earning record profits, and conservatives are triumphant. To understand why this happened, it's not enough to examine polls and tea parties and the makeup of Barack Obama's economic team. You have to understand how we fell so short, and what we rightfully should have expected from Obama's election. And you have to understand two crucial things about American politics."
It's the Inequality, Stupid: Eleven Charts that Explain Everything that's Wrong with America
Dave Gilson and Carolyn Perot report for Mother Jones:
Why Isn't Wall Street in Jail?
Matt Taibbi reports for RollingStone: "Over drinks at a bar on a dreary, snowy night in Washington this past month, a former Senate investigator laughed as he polished off his beer. 'Everything's fucked up, and nobody goes to jail,' he said. 'That's your whole story right there. Hell, you don't even have to write the rest of it. Just write that.' I put down my notebook. 'Just that?' 'That's right,' he said, signaling to the waitress for the check. 'Everything's fucked up, and nobody goes to jail. You can end the piece right there.'"
"US Uncut" Calls Out Corporate Tax Deadbeats
Photo: UK Uncut
All-American Decline in a New World: Wars, Vampires, Burned Children, and Indelicate Imbalances
Tom Engelhardt comments for TomDispatch: "This is a global moment unlike any in memory, perhaps in history. Yes, comparisons can be made to the wave of people power that swept Eastern Europe as the Soviet Union collapsed in 1989-91. For those with longer memories, perhaps 1968 might come to mind, that abortive moment when, in the United States, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Brazil, and elsewhere, including Eastern Europe, masses of people mysteriously inspired by each other took to the streets of global cities to proclaim that change was on the way."
Recommended Audio: Tom Engelhardy and Jeremy Scahill Discuss the Near East
Bringing Home 150 Troops From Afghanistan Would Fix Wisconsin's Budget "Crisis"
Robert Greenwald writes for Rethink Afghanistan: "Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker is using phony budget projections to manufacture a staged “fiscal emergency” in his state so that he can whack programs and political opponents, but even his fake “emergency” pales in comparison to the cost of the Afghanistan War to his state. In fact, the U.S. would only have to bring home 151 troops from Afghanistan to save more money than Walker’s ridiculous union-busting plan. Better yet, ending the Afghanistan War altogether would save taxpayers in Wisconsin $1.7 billion this year alone, more than ten times the amount “saved” in Walker’s attack on state employee rights."
Walker’s Budget Plan is a Three-Part Roadmap for Conservative State Governance
Tim Fernholz wrote an excellent article in the National Journal about the 'bait and switch' of Governor Walker’s Wisconsin plan. Fernholz points out that the short-term deficit problem can be covered by debt restructuring and that the big pieces of the bill that relate to dismantling public sector unions, control over Medicaid and creating a no-bid energy asset sale process are not directly budget related. There’s a three-prong approach in Governor Walker’s plan that highlights a blueprint for conservative governorship after the 2010 election. The first is breaking public sector unions and public sector workers generally. The second is streamlining benefits away from legislative authority, especially for health care and in fighting the Health Care Reform Act. The third is selling of public assets to private interests under firesale and crony capitalist situations."
Really Bad Reporting in Wisconsin: Who 'Contributes' to Public Workers' Pensions?
David Cay Johnston writes for Tax.com: "When it comes to improving public understanding of tax policy, nothing has been more troubling than the deeply flawed coverage of the Wisconsin state employees' fight over collective bargaining. Economic nonsense is being reported as fact in most of the news reports on the Wisconsin dispute, the product of a breakdown of skepticism among journalists multiplied by their lack of understanding of basic economic principles. Gov. Scott Walker says he wants state workers covered by collective bargaining agreements to "contribute more" to their pension and health insurance plans."
Koch Brothers "Prank" No Laughing Matter
Mary Bottari writes for the Center for Media and Democracy: "Embattled Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker came under fire today after news broke about statements he made in a 20-minute phone call from a Buffalo-area alternative news reporter, Ian Murphy of the Daily Beast, posing as David Koch, a billionaire whose corporate PAC directly supported Walker and who has given millions to groups that have run ads to aid Walker's rise to the state's highest office. As the Center for Media and Democracy has reported, the Koch PAC not only spent $43,000 directly on Walker's race, but Koch personally donated $1 million to the Republican Governors Association which spent $5 million in the state. Besides the Governor, the Koch brothers have other "vested interests" in the state."
Addicted to Koch
Mark Sandlin writes on his blog "The God Article:" "That's right. We are all addicted to Koch. That's Koch Industries – the infamous Koch (pronounced 'coke') Brothers. For those who may not be familiar with these fine (I use the term loosely) brothers, let me give you a little background. Let's see... they are filthy rich... no, stinking, filthy rich. And they got that way because YOU (and the rest of we minions) buy their stuff. You might be asking yourself at this point, 'Self? What do they do with their butt loads of money?' If you don't mind, I'll take this one."
Yes, America Still Needs Unions
Joe Conason writes for Truthdig.com: “'There was once a need for unions, but they’ve outlived their purpose,' said a nice lady interviewed on the radio in Tennessee just the other day. Annoyed by the spectacle of tens of thousands of teachers, firefighters, cops and other public employees rallying to protect their rights in Wisconsin, she was saying what more than a few Americans think about the labor movement.”
GPACE Comments to Colorado Public Utilities Commission Regarding 2010 Tri-State G and T IRP: 28 Questions that should have been asked...
USDA Approved Monsanto Alfalfa Despite Warnings of New Pathogen Discovered in Genetically Engineered Crops
Monsanto Shifts ALL Liability to Farmers
Cassandra Anderson reports for MORPHcity: "Farmers like genetically modified (GM) crops because they can plant them, spray them with herbicide and then there is very little maintenance until harvest. Farmers who plant Monsanto's GM crops probably don't realize what they bargain for when they sign the Monsanto Technology Stewardship Agreement contract. One farmer reportedly 'went crazy' when he discovered the scope of the contract because it transfers ALL liability to the farmer or grower."
Oscar-Nominated 'Gasland' Director Calls Latest Attack on His Film 'Outlandish' and Tells Why the Industry Is Getting Desperate
Read the letter Josh Fox wrote in response to the gas industry's attacks on his film. Brad Jacobson reports for AlterNet: "When the gas industry sent an open letter this month to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences demanding it revoke its best documentary nomination for the gas-drilling exposé Gasland, many seemed surprised by this brazen missive. Gasland director Josh Fox wasn't one of those people."
The Year in Hate and Extremism, 2010
Mark Potok reports for The Southern Poverty Law Center: "For the second year in a row, the radical right in America expanded explosively in 2010, driven by resentment over the changing racial demographics of the country, frustration over the government’s handling of the economy, and the mainstreaming of conspiracy theories and other demonizing propaganda aimed at various minorities. For many on the radical right, anger is focusing on President Obama, who is seen as embodying everything that’s wrong with the country. Hate groups topped 1,000 for the first time since the Southern Poverty Law Center began counting such groups in the 1980s. Anti-immigrant vigilante groups, despite having some of the political wind taken out of their sails by the adoption of hard-line anti-immigration laws around the country, continued to rise slowly. But by far the most dramatic growth came in the antigovernment “Patriot” movement — conspiracy-minded organizations that see the federal government as their primary enemy — which gained more than 300 new groups, a jump of over 60%."
Right-Wing Hate on the Rise
Intelligence Report. Since the 80’s, SPLC began counting hate groups. For the first time, the organization has counted over 1000 hate groups, up from 932 in 2009. Since 2000, there has been a 66% increase in hate groups. According to the SPLC, “All hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.” The report points out, that just because an organization is on the “Hate Group” list, doesn’t imply the group advocates violence or criminal activities."
House Approves FY 2011 Spending Proposal, Including Amendment Blocking Federal Funding to Planned Parenthood
The National Partnership for Women and Families: "The House on Friday voted 240-185 to approve an amendment to the continuing resolution (HR 1) that would block any federal funding for Planned Parenthood, Politico reports. The amendment was introduced by Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.). Ten Democrats supported the amendment, and seven Republicans voted against it (Nather/Nocera, Politico, 2/18). On Saturday, the House voted 235-189 to approve the continuing resolution -- an appropriations bill that will fund government programs for the remainder of fiscal year 2011, the New York Times reports. President Obama has said he would veto the spending bill if it passes the Senate (Herzenhorn, New York Times, 2/20)."
White House Declares Defense of Marriage Act Unconstitutional
Nadia Prupis reports for Truthout: "The Obama administration said Wednesday that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional and the Justice Department will no longer support it. The Defense of Marriage Act is a federal law defining marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman. Attorney General Eric Holder sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner stating, 'Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act ... as applied to same-sex couples who are legally married under state law, violates the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment.'"
The FCC, Net Neutrality and the Future Enrons of the Internet
Derek Lazzaro writes for Truthdig.com: "America’s largest Internet service providers, which own most of the network backbone, have decided that Internet content providers such as YouTube are using too much bandwidth, and becoming too rich, and now the ISPs are demanding a bigger piece of the pie. Amid surprisingly little public debate, the ISPs have engaged in a focused campaign to lobby Congress and win court cases with the goal of stripping the government of any meaningful authority to regulate their price structures or data-routing policies."
What You Need to Know About the Assault on NPR and PBS
>In the Absence of Public Media Funding, the US Has Outsourced Its National Voice
OrganGrinder blog at The Guardian UK writes: "If you want to get coverage for public media funding, try turning up at Congress with a puppet on your arm. Last week it was the turn of Arthur the Aardvark (unless advocates were picked alphabetically) to try and defend the principle of publicly-funded media. Arthur was unsuccessful, for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting potentially lost its $430 million funding as part of a budget amendment which the House of Representatives voted through the following morning. The CPB scatters what funds it has fairly widely. The two best known recipients of state funding are the radio platform NPR and the broadcaster PBS although, in truth, the handout from government is only a small part of their collective income."
What Effect has the Internet had on Journalism?
Peter Beaumont, this newspaper's foreign affairs editor, the revolution in Egypt revealed more than the power of the people in triumphing over repressive regimes; on a personal level, he discovered something new about his working practices. Beaumont trained as a journalist in the days before the world wide web, but, like most of his profession, he has integrated new technologies into his news-gathering techniques as they've emerged. Covering the events in Cairo during the internet blackout in Egypt was like taking a step back in time. 'We went back to what we used to do: write up the story on the computer, go to the business centre, print it out and dictate it over the phone,' he says. 'We didn't have to worry about what was on the internet; we just had to worry about what we were seeing. It was absolutely liberating.'"