Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) has been a tireless opponent of U.S. Government spending on military contractors in general and Blackwater/Xe in particular, largely due to their rampant, wanton, violent behavior in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is not news. She consistently opposes them. But in October, she reacted strongly to the release of a new videogame based on Blackwater and licensed by Blackwater's Erik Prince. Here's the trailer:
Archives for December, 2011
Occupying Austin must be a really tough gig. Apparently, they do freedom of speech differently in Texas...
Remarks from the person who filmed the video above who asked questions of the deputy about free speech "time limits" in Austin, TX:
So, basically, if you happen upon a group of people with signs, and you decide that you like what they are saying and wish to join in the protest, you don't technically get your full three hours of free speech per unspecified amount of time.
I wasn't messing around when I said I had never met some of the people who joined us. One of them saw that we were evicted from the Capitol yesterday, and showed up at the very end of our allotted 3 hours of free speech time, and was told she was part of our "event" and that she would be ticketed and could risk arrest if she didn't leave.
Dude. That's messed up.
By the way. My sign said "All children should have access to healthcare, food, and a decent education." Real revolutionary stuff there. I can see why they wouldn't want me to talk about that with people for longer than 3 hours per unspecified time frame.
I wonder if the tea party gets their freedom of speech time limited when they gather in Texas?
I guess truth in advertising went the way of the Fairness Doctrine. Here is a shining example of just how far people can go in their advertising without consequence. Via PRWatch.org:
In the ad, the voice over intones: "They told us the sky would fall. And Wisconsin would end as we know it. But the sky's still there. And Wisconsin is stronger than ever. Thanks to our budget reforms." A charming family waves at the camera, but the family is not from Wausau, Waukesha or even Wisconsin. As MSNBC's Rachel Maddow first pointed out, they are "Family on a Bridge" I-stock photo number 10268583.
The problem with the ad is that virtually none of it is true.
The ad touts the fact that local governments and school districts now have more "flexibility" to balance their budgets. Interestingly, the website cites a February 2011 article quoting Dan Thompson, executive director of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, discussing Walker's limits on collective bargaining. "It will give us flexibility, yes," he said. But AFP/MacIver omits the rest of his sentence. Thompson also says "It goes far beyond what we asked for. We were not expecting to abolish the collective bargaining process altogether." The title of the article cited by AFP? "Local Leaders from Throughout the State ask GOP to Not End Collective Bargaining."
It is true that localities can extract massive savings from their workers, going far beyond the pension and health care contributions that Walker promoted. This may explain the $1.5 million surplus in Kaukauna and the $25 million "saved" in Milwaukee. But Milwaukee was also honest about the cost of Walker's measures -- the school district lost 1,661 teachers, aids and administrators, according to the school district survey.
Go read the whole PR Watch article for specifics about how they stretched the truth.
By the way, Wisconsin's unemployment claims were the highest in the nation in October. It could be argued that it's not working, not at all, and specifically because of the right-wing policies foisted on the state by Governor Scott Walker and his merry band of legislators.
Current TV's Keith Olbermann spoke to Human Rights First's Raha Wala about the extremely dangerous threat to our civil liberties that the United States Senate is considering in the defense authorization bill where citizens of the United States could be held under military custody, all in the name of our so-called "war on terror."
Carl Levin's support of this bill astounds me quite frankly and who would have thought Dianne Feinstein of all people would turn out to be one of the Senators speaking out against the bill.
Here's more on Obama's veto threat -- Obama Threatens Veto of Defense Authorization Bill :
The debate over terrorism suspects on Thursday divided Democrats, with Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., squaring off over the language with Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
Democratic opponents of the provisions, who offered a series of amendments to strike or water down the language, appear to face an uphill effort to find the votes to amend the detainee language as almost all Republicans and most Armed Services Committee Democrats support it.
By moving ahead with the bill without a deal—the White House threatened to veto the bill earlier Thursday—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., reduced the leverage and ability of opponents to force changes. Feinstein said she isn't confident the bill can be amended, saying only that she strongly opposes the provisions. She declined to comment on Reid’s decision to press ahead with the bill but several Democratic aides said his move caught Democratic opponents of the provision by surprise. The aides said Reid told Democrats he is eager to move ahead with the bill in the face of pressure from Republicans and his own desire to clear “must pass” bills that are ready for the floor.
The Obama administration threatened to veto the major defense authorization bill because of language paving the way for many terror suspects to be put under military custody, a sharp escalation of its battle with Congress over the future course of the war on terror.
Cops and movers in Atlanta refused to remove a 103-year-old woman and her 83-year-old daughter from their home in foreclosure proceedings. Nice to know some public servants still have consciences -- unlike bankers:
In a heart warming story just in time for the holiday season, a 103-year-old woman in Atlanta avoided foreclosure of her home Tuesday afternoon, thanks entirely to the kindness of strangers.
According to WSBTV Atlanta, movers hired by Deutsche Bank AG and police were ready to go through with the bank’s request to remove Vita Lee and her 83-year old daughter from their home.
However, when they first got sight of Lee, they had a change of heart and declined to go through with it.
“I saw the sheriffs who came to put them out, take off and leave,” community activist Michael Langford said to WSBTV. ”I gave all glory to God.”
Lee, whose daughter was rushed to the hospital to the hospital from the stress of possibly facing an eviction, was relieved that the movers and police had compassion for their condition.
“I know God said when things go wrong, he’ll make it right,” she said.
And Lee decided to give Deutsche Bank a message if they pondered to still go through on the foreclosure.
“Please don’t come in and disturb me no more,” she reportedly said. “When I’m gone you all can come back and do whatever they want to.”
Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! interviewed Kamran Loghman on Wednesday, inventor of pepper spray and the developer of police procedures for its use. Loghman regrets his work today, and says it's "fashionable" to use chemical agents on "people who have an opinion":
"It is becoming more and more fashionable right now, this day and age, to use chemical on people who have an opinion. And that to me is a complete lack of leadership both in the police department and other people who cannot really deal with the root of the problem and they want to spray people to quiet them down. And it’s really not supposed to be that. It’s not a thing that solves any problem nor is it something that quiets people down.”
You can watch the full interview here.
Hedge fund heavyweight Leon Cooperman was all over the business news today with his "scathing" open letter to President Obama. In this ridiculous piece of myopic pedantry, Cooperman eviscerates the president, blaming him and him alone for the divisiveness and incivility that he believes is destroying capitalism and the precious America that enabled his own ascent to billionaire-dom.
Surprisingly, Cooperman makes no mention of the GOP. He makes no mention of his fellow New York "billionaire" Donald Trump essentially calling the president an illegal alien who has orchestrated the greatest con in history. He makes no mention of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's proud declaration that his top priority is to defeat President Obama. He makes no mention of the GOP's unprecedented use of the filibuster to stymie all progress. No mention of House Speaker John Boehner holding the credit rating of the USA hostage and then thumbing his nose at a big fiscal deal during the debt ceiling disaster.
Cooperman instead insists that it is the president and the president's "minions" who are entirely responsible for the rancor and demagoguery plaguing our political system and crippling the magical "wheels of commerce and
progress." Then he regurgitates the GOP's beloved phrase "class warfare." He suggests that it is the wealthy like him who can help the downtrodden and they therefore should not be targeted or nitpicked in any way. He demands that the president become "a transcendent leader" and eschew any sort of "guerrilla campaign" that he learned as a "community organizer in Chicago." (He did not, however, call the president a Mau Mau. It must be the holiday season.)
Interviewed on CNBC as the financial world's sage of the day, Cooperman seemed particularly offended by the president's assault on the aircraft industry--I suppose he means the president's rather amusing disdain for the private jet tax loophole--which, Cooperman speciously argued, is an assault on union workers. He then went on to endorse for president fellow Wall Streeter and legendary best buddy of union workers, Mitt Romney.
Even more hilariously, Cooperman told CNBC that he had joked on a conference call with his investors that perhaps he should run for president himself. He assured the TV anchor that it was just a joke. But he then laid out his 9-point platform for his mythical presidential run. (At least it wasn't a 999-point platform). This economic checklist included--to his credit--an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, free college education for all returning soldiers, a large WPA-styled infrastructure jobs initiative, a 10 percent tax surcharge on all incomes over $500,000 and a 5% VAT tax on everyone. Cooperman also threw in a few squishy-GOP faves like expanded domestic energy production and raising the social security retirement age to 70.
But look at that list: Cooperman is for a new G.I. Bill, hugely higher taxes on the rich and a massive government stimulus infrastructure build. And he is voting GOP. Good luck with that.
Instead of tearing President Obama a new one, it actually sounds like Cooperman should be billionaire muscling the GOP Congress to pass the president's American Jobs Act.
Reading between the lines, it seems mostly that Cooperman's wittle feelings are hurt. How dare anyone--anyone from the Occupy Wall Street protesters to President Obama--ever say a bad thing about billionaires, hardworking billionaires who only want to help the poor by creating jobs for them and "fill[ing] store shelves at Christmas." A private jet tax loophole is a small price to pay for that kind of humanitarian instinct, isn't it?
The good news is that only 9 percent of Americans approve of this current Congress led by Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). In other words, 91 percent of Americans are apparently smarter than benevolent billionaire Leon Cooperman.
If you have a strong stomach, you can read Cooperman's absurd condescending screed for yourself here.
And you really ought to read the open letter rebuttal of Cooperman by Jill Klausen of @jillwklausen twitter fame. She says it all far better than me.
A photographer on the scene of Occupy LA during the LAPD raid on the encampment, identified by L.A. Now as Tyson Heder, 35, was taking pictures of the eviction, when a police officer shoved him away. The video shows Heder then standing up, yelling at the officer, and then being forced to the ground by several policemen.
His sister, Christy Collins, said Heder was in custody Wednesday morning.
Collins, who lives in Albany, N.Y., said she got an emotional phone message from him some time after his arrest. He posted on Facebook, “They beat me and stole my camera.” Collin said her brother had not been an Occupy participant previously and apparently went to the encampment Tuesday night just to take pictures.
“I do think it was horrible and excessive,” Collins said after watching a video of the encounter. “But I have to say, I was relieved it wasn’t worse once I saw it.”
A blogger who is a member of Occupy LA writes of other police violence during the eviction:
"Approximately 300 of us walked down 1st towards Los Angeles, leaving 300 left standing by the cops. The police moved in after us, and kettled the 300 left behind. Seeing this, we ran, as a group, a couple of blocks to get away from them, losing people all along the way. Then suddenly a group of police emerged. We were blocked (kettled) in on Alameda between second and first. The police started running towards us - the group was now about 100 people by this point - and everyone ran into a parking lot to escape. The police ran after them and started beating protestors with batons repeatedly as they were running away trying to escape. I saw about ten police hit protestors. I did not get video footage nor photographs as I was running."
While most can agree that the police violence in LA wasn't nearly as bad as Occupy Oakland, or Occupy Wall Street, it hardly seems cause for the high praise given the LAPD in the mainstream media. They successfully shut down a peaceful group exercising their First Amendment rights without beating them up "too badly." Woo-hoo?
The Hunting of the Snark: You are what you buy.
Elon James White: Dear OWS – welcome to our world.
Mikeb30200: Tennessee wants to loosen its gun laws.
Pax Americana: This blog is not Ron Paul friendly.
Cognitive Dissidence: Every 3.5 seconds in Wisconsin.
Guest post by Batocchio. Email tips to mbru AT crooksandliars DOT com.
Irony alert: 'Exiled' editor, Yasha Levine, who emigrated to the U.S. from Soviet Russia as a political refugee, was arrested on Tuesday night during the LAPD raid on Occupy LA.
Yasha Levine emigrated from Soviet Russia to the United States just over two decades ago with his parents and siblings–they came here as political refugees from the Soviet Union police state, where political dissent and critical journalism were not tolerated. And now he’s sitting in a Los Angeles prison for the same crime he’d have been imprisoned for back in the Soviet Union.
In 2008, Yasha was forced to flee a second time from Russia, following the Kremlin attack on our Moscow newspaper, The eXile. We were investigated for alleged “extremism”–that is, for regularly publishing articles critical of the Kremlin, satirical and aggressive, and for regularly publishing columns in The eXile by one of the leaders of the democratic opposition to Putin’s rule, Edward Limonov.
Latest word is that Yasha is going to have to spend another night in the Los Angeles County jail, and will be brought before a judge tomorrow (Thursday) and hopefully released, as bail is currently set at an incredible $5,000. The National Lawyer’s Guild is calling this illegal and a violation of state law.
Has anyone checked for new cracks in the old Liberty Bell lately?