Monday, October 31, 2011

Is Capitalism Losing the Debate?

Is Capitalism Losing the Debate?


By Carl Finamore


A remarkable shift in mass public opinion is occurring

right before our eyes. It does not happen often.

Normally, only when there is a severe breakdown in

public confidence about the future.


Now is such a time.


Millions are demanding clear explanations for the

economic turmoil surrounding their lives and rejecting

en masse standard platitudes from an increasingly

discredited political establishment.


Fox-News pundits, Heritage Foundation business

scholars, glib right-wing loud mouths and two-faced

politicians from both major parties have been exposed

as stand-in ventriloquists for the wealthy -

shockingly, all in a few short weeks.


It all began with only a few hundred protestors camped

out on Wall Street challenging conceited notions of the

one percent.


Through it all, the Occupy Movement is discovering what

my generation learned during the civil rights, antiwar,

feminist and gay rights struggles begun some 65 years

ago - the ideas of the rich and powerful just don't stand up.


They don't hold water. That is, they do not accurately

explain what is happening around us, the measure most

rational people use to determine if something is true or false.


There was bitter political conflict with the status quo

during the conformist "American Dream" decade of the 1950s.


Fundamental rights of equality were denied and numerous

US military interventions into Central America and Asia

were excused by a conservative, misinformed and

compliant American population.


Eventually, it all turned around.


Principles of humanity and fairness displaced racist

fears. Support for national self-determination and non-

interference in other nations' internal affairs

ultimately won out against cold-war anti-communist

interventionist hysteria.


How did this happen? Simple, false assumptions of the

dominant powers in this country were challenged and examined.


There was a conversation in almost every American

household. Some were hotly contested with families torn apart.


Historical hindsight confirms the best reform proposals

in American history have come from socially conscious

mass movements. They have not come from traditional

leaders positioned inside the political machinery that

has so consistently and miserably failed us.


So it was in my days as a young activist.


In the end, the social, economic and political demands

of the popular mass movements thoroughly overcame

retrograde "Jim Crow" prejudices and reactionary "cold

war" misrepresentations.


The massively extensive political dialogue that broke

out in this country changed America.


For a precious few years, the lives of national

minorities, women and gays actually improved and,

significantly, lives were also saved as it became more

difficult for the United States to invade countries

using illegitimate pretexts and lies.


Extensive political debate can have a greater impact

today because the economic and social crisis is deeper.

Again, we have an opportunity to change our country and the world.


“Ideas, Like Rivers, Do Not Flow Backward.”*


The first collective statement from the original Occupy

Wall Street encampment is an extremely damning

indictment of corporate America:


"We come to you at a time when corporations, which

place profit over people, self-interest over justice,

and oppression over equality, run our governments. We

have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let

these facts be known."


In response, there has been no serious attempt by the

establishment to engage in authentic dialogue or in

spirited defense of their policies. On the contrary,

authorities have responded by letting loose riot

police, spewing slander and unsuccessfully trying to

change the subject by complaining about loud drum noise

and unsanitary conditions.


Really, it is quite a lame and ineffectual response

coming as it is from the most boastful and arrogant

power in the world that only a few years ago gloated

about the triumph of American free-enterprise over the

Soviet Union.


For a while, another "American Century" was trumpeted.


How quickly it has all imploded, not just their system

but their self confidence; and not just for US rulers

but for their cronies across the world as in Tunisia,

Egypt, Spain, Italy and Greece.


In fact, many of the protestors' claims are now

considered valid by most Americans. Even the corporate-

controlled media has acknowledged alarming facets of

corporate control they previously ignored such as the

vast gap in wealth.


For the first time in decades, political, economic and

social ideas are being reviewed more closely by

millions of working people.


The rich and powerful retain control of the US economy,

that's for sure, but they have been embarrassed off the

public stage where the Occupy Movement holds the

world's attention. It's laughable and also quite

revealing that Governor Rick Perry doesn't want to

debate anymore because he complains he just gets ridiculed.


Millions are fed up with the steady diet of distortions

concealing an infinitesimally small group of super-

wealthy financiers steering our economy into a ditch.


Occupy the Economy


Radicals have long accused capitalist western

democracies of being phony by asserting real democracy

is impossible while a small minority runs the economy.


Now, even this radical idea too is being seriously



For example, talented documentarian Michael Moore, a

self-described liberal and supporter of President

Obama, proclaimed to thunderous applause at a recent

Oakland, California rally that real change will only

come when the 99 percent "begins to Occupy the



Yes, it is true that the Occupy Movement has not

precisely defined what that means nor have they

coalesced around a common set of solutions. But,

really, at this early stage, how could it be otherwise?

In fact, why should it be otherwise while the movement

is still growing and developing its legs?


The really momentous accomplishment is that a mass

political discussion is occurring throughout America,

kept alive by regular actions of the Occupy Movement.


Eventually, adoption of various programs and demands

will have to be considered and nobody has the

unrealistic expectation that divisions will not appear.


But we should expect, and actually firmly insist, that

differences not deter us from continuing to act

together against common symbols of greed and injustice

and in vigorous defense of civil liberties.


Let discussion on America's future ensue in every home,

workplace and community as the movement continues to

mobilize and as it begins to refine its goals and



*Victor Hugo



Carl Finamore is Air Transport Employees Local Lodge 1781, IAMAW, delegate to the San Francisco Labor

Council, AFL-CIO. He can be reached at and his other writings seen on



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Palestine Approved for Full UNESCO Membership


Palestine Approved for Full UNESCO Membership

Brian Walker

NationofChange / News Report

Published: Monday 31 October 2011


The United States quickly denounced the recognition of Palestine, of which it is heavily opposed to in all forms at the United Nations, having threatened to cut as much as $80,000,000 in UNESCO funding should they approve Palestine’s request.


Palestine has been approved for full membership to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) after a vote on Monday successfully passed the resolution. Of the 173 countries eligible to vote, 107 members were in favor of recognizing Palestine with 14 against and 52 choosing to abstain.


For the membership to take effect, Palestine must sign and ratify the organization’s constitution in the city of London (the UK abstained from voting on the resolution).


Palestine is not yet a member of the United Nations itself, though it has resolved to become one amongst heavy opposition, including a threat from President Obama to veto any such attempt should it come to a vote. Palestine’s lack of true United Nations membership made the approval process for UNESCO much more difficult, requiring nomination by the organization’s Executive Board as well as a two-thirds majority vote among member states that choose to participate.


“This vote will erase a tiny part of the injustice done to the Palestinian people,” said Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki at the UNESCO meeting in Paris, reflecting on the announcement of successful recognition.


The United States quickly denounced the recognition of Palestine, of which it is heavily opposed to in all forms at the United Nations, having previously threatened to cut as much as $80,000,000 in UNESCO funding should they approve Palestine’s request. With strong support from Arabic states, and a large list of abstaining nations, the fact that the resolution passed despite strong efforts by the US to prevent it may represent a shift of influence within the UN. A statement at the Israeli Foreign Ministry denounced the recognition, claiming that, “The Palestinian move at UNESCO, as with similar such steps with other UN bodies, is tantamount to a rejection of the international community's efforts to advance the peace process.”


The UN will vote to determine the matter of true Palestinian Statehood with the United Nations on November 11th.


Brian Walker is a reporter and assistant editor for NationofChange.


Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


Bombs, Bridges and Jobs


ctober 30, 2011

Bombs, Bridges and Jobs


A few years back Representative Barney Frank coined an apt phrase for many of his colleagues: weaponized Keynesians, defined as those who believe “that the government does not create jobs when it funds the building of bridges or important research or retrains workers, but when it builds airplanes that are never going to be used in combat, that is of course economic salvation.”

Right now the weaponized Keynesians are out in full force — which makes this a good time to see what’s really going on in debates over economic policy.

What’s bringing out the military big spenders is the approaching deadline for the so-called supercommittee to agree on a plan for deficit reduction. If no agreement is reached, this failure is supposed to trigger cuts in the defense budget.

Faced with this prospect, Republicans — who normally insist that the government can’t create jobs, and who have argued that lower, not higher, federal spending is the key to recovery — have rushed to oppose any cuts in military spending. Why? Because, they say, such cuts would destroy jobs.

Thus Representative Buck McKeon, Republican of California, once attacked the Obama stimulus plan because “more spending is not what California or this country needs.” But two weeks ago, writing in The Wall Street Journal, Mr. McKeon — now the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee — warned that the defense cuts that are scheduled to take place if the supercommittee fails to agree would eliminate jobs and raise the unemployment rate.

Oh, the hypocrisy! But what makes this particular form of hypocrisy so enduring?

First things first: Military spending does create jobs when the economy is depressed. Indeed, much of the evidence that Keynesian economics works comes from tracking the effects of past military buildups. Some liberals dislike this conclusion, but economics isn’t a morality play: spending on things you don’t like is still spending, and more spending would create more jobs.

But why would anyone prefer spending on destruction to spending on construction, prefer building weapons to building bridges?

John Maynard Keynes himself offered a partial answer 75 years ago, when he noted a curious “preference for wholly ‘wasteful’ forms of loan expenditure rather than for partly wasteful forms, which, because they are not wholly wasteful, tend to be judged on strict ‘business’ principles.” Indeed. Spend money on some useful goal, like the promotion of new energy sources, and people start screaming, “Solyndra! Waste!” Spend money on a weapons system we don’t need, and those voices are silent, because nobody expects F-22s to be a good business proposition.

To deal with this preference, Keynes whimsically suggested burying bottles full of cash in disused mines and letting the private sector dig them back up. In the same vein, I recently suggested that a fake threat of alien invasion, requiring vast anti-alien spending, might be just the thing to get the economy moving again.

But there are also darker motives behind weaponized Keynesianism.

For one thing, to admit that public spending on useful projects can create jobs is to admit that such spending can in fact do good, that sometimes government is the solution, not the problem. Fear that voters might reach the same conclusion is, I’d argue, the main reason the right has always seen Keynesian economics as a leftist doctrine, when it’s actually nothing of the sort. However, spending on useless or, even better, destructive projects doesn’t present conservatives with the same problem.

Beyond that, there’s a point made long ago by the Polish economist Michael Kalecki: to admit that the government can create jobs is to reduce the perceived importance of business confidence.

Appeals to confidence have always been a key debating point for opponents of taxes and regulation; Wall Street’s whining about President Obama is part of a long tradition in which wealthy businessmen and their flacks argue that any hint of populism on the part of politicians will upset people like them, and that this is bad for the economy. Once you concede that the government can act directly to create jobs, however, that whining loses much of its persuasive power — so Keynesian economics must be rejected, except in those cases where it’s being used to defend lucrative contracts.

So I welcome the sudden upsurge in weaponized Keynesianism, which is revealing the reality behind our political debates. At a fundamental level, the opponents of any serious job-creation program know perfectly well that such a program would probably work, for the same reason that defense cuts would raise unemployment. But they don’t want voters to know what they know, because that would hurt their larger agenda — keeping regulation and taxes on the wealthy at bay.

© 2011 The New York Times Company


Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


Government to disclose evidence against WikiLeaks suspect in pretrial hearing


Government to disclose evidence against WikiLeaks suspect in pretrial hearing

36 Comments and 50 Reactions|ShareTweet|Email|Print|

By Rowan Scarborough

The Washington Times

Saturday, October 29, 2011

** FILE ** Pfc. Bradley Manning (Associated Press)

The Army is preparing to hold a pre-trial hearing that for the first time will disclose the government's case in detail against the soldier accused of disseminating thousands of classified documents that were aired on the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.

A spokeswoman for the Military District of Washington at Fort McNair, which has jurisdiction over the proceedings, said the investigative hearing, known as an Article 32, will be held "in the Washington area."

Now at the Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, prison, Pfc. Bradley Manning will not be held in the brig at the Marine base in Quantico, Va. His treatment there stirred a wave of protest from his civilian lawyer and supporters who view him as a hero. Army officials did not disclose where the soldier will be held.

The defense, prosecutors and intelligence agencies have been sparring over what can be disclosed in open proceedings in a case involving the largest leak of classified information in U.S. history.

"We're in the process of putting our finishing touches on our media plan for it," said the Army spokeswoman, adding that the yet-to-be-scheduled hearing will be open to the press. She said it is command policy to ask the news media not to publish the the names of military personnel involved in the case.

An Article 32 is typically presided over by a military officer who takes evidence and then recommends to a superior convening authority whether charges should be dismissed or referred for a court-martial.

A source close to the case said a big holdup has been disagreements between prosecutors and U.S. intelligence agencies over what types of classified information can be used to try him.

"You know the intelligence community. It wants to keep everything secret," the source said.

The Army spokeswoman said that Pfc. Manning's defense teams' request for information "was taking awhile because parts and pieces of the information belong to a lot of different agencies. So I know there was a lot intense coordination amongst everyone with all the different agencies."

"Because the case involves computers and classified information, that makes it a very complex case which requires some pretty methodical investigation," she said. "Another factor contributing to the length of the process is that, under the rules for courts-martial, it requires the prosecution to ensure that the defense team has the proper security clearances for review of classified evidence."

It has been widely reported that Pf.c Manning, while assigned to an intelligence unit in Iraq, downloaded about 250,000 secret State Department cables that ended up being released by WikiLeaks.

The Army has not charged Pfc. Manning with leaking the files to WikiLeaks, though it has has filed more than 30 criminal counts against him, most recently 22 charges in March.

Besides accusing him of the unauthorized downloading and dissemination of more than 250,000 diplomatic cables in 2010, the Army also has charged him with aiding the enemy.

If convicted, the 23-year-old could face a sentence of life in prison.

Wikileaks has released large quantities of secret cables, some in coordination with the New York Times and other newspapers. Some cables have contained the names of U.S. foreign sources, presumedly putting their lives in danger.

The Pentagon and the State Department have denounced the leaks as a threat to national security. The Justice Department opened a criminal investigation, but to date the only person charged is Pfc. Manning.

Meanwhile, Pfc. Manning's civilian attorney, David E. Coombs, has kept the public updated on his client's prison life via a blog.

In April, the Army moved the soldier from the isolation of a cell at Quantico to a more spacious environment at Fort Leavenworth.

At Quantico, Marine guards kept him on a "prevention of injury watch." He was confined to his cell 23 hours a day and not permitted to sleep in any clothing.

Now, Pfc. Manning may leave his cell and socialize with other pre-trial prisoners in a common area that includes a TV, treadmill and showers.

"He is provided with a normal mattress, sheets and a pillow," Mr. Coombs wrote. "None of his clothing is taken away from him at night. PFC Manning is able to have all of his personal items in his cell, which include his clothing, his legal materials, books and letters from family and friends. He is also able to have a pen and paper at all times in his cell, and is able to write whenever he chooses."

Guards awake him at 4:50 a.m. Lights out are at 10 p.m.

Mr. Coombs wrote: "At 05:15, PFC Manning and all the other pre-trial detainees are escorted by one guard to the cafeteria. There are no restraints placed on any of the pre-trial detainees. The cafeteria has multiple food selections, as well as a full compliment of coffee, juice, milk and soda. PFC Manning eats his breakfast together with the 6 other pre-trial detainees currently at [Leavenworth]. He and the other pre-trial detainees in his quarters are then escorted back to the common area."

After lunch, guards escort the detainees to an outdoor recreation area for about two hours.

"Weekends are considered 'free time,'" the lawyer said. "Unlike weekdays, PFC Manning is allowed to sleep as much as he likes. Movies are also provided to pre-trial detainees on weekends."

Last spring, the Army said a military "sanity board" found that Pfc. Manning was able to understand the charges against him and can assist in his defense.

"He is as sane and lucid as anyone can be," said a source close to the case.

© Copyright 2011 The Washington Times, LLC.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Arrested Occupy Wall Street Protester Tells Her Story

Occupy Wall Street Protester, Arrested and Jailed for 30 Hours, Tells Her Story for the First Time


By Barbara Schneider Reilly,


Posted on October 26, 2011, Printed on October 30, 2011


I spent a weekend in jail.


On Saturday, October 15, I went to Washington Square

Park to take a closer look at the Occupy Wall Street

movement. There were many young people who could be my

children or rather grandchildren, but many older people,

too, all generations united, it seemed, under the

banner: "We are the 99 percent."


Different groups decided to go to a bank. I joined one

that went to Citibank at La Guardia Place and Bleecker

Street. As we entered, there were a couple of customers

and a few banktellers inside. A teach-in ensued. The

story the students told, surprisingly calmly and

politely, was shocking.


"I am $100,000 in debt. The costs Citibank charges me go

up and up. I do not know how I can repay it. I find it

deeply irresponsible that Citibank makes the kind of

profit they do from our indebtedness."


Another student said, "I'm not $100,000 in debt, only

$30,000. So far. And I still have two years to go. This

kind of profit-taking cannot go on. We are here to say

we will not tolerate it. We need fundamental change."


And so it went. After we were told to take our action

outside, some people stayed and continued to tell their stories.


I, by far the oldest, had not come to get arrested, but

as we tried to leave, several enormous undercover cops

in sweatshirts and jeans appeared, blocked the exits and

quite literally pushed us back into the bank. One giant

in particular seemed to have it in for me, saying, "Oh

no, you're not leaving!" his right arm shoving me. Ready

to pounce on us, they made leaving the bank impossible.

Two of the student participants had come to close their

bank accounts; customers in every sense. They, too, were

to be arrested. Police officers in white shirts seemed

to swarm from everywhere. They rushed into the bank and

told us we were being arrested. At no point was there a

warning from anyone in authority offering a chance to

leave without being arrested, As they handcuffed us, we

did not anticipate the next 30 hours that was in store for us.


The ride to Central Booking in the paddywagon was an

ominous beginning. Either New York's potholes are beyond

repair or the shock absorbers of that car were non-

existent. With our wrists handcuffed behind our back,

there was no way to hold on to anything as we were

thrown off our seats into the air during that ride in

hell. After hours of "booking procedures" -- standing in

line, being handcuffed, getting uncuffed, backpacks,

wallets, phones and any other object, even a single

tissue, taken from us, our names shouted as we were

inspected and lined up spread-eagled across a wall -- we

were finally led into three cells, allowed for the first

time to sit down. It was early evening by now but we

were not allowed an extra piece of clothing for the

cold, just a T-shirt or whatever first layer of clothing we wore.


During an inordinately lengthy fingerprinting procedure,

with the male officers operating the machines and the

female officers locking and unlocking our cells as we

were called out one by one, it sometimes seemed the

police outnumbered us. But still, it took what seemed like hours.


Barely back in our cells, we were taken out again,

handcuffed again, this time with a chain between our

cuffs, and led "upstairs." But there had been some

mistake. A female officer told "our" officer that, no,

she couldn't process us. Some paperwork was missing,

some order, some stamp. Time to cuff us again and go

down the stairs back into our cells. How many more

instances of handcuffing, uncuffing, leading us up and

down stairs and long hallways, waiting, returning,

repeating what seemed nonsensical procedures and

reversals then followed I do not know and did not count.

But a deep sense of disorganization, competence fighting

incompetence, if not chaos, reigned. It seemed as if, in

the name of bureaucratic rules and regulations, in the

name of "security," we were witnessing a dysfunctional

institution and people not used to daylight shining in;

people generally accountable to no one but themselves.


Finally, we were driven to the Tombs. We landed in a

large collective prison cell; there were 11 of us plus

an Indian woman with her own sad story and two run-down

black women on crack or some other drug who occupied the

only three mattresses in that medieval cell, and whose

intermittent yells, shouting, and appalling screams made

rest, let alone sleep impossible. We spent many hours on

extremely narrow, hard benches, no blankets, with pieces

of dry bread and a dry piece of cheese or peanut butter

for food. The young women, all in their early 20s,

somehow managed to bend themselves into shape to catch

an hour of sleep here and there. For my 70-plus-years-

old bones and K., a 68-year-old lifelong environmental

activist, it was tough going.


The experience was depressing in every way. All of us

could see the irrationality, the nearly obscene

bureaucratic time, energy and money spent on our

(probably illegal) arrest. During that constant cycle of

being cuffed and uncuffed at every step and during each

transfer, some of us couldn't help feeling that the 9/11

terrorists have indeed won. The culture in this

institution seemed a noxious mix of breathtaking

incompetence, disorganization and open or just-beneath-

the-surface-always-present brutality. Hardly a verbal

communication without harsh and loud shouting and orders

to stand here, move there, stop doing this or that.


Searching our bags and moving our belongings somewhere

else took an inordinate amount of time. Then everyone's

IDs had to be returned for the next step in the

"arresting process." Which meant a new search by the

female officers for everyone's ID; all the bags and

wallets had to be painstakingly searched a second or

third time. As it turned out, my ID had somehow been

overlooked. Or rather, the officer responsible for it

couldn't be found. Again, everyone had to be uncuffed,

led down the stairs, locked into their cells until the

officer who had my ID was found. Low-level chaos is the

only word to describe it.


During the long, cold night in the Tombs, at some point

we asked a female officer if we could have some

blankets. "We have no blankets." Some mattresses since

we were 12 or so people? "We have no more mattresses."

Some change in exchange for dollar bills so we could

call parents and loved ones? (The one public telephone

in the cell would only take coins.) "It's against

regulations." Some soap? "Maybe we'll come up with some

soap." After no, no, no to every reasonable request, we

wound up with a small jar of soap. Distressing is hardly

the word for a culture of willful neglect and the

exercise of what power those officers held over us for

those 30 hours.


But there were a few -- mostly black cops -- who, as we

were transferred from point A to point B, told us

openly, "We support you. If I could, I'd participate in

what you're doing."


The initial charges of criminal trespass were finally

reduced by the district attorney to disorderly conduct,

with the invaluable help of our lawyers from the

National Lawyers Guild. When we were finally released,

we were greeted like heroes from people in the Occupy

Wall Street movement standing in front of the huge 100

Center Street Building. They offered us hats against the

cold, dried apricots, chocolate bars, tampons, water,

self-rolled cigarettes. It was really touching.


But even the young women were seriously exhausted,

physically and mentally burnt out. Perhaps I and my

older compatriot were better prepared, at least

psychologically. But by and large these young women were

very impressive. After this dismal experience no one

even considered leaving the movement. No hues and cries.

Society must be changed. They insist on it, and, I hope,

will continue to insist -- and, not withstanding the

difficulties ahead, fight for it.


Barbara Schneider Reilly is a playwright, teacher and

citizen (of New York and Berlin).


c 2011 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.