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LIES HURT, BUT THE TRUTH HURTS MORE: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on October 16, 2018 at 12:45 am

September 11, 2018, marked the 17th anniversary of the worst terrorist attack on United States soil.

Inevitably, this was a time to remember the 3,000 Americans whose lives were so cruelly snuffed out.

But it also should have marked a time to remember those who made this atrocity inevitable—by refusing to acknowledge and address the impending threat from Al-Qaeda.

For Republicans, it’s taboo to hold President George W. Bush accountable for this atrocity. That’s why Donald Trump’s daring to note that it happened on Bush’s watch was greeted with a Right-wing outcry.

And Democrats have been too cowardly to state this truth—a major reason for their losing the 2004 Presidential election.

But British historian Nigel Hamilton has chronicled the arrogance and indifference of those officials in his 2010 biography: American Caesars: Lives of the Presidents from Franklin D. Roosevelt to George W. Bush.

Hamilton noted that during the first eight months of the Bush Presidency, Richard Clarke, the national security adviser on terrorism, was forbidden to brief President Bush, despite the mounting evidence that al-Qaeda was planning to strike.

Richard Clarke 

Even more vexing for Clarke: During his first eight months as President before September 11, Bush was on vacation 42% of the time, according to the Washington Post.

Clarke was certain that Osama bin Laden had arranged the USS Cole bombing in Aden on October 12, 2000.

For months, Clarke tried to convince others in the Bush Administration that Bin Laden was plotting another attack against the United States—either abroad or at home.

But Clarke could not prevail against the know-it-all arrogance of such higher-ranking Bush officials as Vice President Dick Cheney; Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld; Rumsfeld’s deputy, Paul Wolfowitz; and National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice.

Rice initially refused to hold a cabinet-level meeting on the subject.  Then she insisted the matter be handled only by a more junior Deputy Principals meeting in April, 2001, writes Hamilton.

Wolfowitz, the number-two man at the Department of Defense, said: “I don’t understand why we are beginning by talking about this one man, bin Laden.”

Even after Clarke outlined the threat posed by Al-Qaeda, Wolfowitz—whose real target was Saddam Hussein—said: “You give bin Laden too much credit.” 

Wolfowitz insisted that bin Laden couldn’t carry out his terrorist acts without the aid of a state sponsor—namely, Iraq. Wolfowitz, in fact, blamed Iraq for the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.  

Clarke was stunned, since there was absolutely no evidence of Iraqi involvement in this.“Al-Qaeda plans major acts of terrorism against the United States,” Clarke warned his colleagues. 

He pointed out that, like Adolf Hitler, bin Laden had actually published his plans for future destruction.

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Osama bin Laden 

And Clarke added: “Sometimes, as with Hitler in Mein Kampf, you have to believe that these people will actually do what they say they will do.”

Wolfowitz heatedly traded on his Jewish heritage to bring Clarke’s unwelcome arguments to a halt: “I resent any comparison between the Holocaust and this little terrorist in Afghanistan.”

Writing in outraged fury, Hamilton sums up Clarke’s agonizing frustrations:

  • Bush’s senior advisers treated their colleagues who had served in the Clinton administration with contempt.
  • President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz seemed content to ignore the danger signals of an impending Al-Qaeda attack.
  • This left only Secretary of State Colin Powell, his deputy Richard Armitage, Richard Clarke and a skeptical Treasury Secretary, Paul O’Neill, to wage “a lonely battle to waken a seemingly deranged new administration.”

Clarke alerted Federal Intelligence agencies that “Al-Qaeda is planning a major attack on us.” He asked the FBI and CIA to report to his office all they could learn about suspicious persons or activities at home and abroad.

Finally, at a meeting with Condoleeza Rice on September 4, 2001, Clarke challenged her to “picture yourself at a moment when in the very near future Al-Qaeda has killed hundreds of Americans, and imagine asking yourself what you wish then that you had already done.”

Apparently Rice couldn’t imagine such a scenario, because she took no action to prevent it. Nor did she urge anyone else to do so.

Seven days later, Al-Qaeda struck, and 3,000 Americans died horrifically—and needlessly.

Neither Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld nor Wolowitz ever admitted their negligence. Nor would any of them be brought to account.

Disgustingly, these were the same officials who, afterward, posed as the Nation’s saviors—and branded anyone who disagreed with them as a traitor.

These are practices the Republican Right continues to exploit to this day.

Only Richard Clarke—who had vainly argued for stepped-up security precautions and taking the fight to Al-Qaeda—gave that apology.

On March 24, 2004, Clarke testified at the public 9/11 Commission hearings. Addressing relatives of victims in the audience, he said: “Your government failed you, those entrusted with protecting you failed you, and I failed you.”

It’s an admission that no other Republican has been willing to make. And it remains an indictment that no Democrat has had the courage to assert.

LIES HURT, BUT TRUTH HURTS MORE: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on October 15, 2018 at 12:12 am

You don’t ever have to frame anybody, because the truth is always sufficient.
–Willie Stark, in All the King’s Men, by Robert Penn Warren

When one politician wants to truly hurt another, the weapon of choice is not lies. It’s the truth.

And on October 16, 2015, then-Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump used that weapon to take down his opponent, Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida.

Trump was being interviewed by Bloomberg TV’s Stephanie Ruhle when she asked: Would you be able to comfort the nation in the event of a mass tragedy like 9/11 or the 2012 elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut?

And Trump, who always claims to be smarter, tougher and richer than anyone else, had a ready response:  “I think I have a bigger heart than all of them. I think I’m much more competent then all of them.”

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Donald Trump

So far, just what you would expect from Trump. Then:

“I mean, say what you want, the World Trade Center came down during his time.”

“Hold on,” said Ruhle, “you can’t blame George Bush for that.”

“He was President, okay? Blame him or don’t blame him, but he was President,” Trump said. “The World Trade Center came down during his reign.”

Three thousand Americans died during the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center. 

But holding Bush accountable for 9/11 is taboo for Republicans—and avoided by cowardly Democrats.

Whereas Republicans spent four years blaming President Barack Obama for the deaths of four Americans killed in an American consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Immediately after Trump’s remarks, the Right exploded.

Representative Peter King, Republican of New York, said that no one saw the 9/11 attacks coming and that blaming the former president was a cheap shot.

Speaking on Right-wing Fox Radio, King added: “I think Donald Trump is totally wrong there. That sounds like a Michael Moore talking point.”

And Jeb Bush rushed to his brother’s defense on Twitter: “How pathetic for @realdonaldtrump to criticize the president for 9/11. We were attacked & my brother kept us safe.”

Of course, “my brother” didn’t keep safe those 3,000 Americans who died on 9/11

The World Trade Center on September 11, 2001

Nor did Jeb mention that, during his first eight months in office before September 11, George W. Bush was on vacation 42% of the time.

Fortunately, British historian Nigel Hamilton has brutally laid bare the facts of this needless tragedy.

Hamilton is the author of several acclaimed political biographies, including JFK: Reckless Youth and Bill Clinton: Mastering the Presidency.

In 2007, he began research on his 2010 book: American Caesars: The Lives of the Presidents from Franklin D. Roosevelt to George W. Bush.

The inspiration for this came from a classic work of ancient biography: The Twelve Caesars, by Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus—known as Suetonius. 

Suetonius, a Roman citizen and historian, had chronicled the lives of the first 12 Caesars of Imperial Rome: Julius Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus and Domitian.

Hamilton wanted to examine post-World War II United States history as Suetonius had examined that of ancient Rome: Through the lives of the 12 “emperors” who had held the power of life and death over their fellow citizens—and those of other nations.

For Hamilton, the “greatest of American emperors, the Caesar Augustus of his time,” was Franklin D. Roosevelt, who led his country through the Great Depression and World War II.

His “”great successors” were Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy—who, in turn, contained the Soviet Union abroad and presided over sustained economic prosperity at home.

By contrast, “arguably the worst of all the American Caesars” was “George W. Bush, and his deputy, Dick Cheney, who willfully and recklessly destroyed so much of the moral basis of American leadership in the modern world.”

(Hamilton’s book appeared before Donald Trump reached the Oval Office—and made George W. Bush look like a statesman.)

Among the most lethal of Bush’s offenses: The appointing of officials who refused to take seriously the threat posed by Al-Qaeda.And this arrogance and indifference continued—right up to September 11, 2001, when the World Trade Center and Pentagon became targets for destruction.

The only major administration official who did take Al-Qaeda seriously was Richard Clarke, the chief counter-terrorism adviser on the National Security Council.

Clarke had been thus appointed in 1998 by President Bill Clinton. He continued in the same role under President Bush—but the position was no longer given cabinet-level access.

This put him at a severe disadvantage when dealing with other, higher-ranking Bush officials—such as Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Rumsfeld’s deputy, Paul Wolfowitz and National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice.

These proved to be the officials who refused to believe that Al-Qaeda posed a lethal threat to the United States. 

After 9/11, they wrapped themselves in the flag and posed as America’s saviors.

“Indeed,” writes Hamilton, “in the entire first eight months of the Bush Presidency, Clarke was not permitted to brief President Bush a single time, despite mounting evidence of plans for a new al-Qaeda outrage.”  [Italics added]

 

DIFFERENT ENEMIES, SAME GOAL: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on October 3, 2018 at 4:00 pm

During the 1970s and 1980s, Republicans continue to accuse Democrats of being devious agents—or at least unwitting pawns—of “the Communist conspiracy.”

As late as 1992, President George H.W. Bush and the Republican establishment charge that Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton might be a KGB plant.

George H.W. Bush

Their “evidence”: During his tenure at Oxford University in 1969-70, Clinton had briefly visited Moscow.

In short: Clinton might have been “programmed” as a real-life “Manchurian candidate” to become, first, Governor of Arkansas—one of America’s poorest states—and then President.

Making this charge even more absurd: The Soviet Union had officially dissolved in December, 1991. 

After the Soviet Union’s collapse, Republicans find that accusing Democrats of being “Commies” doesn’t carry the same weight.

So they turn to “domestic enemies” to rail—and run—against: Liberals, blacks, Hispanics, “uppity” women, war protesters, lesbians, gays, and—after 9/11—Muslims.

From 1945 to 1991, it is unthinkable for a Republican Presidential candidate to pay tribute to a Soviet dictator.

But that utterly changes when Donald J. Trump, a “reality TV” host with longstanding financial ties to Russian oligarchs, runs for President of the United States.

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Donald Trump

Trump lavishly praises Russian President Vladimir Putin—and even invites him to directly interfere in the 2016 Presidential race.

The reason for the Trump-Putin bromance is simple: Each has something to offer the other.

Putin wants the United States to ditch the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance, which has preserved Western Europe from Russian aggression since World War II. And Trump has often attacked America’s funding of NATO as a drain on the American economy.

And Trump wants to be President. For this, Putin can supply monies, Internet trolls to confuse voters with falsified news, and even the hacking of key voting centers.

These Russian monies are officially classified as “campaign contributions,” not bribes.

On July 22, 2016, Wikileaks releases 19,252 emails and 8,034 attachments hacked from computers of the highest-ranking officials of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Early reports trace the leak to Russian hackers. 

“Russia, if you are listening,” Trump says at a press conference in Doral, Florida, “I hope you are able to find the 33,000 emails that are missing [from Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s computer]. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

This is treason—calling upon a foreign power, hostile to the United States, to interfere in its Presidential election.

Hours later, the Main Intelligence Directorate in Moscow targets Clinton’s personal office and hits more than 70 other Clinton campaign accounts,

Nor is Trump the only Republican receiving “help” from Putin. A network of Russian oligarchs—all of them answerable to Putin—has been increasingly contributing to top Republicans. 

According to the Federal Election Commission:

One such major contributor is Len Blavatnik, who holds citizenship in both the United States and the United Kingdom. During the 2015-16 election cycle, he proves one of the largest donors to GOP Political Action Committees (PACs).  

Blavatnik’s net worth is estimated at $20 billion. Before 2016, he donates to both Democrats and Republicans in meager amounts. But in 2016, he gives $6.35 million to GOP PACs

Millions of dollars go to top Republican leaders—such as Senators Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio (Florida) and Lindsey Graham (South Carolina)Specifically, he contributes:

  • A total of $1.5 million to PACs associated with Rubio.  
  • $1 million to Trump’s Inaugural Committee
  • $41,000 to both Republicans and Democrats in 2017.
  • $1 million to McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund.
  • $3.5 million to a PAC associated with McConnell
  • $1.1 million to Unintimidated PAC, associated with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. 
  • $200,000 to the Arizona Grassroots Action PAC, associated with Arizona Senator John McCain. 
  • $250,000 to New Day for America PAC, associated with Ohio Governor John Kasich
  • $800,000 went to the Security is Strength PAC, associated with Senator Lindsey Graham.

Another Russian oligarch, Alexander Shustorovich, contributes $1 million to Trump’s Inaugural Committee.   

Altogether, four Russian oligarchs—Blavatnik, Shustorovich, Andrew Intrater and Simon Kukescontribute $10.4 million from the start of the 2015-16 election cycle through September 2017. Of this, 99% went to Republicans.  

As Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell participated in high-level intelligence briefings in 2016. From agencies such as the FBI, CIA and the code-cracking National Security Agency, he learned that the Russians were trying to subvert the electoral process.  

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In October, 2016, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) issue a joint statement: The Russian government had directed the effort to subvert the 2016 Presidential election.

Two weeks later, McConnell’s PAC accepted a $1 million donation from Blavatnik.

On March 30, 2017, McConnell’s PAC accepted another $1 million from Blavatnik. This is just 10 days after former FBI Director James Comey testifies before the House Intelligence Committee about Russia’s efforts to subvert the 2016 election

So, what has changed in the Republican Party?  Essentially nothing.

Its enemies changed—from Russian Communists to American liberals—but its goal remains the same: The quest for absolute power.

When Americans feared Communism, Republicans depicted themselves as the only ones who could be trusted to protect the United States. Big contributions poured in from Right-wing billionaires like H.L. Hunt and Howard Hughes.

But when Republicans found they could enrich themselves and stay in power via Russian “campaign contributions,” they decided: Better Red than un-elected.

DIFFERENT ENEMIES, SAME GOAL: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on October 2, 2018 at 12:27 am

A CNN headline says it all: “Obama asked question everyone’s been wondering about GOP”

“What happened to the Republican Party?”

That’s the question former President Barack Obama asked at the University of Illinois on September 7.  And he quickly answered it:

“Its central organizing principle in foreign policy was the fight against communism, and now they’re cozying up to the former head of the KGB. Actively blocking legislation that would defend our elections from Russian attack. What happened?” 

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Barack Obama as President

On the surface, it seems the Republican Party has drastically changed. But, in reality, there has been no substantial change at all.

Let’s start at the beginning—in this case, 1932.

Democratic nominee Franklin D. Roosevelt wins election against Republican President Herbert Hoover. So popular is he that he wins an unprecedented four terms—12 years!—in the White House, seeing America through the Great Depression and World War II,

In 1945, Roosevelt suddenly dies in office, leaving Vice President Harry S. Truman in command. He lacks the imperial magnetism and eloquence of FDR, so Republicans assume that 1948 will be a cakewalk for them.

But it isn’t. Instead, Truman wins a second term—and rubs it in by holding up the now-defunct headline, “DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN” for reporters to photograph.

By 1952, Republicans have been locked out of the White House for 20 years. They’re desperate to return—and angry enough to do anything to win.  

They find attacking the integrity of their fellow Americans a highly effective tactic.

During the 1950s, Wisconsin United States Senator Joseph R. McCarthy rides a wave of paranoia to national prominence—by attacking the patriotism of anyone who disagrees with him.

Elected to the Senate in 1946, he rises to national prominence on February 9, 1950, after giving a fiery speech in Wheeling, West Virginia:

“The State Department is infested with communists. I have here in my hand a list of 205—a list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department.”

Senator Joseph R. McCarthy

Americans are already growing increasingly fearful of Communism:

  • Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin has not withdrawn the Red Army from the countries it has occupied in Eastern Europe during World War II.
  • In 1948, the Soviet Union develops—and demonstrates—its own atomic bomb, an achievement U.S. scientists had claimed would not happen for at least a decade.
  • In 1949, China falls to the triumphant armies of Mao Tse Tung.  Generalissimo Chaing Kai Shek is driven from mainland China to the tiny island of Taiwan.

Anti-communism as a lever to political advancement sharply accelerates following McCarthy’s speech. 

Any American can be accused of being a Communist or a Communist sympathizer—”a Comsymp” or “fellow traveler” in the style of the era.

Among those accused:

  • Secretary of State George C. Marshall, who had overseen America’s strategy for defeating Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan
  • President Harry S. Truman
  • Playwrights Lillian Hellman and Arthur Miller
  • Actors Charlie Chaplin, Zero Mostel, Lloyd Bridges, Howard Da Silva, Edward G. Robinson and John Garfield
  • Composers Arron Copland and Elmer Bernstein
  • Physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, who presided over the creation of America’s atomic bomb
  • Actresses Lee Grant, Delores del Rio, Ruth Gordon and Lucille Ball
  • Journalists Edward R. Murrow and William L. Shirer, who had chronicled the rise of Nazi Germany
  • Folksinger Pete Seeger
  • Writers Irwin Shaw, Howard Fast, John Steinbeck and Dashiell Hammett

Even “untouchable” Republicans become targets for such slander.

The most prominent of these is President Dwight D. Eisenhower—labeled ”a conscious, dedicated agent of the Communist Conspiracy” by Robert Welch, founder of the John Birch Society in 1958.

In 1953, McCarthy attacks the leadership of the United States Army as “a hotbed of traitors” and convenes an inquiry through the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

But the hearings backfire, exposing McCarthy as a bullying demagogue. A Senate committee condemns his behavior as acting “contrary to senatorial ethics and tended to bring the Senate into dishonor and disrepute.”

Yet even without McCarthy, Republicans ride the issue of anti-Communism to victory from 1948 to 1992. “Respectable” anti-Communists—like Richard M. Nixon—depict themselves as the only ones who can be trusted to safeguard America.

Republicans hold the White House for eight years under Dwight D. Eisenhower, then lose it in 1960 to John F. Kennedy and again in 1964 to Lyndon B. Johnson.

By 1968, with the nation mired in Vietnam and convulsed by antiwar demonstrations and race riots, Americans turn once more to those who prey upon their fears and hates.

They elect Richard Nixon, who promises to end the Vietnam war and attack “uppity” blacks and antiwar demonstrators—and, above all, “the Communist menace.”

The same strategy re-elects him in 1972.

Jimmy Carter wins the Presidency in 1976 and loses it in 1980 to Ronald Reagan. Republicans hold the White House until 1992.

Reagan doesn’t want to continue the “stalemate” of “containing” Communism. He intends to roll it back. Tensions rise between the United States and the Soviet Union—the highest since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

American proxies fight Soviet proxies in Afghanistan and Central America, but the world escapes nuclear holocaust.

LIE CREATORS: PART SEVEN (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on September 21, 2018 at 12:30 am

Another way an Employers Responsibility Act (ERA) could promote fulltime employment: It would nicely dovetail with the 1946 Employment Act.

Codified as 15 U.S.C. § 1021, this is a United States federal law. It states: “It is the continuing policy and responsibility of the Federal government…to promote maximum employment, production, and purchasing power.”

Unfortunately, that act has been seriously neglected, according to the late Wallace C. Peterson, George Holmes Professor of Economics Emeritus at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Peterson, who died in April, 2012, was a proponent of Keynesian economics and authored a textbook on macroeconomics that was widely adopted in colleges and universities through eight editions.

He authored a second economics textbook, five specialized economics books and over 60 articles.

He was elected president of the Association for Evolutionary Economics (AFEE), president of the Association for Social Economics, president of the Midwest Economics Association and was the 1992 recipient of the Veblen-Commons award.

“No administration since the Kennedy-Johnson presidencies in the 1960s has taken the Employment Act seriously,” wrote Peterson in a letter to this columnist.

“President Kennedy established a 4% unemployment rate as an interim target on the road to a full employment economy.  But after President Johnson left office in 1969, full employment has not been an important policy objective for any administration, Democrat or Republican.

“The nation needs a modernized full employment policy.”

Wallace C. Peterson

Such a full-employment policy “would not only seek to bring the unemployment rate down to 3% or less, but would also aim at the creation of ‘good jobs’—jobs that carry with them an income appropriate to middle-class hopes and aspirations,” wrote Peterson.

“Too many of the millions who have lost good jobs in the last two decades have not been able to find new, fulltime jobs. or have had to take significant reduction in pay even if they were able to find fulltime work. 

“Government through the 1946 Employment Act has a major responsibility to promote conditions that tmake full employment possible. Workers have a major responsibility to educate and train themselves for the jobs that become available in a society characterized by rapid technical change.

“What of employers?  What is their responsibility?

“Such an [Employers Responsibility] Act would require employers to demonstrate as much responsibility for hiring as job-seekers are expected to display in finding work.

”This “is certain to be controversial, but it adds yet another dimension to the debate on how an adequate number of good, well-paying jobs can be created….”

“An Employers Responsibility Act, in combination with existing legislation such as the 1946 Employment Act and the 1935 National Labor-Relations Act, could be a powerful force in moving labor-management relations in this country away from its current adversarial character, toward a more harmonious and cooperative climate.”

* * * * *

For thousands of years, otherwise highly intelligent men and women believed that kings ruled by divine right. That kings held absolute power, levied extortionate taxes and sent countless millions of men off to war—all because God wanted it that way.

That lunacy was dealt a deadly blow in 1776 when American Revolutionaries threw off the despotic rule of King George III of England.

But today, millions of Americans remain imprisoned by an equally outrageous and dangerous theory: The Theory of the Divine Right of Employers.

Summing up this employer-as-God attitude, Calvin Coolidge still speaks for the overwhelming majority of employers and their paid shills in government: “The man who builds a factory builds a temple, and the man who works there worships there.”

America can no longer afford such a dangerous fallacy as the Theory of the Divine Right of Employers. 

President Donald Trump has repeatedly crowed over the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, passed by the Senate on December 19, 2017, and signed into law by him on December 22. 

Yet former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich warned before the bill became law:  

“What corporations have done [with past tax cuts] is raise executive salaries and also buy back shares of stock, in order to raise stock prices. They don’t invest the money in additional jobs or additional machines or additional equipment or things like that because there is no reason for them to unless they have got more demand for their goods and services. And this bill is not going to create more demand.”

In short: The powerful never voluntarily behave responsibly or surrender their privileges.

Americans did not win their freedom from Great Britain—and its enslaving doctrine of “the divine right of kings”—by begging for their rights.

And Americans will not win their freedom from their corporate masters—and the equally enslaving doctrine of “the divine right of employers”—by begging for the right to work and support themselves and their families.

And they will most certainly never win such freedom by supporting right-wing political candidates whose first and only allegiance is to the corporate interests who bankroll their campaigns.

Corporations can—and do—spend millions of dollars on TV ads, selling lies—lies such as the “skills gap,” and how if the wealthy are forced to pay their fair share of taxes, jobs will inevitably disappear.

But Americans can choose to reject those lies—and demand that employers behave like patriots instead of predators.

LIE CREATORS: PART SIX (OF SEVEN)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on September 20, 2018 at 12:05 am

The last five provisions of an Employers Responsibility Act (ERA) would cover the following:

(11)  Employers who continue to make such overtures would be prosecuted for attempted bribery or extortion:

  1. Bribery, if they offered to move to a city/state in return for “economic incentives,” or
  2. Extortion, if they threatened to move their companies from a city/state if they did not receive such “economic incentives.”

This would protect employees against artificially-depressed wages and unsafe working conditions; protect the environment in which these employees live; and protect cities/states from being pitted against one another at the expense of their economic prosperity.

(12) The U.S. Departments of Justice and Labor would regularly monitor the extent of employer compliance with the provisions of this Act.  

Among these measures: Sending  undercover  agents, posing as highly-qualified job-seekers, to apply at companies—and then vigorously prosecuting those employers who  blatantly refused to hire despite their proven economic ability to do so.

This would be comparable to the long-time and legally-validated practice of using undercover agents to determine compliance with fair-housing laws.

(13)  The Justice Department and/or the Labor Department would be required to maintain a publicly-accessible database on those companies that had been cited, sued and/or convicted for such offenses as

  • discrimination,
  • harassment,
  • health and/or safety violations or
  • violating immigration laws. 

Employers would be legally required to regularly provide such information to these agencies, so that it would remain accurate and up-to-date. 

Such information would arm job applicants with vital information about the employers they were approaching.  They could thus decide in advance if an employer is deserving of their skills and dedication.

As matters now stand, employers can legally demand to learn even the most private details of an applicant’s life without having to disclose even the most basic information about themselves and their history of treating employees.

(14)  CEOs whose companies employ illegal aliens would be held directly accountable for the actions of their subordinates. Upon conviction, the CEO would be sentenced to a mandatory prison term of at least ten years.

This would prove a more effective remedy for controlling illegal immigration than stationing tens of thousands of soldiers on the U.S./ Mexican border. With CEOs forced to account for their subordinates’ actions, they would take drastic steps to ensure their companies complied with Federal immigration laws.

Without employers eager to hire illegal aliens at a fraction of the money paid to American workers, the invasions of illegal job-seekers would quickly come to an end.

(15)  A portion of employers’ existing Federal taxes would be set aside to create a national clearinghouse for placing unemployed but qualified job-seekers.

* * * * *

Right-wing capitalists and their paid shills in Congress would attack such legislation as radically Communist. But an Employers Responsibility Act (ERA) would greatly increase America’s economic strength. 

With a fully-employed workforce, far more consumers could afford the wide array of goods and services turned out by American business.

When consumers can’t afford these, companies are forced to cut their employees and produce fewer goods, which creates an ever-downward spiral.

An ERA would allow Democrats, to address the needs of blue-collar workers who once served as one of their primary constituencies. 

During the 2016 Presidential campaign, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton voiced the frustrations of millions of poor and middle-class Americans who felt abandoned by their employers and Washington policymakers. 

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Hillary Clinton

On September 26, Clinton said:

There “are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down. Nobody cares about them. Nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change. It doesn’t really even matter where it comes from.

“They don’t buy everything [Donald Trump] says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they’re in a dead-end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.”

Eloquent words. But then she made no effort to follow up. 

She could have used this moment to offer an economic package to quickly and effectively address their vital needs for jobs and medical care. 

In May, 2016, Democratic pollster CeLinda Lake had warned Clinton to revamp her economic platform.

But Clinton had made no such effort. As a result, all she had to offer was boilerplate rhetoric, such as: “Education is the answer.” 

Meanwhile, Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump appealed to blue-collar voters as a populist. He visited “Rustbelt” states like Michigan and Pennsylvania, and vowed to “bring back” jobs that had been lost to China, such as those in coal mining and manufacturing.

Clinton didn’t deign to show up, assuming she had those states “locked up.”

“Democrats simply have to come up with a more robust economic frame and message,” Lake said after the election.

“We’re never going to win those white, blue-collar voters if we’re not better on the economy. And 27 policy papers and a list of positions is not a frame. We can laugh about it all we want, but Trump had one.” 

And he used it to win those states Clinton had refused to visit.

LIE CREATORS: PART FIVE (OF SEVEN)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on September 19, 2018 at 12:05 am

America can end this national disaster—and disgrace—of willing-to-work Americans being unable to find willing-to-hire employers.

The solution: A nationwide Employers Responsibility Act (ERA).  

Such legislation would legally require employers to demonstrate as much initiative for hiring as job-seekers are now expected to show in searching for work.

Among its provisions:

(2) Large companies (those employing more than 100 persons) would be required to create entry-level training programs for new, future employees.

These would be modeled on programs now existing for public employees, such as firefighters, police officers and members of the armed services. Such programs would remove the employer excuse, “I’m sorry, but we can’t hire you because you’ve never had any experience in this line of work.” After all, the Air Force has never rejected an applicant because, “I’m sorry, but you’ve never flown a plane before.”

This Nation has greatly benefited from the humane and professional efforts of the men and women who have graduated from public-sector training programs. There is no reason for the private sector to shun programs that have succeeded so brilliantly for the public sector.

(3) Employers would receive tax credits for creating professional, well-paying, full-time jobs.

This would encourage the creation of better than the menial, dead-end, low-paying and often part-time jobs which exist in the service industry. Employers found using such tax credits for any other purpose would be prosecuted for tax fraud.

(4)  A company that acquired another—through a merger or buyout—would be forbidden to fire en masse the career employees of that acquired company.

This would be comparable to the protection existing for career civil service employees. Such a ban would prevent a return to the predatory “corporate raiding” practices of the 1980s, which left so much human and economic wreckage in their wake.

The wholesale firing of employees would trigger the prosecution of the company’s new owners. Employees could still be fired, but only for provable just cause, and only on a case-by-case basis.

(5) Employers would be required to provide full medical and pension benefits for all employees, regardless of their full-time or part-time status.

Increasingly, employers are replacing full-time workers with part-time ones—solely to avoid paying medical and pension benefits. Requiring employers to act humanely and responsibly toward all their employees would encourage them to provide full-time positions—and hasten the death of this greed-based practice.

(6) Employers of part-time workers would be required to comply with all federal labor laws.

Under current law, part-time employees are not protected against such abuses as discrimination, sexual harassment and unsafe working conditions. Closing this loophole would immediately create two positive results:

  • Untold numbers of currently-exploited workers would be protected from the abuses of predatory employers; and
  • Even predatorily-inclined employers would be encouraged to offer permanent, fulltime jobs rather than only part-time ones—since a major incentive for offering part-time jobs would now be eliminated.

(7) Employers would be encouraged to hire to their widest possible limits, through a combination of financial incentives and legal sanctions. Among those incentives: Employers demonstrating a willingness to hire would receive substantial Federal tax credits, based on the number of new, permanent employees hired per year.

Employers claiming eligibility for such credits would be required to make their financial records available to Federal investigators. Employers found making false claims would be prosecuted for perjury and tax fraud, and face heavy fines and imprisonment if convicted.

(8) Among those sanctions: Employers refusing to hire could be required to prove, in court:

  • Their economic inability to hire further employees, and/or
  • The unfitness of the specific, rejected applicant.

Companies found guilty of unjustifiably refusing to hire would face the same penalties as now applying in cases of discrimination on the basis of age, race, sex and disability. Employers would thus fund it easier to hire than to refuse to do so. Job-seekers would no longer be prevented from even being considered for employment because of arbitrary and interminable “hiring freezes.”

(9) Employers refusing to hire would be required to pay an additional “crime tax.”

Sociologists and criminologists agree that “the best cure for crime is a job.” Thus, employers who refuse to hire contribute to a growing crime rate in this Nation. Such non-hiring employers would be required to pay an additional tax, which would be earmarked for agencies of the criminal justice system at State and Federal levels.

(10) The seeking of “economic incentives” by companies in return for moving to or remaining in cities/states would be strictly forbidden.

Such “economic incentives” usually:

  1. allow employers to ignore existing laws protecting employees from unsafe working conditions;
  2. allow employers to ignore existing laws protecting the environment;
  3. allow employers to pay their employees the lowest acceptable wages, in return for the “privilege” of working at these companies; and/or
  4. allow employers to pay little or no business taxes, at the expense of communities who are required to make up for lost tax revenues.

LIE CREATORS: PART FOUR (OF SEVEN)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on September 18, 2018 at 12:06 am

More than six million willing-to-work Americans can’t find willing-to-hire employers.

And where there are victims, there are always people ready to profit from their desperation.

Consider the following email sent out by Steve Poizner, former Republican State Insurance Commissioner of California (2007-2011).

A successful Silicon Valley high tech entrepreneur, Poizner founded SnapTrack, Inc. and Strategic Mapping, Inc. In June, 2011, he co-founded the Encore Career Institute with the Sherry Lansing Foundation and Creative Artists Agency.

Thus, the email sent out on July 2, 2012, to advertise “Empowered UCLA Extension”:

Dear friends,

I wanted to share with you some news before my new venture – Empowered Careers – launches around the country….I’ve started this company to help address one of the key issues we face today — jobs. Our venture aims to close the skills gap through an innovative career development program — all delivered via the iPad.

It’s all designed specifically for baby boomers seeking to make a career change, get ahead professionally, or get back into the workforce.

Note the line: “Our venture aims to close the skills gap,” which it assumes to be a reality.

And the ad says nothing about the “greed gap” which exists between what employers demand from workers—and what they are willing to pay in return.

The Encore Careers Institute will offer online non-degree certificates for out of work adults and baby boomers looking to switch careers.

When did a non-degree certificate ever convince an employer to hire? Even a hiring-inclined employer?

And consider this passage:

Using our Empowered app, the iPad will transform any adult’s living room into a modern day classroom or transform a park bench into a study group while the kids are at soccer practice.

But transforming “any adult’s living room into a modern day classroom” will not compel those employers who refuse to hire to begin doing so.

Nor will it change the behavior of employers who:

  • Will hire—but only on a part-time, no-benefits, minimum-wage basis;
  • Continue to throw hard-working American employees into the street; and
  • Move their companies to China, Mexico or Singapore.

And note that this program is aimed at those who can afford an iPad–and to shell out $9,800 for the course. This, says the website, “includes a one-time special reduction of $3,000 from our expected 2013 total program price of $12,800.”

So if you’re poor because you’re jobless, this program has nothing to offer you.

America can end this national disaster—and disgrace—of willing-to-work Americans being unable to fire willing-to-hire employers.

A policy based only on concessions—such as endless tax breaks for hugely profitable corporations—is a policy of appeasement.

And appeasement only whets the appetite of those appeased for even greater concessions.

It is past time to hold wealthy and powerful corporations accountable for their socially and financially irresponsible acts.

This solution can be summed up in three words: Employers Responsibility Act (ERA).

If passed by Congress and vigorously enforced by the U.S. Departments of Justice and Labor, an ERA would ensure full-time, permanent and productive employment for millions of capable, job-seeking Americans.

And it would achieve this without raising taxes or creating controversial government “make work” programs.

Such legislation would legally require employers to demonstrate as much initiative for hiring as job-seekers are now expected to show in searching for work.

An Employers Responsibility Act would simultaneously address the following evils for which employers are directly responsible:

  • The loss of jobs within the United States owing to companies’ moving their operations abroad—solely to pay substandard wages to their new employees or avoid American health/safety laws.
  • The mass firings of employees which usually accompany corporate mergers or acquisitions.
  • The widespread victimization of part-time employees, who are not legally protected against such threats as racial discrimination, sexual harassment and unsafe working conditions.
  • The refusal of many employers to create better than menial, low-wage jobs.
  • The widespread employer practice of extorting “economic incentives” from cities or states in return for moving to or remaining in those areas. Such “incentives” usually absolve employers from complying with laws protecting the environment and/or workers’ rights.
  • The refusal of many employers to provide medical and pension benefits—nearly always in the case of part-time employees, and, increasingly, for full-time, permanent ones as well.
  • Rising crime rates, due to rising unemployment.

Among its provisions:

(1) American companies that close plants in the United States and open others abroad would be forbidden to sell products made in those foreign plants within the United States.

This would protect both American and foreign workers from employers seeking to profit at their expense. American workers would be ensured of continued employment. And foreign laborers would be protected against substandard wages and working conditions.

Companies found violating this provision would be subject to Federal criminal prosecution. Guilty verdicts would result in heavy fines and lengthy imprisonment for their owners and top managers.

LIE CREATORS: PART THREE (OF SEVEN)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on September 17, 2018 at 12:19 am

There are legitimate reasons why millions of willing-to-work Americans remain unemployed. Or remain trapped in part-time, no-benefits jobs far below their levels of education and experience.

Some companies—such as Toys R Us—declare bankruptcy and go out of business. Others—such as Macy’s and J.C. Penney—are struggling to meet the challenges of e-commerce and the decline of shopping malls.

But there are sinister ones, too–such as the deliberate refusal of Congressional Republicans to create job opportunities for their fellow Americans.

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I, Vermont) made just that argument to guest host Ezra Klein on the June 12, 2012 edition of “The Rachel Maddow Show.”

KLEIN: Now, some Republicans say and some people say didn’t we do infrastructure a couple years ago? You heard a lot in the stimulus we had done infrastructure. So, how come we have all of this outstanding?

SANDERS: Because we ignored the needs for a long, long, time. Yes, we did put infrastructure. We put it into the state of Vermont, put more money into roads and bridges. But we need a lot more and that`s true for the other 49 states as well.

It’s not only roads…bridges…water systems. It’s mass transportation. It is rail. China is building high-speed rail all over the place. We are not. Our rail system is in many ways deteriorating.

We have schools that are aging. We have culverts that need work. We have tunnels that need work.

We have an enormous amount of work that is ready to go right now and it is beyond comprehension that our Republican friends will not support infrastructure legislation.

If Sanders is correct, Republicans were deliberately sacrificing the economic life of the nation because:

  • They hated President Obama; and
  • They believed that making the American people suffer would lead them to elect Mitt Romney.

On June 4, 2012, veteran political analyst Chris Matthews discussed this possibility with John Heilemann, the national affairs editor for New York magazine. 

MATTHEWS: How much of that is bent because of the 1% campaign of the president….going after them for grabbing most of the wealth in this country through tax policy and everything else? Are they resentful enough of that…

HEILEMANN: Yes….If you talk to people in business and finance….about the actual substance of the president’s policies, the substance does not bother them as much as the rhetoric.

More than six million Americans are now unemployed because many employers have designed “hiring” systems that simply don’t work.

So says Peter Cappelli, the George W. Taylor professor of management at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He is also the author of  Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs: The Skills Gap and What Companies Can Do About It.

Why Good People Can't Get Jobs: The Skills Gap and What Companies Can Do About It

Employers often whine that they can’t find the talent they need. Today’s applicants, they claim, lack skills, education and even a willingness to work.

The truth is altogether different. According to Cappelli, the fault lies with employers, not job-seekers:

  • Employers “ask for the moon” by vastly inflating their requirements for openings.
  • Many qualified people are automatically removed from consideration by computer technology. The reason: Their resumés don’t match the inflated qualifications demanded by employers.
  • Many employers aren’t willing to pay for the education and skills they claim to respect.  They’re looking for people who are young, cheap and experienced.
  • Online applicants are often asked: “What salary do you expect?”  If you name a salary that’s higher than what the company is willing to pay, you’re instantly rejected.  
  • Many of the candidates employers want to hire refuse to accept the positions at the wage level being offered.
  • Employers don’t want to hire entry-level applicants right out of school. They want experienced candidates who can contribute immediately with no training or start-up time.
  • Employers demand that a single employee perform the work of several highly skilled employees.
  • When employers can’t find the “perfect candidate” they leave positions open for months. But if they were willing to offer some training, they might easily fill those positions.
  • Companies no longer hire new college graduates and groom them for management. They no longer offer training and development. As a result, companies must recruit outsiders.
  • Employers’ unrealistic expectations are fueled partly by their own arrogance. Employers believe they should be able to find “perfect people.” 

According to Cappelli, the hiring system desperately needs serious reform: 

  • If jour job descriptions are inflated, bring them down-to earth.
  • Don’t expect to get something for nothing—or next to it. Offer competitive salaries.
  • Make sure that the automated systems aren’t screening out qualified candidates simply because they don’t have all the brass buttons in a row.
  • Beef up the Human Resources section.

Cappelli worries that the complaints about a labor shortage caused by an unwilling, unskilled workforce will be repeated enough that they will be accepted as truth:

“It’s a loud story…that could become pernicious if it persists. It does have a blame-the-victim feeling to it. It makes people feel better. You don’t have to feel so bad about people suffering if you think they are choosing it somehow.”  

And where there are victims, there are always people ready to profit from their desperation.

LIE CREATORS: PART TWO (OF SEVEN)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on September 14, 2018 at 12:16 am

Niccolo Machiavelli, the father of modern politics, warns in his masterwork, The Discourses

All those who have written upon civil institutions demonstrate…that whoever desires to found a state and give it laws, must start with assuming that all men are bad and ever ready to display their vicious nature, whenever they may find occasion for it.

If their evil disposition remains concealed for a time, it must be attributed to some unknown reason; and we must assume that it lacked occasion to show itself. But time, which has been said to be the father of all truth, does not fail to bring it to light.

Niccolo Machiavelli

Where the crimes of corporate employers are concerned, we do not have to wait for their evil disposition to reveal itself. It has been fully revealed for decades. We need only find the courage to redress the costly outrages we see every day in the workplace.

In its June 8, 2011 cover-story on “What U.S. Economic Recovery? Five Destructive Myths,” Time magazine warned that profit-seeking corporations can’t be relied on to ”make it all better.”

Click here: What U.S. Economic Recovery? Five Destructive Myths – TIME

Wrote Rana Foroohar, Time‘s assistant managing editor in charge of economics and business:

American companies “are doing quite well,” but most American workers “are earning a lower hourly wage now than they did during the recession.”

Corporations, in short, are doing extremely well. But they don’t spend their profits on American workers.

“There may be $2 trillion sitting on the balance sheets of American corporations globally, but firms show no signs of wanting to spend it in order to hire workers at home.”

In short:  Giving even greater tax breaks to mega-corporations—the standard Republican mantra—will not persuade them to stop “outsourcing” jobs. Nor will it convince them to start hiring Americans.

While embarrassingly overpaid CEOs squander corporate wealth on themselves, millions of Americans can’t afford medical care or must depend on charity to feed their families.

Yet there is also a disconnect between the truth of this situation and the willingness of Americans to face up to that truth.

The reason, writes Foroohar:

Republicans have convinced most Americans they can revitalize the economy by slashing “taxes on the wealthy and on cash-hoarding corporations while cutting benefits for millions of Americans.”

To restore prosperity, America will need both tax increases and cuts in entitlement programs.

Now, fast forward to a March 30, 2018 story in The Motley Fool: “These 12 Companies Have Laid Off Workers in 2018.” 

The “tax reform” bill passed by a Republican Congress in 2017 “included a long-awaited reduction in corporate taxes. The top rate for corporations fell from 35% to a flat 21%.

“It also set a one-time repatriation tax on foreign profits at 15.5%, creating a windfall for many companies.” 

“In spite of the good fortune these events have bestowed on corporate America,” sums up the writer, “you might be surprised to find that there is a growing list of employers that are sending workers home this year.”   

Among those companies: 

  • Verizon Wireless – 3,000 employees.
  • PepsiCo, Inc. – 1,000 layoffs. 
  • J.C. Penney – 360 layoffs on top of an already 5,000 firings.
  • Ford Motor Company – 2,000 layoffs. Amazon.com – hundreds of workers (no specific number given).
  • Macy’s, Inc. – 5,000 jobs eliminated. 
  • AT&T – 4,000 employees.
  • Walmart – eliminating 3,500 co-manager positions in its domestic market, and replacing half of these with lower-paying assistant store managers. It’s also laying off about 500 headquarters staff this year, and will do so in 2019.
  • Kimberly Clark Corporation – laying off 5,000 to 5,500 employees.
  • International Business Machines – According to a Mother Jones article, laid off an estimated 20,000 U.S. workers over the age of 40 since 2013, who were all replaced by “less-experienced and lower-paid workers.”
  • Toys R Us – Filed for bankruptcy and plans to liquidate its 700 remaining U.S. locations, resulting in the loss of 33,000 American jobs. 
A June 14, 2018 story on Fox Business News warned: “Major Companies Have Announced Layoffs This Month. Here’s a Look.”  

The companies:

  • Hewlett-Packard – cutting 5,000 jobs.
  • McDonalds – Undisclosed.
  • Citigroup – 20,000 jobs.
  • Tesla – 3,600 jobs.

And a June 28 article in The Street announced: “These Companies Have Had Some of the Worst Layoffs in 2018.”  

  • EBay. Inc. – Cutting “cutting a single-digit percentage of jobs.”
  • General Mills – 625 employees. Mid-Continent Nail Corp – firing 60 workers. Deutsche Bank – laying off 10,000 employees. 

Admittedly, some companies have legitimate reasons for cutting back on employees:

  • PepsiCo has suffered a fall-off in customers as Americans switch from soda to healthier drinks. 
  • Sears has struggled for years after the rise of e-commerce and the decline of customer traffic at shopping malls.
  • Macy’s is another company struggling to realign itself in an age of online sales and changing consumer habits.
  • Toys R Us has filed for bankruptcy and will soon be gone.

But there are also sinister reasons why millions of willing-to-work Americans remain unemployed.  Or remain trapped in part-time, no-benefits jobs far below their levels of education and experience. 

Chief among these is the refusal of Congressional Republicans to create job opportunities for their fellow Americans.

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