Daily Archive: 07/27/2015

Jul 27 2015

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: How Neoliberal is Hillary Clinton?

By Le Gauchiste

The term “Neoliberal” is used a lot here at Daily Kos: 203 posts included the term during the first half of 2015 alone, a little more than one every day. Many of these posts stimulate lively discussion, especially regarding the alleged neoliberalism of various Democratic Party figures, most notably President Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Quantity is not always a sign of quality, however, and many of these discussions suffer from a failure to define neoliberalism adequately or even at all, leading to understandable confusion and misplaced accusations that the term is meaningless. This post will try to avoid that pitfall by proposing a definition of neoliberalism that emphasizes its nature as an ideology, and will then apply that definition to one of Clinton’s most important recent speeches, in which she was widely reported to have returned to traditional liberalism.

Jul 27 2015

The Big Lie: Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Program

In the wake of the agreement with Iran on in nuclear energy program, there has been a lot of shouting from the war hawks that this is a bad deal and characterizing it with hyperbolic rhetoric. Anti-Iran deal lobbies have taken the fight to the airways spending $20 million to $40 million to trash the agreement. The Obama administration has taken to Twitter.

The problem with all of these arguments, whether pro or con, is that they are all based on a false narrative that was created by the Bush administration after the invasion of Iraq in 2003. In an article at the Middle East Eye, Gareth Porter, an investigative historian and journalist on U.S. national security policy, has no problem with the Iran accord except one: the Obama administration’s the false narrative that Iran is a rogue nuclear state.

The common assumption about Iran’s nuclear policy is never debated or even discussed because it is so firmly entrenched in the political discourse by now that there is no need to discuss it.  The choice between two hardline views of Iran is hardly coincidental. The Obama administration accepted from day one the narrative about the Iranian nuclear programme that the Israelis and their American allies had crafted during the Bush administration.

The Bush administration’s narrative, adopted after the invasion of Iraq, described a covert nuclear programme run by Iran for two decades, the main purpose of which was to serve as a cover for a secret nuclear weapons programme.  Undersecretary of State John Bolton and Vice-President Dick Cheney, who were managing the policy, cleverly used leaks to the New York Times and Wall Street Journal in 2005 to introduce into the domestic political discussion alleged evidence from a collection of documents of then unknown provenance that Iran had a secret nuclear weapons research programme from 2001 to 2003.

The administration also passed the documents on to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 2005, as part of a Bush strategy aimed to take Iran to the United Nations Security Council on the charge of violating its commitments to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Bolton and Cheney were working with Israel to create a justification for regime change in Iran based on the idea that Iran was working on nuclear weapons under the cover of its nuclear programme.

The entire Bush-Israeli narrative was false, however. It ignored or suppressed fundamental historical facts that contradicted it as this writer found from deeper research on the issue:

   >Iran was the one state in the entire world that had a history of abjuring weapons of mass destruction on religious grounds.  During the Iran-Iraq war the military leadership had asked Ayatollah Khomeini to approve the manufacture of chemical weapons to retaliate against repeated chemical attacks by Iraqi forces.  But Khomeini forbade their possession or use forbidden by the Shia interpretation of the Quran and Shia jurisprudence.

   >Iran had begun to pursue uranium enrichment in the mid-1980s only after the Reagan administration had declared publicly that it would prevent Iran from relying on an international consortium in France to provide nuclear fuel for the Bushehr reactor.  

   >Iran did not inform the IAEA about its acquisition of enrichment technology, its experiments with centrifuges and laser enrichment or its first enrichment facility because of the continued US attempt to suppress the Iranian nuclear programme. Releasing such information would have made it easier for the United States to prevent continued procurement of necessary parts and material and to pressure China to end all nuclear cooperation with Iran.

   >The US intelligence community found no hard evidence, either from human intelligence or other forms of intelligence, of an Iranian nuclear weapons programme.  US national intelligence estimates during the Bush administration concluding that Iran had run such a programme, including the most famous estimate issued in November 2007, were based on inference, not on hard intelligence. That fact stood in sharp contrast to the very unambiguous human and electronic intelligence the CIA had been able to obtain on covert nuclear weapons programmes in Israel, India, Pakistan, South Africa and South Korea.

Barack Obama came to the White House with a highly critical view of Bush policy towards both Iran and Iraq and was publicly committed to diplomatic engagement with Iran. But his administration’s acceptance of the Bush line that Iran was a nuclear outlaw can be explained by the continuity of policy that the national security bureaucracy generally maintains in the transition from one administration to another, with rare exceptions.

Bureaucracies create the “facts” about any particular issue that support their interests. Defining the Iranian nuclear threat as a threat to proliferate was clearly in the interests of the counter-proliferation offices in the White House, State Department, and CIA, which wielded strong influence over the issue within their respective institutions.  

When will the media, the US and European governments demand that Israel account for its nuclear weapons and be subjected to the same standards that are being imposed on Iran? Israel is the only nation in the Middle East that has nuclear weapons and capable of starting a nuclear holocaust.

This aversion to the truth and facts about Iran and Israel by the media, Europe and the US are major obstacles to peaceful resolutions and good relations in the Middle East.

Jul 27 2015

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Paul Krugman: Zombies Against Medicare

Medicare turns 50 this week, and it has been a very good half-century. Before the program went into effect, Ronald Reagan warned that it would destroy American freedom; it didn’t, as far as anyone can tell. What it did do was provide a huge improvement in financial security (pdf) for seniors and their families, and in many cases it has literally been a lifesaver as well.

But the right has never abandoned its dream of killing the program. So it’s really no surprise that Jeb Bush recently declared that while he wants to let those already on Medicare keep their benefits, “We need to figure out a way to phase out this program for others.” [..]

Right now is, in other words, a very odd time to be going on about the impossibility of preserving Medicare, a program whose finances will be strained by an aging population but no longer look disastrous. One can only guess that Mr. Bush is unaware of all this, that he’s living inside the conservative information bubble, whose impervious shield blocks all positive news about health reform.

Meanwhile, what the rest of us need to know is that Medicare at 50 still looks very good. It needs to keep working on costs, it will need some additional resources, but it looks eminently sustainable. The only real threat it faces is that of attack by right-wing zombies.

Robert Kuttner: Why Social Security Beats All Rivals — And the Case for Expanding It

This is the season when we hear calls to cut Social Security. That’s because of the annual trustees report on the system’s financial condition.

Last week, the trustees reported that Social Security can pay all of its projected obligations through about 2034. To keep faith with today’s workers and tomorrow’s retirees, Social Security will need additional funds, though the shortfall is entirely manageable if we act in the next few years.

The report prompted the usual rightwing blarney about cutting benefits or privatizing Social Security, as well as familiar bleatings from billionaire deficit-hawks about the need to delay the retirement age for people far less fortunate.

One part of the system, the disability insurance fund, needs additional resources by 2016 — and of course Republicans are calling for cuts in benefits to some of society’s most needy people.

Joseph E. Stiglitz: Greece, the Sacrificial Lamb

AS the Greek crisis proceeds to its next stage, Germany, Greece and the triumvirate of the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission (now better known as the troika) have all faced serious criticism. While there is plenty of blame to share, we shouldn’t lose sight of what is really going on. I’ve been watching this Greek tragedy closely for five years, engaged with those on all sides. Having spent the last week in Athens talking to ordinary citizens, young and old, as well as current and past officials, I’ve come to the view that this is about far more than just Greece and the euro.

Some of the basic laws demanded by the troika deal with taxes and expenditures and the balance between the two, and some deal with the rules and regulations affecting specific markets. What is striking about the new program (called “the third memorandum”) is that on both scores it makes no sense either for Greece or for its creditors.

Gareth Porter: Obama’s Line on the Iran Nuclear Deal: A Second False Narrative

Buying into the narrative that Iran is a rogue nuclear state could harm the thawing of relations between the country and the US.

I’m glad that the United States and Iran reached an agreement in Vienna after nearly two years of negotiations and 35 years of enmity. A failure to do so under present political conditions would certainly have left a festering conflict with unpredictably bad consequences. And the successful negotiation of such a far-reaching agreement in which both sides made significant concessions should help to moderate the extreme hostility that has been building up in the United States over the years.

But my enthusiasm for the agreement is tempered by the fact that the US political process surrounding the Congressional consideration of the agreement is going to have the opposite effect. And a big part of the problem is that the Obama administration is not going to do anything to refute the extremist view of Iran as determined to get nuclear weapons.  Instead the administration is integrating the idea of Iran as rogue nuclear state into its messaging on the agreement. [..]

The common assumption about Iran’s nuclear policy is never debated or even discussed because it is so firmly entrenched in the political discourse by now that there is no need to discuss it.  The choice between two hardline views of Iran is hardly coincidental. The Obama administration accepted from day one the narrative about the Iranian nuclear programme that the Israelis and their American allies had crafted during the Bush administration. [..]

The entire Bush-Israeli narrative was false, however. It ignored or suppressed fundamental historical facts that contradicted it as this writer found from deeper research on the issue:

Sean McElwee: Most Americans don’t vote in elections. Here’s why

The rise of the donor class and the influx of corporate cash have caused many voters to lose faith in politics

New U.S. Census data released on July 19 confirm what we already knew about American elections: Voter turnout in the United States is among the lowest in the developed world. Only 42 percent of Americans voted in the 2014 midterm elections, the lowest level of voter turnout since 1978. And midterm voters tend to be older, whiter and richer than the general population. The aggregate number is important but turnout among different groups is even more crucial.

Politicians are more accountable and responsive to wealthy voters, not just because rich people vote in elections, but because they are also more likely to donate to campaigns or work on them to get their candidates elected. And the effects of the gap in voter turnout are far-reaching because, for many Americans, elections are one of the only ways in which they can participate in democracy.

Paul Buchheit: How Big Corporations Cheat Public Education

Corporations have reaped trillion-dollar benefits from 60 years of public education in the U.S., but they’re skipping out on the taxes meant to sustain the educational system. Children suffer from repeated school cutbacks. And parents subsidize the deadbeat corporations through increases in property taxes and sales taxes. [..]

All of our technology, securities trading, medicine, infrastructure, and national security have their roots in public research and development. The majority (57 percent) of basic research, the essential startup work for products that don’t yet yield profits, is paid for by our tax dollars.

But big business apparently views its tax responsibility as a burden to be avoided at the expense of the rest of us.

Jul 27 2015

The Breakfast Club (No Speed Limits)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

An armistice ends the Korean War; A House panel votes to impeach President Richard Nixon; A pipe bomb explodes at the Atlanta Olympics; The deposed Shah of Iran and comedian Bob Hope die.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

I am pretty fearless, and you know why? Because I don’t handle fear very well; I’m not a good terrified person.

Stevie Nicks

Stupid Shit by LaEscapee

Jul 27 2015

On This Day In History July 27

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

July 27 is the 208th day of the year (209th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 157 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1974, the House Judiciary Committee recommended that president Richard Nixon be impeached and removed from office. It was the first such impeachment recommendation in more than a century. The vote was 27 to 11, with 6 of the committee’s 17 Republicans joining all 21 Democrats in voting to send the article to the House. Nixon resigned before he was impeached by the full House.

The House Judiciary Committee recommends that America’s 37th president, Richard M. Nixon, be impeached and removed from office. The impeachment proceedings resulted from a series of political scandals involving the Nixon administration that came to be collectively known as Watergate.

snip

In May 1974, the House Judiciary Committee began formal impeachment hearings against Nixon. On July 27 of that year, the first article of impeachment against the president was passed. Two more articles, for abuse of power and contempt of Congress, were approved on July 29 and 30. On August 5, Nixon complied with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling requiring that he provide transcripts of the missing tapes, and the new evidence clearly implicated him in a cover up of the Watergate break-in. On August 8, Nixon announced his resignation, becoming the first president in U.S. history to voluntarily leave office. After departing the White House on August 9, Nixon was succeeded by Vice President Gerald Ford, who, in a controversial move, pardoned Nixon on September 8, 1974, making it impossible for the former president to be prosecuted for any crimes he might have committed while in office. Only two other presidents in U.S. history have been impeached: Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998.

Jul 27 2015

Listen to the Lyrics

Anarchy is the condition of a society, entity, group of persons or single person which does not recognize authority.

What about anarchy are we not understanding?

Make us worthy, make us proud

Teach us not to be too loud

We’ll try and fit in with the crowd

But we are St Trinians

We cant fake the way we feel

We were born to keep it real

Hockey sticks and balls of steel

We are St Trinians

You bite us, we’ll bite you back

Better be scared when we attack

Feel the fear we’re maniacs

St Trinians

Check out our battle cry

A song to terrify

No one can stand in our way

We are the best, so screw the rest

We do as we damn well please

Until the end, St Trinians

Defenders of anarchy

So scam all the toffs the neats and the freaks,

Blackmail the goths, the slappers and the geeks,

And if they complain we’ll do it all again

We do as we damn well please

ASBOs, the chavs, the emos and their mates,

To torment the slags we offer special rates,

And if they complain we’ll do it all again

Defenders of anarchy

We are the best, so screw the rest

We do as we damn well please

Until the end, St Trinians

Defenders of anarchy

St Trinians

So scam all the toffs, the neats and the freaks,

Blackmail the goths, the slappers and the geeks,

And if they complain we’ll do it all again

We do as we damn well please

ASBOs, the chavs, the emos and their mates,

To torment the slags we offer special rates,

And if they complain we’ll do it all again

Defenders of anacrchy

Check out our battle cry

A song to terrify

No one can stand in our way

We are the best, so screw the rest

We do as we damn well please

Until the end, St Trinians

Defenders of anarchy

Victorious, Rebellious

We do as we damn well please

Until the end, St Trinians

Defenders of anarchy

St Trinians