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Truthout: August 5, 2011

Truthout: August 5, 2011

The Hidden History of ALEC and Prison Labor
Mike Elk and Bob Sloan, The Nation: "Although a wide variety of goods have long been produced by state and federal prisoners for the US government - license plates are the classic example, with more recent contracts including everything from guided missile parts to the solar panels powering government buildings - prison labor for the private sector was legally barred for years, to avoid unfair competition with private companies. But this has changed thanks to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), its Prison Industries Act, and a little-known federal program known as PIE (the Prison Industries Enhancement Certification Program). While much has been written about prison labor in the past several years, these forces, which have driven its expansion, remain largely unknown."
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Dean Baker | Employment Rate Hits New Low as Economy Creates 117,000 Jobs in July
Dean Baker, The Center for Economic and Policy Research: "The Labor Department reported that the economy created 117,000 jobs in July and revised prior months' growth up slightly to bring the average over the last three months to 72,000. This rate of job growth is below the 90,000 a month needed to keep pace with the growth of the labor force. Consistent with this fact, the employment-to-population ratio (EPOP) fell slightly to 58.1 percent, tying its previous low for the downturn. While the unemployment rate edged down to 9.1 percent, this was entirely attributable to people leaving the labor force."
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Journalist Kicked Out of ALEC Conference, Threatened With Arrest
Eric Carlson, The Center for Media and Democracy: "After filling out my registration form to receive press credentials, I was told by an alarmed ALEC intern to wait while she fetched her boss. While I did not think she had ever heard my name, the look on her face made me think that perhaps she had heard of our new project ALEC A very stern looking gentleman - Ted Wagnon of Vox Global Communications - arrived and told me my application would be denied on the grounds that the Center for Media and Democracy was an 'advocacy organization.' I asked Wagnon for a written explanation, and he handed me ALEC's Media Policy, which bears no mention of 'advocacy organizations.'"
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Robert Reich | The Republicans' Double-Dip Recession, and What Must Be Done
Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog: "Republicans repeatedly assured the nation that once the debt-limit deal was done - capping spending, cutting the budget deficit, and getting '90 percent' of what they wanted - the economy would bounce back. Just the opposite seems to be happening. Call it the Republican's double-dip recession. Wall Street investors aren't ideologues. They don't obsess about budget deficits ten years from now, or the size of the government. One day doesn't make a trend, but a giant sell-off like this is motivated by hard, cold realities."
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On the News With Thom Hartmann: Congress' Disapproval Rating at an All-Time High of 82 Percent, and More
In today's On the News segment: Dow Jones drops 512 points in one day, FAA bill for temporary funding expected to pass today, millionaires paying 25 percent less in taxes than they did in 1990s, Romney gets million-dollar donation from mystery company, Congress' disapproval rating at an all-time high of 82 percent, and more.
Watch the Video and Read the Transcript

The Obama Doctrine and the Dangers of the $185 Billion Increase in US Nuclear War Preparations
Dr. Joseph Gerson, Truthout: "Let me begin with a few words about the US political landscape, the fluid state of the global (dis)order and the emerging Obama Doctrine. The sad truth is that President Bush has been succeeded by another US war president. The US remains at war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama escalated the Pakistan and Yemen wars and the aggressive military exercises in the Yellow and South China Seas. Washington has deepened its alliances across the Asia-Pacific with Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Vietnam, Australia and India and in Europe with NATO's new 'strategic concept.'"
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Is Wisconsin Ground Zero for the "American Spring" or a Third Party?
Richard (RJ) Eskow, Campaign for America's Future: "People watching the news over the past week might have thought that Congress was the only place where battles for our future were being won and lost. That's wrong. There are other battles, better battles, battles far from the glare of the Beltway spotlights. And more are on their way. So forget Washington for a minute. (If you feel like I do right now, that'll be a pleasure.) If you want to see where the next wave of corporate-sponsored political attacks is being launched, look to New Orleans. And if you want a shot of optimism, a ray of light, a sign that battles can be won against overwhelming odds, turn your eyes toward Wisconsin. That's where the action is."
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European and Global Markets Drop Ahead of Wall Street Opening
Matthew Saltmarsh and Bettina Wassener, The New York Times News Service: "Stock markets continued to slide Friday in Europe following sharp sell-offs in Asia and on Wall Street, as pessimism about weak growth in the United States combined with longstanding worries about debt levels in the euro area. Futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 were also down, indicating another weak opening in New York. Slowing manufacturing and service activity and the prospect of spending cuts to reduce debt loads and balance budgets are raising questions about where future growth will come from on both sides of the Atlantic."
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The US Doesn't Have a Debt Problem. It Has a Crisis of Values
Imara Jones, "Default was the best option. The shameful and dangerous debt ceiling deal passed into law yesterday made that clear. It is rooted in the grand bargain that the political class made in 2008: to save Wall Street and allow those in the rest of America to drown Katrina style. The plan will suck money out of a shattered economy that can ill afford it and demand sacrifice from frayed and threadbare communities that will likely not be able to endure what's been asked. Yet, it will allow the wealthiest Americans to get off Scott free and - here's the kicker - profit from the misery that the plan exacerbates."
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David Korten | How Change Happens: A Threefold Strategy
David Korten, YES! Magazine: "Social systems self-organize around ideas and relationships. They are living, complex, dynamic, and constantly evolving as they and their members learn from shared experience. The organism, not the machine, provides the appropriate metaphor. The relevant knowledge resides not with outside experts but with the people who populate the system. The challenge for those who strive to be agents of transformational change is to help members of their group, community, or society recognize, organize, and use that knowledge in ever more effective ways."
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Bringing on the "Obama Recession" by Forgetting the Lessons of Keynes and FDR
David Woolner, New Deal 2.0: "In the past two years we have heard official after official claim that they do not want to repeat 'the mistakes of the Great Depression.' Yet the recent behavior of both the Obama Administration and senior members of Congress belies this claim. Rather than fight for economic policies that would stimulate the economy and put people back to work, this Administration - and even many senior democratic party officials - have chosen to ignore the lessons of the past. Instead of focusing on jobs and growth - the real crisis in our economy - they have embraced the sky-is-falling rhetoric of the Republican Party extremists."
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Shell Gets Tentative Approval to Drill in Arctic
John M. Broder and Clifford Krauss, The New York Times News Service: "The Department of the Interior on Thursday granted Royal Dutch Shell conditional approval of its plan to begin drilling exploratory wells in the Arctic Ocean next summer, a strong sign that the Obama administration is easing a regulatory clampdown on offshore oil drilling that it imposed after last year's deadly accident in the Gulf of Mexico. The move confirms a willingness by President Obama to approve expanded domestic oil and gas exploration in response to high gasoline prices and continuing high levels of unemployment. It comes as the issuing of drilling permits in the gulf is quickening, including the granting on Thursday of a permit for a Shell floating drill rig for a 4,000-foot-deep well."
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There is a false equivalency that comes into play when President Obama insists on presenting himself as a "reasonable" mediator between two political sides.

Since BuzzFlash was founded in May of 2000, we have lambasted many Democratic leaders for lacking strength and conviction. We have deplored that Democratic leaders, with a few exceptions like Bernie Sanders and Dennis Kucinich, repeatedly accept the far-right Republican-generated "conventional wisdom" as the starting point for negotiating public policy.

When President Obama, in an appeal to the so-called "Independent" vote, positions himself as straddling the middle ground between two equal sides, it is an abandonment of leadership that could expose the moral bankruptcy and manufactured bullying of the Koch brothers' (and like-minded billionaires') created "Tea Party."

President Obama implicitly and explicitly asserts that those who would protect Medicare and Social Security, for instance, are leftist counterparts to Ayn Rand followers who want to destroy the federal government and create free-market anarchy to replace it.

As BuzzFlash has stated many a time, the mythical "center" of public opinion is not some immutable set of public policies. America's strength has been its vigorous and inventive ability to evolve. Otherwise, we would still have slavery and women wouldn't be able to vote.

When the White House legitimatizes the radical notions infused into a segment of confused and frustrated Americans by "Americans for Prosperity," "FreedomWorks" (two perniciously euphemistic names considering their missions) and the entire right-wing media and think-tank infrastructure, it is providing them with credibility. Outrage is called for from the bully pulpit of the presidency, not equating advocates of programs for the elderly and poor with hateful radicals who want to drown government in a bath tub, after strangling it (as followers of Grover Norquist) - but keep their Medicare and government subsidies.

The 20 to 25 percent of the population that is holding America hostage has made Obama look weak, not strong. In his first administration, Obama held all the cards, but still folded on virtually everything but health care reform (and that, while having many good substantive insurance improvements, was a financial windfall for private health insurance companies).

The White House's attacks on progressives while showing respect toward the acolytes of Ayn Rand will not help the nation evolve into a clearer understanding of the serious action needed to save our economy and preserve our democracy.

It calls for the audacity of hope, an impassioned advocacy of a vision infused with the facts, not a "reasonable" legitimatizing of psychotic politics that threatens the ruin of our nation.

Mark Karlin
Editor, BuzzFlash at Truthout

Instead of Taxing Wall Street, the Wealthy and Corporations, We Are Forced to Borrow Money From Them
Read the Article at BuzzFlash

Ezra Klein: Stabilizing Into a Crisis
Read the Article at The Washington Post

Paul Krugman: The Economy Isn't Recovering, and Washington Has Been Worrying About the Wrong Things
Read the Article at The New York Times

Rupert Murdoch and Bradley Manning: Why Isn't Murdoch in Jail and Manning Free?
Read the Article at BuzzFlash

Wisconsin Democrats Attack Tea Partier for Outsourcing the Printing of Her "Patriotic" Children's Books to China
Read the Article at Talking Points Memo

US Home Ownership Hits Lowest Level Since 1965
Read the Article at CNN

The Coming Second Civil War in the United States: Will We Be Enslaved by Corporate Governance?
Read the Article at BuzzFlash

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