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MLK, Jr.: “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”
Obama: “So long as I’m commander-in-chief, we will sustain the strongest military the world has ever known”.

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Increasingly I found myself spending time with people of means-law firm partners and investment bankers, hedge fund managers and venture capitalists. As a rule, they were smart, interesting people, knowledgeable about public policy, liberal in their politics, expecting nothing more than a hearing of their opinions in exchange for their cheques. But they reflected, almost uniformly, the perspectives of their class: the top 1 percent that can afford to write a $2,000 cheque to a political candidate. They believed in the free market and an educational meritocracy; they found it hard to imagine that there might be any social ill that could not be cured with a high SAT score. They had no patience with protectionism, found unions troublesome, and were not particularly sympathetic to those whose lives were upended by the movements of global capital. Most were adamantly prochoice and antigun and were vaguely suspicious of deep religious sentiment… Still, as a consequence of my fund-raising, I know that I became more like the wealthy donors I met
Barack Obama, Audacity of Hope

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Well, I’m glad that’s out of the way. This whole election has been such a farce, anyway.

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You can mark my prediction now: A secret recording from a closed-door Mitt Romney fundraiser, released today by David Corn at Mother Jones, has killed Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.

On the tape, Romney explains that his electoral strategy involves writing off nearly half the country as unmoveable Obama voters. As Romney explains, 47 percent of Americans “believe that they are victims.” He laments: “I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

So what’s the upshot? “My job is not to worry about those people,” he says. He also notes, describing President Obama’s base, “These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax.”

This is an utter disaster for Romney.

Romney already has trouble relating to the public and convincing people he cares about them. Now, he’s been caught on video saying that nearly half the country consists of hopeless losers.


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Quick thoughts on Michelle Obama’s speech

Clearly better than Anne Romney, but similar in that the role of the “politician’s wife” presented in both Conventions focuses exclusively on their qualities as mothers and spouses, before all else. That is, not as independent individuals primarily, but rather as complements to their husband. This of course, is not how the men are primarily judged (i.e., how well do they raise their children and support their spouses).

Also, I felt a twinge of resentment when she commented on how “inspired” she was by teachers working in impoverished schools who press on without pay. This has more than a little to do with your husband’s failed “Race to the Top” education program and decision to bail out banks instead of poor communities.

And, of course, the ritualistic declarations of the U.S. being “the greatest nation on Earth,” always make me nauseous. Even if it weren’t absolutely untrue (which it is), I can’t stand this type of jingoism and national-chauvinism. The goal should not be to make the U.S. the best place as against all others, but rather to make life better for all humans everywhere, regardless of which plot of geographical land they happen to inhabit.


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BREAKING: Obama ushers in New Year by signing indefinite detention military defense bill (NDAA).

It sure puts a fine point on the theme of 2011 — revolution AND repression.

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President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) today, allowing indefinite detention to be codified into law. As you know, the White House had threatened to veto an earlier version of the NDAA but reversed course shortly before Congress voted on the final bill. While President Obama issued a signing statement saying he had “serious reservations” about the provisions, the statement only applies to how his administration would use it and would not affect how the law is interpreted by subsequent administrations.

The statute is particularly dangerous because it has no temporal or geographic limitations, and can be used by this and future presidents to militarily detain people captured far from any battlefield.

Under the Bush administration, similar claims of worldwide detention authority were used to hold even a U.S. citizen detained on U.S. soil in military custody, and many in Congress now assert that the NDAA should be used in the same way again.  The ACLU believes that any military detention of American citizens or others within the United States is unconstitutional and illegal, including under the NDAA.  In addition, the breadth of the NDAA’s detention authority violates international law because it is not limited to people captured in the context of an actual armed conflict as required by the laws of war. 


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Endless hatred for the U.S. warmakers and Barack Obama (who actually increased the number of airstrikes on Pakistan over his predecessor, George W. Bush).

Although CNN is trying to spin this piece as a ‘human interest’, feel-good type of story, how can any thinking person fail to reflect upon the criminal nature of the U.S.’ undeclared war on the people of Pakistan?

In a different, more just world, the U.S. government would be charged with war crimes and human rights violations and forced to pay massive indemnities to all the people of Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and elsewhere, who have had their lives and homes callously destroyed by the U.S. as it stalks the globe in pursuit of profit and power. 

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She has eyelashes but no eyebrows. She has all her fingers but is missing four nails. Her skin is so taut now that she can no longer frown.

But she can still smile.

Her face tells a story of suffering. Her name, Shakira, tells a story of a new journey.

Shakira means thankful.

Last week, 4-year-old Shakira arrived in the United States for what her caretaker, Hashmat Effendi, hopes will be the start of the rest of her life.

Shakira, believed burned in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan, will undergo reconstructive surgery in January.

She will never look fully normal, but Effendi hopes the surgery will make it easier for Shakira to grow older and help others see what Effendi has seen all along: an effervescent bundle of love.

In 2009, Effendi was on a medical mission with Texas-based House of Charity in Pakistan’s Swat Valley. The region’s natural beauty was once compared to Switzerland’s, but by then it was a Taliban-infested area rife with violence.

One of the doctors found three little girls left in a trash bin. They’d suffered horrific injuries.

"Who are they?" the doctor asked.

Nobody knew.

Where were their parents? Where were they from?

All anyone could say is that there had been a U.S. drone attack. The girls were likely hurt in the strike.

The docto, who was traveling with House of Charity, took them back with him. They were in grave condition. Two of the girls died, but the littlest one had a chance of making it if she were treated right away.

She was only a year old, Effendi guessed, but small for her age. She was skinny. Dirty. Very bloody. She had fresh burns all over her face, her scalp and on her arms.


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(Photo) The hypocrisy of Barack Obama on police brutality and repression against peaceful protesters — vocal condemnation when it occurs in other countries; utter silence when it occurs in the U.S.

(Photo) The hypocrisy of Barack Obama on police brutality and repression against peaceful protesters — vocal condemnation when it occurs in other countries; utter silence when it occurs in the U.S.


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This is why capitalism is literally a constant, ‘class struggle’ between capital and labor over the distribution of wealth created in the production process.

However, as this article shows, the capitalist class has an entire political apparatus — the state — which it can wield as a weapon on its behalf in the class struggle.

And whatever anyone may think of Obama, the reality is that his job, as executive of the State, is to oversee the wielding of this giant apparatus in such a way that furthers the interests of American capitalists as against their laboring opponents.

As Karl Marx wrote over 150 years ago, “The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.”

Executive-in-chief Barack Obama is no different.

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A Wikileaks post published on The Nation shows that the Obama Administration fought to keep Haitian wages at 31 cents an hour.

It started when Haiti passed a law two years ago raising its minimum wage to 61 cents an hour. According to an embassy cable:

This infuriated American corporations like Hanes and Levi Strauss that pay Haitians slave wages to sew their clothes. They said they would only fork over a seven-cent-an-hour increase, and they got the State Department involved. The U.S. ambassador put pressure on Haiti’s president, who duly carved out a $3 a day minimum wage for textile companies (the U.S. minimum wage, which itself is very low, works out to $58 a day).

Haiti has about 25,000 garment workers. If you paid each of them $2 a day more, it would cost their employers $50,000 per working day, or about $12.5 million a year … As of last year Hanes had 3,200 Haitians making t-shirts for it. Paying each of them two bucks a day more would cost it about $1.6 million a year. Hanesbrands Incorporated made $211 million on $4.3 billion in sales last year.


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