US economics: One big Ponzi scheme

Wall Street traders represent the elite of the global financial world, but after the collapse of the economy those behind the world’s depression still seem to be doing just fine [GALLO/GETTY]

While Bernie Madoff languishes in jail, bankers continue to profit as the poor lose their homes and hope.

by Danny Schechter

Thank you, Bernie, for breaking your silence – even if you are still clinging to that cover-up mode you adopted since you took the entirety of the blame for your crimes.

What is clear is that ripping off the rich is punished far more severely than ripping off the poor. The lengthy sentence you were given spared countless other greedsters and goniffs from facing the music – what music there is.

In an interview – with a reporter from The New York Times who is writing a book to cash in on a man who has already cashed out – we learn, in the vaguest terms, that Mr M believes the banks he did his crooked business with “should have known” his figures did not figure. Keeping with the deceit that has served him well over the years, he names no names.

That said, how right he may be. There were many who should have known and done something about it. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and other regulators for one. Perhaps The New York Times for another. Remember, it was Madoff’s confession to his sons that started him on his way to his new 12′ x 12′ home from home – in a federal correctional institute, where he may dream of his seized penthouse, homes and yachts – rather than any press expose.

For years, he went undetected by business journalists, who knew – or should have known – what he was up to. There are even questions about the speed with which he was sentenced, preventing him from being tried – a process which, through diligent cross-examination, would have brought us more information on the details of his dirty deals. Continue reading

The US Left and Obama-Trauma

The Left and Obama-Trauma


by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

Now that self-proclaimed progressives have passed the point of disenchantment with Barack Obama and entered the stage of active anger at their once-imagined ally, they should quickly take the next step and acknowledge that he is what we at Black Agenda Report have been saying for six years: a right-wing Democrat who has long been aligned with the corporate Democratic Leadership Conference, and whose mission is to expand U.S. empire and put the American state at the service of Wall Street. He has been remarkably successful in both endeavors.

Of necessity, these strategic goals require Obama to wage war against the left hemisphere of his own Party, the main obstacle, in the absence of effective grassroots progressive movements, to forging a grand coalition with Republicans. The president, whom deluded Progressives for Obama hallucinated might become the kind of “transformative” leader that would galvanize Left constituencies into a ready-mix, shake-and-bake “movement,” also sees himself as a transformative figure, but of the opposite kind.

He presented his candidacy as the antidote to what he described during the Nevada presidential primary as the “excesses” of the Sixties and Seventies. His reverence for Ronald Reagan is genuine. Indeed, if Obama were not Black, and if his supporters had not been busy getting drunk in a wishing-well, he would have been widely recognized as a stylistically updated Reagan Democrat.

As soon as Obama’s candidacy was pronounced “viable” by the high priests of corporate media he became a figure of historical significance, a walking, talking racial “breakthrough.” African Americans saw the possibility of a brand new day – and so did Obama, although his vision was much closer to that of those whites who have tired of – or, more likely, always resented – Black demands for redress of grievances, past and present.

Anyone that listened to Obama’s actual words (rather than the voices in their own heads) would have quickly realized that he is ideologically opposed to all manifestations of independent Black politics, much less notions of Black self-determination. The Black Agenda Report team understood instantly, halfway through Obama’s coming-out speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, that the words “there is no Black America…there is only the United States of America” meant that Obama was the Anti-Black whose ascent would bring about the worst political crisis in Black America since at least the days of Booker T. Washington. Continue reading

Obama and Clinton, the Evil Twins

Posted on Black Agenda Report, 12/14/2010

by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

The two corporate political twins, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, held forth at a joint White House press conference – so tightly matched that no light could be seen to shine between them. Obama soon ceded the room to his comrade in collaboration with Republicans, the senior triangulator.

Although competitors, Obama and Clinton “emerged from the same political system, and fed at the trough of the same wealthy individuals and corporate campaign check bundlers.”

It is rare for the corruption of the American political system to be revealed openly and clearly, but that is exactly what took place at a White House press briefing last week. The sight of the current president ceding the spotlight to a former president and one time rival was indeed unique, but its significance was not mere theater.

The 2008 election, which pitted Barack Obama against Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries, was despite the sound and fury, a fight amongst political twins. The Clinton/Obama press conference proved that beyond a doubt.

When Obama made common cause with Republicans and renewed tax cuts for the wealthiest people in the country, he made it clear where his sympathies lie, and they are not with the plight of working people. The tax capitulation was blatant and the president made his situation worse by openly insulting any Democrats who dared to question him.

Barack Obama’s ability to get unqualified support from Democratic progressives is officially toast, and his dependence on Bill Clinton to get him out of the doghouse is proof. His high handed and dismissive behavior of Democratic critics was the last straw for many people who had previously been his defenders. Continue reading

Larry Pinkney: Perpetual War, No Jobs and No Justice Equals No Confidence

An American casualty in the 11th year of the US war on Afghanistan

Black Commentator, 05 December, 2010

“Greed is a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction.” -Erich Fromm, Social Psychologist/ Philosopher

One of the bitterest ironies of the 21st century is how skillfully corporate politicians in this nation have ushered in a state of perpetual war, replete with no jobs and no justice.

And while there are laws aplenty in the United States of America, virtually none of them have anything whatsoever to do with social, economic, and political justice for everyday Black, White, Brown, Red, and Yellow people.

As U.S. perpetual wars of occupation and/or outright aggression rage on in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere on this planet, in the name of the everyday people of this nation, decent jobs, housing, education, and human rights have rapidly become the stuff of myth and unfounded nostalgia.

The U.S. Constitution has become nothing more than a noble piece of drivel – not worth the paper it is written on. The fear of terrorism is being utilized by the very government that itself incites it [i.e. terrorism] around the globe, to officially institute and facilitate the very real daily terror of a de facto corporate-government and a judicially supported police state at home.

It is time for everyday people to cast their votes – but not in the traditional sense of voting in two or four year cycles. Rather, what is necessary is to vote by our actions and our organizing right now. It is incumbent upon everyday people to send a clear, inconvertible vote of NO CONFIDENCE – NO CONFIDENCE in the politicians or their self perpetuating, war mongering, double-talking, corporate-serving political parties – both of them. Continue reading

Defend Wikileaks for its bold “attack on America’s foreign policy interests” (Secretary Hillary Clinton)

Countercurrents, o5 December 2010

WikiLeaks – Threat To U.S. Interest?

By Habib Siddiqui

“Pro-war politicians consider Mr. Assange an ‘enemy combatant’ with ‘blood on his hands.’ The Obama administration also wants to stop the whistle-blower website. Secretary Clinton has described the WikiLeaks disclosure ‘not just an attack on America ‘s foreign policy interests’ but also ‘an attack on the international community – the alliances and partnerships.'”

No news dominated the headlines in the USA as the WikiLeaks story last week when the website released confidential U.S. State Department materials. The latest release is the third in recent months, following disclosures of two caches of U.S. government cables about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq .

The leaked diplomatic cables offer an uncomfortable view into the back corridors of American diplomacy and have been aptly described a ‘diplomatic 9/11′ for the State Department, which is embarrassed for being caught off-guard. Secretary Clinton has been on a four-country swing through Central Asia and the Persian Gulf to repair the fallout from the WikiLeaks  disclosures.

The leaked documents are a treasure trove for anyone interested in knowing how U.S. diplomacy works. They show the extensive and increasingly successful manipulation by the U.S. for pushing a consensus to confront Iran ‘s nuclear program. It is not Israel alone in that region that is against Iran but also the Gulf States like the Saudi Arabia and Bahrain . Continue reading

Tariq Ali: Obama as ‘Chief Steward’ of the American Empire

Obama trying to raise the fighting spirit of the over 100,000 US troops in Afghanistan

The Telegraph, UK

By Tariq Ali, October 30, 2010

How Obama surrendered at home and waged war abroad
As the midterms loom, the President is facing annihilation at the ballot box. Tariq Ali examines how the promise of Obama’s election campaign has been so dramatically lost

As the midterms rapidly approach, the beleaguered US President’s ratings are in steep decline, putting him on the defensive with little to offer his supporters except fine words. Those supporters have been voicing their discontent on the television networks but, much more seriously, are likely to punish Obama by staying at home and ignoring the ballot box on Tuesday.

Indeed, this has been a humiliating time for the once seemingly messianic President. This week’s decision for Obama to appear on the US satirical current affairs TV programme The Daily Show — which is largely watched by liberal voters — was a disaster. The audience openly laughed at him; the presenter, Jon Stewart, gave Obama the honour of being the first President to be called “Dude” to his face on national television; and, worst of all, Obama was forced to recant on the most effective marketing slogan of his generation. “Yes we can,” Obama admitted, had become “Yes we can, but…” Not exactly a rallying cry. Continue reading

US: Donald Duck Meets Glenn Beck in Right Wing Radio Duck

October 02, 2010

This is a re-imagined Donald Duck cartoon remix constructed using dozens of classic Walt Disney cartoons from the 1930s to 1960s. Donald’s life is turned upside-down by the current economic crisis and he finds himself unemployed and falling behind on his house payments. As his frustration turns into despair Donald discovers a seemingly sympathetic voice coming from his radio named Glenn Beck.

• English captions are now working in case you’re not fluent in duck-speak

This transformative remix work constitutes a fair-use of any copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US copyright law. “Right Wing Radio Duck” by Jonathan McIntosh is licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0 License – permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution.

• Please link back to my website:
• Learn about fair-use at the Center for Social Media:
• Learn about transformative works at the OTW:
• Useful Media Matters archive of Glenn Beck clips:
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Jonathan McIntosh
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Kashmir unrest is India’s internal issue, says Obama administration

Indian Express

Washington, Sept 25 : As Jammu and Kashmir continues to draw international attention, the Obama Administration has said it has no intention to inject itself into the latest round of arguments between India and Pakistan over Kashmir.“Our position has been consistent for many years. We regret the loss of lives in the current unrest and view it as an internal issue of India”, Under Secretary of State William Burns told The Indian Express here.

“We welcome the efforts of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who has courageously sought to improve relations with Pakistan”, Burns said in an exclusive conversation. “The pace, scope and character of the dialogue is for India and Pakistan to define.”

Burns, the principal US interlocutor with India in recent years, has overseen the implementation of the civil nuclear initiative and is currently negotiating the substance of US President Barack Obama’s visit to India in November.

While the administration’s position on Kashmir and the Indo-Pak dialogue are clear-cut, there is no denying the pressure from Pakistan and its friends in Washington who are urging Obama to express greater concern on the current situation in Kashmir and take a more proactive approach on the Indo-Pak dialogue. Continue reading

Press Leaks: Evidence that Afghan Leaders on CIA Payroll

Corruption on the US dime fuels the Afghan regime

By James Cogan

30 August, 2010,

A series of leaks to the New York Times and the Washington Post over the past week has revealed that members of the Afghan government headed by President Hamid Karzai are paid agents and informers of the CIA.

The revelations began on August 25 when senior Times’ correspondents Dexter Filkins and Mark Mazzetti reported that a close aide of Karzai who is accused of corruption, Mohammed Zia Salehi, had been on the CIA payroll for “many years”. The information was provided by anonymous sources “in Kabul and Washington,” suggesting it came from high up within the US military or the Obama administration itself.

Two days later, the Washington Post cited other US sources alleging that the “CIA is making secret payments to multiple members of the Karzai administration”. The Post stated: “The CIA has continued the payments despite concerns that that it is backing corrupt officials and undermining efforts to wean Afghans’ dependence on secret sources of income and graft”. Continue reading

Israeli Dissident: Obama’s Imperialist Goals in the Middle East

Michel Warschawski

MR Zine, July 4, 2010

Interview with Dissident Israeli Intellectual Michel Warschawski: “Obama’s Priority Is Iran”

by Antonio Cuesta

Israeli intellectual Michel Warschawski said yesterday, at the European Social Forum in Istanbul, that he is certain that US President Barack Obama’s priority is Iran.  Warschawski was taking part in a seminar on how the international Palestine solidarity movement can challenge Israeli impunity.

Warschawski, founder of the Alternative Information Center in Jerusalem, shared with Rebelión his assessment of the current situation in the Middle East and the role that social movements can play in the task of undermining the foundations of the Israeli apartheid regime.

In the view of this Jewish dissident, the era of the George W. Bush administration was ideal for the Zionist state: never before had there existed so much symbiosis between the Israeli and US governments as during the global preventive war unleashed by the Bush administration, for which the two governments jointly planned, organized, and executed actions. Continue reading

Daniel Ellsberg Says He Fears US Might Assassinate Wikileaks Founder

The right to know, 1971 & today

Transcript: Daniel Ellsberg Says He Fears US Might Assassinate Wikileaks

By: Jane Hamsher Friday June 11, 2010 3:21 pm

Daniel Ellsberg, the former US military analyst who released the
pentagon papers in 1971, appeared on MSNBC today with Dylan Ratigan. He
said he fears for the safety of Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks,
who is reportedly on the verge of leaking secret State Department
cables. The Daily Beast reports that Assange is currently being sought
by the Pentagon, and Ellsberg advises him not to reveal his whereabouts.

“We have after all for the first time, that I ever perhaps in any
democratic country, we have a president who has announced that he feels
he has the right to use special operations operatives against anyone
abroad, that he thinks is associated with terrorism,” says Ellsberg.
“Now as I look at Assange’s case, they’re worried that he will reveal
current threats. I would have to say puts his well-being, his physical
life, in some danger now. And I say that with anguish. I think it’s
astonishing that an American president should have put out that policy
and he’s not getting these resistance from it, from Congress, the press,
the courts or anything. It’s an amazing development that I think Assange
would do well to keep his whereabouts unknown.”

Full transcript:

RATIGAN: Do you see direct parallels between what’s developing here and
what you went through?

ELLSBURG: Yes, there does seem to be an immediate parallel between me
and whoever leaked the video on the assault on the 19 or 20 Iraqis.
Someone–allegedly, it was Bradley Manning–did feel that that deserved to
be out. the “Reuters,” whose newspapermen were killed in the course of
that, had been trying to get that through the freedom of information act
for two years, as I understand it and had been refused. Let’s say
whoever did it, hypothetically, Bradley Manning, showed better judgment
in putting it out than the people who kept is secret from the American
people and from the Iraqis.

RATIGAN: What is your sense of disclosure of information to the American
people today, compared to the period of time that you lived through,
where there was similar issues with, with the perception of reality of
information being withheld from the public? Continue reading 

Wikileak Case Echoes Pentagon Papers

Daniel Ellsberg's release of the Pentagon Papers in 1971 broke through the official lies "justifying" the Vietnam war

By Coleen Rowley and Robert Parry
June 15, 2010

Almost four decades after Defense Department insider Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers – thus exposing the lies that led the United States into the Vietnam War – another courageous “national security leaker” has stepped forward and now is facing retaliation similar to what the U.S. government tried to inflict on Ellsberg.

Army Intelligence Specialist Bradley Manning is alleged to have turned over a large volume of classified material about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to, including the recently posted U.S. military video showing American helicopters gunning down two Reuters journalists and about 10 other Iraqi men in 2007. Two children were also injured.

The 22-year-old Manning was turned in by a convicted computer hacker named Adrian Lamo, who befriended Manning over the Internet and then betrayed him, supposedly out of concern that disclosure of the classified material might put U.S. military personnel in danger. Manning is now in U.S. military custody in Kuwait awaiting charges.

Though there are historic parallels between the actions of Manning today and those of Ellsberg in 1971, a major difference is the attitude of the mainstream U.S. news media, which then fought to publish Ellsberg’s secret history but now is behaving more like what former CIA analyst Ray McGovern calls the “fawning corporate media” or FCM. Continue reading

Black Agenda Report: Yes, Obama is “Engaged” – in a Colossal Crime

Wed, 06/02/2010

your president is engaged

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

Obama is a facilitator of the corporate enterprise that has spawned the Mother of all Pollutions.”

In a rational polity, the great abomination to Earth and Man in the Gulf would spell the end of the Obama presidency. We are witnessing cataclysm on a geological scale, an event with the potential to alter planetary destiny, precipitated not by the three hundred million year arc of wayward comets or the incremental slide of continent-molding tectonic plates, but by the routine exercise of corporate power in the United States.

The man in charge of the government that both permitted and abetted the heinous corporate crime (“Drill, baby, drill!”) should, by all rights, be in terminal disgrace. Instead, much of Obama’s “base” behaves as if the First Black President is an innocent party – a victim of circumstances – rather than a facilitator of the corporate enterprise that has spawned the Mother of all Pollutions. But then, Teflon is a petrochemical product. Continue reading

Thousands in Phoenix protest Arizona’s immigration law

The demonstration, the largest since SB 1070 was signed into law in April, draws a diverse crowd. Backers of the law hold their own rally at a suburban stadium in the evening.

Protesters in Phoenix rally against Arizona’s immigration law during a march to the state Capitol. (Joshua Lott, Reuters / May 29, 2010)

By Nicholas Riccardi, Los Angeles Times

8:59 PM PDT, May 29, 2010

Reporting from Phoenix —

Under a broiling desert sun, tens of thousands of protesters on Saturday slowly marched five miles to the state Capitol to rally against Arizona’s controversial new immigration law.

There was no official crowd estimate, but the march was by far the biggest demonstration since Gov. Jan Brewer signed SB 1070 into law on April 23. The law makes it a state crime to lack immigration papers and requires police to determine the status of people they stop and suspect are in the country illegally.

The law’s backers, who held their own rally at a suburban stadium Saturday evening, contend that the measure is necessary to protect against violence seeping across the border from Mexico. “Why not make the country like it’s supposed to be? Borders define us,” said Don Baggett, who came to the rally from a Houston suburb. Continue reading