hundreds of species of birds and fish. And now they are being oiled. All this life, along with the humans like Captain Louis who love this area and are deeply rooted to it, are in jeopardy."
Water: Will There Be Enough?
Sandra Postel reports for YES! magazine: "For at least three decades, Americans have had some inkling that we face an uncertain energy future, but we’ve ignored a much more worrisome crisis—water. Cheap and seemingly abundant, water is so common that it’s hard to believe we could ever run out. Ever since the Apollo astronauts photographed Earth from space, we’ve had the image of our home as a strikingly blue planet, a place of great water wealth. But of all the water on Earth, only about 2.5 percent is freshwater—and two-thirds of that is locked up in glaciers and ice caps. Less than one hundredth of one percent of Earth’s water is fresh and renewed each year by the solar-powered hydrologic cycle."
1/3 of Counties Face Water Shortage Due to Climate Change
Josh Harkinson reports for Mother Jones: "A new report from Natural Resources Defense Council predicts that a third of all counties in the Lower 48 will face a higher risk of water shortages in 2050 due to climate change. More than ten percent of counties will face an "extremely high" risk of shortages. "The only way to truly manage the risks exposed in this report is for Congress to pass meaningful legislation that cuts global warming pollution," NRDC climate director Dan Lashof said in a press release. Good luck with that."
The Essential, Undistractable Tom Engelhardt
Dan Froomkin comments for NiemanWatchdog.org: "The mainstream media have always been easily distracted and beguiled - but never more than now, when the next diversion is always just one click away. This makes us particularly fortunate to have a few relentless souls like Tom Engelhardt around, using the Internet not to chase the latest chatter but to tenaciously chronicle, explore and illuminate the unspoken realities that shape our political discourse.... at the heart of Tomdispatch.com is Englehardt's own work and his relentless thesis that America is a modern empire that has become addicted to the wars that are hastening its decline."