That America

These days, it’s hard to recognize that America. The wage stagnation that began in the late ’70s has since bestowed on us the kind of income inequality more typical of a third-world oligarchy. The real minimum wage is less than it was in 1968, and the richest 1 percent of Americans take home nearly 25 percent of the country’s income, as compared with the 9 percent they earned in 1974.

The above is what many seem not to realize. Also, I have spoken to several people in real life who seemed not to be terribly concerned about S 1867. I would like comments on it or news of it, as Obama has apparently signed the HR vcomersion of it with this comment.


9 thoughts on “That America

  1. Happy New Year Z! Hope you had a good Christmas. I promised myself that I would only post happy Christmas themes on my blog until the New Year and succeeded with the exception of my “ Papai Noel” post which was too good to pass up. I suppose a relatively short comment or two would be alright.

    Most Bloggers like to involve themselves with hypothetical’s such as the post on The Nation today by John Nichols on how presidential aspirant, Rick Santorum (Santorum being Latin for Not Romney) would like to amend the constitution and abolish the courts. I’ll try to keep mine to a minimum and deal with the actual situation. Meta- analysis is another favourite in which I will engage but also try to keep to a minimum. Most mainstream media (MM) is AWOL on this issue and the majority of bloggers aren’t helpful as well. As usual the MM is acting as stenographers for the administration and keeping on message or ripping off the bloggers on the topic. Good example with regard to blogger theft on another issue is the following:

    “Apparently, The New York Times agreed. On Monday, they ran a piece that amounts to a couple paragraphs of “fresh tops” aimed at trying to make the piece current, followed by a very light, very lazy rewrite of our article. It cites exactly the same essays and materials we did, takes for granted the identity of Paul’s chief ghostwriter and newsletter editor (which our article spent a fair amount of space publicly establishing for the first time), and even interviews exactly the same sources on the same subjects. (I’ll buy that any reporter would have phoned Ed Crane up; I’ll eat my left shoe if the authors had the first idea who Carol Moore or Mike Holmes were before they read our piece.)

    Please don’t take my word for it, though: Compare for yourself. This isn’t a “follow-up” story. It’s a sloppy paraphrase whose authors expended the bare minimum effort of getting our sources to repeat quotes anew so they could use our material without citing the original source.”

    You would give these guys at NYT a fail on a term paper but this is just SOP at the grey lady so they undoubtedly got their Christmas bonus. Probably graduated from some fancy pants East Coast U.

    Bloggers haven’t done much better. I followed the links on the signing statement from your post and came to the Under the Radar blog where Josh Gerstein posts on the signing statement with the lead:

    “President Barack Obama signed a defense bill Friday that could cripple his efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay prison for terror suspects.”

    The rest of the article continues in this theme about Gitmo. Bottom line – the core issue is NOT Gitmo but the gutting of the American Bill of Rights on the 220th anniversary of its implementation and the loss of separation of powers leaving unelected officials in the executive branch supreme. The closest declaration to this section of the NDAA 2012 bill is the German Enabling Act of 1933, the Ermächtigungsgesetz or Gesetz zur Behebung der Not von Volk und Reich and you know where that led.
    (to be continued)

  2. Just to finish up on my previous comment on the level of MM journalistic competence with respect to reporting on NDAA 2012, Julian Sanchez, the blogger who made the comments on the NYT intellectual theft of his article without proper attribution, included the following addendum in his post yesterday.

    Addendum: Just to clarify, I’m not annoyed about our reporting being “stolen”—you can’t “steal” public domain facts—or looking to get some kind of acknowledgement by name, which would be of no particular professional value to me at this point (and probably generate unwanted interview requests on a topic I’m happy to be done with). I’m annoyed that what I’d thought was a decent piece of writing and reporting got the equivalent of a rewrite by a stoned high school student adapting a review essay for an overdue book report. So readers got this mangled account—including an incredibly confused idea of what the fault lines in contemporary libertarianism are about, assuming anyone cares about these internecine pissing contests—rather than a simple link to a more thorough treatment. While I appreciate the supportive comments, nobody should really be offended on my behalf here. Be offended that people who subscribe to the Paper of Record aren’t getting the quality of coverage they’re paying for because a couple of indolent hacks are too desperate to give the appearance of being real reporters to provide a reference and do original work.

    I like to give people the benefit of the doubt so I reviewed part of the 1600+ NYT article oeuvre written by co-author, Jim Rutenberg, assuming that this rip off was an anomaly, an outlier caused by too much egg nod at the office Christmas party and not representative of his work. During October of 2008, Rutenberg wrote an article entitled, “Obama’s Personal Ties Are Subject of Program on Fox News Channel.” The following are the first two paragraphs of the piece which was noted by blogger, Brad Delong:

    “During a weekend of Republican attacks on Senator Barack Obama’s personal associations, Fox News Channel ran a program Sunday that made provocative assertions about similar connections, called “Obama & Friends: The History of Radicalism.”

    Sean Hannity, the conservative radio and television host, was the host of the hour-long program, which raised, among other things, unsubstantiated accusations that Mr. Obama’s work as a community organizer in Chicago was “training for a radical overthrow of the government.”

    The word, unsubstantiated, rather than false is indicative of the piece such as Obama is a secret Muslim followed by a denial. One could also write in this vein,”Prominent religious leaders have made unsubstantiated claims that Obama is the Anti-Christ etc.” So much for the gray lady journalistic standards and this carries over into the general MM reporting on NDAA 2012 which mimics the talking points of the Washington consensus.

    I have never seen such a high degree of obfuscation and misdirection as I’ve seen in this bill. Just look at the section numbers. Originally it was sections 1031 and 1032 then in the conference committee, it was changed to sections 1021 and 1022 and finally in the signing statement, it’s not mention but section 8119 and others are mentioned. Finally SB1867 becomes HR2055, the consolidated appropriations act and I hope that I got everything right. The bill is brought under public scrutiny during American Thanksgiving when everyone is stuffing their faces with turkey and signed the day before Christmas Eve when most folks have other things on their mind. The official statements from the White House suggest that the bad stuff has been removed and this was dually reported by MM; however, this is with respect to Congressional restrictions on executive decisions rather than the meat of the section which still allows the military to arrest American citizens in the States on suspicion of “substantial involvement” in “associated groups” of terrorist organization which is broad enough to cover pretty much anything. The decision will be made by an unelected official without judicial oversight with possible indefinite detention including rendition to any third country. There has been much misdirection with ambiguous statements from the WW such as this comment by the AG quoted on the La Rouche blog:

    As for the bill itself, Attorney General Eric Holder indicated, during a press conference yesterday, that Obama would be issuing a signing statement when he signs the bill. “We made really substantial progress in moving from something that was really unacceptable to the administration to something with which we still have problems,” he said. “But I think through these procedures, with these regulations we will be crafting, we can minimize the problems that will actually affect us in an operational way.” He said that the changes made in the detention provisions in the bill had been moved in a “substantial way” from the original language, which had caused the Obama veto threat — i.e., basically anything that would indicate that Congress has the right to be involved in any way in what is deemed to be the prerogative of the Unitary Executive alone.

    “So, we are in a better place,” Holder stated. “I think the regulations, procedures that will help, and we’ll also have a signing statement from the President” that will explain the administration’s view of the law (and its intention in implementing it, he might have added).

    Ok. I’m going to stop here but there are a lot more things to discuss such as the concept of the unitary presidency, the shift in this bill from de facto to de jure Martial Law, the actual meaning of a signing statement and the tactics of the MM to market this atrocity. To give NYT its due, they did have a half decent Op Ed in 2007 on the evolving loss of constitutional rights:

    “A disturbing recent phenomenon in Washington is that laws that strike to the heart of American democracy have been passed in the dead of night. So it was with a provision quietly tucked into the enormous defense budget bill at the Bush administration’s behest that makes it easier for a president to override local control of law enforcement and declare martial law.

    The provision, signed into law in October, weakens two obscure but important bulwarks of liberty. One is the doctrine that bars military forces, including a federalized National Guard, from engaging in law enforcement. Called Posse Comitatus, it was enshrined in law after the Civil War to preserve the line between civil government and the military. The other is the Insurrection Act of 1807, which provides the major exemptions to Posse Comitatus. It essentially limits a president’s use of the military in law enforcement to putting down lawlessness, insurrection and rebellion, where a state is violating federal law or depriving people of constitutional rights.”

    Let’s end this segment with a bit of humour and show a video. (To be continued)

  3. Yes. Video is very funny. But why is it that so few people seem to be worried about this? I have to really figure out what to think / how to think of how to organize / in this situation, since it is no longer the US as we knew it. How to organize under dictatorship, etc., how to think of what is possible.

  4. I thought that I would start this segment with a video from Real News, a mainstream Internet news organization, that recapitulates the prior two comments. Russia Today and Al jazeera English have also done a reasonably good job on the topic but could be construed as having their own agenda so Real News which is pretty non partisan would be a good choice.

    Below is a link to a story in Truth Out entitled, “Why Is the Media Lying About New NDAA Power for Indefinite Military Detention of Americans?” on Saturday 17 December 2011 by Ralph Lopez which also demonstrates the twisting of facts by the MM.

    At this point, I would like to take a little detour and discuss a possible tie-in with the events at U C Davis. Most folks are unaware of the connections between Chancellor LK and Homeland Security. Everyone by now knows about the pepper spraying of Occupy students at U C Davis on November 19, 2011 for which she accepts responsibility and her prior co-chair of the committee to change Greek Higher Education to an entrepreneurial University model. In a post by Mark Ames on NC blog:

    “Earlier this year (2011), Linda Katehi served on an “International Committee On Higher Education In Greece,” along with a handful of American, European and Asian academics. The ostensible goal was to “reform” Greece’s university system. The real problem, from the real powers behind the scenes (banksters and the EU), was how to get Greece under control as the austerity-screws tightened. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that squeezing more money from Greece’s beleaguered citizens would mean clamping down on Greece’s democracy and doing something about those pesky Greek university students. And that meant taking away the universities’ “amnesty” protection, in place for nearly four decades, so that no one, nowhere, would be safe from police truncheons, gas, or bullets.

    The educational consequences of her report are demonstrated in a post by Lecturer in Social Anthropology at Panteion University, Athens.

    Dear Colleague, The Greek government is passing a university Reform Bill, while universities are closed for holidays and the whole academic community is against it. This Bill demolishes what we know as university, academic disciplines, research, knowledge production and reproduction and academic freedom. It promulgates an authoritarian military-like administrative and academic model, which is the worst imaginable blend of Bologna process and which transforms university education into college training and the university itself into a corporation. A board of administrators, half from without the academy and half from within, will decide on all matters and will link directly “academic” education to the market, distributing funds to the more profitable knowledge sectors. If you take into consideration that university funds are cut by 50% already, you can imagine that not much of it will survive unless tuition fees are imposed, a move forbidden however by the Greek Constitution, which guarantees free higher education for all. Departments and their academic role are abolished and replaced by “teams of teachers” of unspecified disciplinary constitution, who will be “teaching machines” with no say as to how their curriculum will be constructed. As for social science and humanities, I am afraid that not much will be left of it.

    For all these reasons, we are launching a petition to the international academic community to support our struggle against the Bill. Below you will find two links. In the first, you can find a summary of what is going on and you can sign by sending an email. The second is an ordinary petition with little information. You just get in and sign.
    Please give us some of your time, please sign it and pass it around to any list available to you.
    Thank you in advance
    Best regards,
    Rania Astrinaki
    Lecturer in Social Anthropology,
    Panteion University, Athens

    What is less known is Katehi`s connection to Homeland Security. In 2010, the Penn State University President Graham Spanier, who was dismissed from his duties recently due to a scandal, recruited Katehi to join twenty college presidents on the National Security Higher Education Advisory Board (NSHEB), which is the primary Homeland Security/ Higher Education nexus in America and its mandate is “the promotion of strategic national security partnerships with academia [in] the United States.”

    In an article posted in The Nation, Dave Zarin said the following:

    As for the actual meetings between the presidents of academic institutions and the FBI, those discussions are classified. If you are a rabble-rousing faculty member or a student group stepping out of line, your school records can become the FBI’s business and you’d be none the wiser.
    Chris Ott, from the Massachusetts ACLU, said of the NSHEA, “The FBI is asking university faculty, staff, and students to create a form of neighborhood watch against anything that is so called ‘suspicious.’ What kinds of things are they going to report on? Who has the right to be snitching? One of the scary things is who [on the campuses] will take it upon themselves to root out spies?”

    Shortly after her recruitment, the Student Activism Response Team was formed at U C Davis (you can correct me on this).

    The following link is to the August 18, 2010 draft of the Student Activism Response Protocol, Division of Student Affairs at U C Davis.

    Click to access Student%20Activism%20Team%20Protocol%20draft,%208-2010.pdf

    My understanding is the mandate is to infiltrate, monitor and liaise with police and administration on campus activist groups. Groups specifically warranting attention as noted in the protocol are Afro-Americans, Hispanics, Asians and Native Americans. The introductory paragraph seems innocuous but you can seem the opportunity for abuse by authorities and it’s a good cover story.

    “UC Davis student activism is recognized as a legitimate exercise of freedom of expression and an
    Important learning opportunity (see Attachment A). The primary role of the Division of Student Affairs
    in responding to student activism is to support freedom of expression, promote student safety, educate the campus on free speech policy and assist in preventing disruption of normal campus activities through education and implementation of time, place and manner regulations. Student Affairs staff members communicate with students to identify issues of concern and make campus administration aware of those concerns and potential activity.”

    I might add that the group’s existence was entirely covert until it was exposed by a student’s Public Records Act request in March, 2011. Complaints by students about Administration/Law enforcement spying led to promises to make the operation more transparent but as of the current date, the only change has been to its title from “Student Activist Team“ to a more Orwellian “Freedom of Expression Support Team. “

    After the pepper spray incident and public outcry, the administration hired Bill Bratton as an “independent“ leader of an investigation into the event. I wonder how independent a Vice Chair of the Homeland Security Advisory Council will be in investigating a member of the NSHEB? The following is from a post in Hufpo:

    “Lynn Tierney, vice-president of communications at UC, said the work Kroll has done in the past consisted of background checks, security around visits from foreign dignitaries and security around faculty singled out for the work they do….

    Tierney said the Kroll investigation — which the UC Davis chancellor requested be conducted by an outside entity — is narrowly tailored to the pepper-spray incident at UC Davis on Nov. 18. Other reviews are also being conducted across the UC system of colleges by faculty, campus leaders and alumni.

    In every case when Bill Bratton’s professional expertise and advice is sought — be it in the U.K. this past summer to the Home Secretary following riots in the London area or his service as Vice Chair of the Homeland Security Advisory Council, whose members provide recommendations to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security — his work is based on comprehensive reviews of the specific incidents that examine the facts and circumstances through the lens of his significant professional background and success in the fields of security, counter terrorism and law enforcement,” Papp said.”

    “And then there are various patrimonial conflicts of interest from Kroll’s corporate parentage. Kroll is a subsidiary of Altegrity, Inc., a large risk consulting and security conglomerate. According to the Council of UC Faculty Associations letter, Altegrity helps “financial institutions and governments seeking to head off and defeat both private sabotage and public protest.” I couldn’t find any direct mention of Altegrity’s work on public protests, but it’s safe to assume that many of the firm’s corporate clients are not enthusiastic supporters of the Occupy movement.

    And, in the way of things, Altegrity has a corporate owner,Providence Equity Partners, which has investments in the Education Management Corporation, the second largest for-profit college company in the United States after the University of Phoenix. Any love for affordable, high-quality public education that exists at Providence Equity Partners would certainly run counter to the firm’s financial interests”

    Above from

    The bottom line is that ten days after the events in U C Davis, a drastic change in codifying Martial Law which had been on the backburner for years is suddenly pushed to the top of the agenda. Are they afraid that the unravelling of National Securities’ part in the incident might lead to unexpected consequences? Stay tuned. (To be continued)

  5. Thank you once again, N G! Are you possibly going to sew these comments together for an article to be published somewhere at least more visible than the comments of this obscure blog? I really hope so. People *so* do not understand this, and so need to.

  6. By using comments on your blog as a low profile way of collecting my thoughts and clarifying my thinking on a very complex topic, I can work towards outlining my general thesis and I wish that some professional historian would comment on the topic and not quietly take notes for their future opus, “The End of the Republic” to be published in ten years; however, I understand their reluctance and need to maintain credibility. For instance, I know some facts. 1) The National Security Higher Education Advisory Board (NSHEAB) gets regular briefings from the CIA. 2) One of Chancellor LK’s co-members on the NSHEAB is Dr. Robert Michael Gates, President of Texas A&M University (currently Chancellor of William and Mary College) who was a former Director of Central Intelligence under President Bush Senior, spent 26 years in the CIA and was, at least peripherally, involved in the Iran-Contra scandal. 3) The CIA has been actively involved in Greek politics since 1948 in its previous incarnation as the Office of Policy Coordination. Is this sufficient evidence to entertain the hypothesis that the “International Committee on Higher Education in Greece” which was co-chaired by LK was actually a covert CIA operation to suppress student activism in Greece? A prudent person would need more information to go down that path. There are too many wild eyed Libertarians in the blogosphere ranting about FEMA detention centers. While I don’t like to criticize accomplished people behind the mask of anonymity, in an age of elite prosecutorial immunity where the wealthy steal billions, the poor are criminalised and the mass media are a sham, one has to say something. I was watching the American political talk shows this morning with their Year in Review format and although there was some discussion of the fragility of democracy in other countries, there was nothing on the new Martial Law regime in the US. Fareed Zakaria on CNN’s GPS show said that “they will be tracking all the important trends” without mentioning this topic so I guess the gutting of the Bill of Rights isn’t important. Reliable Sources on CNN spent it’s time on the media’s comparison of the Republican clowns and trying to give gravitas to a bunch of intellectual lightweights. Ron Paul’s statement about getting rid of the IRS is” just another position”.

    I also need time to weave a compelling narrative about the interrelation of a number of disparate elements – the connection between McGill University and the events at U C Davis, the synergy between the Low Information Voter, key actor in the current American political system, and the growth of the Entrepreneurial University model, and the evolution of law enforcement mentality from defender of public order to an occupying force in area with a hostile population. This is a tall order. Any feedback from yourself would be appreciated.

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