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Monday, February 28, 2011

Living in paranoia under liberal oppression

Conservative America says it lives under the oppression of liberal media and academic institutions, which indoctrinate the gullible and  unsuspecting into the perversions of liberalism..  Liberalism is not regarded by the right wing as a different, legitimate viewpoint, but as a devious, insidious plot to undermine all that is right and proper.  This is the single message  Rush Limbaugh and Fox News broadcast during their hours of devotion,  Liberals are to conservative America what Jews are to Nazis.  They are  inferior, perverted souls who are the cause and the agents of all that is wrong.

 Liberals inflict their insidious power because they dominate the news media and the academic institutions,  according to the gospels of Limbaugh and Fox.

During my years as a full-time working journalist, my colleagues did not gravitate for the most part to one political end of the spectrum or the other.  They were generally fiscal conservatives.  And they tended toward social liberalism.  They embraced a complex combination of ideologies.

Journalist shaped their politics around the realities that they confronted every day in their work.  Publishers of newspapers and producers of broadcasts might indulge in the notions of political ideology from the  vantage point of their executive chairs, but the people who were in contact with the people who make the news and who did the actual, frontline reporting based their political opinions on the facts and real people they encountered every day.  They knew in detail how organizations and society work.

A reporter of any intellectual acumen would see the need for fiscal responsibility.  The apprehension of that need would take what might seem to be contradictory viewpoints:  the advocacy of conservative and cautious handling of money, but a belief in the need for regulation in the financial industries and in corporate life.  Recent history with Enron, Tyco, Global Crossing. Worldcom, and all the financial corporations that created the Great Recession of 2007-2009 illustrate what reporters find in their work everyday.   While the Supreme Court has bestowed the status of persons on corporations, the fact is that it is not in the corporations' bottom-line interests to be good citizens.  They experience the impulses of greed, avarice, and larceny  and elevate those motives to corporate virtues.  Just as the decaying precincts in our urban and suburban areas require the aggressive presence of law enforcement, the corporate world requires the most intense vigilance and intervention to keep it from descending into predation and larceny.  Just as mafia bosses have found bribery and intimidation the most effective means of protecting their criminal turf, corporations have, likewise, adopted the ways of the godfathers to defend their turf and flout their power before that majority of dupes, who think that honesty and fair play are the operative standards that businesses and  citizens should practice.  Conservative America thinks those standards apply only to the dupes, not the ruling  class.  And so, they excoriate the media and the academic institutions who might raise honesty and integrity and beneficent purpose as essential to realizing freedom, equality, and justice. The tenets of fascism upon which contemporary conservatism is based regard corporations as the royalty to which the working class, the serfs, must defer.  Journalists tend to address the basic perquisites of democracy and are, therefore, seen by conservatives as having a liberal bias.  To the conservatives, anytime their feudal principles are not advocated, there is a liberal bias.

The conservatives also contend that colleges and universities are dominated by liberal professors.  The Washington Post addresses five false myths on that subject.   In my own experience, the politics of my professor colleagues seldom was exerted.

Some professors, as is the case in the general public, make known their political preferences.  However, many do not choose to display their politics before their colleagues.  Despite what conservatives claim about the liberal professors using their  classes for indoctrination,   I never came across instances where professors in the institutions where I worked indoctrinated or belittled students.  I have read of a few alleged occasions,  I had a few students, two that I recall out of 30 years of teaching, who complained about my liberalism, but the huge majority of my students would be hard put to point out any indications I gave of my politics.  The business of teaching is to cover the subject matter, in my case the craft of writing and the reading of literature.  While it is possible to present political interpretations of literature, it is also incumbent upon professors to point out what the text says and what the possible interpretations are when more than one interpretation legitimately exists.  When leading students to apply the scholarship they are being presented, one might use examples of political interpretations, but it is generally the practice to cite opposing examples.

Of the professors I have worked with, I only knew one who enraged students with his political viewpoints.  He was a political science professor who was a Marxist.  And that in itself is what enraged some of his students.  He did not, however, try to impose Marxism on his students.  He might explain how Marxism would analyze a political circumstance for illustration purposes, but he would also present how other political theories would approach that circumstance.  Most students admired him for his command of political theories and how he would help them see the distinctions among them.  In their assessments of his teaching, they often commended him for his thorough knowledge of political philosophies.  Those who hated him hated him for what he was, not what he actually did in the classroom.

College campuses were at one cohesive in their pursuit of knowledge.  Faculty and students expected them to be places where the range of ideas about facts could be vigorously and openly explored.  As long as critical discussion and debate took place, no one cared much about the personal politics of the faculty.  When the conservatives began to complain about a liberal bias, their complaint was not based upon some liberal ideology being propagandized in the classes.  It was based upon the fact that a conservative ideology was not being presented as the only way students should be thinking.  The prime example is in the biological and  paleontological sciences.  The complaint was that the courses had a liberal  bias because creationism was not being presented as the dominant theory.  The liberal bias was that the sciences stuck to the empirical facts, not the mythological conjectures.

In today's definition of conservative, journalists and professors will be accused of a liberal bias as long as they stick to the facts of their subjects.  And for real journalists and scholars, the big issue of the day is where they can go to practice their professions.  The community of nations as we know them are destined for some very disruptive changes as knowledge looks for home.   

I do remember a time when the differences between conservatives and liberal were fairly slight matters.  People of those view points could be close and amiable friends.  Today, as conservatives have defined liberals, either total submission or a deadly enmity is required.  Edmundo O'Gorman 
remarked that America had to be invented before it was discovered.  Those people looking for  place to possess and discuss knowledge will have to reinvent a new land so that it may be discovered. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Portrait of a fascist state

 Nothing has revealed the fascist state of mind in America as eloquently as Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who has been promised the budgetary concessions he wants from the working people of Wisconsin to resolve a looming deficit crisis, but insists on taking away the right of workers to bargain collectively over the terms of their employment.    The protests are impressive, but what is depressive is the number of people who support this repeal of human rights to reduce their fellow citizens to a voiceless serfdom in a state that is run for the greediness for wealth and power of the super rich.

The resurgence of fascism in America has been obscured by the clamorous charges from the right wing about the socialism, Marxism, and lack of patriotism by President Obama and his adherents.  The real facts about what America has become are recorded in the eleven charts below presented by Mother Jones that identifies with facts and statistics the decline of America into a fascist state.

The charts are reproduced below.  For the whole story, click here:  March/April 2011 Issue

How Rich Are the Superrich?

A huge share of the nation's economic growth over the past 30 years has gone to the top one-hundredth of one percent, who now make an average of $27 million per household. The average income for the bottom 90 percent of us? $31,244.

Average Income by Family, distributed by income group.

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The richest controls 2/3 of America's net worth

Note: The 2007 data (the most current) doesn't reflect the impact of the housing market crash. In 2007, the bottom 60% of Americans had 65% of their net worth tied up in their homes. The top 1%, in contrast, had just 10%. The housing crisis has no doubt further swelled the share of total net worth held by the superrich.

Winners Take All

The superrich have grabbed the bulk of the past three decades' gains.

Aevrage Household income before taxes.

A Harvard business prof and a behavioral economist recently asked more than 5,000 Americans how they thought wealth is distributed in the United States. Most thought that it’s more balanced than it actually is. Asked to choose their ideal distribution of wealth, 92% picked one that was even more equitable.

Average Income by Family, distributed by income group.

Capitol Gain

Why Washington is closer to Wall Street than Main Street.

median net worth of american families, median net worth for mebers of congress, your odds of being a millionaire, member of congress's odds of being a millionaire
member max. est. net worth
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) $451.1 million
Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) $435.4 million
Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) $366.2 million
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) $294.9 million
Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) $285.1 million
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) $283.1 million
Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.) $231.2 million
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) $201.5 million
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) $136.2 million
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) $108.1 million
combined net worth: $2.8 billion
10 Richest Members of Congress 100% Voted to extend the cuts
Congressional data from 2009. Family net worth data from 2007. Sources: Center for Responsive Politics; US Census; Edward Wolff, Bard College.

Who's Winning?

For a healthy few, it's getting better all the time.

Gains and Losses in 2007-2009, Average CEO Pay vs. Average Worker Pay

A millionaire's atx rate, now and then. Share of Federal Tax revenue


How much income have you given up for the top 1 percent?


Income distribution: Emmanuel Saez (PDF)

Net worth: Edward Wolff (PDF)
Household income/income share: Congressional Budget Office
Real vs. desired distribution of wealth: Michael I. Norton and Dan Ariely (PDF)
Net worth of Americans vs. Congress: Federal Reserve (average); Center for Responsive Politics (Congress)
Your chances of being a millionaire: Calculation based on data from Wolff (PDF); US Census (household and population data)  
Member of Congress' chances: Center for Responsive Politics
Wealthiest members of Congress: Center for Responsive Politics
Tax cut votes: New York Times (Senate; House)
Wall street profits, 2007-2009: New York State Comptroller (PDF)
Unemployment rate, 2007-2009: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Home equity, 2007-2009: Federal Reserve, Flow of Funds data, 1995-2004 and 2005-2009 (PDFs)
CEO vs. worker pay: Economic Policy Institute
Historic tax rates: Calculations based on data from The Tax Foundation
Federal tax revenue: Joint Committee on Taxation (PDF)

Read also: Kevin Drum on the decline of Big Labor, the rise of Big Business, and why the Obama era fizzled so soon.
Dave Gilson is a senior editor at Mother Jones. For more of his stories, click here. Get Dave Gilson's RSS feed.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Where the deer and the buffalo roam and the women are chattel


South Dakota Lawmakers Still Hard At Work Restricting Reproductive Rights

Starvation: a method of social control

Food bank line:  2010
The Great Depression:  back to the  future

Thad Wasson's comment in a previous post is illustrative of the great political divide in America and the mode of perceptions that sustain and widen it.  The New York Times made a comparative chart of America's position on social issues relative to other developed countries in the world.  One of the indexes is "food security," which is bureaucratic terminology for hunger.  The U.S. ranks at the bottom on this issue.  Thad apparently sees an irony between what Michelle Obama promotes and what the chart represents:   Michelle Obama said we are an obese country. Now we are one with food insecurity?

 Obesity is, of  course, not an issue original with Michelle Obama.  She has chosen to focus attention on it because it has been cited by the National Health Institute and the American Heart Association as a major health issue in the U.S.  The real irony is that a large percentage of Americans display overindulgence and poor dietary choices while 15 percent face hunger problems.  The USDA reports that 14.7 percent were food insecure at least some time during the year, including 5.7 percent with very low food security.  The fact that some people can loll about in fat while others struggle not to starve is one of the indications of a social issue with the haves and the have-nots that is propelling America into a time of revolt along with the many nations in the Middle East.

Food prices are at a record high, and are a factor in the riots and protests taking place throughout the world.  Bad weather and consequent crop failures are factors in the rising price food.  But in the U.S., another factor enters the picture with increasing significance:  the concentration of food production and distribution in a few huge corporations.  

Ever since World War II, observers and analysts of agriculture have been warning of the dangers of integration in agriculture.  They have warned of vertical integration, which is when farms are directly absorbed into the corporate structure, owned by corporations, and controlled from corporate headquarters.  And they have warned of horizontal integration, when farms become part of the corporate matrix through contracts and treaties.  That latter design is the one that American agriculture has followed.

Farms have increased in size so that there are fewer farm owners and operators, and the number of farms continues to decline.    While the remaining farms may list  private individuals as owners, the current owners are locked into production contracts with corporations. The old open market system when farmers brought their production to market where buyers bid on it died.  Now farms are effectively merely production departments for the corporate monopolies.  To stay in business, farms have to be integrated into the corporate scheme of business.

This arrangement changes the controlling force of supply and demand.  In times of surpluses, farmers took losses in the open market because the prices they could get for their production did not cover the cost of production.  In times of shortages, farmers reaped big profits.  The boom or bust open market made agriculture a risky, unreliable enterprise.  During World War II, when the world could absorb everything farmers could produce, agriculture thrived.  After the war, when farms produced surpluses, agriculture produced more than the market wanted to buy, and so the government intervened with farm programs that purchased the surplus production and stabilized the agricultural economy.  The programs also set production quotas as a means of keeping production within the bounds of what the market could absorb.

The integration of farms into the corporate structure have changed the way the market works.  While weather and crop failures play a role in the supply-and-demand force on the market, so do corporate actions.  When demand does not meet what is supplied, the corporate processors can adjust the supply to drive up costs.  As with the petroleum fuel business,  corporations can manipulate the market to maintain their bottom lines.

With world food prices at record highs, global corporations will take advantage of the increased demand to pad their bottom lines.  The fact that there are large segments of the population that face hunger and malnutrition is not something the corporate world wants to address, unless there is a profit in it.  In the U.S., corporations, not individual farmers, are the major recipients of the federal farm program subsidies.  

In the past, the federal government bought crop surpluses and distributed them to the poor.  Today, the federal government issues food stamps, which benefit corporate agriculture as much as the food stamp recipients.  But the food stamp system is why the U.S. has such a high percentage of people who face "food insecurity,"  in other words, hunger.  It helps, but it does not address the size of the gap between the haves and the have nots, which is the real root of the problem.  The U.S. has a rate of people who face food insecurity of 15 percent.  Canada's is half that.  The U.S. has a large population of working poor whose meager wages are not enough to afford enough good quality food.

During my lifetime, I have been involved in much food distribution to the needy.  As a very young child, my mother took me along when she delivered food from our church to the needy one afternoon a week.  As an adult who worked as a farm editor, I was involved in food distribution in many levels.  A congressman asked me and other farm editors in his district to analyze and advise on agricultural policy, particularly as it addressed hunger in the U.S.  At the time, a big story was the number of elderly people on pensions who subsisted on cat food.   And as a member of the Lutheran church, I was involved in the actual distribution and delivery of food, which involved everything from driving a delivery truck to working in the church kitchen as the church  operated as a congregate meals site.  While I worked through the auspices of the church, there were many organizations involved:  protestant, Catholic, Jewish relief organizations and community organizing agencies that participated in the programs.  Churches and synagogues were involved because they consider feeding the hungry a primary obligation.  

Food has been a weapon used against selected groups to keep them  under control. The U.S. has a shameful history in the way it has used food to subjugate people.  In slavery times, owners tried to keep their slaves on a diet that kept them weakened and made them docile and obedient for the promise of food. The problem was that slaves developed their own food culture through which they could supplement their diets with dishes of raccoon and opposum and anything they could filch out of massa's kitchen.  The subjugation of the American Indians and and the opening of the West to settlers was achieved by killing off their food supply, the bison, and then herding the Indians onto reservations on the most unproductive land where food was used to manipulate them into submission and keep them in a state of dependency.  Hunger and deprivation as a means of subjugation have been as American as apple pie and baseball. The reservation system is a living monument to the use of hunger to deny and oppress. 

America has been exceptional because the people who see the genocidal injustices in American history for what they are and have worked to acknowledge and change the course of history to one which acknowledges the principles of freedom, equality, and equal justice in deed as well as words have prevailed.  Feeding the hungry is an imperative shared by Christian and native cultures and most of the humanely civilized cultures of the world.  In America, the use of hunger to designate a lower class which is held in a state of contempt and deprivation is a part of the history of a faction that detests freedom for all, equality, and equal justice.  In our time, that faction supports the right of corporations to obtain wealth and advantage without restraint, but at the same time labels benefits won by unions for their workers at the negotiating tables as the products of greed and unfairness.  America is experiencing a resurgence of fascism and the claim of the benefits of the country only for those who identify with the ruling class.  

Nothing is more offensive to the fascist mentality than a working class that has a voice in determining its own status and destiny.  The fascist agenda which is playing out in America is more for the greedy and less for the needy.  That 15 percent in the world's wealthiest nation who deal with "food insecurity" is an indicator of the direction the country has chosen to take. The wealthiest 20 percent in America holds 85 percent of its assets and 94 percent of its wealth. If they are to keep the nation under their control, they will have to increase the rate of those facing hunger to far more than 15 percent and do it fast before the people take to the streets and stage massive protests calling for the overthrow of the ruling class.  Food dependency is a means of control.  And that is the agenda playing out throughout the nation.  The people who do the actual work of the country have that silly notion that they deserve some equity in its opportunities.  The political divide is simple.  The fascists do not think that food security or health care is good for the working class--if it is to be held under control. 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The plutocracy gets bolder---and more stupid.

Wis. Gov. Scott Walker, Sarah Palin, and many others have advised the protesters in Madison that they had, in Palin's words,   "sacrifice and carry [their] share of the burden. It does no one any favors to dismiss the sacrifices others have already had to make -- in wage cuts, unpaid vacations, and even job losses—to weather our economic storm." Walker, Palin, and others, however, have stalwartly supported and, in Walker's case enacted, the special tax breaks for the wealthy and for corporations.   Only the designated serfdom must face up and pay for the fiscal crises devised by the wealthy and the   corporations. 

Time to face facts, if you can: the false myth of American superiority.

 For those who see American exceptionalism as superiority, here is a New York Times comparison chart on the key factors.

The New York Times
February 19, 2011    

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Copyright 2011 The New York Times Company

Friday, February 18, 2011

What does he expect the maligned and exploited to do?

If Gov. Walker gets his wish and the bargaining rights are taken away from public employees, just how does he expect them to react?  Will they humbly submit to the voiceless servitude that is demanded of slaves and lackey?  Will they quietly toil away in the concentration camps until they are designated for some gas oven?  It is difficult to comprehend what such a dictatorial move is expected to accomplish.

Wisconsin does not have a history of people submitting to the contemptuous humiliation of  being denied a voice in their destiny.  During the Viet Nam War, I heard the truck bomb go off as an act of protest on a building at the University of Wisconsin campus.  I recall trying unsuccessfully to drive through the streets of Madison when the protestors were in a state of rage.  As I see the throngs of people in peaceful protest, I cannot help but conjecture what might bring out those who do not think peaceful protest is enough.  

The workers in Wisconsin have legitimate reason for rage.  The budget crisis that Gov. Walker says he is trying to meet is one of his own device.   Ezra Klein of the Washington Post and two Madison papers, The Capital Times and The Wisconsin State Journal, reported that one of the first things Walker did upon taking office was push through a $120 million tax cut for corporations and other benefits for the wealthiest tax-payers.  His total objective is to break the unions and render state employees powerless.  The state teachers' union says it has asked to meet with Walker 19 times since he took office, but he refuses to respond to the request.  The New York Times also addresses Walker's sham. 

Rather than returning to work, the tens of thousands of protesters could emulate the people in Cairo and just occupy the capitol until Walker resigns.  Or it could break out into the desperate violence of the dispossessed.  

We know what Walker and his backers want to do.  But just what are they expecting from the constituencies who will be stripped of hard-won rights in such a brazen display of contempt and humiliation?  Wisconsin has not long suffered fascist demagogues, such as Joe McCarthy, in the past.  Walker seems to be agitating and openly inviting a confrontation that cannot remain peaceful, unless the people of Wisconsin can summon the patience of their compatriots in Cairo. 

In the echos of that truck bomb, I can hear the disintegration of America.  That is the neo-fascist agenda. There are wiser, more decently-inclined heads than Gov. Walker's in Wisconsin.  Will they prevail? 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

It can't happen here

Wisconsin:  Headed for a concentration camp?

The young people of Egypt revolted in a manner that cannot be copied in many other places.  Especially in the U.S.  In a long report on the BBC Overnight Service, the reporters detailed the kind of young people who drove the protest against Mubarak.  One was a young man with a college degree in engineering who could find work only as an elevator operator.  He was frustrated, but hopeful and determined.  His focus was on a revolt that built a functioning society, not one which left a mass of destruction and the subsequent consequences of divisive anger and resentment. 

The young people comprise a huge, formidable force in Egypt.  Half of Egypt's 84 million people are under 30.  Some estimates say that two-thirds of the population is under 35.  Egypt is a young country with people looking for the opportunity to live in freedom and make lives for themselves.  The deposition of Mubarak is a huge step, but the celebration is premature.  The co-option of the coup by the military or Muslim clerics is a potential that worries any serious student of the history of revolutions.  American democracy in its current state hardly provides a model.  What is happening in America is the obverse of what happened in Egypt. New York Times columnist Bob Herbert states the situation: "The Egyptians want to establish a viable democracy, and that’s a long, hard road. Americans are in the mind-bogglingly self-destructive process of letting a real democracy slip away."  America is being dictated by a financial and corporate elite that is imposing on the American people the very deprivations that the young Egyptians revolted over. 

If you read the popular American press or its self-sucking parasites on the blogs, you get the news that what happened in Egypt caught us off guard.  It's like those who claim that we did not know that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction when we invaded it.  Reports otherwise abounded and rebounded.  But those who think that their national stature depends upon attacks, invasions, and dominance of other countries chose not to pay attention.  It is contrary to their  political agenda.  The fact is that the revolution in Egypt was carefully planned and was openly reported.

In 2009, some of those young, educated people in Egypt were holding seminars and workshops on how to organize and use the social media to expose and fight the oppression under which they lived.  Last summer, if you followed the competent and professional media, such as NPR, you would have known that the young people of Egypt were using the Internet and satellite media to expose and organize opposition to the oppression inflicted on them and their country.

Last summer, the young people were using their cell phones and the Internet to circulate news that was not available from the state media.  They were recording the incidents of oppression and suppression, and the record they established was openly available to the news media.  In the U.S.,  the anathema of the GOP, National Public Radio, was reporting the developments.  The young people were mounting a response to the repressions of their country, and a sociologist from Cairo American University, Said Sadek, was quoted in explaining what was going on:

"They see the future as bleak," Sadek says. "They don't know about the job, marriage, housing — they see torture. They see corruption. They see rigged elections. What can they do? Of course: The only tool in their hands is their fingertips. And the keyboard."

What the young Egyptians were using the new media for was in stark contrast to how it is being used in America. The young Egyptians were engaged in exchanging substantive information about the incidents of oppression, about their aspirations for freedom, and strategies for dealing with the aggression and oppression to which they were subjected.  They also adhered to an underlying principle:  using the lessons from the American civil rights movement, they concentrated on nonviolent resistance.  Their revolution had a  one-day spurt of violence when Mubarak backers launched assaults on them on horse and camel  back, but the demonstrators managed to respond without letting violence take over.  They instead maintained a calm, unyielding resistance which ultimately forced Mubarak to resign, which was their stated objective from the outset of their organized protest.  

A huge block of American citizens are facing circumstances similar to what the young Egyptians confronted.  While corporations and financial institutions have recovered and are back to giving their executives absurdly lavish bonuses and the Dow Jones stock market average has doubled in value since its low of two years ago, the unemployment rate is stuck in the 9 percent range, but that does not include the millions not counted because their unemployment benefits have expired and those who have little hope of finding jobs. The net effect is a demographic shift in America that has seen the country's wealth and earning capacity concentrated in the upper 10 percent while there is a massive descent of the economic middle class into the lower economic class, with more than 15 percent of the people living in poverty.  While financial institutions and corporations dictate the economy of the nation, they demonstrate that they have no interest in its economic welfare, but only in their own bottom lines, which are tied to global allegiances. 

The new media in America is caught up in exchanging misinformation and disinformation, not the reporting and verifying of factual information.  Reports are obscured and lost in the blizzard of talk-show bickering that includes a huge amount of hate speech.  Some facts about American life and the bitter divide between those who support the plutocracy and those who see that the plutocracy has declared war on them  is reduced to squabbling.  But where Egypt was prepared for revolution, America is poised for civil war.  And the war taking shape is not merely a disagreement between the left and right wings; it is a class war between those who have and those who are being dispossessed from American life.  Like those young Egyptians, those being dispossessed see a future that is bleak.  They are confronted with uncertainties and disappointments about education, jobs, health care, marriage, and the total corruption of the economy by a small privileged class that has created a neo-fascist force in America.  Unlike those young Egyptians, the devices they hold in their hands and their keyboards offer little but discord.  But they do see a nation that is arming itself. While the right wing thinks it is arming itself for self-protection, those who are dispossessed see it as arming for war.   The American class wars of the past were fought with fists and clubs; the war that is taking shape will be fought with arms and explosives.  We have a large cadre of fighters who have been taught and coached in the techniques of insurgent warfare in Iraq, Afghanistan, and by extension in their own country and throughout the world.

The neo-fascist movement has declared war on the working class in America.  The conservatives give lip service to the value of hard work, but they hate the hard workers, unless their work is done in groveling subservience.  The official declarations of war on the working class are being issued in the state capitols.  Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is asking for legislation that would deny the right of state workers to bargain collectively as part of a budget cutting effort.  

Wisconsin leads in the effort to use budgeting as the pretext for nullifying workers' rights.  The significance of the Wisconsin proposal is that in itself it does nothing to cut the state's costs in paying its workers; instead it removes their right to have an effective voice in the conditions of their employment.  The Wisconsin proposal is an outright declaration of class warfare.  It has no purpose other than to make workers an underclass that lives under the dictates of the neo-fascist ruling class.  Gov. Walker has put the National Guard on alert to quell any disturbances on the part of the workers.  This is a vicious and degrading act of war.  A peaceful exchange of messages on the Internet and the telephone satellites would be inanely pointless as an act of protest.  It is a situation that is created with the threat of force and if it is resisted successfully, it will be by force.  Unless, of course, the Governor backs down.  

The Governor wants state government workers to contribute more to their pensions and health care benefits, but he wants to do so without the consent of workers by taking away their right to consent or dissent.  When the automobile companies were working out the  terms of their bail out.  they bargained with the workers through their unions for cost-saving provisions.  The Wisconsin Governor wants the power of a dictatorship to impose terms on the workers.  The significance of his proposal is in the denial of hard won rights of workers.

Wisconsin is not the only state to declare the working class a new serfdom in the political scheme of things.  But the dismissive belligerence with which it has raised the proposal reveals the declaration of war on the working class.  

Contrary to what the GOP contends through its neo-fascist spokespersons, liberals and progressives want spending reined in and limited to restore fiscal stability.  After all, it was Democrat Bill Clinton who restored a surplus to the budget and hand it over to his Republican successor.  The difference between the Republicans and Democrats is that the Republicans want the working class to bear all the burdens and deprivations of fiscal responsibility.  They insisted upon maintaining tax cuts for the very rich, while they are condemning as un-American healthcare, job building, and civil rights for the non-rich.  

What is taking place in America is plain, old class war.  Finally with the Wisconsin proposal to return the working  class to a serfdom, it is becoming clear to America's workers that the people who voted for the huge Republican take-over of the U.S. House and state houses throughout the country have declared war on them to take their rights away from them.  John Boehner keeps using that insulting phrase about having an adult conversation, when the spokespeople of his party are Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman.  Adult conversation and reasonable compromise and conciliation have long been banished from the land.  The question is not whether such attempts at moderation are possible.  The question is if anyone really wants it. 


Sunday, February 13, 2011

South Dakota gets national recognition again

Eagle Butte:  Ziebach County  recognized as the poorest in the nation

While John Thune and Kristi Noem get press for their recitations of anti-Obama propaganda, South Dakota earns grass-roots recognition for having the poorest county in the nation.  Here is the Atlanta Journal Constitution's version of the long AP article being published throughout the nation.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Some folks fight poverty; others just love it--for others.

Below is a list of every South Dakota Senator and Representative who voted on poverty-related legislation this year and received a grade. Click on any name to learn more. And here to see national report.
Dennis Daugaard
Poverty rate:
Anti-poverty organizations:
South Dakota Voices for ChildrenVolunteers of America- Dakotas

= vote to fight poverty = vote against fighting poverty
Tim JohnsonYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes100A+
John ThuneNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNo7F

Stephanie Herseth SandlinALYesYesNoNoNoYesYesYesNoNoYesYesYesYesYesYes69B

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