Category Archives: “Super Congress”

Iran – Stardate: 3192.1

Eminiar VII

In 1967, I saw the Star Trek episode, Taste of Armageddon. Kirk and Spock beamed onto Eminiar VII, were informed that the Enterprise had been annihilated in a computer simulation, and that the crew were obliged to be executed.

Trying to avoid the destruction of their planets, the inhabitants had decided to have a computer war instead of a real one. When a “hit” by the computer was scored, those living within the strike’s radius went willingly into “antimatter chambers” to be vaporized, making the casualties legitimate. That gives new meaning to save the planet, right? You gotta love Star Trek.

It was a good thought experiment, though. Even today, efforts to desensitize the reality of war leave me cold. I want to see the ugly. Anything else seems condescending or manipulative, neither of which serves the people on this planet. Reality has all its glory and shame in full view.

A seemingly innocent example is Steve Mumford’s work in Iraq as an embedded artist. But Robert Shetterly called him out saying, objectivity is “to present many sides of an issue, and let the viewer try to make sense of the complexity and live with the uncertainty.”

Uncertainty gives rise to choices.

There’s a lot of extra news lately about Iran’s nuclear energy program, so it’s time to ratchet up the fear level and make sure our military has enough money to protect us from the people who live in Iran.

If the supper committee doesn’t do its job of further slashing and dashing the hopes of Americans, the agreement laid out by a “previous congress” was for deep and automatic cuts that included the military. But of course, military spending cuts are frowned upon by some lawmakers just like tax sharing for the wealthy. Therefore, at [a recent meeting of the deficit reduction panel, Representative Dave Camp, Republican of Michigan, sought assurances that nothing would prevent Congress from changing the mechanism for automatic cuts in military spending. Douglas W. Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office, replied, “Any Congress can reverse the actions of a previous Congress.”] And there we have it. The built-in “out” has been revealed.

As for Iran, word has it today out of Tel Aviv, Washington and London that the IAEA will deliver breaking news soon – an already well leaked report that is reminiscent of the pre-Iraq war claims with an ISIS satellite photo of a bus sized metal bomb testing room (think mobile biological weapons labs). France and Russia have both warned Israel against a military strike, warning of irreparable damage to the region – the understatement of a decade.

Looking for an Intelligence Estimate, I found a report from three weeks ago by CSIS, a foreign policy think tank with heavy influence in Washington. It goes through September, but does not end two or three weeks ago. It takes its blazing strategy and analysis into the future. With diagrams, charts and possible scenarios, it describes what might happen if ….

It’s another thought experiment. I looked through the pages and saw what THEY think could happen. It’s ugly. And I think if we stay on this course, if we don’t force our governments to settle their differences without sizing up the people for annihilation, our planet stands to be assessed one country at a time, one city at a time, just like Tehran:

This is a PDF and it’s not for sissies:
Iran’s Strategic Competition with the US and Arab States – Chemical, Biological, and Nuclear Capabilities

Update: Here’s the IAEA Iran Nuclear Report. I see too much hype and stale information, and not enough critical thinking or factual explanation for assumptions. I remain concerned about our political persuasion and our recent tendency to rush to judgement in matters of war against the people of other nations. What I consider reasonable breakdown of it can be found here and here.

Find a better way. Save the planet. Peace.

Big Bad Wolves! Occupy Wall Street!

We’re being dressed for a roasting by the Super Committee while Big Bad Wall Street is blowing the alarm horn on itself. We need to build a brick house … and help is on the way! Support Occupy Wall Street/Occupy Together/October 2011!

JP Morgan buys NYPD for $4.6 million

Report: Super Committee Members Pocketed $41 Million from Finance Lobby During Congressional Careers

Rachel Maddow Attention to Wall Street malfeasance overdue:

  • On Wednesday, October 5, 2011, MoveOn members will join labor and community groups in New York City for a huge march down to the protest site—the biggest yet.
  • October 2011 also begins on Thursday the 6th. “Thousands of concerned Americans will assemble in Freedom Plaza, in Washington DC to take control of our country and our lives.”
  • OCCUPY TOGETHER and spread the word!

George Carlin talked about our national predicament in “Life Is Worth Losing” (2005):


The Deficit Is a Cruel Mistress

On September 19, President Obama will release guidelines for paying for his jobs plan so that all costs are offset. 

From the American Prospect’s Balance Sheet.

Today, President Obama will send his new jobs plan to Congress — a key step in remedying relations between the president and the left-wing of his base. But we’re still waiting for one more proposal from the president, and this one could alienate liberal Democrats all over again. A week from today, Obama has promised a plan on how to pay for his $447 billion jobs proposal.  

If addressing jobs and unemployment are Obama’s best way to shore up his base, then addressing the deficit is Obama’s way to reach out to independents and curb criticism from the right. One way to bring in more revenue from the wealthiest Americans is to raise the capital gains tax rate. In fact, some members of the Super Committee tasked with coming up with a deficit-reduction plan want capital gains to be on the table. But as the Washington Post points out this morning, both parties have been active in lowering capital gains rates over the last two years and making sure they stay low. A second source of revenue progressives would welcome is taxes on the over $1 trillion in revenue American corporations are currently holding overseas, hoping to bring back to the U.S. at a highly discounted tax rate. But as The Wall Street Journalreports today, the Obama administration is leaning towards giving corporations a big tax break on their overseas profits. 

Both capital gains and repatriation taxes were a big part of Mitt Romney’s jobs plan and will undoubtedly be pushed on the 2012 campaign trail. Obama may try to beat them to it. That could be good politics but is certainly bad policy.


Pressure Builds on Deficit Panel to ‘Go Big,’ Beyond Its Mandate, in Cuts   The New York Times


Capital gains tax rates benefitting wealthy feed gap between rich and poorWashington Post


Treasury Weighs New Tax SchemeThe Wall Street Journal


Clawbacks Without ClawsThe New York Times

Grassroots and Solidarity ~ “Let’s roll.”

I believe we have to think about how to create spaces for people to experience the solidarity that bolsters our courage to explore new ideas and to take risks to challenge power. ~ Robert Jensen

I’m feeling very solution oriented today. After yesterday’s political show – a continuation of the bullheadedness of our elitist leaders, Robert Jensen’s Combatting Ignorance, Avoiding Arrogance gave me some extra determination. It seems at first like an ‘I told you so’ piece, but develops into a strong case for the patience, humility and tenaciousness that we should find and foster in grassroots organizations if we plan to succeed in reversing our course of economic destruction. It’s a confirming sort of pep talk with thoughtful reasons for everyone to get involved with a group like our Alliance for Progressive Values. The people still have the strength to turn things around, but only with a meaningful collective voice. Once you find a good group to join, that group will link with other like-minded groups to form an effective foundation for the changes we all want to see.

Time for Americans to Participate in Power by Kevin Zeese backs it up nicely. This well sourced Labor Day piece includes a lot of statistics that are often misreported. His strong arguments for raising taxes on the rich and reducing military spending seem especially supportive now that the super committee’s Jon Kyl is threatening to quit over military spending reductions and other neoliberals on the committee are refusing to raise taxes. That, in addition to the predictable breaking news of a one week old terrorist threat that challenged football for the domination of our American nightly “news” immediately following the president’s important (but planned to be rejected) jobs speech.

Zeese’s conclusion is like that of Jensen’s in that we “need to look honestly and deeply into the corruption of government by economic and political elites and demand that we participate in power,” but he suggests a stronger stand of active participation and solidarity in an upcoming event:, which advocates “Fifteen Core Issues the Country Must Face.”

October 2011 is the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan and the beginning of the 2012 federal austerity budget. It is time to light the spark that sets off a true democratic, nonviolent transition to a world in which people are freed to create just and sustainable solutions.

I think it’s going to be an important event – it has certainly been well-organized.

There are lots of reasons why America is seemingly being steered into a deep ditch and we all have different views about the causes – but at this point, there are enough groups and activities promoting solidarity that everyone should be able to find a good fit, and that’s definitely the tack we should take.

In 9/11 hero Todd Beamer’s last words, “Let’s roll.”

For APV members: Here’s some information on the APV Fall 2011 Lobby Trip to Washington D.C. Don’t forget to sign up! It’s going to be a great one!

Who bankrolls the Super Congress?

Reps. Jim Clyburn, Chris Van Hollen and Xavier Becerra

For a refresher, Who bankrolls the Super Congress? | iWatch News gives information (to be updated) on each of the new members, including their “PAC contributions from special interests; the revolving door of staff in and out of the private sector; the lawmakers’ own PACs that dole out donations to favored people running for office; and past earmarks.”

Why they were chosen and what they will in fact do to or for the American people involves another waiting game. But … how, as an entire group of public servants, they can see fit to take a five-week vacation at a time like this, with our nation’s critical need for their undivided attention and cooperation is indicative, I think, of the devotion we can expect from them to helping the American people. I do not find their appointments comforting, especially those with unabashed ties to those corporate “forces” so obviously working against us, such as but certainly not limited to the Koch brothers.

The National Journal reminds us that “House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., made it clear from the beginning that no Republican on the panel would vote in favor of tax increases of any kind, and their nominees reinforce that: Kyl, Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, and Camp, Hensarling and Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan. A former president of the anti-tax Club for Growth, Toomey, in particular, is a signal of the GOP’s unwillingness to bend on taxes.”

In contrast, “In a letter being sent to each of the super committee members Thursday, the conservative Democratic Blue Dog Coalition is urging panelists to seek a centrist path.

“As you prepare for your post on the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, we urge you to work with your colleagues to achieve a balanced, bipartisan solution that will control our nation’s debt and ensure that the United States remains the leader in the world economy,” the Blue Dogs write in a draft obtained by POLITICO. “As policymakers, we have a clear choice in front of us: pursue a partisan approach that caters to the political extremes, or work together as Americans to put our nation’s fiscal house in order. Therefore, we urge you to put politics aside and work across party lines to develop a fair and feasible path to fixing our long-term debt.”

Here’s what Bernie Sanders had to say about the committee before members’ names were revealed:

And here’s why – this sort of horse pucky: