The Soul of America

From Huffington Post:


Despite such terminology as “fiscal cliff” and “debt ceiling,” the great debate taking place in Washington now has relatively little to do with financial issues. It is all about ideology. It is all about economic winners and losers in American society. It is all about the power of Big Money. It is all about the soul of America.

In America today, we have the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any major country on earth, and more inequality than at any time period since 1928. The top 1 percent owns 42 percent of the financial wealth of the nation, while, incredibly, the bottom 60 percent own only 2.3 percent. One family, the Walton family of Wal-Mart, owns more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of Americans. In terms of income distribution in 2010, the last study done on this issue, the top 1 percent earned 93 percent of all new income while the bottom 99 percent shared the remaining 7 percent.

Despite the reality that the rich are becoming much richer while the middle class collapses and the number of Americans living in poverty is at an all-time high, the Republicans and their billionaire backers want more, more, and more. The class warfare continues.

My Republican colleagues say that the deficits are a spending problem, not a revenue problem. What these deficit-hawk hypocrites won’t talk about is their spending. They won’t discuss what they did to dig the country into this $1 trillion deep deficit hole. They waged wars in Afghanistan and Iraq without paying for them. They gave away huge tax breaks for the rich. They squandered taxpayer dollars on the pharmaceutical industry by making it illegal to let Medicare bargain for lower drug prices. They also rescinded financial regulations that enabled Wall Street to operate like a gambling casino, leading to a severe recession that eroded tax revenue and left more than 14 percent of American workers unemployed or underemployed.

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If AIG is a Person – Pay Up!

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Hank Greenberg Should Be Shot into Space For Suing the Government over the AIG Bailout

From Rolling Stone:

By Matt Taibbi
January 9, 2013

A lot of people are wondering what to think about the news that the board of AIG is considering joining the lawsuit filed by former AIG head Maurice “Hank” Greenberg against the Fed and the U.S. government – a suit that one news outlet describes as charging the state with handing out an “insufficiently generous bailout.”

The editorial in today’s Daily News captures the public feeling over this confusing news story quite well, I think:

If chutzpah were a crime, Hank Greenberg, American International Group’s former chief, would be going away for a long, long time.

Long since driven out of AIG, Greenberg is waging a lawsuit claiming the U.S. hurt the firm’s shareholders — including him — when the government rescued the insurance giant with the most humongous bailout of all time.

If you just read the headlines, the story that AIG is considering suing the government for bailing it out makes no sense at all. What could even be the basis for such a suit? One reader asked the question this way: “If a cop bursts into a motel room and stops you just as you’re about to blow your head off with a shotgun, can you sue him?  If the answer is yes, should I try it?”

Former bailout inspector Neil Barofsky put it this way, in an interview with Bloomberg: “The idea that AIG would have been better off by going bankrupt, for the shareholders is a very, very hard thing to sell, I think.”

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John Brennan vs. a Sixteen-Year-Old Boy

From Common Dreams:

by Medea Benjamin
Published on Wednesday, January 9, 2013 by Common Dreams

In October 2011, 16-year-old Tariq Aziz attended a gathering in Islamabad where he was taught how to use a video camera so he could document the drones that were constantly circling over his Pakistani village, terrorizing and killing his family and neighbors. Two days later, when Aziz was driving with his 12-year-old cousin to a village near his home in Waziristan to pick up his aunt, his car was struck by a Hellfire missile. With the push of a button by a pilot at a US base thousands of miles away, both boys were instantly vaporized—only a few chunks of flesh remained.

Afterwards, the US government refused to acknowledge the boys’ deaths or explain why they were targeted. Why should they? This is a covert program where no one is held accountable for their actions.

The main architect of this drone policy that has killed hundreds, if not thousands, of innocents, including 176 children in Pakistan alone, is President Obama’s counterterrorism chief and his pick for the next director of the CIA: John Brennan.

On my recent trip to Pakistan, I met with people whose loved ones had been blown to bits by drone attacks, people who have been maimed for life, young victims with no hope for the future and aching for revenge. For all of them, there has been no apology, no compensation, not even an acknowledgement of their losses. Nothing.

That’s why when John Brennan spoke at the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington DC last April and described our policies as ethical, wise and in compliance with international law,  I felt compelled to stand up and speak out on behalf of Tariq Aziz and so many others. As they dragged me out of the room, my parting words were: “I love the rule of law and I love my country. You are making us less safe by killing so many innocent people. Shame on you, John Brennan.”

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The Brennan nomination: A government of torturers and assassins

From World Socialist Web Site:

Bill Van Auken
9 January 2013

“He has worked to embed our efforts in a strong legal framework,” President Barack Obama declared Monday during an appearance in the East Room of the White House. “He understands we are a nation of laws. In moments of debate and decision, he asks the tough question and he insists on high and rigorous standards.”

The president was describing his nominee as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan, who currently serves as Obama’s homeland security and counterterrorism adviser. He also lauded Brennan’s “integrity” and “commitment to the values that define us as Americans.”

One would hardly guess from this high-flown rhetoric that Obama was describing Brennan’s role as the nation’s assassin-in-chief. He has demonstrated his “integrity” and commitment to values, law and standards by chairing the so-called “terror Tuesday” sessions at the White House, putting together “kill lists” for the president to approve, and overseeing remote-controlled murder by Predator drones.

The “strong legal framework” refers to his development of the so-called “disposition matrix,” a system for “codifying and streamlining” the extrajudicial executions that are carried out by means of drone missile strikes on a virtually daily basis. This framework, developed by a cabal of military and intelligence officials, has as much to do with a “nation of laws” as the decrees issued by Hitler during the Third Reich.

This is Obama’s second attempt to nominate Brennan, a 25-year CIA operative. Following his inauguration in 2009, the newly elected Democratic president found himself compelled to back off from installing Brennan as CIA chief in the face of a storm of protest from liberals and “lefts” in and around the Democratic Party.

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Maddow calls Hagel out for ‘Akin-esque’ views on women’s health

From Raw Story:

By Arturo Garcia
Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Secretary of Defense’s duties now include oversight of policies impacting both women’s reproductive health and the rights of LGBT service members, two factors that make presidential nominee Chuck Hagel’s “Akin-esque” viewpoints a questionable fit for the position, Rachel Maddow said on Tuesday.

“Running the Pentagon is about troop deployments and training regimens and weapons procurement and strategic thinking about things like intercontinental ballistic missiles, right? It’s definitely about guns,” Maddow said. “But we don’t generally think about it having to do much with God and gays. Except it really kind of does.”

As a senator, Maddow explained, the Republican from Nebraska repeatedly voted against amendments letting female service members pay out of pocket for abortions at military facilities. He also opposed abortion exceptions in the case of rape or incest, saying those were “rare” occurrences.

According to Buzzfeed, Hagel originally favored abortion in rape and incest cases, as well as in instances where the mother’s life was at stake, but later said he changed his mind after studying the issue, saying he didn’t think those exceptions were “relevant.”

“So not only would your insurance not cover it — according to Chuck Hagel, you shouldn’t even have access to it in a military hospital,” Maddow said. “What, ‘Go find a local service provider, deployed service woman’?”

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Obama’s Inaugural Benediction To Be Delivered By Pastor Who Gave Vehemently Anti-Gay Sermon

From Think Progress:

By Josh Israel
on Jan 9, 2013

The Presidential Inauguration Committee announced Tuesday that the President Obama has selected Pastor Louie Giglio of the Georgia-based Passion City Church to deliver the benediction for his second inauguration. In a mid-1990s sermon identified as Giglio’s, available online on a Christian training website, he preached rabidly anti-LGBT views. The 54-minute sermon, entitled “In Search of a Standard – Christian Response to Homosexuality,” advocates for dangerous “ex-gay” therapy for gay and lesbian people, references a biblical passage often interpreted to require gay people be executed, and impels Christians to “firmly respond to the aggressive agenda” and prevent the “homosexual lifestyle” from becoming accepted in society. Below are some of the most disturbing views in the sermon.

Christians must fight against LGBT-equality:

(2:40) We must not just sit quietly by and stick our heads in the sand and let whatever happens happen in our country. We’ve got to respond to the world that we live in. That is the mandate that comes to us as people of God. And this issue is coming more and more to the forefront every day.

(31:45) We must lovingly but firmly respond to the aggressive agenda of not all, but of many in the homosexual community. … Underneath this issue is a very powerful and aggressive moment. That movement is not a benevolent movement, it is a movement to seize by any means necessary the feeling and the mood of the day, to the point where the homosexual lifestyle becomes accepted as a norm in our society and is given full standing as any other lifestyle, as it relates to family.

Homosexuality is a sin:

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See also Huffington Post:  Obama, Inaugural Prayers and the Evangelicals Who Don’t Like Him

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