Will AZ kill a paranoid schizophrenic?

It's unlikely that Jared Loughner feels 'guilt' over what he did two days ago, if guilt means feeling bad or at least defensive about having done something morally wrong. But that won't stop Arizona from convicting him of murder and quite possibly killing him. There is already an on-point case, Clark v. Arizona, given the stamp of approval by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2006, where a paranoid schizophrenic 17-year-old was convicted of murder (probably because he was not yet an adult, he was 'only' sentenced to 25 years to life).

After he shot and killed a police officer, Eric Clark called his mom and dad from jail and explained that Flagstaff, Arizona, "was a 'platinum city' inhabited by 50,000 aliens. He told them: 'The only thing that will stop aliens are bullets.'" For Arizona, that's a guilty frame of mind. Five years ago, Emily Bazelon wrote an excellent article summarizing the case called Crazy Law:

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“will accede to Republican demands for extending tax cuts at all income levels”

Obama has already signaled he will accede to Republican demands for extending tax cuts at all income levels ...

Was it Tuesday the President signaled that, I was sick then and maybe didn't get the news. Or was it earlier, 2009, 2008, or early in his Presidential run? Or has he been a money and power shill since his beginnings at that Chicago real estate privatization law firm?

The full quote actually refers to resistance in Congress to extending tax breaks for our nation's richest. Both Obama and his AP court scribe decide to demean this as mere posturing (they're more than likely right, but I think it's revealing (to those who havent' 'gotten' Obama) how quick and comfortable Obama is insulting Democrats' populism (has he ever insulted Sarah Palin as he does now his fellow Democrats in Congress, as a posturing fake?)):

Two days after [Obama] and newly empowered Republicans exchanged pledges of cooperation at the White House, President Barack Obama expressed optimism about the prospects for agreement in time for enactment by year's end.

Still, he cautioned, "That doesn't mean there might not be some posturing over the next several days."

Not long after he spoke, Democrats ignited a partisan row in the House with legislation that would prevent taxes from rising on lower- and middle-income wage earners but allow them to rise for people at higher incomes.

The measure has no chance of passing the Senate, and Obama has already signaled he will accede to Republican demands for extending tax cuts at all income levels, making the vote purely symbolic.


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Not just top 1%; raise taxes on richest 10%

While President Obama plans to bipartisanly extend the Bush tax breaks for all but the top 1% or 0.5%, progressives should not get caught up in an “anti-1%” push. Bluntly, this country needs a class consciousness, and let’s make this real simple: it’s not just the top 1%, the entire top tenth (families making more than $109,000 a year) is on the other side of the line. All of them should be paying much more in taxes. We really need to take a look at this graph (from my diary at myfdl yesterday) again:

(Chart originally here, page 7) 

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Primary Obama: Jim Webb? Naahhh

Looking from the left among the electable politicians -- i.e., those with appeal to classes and voters divorced from the typical liberal wonkfest -- who have actual Congressional voting records, it's tough getting hopeful and enthusiastic about any potential populist/leftist Obama challenger.

Consider Jim Webb, for example. He's a guy who has said some great words about economic inequality and military quagmires, and yet in four years as a Senator his actions have largely betrayed his words. Does that description also roughly summarize Obama? Yeah, and that's the problem: gotta say NO to enthusiasm based on bright and shining words that don't come with a track record. Not necessarily a track record of accomplishment, but at least a record of a passionate and smart fight against the corporate/financial DC PTB.

Back to Webb, who said this about class after his election in 2006:

The most important-and unfortunately the least debated-issue in politics today is our society's steady drift toward a class-based system, the likes of which we have not seen since the 19th century. America's top tier has grown infinitely richer and more removed over the past 25 years. ... The top 1% now takes in an astounding 16% of national income, up from 8% in 1980. The tax codes protect them, just as they protect corporate America, through a vast system of loopholes.

... the true challenge is for everyone to understand that the current economic divisions in society are harmful to our future. It should be the first order of business for the new Congress to begin addressing these divisions, and to work to bring true fairness back to economic life. Workers already understand this, as they see stagnant wages and disappearing jobs.

But where was/is Webb on three critical 'class votes' of recent years: he voted for the bankers bailout, as best I can tell helped block card check unionization, and he now lobbies to keep the Bush tax breaks for some or all of the rich. And then there's the Obama deficit commission chairmen's recommendation to cut Social Security, which Webb 'needs more time to review'.


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Calling Michael Moore's bluff (?)

You signed the petition, so tell us what that means now. Specifically, tell us if you’re planning to vote Obama in 2012. Can I hope that publicly describing your plans will put you on the line against the Democrats’ happening-right-now mass move to the right?

As noted by David Byron, Michael Moore put his credibility on the line a few weeks ago, getting a lot of us (well, not me) to sign this petition:

We just voted for you, the Democratic members of Congress, in the midterms. But our vote comes with one big condition: If you do not straighten up, get a spine and do what we expect of you, we will find alternate candidates to run against you in 2012. And we mean it.

Consider yourself on notice that you have just two more years to start doing the things we elected you to do. If you move one more inch to the "center" or to the right, you will never get our vote again.

Let’s call Michael Moore’s bluff (you can contact him right here) on this. With the Democrats' frothing mad rush to the right in just the last week (in the name of 'compromise', of course, not that Dems really _are_ (;-`) righties) -- all of Bush's tax cuts get a definite maybe, Don't Ask Don't Tell reform to be killed (see Democrats lean toward caving on "don't ask, don't tell"), Afghanistan withdrawal now 2014 and not 2011 (see Obama Administration Walking Away From 2011 Afghan Withdrawal) -- don't you think it's time that Michael Moore tells us his 2012 vote Democrat (?) plans? He signed the petition after all, and pushed thousands to sign it with him.

And what about President Obama, how will his extending the deadline for Afghanistan withdrawal three years, from 2011 to 2014, affect Moore’s 2012 presidential vote? That’s a strong, particularly deadly move to the right, so it means petition-signing Michael won’t be voting for Barack in 2012? And another move to the right: Obama has in the last week accepted extending nearly all or all of Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, already quietly 'compromising' (not that Obama wanted to do so (;-`), but the Republicans got elected and so we must be nice to them and do what they want, which is helping out the very rich) and indicating he's open to extending tax breaks for all of the wealthy except the richest zero-point-five percent of families:

A compromise could see the ceiling for the middle- class tax cuts increased to those earning up to $500,000 or $1m a year. Or there could be agreement to make permanent all the cuts except for the richest, extending those just for an extra year or two while the economic recovery takes hold.

In a further signal that the president is amenable to a deal, Robert Gibbs, the White House spokesman, said the president did not believe making the top tax cuts permanent was a good idea but “he’s certainly willing to listen to both sides.”

Will this tax cuts ‘spinelessness’ display, greasing another giveaway to the wealthy, affect Moore’s 2012 voting plans? Ask the “Democrats need to grow a pair” petition-signing Michael Moore.

Want more? How about the whole ‘torture okay if done by Democrats’ thing, which just got clearer and uglier this week: Torture? Check. Covering Up Torture? Check. Rule of Law? Nope. Does torture get Michael Moore thinking ‘President Obama, NO MAS’? in 2012? And I won’t even get into the Obama-appointed Debt Commission’s right-wing schemes -- Panel Weighs Deep Cuts in Tax Breaks and Spending -- because President Obama won’t sign onto (much of) that till he gets back from overseas.

Anyway, let’s tell Mike: “You signed the petition, so tell us what that means now. Specifically, tell us if you’re planning to vote Obama in 2012. Can I hope that publicly describing your plans puts you on the line against the Democrats’ happening-right-now mass move to the right?”

Talking back to and calling the bluff of Michael Moore should be part of a larger project: finding out, one supposed progressive at a time, where the real left is in this country. If it’s anywhere. Let’s start with Michael Moore and find out if he’s the real thing or if his loyalties lie with the Democrats-in-name-only. Loyalty to Obama at his most ‘Blue Dog’ exposed will tell us all we need to know.

Sane tax policy vs. President Class War


and the Blue Dog Losers**

Of course the fix is already in, but let’s suppose President Obama actually wanted to get his purported tax agenda passed — preserve the Bush middle-class tax breaks and let the upper-class tax breaks expire. Why hasn’t anyone in ‘responsible punditry land’ suggested the following blatantly obvious scenario: incorporate the middle-class tax breaks that the Democrats supposedly want to preserve into a new law, and then pass that law during the lame duck session. Anyone opposing such a law is opposing middle-class tax breaks, right, political suicide, so such a measure passes with ease? Where in the preceding is the lame duck session gridlock that punditland assumes?

Then, after the Republicans supposedly take over (we’re pretending their agenda isn’t already running Washington right now) in January and try to pass bills renewing Bush’s tax breaks for the wealthy, Obama vetoes them. (If, say, he were President Don’t Compromise on Giveaways to the Wealthy.)

But no, we get the usual President Obama surreality of ’a need for compromise’ (and that other surreality, that people making $250,000 up to $1,000,000 are ‘middle class’) when there is no need at all for that. In fact, there is the usual desperate need to move money away from the well-to-do (including everyone making more than about $100,000) and toward the middle and working classes, which the ostensibly ‘easy to do’ scenario I’ve described above would do. But just describing that desperate need tells us why it won’t happen: Obama, most of the Democrats, and all of the Republicans are on the wrong side of the class war.

‘Nuff said.

**Despite its lack of necessity, Democrats (surprise, surprise!) are now everywhere talking ‘compromise’ for the sake of wealthy; here are a few of the more recent: Bill Pascrell (D-NJ-8), Michael Capuano (D-MA-8), Brian Higgins (D-NY-27), Bill Owens (D-NY-23), and Sen. Michael Bennett (CO).

P.S. Congressman Peter Welch (VT) is an honorable holdout against the rush to comfort the rich:

So why do we borrow money in order to fund a $700 billion tax cut for the very well off ? It makes no sense to me economically. It won't help the economy, but it will aggravate the deficit, and since it didn't make sense to me before the election it doesn't make sense to me after the election. So I would urge the Obama Administration to hold firm on this.


The Green New Deal, by 'Green Change'

On July 7, Green Change launched its campaign for a Green New Deal. (I first found out about it on Firedoglake's 'The Seminal'.) Their ten proposals would shatter the earth as we know it (in a good way).

Green Change's new campaign: the Green New Deal      The Green New Deal is our answer to the economic and ecological problems facing communities around the world.   The Green New Deal is a platform of policies aimed at creating broadly shared economic prosperity and effecting the transition to a sustainable civilization.    . . . Sign onto the Coalition for a Green New Deal today.    Here’s what you endorse by joining the Coalition for a Green New Deal:
THE GREEN NEW DEAL   1. Cut military spending at least 70%.   2. Create millions of green union jobs through massive public investment in renewable energy, mass transit and conservation.   3. Set ambitious, science-based greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, and enact a revenue-neutral carbon tax to meet them.   4. Establish single-payer "Medicare for all" health care.   5. Institute tuition-free public higher education.   6. Change trade agreements to improve labor, environmental, consumer, health and safety standards.   7. End counterproductive prohibition policies and legalize marijuana.   8. Enact tough limits on credit card interest and lending rates, progressive tax reform and strict financial regulation.   9. Amend the U.S. Constitution to abolish corporate personhood.   10. Pass sweeping electoral, campaign finance and anti-corruption reforms.

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'Chairman Steele, Afghanistan truth is taboo!'

For a brief and shining moment, well more or less just July 1 & 2, a major mainstream political leader told the truth everyone knows about Afghanistan: it's unwinnable. And he even held his ground for, like, a day. As a consequence, Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele was attacked without mercy by both parties and all of official Washington. That's even though we all know Steele is right, and we all know our first priority, saving Afghan lives, and second priority, saving foreign soldier lives, mean we need to get international military forces quickly removed from Afghanistan. Here's Steele, taboo busting:

This was a war of Obama's choosing. This is not something the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in. . . .

It was the president who was trying to be cute by half by flipping a script demonizing Iraq, while saying the battle really should be in Afghanistan. Well, if he's such a student of history, has he not understood that you know that's the one thing you don't do, is engage in a land war in Afghanistan? All right, because everyone who has tried, over a thousand years of history, has failed. And there are reasons for that. There are other ways to engage in Afghanistan.

Wow, refreshing, a normal person might at first react. Admittedly, you could question the beginning of the statement, since we all know Bush started the Afghan war; but it is also true that after deposing the Taliban Bush kept the war on low or simmer for the rest of his time in office. And Obama has turned the heat way up, doubling the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan (and unleashing McChrystal's assassination squads there, btw). In that reasonable benefit-of-the-doubt context, Steele's first two sentences above are accurate. But oh, what a second paragraph: right on Mr. Steele, and take that, warmongers!

As you'd expect, military-industrial complex and warmonger Republicans are on the anti-Steele warpath. And the other war party, the Democrats, are also attacking Steele, nearly accusing him of treason (yup, that sounds Bush-era familiar). As if we haven't known it for awhile, the party and President swooped into office by peacenik votes is also the other 'support the war or it'll make the troops feel bad' party:

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U.S./Canada Chosen G-20 vs. Objective G-20 (w/ chart)

The G-20 meeting of finance ministers in Canada was its expected police provocateur marred on the outside, Hooverville economics on the inside event, but what about the G-20 itself? Why that particular 20 in an organization that may now become very important (European Central Bank president Jean-Claude Trichet "views the G-20 as being the main forum for steering the global economy")? And why so many Western European representatives when the EU and its central bank appear to determine economic (especially financial) policy for Eurozone countries?

Well, apparently the G-20 was chosen by the G-7 (in particular the 1999 U.S. and Canadian finance ministers), and that's anti-democratic, of course, and as you'd expect 'The West'-centric. Is it possible, instead, to choose the G-20 transparently and objectively? Well, maybe. Going along with the ostensible, official purpose of the G-20, to gather together finance ministers representing power over the largest chunk possible of the world economy, why not simply call together the finance ministers representing the largest chunk possible of the world economy (sorry, but minus Taiwan).

Using the CIA list of countries ranked by GDP as measured by purchasing purchasing power parity (PPP), here's how that would look:

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Gays can't say 'Israeli apartheid' in Toronto

Let them in the parade and let people along the parade route judge for themselves. I've booed and shouted opinions at a few organizations in gay pride parades.

Do we have to act as if everyone with a sign in a gay pride parade has to follow a certain script?

Geena, June 9, 2010 12:29 PM

It's strange that the phrase 'Israeli apartheid' is now banned at a major political event in Toronto. This involves a pro-Palestinian group that has marched in Toronto's gay pride parade for many years, as have groups supporting Israeli government policies. That 'both sides' approach seems so civilized and democratic, but times are a-changing and not for the better.

Pride festival bans 'Israeli apartheid'

Toronto parade marshal resigns in protest
By Carmen Chai
Windsor Star
June 8, 2010  

This year's Toronto Gay Pride Parade Grand Marshal has resigned and 23 former Pride Toronto activists announced on Monday they have pulled out of Pride festivities after organizers banned the term "Israeli apartheid" from its 10-day event.

"Pride's recent decision to ban the term 'Israeli apartheid' and thus prohibit the participation of the group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid in Pride celebrations this year is a slap in the face to our history of diverse voices," said Alan Li, a co-founder of Gay Asians Toronto who rejected his appointment as grand marshal.

"Pride's choice to take a pre-emptive step to censor our own communities' voices and concerns in response to political and corporate pressure shows a lack of backbone to stand up for principles of inclusiveness and anti-oppression." . . .

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