U.S. Munitions: Blood Of Gazan Children On American Hands

Pentagon agreed to supply Israeli army with grenades and mortar rounds as outrage erupts over strike on UN school.

(Editor’s Note: Remember, all this is being done with our tax money and in our name. — Mark L. Taylor)

 
By Aine Hagerty
The Irish Mirror (7/31/14)

The United States is re-arming Israel to wage its offensive on the Gaza Strip while condemning its attacks.

The Pentagon has confirmed that it is supplying the Israeli army with grenades and mortar rounds as Barack Obama called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

The US government agreed to allow Israel access to a weapons stash it stores locally for US use that Israel can only access in emergency situations.

Israel, however, did not cite an emergency when it made its latest request 10 days ago it has been reported.

Washington allowed Israel to access the stockpile to resupply itself with 40mm grenades and 120mm mortar rounds as outrage erupts over Israel’s targeting of UN schools where dozens of innocent children have been killed.

Pentagon’s press secretary John Kirby said: “Both munitions had been in WRSA-I stock for a few years, well before the current crisis.

“All stocks in WRSA-I, as required by law, are ‘in excess to US requirements’.

“Issuing munitions from the WRSA-I stockpile was strictly a sourcing decision and White House approval was not required.

“The United States is committed to the security of Israel, and it is vital to US national interests to assist Israel to develop and maintain a strong and ready self-defence capability.

“This defence sale is consistent with those objectives.”

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has condemned an Israeli strike on a Gaza school that killed 15 people as “unjustifiable,” calling for those responsible to be held to account.

He said: “Nothing is more shameful than attacking sleeping children.

“This morning, a UN school sheltering thousands of Palestinian families suffered a reprehensible attack.

“It is unjustifiable, and demands accountability and justice.”

The Seanad is sitting today to discuss the crisis in Gaza and how the Irish government should respond to it.

Link to Story

Posted in 2014-08-01, Newsletter | Comments Off

Former National Director Of American Jewish Congress: Israel Provoked This War

Netanyahu made clear that he has no interest in a genuine two-state solution.

By Henry Siegman
Politico (7/22/14)

here seems to be near-universal agreement in the United States with President Barack Obama’s observation that Israel, like every other country, has the right and obligation to defend its citizens from threats directed at them from beyond its borders.

But this anodyne statement does not begin to address the political and moral issues raised by Israel’s bombings and land invasion of Gaza: who violated the cease-fire agreement that was in place since November 2012 and whether Israel’s civilian population could have been protected by nonviolent means that would not have placed Gaza’s civilian population at risk. As of this writing, the number killed by the Israel Defense Forces has surpassed 600, the overwhelming majority of whom are noncombatants. [As of 7/31 the number of dead has gone over 1,300. -- DC Editor.]

Israel’s assault on Gaza, as pointed out by analyst Nathan Thrall in the New York Times, was not triggered by Hamas’ rockets directed at Israel but by Israel’s determination to bring down the Palestinian unity government that was formed in early June, even though that government was committed to honoring all of the conditions imposed by the international community for recognition of its legitimacy.

Missed opportunity

The notion that it was Israel, not Hamas, that violated a cease-fire agreement will undoubtedly offend a wide swath of Israel supporters. To point out that it is not the first time Israel has done so will offend them even more deeply. But it was Shmuel Zakai, a retired brigadier general and former commander of the IDF’s Gaza Division, and not “leftist” critics, who said about the Israel Gaza war of 2009 that during the six-month period of a truce then in place, Israel made a central error “by failing to take advantage of the calm to improve, rather than markedly worsen, the economic plight of the Palestinians in the [Gaza] Strip. … You cannot just land blows, leave the Palestinians in Gaza in the economic distress they are in and expect Hamas just to sit around and do nothing.”

This is true of the latest cease-fire as well. According to Thrall, Hamas is now seeking through violence what it should have obtained through a peaceful handover of responsibilities. “Israel is pursuing a return to the status quo ante, when Gaza had electricity for barely eight hours a day, water was undrinkable, sewage was dumped in the sea, fuel shortages caused sanitation plants to shut down and waste sometimes floated in the streets.” It is not only Hamas supporters, but many Gazans, perhaps a majority, who believe it is worth paying a heavy price to change a disastrous status quo.

The answer to the second question — whether a less lethal course was not available to protect Israel’s civilian population — is (unintentionally?) implicit in the formulation of President Barack Obama’s defense of Israel’s actions: namely, the right and obligation of all governments to protect their civilian populations from assaults from across their borders.

But where, exactly, are Israel’s borders?

Netanyahu placing Israeli at risk

It is precisely Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s refusal to identify those borders that placed Israel’s population at risk. And the reason he has refused to do that is because he did not want the world to know that he had no intention of honoring the pledge he made in2009 to reach a two-state agreement with the Palestinians. The Road Map for Middle East peace that was signed by Israel, the PLO and the United States explicitly ruled out any unilateral alterations in the pre-1967 armistice lines that served as a border between the parties. This provision was consistently and blatantly violated by successive Israeli governments with their illegal settlement project. And Netanyahu refused to recognize that border as the starting point for territorial negotiations in the terms of reference proposed by Secretary of State John Kerry.

Grabbing it all

But on July 12, as noted in The Times of Israel by its editor, David Horovitz, Netanyahu made clear that he has no interest in a genuine two-state solution. As Horovitz puts it, “the uncertainties were swept aside … And nobody will ever be able to claim in the future that [Netanyahu] didn’t tell us what he really thinks. He made it explicitly clear that he could never, ever, countenance a fully sovereign Palestinian state in the West Bank.” The IDF, Netanyahu said, would remain permanently in the West Bank. During the Kerry-sponsored negotiations, he rejected out of hand the American proposal that U.S. and international forces be stationed on the Israeli-Palestinian border, which he insisted would remain permanently under the IDF’s control. Various enclaves will comprise a new Palestinian entity, which Palestinians will be free to call a state. But sovereignty, the one element that defines self-determination and statehood, will never be allowed by Israel, he said.

 

Why will he not allow it? Why did he undermine Kerry’s round of peace talks? Why is he inciting against the Palestinian unity government? Why does he continue to expand illegal settlements in the West Bank, and why did he use the tragic kidnapping and killing of three Israelis as a pretext to destroy what institutional political (as opposed to military) presence of Hamas remained in the West Bank?

He’s doing all of these things because, as suggested by Yitzhak Laor in Haaretz, he and his government are engaged in a frenzied effort to eliminate Palestinians as a political entity. Israel’s government is “intent on inheriting it all” by turning the Palestinian people into “a fragmented, marginalized people,” Laor writes. It is what the Israeli scholar Baruch Kimmerling described as “politicide” in a book by that name he wrote in 2006.

Obama the co-conspirator

So exactly who is putting Israel’s population at risk? And what is Obama prepared to do about it?

I’m sure the president’s political advisers are telling him that a congressional election year is not the time to take on the Israel lobby. They are wrong, not only because it is always election time in the United States, but because successive polls have established that American Jews vote constantly and overwhelmingly Democratic for a wide variety of domestic and international reasons, but support for Netanyahu’s policies is not one of them.

And if the president wishes to convince Israelis and Palestinians that Israeli-Palestinian peace is a cause worth taking risks for, should he not be willing to take some domestic political risks as well?

(Henry Siegman is president of the U.S./Middle East Project. He served as senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and non-resident research professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London, and is a former national director of the American Jewish Congress.)Link to Story

  • U.S. Jewish Leader Henry Siegman to Israel: Stop Killing Palestinians and End the Occupation. 25-Minute Video

 

 

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What Is ‘Inverted Totalitarianism’? It’s Worth Understanding

“The political philosopher Sheldon Wolin uses the term inverted totalitarianism in his book Democracy Incorporated to describe our political system. In inverted totalitarianism, the sophisticated technologies of corporate control, intimidation, and mass manipulation, which far surpass those employed by previous totalitarian states are effectively masked as glitter, noise, and abundance of a consumer society. Political participation and civil liberties are gradually surrendered. Corporations, hiding behind this smokescreen, devour us from the inside out. They have no allegiance to the country.”

– Chris Hedges, from ”Days of Destruction, Days of Rage” (p. 238).

 

 

 

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Corporations Perfecting Secret Way To Help Get (Mostly) Republican Politicians Elected

The top four corporate donors were all private companies. 

 
By Paul Blumenthal
The Huffington Post (7/31/14)

WASHINGTON — On June 14, 2012, someone created a corporation in Ohio calledAmerican Dream Fund LLC. Six months later, this corporation made a $250,000 contribution to a super PAC called Advancing Freedom Action Network, which supports the re-election of Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R).

The actual person behind American Dream Fund LLC remains unknown. The limited liability corporation was created by an incorporation firm called CT Corporation System. The LLC’s listed agents are simply hired incorporators working for CT Corporation System.

The contribution itself was even made harder to detect. Advancing Freedom Action Network, which was registered with the Federal Election Commission in August 2012 by Husted ally Kevin DeWine, failed to file reports electronically, as required by law. The American Dream Fund contribution appeared only on a paper report, where it was apparently missed by the FEC staff and automated software. It is not noted on the FEC’s webpage for the super PAC or in other campaign contribution databases across the Internet.

The American Dream Fund contribution may be one of the largest and hardest to trace of the many corporate donations made to super PACs in the current election cycle, but it is not alone.

By the end of June, corporate contributions to super PACs — that is, contributions directly from corporations and not from their executives or in-house super PACs — had reached $10.9 million for the entire 2014 election cycle, according to a review of FEC records by The Huffington Post. This remains just a small percentage of the more than $300 million contributed to all super PACs over the same period of time. But a number of these groups relied heavily on corporate contributions, including from the difficult-to-trace LLCs.

Corporations are allowed to spend money on direct political expenditures so long as they remain independent from candidate campaigns and party committees. The Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling overturned a 1990 decision banning such spending, while a subsequent lower court ruling based on Citizens United led to the creation of super PACs.

In 2012, controversy erupted over a $1 million contribution to Restore Our Future, a super PAC supporting GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, from an unknown company named W Spann LLC. The owner of the company was eventually revealed to be former Bain Capital executive Ed Conard.

“It would be against the law if a donor would come up with an alias and call himself ‘Danny Deep Pockets’ and give a million, but it’s not against the law if he comes up with an LLC,” said Bill Allison, editorial director of the pro-transparency nonprofit Sunlight Foundation, which tracks and reports on LLC contributions. And yet, Allison noted, the insertion of LLCs into the political money chain means that “you can’t really follow the money.”

In the 2014 election cycle, 40 super PACs have received at least $50,000 from corporations, with 13 of these groups getting at least half of their contributions from corporate entities and 27 getting at least 10 percent. The vast majority of the groups receiving substantial portions of their funds from corporate coffers support a single candidate or are linked to a single elected official.

Advancing Freedom Action Network is one of the six super PACs receiving more than 90 percent of their funds from corporations. Five of these back just a single candidate, while the sixth, Freedom Partners Action Network, is part of the billionaire Koch brothers’ political network.

Montana Republican House candidate Corey Stapleton and Texas Democratic Senate candidate Maxey Scherr, both of whom lost their primary bids, were backed by groups that raised all their funds from corporations. The Mallot-One Alaska PAC, which supports Alaska Democratic gubernatorial candidate Byron Mallot, is the only other super PAC receiving all its money from corporations. In the latter case, the $50,000 super PAC donation came from SeaAlaska, a Native Alaskan corporation run by Mallot’s son.

Alex Mooney, the Republican nominee for West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District seat, won his primary election with the help of the Freedom Frontier Action Network. The group received 99.94 percent of its funds from corporations. These included a $25,000 contribution from HSP Direct, a direct mail fundraising firm that has paid Mooney more than $5,000 for “business development/consulting” in the past year, according to Republic Report. HSP Direct did not respond to a request for comment.

Another direct mail firm, Capitol Hill Lists LLC, gave $65,000 to Freedom Frontier Action Network. A woman who identified a listed phone number as belonging to Capitol Hill Lists stated that she was busy and hung up the phone after being asked to comment on the contributions …

Read the Rest

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Jon Stewart Explains The Most Outrageous Corporate Tax Dodge Yet: Inversion Of The Money Snatchers

By Ed Mazza
The Huffington Post (7/31/14)

It’s the corporate tax loophole that could be costing you billions. American companies are quietly changing their paperwork to make it seem as if they’re no longer U.S. companies but instead owned by one of their overseas subsidiaries.

It’s called a corporate inversion. Or, as Jon Stewart described it on Wednesday night’s “Daily Show,” it’s “the business equivalent of gender reassignment.”

“It’s a liberating procedure for companies that have been raised American, but know in their heart they’re really Irish,” he said.

So how does it work? Stewart offers the perfect example in the clip below.

Link to Story and 8+-Minute Video

Posted in 2014-08-01, Newsletter | Comments Off

Citizens Deserve The Right To Have A Public Hearing On LaCrosse Rail Expansion

CARS, Citizens Acting for Rail Safety Steering Committee (7/31/14)

As you know, BNSF has proposed a second track to be built through La Crosse and the La Crosse River wetlands and currently the Army Corps of Engineers is reviewing their permit. Various organizations and citizens wrote to the Corps during the comment period, voicing their concerns for the installation of the second track and asking for a formal hearing to be conducted.

As of yet, we do not know if the Corps will grant a hearing or not and although the time to submit a letter has passed, there’s no harm for concerned citizens to continue to voice their opinions.

Sunday’s La Crosse Tribune published a “Letter to the Editor” asking for citizens to do just that and explaining why it is so important. [Read the entire letter here.]

So here’s an opportunity for you to let your voice be heard. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, just a quick note letting the Corps know that you agree there should be a hearing.

A quick and simple email might read:

Dear Mr. Studenski, It has come to my attention that the Army Corp of Engineers is considering a hearing regarding the installation of a second track through La Crosse and the La Crosse wetlands. It is my opinion that a formal hearing should be given to allow citizens the chance to voice their concerns.

Sincerely,

Please use the above verbiage as a guide. (It’s more meaningful to write from your heart than a form letter.)

David Studenski at the Army Corps of Engineers can be reached at:

His phone number is: (651) 290-5902

His email address is: david.a.studenski@usace.army.mil 

His mailing address is: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 1114 South Oak Street, La Crescent, MN 55947

Thank you for your attention regarding this and we’ll keep you informed as to their decision,

CARS (Citizens Acting for Rail Safety)

Thanks for the ways so many of you have already helped!

CARS, Citizens Acting for Rail Safety Steering Committee

Posted in 2014-08-01, Newsletter | Comments Off

Obama Administration Joins Suits Against GOP-Backed Voting Restrictions In Wisconsin, Ohio

By Ryan J. Reilly  
The Huffington Post (7/30/14)

The Obama administration on Wednesday sought to join two ongoing lawsuits against voting laws in Wisconsin and Ohio. In the filings, the Justice Department argued that a federal judge was right to strike down Wisconsin’s voter ID law and that Ohio is incorrectly interpreting its duties under a provision of the Voting Rights Act.

Attorney General Eric Holder, who talked about the filings in an interview with ABC earlier this month, said in a statement on Wednesday that they “are necessary to confront the pernicious measures in Wisconsin and Ohio that would impose significant barriers to the most basic right of our democracy.”

“These two states’ voting laws represent the latest, misguided attempts to fix a system that isn’t broken,” Holder continued. “These restrictive state laws threaten access to the ballot box. The Justice Department will never shrink from our responsibility to protect the voting rights of every eligible American. And we will keep using every available tool at our disposal to guard against all forms of discrimination, to prevent voter disenfranchisement, and to secure the rights of every citizen.”

The Justice Department argues in an amicus brief filed in the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that a federal judge correctly determined that Wisconsin’s voter ID law violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act because it has a discriminatory impact on black and Hispanic voters and also violated the 14th Amendment because it placed unjustified burdens on a large group of voters.

But DOJ took no position on the merits of the Ohio voting rights lawsuit, which sought to stop the state from cutting back on early voting and ending same-day voter registration. Instead, DOJ lawyers argued only that Ohio is “mistaken” about its duties under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

In the year since the Supreme Court killed a key provision of the Voting Rights Act that prevented certain states from changing their voting practices without clearance from either DOJ or a federal court, the Justice Department has used another portion of the act to oppose voting laws in both North Carolina and Texas. Both of those cases remain ongoing. But Wednesday’s measures mark the first time since that ruling that DOJ has joined voting cases against states that weren’t covered by pre-clearance requirements previously.

In Wisconsin, the state is currently appealing a federal judge’s decision to strike down a GOP-backed 2011 law that imposed photo ID requirements on voters in the state. DOJ’s filing in that case encourages the appeals court to look at the “totality of circumstances,” including examining whether “social, political, and historical conditions in Wisconsin hinder minorities’ political participation.”

In Ohio, civil rights groups are challenging a law passed by the Republican-led legislature earlier this year that eliminated a six-day period when voters had the chance to register to vote and cast an early ballot at the same time. In connection with a suit originally filed by the Obama campaign leading up to the 2012 elections, a federal judge recently ordered Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted to restore early voting on the final three days ahead of the elections. The lawsuit DOJ got involved in on Wednesday is a separate suit that revolves around the cuts made earlier this year, which bring the total number of early voting days down to 29 from 35.

Read the DOJ filings: DOJ Wisconsin Filing

Link to Story

Posted in 2014-08-01, Newsletter | Comments Off

Meet Assembly Candidate Pete Flesch Tomorrow, In Soldiers Grove, 1-3 p.m.

Driftless Country Cook Out!

Meet and Greet
PETE FLESCH
Candidate, 96th District Assembly

Saturday, August 2
1 -3 p.m.
Hosted by Dan Johnson & Cynthia Olmstead
At Dan’s house, 51420 Johnstown Road,
Soldiers Grove, WI

Local food, local beer, local fun!

Make History!
Help elect Pete!

Posted in 2014-08-01, Newsletter | Comments Off

MOVIE: LaCrosse Showing Of “Citizen Koch”, August 7

Thursday, August 7 / 6:30 p.m. – 8:26 p.m.

Marcus La Crosse Cinema 
2032 Ward Ave, La Crosse, WI, 54601 (map)


$11.00 General

By J.D. Wine

This is the movie that PBS was going to finance and air, but the Koch Brothers used their influence to get it defunded.  I think this is a must see film.  Well over 50% of the people in the U.S. have NO IDEA who the Koch Brothers are.

As an added bonus Mike McCabe of Wisconsin Democracy Campaign will be there for a Q & A after the film.  Go to www.tugg.com/events/10197 to order tickets.  

Late Breaking Update! Further incentive to go to the showing of Citizen Koch.  The Bodega is making an offer: anybody that goes can bring their stubs into Bodega for a credit off a regular priced beverage or a spin of the wheel. Thanks to Jeff Hotson for this generous offer.

 

Posted in 2014-07-29, 2014-08-01, Newsletter | Comments Off

Dept. Of Much Needed Humor — Furious at Being Called Crazies, Republicans Sue President

By Borowitz
The New Yorker (7/31/14)

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Republicans who were angered to learn on Wednesday that the former I.R.S. official Lois Lerner had referred to them as “crazies” and “assholes” responded later in the day by voting to sue the President of the United States.

“Calling us crazy assholes is insulting, derogatory, and beneath contempt,” House Speaker John Boehner told reporters. “And now if you’ll excuse me, ladies and gentlemen, I have to go sue Obama.”

Determined to burnish their reputation as extremely sane people who are not assholes at all, House Republicans in their lawsuit accuse the President of “coldly and arrogantly seizing power granted to him by the United States Constitution.”

The lawsuit alleges that “having signed 181 executive orders to date, Barack Obama seems intent on chasing the records of such notorious renegades as Dwight Eisenhower (484) and Theodore Roosevelt (1,081).”

Link to Story

Posted in 2014-08-01, Newsletter | Comments Off

Friday / August 1, 2014

“I pledge allegiance to the flag waving, of the unindicted co-conspirators of America, and to the republicans for which I can’t stand, one abomination, underhanded fraud, indefensible, with Liberty and Justice … Forget it.”

– Matt Groening

(See “Blood Of Gazan Children”, below.)

 

 

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Heed Them Both: The Actor And The Minister

A message that is deeply subversive to capitalists bent on ceaseless exploitation. 

 
By Chris Hedges 
TruthDig (7/20/14)

BOSTON—On June 30 I was at the First Church in Jamaica Plain, Unitarian Universalist, which had turned its hall over toMichael Milligan, traveling the country performing his one-man play about a husband and wife trapped in our dysfunctional health care system. I arrived early at the stone church, whose present structure was erected in 1853, to help set up the chairs and clear the stage. The minister, the Rev. Terry Burke, who was a classmate of mine at Harvard Divinity School, officially retired that day after 31 years as a minister at the church. Burke, a non-smoker, has been diagnosed with lung cancer, and his doctors have told him he has six to 12 months to live. He applied for Social Security disability and was denied. He consulted a lawyer. He well might spend his last months struggling to get the disability system to pay for the chemotherapy that sustains his life.

The actor

Michael Milligan confronted the callousness of our health care system when he cared for a friend with a serious illness. His play“Mercy Killers,” which he has performed nearly 200 times, chronicles the struggle with insurance companies, drug companies and hospitals that profit from medical distress and then discard terminally ill people when they no longer can pay. The hourlong drama, set in the wake of the 2007-2008 financial crisis, occurs in a police station where Joe, an auto mechanic originally from West Virginia, speaks to an unseen investigator. [To see samples from the play, click here.]

“Mercy Killers” opens with Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” playing. The song soon morphs into the sound of sirens. Joe explains how he attempted to care for his terminally ill wife, Jane, amid crushing psychological and financial pressures that put him half a million dollars in debt. His neighbors, he tells the police interrogator, held a bake sale to help out and raised $163.

Joe, who buys into the credo of the tea party and quotes Rush Limbaugh, is forced to set his ideology of individualism and self-reliance against a health care system—as well as a banking system that sold him a mortgage with an interest rate that rose—designed to feed corporate profit rather than care for the ill or protect the consumer. Milligan’s high-octane performance is raw with grief, rage and incomprehension. The stark set—a chair, a bright light and a table—highlights Joe’s loneliness, inadequacy and abandonment. And by the end of the play, a for-profit health care system that is responsible for more than 60 percent of all U.S. bankruptcies is no longer just a matter of statistics. Its reality is felt like the blast of a furnace.

Joe tells the investigator:

“So, they gotta find the right cocktail—combination, pump a dozen liters of antibiotic through her. Goes on for months. They’re the ones who got her sick, and now they’re billing us tens of thousands’a dollars for their fuckup. That’s exactly when they let us know the insurance doesn’t want to pay. I call. And they tell me her policy’s been revoked. So I ask if it’s one of those pre-existing condition things. They say no. They got lotsa ways to cut people off. Apparently they sent us a, a fucking form, man, requesting some information about “Jane’s recent employment history.” And because we didn’t respond to it in a “timely fashion” they decided to cancel her policy. We were off the radar those couple months in the trailer park. Mail’s not too reliable, what with the rugrats and meth heads, not to mention the post office got gutted with service cuts. But the Insurance, they don’t give a shit about any that. Truth is, they’re lookin’ for any reason to cut bait, ya know? Somethin’ like breast cancer, that triggers an alarm over there, they run her through their equation, see if there’s any way they can cut her loose before she costs ’em any more money. And they got an analyst over there gets a bonus every time they find a loophole’ll let’ em throw somebody under a bus! And that’s how the CEO’s pullin’ in 100 million a year in stock options—all of it comes from leaving sick people out to the fuckin’ law of the jungle!

Desperate to get money, he starts scamming customers at his auto shop, upending his pride in being an honest, hardworking American.

Desperation

“But you get desperate, you gotta bend your own rules,” Joe says. “Pretty soon, it’s like ‘Oh, your engine’s broke? Oh, by the way, we really oughta replace those brake pads, and the filter and the fan belt, and the blah, blah, blah’ and you’re just running it up, playing on their fear. ‘Wouldn’t want your daughter to be the one brakes go out on, now would ya?’ Yeah, that always gets you an extra hundred bucks—if you want it. But no, it’s amazing how easy it is to lie—when someone you love is on the line.”

“There’s all this stuff out there and none of it’s either your fault,” he says a little later, “but you can’t help it, you start makin’ it ’bout the other person. Yeah, it’s her fault I’m fuckin’ greased up seven days a week pullin’ 12 hours a day instead of going to the lake with my buddies. It’s her fault we’re not having sex, we ain’t never gonna have any kids. So, yeah man, you feel bad for thinking any of that. And then it’s just back and forth between them, the guilt and the resentment, and you can’t talk about it, not with her. That’s all she needs to hear—you gonna make her feel bad for being sick?”

Milligan, who appeared on Broadway in “August: Osage County,” “La Bête” and “Jerusalem” and who has played many of the country’s major regional theaters, as well as performing in London with the Royal Shakespeare Company, does not need to spend nights on couches after performing in union halls, community centers and church basements, but the commercialization rampant in health care has also occurred in the arts, as in almost every other area of American life. To say something meaningful, to present theater that holds up our experiences to scrutiny and examination, often requires stepping outside the mainstream, especially given the reliance on corporations to fund the arts.

“I left Juilliard to play the great roles in the regional theaters,” Milligan told me over dinner at the Café Pamplona in Cambridge, Mass., a day earlier. “I found that was difficult and precarious in terms of scratching together a living. I found that the structure was not conducive to great work. Our not-for-profits and big arts institutions are reflections of the corporate culture that runs everything in America. They are organized around maximizing efficiency. Rehearse eight hours because this is how long we have you and we are going to squeeze everything out of you. It is a five-week rehearsal period. In drama school we studied Stanislavski. And for Stanislavski you rehearsed for six months. You did not work eight hours a day. There was an incubation process over a long period of time. You had a company of actors. But in this current system, artists have no say over the creation of the art. Art is controlled by an army of administrators. They cater to an imagined subscriber base. These administrators determine what is done and how it is done. I began as an actor to feel like a day laborer or a mercenary. Actors are hired at the end of the process. They come in after the artistic director and managing director figure out what they are going to sell that next year to keep the doors open and pay for their $50 million building.”

Theater that tells real stories

“This play expresses my whole self,” he went on. “It expresses my feelings as a human being. Being hired to do something by a casting director does not compare to this. I collaborate now with activists, people who are grateful that someone cares about what they care about. An actor should have agency. He or she should be part of the collaborative process. We should have a say about what is art. But this means often going out on your own.”

Milligan was a member of a working group of Occupy Wall Street called Health Care for the 99 Percent. He works with the advocacy group Health Care Now. He is committed to theater that tells the story of ordinary people, that allows audiences to see themselves and their experiences reflected on stage. He wants to make people think about their place in the world and the systems of power that dominate their lives. Art is not about entertainment or spectacle. It is about transformation. And by the time Milligan had finished performing the play June 30 he had visibly shaken his audience of about 40 people.

The Minister

I helped put the chairs away after the performance. I had been in that hall 31 years earlier with Terry Burke. He had brought me over to see the parish. The church was barely surviving in 1983, reduced to about three dozen members, many elderly. It was not clear that it would endure. Burke was nervous, maybe even apprehensive, and excited.

The church is flourishing now. When I went to Burke’s retirement party in the church hall a week before the play, there were about 200 people. He had preached to them innumerable times, visited them in hospitals, conducted the funerals of their fathers, mothers and sometimes their spouses or children. He had comforted them in moments of grief, loss and depression. Among those at the party were young men and women whose lives had been defined by the community he formed around the church. And there were children who will enter that community without him.

Being a minister is like being an actor. The work is ephemeral. It is about personal transformation, empathy and self-reflection. It does not define its worth by profit. It posits that our role in life is to make the world a better place, to protect the weak, to take care of the sick and to love our neighbor as our self. It celebrates the majesty and musicality of language. But those who dedicate their lives to beauty and truth have no place in the corporate state. What does not feed the mania for profit and the cult of the self is superfluous and often ridiculed.

At Burke’s request I read the T.S. Eliot poem “Marina” at his retirement party. The poem is built around Shakespeare’s “Pericles.” The final plays of Shakespeare are filled with poignant reunion scenes, moments when loved ones mysteriously return after being lost. In “Pericles” a father regains a daughter he thought was dead. Shakespeare reminded us at the end of his life that it is those around us, those we love, who matter most.

Eliot uses the metaphor of water in the poem to define the course of our existence. Water flows from streams and rivers, expanding and contracting like our lives, until merging into the vastness of the sea. The place where all waters meet is the place of death. Pericles is conscious of this, even as he rejoices in his reunion with his daughter. In Eliot’s poem the unnamed Pericles asks that he be able to remember, even in death, the sound of his daughter’s joy, the “Whispers and small laughter between leaves and hurrying feet / Under sleep, where all the waters meet.”

Calling us back to our better selves

Great actors, like great ministers, know that love and empathy must be honored if we are to be fully human and create sustaining communities. It is a message that is harder and harder to hear amid the din of the corporate state. It is a message that is deeply subversive to capitalists bent on ceaseless exploitation. Those who bring us this message call us back to our better selves. Milligan did it from a stage. Burke did it from his pulpit. Heed them.

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Stephen Colbert Buys TheSarahPalinChannel.com, Promises His Own ‘Angry Echo Chamber’

By Carol Hartsell
The Huffington Post (7/30/14)

Sarah Palin just learned a valuable lesson about starting your own web channel: make sure to buy up any similar domain names, such as, say, one that simply puts “The” in front of your URL.

On Tuesday, after taking a look at Palin’s new project, SarahPalinChannel.com, “a safe space where like-minded folks can hear things they already agree with from someone whose opinion they already know,” Colbert gleefully announced that he had purchased TheSarahPalinChannel.com earlier that day.

So far, the channel is sparse on content, featuring only a photo of the former half-term Alaska governor-turned-grifter and a description: “The only Sarah Palin Channel on the internet with a definite article in the address!”

The page also links to an older segment of “The Report” in which Colbert roundly mocked Palin’s “ringin’ those bells” description of Paul Revere’s famous ride.

Perhaps most importantly, TheSarahPalinChannel.com is free, whereasSarahPalinChannel.com costs a whopping $9.95 a month. But, as Colbert explained, Palin’s channel is worth every penny: “Sure, that’s more than Netflix, but it’s just as good as ‘House Of Cards,’ with even more threatening monologues into camera.”

Link to Story and 4+-Minute Video

 

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Betraying The Nation: The Battle Over U.S. Corporate Tax Evasion Inversion Scam

By Tom Ashbrook
On Point (7/28/14)

It’s a neat trick for big American companies to avoid a heap of American taxes:  stop being American.  American corporations are bailing out of American “citizenship.”  One day they are proudly based in the USA.  The next, they’re not.  They’re suddenly Irish or Dutch or Australian or Israeli.  And paying lower taxes on the same operations.  It’s technically called “inversion.”  Last week President Obama called it desertion.  It’s a big deal. This hour On Point:  American companies, bailing out on American taxes – and what to do about it.

Guests

Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), senior U.S. Senator from Michigan. (@sencarllevin)

Andrew Ross Sorkin, financial columnist for the New York Times‘ DealBook and co-anchor of CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” Author of “Too Big To Fail.” (@andrewrsorkin)

Allan Sloan, senior editor-at-large for Fortune Magazine.

Diane Ring, professor at the Boston College Law School.

46-Minute Audio

 

  • List Of Treasonous Corporations Who Have Benefited From America That Are Now betraying The Nation. Link to List

 

Posted in 2014-07-31, Newsletter | Comments Off

NRA Member Who Lost Sister To Gun Violence Tearfully Asks Senate To Protect Women

By Lisa Bassett
The Huffington Post (7/30/14)

WASHINGTON — Elvin Daniel, 56, is a card-carrying member of the National Rifle Association, an avid hunter and a self-described “constitutional conservative” from a small town in Illinois. He became an unlikely witness for the Democrats on Wednesday at the first-ever Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence against women.

Daniel choked back tears at the hearing as he recounted the story of his sister, Zina, who was shot and killed by her estranged ex-husband in 2012. After her ex slashed her tires and physically threatened her, Zina had obtained a restraining order against him, which should have prohibited him under federal law from buying a gun. But he was able to purchase a gun online, where private sellers are not required to conduct background checks.

“He posted an ad saying, ‘Serious buyer looking to buy a gun ASAP,’” Elvin said. “Within an hour, he found an unlicensed seller, and they met at a McDonald’s parking lot.”

Zina’s husband then murdered her and injured four other people before shooting himself.

“Now I’m helping to care for my two nieces who lost their mother and who will have to grow up without her,” Daniel told the committee. “I’m here today for Zina and for the stories like Zina’s that happen every day because of the serious gap in our gun laws that continue to put women’s lives in danger.”

American women account for 84 percent of all female gun victims in the developed world, and more than a quarter of female homicide victims in the U.S. are killed by an intimate partner.

The two bills being considered in the Senate, introduced by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), would strengthen federal gun prohibitions for convicted domestic abusers and those deemed by a judge to be a physical threat to a woman. Klobuchar’s bill would include physically abusive dating partners and convicted stalkers in the category of persons who are prohibited from buying or possessing a gun. Blumenthal’s bill would ban guns for those who have been issued a temporary restraining order by a judge for domestic violence.

All the provisions being discussed are supported by a majority of Americans, according to a recent HuffPost/YouGov poll. But gun limits are difficult for Congress to pass, even when they are broadly supported by voters, due to the strong opposition of the well-funded and well-organized gun rights lobby. A popular bill that would have closed gaping holes in the federal background checks system fell just short last year of the 60 votes it needed to overcome a Republican filibuster.

The NRA is already fighting Klobuchar’s bill, claiming that it “manipulates emotionally compelling issues such as ‘domestic violence’ and ‘stalking’ simply to cast as wide a net as possible for federal firearm prohibitions.”

The witness for the Republicans, George Mason University law professor Joyce Malcolm, said Democrats are taking the wrong approach to protecting women. She said it would be a better idea to immediately arm women who have filed restraining orders instead of trying keep guns away from the abuser.

“I’ll tell you a reality — the police cannot be everywhere at all times,” she said.

Gun violence prevention groups have calculated that domestic violence is one area in which American voters across the political spectrum — particularly women — can agree on gun limits. Americans for Responsible Solutions, started by former Congresswoman and gun violence survivor Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.), and Everytown for Gun Safety, funded by former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, are working to convince a few Senators who were on the fence about background checks to swing over and support gun prohibitions for domestic abusers.

But Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, quickly dismissed the idea of Republicans working with Democrats on the issue, saying the hearing is a political stunt. He said Klobuchar introduced her bill a year ago, but the Democrats waited until just before August recess — and only a few months before November elections — to schedule the hearing.

“Had the majority been serious about reducing domestic violence, we had the time to come together on a bipartisan solution,” Grassley said. “There was a real opportunity for a bipartisan effort, but that opportunity, I believe, has been squandered.”

Klobuchar shook her head and appeared visibly frustrated as Grassley spoke. The reason the committee waited so long to hold the hearing, she fired back, is that she has been trying and failing to get a Republican co-sponsor on her bill.

“I’ve been very close several times,” she said. “I know I’m going to get [one]. But that’s the reason we’ve been waiting.”

Daniel told The Huffington Post that he hoped his testimony would break through the partisan politics and garner support for legislation that prevents dangerous people from being able to have guns.

“If we can save just one life, that would be worth everything we’re going through,” he said. “And I know we can save more than one life.”

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