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Undernews For October 6, 2008

Undernews For October 6, 2008

FROM THE PROGRESSIVE REVIEW
Washington's Most Unofficial Source
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Editor: Sam Smith

6 OCT 2008

THE WORST & THE DUMBEST:
THE ESTABLISHMENT THAT DESTROYED AMERICA'S FIRST REPUBLIC

Sam Smith

Of George Bush's many sins, one has remained unnoted. He and his aides are so absurdly inept at most of what they do that they have diverted attention from the fact that America's collapse began well before Bush came into office and has continued under his command with considerable aid and comfort from the most respected, celebrated well paid subcultures of our society. In the end, Bush is but a painful caricature of a much deeper reality, part of which is that if we had not already been in a state of cultural, political and intellectual disintegration, he never would have been elected in the first place.

Just one year into Bush's regime, I spoke at a punk concert and offered some thirty examples of civil liberties that had eroded during the life of anyone only 25 years of age. I also noted that the earnings of everyone under 25 - black, white, latino, male and female - had declined over the past twenty years, about 5% for the most part - with the earnings of black and white males under 25 down 17 to 21%. A typical young white male was earning $97 less a week in real dollars than two decades earlier. And this was all before Bush got his hands on the country.

It has become easy and fun to blame it all on Bush - and certainly he has contributed more than his share to the nation's problems - but as we may discover when he leaves, he has had plenty of predecessors as well as many accomplices who will remain in power.

A fair judgment would be that America began falling apart about twenty years before Bush took office. The man in charge at the time was Ronald Reagan, who took two centuries of American history and turned it into a corny cowboy movie that he could understand but had little relationship to reality. Yet, like Bush, he could not have done it alone. The purported best and brightest told us it was true.

And they have yet to tell us the truth about the Reagan years that spawned the deadly philosophy that greed is good, nothing big needs to be regulated and the market will save us all.

It is useful - if a bit tardy - to review the Reagan facts rather than the legend, for it shows how the most mundanely accurate analysis might have led us in a different direction. For example, a study published in the Congressional Record in March 1984 looked at the first three years of the Regan administration and compared to the three that preceded it. The study found

- Real GNP growth down 59%
- Industrial production down 97%
- Housing starts down 27%
- Domestic auto sales down 26%
- Business failures up 189%
- Civilian unemployment up 389%
- Real disposable income down 32%
- Prime rate up 35%
- Federal budget deficit up 215%
- Farm income down 326%

Also during the Reagan years:

- Four members of the Reagan cabinet came under criminal investigation

- The Reagan administration had secret plans for an unconstitutional takeover of the federal government under an ill-defined national emergency. Members of the government created by the coup were selected and included Richard Cheney.

- Reagan's policies led to the greatest financial scandal in American history up to that point: the Savings & Loan debacle which cost taxpayers billions of dollars. ""

- Reagan made major cuts in Medicaid, food stamps, aid to families with dependent children, and school lunch programs. Reagan fired 13,000 air traffic controllers in a devastating blow to government union members from which the labor movement never recovered.

- ""The AIDS crisis exploded (with 20,000 deaths) before Reagan could even bring himself to address the issue six years later. In his authorized biography he is quoted as saying that "maybe the Lord brought down this plague," because "illicit sex is against the Ten Commandments."

- Reported the Washington Post: "The administration in 1984 secretly sold arms to Iran -- which the United States considered a supporter of terrorism -- to raise cash for Nicaraguan contra rebels, despite a congressional ban on support for the Latin American insurgency. An independent investigation concluded that the arms sales to Iran operations "were carried out with the knowledge of, among others, President Ronald Reagan [and] Vice President George Bush," and that "large volumes of highly relevant, contemporaneously created documents were systematically and willfully withheld from investigators by several Reagan Administration officials."

- """"""After a major tax cut, there was a long recession and unemployment that hit ten percent.

This was the foundation upon which the present disaster has been built - policy drawing upon fantasy, theological rigidity, fiscal myth and a faith in "free markets" actually created by hidden subsidies, thousands of lobbyists, runaway Pentagon purchases and manipulation of the law to favor banks and corporations rather than ordinary Americans.

By the time the truth was too painful to ignore - nearly three decades later - the myth had recruited major media from Fox and the Wall Street Journal to NPR and the Washington Post. It had been given the blessing of innumerable academics who developed complex justifications for primitive, simplistic and false assumptions. And even Democrats - from Clinton to Obama - paid regular homage to economic principles whose only true beneficiaries were the very few at the very top.

It became the core ideology of an American establishment that would turn out to be the worst and the dumbest. As Harold Meyerson pointed out recently, even the robber barons of the 19th century used European capital to build American industry such as railroads and steel. The contemporary establishment has taken American assets and turned them into a massive liability.

Yet a Rasmussen poll taken after the start of the Bush financial crash found that 59% of voters still agreed with Reagan's inaugural declaration that "government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem." Even 49% of Democrats agree with only 34% demurring.

This is not Karl Rove's fault. This is the result of nearly three decades of indoctrination in anti-social, anti-democratic and economically fallacious absurdities by almost every major instructional institution in the country including Harvard, and the PBS News Hour. Listening to the post crash coverage I heard words I had not found in the media for years, words like FDR, New Deal, government intervention and Keynes. Where had these phrases been all this time? Why was it only now respectable to mention Franklin Roosevelt again?

And why has the media and academia given so much encouragement to the myth of free markets while ignoring real things that have gotten worse since Reagan took office? Things like:

- Minimum wage as % of average wage
- Real income
- Real income bottom 60% of Americans
- Bottom 99% share of total income
- Income gap between rich and poor
- Workers pay as a percent of CEO pay
- Older families covered by pensions
- Workers covered by defined benefit pensions
- Annual personal savings rate of families
- Elder bankruptcies
- Housing foreclosures
- Child poverty rate
- Severe poverty rate
- Percent of Americans employed
- Pensions that include health care benefits
- Number of families without health insurance
- Number of public hospitals
- Number of corporations controlling most media
- Student loan debt
- Increase in wealth of wealthiest ten senators (up 13 times)
- Percent of workforce unionized

Four years before the Bush crash, Michelle Singletary wrote in the Washington Post:

"Authors Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi conclude that earning two incomes doesn't guarantee financial security: In the past 25 years, the number of families in bankruptcy has increased 400 percent, and housing foreclosures are up 350 percent."

You can find these stories if you look hard enough; what you can't find is these stories being told in more than one or two places at a time during which those in the worst and dumbest establishment continued to peddle the wonders of the free market.

The self-defined best minds of our society have engaged in an act of such reckless negligence that it would have produced a criminal indictment if they had been behind the wheel of a car. But because they were only driving the politics and economy of a few hundred million citizens, they get to keep their jobs, their op ed pieces and their preferred place in society.

In the 1960s, a large number of Americans declined to permit such a fraud to continue, choosing instead to not only rebel against those who had done the damage but to remove their podiums, undermine their status, knock down their pedestals, discredit their reputations and hold them in ridicule.

And for awhile America gained breathing room to make things better; for a while we could dream, smile and get things done.

But it's far more than just a matter of rounding up the usual suspects. If we settle for justice against Paulsen and Bush, for example, then we'll be no better off than we were in Iraq after getting rid of Saddam.

For any rebellion to succeed, for America to rebuild itself, it must shatter the immunity of the status quo in all its vicious dimensions. We have three decades of false teaching, journalistic myth and political corruption to disassemble. And we need something to take its place just as the civil rights movement needed freedom schools to replace generations of lies about blacks and whites.

America has been deceived, defrauded and defeated by the worst and the dumbest. The first step in recovery is to let them know in every way that the party's over.

FURTHER READING

THE CORPORATE CURSE How business culture dragged America down with it
http://prorev.com/corporate.htm

CRASH TALK

E. Scott Reckard, Los Angeles Times - An estimated 125,000 Californians who are struggling with risky mortgages from Countrywide Financial Corp. may get their loans modified and payments reduced. In a pact that could save mortgage holders billions of dollars, Countrywide owner Bank of America Corp. has agreed to the nation's largest loan-modification program to settle charges of lending abuse brought by California and other states.

The program could reduce payments to Countrywide borrowers and provide other benefits to total as much as $8.7 billion nationwide. It would examine nearly 400,000 loans across the nation -- about 125,000 of them in California -- to see how they could be reworked and made more affordable. That could include switching customers to fixed-rate loans or reducing the interest or principal.

Bank of America said Countrywide mortgage-servicing employees would be trained to carry out the program by Dec. 1 and would then begin reaching out to eligible customers. The plan includes a foreclosure freeze for borrowers who are likely to qualify until Countrywide has determined their eligibility, the bank said.

But officials acknowledged that some borrowers were beyond help and said these customers would need the cooperation of investors who owned the loans. Such assistance was not always forthcoming in the past.

James Doran, Observer, UK - Fears are mounting that many Wall Street banks and financial firms will refuse to participate in the US government's $700bn bail-out package, leaving global markets and world economies in a perilous state for months to come. 'There is a growing feeling that banks ... might instead decide to tough it out,' said Thomas Caldwell, chairman and CEO of Caldwell Financial, a $1bn-plus fund manager. . .

Wall Street analysts, believe the addition of so many terms to the bill might deter potential participants. One of the least attractive elements is a section designed to curb executive pay at banks that participate in the bail-out package. These include limiting stock-related pay and banning 'golden parachutes' for executives. . .

Sources close to Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch indicated the banks might choose not to participate in the bail-out as there is a growing view on Wall Street that the market may be bottoming out.

Analysts also believe that the mere presence of the government as buyer of last resort will be enough to get credit markets moving again, and that a large number of banks would not need to take part for the legislation to succeed.

Washington Post - For Citymeals-on-Wheels, a nonprofit group that delivers food to homebound New Yorkers, the Wall Street crisis already means 100,000 fewer meals will be delivered to people who need them. One day this spring, the group lost about $500,000 it expected from employees of Bear Stearns as the firm collapsed. A few days later, $225,000 promised by a hedge fund vanished after its stock plummeted. This summer, private contributions were running 20 percent less than a year ago. . . . Some organizations are seeing cuts in city funding as tax revenue, foundation giving, gifts and contributions from corporate and private donors decline simultaneously.


PAGE ONE MUST

OBAMA HAS CLEAR MAJORITY
IN ELECTORAL RACE
REVIEW MORNING LINE
ROLLING AVERAGES

LARGER MAP
Recent changes in red

National
Obama has a 7 point lead but despite the fiscal crisis has not gained much ground.
Obama is 108 electoral votes ahead of McCain with 90 undecided.
Obama is 8 points over the need electoral vote majority of 270
DETAILS & LATEST UPDATES
Democrats
Dems pick up 3-9 Senate seats
Dems in House pick up as many as 8 to 24 seats
Dems pick up as many as 1 governorships or lose 1
DETAILS & LATEST UPDATES

OBAMA CAMPAIGN IN TROUBLE OVER FUNNY MONEY

Newsweek - The Obama campaign has shattered all fund-raising records, raking in $458 million so far, with about half the bounty coming from donors who contribute $200 or less. Aides say that's an illustration of a truly democratic campaign. To critics, though, it can be an invitation for fraud and illegal foreign cash because donors giving individual sums of $200 or less don't have to be publicly reported. Consider the cases of Obama donors "Doodad Pro" of Nunda, N.Y., who gave $17,130, and "Good Will" of Austin, Texas, who gave more than $11,000-both in excess of the $2,300-per-person federal limit. In two recent letters to the Obama campaign, Federal Election Commission auditors flagged those (and other) donors and informed the campaign that the sums had to be returned. Neither name had ever been publicly reported because both individuals made online donations in $10 and $25 increments. "Good Will" listed his employer as "Loving" and his occupation as "You," while supplying as his address 1015 Norwood Park Boulevard, which is shared by the Austin nonprofit Goodwill Industries. Suzanha Burmeister, marketing director for Goodwill, said the group had "no clue" who the donor was. She added, however, that the group had received five puzzling thank-you letters from the Obama campaign this year, prompting it to send the campaign an e-mail in September pointing out the apparent fraudulent use of its name.

"Doodad Pro" listed no occupation or employer; the contributor's listed address is shared by Lloyd and Lynn's Liquor Store in Nunda. "I have never heard of such an individual," says Diane Beardsley, who works at the store and is the mother of one of the owners. "Nobody at this store has that much money to contribute." (She added that a Doodad's Boutique, located next door, had closed a year ago, before the donations were made.)

Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt said the campaign has no idea who the individuals are and has returned all the donations, using the credit-card numbers they gave to the campaign. (In a similar case earlier this year, the campaign returned $33,000 to two Palestinian brothers in the Gaza Strip who had bought T shirts in bulk from the campaign's online store. They had listed their address as "Ga.," which the campaign took to mean Georgia rather than Gaza.) "While no organization is completely protected from Internet fraud, we will continue to review our fund-raising procedures," LaBolt said. Some critics say the campaign hasn't done enough. This summer, watchdog groups asked both campaigns to share more information about its small donors. The McCain campaign agreed; the Obama campaign did not. "They could've done themselves a service" by heeding the suggestions, said Massie Ritsch of the Center for Responsive Politics.

PALIN QUOTED REAGAN BUT DIDN'T SAY WHAT HE WAS TALKING ABOUT

Paul Krugman, NY Times - Sarah Palin ended her debate performance last Thursday with a slightly garbled quote from Ronald Reagan about how, if we aren't vigilant, we'll end up "telling our children and our children's children" about the days when America was free. It was a revealing choice.

You see, when Reagan said this he wasn't warning about Soviet aggression. He was warning against legislation that would guarantee health care for older Americans - the program now known as Medicare.

Conservative Republicans still hate Medicare, and would kill it if they could - in fact, they tried to gut it during the Clinton years (that's what the 1995 shutdown of the government was all about). But so far they haven't been able to pull that off.

So John McCain wants to destroy the health insurance of nonelderly Americans instead.

Larry Dewitt - Throughout his presidency, Ronald Reagan displayed a disconcerting tendency to prefer performance over reality and myth over historical fact. As Reagan recalled his own personal history in 1980, he had never been an opponent of Medicare and had never advocated making Social Security voluntary. To President Carter's claims that he had in fact opposed both Medicare and the existing Social Security system, Reagan's flip reply was "There you go again," and that was pretty much the end of the issue.

However, it is quite unambiguously the case that Ronald Reagan had a long-standing, deeply-held, strongly-expressed, political/philosophical antipathy to both Social Security and Medicare. Not only did Reagan advocate making Social Security voluntary in the 1964 Goldwater campaign, he continued pushing this position throughout the 1970s-even arguing in 1975 that Social Security should be privatized-despite his denials in the 1980 campaign that he had ever advocated any such thing. He also clearly opposed Medicare in any form in his efforts as part of Operation Coffeecup. . .

[A] 19-minute recording featured a 2,000-word, 11-minute, impassioned address by Reagan, followed by an 8-minute follow-up by an unnamed announcer. Reagan's work on behalf of the AMA was, listeners were assured, unpaid (although there was no mention of the fact that Reagan's father-in-law was a top official of the AMA) and was motivated only by his own strong political convictions on the issue.

The record was the focus and the central product of Operation Coffeecup. It was the motivational message from Reagan that was expected to inspire the attendees to write those spontaneous letters to Congress. The AMA pressed 3,000 copies of "Ronald Reagan Speaks Out Against Socialized Medicine" and distributed them to AMA Woman's Auxiliary members nationwide. The resulting letters to Congress, the AMA boasted, were "legion." . . .

In order to maintain the illusion of spontaneity, the AMA did not announce the existence of Operation Coffeecup or publicize the Reagan recording. The record was to be used, campaign organizers cautioned, only in the groups meeting under the controlled conditions of the informal coffees. Under no circumstances, recipients of the record were warned, were they to permit commercial broadcast of the recording. . .

THE REAL WEST IS AN URBAN WEST

Carl Abbott, History News Network - Sarah Palin knows how to hunt wolves. She can skin a moose. She lives way up there on America's last frontier. So, we might think, here's a national candidate who represents the real American West, not its Hollywood imitation.

That's a tempting image, but it's flat out wrong. Nancy Pelosi, fast-talking, hard-edged urbanite from San Francisco, is a much better stand-in for the real American West. So is the sister team of Linda Sanchez and Loretta Sanchez, who represent parts of Los Angeles County and Orange County in the U.S. Congress. Add to the list Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire from the busy urban corridor along Puget Sound. And then there's Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, a New Yorker happily transplanted to Phoenix.

Many Americans like to image the West as a vast land of sagebrush and deserts, mountains and forests, cougars and caribou. Sure, it has plenty of landscapes to match the western movie image, but almost nobody lives out there in the empty West. For more than a century, the West had been the most urbanized part of the country. City people shaped its development in the nineteenth century, tilted the nation's center of power westward in the twentieth century, and control the future of the region--and in large part the nation--in the twenty-first century.

The West is the American region with the largest share of its population living in metropolitan areas (cities of 50,000 or more and the adjacent counties with close economic ties). The metropolitan percentage is higher from the Rockies westward than in the crowded Northeast or the Middle West with its constellation of aging industrial cities.

Eight of our twenty biggest metropolitan areas are located in the West. More than 80 percent of Californians, Coloradans, Arizonans, Nevadans, and even Texans live in large urban areas. In 2000, 28 percent of all Americans lived in the metro areas of the nineteen western states.

The urban West is not new. The West was settled and developed outward from its gateway cities. In the pioneer century of the 1800s, Denver was essential to the growth of Colorado. That city sent railroads, mining experts, and investment dollars into the Rockies to smelters and refineries processed the gold and silver ore that the railroads hauled back out of the mountains. Portland was the gateway to the great Columbia River valley of Oregon and Washington. San Francisco guided the fate of California and Nevada. In the twentieth century, Seattle, Dallas, Albuquerque. and Phoenix played similar roles in their own parts of the West.

As early as 1890, the federal census recognized that "the urban element in the western division" was growing faster than rural population. This is the same census, by the way, that famously declared that there was no longer a discernable frontier line on the national map. The turning point was actually a decade earlier, when census numbers showed that the level of urbanization in the Rocky Mountain and Pacific states had passed that in the older parts of the nation.

Even Sarah Palin's Alaska has always been an urban frontier. Its founding city was the Russian capital at Sitka. Nome and Fairbanks served the needs of prospectors. Juneau housed territorial and state offices. By the start of the present century, almost two thirds of Alaskans lived in the metropolitan areas of Fairbanks and Anchorage, Palin's home base as a suburban mayor. With more than 300,000 people, Anchorage is in the size range of Eugene, Oregon, Rockford, Illinois, and Tallahassee, Florida.

So don't be fooled. Alaska is intriguing, but its center of gravity is a modern metropolis. It is not quite as urban as California, but it's on the way

Abbott is Professor of Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State University and author of How Cities Won the West: Four Centuries of Urban Change in Western North America (2008).

THE FUTURE OF WORDS

Dave Eggers, Esquire - The truth is that American publishers put out 411,000 individual titles last year, an all-time record, and netted $25 billion--hardly a sagging industry. And those kids who have abandoned books for electronic media? Since 2002, juvenile book sales have shown compound annual growth of 4.6 percent for hardcover books and 2.1 percent for paperbacks.

Anecdotally, we know this. We know about Harry Potter, Lemony Snicket, Eldest--these juggernauts of contemporary youth literature--but still we cluck with acknowledgment when some pundit tells us that books are being crushed by an all-powerful digital junta. It must be true, we think--just yesterday I saw some kid on the bus, and he wasn't reading a book!

Since 2002 I've taught a class for high schoolers around the Bay Area. We meet once a week, and the 20 or so students come to read everything they can get their hands on, from The Paris Review to Transition to, well, Esquire. Every so often, I bring some of these assumptions I've heard to the class. I ask how many of them have Facebook pages (three of 20); how many spend more than an hour a day on the Internet (one said he did); and how many play World of Warcraft (only one, Terence Li, a kid who grew up in the roughest neighborhood in the city, reads The Kenyon Review for fun, and is headed to Stanford next year loaded down with scholarships).

These "it's worse now than before" studies are always framed to imply that the teens' parents, at the same age, read more. And that their grandparents, well, they read their asses off. But this is simply not true. Far more Americans are educated now than they were 100 years ago, and infinitely more go to college. As a result, there is now a pool of potential readers that is far larger than it was a century ago.

QUARTER OF WORLD'S MANNELS THREATENED WITH EXTINCTION

ENN - A quarter of the world's mammals are threatened with extinction, an international survey showed on , and the destruction of habitats and hunting are the major causes.

The report, the most comprehensive to date by 1,700 researchers, showed populations of half of all 5,487 species of mammals were in decline. Mammals range in size from blue whales to Thailand's insect-sized bumblebee bat. . .

Of the 2008 total, 188 were listed as "critically endangered," the worst category before extinction, including the Iberian lynx of which there are just 84-143 adults left. Cuba's rat-like little earth hutia has not been seen in 40 years.

Habitat loss and hunting -- for everything from food to medicines -- "are by far the main threats to mammals," Schipper and his team wrote in the journal Science. "The population of one in two is declining," they said. . .

But the report, issued during an Oct 5-14 IUCN congress, was not all gloom. Five percent of species were recovering because of conservation efforts, including the European bison and the black-footed ferret, found in North America.

The African elephant was also moved down one notch of risk, to "near threatened" from "vulnerable," because of rising populations in southern and eastern Africa.

DON'T TELL SARAH PALIN THIS

Scientific Blogging - The fossilized trail of an aquatic creature suggests that animals walked using legs at least 30 million years earlier than had been thought. The tracks, two parallel rows of small dots, each about 2 millimeters in diameter, date back some 570 million years, to the Ediacaran period.

SECULARISTS SUE OVER NATIONAL PRAYER DAY

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a national state - church watchdog, filed a federal lawsuit broadly challenging the federal law designating a National Day of Prayer and requiring a National Day of Prayer Proclamation by the President.

Public Law 100-307 sets the first Thursday in May as "National Day of Prayer." The Foundation is seeking a declaration that the law violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

"Mandated Prayer Proclamations by the President exhorting each citizen to pray constitutes an unabashed endorsement of religion," contends the Foundation complaint, filed on behalf of the Foundation by attorney Richard L. Bolton of Boardman Law Firm, Madison, Wis.

The suit alleges that a task force associated with Focus on the Family is "working hand-in-glove" with the government in organizing the National Day of Prayer.
The Foundation charges that the government "aligns and partners" with the NDP Task Force as the official organizer of the National Day of Prayer. The NDP Task Force identifies itself online as "The National Day of Prayer 'Official Website.' " The task force has close ties to Focus on the Family. Its chair person, Shirley Dobson, is married to Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, and the task force is located in the Focus on the Family headquarters.

The task force proposes the wording of proclamations and chooses a yearly theme and a bible quote. In 2008, Psalm 28:7, "The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him and I am helped" was selected by the NDP as its official biblical reference, and was recited in Bush's proclamation and in at least 15 gubernatorial NDP proclamations. Other governors picked up variations of the task force resolution template and the annual theme.

The Foundation complaint contends that the establishment clause "prohibits government officials and persons acting in joint and concerted action with government officials from taking actions that endorse religion, including specific religions in preference to others, as well as preferring religion over non-religion."

"Exhortations to pray in official presidential proclamations do not constitute ceremonial deism solemnizing some other occasion," the Foundation asserts, but "constitute an end in itself intended to promote and endorse religion."

The suit alleges that the NDP Task Force pressures governors from all 50 states to issue official proclamations, acting "in concert" in a way that aligns them with "the Judeo-Christian principles on which the Task Force is based."

MCCAIN PUSH POLLS SPREAD LIES ABOUT OBAMA

Guardian UK - Barack Obama's campaign for the White House is receiving increasing complaints about scam pollsters involved in dirty tricks operations to discredit the Democratic candidate. Victims claim the fake pollsters work insinuations into their questions, designed to damage Obama. Those targeted in swing states such as Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania include Jews, Christian evangelicals, Catholics and Latinos.

One of those to protest, Debbie Minden, who lives in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood, Squirrel Hill, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, told the Guardian that the pollster had begun by asking her the usual questions about her background and who she would vote for.

But the pollster went on to ask Minden, who is Jewish, how she would vote if she knew that Obama was supported by Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that runs Gaza and was responsible for most of the suicide bombings against Israel. . .

An Obama campaign organizer in one of the swing states said there had been lots of complaints about push polling in his patch. Callers said questions frequently included a reference to the widespread belief that Obama is a Muslim, even though he has repeatedly said he is a Christian.

The organizer said another question was: would you be less likely to vote for Obama if Israel had to give up all of Jerusalem? "They make this shit up. They are good at it. The unassuming listener will not realise it is untrue," he said.

PALIN WAS FAR CLOSER TO ALASKAN SECESSIONISTS THAN OBAMA WAS TO AYERS

Greg Sargent, TPM Election Central - Sarah Palin attacked Obama's patriotism over his association with former Weatherman Bill Ayers -- a move that makes it perfectly legitimate to raise questions about the Palins' associations with a group founded by an Alaska secessionist who once professed his "hatred for the American government" and cursed our "damn flag.". . .

Sarah's husband, Todd Palin, was a member of this group, which continues to venerate that founder to this day, for years. The group is the Alaska Independence Party, which sees as its ultimate goal seceding from the union. Todd was a member, with a brief exception, from 1995 until 2002, according to the Division of Elections in Alaska.

And though Sarah Palin herself was apparently not a member of this group, there's no doubt that she repeatedly courted this secessionist organization over the years. In 1994, Palin attended the group's annual convention, according to witnesses who spoke to ABC News' Jake Tapper. The McCain campaign has confirmed she visited the group's 2000 convention, and she addressed its convention this year, as an incumbent governor whose oath of office includes upholding the Constitution of the United States.

The founder of the AIP was a man named Joe Vogler. Here's what he had to say in a 1991 interview, only a few years before Palin attended its convention: "The fires of hell are frozen glaciers compared to my hatred for the American government."

He also said this: "And I won't be buried under their damn flag. I'll be buried in Dawson. And when Alaska is an independent nation they can bring my bones home."

Vogler has also said: "I'm an Alaskan, not an American. I've got no use for America or her damned institutions."

McCain apologists will argue that Sarah Palin was not a member of this group. But Obama wasn't a member of any Ayers anti-American group, either. And again, Palin repeatedly courted the AIP, and her husband was a member for years.

DID MCCAIN FUDGE HIS INCOME TAX RETURN?

Martha Miller, Huffington Post - I am a tax attorney, so a tax return means more to me than it would to most. I reviewed McCain's tax returns as a basic check on the candidates. You can look at McCain's 2006 and 2007 tax returns for yourself. The tax returns are below a lot of verbiage about his charitable activities.

According to a New York Times article of September 27, 2008 "For McCain and Team, a Host of Ties to Gambling," reported by Jo Becker and Don VanNatta Jr., McCain gambled at the MGM Grand in May 2007. Apparently McCain is a habitual gambler; he usually plays craps. He even says, "I am a gambling man."

Gambling has tax implications. According to IRS Publication 17, "Your Federal Income Tax", 2007 edition, page 89 "Gambling Winnings. You must include your gambling winnings in income on Form 1040, line 21. If you itemize your deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040), you can deduct gambling losses you had during the year, but only up to the amount of your winnings." In other words, you can't subtract your losses from your winnings and just not report. You have to report the winnings, and then claim the losses.

But McCain's tax returns say nothing about gambling winnings or losses.

As a casino gambler, McCain is likely to have lost more than he won. But by not reporting his winnings, the different percentage calculations built into the tax calculation are thrown off, and if he gambled much at all, he has underpaid his tax. The amount of understatement of tax may be minimal, but that's not the point.

The real purpose of preparing his tax return and omitting the gambling winnings is so that people would not know how much he gambled. If he won $200,000 playing craps in Las Vegas, it would make a difference in the way voters viewed his suitability as a presidential candidate.

There are circumstances under which the tax returns could be correct, such as McCain gambled once in 2007, not at all in 2006, and lost everything the one time he gambled. Such an explanation is unlikely in light of McCain's alleged long history of gambling.

Stephen Rose, Huffington Post - McCain is a documented craps player. He has been known to play craps on impulse for 14 hours at a stretch. . .

Connie Bruck puts it like this: "The moment the car stopped at McCain's hotel in downtown New Orleans, he set out at his usual fast clip for Harrah's, across the street. McCain is an avid gambler. Wes Gullett, a close friend who worked for McCain for years, told me that they used to play craps in Las Vegas in fourteen-hour stints, standing at the tables from 10 a.m. to midnight. 'Craps is addictive,' McCain remarked, and he headed for the fifteen-dollar-minimum-bet tables."

Michael Scherer and Michael Weisskopf say: "Over time he gave up the drinking bouts, but he never quite kicked the periodic yen for dice. In the past decade, he has played on Mississippi riverboats, on Indian land, in Caribbean craps pits and along the length of the Las Vegas Strip. Back in 2005 he joined a group of journalists at a magazine-industry conference in Puerto Rico, offering betting strategy on request. 'Enjoying craps opens up a window on a central thread constant in John's life,' says John Weaver, McCain's former chief strategist, who followed him to many a casino. 'Taking a chance, playing against the odds.' Aides say McCain tends to play for a few thousand dollars at a time and avoids taking markers, or loans, from the casinos, which he has helped regulate in Congress. 'He never, ever plays on the house,' says Mark Salter, a McCain adviser. The goal, say several people familiar with his habit, is never financial. He loves the thrill of winning and the camaraderie at the table.

"Only recently have McCain's aides urged him to pull back from the pastime. In the heat of the G.O.P. primary fight last spring, he announced on a visit to the Vegas Strip that he was going to the casino floor. When his aides stopped him, fearing a public relations disaster, McCain suggested that they ask the casino to take a craps table to a private room, a high-roller privilege McCain had indulged in before. His aides, with alarm bells ringing, refused again, according to two accounts of the discussion. He clearly knows that this is on the borderline of what is acceptable for him to be doing," says a Republican who has watched McCain play. 'And he just sort of revels in it.'

BOOKSHELF


CESARE PAVESE AND AMERICA: LIFE, LOVE, AND LITERATURE

Lawrence Smith

The author of this book (no relation to the editor other than friendship) is probably the longest running subscriber to the Progressive Review and all its predecessors. More significantly he is one of the few bankers you'll ever meet who has a PHd in American civilization from Harvard, taught at Harvard, and went to the University of Padua as a Fulbright scholar. Which is where he became acquainted with the works of Cesare Pavese

When he committed suicide at age forty-one, Cesare Pavese (1908–1950) was one of Italy’s best-known writers. A poet, novelist, literary critic, and translator, he had been profoundly influenced in his early years by American literature. But later he grew disaffected with American culture, coming to see it as materialistic and shallow. This book, the first full-length English-language study of Pavese in twenty years, examines his life and the evolution of his views of America.

As an adolescent and young man, Pavese immersed himself in American literature, especially that of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In 1930, at the height of Italian Fascism’s popularity, he wrote a thesis on the most democratic of America’s poets, Walt Whitman. He then supported himself by translating American fiction, most importantly Moby Dick, and by writing essays on American authors. Pavese saw American writers, especially Whitman and Herman Melville, not only as literary exemplars but as models of manhood, guides to ways of living that he did not find in the restricted, conformist world of Mussolini’s Italy. His translations and essays represented sly acts of political and linguistic subversion but also markers of his personal and artistic self-realization.

Pavese consolidated his position in Italian letters during the five years after World War II. His finest novel, The House on the Hill, appeared in 1948, and his last and most famous, The Moon and the Bonfires, in 1950. In this same period, however, he joined the Italian Communist Party and publicly attacked America for the sterility of its culture.

Smith illuminates Pavese’s life and also his tragic death, precipitated by a brief failed love affair with Constance Dowling, an American movie actress fifteen years his junior. Although he barely knew Dowling, her departure from Italy in April 1950 triggered Pavese’s long-latent suicidal impulses, and he killed himself four months later.

ORDER

POETS FOR PALESTINE

Poets For Palestine is a mix of poetry, spoken work, hip hop, and Palestinian art. The book features numerous award-winning poets from various ethnic and religious backgrounds as well as several emerging voices from the spoken word and hip hop community. The poets include Mahmoud Darwish, Amiri Baraka, Naomi Shihab Nye, Patricia Smith, Suheir Hammad, Marilyn Hacker, Nathalie Handal, E. Ethelbert Miller, Alicia Ostriker, Kathy Engel, Sholeh Wolpe, Ibtisam Barakat, Hayan Charara, Melissa Hotchkiss, Fady Joudah and many more.

Sixty years after the dispossession of the Palestinian people, this anthology presents forty-eight poems alongside original works by Palestinian artists. All proceeds from the sale of this collection will go toward funding future cultural projects that highlight Arab artistry in the United States.

ORDER

INDICATORS

UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRATION SLOWS

Hispanic Market Weekly - New research from the Pew Hispanic Center indicates that the flow of undocumented immigrants into the U.S. has slowed since 2004. It also found that the number of undocumented immigrants entering the country fell below that of the number of immigrants who are legal, permanent residents.

The Pew Center estimates that the size of the undocumented population is 11.9 million as of March 2008, an increase of 40 percent from 8.4 million in 2000. However, that's down from an estimated 12.4 million in 2007.

The center notes that its study was not designed to explain why the growth rate has declined.
It does cite several possible causes: "a slowdown in U.S. economic growth that has had a disproportionate impact on foreign-born Latino workers, at the same time that economic growth in Mexico and other Latin American countries has been stable. Another factor could be a heightened focus on enforcement of immigration laws."

The Immigration Policy Center, in a separate statement, commented that the flow of undocumented immigration is inextricably tied to the state of the U.S. economy and not driven by enforcement issues.

"Migrants would not leave behind families, friends, and homelands to embark upon potentially deadly journeys to the United States if there weren't a good chance they could find jobs once they got here. Conversely, few immigrants would go back to countries that lack job opportunities unless there simply were no more available jobs in the United States," the IPC said, citing its own July 2008 report.

BREVITAS

ORWELLANIDA

Times, UK - Ministers are considering spending up to L12 billion on a database to monitor and store the internet browsing habits, e-mail and telephone records of everyone in Britain. GCHQ, the government's eavesdropping centre, has already been given up to L1 billion to finance the first stage of the project. Hundreds of clandestine probes will be installed to monitor customers live on two of the country's biggest internet and mobile phone providers - thought to be BT and Vodafone. BT has nearly 5m internet customers. Ministers are braced for a backlash similar to the one caused by their ID cards program. . . A total of 57 billion text messages were sent in the UK last year - 1,800 every second.

MEDIA

NY Magazine - Patric Verrone, the president of the [Writers Guild, defined "branded entertainment" for the FCC. He emphasized that it involves not merely sponsored props but elaborate interweavings of brands into scripts, ads indistinguishable from the show itself. "Most Americans, like the proverbial frogs in the slowly boiling water, may not notice how prevalent it has become. Yet Nielsen Media Research tells us that product integration has occurred more than 4,000 times on network prime-time television in 2006." Since Verrone's testimony, that proportion has risen vertiginously, jumping 39 percent in the first three months of this year versus the same time period last year. Within the top-ten broadcast-TV shows, advertisers paid for 26,000 product placements in 2007. And in June the WGA presented a startling proposal to the FCC, demanding that networks declare their sponsors in a banner at the bottom of the screen.

OUTLYING PRECINCTS

LONG ROLLING STONE PIECE ON MCCAIN

FREEDOM & JUSTICE

Star Tribune, MN - A Shakopee man who spent two months in jail after being found with white powder has been cleared after tests showed the powder was deodorant, not cocaine. Cornelius F. Salonis, 31, was arrested Aug. 3 on suspicion of drunken driving and jailed after police said they found cocaine in his car. Salonis' attorney blames a faulty field test for the false positive result. Richard Hillesheim says a state crime lab concluded that the powder was deodorant. Last week, prosecutors dismissed the felony drug charges and allowed Salonis to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of drunken driving. He was sentenced to a year in jail. But the judge stayed nine months of the sentence and removed an additional month for good behavior. So with the two months he already had served, Salonis was freed.

YOUTH & SCHOOLS

WYC, Cleveland - Dozens of North High students are sitting at home for challenging Akron's new dress code. District leaders confirm that the students were wearing hooded sweatshirts or 'hoodies' in violation of the district's new dress code policy. . . According to Julia Mann, district spokeswoman, many of the students agreed to take their hoodies off when faced with discipline, but more than 30 were suspended for insubordination. One student tells Channel 3 News that the student body was upset that the 'hoodie' policy wasn't being enforced equally from school to school. The student also said that classmates wore hooded sweatshirts as a way to stay warm Wednesday on the first cold day of the year.

Susan Meehan - Once a week, the first graders at Ross [Elementary School in Washington] are asked to write a postcard. The idea is for them to improve their writing, vocabulary, and even grammatical/sentence structure skills. Ms. Butler, their teacher, helps by putting words up on the blackboard that she thinks the children might want to incorporate into their postcard - words along the lines of, "kindness," "helpful," and "generous." The kids are asked to address their postcards to another member of the class. The subject of the card is thanking the recipient for a kind act the recipient had performed during the week. The cards are read out loud and the children are thanked. The children love doing this, and of course, they love being the recipient of cards. It is a wonderful behavior changer; there are no class bullies, and I suspect that none of these children will ever become class bullies. They are being trained to become kind, decent persons, and this early-age training will, I believe, stick. One interesting aspect of the Kindness Game is that at the beginning, the popular children received the greatest number of postcards, but this has gradually changed, and the spread of postcards is quite even.

FURTHERMORE. . .

GALLERY: STUNNING LANDSLIDES

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