That's the heart of it: My shows were not that controversial with the American people.
They were controversial with the people who think for the American people.
Born July 27, 1922
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Over at Pollster.com, Brendan Nyhan (whom you should be reading) espouses a fairly common sentiment: that Sarah Palin's favorability numbers, while poor, are not a whole heck of a lot worse than Hillary Clinton's at the same point in the electoral cycle.
Hillary Clinton overcame numbers that were nearly as bad and almost won the Democratic presidential nomination, but she did so with a great deal of hard work and discipline -- qualities that Palin appears to lack.Is this actually true though? (Not the bit about Palin's work ethic, which I'll address later in the post.) Are Palin's ratings nearly as bad Clinton's at the same stage of their political careers?
by Raúl Gutiérrez
from Upside Down World
(IPS) - If the de facto government of Roberto Micheletti remains in power in Honduras, the Central American right may be encouraged to stage further coups against the fragile democracies that have emerged in the region over the last two decades, analysts warn.
The forces of democracy and the international community must continue to exert pressure to reestablish the constitutional order and enable ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, whose term ends in January, to return to office, experts from different countries in the region told IPS.
Ernesto Rivas Gallont, former Salvadoran ambassador in Washington from 1981 to 1989, says the Honduran civic-military coup will have profound implications for several Central American countries if Micheletti's grip on power is consolidated.
"If those who perpetrated the coup prevail in Honduras, there is no doubt that it will embolden the Central American right," the former diplomat told IPS.
"It's hard to admit, but (Fidel) Castro and (Hugo) Chávez are right" to fear that if the coup-mongers consolidate their power, "a series of coups d'état could be unleashed against governments in the region," Rivas Gallont wrote in his blog, referring to statements by the former Cuban president and the Venezuelan president in early July.
"It is only too obvious that the coup has exacerbated differences between left and right, and not just in Honduras," he said.
Zelaya was taken at gunpoint from his house in his pajamas by about 200 troops in the early hours of Jun. 28 and put on an air force plane to Costa Rica. The coup d'état was engineered by the Honduran military, the leadership of the two traditional political parties, and big business.
The ousting of the president came after weeks of political arm-wrestling over the Zelaya administration's plans to hold a non-binding popular vote on constitutional reform on that very day. But analysts say Zelaya was overthrown because of some of his social policies, and his alignment with more radical leftwing governments in Latin America.
The "survey," as Zelaya called it, which could not be legally held because plebiscites and referendums are banned in an election year, would have asked people whether they were in favour or against creating a constituent assembly to amend the country's constitution. Had the "Yes" vote won, assembly delegates would have been elected in the Nov. 29 presidential, parliamentary and local elections.
Pro-coup sectors say Zelaya wanted constitutional reform in order to seek reelection, prohibited by the Honduran constitution, in order to stay in power. The ousted president says that was never his intention, nor was it mentioned in the survey question.
Micheletti, who led the political movement for the military overthrow of the democratic government as former president of Congress, says he will not bow to international pressure. Today he is the interim president of a government that has not been recognised by a single country and has been universally condemned.
The United Nations, the Organisation of American States (OAS), the European Union, the Central American Integration System (SICA) and the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA), among others, have all condemned the coup in Honduras and vigorously demanded Zelaya's reinstatement as the constitutional president.
In contrast, and in spite of these strong pronouncements, only "the Central American right has justified the coup, using Chávez as a pretext," IPS sources said.
For instance, they said, rightwing sectors in El Salvador have recently been supplanted in government after decades in power by the formerly-guerrilla leftwing Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN). "They may be tempted to carry out actions similar to what happened in Honduras, of the kind that have marked our history," they warned.
The rightwing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) party, which governed El Salvador from 1989 up to June this year, and is now in opposition, deplored Zelaya's "exile" but did not condemn the coup.
"It is also true that President Zelaya committed serious constitutional violations that led other state bodies" to remove him from office, says a paid ad by ARENA published in the Salvadoran media in early July.
The ad also urges Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes to "refrain" from interfering in the Honduran crisis, arguing that "it could affect relations between the two countries."
The Funes administration issued an immediate condemnation of the coup, and two days later at a SICA meeting in Managua, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua agreed to close their borders with Honduras for 48 hours Jul. 1-2, as a way of exerting pressure on the de facto Micheletti government.
SICA is made up of all the Central American countries: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. The Dominican Republic is an associate member.
Funes also hosted Presidents Rafael Correa of Ecuador, Cristina Fernández of Argentina, Fernando Lugo of Paraguay and Zelaya, as well as U.N. General Assembly president Miguel d'Escoto and OAS Secretary-General Miguel Insulza, who waited in San Salvador in solidarity with Zelaya during his failed Jul. 4 attempt to return to Honduras.
Some members of the business community, political leaders and columnists for conservative Salvadoran media outlets have said Funes should learn from what has happened in Honduras, and not attempt to introduce constitutional reforms like Zelaya's.
Salvadoran analyst Leonel Gómez agreed with Rivas Gallont that events in Honduras could lead to more coups against democracies in the region.
"The danger here is that it might motivate other forces to perpetrate other coups d'état like the one in Honduras," said Gómez, who has participated in investigations of corruption and the supply of funds to dictatorships in the region with U.S. Democratic lawmakers Patrick Leahy and the late Joe Moakley.
The expert said that some Guatemalan military officers "would be delighted to receive orders to do the same thing" as their Honduran colleagues.
Centre-left Guatemalan President Álvaro Colom publicly denied that a military coup was being plotted in his country, after Chávez warned of the danger of an overthrow attempt. But Nobel Peace Prize laureate Rigoberta Menchú said vested economic interests in Guatemala could be planning to undermine the rule of law.
Recalling that in the past U.S. governments have "written dark chapters in the history of Central America" through their support for military dictatorships and coups d'état, Gómez urged the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama to "act with greater firmness and in accordance with its principles."
The day after Zelaya was deposed, Obama said "the coup was not legal" and that Zelaya "remains the democratically elected president" of Honduras.
With the exception of Costa Rica, the countries of Central America were governed by military regimes during most of the 20th century. In most cases these regimes were imposed by powerful economic interests in collusion with conservative politicians and with assistance or direct intervention by the United States.
In the 1980s and 1990s civil wars broke out between leftwing guerrillas and the armed forces.
According to historians, Costa Rica escaped the general trend largely because of the abolition of the army, announced by then president José Figueres (1948-1949, 1953-1958, 1970-1974) on Dec. 1, 1948. The measure came into force in 1949, in spite of an attempted military coup to prevent it.
Meanwhile in Honduras pro-Zelaya protesters are blocking highways, the curfew has been reimposed, and talks in Costa Rica between Micheletti's and Zelaya's envoys, mediated by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, are in a deadlock.
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One of the values of traveling abroad is getting to see just how #1 your own country really is. It's easy to think your country is best in everything, that nothing ever needs to change, and that Europe and Canada are somehow "broken" and thus great examples for what we shouldn't do, when you don't have a passport.
I went to the pharmacy in Paris the other day to get the cat's asthma medicine (yes, every morning and night after inhaling my asthma medicine I get to hold down Nasdaq, the big fat black cat, and administer her asthma medicine). Nasdaq's medicine, ironically the same as mine, was absurdly cheap. I decided to check and see how much my medicines cost in Europe. Here's what I found.
(US prices are from Costco, which is usually the cheapest, and the French drugs are not the same brand names as the American drugs, but medical equivalents).
Advair 500-50 DISKUS - 1 month supplyAs for the US pharmaceutical industry's argument that they'd just go broke if we didn't let them charge us a 300% mark-up over the cost of the drugs in Europe, then how does France's very well-to-do pharmaceutical industry survive?
US: $272.79 (gotta love the 79 cents)
France: 63 euros, or $89 (mind you, that's with a very weak dollar)
So a one year supply of Advair will cost you $2200 more in the states than in Europe.
Symbicort 160-4.5 MCG, 11g - 1 month supply
US: $194.47 (again, 47 cents?)
France: 54 euros, or $77 (actually the French drug is 200-6 versus the American drug 160-4.5, so it appears the French one has even more of the drug)
And a year's supply of Symbicort will cost you $1400 more in the states than in Europe.
from Weekly News Update
The International Transport Workers? Federation (ITF), which represents 656 unions worldwide with 4.5 million members, issued a call on July 17 for its members to carry out protests against Honduran shipping. The federation said it was expressing opposion to a June 28 military coup which replaced Honduran president José Manuel Zelaya Rosales with a de facto government. ?We have to put real pressure on the Honduran military to allow the country to revert to democracy,? ITF general secretary David Cockroft said.
The federation said the call to action was likely to affect the loading and unloading of the 650 ships that fly the Honduran flag. This is a ?flag of convenience,? according to the ITF--?a low-cost cosmetic ship registration by companies with no link to the country and no intention of employing its citizens onboard.?
On July 3 ITF-affiliated unions in El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua protested the coup with demonstrations at the borders with Honduras--in El Amatillo, El Salavdor; Izabal, Guatemala; and Los Tres Pasos de Frontera, Nicaragua. Transport workers from Venezuela and Mexico also participated. (ITF press releases 7/10/09, 7/17/09; Prensa Latina 7/17/09; TeleSUR 7/17/09)
In other news, Father José Andrés Tamayo, an activist Honduran priest and 2005 Goldman Environmental Prize recipient, was in Tegucigalpa on July 16 to participate in protests blocking the highway to the north of the capital. Tamayo, a leader of the environmental movement in Olancho department whose life has been threatened repeatedly, went into hiding briefly on July 1 after escaping a military attack on a roadblock in the countryside [see Update #996]. At the Tegucigalpa protest he noted ?the large number of women and men of advanced age. This means that they have a spirit of courage and have lost their fear. We?re coming to a stage where people are taking on the struggle personally as a people. This generates much more force and resistance, because the people are no longer trusting the media, the police, the business owners and the traditional politicians?. [O]nly the people defend the people.? (Minga Informativa de Movimientos Sociales
7/16/09 from Comunicaciones Vía Campesina)
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by Maggie Phair
A Socialist WebZine Exclusive
American Radical: The Life and Times 0f I. F. Stone. By D. D.. Guttenplan, 2009
Illustrated. Farrar, Straus & Giroux; 473 p. hardback; $35.
Historian D. D. Guttenplan traces the life of Isador Feinstein from birth; his conflict with his father, who wanted him to work in the family furniture store; his recognition of American anti-semitism and his consequent changing his last name to Stone; through his career as a journalist and his eventual publication of the famous ?I. F. Stone?s Weekly.? In this, he was supported by his wife, Easther, who handled all matters of circulation and subscription.
Guttinenplan reports Izzie?s membership and chairmanship of the Camden, New Jersey Socialist Party in 1928, and his lifelong friendship and admiration for Norman Thomas; plus his eventual departure from the socialists first for the New Deal and the Democratic Party and ultimately to his long-time status as an independent. I had personally been told that Stone was a leader in the Young People?s Socialist League at age 14, but Guttenplan doesn?t mention this. Historical omission or party myth?
Guttenplan does misstate that Michael Harrington entered the SP with the Schactmanites. Harrington actually joined the SP during his Catholic Worker Days, took much of YPSL including the membership list with him into the Schactman group, then returned to the SP, eventually joinng the Social Democrats USA, (SDUSA) where he was attacked by Schactmanites for not being sufficiently pro Vietnam war. Ultimately, Harrington helped to found the Democratic Socialists Of America (DSA). I was in the New York SP at that time though not a Harringtonite.
Stone always believed that liberals, Communists, Socialists, Anarchists, Trotskyists should work together on common goals. Stone supported the Cuban Revolution; celebrated the creation of Israel but asked why Israelis would inflict the same suffering on Arabs as the Nazis had inflicted on Jews. Stone called the Soviet Union a vast prison,. ?not a good society and it is not led by honest men.?. He opposed the Vietnam war. Stone always supported free speech. All governments, he said, lie.
Of course, the FBI followed Stone and his family without finding any evidence that he was a spy or Communist?just an independent radical. Stone frequently stated his belief that if other radicals or governments took actions of repression, that would soon lead us to a garrison state. How close did we come under Cheney/Bush?
Read this book if you want a history of U.S. radicalism from 1928 forward.
Contact Maggie Phair here maggiephair(at)gmail.com
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by Billy Wharton
A Socialist WebZine Exclusive
After an episode of speculative euphoria, popular anger may target many things ? promoters previously consider with high esteem, exotic financial instruments and all sorts of illegal schemes. But, what is not often questioned is the financial system itself. Jamaicans bilked out of millions by scam artist Carlos Hill may be asking just such questions as they wrestle with the legal side of the financial system. Hill, Jamaica?s version of Bernard Madoff, conned more than 40,000 investors out of a total of $7 billion. Now, nearly two years into the investigation, victims are being told to expect the recovery of only pennies on the dollar. The problem now is not the evasive Hill, but a greedy North American auditing firm.
Fresh off a 10-year sentence in US Federal Prison for mail fraud, Carlos Hill employed the time honored strategy of an operator ? tell the people what they want to hear. Irrational stock euphoria ran as high in Jamaica in the 1990s as it did in many other parts of the world. Wild stories about individual investors converting thousands into millions became standard mythological fare. Yet if even a few of these stories were based in fact, such opportunities had waned by the early 21st century. Expectations did not. Hill?s Cash Plus Company met these desires with an offer of a 10% monthly return. This was not a pyramid scheme, he argued, because Cash Plus offered a diversified set of assets ? in the distribution, gaming, telecommunications, entertainment, security development, industrial and financial services' sectors. (Jamaica Observer, 3/4/2007)
By 2008 the bubble had burst on Wall Street and at Cash Plus. An increasingly evasive Hill drew the attention of Organized Crime investigators Jamaica and the ire of mainstream bankers. Then, as the global stock market went into freefall, Cash Plus ceased payments to investors. Hill was arrested, the company declared bankrupt and investors scrambled to recoup losses.
Here the story takes an interesting departure from the Madoff case. Though Madoff appears to have done a fairly skillful job of secreting away his profits, Hill left substantial physical assets ? estimated in the billions. This raised the expectations of investors who hoped to reclaiming something approaching 50 cents on the dollar. That is, until Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) appeared on the scene.
PwC is an American company which offers auditing and advisory services globally. The company has had its own scandals including the 2007 Tyco case in which they admitted to carrying out a multi-billion dollar accounting fraud. Despite this, a Jamaican court appointed PwC as the administrator of the Cash Plus assets. Here begins the second, legal round, of investor fleecing.
The PwC administration prevented Carlos Hill from liquidating company assets. It also allowed PwC to put themselves on the clock. Estimates at hourly consultation fees range from US$175 to US$450 or, about more than double what a local Jamaican firm might charge for equal work. To pay the resulting fees, the court has set aside four large properties the value of which amounts to more than $350 million. As a result of this second bilking, PwC informed investors this week that they should ratchet down expectations to something like a recovery of 5 to 16 cents on the dollar. Further fees will be associated with the sale of each Cash Plus asset.
Cash Plus and PwC, two faces of the global financial system. One a sleazy gutter-capitalism peddled by operators like Madoff and Hill. The other perfectly willing to use legal means to strip the carcass dry. With every disaster a new opportunity emerges. Respectable capitalists swoop in quickly? operating in complete legality
but equally willing shake down as many people for as much money as possible. PwC has employed the amazing hubris and grotesque efficiency typical of capitalism. No carcass to slim; no pocket book too picked.
Billy Wharton is the editor of The Socialist and the Socialist WebZine. His articles have recently appeared in the Washington Post, Monthly Review Webzine, The Indypendent, Common Dreams and Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal.
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July 20, 2009
J. David Edelstein, 90, of Syracuse, passed away peacefully July 20, 2009, at Crouse Hospital, surrounded by his wife and children. Dave was a professor of sociology at Syracuse University and Northern Illinois University. He was an ardent socialist all his life and was affiliated with the Independent Social League, Solidarity and the Socialist Party USA. His study of voting in unions culminated in a book that was co-authored with Malcolm Warner, Comparative Union Democracy: Organization and Opposition in British and American Unions. His comparison of social democracy in some European countries with the tenets of democratic socialism has particular relevance to today's economy. Dave is survived by his wife, Ruth R. Greenberg-Edelstein; children, Daniel and June; grandchildren Susan and Jacob "Jake"; a niece; and two nephews. He will be greatly missed.
Read David Edelstein's pamphlet:
Social Democracy Versus Revolutionary Democratic Socialism
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"[I]n the past few months as unemployment rates gave spiked, Republicans have increasingly found traction in lambasting Obama?s agenda and fanning the flames of division within the Democratic Party."
-- from an "analysis" by Sam Youngman this morning in The Hill
You don't have to agree with "insider" outlets like Politico and The Hill to recognize their importance inside the Beltway, where they are taken very seriously. I don't suppose it's even the case that all those insiders believe any more of what appears in them than we do, but since perception is so important there, it's desperately important for them to know what everyone else is perceiving.
And according to The Hill this morning, "July has been disaster for Obama, Hill Dems. Some of what Sam Youngman writes in his "analysis" is a simple matter of record, some of it seems to me nonsense, and some of it seems real but misexplained. All of it, however, was read this morning by everybody inside the Beltway, where perception is often nine-tenths (hey, pick your own fraction!) of reality, making this a part -- a big part? -- of the reality there.
Here is a condensed version:
Analysis: July has been disaster for Obama, Hill Dems
By Sam Youngman
Posted: 07/27/09 07:15 AM [ET]
The Obama administration, which was flying high a month ago after pushing through a climate change bill in the House, has since been dealt a series of setbacks and is struggling to regain its footing.
After the climate bill passed 219-212 on the afternoon of June 26, there was a feeling that the White House could get much of its agenda through Congress in 2009. . . .
[I]n the past few months as unemployment rates gave spiked, Republicans have increasingly found traction in lambasting Obama?s agenda and fanning the flames of division within the Democratic Party. Obama did score a significant victory last week on eliminating Senate funding for F-22 fighter jets, but the triumph was overshadowed by Democratic infighting on healthcare. . . .
Democrats on Capitol Hill have grown bolder in defying their party leader. Many centrist Democrats are worried that Republicans will have the upper hand in the 2010 elections.
Paul Light, an expert on the presidency and a professor at New York University, said the president's problems with Capitol Hill reflect "a miscalculation by the Obama administration on how political capital gets spent in Washington."
Light said that capital, even for a president who enjoys immense personal popular support like Obama, is spent a bit at a time on each initiative or piece of legislation. . . .
One of the reasons Obama has spent so much capital, aside from his ambitious agenda, has been his willingness to cede so much control to Congress, Light said.
While lawmakers like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are allies of the president, his political capital is not necessarily a priority of theirs. . . .
The other misstep that has bogged down the administration on healthcare specifically, is Obama's inability to communicate effectively to the American people, Light said.
While it is shocking to consider that Obama is anything less than one of the best communicators in modern political history, when it comes to healthcare, he simply has not been able to make the sell to people who do have health insurance.
And Wednesday night's prime time press conference was a "disaster," Light said.
Light said that for the president to regain political momentum, he needs to reclaim his agenda from Congress and start connecting with the public.
"He needs to take this over and own it," Light said.
Democratic Party and Politico: Get a Clue
By: Jane Hamsher Monday July 27, 2009 9:09 am
Eric Boehlert writes about Glenn Thrush's piece in Politico, in which he concludes "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is one of the most despised political figures in the country":
BTW, according to Politico's own polling, 58 percent of Americans don't trust Pelosi. And wouldn't you know it, according to Politico's own polling, 57 percent of Americans don't trust Sarah Palin. Can't wait for Thrush's exposé about how Palin is among "the most despised" political figures in America. Wake me when it arrives.
UPDATED: Well, well, well. According to Politico's polling, the Republican Party is not trusted by 57 percent of voters, which, of course, makes it one of the most "despised" political institutions in America, right?
Kagro and I were on a panel with someone from Politico for Democratic press secretaries a couple of months ago. Everyone wanted to know how they could get their boss a quote in Politico. They asked Kagro and I why they should trust blogs. We sort of looked at each other and said, "because we're on your side?"
Then they wanted to know if people at Politico read the blogs, and if they had any influence over what people at Politico thought.
Kagro and I walked out shaking our heads. I have to give Politico credit -- their business model was to cocoon the Hill at every level, from their beat sweeteners to the inside baseball gossip to the process stories that bored the general public. But they wholly succeeded in becoming the publication that told the Hill what it thinks about itself. If it doesn't register in Politico, it didn't happen as far as most Hill staffers are concerned.
I shouldn't have to remind everyone that Politico is funded -- and run -- by Republicans. It's a huge flaw in the Democratic funding structure that the left doesn't like to fund media and thinks it will simply exist of its own accord. And an even bigger flaw in Democratic staffers that they don't have any larger vision of politics than getting their name in the Hill's biggest gossip rag which certainly doesn't have their best interest at heart.
Muse in the Morning2009 PoemsSplintersNewsGood newsbad newssteps forwardand steps backThere's a world aheadthat some daywill be reachedby some of youif you want itAnd there aresome of uswho want itso very muchwho will neverreach itOh, the ironyof it[...]
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