Republican Cruelty

                              The sheer cruelty of the Republican Party should be abhorrent to any

thoughtful, compassionate human being.  The Party’s attempt to cut 8 billion dollars from food

stamps for poor families and children, is an act of ideological extremism which cares nothing for

the plight of our fellow human beings.  Vermont Republicans, like Randy Brock, should be called upon

to repudiate the egregious actions of the national party if they are not to be rejected by Vermont

voters.
                              We Vermonters should be proud of the fact that our state government,

along with New york, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Oregon, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Montana have

done an end run around this vicious legislation with the ‘heat and eat’ program which, in effect,  

rescinds the cuts if the states pay a minimum of $20 in fuel aid to each family.
 
                              As you would expect, Speaker John Boehner had a hissy fit over the

humane actions of the above states. The New york Times underscored the malignant hypocrisy of the

Republican position by pointing out that if they were so concerned about fiscal responsibility they

would work to eliminate the so-called carried interest tax loophole which allows those poor,

struggling, billionaire hedge fund managers to “mischaracterize their income as capital gains and

which costs the treasury $11 billion a year.”

                            Truthfully, I don’t see how any Vermont Republican can look his or her

constituents in the eye and claim to have the people’s interests at heart if they support a

leadership that is literally taking food out of poor children’s mouths.

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US supporting Ukranian Nazis

If you’re at all interested how the U.S. leadership, in cahoots with the jingoist media, lies in it’s teeth and leads us by the nose – in this case about the chaos in Ukraine- watch this presentation by Russian expert Professor Stephen F. Cohen of NYU on Democracy Now.  Once again our appalling ignorance fostered by the powers-that-be may result in another war where innocent people will be slaughtered.  Click here:http://www.democracynow.org/2014/2/20/a_new_cold_war_ukraine_violence

The United States of Amnesia, of course, doesn’t remember that Ukrainian Nazi’s by the hundreds of thousands joined the Wermacht as it spearheaded the invasion of The Soviet Union in WWII, slaughtering 800 thousand Jews in it’s wake.  Galicia, the name for Western Ukraine, as part of the ‘Pale of Settlement’ where the Czar allowed Jews to settle, had one of the largest concentration of Jews in Europe.  The present ‘Swaboda Party’ fomenting the insurrection against democratically elected Yanokovich, is in large part, a  fiercely anti-semitic , fascist party.  An intercepted telephone call between the leading American diplomat in Europe and the American ambassador in Kiev, shows clearly that, in a repeat of dim-witted American strong-armed tactics,  we are supporting a coup and aligning American foreign policy with extreme right-wing elements and lunatic-fringers which very well might bite us in the ass. This is the same-old-same-old of American hegemony with it’s long list of tyrants installed and/or supported covertly or blatantly to protect American corporations.  The list is long: Batista in Cuba, Somoza in Ncaragua, Pinochet in Chile, The Military Junta in Brasil, The Military Junta in Greece, Saddam Husein in Iraq, Mubarak in Egypt, Suharto in the Philipines, Noriega in Panama, The Shah in Iran, Diem in Vietnam, The Mujahadeen in Afghanistan, Mobutu in the Congo, DeKlerk in South Africa.

 Yanokovich is, by all accounts, corrupt and incompetent , kind of a Ukrainian George W. Bush, but with democratic elections one year away he could have been deposed by popular vote.  The extortion by the European Union to force Ukraine to agree to an alliance with the West when half the country culturally wants to align with Russia, is surely destructive of social stability.
And no matter what you may think of Vladimir Putin, it’s clear he has a right to be paranoid as he is surrounded by former soviet Republics who have now joined NATO.  Here we have a remarkable example of unadulterated hypocrisy – we  condemn Putin for his anger at what’s happening on his doorstep, with NATO bases in Georgia contiguous to Russia – but the United States government feels no qualms about violating international law by embargoing Cuba which it perceives as a threat.  We must ask which is the rogue state in this scenario?

Al Salzman

Steve (No American) Jobs

                           Why do American jobs end up in China?  Answer:  Because unconscionable wheeler-dealers like the late Steve Jobs, don’t give a damn about American workers, and would rather exploit quasi-slave labor abroad to make a bigger pile of loot.  When Jobs, that great icon of American entrepreneurship, wanted to replace the screen on the iPhone  he contracted with a Corning Glass plant in China.  The small glass panes arrived at the infamous Foxconn factory in the middle of the night( where according to Mr. Jobs the suicide rate among its workers were not a concern) , thousands of workers were rousted out of  their dormitory beds, were given biscuits and tea, and were compelled to work a twelve hour shift without a break at a fifth of the compensation American workers would receive.  The differential in labor cost for the iPhone is about $5 in China and $22 in the U.S.A.  Still leaving a whopping profit for the Apple fat cats.

                             Naively, President Obama asked Steve Jobs: “Why can’t that work come home?”  Mr. Jobs curt reply: “Those jobs aren’t coming back!”  An Apple executive told the New York Times: “We don’t have an obligation to solve America’s problems.”  

                            But apparently the U.S. taxpayer was obliged to solve some of Apple’s problems.  Mr. Jobs and his executives “had the funny notion that the U.S. government had the obligation to help them.  Virtually everything Apple had for sale, from memory chips to the pointer mouse had its origins in some program supported by government money.  The heart of the computer is the microprocessor developed with the direct assistance of the Defense Department. Most computer software was derived from work with government backing.  Apple also arrogantly  assumes that the taxpayer, through government agencies, is obliged to stop foreign pirating of Apple’s intellectual property.  And if supply chains in the Far East are threatened, the taxpayer is obliged to offer Apple the support of the Seventh Fleet.”

                           Pathetically, the ever-wise American buying public, waiting on long lines through the night for the next
 version of the iPhone, or SmartPhone, or MePhone, or YouPhone, or ThisPhone, or ThatPhone is, in effect shooting itself in the foot, or a better analogy would be “robbing itself blind!” Because of what Arriana Huffington called “The Third Worlding of America”, those millions of Americans lucky enough to have a job can only stand helplessly by as their wages fall,and those unlucky millions of unemployed might very well be haunted by the specter of low-wage worker dormitories.

Al Salzman

Rogue Nation

That rogue nation is once again implementing a right-wing, neo Nazi take-over of a democratically elected, sovereign government. (neo-Nazi – too harsh? Check out the reported, growing number of anti-semitic incidents among the rioters.)  The sovereign nation is Ukraine – the rogue nation is the U.S.A. through it’s surrogates the European Union.  History points out that we are very, very good at this kind of subversion.  We did it so many times in Central America – Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras – and in South America- Brazil, Chile, and the current attempt in Venezuela – that it’s hard to keep count.

                             Can Americans, with their very short historical memory, remember the coup d’etat by the fascist Greek military junta in April of 1967 achieved with the full blessing of the U.S. State Department.  And earlier in 1953, the CIA overthrow of  the democratically elected Mohamed Mossadegh of Iran and the subsequent installation of our obedient and bloodthirsty puppet – the Shah. All because of our profligate lust for oil.   Of course, it all came back to kick us in the kiester when, in 1979 in reaction to the Shah’s U.S. sponsored barbarity, the Shah was overthrown and the Iranian mullahs came to power, establishing the oppressive theocracy we now have to contend with. The closest analogy I can come up with for U.S. foreign policy is a rabid dog chasing it’s tail.  If you care to read an honest, well-reasoned analysis of the situation in Ukraine  get a hold of Stephen F. Cohen’s article “Distorting Russia – How the Media Misrepresent Putin,Sochi, and Ukraine.” in the March 3, 2014 issue of “The Nation” magazine.

Dirty Secrets – Vermont edition

 Capitalism, as Adam Smith would have recognized it, is dead – dead – dead.  We now live in a state of “corporatism” – a term coined by Benito Mussolini to describe the perfect collaboration between the state and big business – in other words, fascism.  The dichotomy is glaring – Socialism for the corporate/banking elite, which has received up to seventeen trillion dollars from the Federal Reserve at almost zero interest  – rapacious capitalism for the rest of us. Those of us, myself included, who have managed to find a comfortable niche in which to live, either sucking on the public tit, or living on invested money inherited from parents who were lucky enough to have picked the right stock portfolio, ignore what’s happening at our peril.  Here in Vermont this insidious power of the ‘bottom line’ has poisoned the legislative process.  In the Corruption Risk Index, put out by The Center for State Integrity, Vermont ranks twenty-third with a ‘D+’.  We got an ‘F’ in legislative transparency, ‘F’ in executive transparency, and an ‘F’ for lack of an ethics oversight mechanism.  A vivid example of this rot is the cowering and trembling in the Governor’s office and under the Golden Dome about passing a GMO labeling law, for fear that mighty Monsanto will sue the pants off us. Never mind that genetically modified organisms have not been proven to be absolutely safe in the long run.  Never mind that individuals have the right to know what’s in the food we are ingesting.  Will we chose VERMONT OR MONSANTO?