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The Democratic Party Allies with the CIA

By Renee Parsons | CounterPunch | December 15, 2016

It is nothing short of a massive paradox, bordering on the ridiculous, for the CIA to allege that Russian cyber attacks had influenced the outcome of the recent Presidential election “to favor one candidate over the other” and sought to “undermine confidence in the US electoral system.” Seriously?

For the CIA, of all ‘intel’ sources to make that claim; the least credible, the most culpable of indiscriminate destruction of sovereign nations throughout the world since 1947, some while struggling to become democracies, is directly out of their “How to Initiate Regime Change 101” playbook which has proven so effective in the last sixty years. (See “Legacy of Ashes: History of the CIA” by Tim Weiner) That is sixty years of some of the most unhinged elements in the intelligence gathering world, sixty years of malicious skullduggery as well as unbridled murders and treasonous assassinations including JFK for his efforts to dismantle the Deep State. (See The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA and the Rise of America’s Secret Government” by David Talbot)

And now the CIA has added a new, politically-motivated Chapter entitled ‘Regime Change at Home” including those democratically-challenged Democrats who refuse to accept responsibility for the election loss they themselves created, are now publicly identified as willing pawns and co-conspirators with the CIA. What a way to rebuild the party!

Last Friday, the ever reliable, CIA-accommodating WaPo, published yet another article totally dependent on anonymous sources and quoting from a ‘secret’ CIA assessment report. One might question what is the point of announcing the existence of a ‘secret’ document when the document itself is withheld from the public – presumably, in CIA lingo, purely for propaganda purposes.

While the WaPo reports that ‘intel agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government” and that ‘those officials described the individuals as actors known to the intel community,” yet the public has not been apprised of any arrest warrants being issued or any requests for extradition. What does that tell you?

According to the Post, “CIA officials told Senators it is now quite clear that electing Donald Trump was Russia’s goal.” Fortunately, there is a bulk of the American public who are no longer taken in by the MSM “fake news” or the myopic Democratic party for that matter when it comes to matters of foreign policy.

Speaking of fake news, with the Propornot list identifying 200 websites that ‘reliably echo Russian propaganda” and Turning Point USA’s Professor Watchlist of 200 “left wing extremist” professors implicit as tools for Mother Russia, will those ‘journalist’ whose names appeared in the Podesta email rsvp list from Wikileaks step up and reveal whether they are also on the CIA payroll. Such disclosure would go a long way toward clarifying where Fake News is originating.

Until the ‘secret assessment’ is made available for public review or the factual, annotated evidence is presented regarding Russian electoral influence and specifically how that “influence” was responsible for HRC’s loss, the CIA should, as my grandfather would say, either “put up or shut up.”

The CIA’s allegations and its lack of substance were so unverifiable that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) which is responsible for the nation’s seventeen intel agencies, has refused to endorse the CIA’s assessment ‘due to a lack of conclusive evidence” that Russia intended to elect Trump with the FBI casting doubts on the CIA’s assertions as ‘fuzzy’ and ‘ambiguous’ despite the CIA’s level of “high confidence” with a “consensus” which is another way of saying the assertion was not unanimous.

The distinction here is that while every country in the industrialized world, including Russia and the United States conduct some level of cyber surveillance, there is no way to distinguish  the ‘legal intent’ of that surveillance. While the FBI, as a law enforcement agency has a legal evidentiary standard to meet for a court of law, the CIA has no such constraint. In light of the FBI’s reluctance, retiring Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nv) has called for FBI Director James Comey to resign.

Challenging the CIA allegations has also come from former intel analyst and former UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray who has called CIA claims “bullshit.” “They are absolutely making it up” and putting himself in a potentially hazardous situation, he has said “I know who leaked them. I’ve met the person who leaked them, and they are certainly not Russian and it’s an insider. It’s a leak, not a hack…” An associate of Julian Assange, Murray further added that “I have watched incredulous as the CIA’s blatant lie has grown and grown as a media story – blatant because the CIA has made no attempt whatsoever to substantiate it. There is no Russian involvement in the leaks of emails showing Clinton’s corruption.”

But those critiques of the CIA assessment have not convinced the Democratic leadership on the House and Senate Intel Committees, Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Cal) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Cal) from continuing to assert that “Based on briefings we have received, we have concluded that the Russian intelligence agencies are making a serious and concerted effort to influence the U.S. election,”  as the Democratic party continues to rally around the CIA in its latest effort to subvert democratic rule.

It is clear where all this is leading… as the December 19th date for the Electoral College vote approaches, the essential point here is the invalidation of an otherwise legal election and the flimsy fomenting of a potential  Constitutional crisis. The collusion between the MSM and the Democratic party has instigated an extraordinary crescendo of panic of those willing to have HRC assume the throne of hegemony, wars and international interventions that have become so second nature to the Democratic party.

Here’s a Bulletin:  There is no Constitutional basis for the popular vote in Amendment XII (adopted 1804) of the Constitution. In other words, those partisans trying to flip the electoral votes because they don’t like the Nov. 8th result have no legal standing. While Jill Stein’s ill-considered recount attempt, perhaps prompted by her inability to poll more than 1% of the national total, cited a possible ‘foreign state’ hacking the election results came weeks after she sat at Vladimir Putin’s dinner table in Moscow. That recount has gleaned no such evidence.

As Talbot reported In Chessboard, soon after the Bay of Pig fiasco, former President Harry Truman confided to his biographer Merle Miller that “I think it was a mistake. If I’d known what was going to happen, I never would have done it.  Eisenhower never paid any attention to it and it got out of hand.  It’s become a government all of its own and all secret…that’s a very dangerous thing in a democratic society.” Prophetic words indeed.  Truman, of course, was the author of what became the Central Intelligence Agency as authorized with adoption of the National Security Act of 1947.

In response to JFK’s assassination, Truman clearly felt the need to clarify why he set up the CIA with  a  December 22nd letter to the Washington Post entitled “Limit CIA Role to Intelligence.”  Here are some of the most important excerpts beginning his letter with:

“I think it has become necessary to take another look at the purpose and operations of our Central Intelligence Agency—CIA.”

“I decided to set up a special organization charged with the collection of all intelligence reports from every available source (Departments of State, Defense, Commerce, Interior) and to have those reports reach me as President without department “treatment” or interpretations.”

“… most important thing about this move was to guard against the chance of intelligence being used to influence or to lead the President into unwise decisions—and I thought it was necessary that the President do his own thinking and evaluating.”

For some time I have been disturbed by the way CIA has been diverted from its original assignment. It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the Government. This has led to trouble and may have compounded our difficulties in several explosive areas.”

“I never had any thought that when I set up the CIA that it would be injected into peacetime cloak and dagger operations. Some of the complications and embarrassment I think we have experienced are in part attributable to the fact that this quiet intelligence arm of the President has been so removed from its intended role that it is being interpreted as a symbol of sinister and mysterious foreign intrigue—and a subject for cold war enemy propaganda.”

“But there are now some searching questions that need to be answered. I, therefore, would like to see the CIA be restored to its original assignment as the intelligence arm of the President.”

And then in a June, 1964 letter to the managing editor of Look magazine, Truman reiterated that “The CIA was set up by me for the sole purpose of getting all the available  information to the President.  It was not intended to operate as an international agency engaged in strange activities.”

If President-elect Trump is looking for another swamp ridden quagmire of which to drain, the CIA is a good place to start while restoring its original intent.

Renee Parsons has been a member of the ACLU’s Florida State Board of Directors and president of the ACLU Treasure Coast Chapter. She has been an elected public official in Colorado, an environmental lobbyist and staff member of the US House of Representatives in Washington DC. She can be found on Twitter @reneedove31

December 15, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , , , | 1 Comment

Democrats accuse FBI of hiding ‘explosive truth’ about Trump-Russia ties

RT | October 31, 2016

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid has accused the bureau of hiding “explosive” information about Donald Trump’s alleged ties with Russia, which he believes might inflict “critical” damage ahead of the election.

The allegation comes after FBI Director James Comey announced on Friday that a criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server had been reopened, sending a letter notifying Congress of the email review.

In it Comey revealed the finding of some 650,000 emails which were discovered by the agency in early October on a laptop belonging to ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner and apparently also used by his wife, Clinton’s closest aide Huma Abedin.

The unexpected announcement came just 11 days before Americans head to the polls to determine the winner in the race for the White House between Democrat Clinton and Republican Trump.

Concerned by the FBI’s move to re-open the investigation that was closed in July, Reid sent a letter to Comey accusing him of double standards and potentially breaking the law.

“Your actions in recent months have demonstrated a disturbing double standard for the treatment of sensitive information, with what appears to be a clear intent to aid one political party over another,” Reid wrote on Sunday.

He added that through Comey’s “partisan actions, you may have broken the law,” namely the Hatch Act, which bars the use of an executive branch position to influence an election.

Furthermore, Reid accused the FBI chief of using a “highly selective approach” in publicizing information, and claimed that the timing of the announcement so close to election date was “intended for the success or failure of a partisan candidate or political group.”

While the alleged ties of the Republican candidate with Russia have long been touted by the Clinton camp as one of Trump’s greatest sins, no proof of such a relationship has ever been made public. Reid however once again claimed it was “clear” to him that a relation exists between Trump and the Russian government, and that Comey is hiding it.

“In my communications with you and other top officials in the national security community, it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government – a foreign interest openly hostile to the United States, which Trump praises at every opportunity,” Reid stated.

While Kremlin has on numerous occasions denied any links to the Trump camp, the US media continues to pursue the allegations of Moscow’s alleged involvement, which Russian President Vladimir Putin this week called “absurd.”

“I wrote to you months ago calling for this information to be released to the public…and yet, you continue to resist calls to inform the public of this critical information,” the US politician added.

Reid has sent the letter to Comey just before it was revealed that the FBI has reportedly obtained a warrant to dig through hundreds of thousands of newly-discovered emails. In the meantime, the NYT reported that senior Justice Department officials vowed to make all resources available to conduct the investigation as quickly as possible.

Meanwhile Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN) urged the FBI director to resign, accusing him of restarting Clinton’s email probe “apparently before seeing any evidence.” In a statement Cohen called Comey’s move “plainly premature, careless and unprecedented in its potential impact upon a Presidential election.”

October 31, 2016 Posted by | Deception | , , | 2 Comments

DHS whistleblower ‘almost loses child’ for probing immigration & corruption

RT | June 12, 2015

After voicing concerns about an obscure US immigration program for foreign investors, a Department of Homeland Security agent says she was barred from owning a personal firearm and almost lost custody of her one-year-old adopted daughter.

Taylor Johnson, a senior special agent with a division of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), testified before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on Thursday. She was at a hearing alongside several other whistleblowers who claim that they have also faced harassment for speaking out against their agencies wrongdoings.

Johnson told the committee her problems started after investigating the so-called EB-5 program, which offers visas to foreign investors. When she questioned whether visas were being approved with enough scrutiny, her managers began to receive complaints about her queries. She was removed from the investigation and the case was closed.

“Some of the violations investigated surrounding the project included bank and wire fraud, and I discovered ties to organized crime and high-ranking politicians and they received promotions that appeared to facilitate the program,” Johnson testified.

The whistleblower discovered that “EB-5 applicants from China, Russia, Pakistan, Malaysia had been approved in as little as 16 days” and that case files didn’t have “the basic and necessary law enforcement queries.”

Johnson told the committee her gun was confiscated. She mentioned her access to her workplace and government databases were revoked and the government vehicle she used was also taken away. “I was told I couldn’t even carry or own a personal weapon, which is a constitutional rights violation,” she added.

“When an adoption social worker tried to contact and verify employment, she was told that I had been terminated for a criminal offense,” Johnson said, choking up. “I almost lost my one-year-old-child.”

Johnson’s testimony comes as the EB-5 program is already under intense criticism due to a report released in March by the DHS’ inspector general John Roth. Roth’s report concluded that Homeland Security deputy secretary Alejandro Mayorkas violated ethics rules by intervening as the head of USCIS on several occasions in EB-5 visa cases involving prominent Democrats, such as Senator Harry Reid and Governor Terry McAuliffe.

Mayorkas has since said, “I regret the perception my own involvement created.” It is unclear however if Johnson’s investigation concerned Mayorkas or any of his associates.

Read more:

TSA whistleblower says agency operates on culture of ‘fear and distrust’ & lax security

June 12, 2015 Posted by | Corruption | , , , , | 1 Comment

Boeing Union Workers Forced Into Massive Concessions

By Jack Rasmus | January 5, 2014

This past weekend, more than 30,000 union workers at Boeing Corp. in Seattle, were forced to accept deep concessions in their union contract, gutting their pensions, future healthcare benefits, wages, and other benefits. Their contract with Boeing had not even expired but they were forced into concessions nonetheless. Nor was the company, Boeing, in any financial distress. It had registered record profits in consecutive years, and had in November 2013 bought back $10 billion in stock from its shareholders and paid another $2 billion in dividends to the same. Nevertheless Boeing demanded concessions, having received communication from Union (IAM) International leadership beforehand of their willingness to grant the same. The combination of Union International leadership pressure, countless Democratic Party politicians, and the Company’s new offensive, proved too much for local workers to resist. The new concessions will effectively end workers’ defined benefit pensions, cutting retirement benefits to the bone, and allow the company to end its healthcare insurance benefits by 2018 in accordance with the Obama new health care plan. Wages for new hired workers are projected to decline to levels of minimum wage or less over the next 11 years of the new contract term.

This kind of attack on pensions and healthcare–or what this writer calls the ‘social wage’ was predicted in this writer’s article, ‘Concession Bargaining at the Crossroads’ two years ago in 2011. That article is reproduced here in its original draft form once again.

CONCESSION BARGAINING AT THE CROSSROADS

“The history of collective bargaining since the Second World War has consisted of several stages or phases. The first phase was roughly from 1947 to 1979. During it collective bargaining was expanded both in terms of its ‘scope’ and its ‘magnitude’. Scope refers to new areas of bargaining, such as cost of living adjustments, supplemental unemployment benefits, pensions and health care benefits, union and worker rights, etc. Magnitude refers to increasing the dollar value of wages and benefits. Up to 1979 both expanded.

In contrast, from the mid-1970s to 2007, concession bargaining became the growing practice. But it was concession bargaining focused on giving back ‘magnitude’ gains of the previous decades, not necessarily the scope of bargaining. Workers in the private sector gave ground on wages and benefits in a decades-long attempt to protect their jobs.

First Stages of Concession Bargaining

Among the first to feel the effects were workers in the construction sector, starting in the 1970s. Employers formed early in the decade the ‘Construction Industry Users Roundtable’. Its strategy was to undermine the then powerful building trades unions by a new tactic: the ‘double breasted operation’. This simply put was a way to undermine the construction unions by setting up parallel, non-union companies. The unions ignored the threat more or less, since the double breasted operations were set up in the suburbs and outlying regions. The urban bastion of unionization in construction wasn’t immediately impacted. Employers progressively then moved jobs and work to the non-union operations. The loss of jobs in the unionized operations eventually forced workers and unions to start granting concessions in an attempt to prevent their work shifting to the non-union companies. Concessions soon expanded. Saving jobs in exchange for givebacks on wages and benefits eventually became the norm.

In the late 1970s the strategy of forcing workers to give up wage and benefit gains to keep their jobs leap-frogged into the manufacturing sector. The pilot and defining event was the Chrysler bailout of 1979. It worked so well the model was planned for application to manufacturing in general. By then the Construction Industry Users Roundtable’ had expanded into what is now known as perhaps the most formidable and effective Big Business organization today—the Business Roundtable. Big manufacturing and service companies joined with the Construction employers. The construction industry union-busting model was transported to other sectors of the economy.

The tactic of double breasted operations took on a new form. Alternative union-free operations were set up. But not across town, as in construction. It was now across borders. The manufacturing analog of the double breasted operation was the runaway shop, as manufacturers moved operations offshore.

In these they were aided by the most pro-business President since Coolidge—Ronald Reagan and a compliant Congress. Manufacturers were provided generous economic incentives to set up offshore. Tax incentives were generously granted. Deregulation was introduced. Then in 1988 and 1993 ‘free trade’ agreements were established with Canada and Mexico to facilitate the movement of US capital to those countries to set up operations. Free ‘trade’ is not just about export-import of goods and services; it is even more about negotiating favorable conditions for US foreign direct investment in those countries. Tax [breaks] for investing offshore plus free trade plus deregulation devastated jobs in the US beginning in the early 1980s, and continuing ever since. Under pressure of losing jobs, workers in manufacturing began the long, dead-end road toward concession bargaining in an attempt to save their jobs. But it didn’t. More than 10 million jobs have been off-shored ever since.

The pressure to grant wage concessions intensified in the 1990s. In addition to the threat of job loss, now escalating double-digit annual increases in health care costs provided a second hammer. That ushered in what was called ‘maintenance of benefits bargaining’. Now desperate to maintain their health care coverage, workers gave up more wages in exchange for keeping health benefits. But that too did not last long.

Health care cost shifting accelerated by 2000 and into the next decade. To assist in paying for rising health care premiums and costs, the federal government permitted companies to drag surplus funds from workers’ defined benefit pension plans to cover rising health costs. Up to 20% of health cost increases were subsidized in this manner. But that represented giving up wages—i.e. concessions—in order to maintain benefits as well. Only this time it was workers’ ‘deferred wages’ that went into their pension funds instead of their immediate paychecks. But a wage is a wage, whether immediate or deferred. And concessions on nominal (immediate) and deferred wages became the increasing rule by the late 1990s.

This evolving concession bargaining since the late 1970s into the last decade represents the second phase of the history of collective bargaining in the US. The first, as noted above, was the phase during which collective bargaining expanded both in terms of ‘scope’ and ‘magnitude’—that is, in terms of new areas of bargaining added to negotiations as well as in terms of advances in wages and benefits. The second phase of bargaining in the US, from the late 1970s to around 2000, represents the first stage of concession bargaining.

Stage Two: From ‘Magnitude’ to ‘Scope’ Concession Bargaining

This first stage of concession bargaining (1975-2000) began to change for the worse in the past decade, shifting to a new stage during which workers and their unions have been forced to grant concessions not only in terms of magnitude or levels of wages and benefits, but now in terms of scope and entire areas of bargaining as well. Defined benefit pensions were abandoned for 401k personal pension plans at an accelerating rate. Not only were pensions increasingly privatized, but the de-collectivization of health insurance plans also accelerated under George W. Bush with the introduction of what were called ‘health savings accounts’—the analog on the health benefits side to 401ks on the pensions side.

Employer provided health insurance benefits were now dropped in growing numbers altogether. Or they were dumped onto the union, as in the Auto Industry, in the form of VEBAs (voluntary employment benefit agreements). Employers removed in effect any negotiating over companies paying for health care for workers from union collective bargaining agreements. In a similar fashion, once widespread Cost of Living clauses in collective bargaining agreements were stripped from union contracts. Ditto for supplemental unemployment benefits (SUBs). More and more companies simply discontinued unilaterally retirees health care coverage from bargaining, aided now by court decisions that ruled such were not bona fide subjects of bargaining any longer. Union rights were increasingly circumscribed in agreements, as management rights clauses were expanded. In other words, concession bargaining was no longer simply about ‘magnitudes’—i.e. how much wages or benefits would be reduced in order to keep jobs or the companies from moving offshore or from being outsourced and reduced to mere skeleton crews. Not entire key areas of union contracts were being ‘conceded’ and thus wiped out, removed from the very subject of bargaining altogether.

Stage Three: Concession Bargaining Extends to the Public Sector

In the past two years this second phase of concession bargaining—i.e. cutting levels of wages and benefits and giving up entire areas of bargaining—is now being applied to public sector workers as well, in a vicious attack now unfolding throughout the country. Politicians of both political parties, public sector employers, and wealthy billionaires and millionaires who pay for the elections of these same politicians, are in the process of imposing concession bargaining on public workers.

Furthermore, concession bargaining is occurring in an especially compressed form. Both magnitude and scope are occurring simultaneously and in a matter of just a few years instead of the few decades in which it was deepened in the private sector of the economy. The entire process is effectively ‘telescoped’ and thus taking place is a particularly intense form. All across the country today, in state after state, politicians are declaring bargaining over pensions and health care no longer will be the practice. They are unilaterally discontinuing defined benefit pensions and replacing them with 401k plans. They are moving to eliminate union and agency shop agreements with the open shop, placing ‘caps’ on wage negotiations, and in general attempting to return to the days of ‘civil service’ rules and regulations in lieu of bona fide collective bargaining.

Stage Four: Concession Bargaining’s New Target: ‘Social Wage’ Reduction

Concession bargaining is morphing still further, however. It is now moving from the level of taking back money wages and benefits at the ‘shop-floor level’—both in the private and public sectors—to the level of ‘social wage’ concession bargaining.

The ‘social wage’ is money wages that workers give up in exchange for pay they will receive at a later date. Social wages are thus deferred wages. Social wages are most notably Social Security and Medicare taxes that workers pay in the form of payroll taxes, in order to receive the wage paid upon retirement in the form of social security pension and medicare health care benefits. The focus since the 2010 midterm elections in the US is now on austerity—a codeword for cutting so-called ‘entitlements’ like social security and medicare. But social security and medicare represent wages paid by workers in the past for claims in the future. Not content with concessions from current wage and benefits, Corporate America—the rulers behind the throne of Congress and the Presidency and Courts—now want reductions in the ‘social wage’ as well. Why? So they can maintain their historic tax cuts enacted over the past three decades and not have to pay the costs of the bailouts and economic crisis [as well as the wars for Israel – Aletho News] that they themselves caused.

The dimensions of the Great American Tax Shift of the past three decades, still on-going and expanding under Obama and the Democrats (and about to expand further still) are the subject of another analysis. But briefly, a tip of the iceberg view is: In the 1960s corporations paid 30% of total federal tax revenues; today they contribute 6.6%. In the 1960s the top income brackets paid 45% of total federal tax revenues; today the effective top bracket tax paid by the wealthiest individuals is only 16%.

The latest phase of concession bargaining now emerging in the past year—concessions giving back the ‘social wage’—is historic. It represents concession bargaining over workers’ income that is shifting to the political level on a grand scale. It is ‘grande scale concession bargaining’. Not content with concessions in money and benefits at the shop level in the private sector, not even content with extending that in intensified form today to the public worker sector, corporate interests now demand concession bargaining over social wages at the political level.

What’s especially onerous about the new concession bargaining is that politicians are making the decisions. Workers don’t even have the option of voting on the concessions, or striking in opposition, as they might when undertaken in cases of earlier concession bargaining at the shop level. They now have virtually no say in the process short of taking to the streets to have their voices heard—which appears increasingly as the only alternative. Moreover, the dollar value of the concessions being, and about to be, offered are now also immensely greater. As the recent debt ceiling debate illustrates clearly, the coming attack on Medicare represents social wage concessions approaching half a trillion dollars. Concessions involving social security retirement that will soon follow in 2012 will amount to a like amount, at minimum, with even more Medicare cuts. In just a few short years, several times the value of total givebacks in concessions in wages and benefits at the shop level since 1979 may occur. It is a massive transfer and shift of income from working and middle class America to the wealthiest households and their corporations.

Behind the facade of Washington politics are the same corporate interests, however. Only now instead of directing their managers at the bargaining table, they now direct their political managers by means of their immense, and growing, campaign contributions and billion dollar lobbying efforts.

Occasionally an example slips through the veil of confusion about who’s behind it all. The veil drops revealing the ‘Wizards of Oz’ pulling the levers and the curtains. Witness the notorious relationship between Wisconsin governor, Walker, and the billionaire Koch brothers. But there are ‘Koch brothers’ lurking everywhere behind the veil, in Ohio, in New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Georgia, and even California. They are driving the fundamental strategy, directing the elected politicians in exchange for campaign contributions and day to day lobbying largesse.

The Empty Legacy of Concession Bargaining

What concession bargaining has proven over the past three decades—whether at the political level or the shop floor level—is that concessions only result in demands for more concessions.

Concessions in the private sector over the past three decades haven’t saved jobs. What they have achieved is a stagnation and decline in the income for 100 million families that is choking off consumer spending and economic growth and therefore economic recovery. The second phase, concession bargaining in the public sector, will now add to this consumption decline. And the now emerging third phase, expanding concession bargaining to the level of social wages, about to begin with the direct attack on social security and medicare will not ‘save’ those programs any more than concession bargaining in the past ‘saved jobs’.

Concession bargaining will only result in a deepening crisis in those programs and lead, inevitably in turn, to more demands by corporate interests for still further cuts (i.e. concessions) in those programs. Calls by politicians for ‘shared sacrifices’ are really concession bargaining by another name: to reduce the social wage represented by social security and medicare.

Nothing positive whatsoever has come from concession bargaining the past three decades in the private sector. Good jobs have continued to disappear by the tens of millions. Wages and earnings for the 100 million non-supervisory workers in the US have stagnated and fallen. Giving up wages to ‘maintain health and retirement benefits’ have fared no better. Pensions have nearly disappeared and employer provided health care coverage has declined by the millions of companies, and will not last out the current decade. Nor will anything beneficial come from the intensification of concession bargaining now penetrating the public sector. Union leaders will give up wages and benefits, but that will not stop the millions that are slated for layoffs in the public sector over the next few years—at minimum 500,000 in the year ahead alone! The extension of concession bargaining to the public sector, now accelerating at a pace far worse than that which previously occurred in the private sector, will produce the same results—only now telescoped into a much shorter time period. Not least, nothing positive will come from granting concessions over social wages—i.e. agreeing to reduce social security and medicare benefits. Those programs will not be ‘saved’ by concessions. They will be destroyed by them.

The only way to stop concession bargaining in any of its forms, including the most virulent now attacking the ‘social wage’, is to refuse any and all concessions. ‘No cuts and No Concessions’ is the only effective bargaining demand.

And just as, at the shop floor, when union leaders cave in to employer demands for concessions, they should be thrown out and replaced with leaders who will refuse to do so and stand firm—so too should any politician who agrees to concessions from social security and medicare be thrown out. Indeed, any politician who fails to actively resist such concessions should be thrown out. Not in the next election. But by immediate recall.

Finally, any political party that allows its elected to members to agree to concessions in social security and medicare, or whose elected members stand by silently while the fight to defend the social wage takes place, should be replaced by another political party whose members consider the social wage ‘non-negotiable’.

Unfortunately, it appears the political party—the Democrats—who introduced and once championed social security and medicare are now becoming participants in its destruction. Not only President Obama, but Senate leader Harry Reid and House leader Nancy Pelosi, have all publicly indicated this past summer they are prepared to concede and to cut medicare before year end 2011 in some form. Next it will be social security retirement. And medicare again.

But once starting down that road of initial concessions, it will only lead to further concessions—as the history of concession bargaining at the shop floor over the last three decades sadly shows.

If that happens, and the leadership of the Democratic Party abandon social security and medicare to concession bargaining, as it appears they will, the only answer to stopping concession bargaining is to create a new party of labor, every member of which must solemnly pledge to expand the social wage, to defend and expand social security and medicare, to stand firm on the question of concession bargaining. There can be no ‘Bi-Partisan’ compromise. It is time to raise the flag, with the motto boldly proclaiming across it: ‘No Concessions! No Retreat!.

Jack Rasmus, August 7, 2011

January 6, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Economics, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US snub of Syria talks ‘proof of weakness in position’ – Duma speaker

RT | September 6, 2013

State Duma speaker Sergey Naryshkin has told the press that no Russian parliamentary delegation is going to the United States to discuss the Syrian issue, adding that the US refusal to meet was regrettable.

“The unwillingness to listen to arguments on inter-parliamentary level testifies to the fact that our American partners themselves understand the weakness of their positions. In addition, this step characterizes their attitude to the norms of international law,” he said.

Naryshkin added that “the United States is used to considering the most important issues of other nations and of whole world’s regions to be their internal affairs, despite the fact that the current system of international law and the UN’s global security architecture have been built by the lengthy and thorough efforts of the whole international community on the basis of the results of WWII.”

He emphasized that it was extremely dangerous to neglect the valuable institutions and the system of guarantees built on the lessons taught by the greatest disaster of the 20th century. He again reminded that the international political organizations were created in order to save the world from future global disasters.

On Monday this week the heads of the both chambers of the Russian parliament suggested that President Vladimir Putin hold bilateral talks with US lawmakers in order to find a solution to the crisis in Syria. Putin supported the initiative, calling it timely and correct, and adding that direct talks might help US politicians to hear firsthand arguments and understand Russian motives in the standoff.

By Tuesday, Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko had sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid suggesting a meeting be called without delay to find a peaceful solution to the Syrian problem by common effort and as soon as possible.

According to Russian Senator Ilyas Umakhanov, initially the US official said that he was ready to assist the consultations between Russian and US lawmakers. However, by the end of the week CNN reported that Reid had turned down the Russian proposal.

House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner also turned down the Russian embassy’s request to directly meet with the parliamentary delegation.

September 6, 2013 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US: Senate Leaders Block Public Database of Congressional Financial Disclosure

By Matt Bewig | AllGov | April 14, 2013

Quietly and after many members had left for the weekend, the Senate voted Thursday night to approve a new bill, S. 716, introduced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada), that no one had read, and that was not publicly available on the Library of Congress website until after the vote.

The purpose of the bill was to gut key provisions in the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act requiring broad disclosure of already public reports about the personal finances of public officials and employees. Responding to concerns that some provisions of the STOCK Act were overly broad and might put some government employees at risk, the Senate decided to exclude legislative and executive staffers from the online disclosure requirements entirely and to delay implementation of other mandates for themselves.

The STOCK Act, which is only a year old, requires online posting of the personal financial disclosure statements filed each year by lawmakers and congressional candidates, the president and vice president, cabinet members and high-ranking staff. The data is supposed to be made available in machine readable format that is searchable and downloadable by this October.

With no public notice or hearings on the issue, the Senate voted to eliminate both the online disclosure requirement for congressional and executive branch staff members and the creation of a searchable public database containing the information in the reports. At present, the financial disclosure reports are filed on paper and made available as non-searchable pdf files, which makes them cumbersome and onerous to use for research. The requirement of searchability was a key reform intended to allow citizens to easily research patterns of financial influence.

None of the concerns regarding the publication of federal employees’ financial information raised any issues regarding the requirement that the disclosures of legislators, candidates, the President, Vice President and cabinet members be in searchable format by October, but the Senate took the opportunity to kill that mandate as well. Although the provision barring insider trading by members of Congress was left intact, without searchable disclosure forms the heavy volume of data renders its analysis slow and politically toothless.

April 14, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Wars for Israel | , , , | Leave a comment

New Senate Cyber Bill No Better Than Last Version

By Michelle Richardson, Legislative Counsel, ACLU | July 2, 2012

Yesterday, Republican Senators introduced a rewrite of their cybersecurity bill, known as SECURE IT. Advocates registered their opposition to the bill last month and its CISPA-like expansion of military authority to collect sensitive information on Americans’ internet use.

Despite claims the contrary, the new bill has not been substantially amended and still does not meaningfully limit the amount or type of information that the government can collect from companies that hold very private and personal data. Most importantly,

•    SECURE IT still allows companies to give sensitive American information directly to the National Security Agency and other military agencies. The ACLU has long argued, and even the Obama administration agrees: domestic cybersecurity programs must be run by civilian agencies.

•    The bill lacks any requirement that companies first remove personally identifiable information unrelated to cybersecurity from what they share with each other or the government. That’s right – companies that have access to what we buy, what we read, and where we go don’t even have to attempt to suppress identifying information.

•    SECURE IT-collected information can be used by the government not only for cybersecurity purposes, but for undefined national security purposes and to prosecute a long list of crimes unrelated to cybersecurity.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has promised cybersecurity will be brought to the floor in July. So it looks like we’ll see a vote in the next few weeks. Now’s the time to contact your Senators and tell them to vote against any legislation that lets the government start cyber spying!

July 2, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | Comments Off on New Senate Cyber Bill No Better Than Last Version

The Plot to Oust America’s Nuclear Watchdog

By ANDREW COCKBURN | CounterPunch | December 15, 2011

In what may well be a temporary aberration, the Obama Administration appears to be sticking by Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko, even though the nuclear industry most definitely wants him out.  The current assault on Jaczko has come in the form of a “confidential” letter from Jaczko’s four fellow commissioners sent in October  to White House Chief of Staff William Daley complaining that the NRC Chairman pays scant attention to their views and generally runs the Commission as a one man show.  Should the attack succeed, the new Chairman will most likely be William Magwood, long a tireless promoter of nuclear power as Director of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Nuclear Energy where he promoted the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, a program to restart reprocessing of nuclear waste.

Obama himself has had a long and unpleasing record of engagement with the nuclear industry, notably the Exelon Corporation, which has been making generous provision to Obama’s campaign chest ever since his days in the Illinois Senate, where he performed various useful services on the corporation’s behalf.  It should therefore have come as no surprise that when a vacancy arose on the NRC board early in his administration, Obama nominated Magwood.

The nomination was opposed by over a hundred organizations which vainly cited Magwood’s shameful record as a tout for the industry he was now supposed to regulate.  Once installed early in 2010, he showed every sign of a zealous commitment to advancing the priorities of the nuclear power industry.

Back in those happy pre-Fukushima days, the future appeared bright for nuclear power. The public obloquy that followed Three Mile Island, condemning the industry to years of stagnation, was at last dissipating, thanks to artful invocation of the specter of global warming and concurrent recasting of nuclear power as a “clean” energy source and toast of the environmental movement.

One problem remained: longterm disposal of high level nuclear waste.  In 1987 it had seemed that this particular issue had been settled with the passage in Congress of the “Screw Nevada” bill nominating Yucca Mountain, 80 miles northwest of Las Vegas, as the sole suitable site that could be considered for the permanent interment of 72,000 tons of lethal waste currently stored at reactors around the country.  The selection had little scientific validity, given that the site marks the juncture of two seismic fault lines and in any case is volcanically active and composed of porous rock, through which flows drinking water for one of Nevada’s most important farming areas, as well as an Indian reservation.  The mountain is also sacred to the Western Shoshone people.

Opposing the infamous bill was freshman Senator Harry Reid.  Outraged and humiliated by the way that legislators from Washington state and Texas, the two other nominees for a waste site, had effectively consigned Nevada to be the radioactive trash dump, Reid, a former amateur boxer, remarked that “sometimes you have to go round the back of the bar” to finish a fight.

In ensuing years, as the construction crews tunneled away into the depths of the mountain, Reid took several initiatives to ensure that Yucca Mountain never opened for business.  First, he advanced through the Democratic leadership to become Majority Leader in 2006.  Second, he maneuvered successfully to move Nevada’s Democratic caucuses to January, thus rendering them potentially crucial in the nomination race.  This had the natural consequence of generating fervent pledges from Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton in 2008 that, so long as there was breath in their bodies, Yucca Mountain would never hold nuclear waste.  Thirdly, Reid recruited as his appropriations director and science policy adviser Gregory Jaczko, a former aide to  veteran anti-nuke congressman Ed Markey.  Fourth, he induced George W. Bush in 2005, to nominate Jaczko as a Commissioner to the NRC in exchange for dropping Democratic opposition to a number of federal judgeships.  Following Obama’s presidential victory, Reid demanded and secured Jaczko’s appointment as Chairman of the NRC.

Once at the helm, Jaczko moved with commendable dispatch to shut down Yucca Mountain once and for all even while fellow commissioners  echoed the nuclear industry in pushing for a mere suspension of the project.  Then came the Fukushima disaster. As the reactor buildings  exploded and US military radiation monitors in Japan ticked remorselessly upwards, the US government began to panic.  “I’ve lived through many crises in the decades I’ve been in government,” one national security official intimately involved in the Fukushima response told me, “but this was the most frightening week of my professional life, by far.  We thought we were going to lose half of Japan.”

While the Japanese government reacted to the catastrophe with criminal quiescence – enjoining evacuation merely from an area within 12 miles of the plant – Jaczko took more decisive action, telling Americans within 50 miles to move out. This was anathema to the industry, a sentiment emphatically  mirrored in the four commissioners’ letter of complaint to the White House.  Further initiatives irksome to Magwood and the others included a push to enjoin additional safety measures on US reactor operators in light of Fukushima.

“He’s not ‘our guy’ by any means, he has voted to re-license plants that should probably be shut down” says Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear.  “But he does care about safety, in ways that the others do not.”

So far at least, the White House, conscious no doubt of Nevada’s electoral votes, is backing Jaczko.  But, even while Jaczko confronts his assailants, a Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future has been chewing on the problem of what to do with the radioactive waste filling up pools at reactors around the U.S..  Headed by that perennial placeman, former congressman Lee Hamilton, the commissioners include Obama’s old pal, Exelon CEO John Rowe, who, as Beyond Nuclear’s Kamps points out, “has created more nuclear waste than anyone else in America.”

Senator Reid’s work may not yet be done.

ANDREW COCKBURN is the co-producer of the feature documentary on the financial catastrophe American Casino.  He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, forthcoming from AK Press. He can be reached at amcockburn@gmail.com

~~~

Update:

US: Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Jaczko Steps Down

Act against corporate interests, and become a target for personal destruction.

Huffington Post | May 22, 2012

WASHINGTON — Under a withering assault from the industry, Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko is stepping down, effective upon the confirmation of his successor, according to a statement from Jaczko.

The resignation follows months of bureaucratic knife-wielding by the four industry-backed members of the five-person panel. Like something out of Dumas, the passionate infighting stretched back decades. The industry effort was spearheaded by Democratic Commissioner Bill Magwood. […]

HuffPost reported that Magwood, who spent his career moving in and out of the private sector, had done nuclear safety consulting for the company that owns the Fukushima nuclear power plant. … Read full article

~~~


NRC Oversight Hearing, Dec. 14, 2011

December 15, 2011 Posted by | Nuclear Power | , , , , , | 3 Comments

War on Trees: Harry Reid, Ag Extension Agents, and Chinese biomass companies promote liquidation of old growth forests… in Nevada

Pinyon and juniper trees, demonized by ranchers, miners and water mining entities, are being eyed by Chinese “biomass” companies with the backing of politicians.

Ken Cole  —  Wildlife News —  January 18, 2011
Pinyon Juniper Forest, Nevada.  Photo - Katie Fite
Pinyon Juniper Forest, Nevada. Photo – Katie Fite

Recently the Nevada Pinyon-Juniper Partnership, aided by USDA, set up a conference to discuss pinyon and juniper trees. At the conference were several players in government and business who have an interest in the removal of pinyon and juniper trees in the Great Basin. Bob Abbey, the director of the BLM, attended the meeting.

Most people don’t think of the Great Basin when they think of old growth forests but the pinyon-juniper forests there are ancient forests with several hundred year old trees that provide important habitats and food for many species of birds like pinyon jays, Clark’s nutcrackers, black throated gray warblers, small mammals, nesting raptors. The charismatic seed-caching Clark’s nutcracker faces catastrophic food shortages in the Rockies due to whitebark pine die-off. It relies on large-seeded pines – and the pinyon pine has a superb large seed that was also vital to supporting Native American cultures in the Great Basin.

The refuge provided by these trees are probably the only reason that central Nevada has any elk at all. They are one of the important components that keep the entire Great Basin Ecosystem together because they retain snow later into the year due to their shade and absorb CO2. Their destruction would promote global warming and desertification by making the area hotter and drier.

After the masticator. Photo - Katie Fite

The history of animosity towards pinyon juniper trees is a long one. As with sagebrush, for many years ranchers have been getting BLM and FS to use our tax dollars to fund removal of p-j forests to promote livestock forage. They recruited the College of Agriculture at the University of Nevada, Reno, to concoct biased science to justify p-j killing projects. Test projects were initiated, but not evaluated, where p-j forests were chained, cut down or burned, that often resulted in unforeseen (to some) effects such as cheatgrass invasion. A false comparison was concocted where researchers claimed that p-j forests should have an open understory like seen in ponderosa pine forests which are subject to frequent repeated fires. Generally p-j forests are subject to small, spotty fires or major stand replacing fires.

By conveniently ignoring the fact that the p-j forests were heavily utilized during the mining days of the 19th century for fueling smelters, ranchers try to promote the false assertion that p-j are “encroaching” into areas where they previously didn’t grow when, in actuality, they are recolonizing areas where they were cut down. Proposals to destroy p-j forests by dragging huge chains between two tractors were made but they were shot down in court by Western Watersheds Project in 2002 so the proponents of p-j thinning have gone back to the drawing board.

Now it is being claimed that p-j are responsible for reductions in sage grouse populations because sage grouse avoid areas with tall structures or trees used by avian predators for perches to prey on them. This has been a very convenient argument because it distracts away from the fact that a century and a half of overgrazing has brought devastating changes in the form of weeds, sagebrush destruction, soil erosion, increased fire frequency, and other habitat degradation to the lower elevation areas that sage grouse depend on. While the ranchers squeeze the lower elevation habitat they are putting pressure on the agencies to kill p-j on higher elevation habitat under the guise of sage grouse “habitat restoration”.

On top of this pressure from the ranchers, foreign mining companies, who have bought up ranches and gained control of a number of grazing allotments, eye the p-j with disdain because the trees are in the way of expansion of existing and new mines. If the trees are cut down under another guise then it is easier to argue that they should be allowed to expand their operations. Another proponent of p-j thinning in Nevada is the water mining Southern Nevada Water Authority who has also bought up ranches and gained control of a number of grazing allotments. They eye the p-j with disdain because they transpire precious water that they want to mine and pipe to water Las Vegas.

Now a new player enters the p-j matrix. With the support of Senator Harry Reid, county commissioners, and ranchers, A-Power, a Chinese company, is pushing to use the p-j for “biomass” to fuel power generating facilities. Nothing could be more unsustainable than using ancient forests of the Great Basin for biomass.

Interestingly, a Chinese windmill assembly plant near Las Vegas is controlled by an entity named RePower that also has curried favor with Reid.

In an effort to move forward with landscape level p-j destruction projects a number of groups are formulating a plan for a 2 million acre “demonstration project” where they would thin the forests using money from the sales of public lands under the authority of the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act or other federal funds that are supposed to be used for sage grouse restoration. This money would then be funneled through the Eastern Nevada Landscape Coalition which is a non-profit with a history of funding research which supports vegetation killing under the guise of “habitat restoration”. This would be done to reduce federal contracting requirements. As recently as 2008, current BLM director Bob Abbey was a “trustee” of the ENLC.

Great Basin pine nuts are prized, limited harvest occurs, and the value of nut production would far exceed the value of beef that could be produced by the destroyed land.

January 25, 2011 Posted by | Environmentalism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 1 Comment