Elizabeth Warren on Debt Crisis, Fair Taxation

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Pope’s speech to German MPs faces boycott

In the US the fucking Taliban Christers would have shit fits…

From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/sep/21/german-mps-boycott-pope-speech

The pope will address the German parliament on a visit this week, but 100 MPs from opposition parties plan to stay away

in Berlin and agencies
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 21 September 2011

A hundred MPs in Germany are planning to boycott a speech given in the German parliament by the pope on his first official visit to his homeland.

MPs from the Green, Left and Social Democratic (SPD) opposition parties have indicated they will stay away from the Bundestag during the Bavarian-born pontiff’s address on Thursday afternoon.

“A head of state who disregards labour rights, women’s rights and the right to sexual self-determination should not be allowed to address the Bundestag,” Ulla Burchardt, an SPD politician from Dortmund, told Der Spiegel.

Others take umbrage at the decision to classify the pope as a head of state rather than the head of a religion, qualifying him for the honour of addressing parliament. Rolf Schwanitz, also SPD, who used to be a minister of state under Gerhard Schröder, said it set a dangerous precedent.

“Never before has a religious leader spoken in the German Bundestag – and for good reason, both then and now. The constitution, in respect of religion and world view, obliges the state to remain neutral,” wrote Schwanitz in a Wednesday’s FT Deutschland.

Alexander Süssmair of the socialist Left party told Der Spiegel he “cannot even imagine what the democratic Federal Republic of Germany could learn from the representative of an absolute monarchy”.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/sep/21/german-mps-boycott-pope-speech

What Awful Reality TV and Suburban Living Have to Do With the Tea Party’s Lack of Empathy

From Alternet: http://www.alternet.org/teaparty/152480/what_awful_reality_tv_and_suburban_living_have_to_do_with_the_tea_party%27s_lack_of_empathy/

The Tea Parties are partly a product of the suburbs, where social isolation leaves communication about social mores to reality TV. Is it any wonder the movement lacks empathy?

By Amanda Marcotte
September 20, 2011

If there’s any one defining feature of the Tea Party, it’s a lack of empathy for their fellow Americans. Republican candidates know this about their base: more than their supposed love of Jesus or the Founding Fathers, more than any coherent principled conservativism, more even than the strong streak of bigotry running through the Tea Party is this gleeful “screw you” attitude. Therefore, the Republican primary has become a contest to see who can heap the most abuse on Americans Tea Partiers don’t identify with.

You have Herman Cain preening about making Muslims second-class citizens; Michele Bachmann attacking doctors and public health officials who would prevent cervical cancer in young women; Rick Perry crowing about his heavy execution rate (which includes a willingness to execute people who should have been acquitted or had mistrials); and Ron Paul drawing heavy applause from a debate audience for his belief that government should just let the uninsured die. Far from being concerned about misfortune befalling others, the Tea Party routinely supports the expansion of suffering.

To help explain this phenomena, we might remember another signifying characteristic of the Tea Party: despite the enthusiasm for country music, Tea Partiers proliferate in suburban and exurban districts. The most right-wing districts in the country are also some of its most suburban. Michele Bachmann serves the 6th District of Minnesota, which is composed of the suburban area surrounding the north of Minneapolis/St. Paul. Steve King, known for his competing hatreds of immigrants and sexually active women, serves the 5th District of Iowa, built from the suburban sprawl between Omaha and Des Moines. Anti-health-care fanatic Joe Walsh represents Illinois’s 8th District, composed of the northern suburbs of Chicago. Joe Barton, known for apologizing to BP for the White House post-oil spill investigation, serves the 6th District in Texas, which encompasses the suburban sprawl south of the Dallas/Ft. Worth areas.

There’s likely a connection between the lack of empathy and the suburban nature of the conservative base. Research shows people tend to be more bigoted toward gays and those of different races when they have no personal connection with those people. Suburbs are known for breeding social homogeneity that does shelter people from humanizing those who are a little different than them. Beyond that, suburbs make it harder to develop a well-connected social life altogether.  Without that, it’s difficult to keep your empathy muscles, aka your ability to look at others and feel a common humanity with them. If you don’t use empathy, you lose it.

In the past half century or so, Americans have flocked to suburbs, attracted to the promise of large houses, quiet, and privacy levels that simply can’t be achieved in small towns and dense big cities. But the price of all those conveniences was the loss of a sense of community, as people left interconnected urban enclaves or small towns to the impersonal streets of the suburbs.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/teaparty/152480/what_awful_reality_tv_and_suburban_living_have_to_do_with_the_tea_party%27s_lack_of_empathy/

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Occupy Wall Street: the protesters speak

The mainstream US media has instituted a virtual blackout of any coverage of these demonstrations. No coverage no demonstration.

Maybe they need to try going topless, after all, sex sells.

From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/blog/2011/sep/21/occupy-wall-street-protests

The anti-capitalist protesters who have set up camp in lower Manhattan are becoming a fixture of the area

Posted by
Wednesday 21 September 2011

Casey O’Neill had no regrets. He had travelled thousands of miles across the country – and gave up a well-paying job as a data manager in California – to sleep rough in a downtown Manhattan public square, enduring rain and increasingly chilly nights. Police keep a close eye on him every day.

But O’Neill was happy to be part of the “Occupy Wall Street” protests that have transformed New York‘s Zuccotti Park from a spot where Wall Streeters grab a lunchtime sandwich into an informal camp of revolutionaries, socialists, anarchists and quite a lot of the just-plain-annoyed.

“Regrets? No. God, no,” said O’Neill, 34. “It is a little scary for sure. Somebody had to make a stand to do this. It is kind of amazing right now.” O’Neill is even happy to sleep on the park’s concrete benches. “It’s OK, actually,” he said.

O’Neill is part of an encampment in the square that looks ramshackle but in fact is highly organised, and looks rapidly on the way to becoming a fixture of downtown Manhattan life – if the police let the protesters stay there.

That looked unlikely on Tuesday when several protesters were forcibly arrested and taken away, including one woman who ended up in hospital. But for now the protest continues after beginning last weekend with a march on Wall Street.

The protest has morphed into a wide-ranging anti-capitalist demonstration that has attracted attention – and support – from around the world. Bemused bankers, construction workers and other downtown workers pass by every day, stopping to gawp and take pictures. Sometimes there is a lot to look at. Today, for example, Zuni Tikka, 37, was engaged in a topless protest along with several friends.

Continue reading at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/blog/2011/sep/21/occupy-wall-street-protests

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“Rome Wasn’t Burned In A Day”: Replacing Liberal Timidity With Leftist Passion

From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/09/21

by Phil Rockstroh
Published on Wednesday, September 21, 2011 by CommonDreams.org

Why is it that self-termed progressives are in full retreat (and have been for decades) from the witless army of angry clowns and hack illusionists of the U.S. rightwing?

One contributing factor involves the sterile cultivation of the persona of the “reasonable liberal,” a type favored and rewarded by the status quo-protective power brokers of the Democratic Party and by corporate media organizations that find useful his trait of rendering himself feckless (e.g., the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue) by the passion-annihilating (but self-serving) device of his preening amiability?

But in so doing, the self-gelded liberal has sacrificed libido and discarded sacred vehemence for careerist privilege. Worse, the rest of us are advised to follow suit…that, in order to gain credibility, one must slouch towards center-hugging irrelevance.

We are counseled that in order to navigate this age of corporate dominance that one’s irascible apprehensions and unruly aspirations must be suppressed, for such passions are deemed too radical for mainstream sensibilities, and are therefore regarded as impractical as they are untoward by the crackpot realists of the corporate bottom line whose dictates dominate the political discourse and economic arrangements of our time.

“Prune down [a human being’s] extravagance, sober him, and you undo him.”
–William James

Yet these self-termed “realists,” by means of their ad hoc machinations and hidden-in-plain-sight schemes, are responsible for the creation, promotion and maintenance of a financial system (and its attendant economic, political and ecological consequences) that is as sound as the flight plan of Icarus.

When a nation displays this degree of a noxious mixture of mass ignorance and official mendacity, an age of peace and plenty becomes as possible as holding a tea dance in a tsunami.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/09/21

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Does the GOP Hate Women?

From Other Words: http://www.otherwords.org/articles/does_the_gop_hate_women

Even though they’re afraid to utter the W word, it’s pretty easy to see what their views are on issues concerning the majority of voters.

  By Martha Burk
September 19, 2011

After suffering through several un-presidential GOP debates, I’m struck by the amount of anti-woman rhetoric spewing from the candidates. Although none of them dares utter the W word — unless it’s part of the phrase “our men and women in uniform” — it’s pretty easy to see what their views are on issues concerning the sex that comprises a majority of voters.

Take a look:

Social Security tops the list. Rick “Ponzi Scheme” Perry has declared the program unconstitutional, and the other candidates are struggling to characterize their various schemes to destroy Social Security as “saving” this vital program.

This is a women’s issue: women live longer than men, earn less during their working lives, and have smaller private pensions and savings accounts. And unlike the private accounts pushed by Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum, women don’t have to fight over Social Security payments in a divorce, and widows can’t outlive the benefit. Don’t some of these candidates have mothers or grandmothers?

Then there’s the pesky issue of jobs and the lack thereof. Some members of the media have tried to paint the Great Recession as a “mancession,” because construction took the biggest hit early on. Not so anymore. In the last 12 months, the pain has shifted to the female-dominated public sector currently under attack by the GOP, in which women are 50 percent more likely to be employed than men. And despite the fact that the number of women working part-time because they can’t find full-time employment has doubled since the recession began, the candidates are also opposed to any new stimulus money — unless

Continue reading at:  http://www.otherwords.org/articles/does_the_gop_hate_women

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The GOP is trying to rig the electoral college

From The Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-gop-is-trying-to-rig-the-electoral-college/2011/09/20/gIQA4NFIjK_story.html

By ,
Published: September 20, 2011

Like Poe’s purloined letter, the Republican plan to heist the 2012 presidential election sits before us in plain view. And going Poe one better, it is perfectly legal.The first part of the strategy has been unfolding for months. Since the 2010 elections brought Republicans to power in numerous swing states, officials in many of those states have made it harder for minority, poor and young voters to cast their ballots. GOP governments have been curtailing early voting(in Ohio and Florida) and requiring voters to produce official photo-identification cards (in Wisconsin). In South Carolina, the poll tax lives again: Voters who want an official photo-ID card must present a passport or a birth certificate, neither of which can be obtained for free.Recently a new ploy has emerged, focused on the electoral college. In Pennsylvania, Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R) has proposed changing the way the state’s electoral votes are tallied in presidential elections. (A state’s electoral votes reflect the number of its U.S. congressional districts, plus two more for its Senate seats.) Instead of having all of Pennsylvania’s electoral votes go to the candidate who carries the state’s popular vote, as is the long-standing practice in Pennsylvania and 47 other states, Pileggi wants to apportion those votes by congressional district.

Since Bill Clinton carried Pennsylvania in 1992, the state has gone Democratic in every presidential election. In 2008, Barack Obama carried Pennsylvania with 55 percent of its popular vote, thereby winning its 21 electoral votes. But if Pileggi’s plan had been in place, John McCain would have been given 10 electoral votes by virtue of winning 10 congressional districts. Obama would have been awarded nine for the nine congressional districts he carried, plus two for carrying the state’s popular vote.

The 2010 Census reduced Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation from 19 to 18, and the Republican legislature and governor have drawn new lines intended to create GOP majorities in 12 of the 18 districts. Under Pileggi’s plan, Obama could carry the state in 2012 — by winning huge majorities in heavily Democratic Philadelphia — and still lose the majority of its electoral votes.

Continue reading at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-gop-is-trying-to-rig-the-electoral-college/2011/09/20/gIQA4NFIjK_story.html

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