Best-selling author and broadcaster Laura Flanders hosts the The Laura Flanders Show, where she interviews forward thinking people from the worlds of politics, business, culture and social movements about the key questions of our day. The LF Show airs weekly on KCET/LinkTV, FreeSpeech TV, and in English & Spanish in teleSUR. Flanders is also a contributing writer to The Nation and Yes! Magazine (“Commonomics”) and a regular guest on MSNBC. She is the author of six books, including The New York Times best-seller, BUSHWOMEN: Tales of a Cynical Species (Verso, 2004) and Blue GRIT: True Democrats Take Back Politics from the Politicians (Penguin Press, 2007). The Laura Flanders Show first aired on Air America Radio 2004-2008. You can find all her archives and more at Lauraflanders.com.
It's holiday season. And besides I've been feeling too grumpy to take the news "straight." So I came up for a ditty for today. You're welcome to send me yours. Here goes:
The President asked the banks to meet, and the bankers said they might, but the weather was just too awful and the timing was too tight.
The President talked about America's enduring values again at West Point Tuesday night, and then he laid them out, a whole lot of values one can only wish would endure a little less.
The President began his address to the nation on Afghanistan in the traditional style of his predecessor, setting the tone for troop deployments by recalling 9-11 and terror and fright. Then came the retelling of the traditional Al Qaeda story, the one that omits any mention of Saudi Arabia or Israeli occupation or post-Gulf War US bases -- in fact any mention of politics.
Sadly, our new president seemed to share George W. Bush's appreciation for the value of a simple villain and not asking questions. So much for those who seek a new narrative, one that might include the debate that exists around the world about the merits and real demerits of war as a response to a criminal terrorist act.
In advance of the president's jobs summit, economist Paul Krugman is finally calling for government job-creation.
"It's time for at least a small-scale version of the New Deal's Works Progress Administration" writes Krugman. He says it "would offer relatively low-paying (but much better than nothing) public-service employment."
That's probably not what the Obama administration has in mind. They and Congress seem set instead on relying on the private sector and re-asserting Democrats' fiscal conservative bona fides before next year's vote.
Hurricane Katrina is often called a natural disaster, as if it was all nature's fault, not man's. The reality, of course, is that federal, state and local governments ignored warnings from scientists for years, both that climate change would lead to increased storm activity, and that destruction of wetlands outside of New Orleans had hurt the city's natural defenses against a storm surge. Calls for fixing levees and infrastructure investments went unheeded while the doctrine of markets and profits held sway.
This week, a federal district judge finally ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers was indeed responsible for part of the devastation in New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward and parts of St. Bernard Parish.
The failure of the Corps to recognize the hazards wetland destruction had created was "clearly negligent on the part of the Corps," said U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval Jr. "Furthermore, the Corps not only knew, but admitted by 1988 [the threats to human life] and yet it did not act in time to prevent the catastrophic disaster that ensued."
I just don't get it. When Congress approves gifts worth billions of dollars to people who don't deserve a dime, why isn't it front page news?
On Nov. 6, when President Obama signed the Worker, Home-ownership and Business Assistance Act of 2009, he extended unemployment benefits and renewed the first-time home-buyer tax credit for a while, but hidden deep inside the law was a tax break for businesses that did well in the boom years -- and the resulting refund-checks will be huge.
The tax break would help struggling businesses, Obama declared, but the act actually affects big companies as well as small. Businesses are allowed to offset losses incurred in the bad years of 2008 and 2009 against profits booked as far back as 2004. Those with the biggest boom followed by the biggest bust are exactly the companies like to benefit the most. Among them, you guessed it, home-builders, exactly the folks who overbuilt and over-lent us into a mortgage and credit meltdown.
Armistice Day reminds us that when wars end, the winners and losers are supposed to make peace. For the first time, in 2009, leaders of World War II enemies, Germany and France, commemorated the date together as a sign of new mutual respect. But this week also marked the ten-year anniversary of a different kind of war -- a war on Americans' assets and the poor. Ten years later, while the winners and losers are obvious, there's no armistice in sight.
On November 12, 1999, after decades of banking deregulation, congress repealed the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act, which up until that point had kept Main Street banks and commercial financial speculation apart. Glass-Steagall's repeal unleashed a wave of derivative marketing that rewarded shameless loan sharks for selling the most vulnerable Americans into a bubble of debt.
The bubble having burst, now the stock market is up. Companies are reporting strong earnings and Wall Street's clearly at peace. The top three banks announced this week that they'll be giving out their biggest bonuses yet. But this week's news also brought US double-digit unemployment and regardless of those good earnings, the layoffs just don't stop; Sprint says it's cutting another 2,500 jobs; Pfizer, 2,000 jobs; even supposedly new and growing parts of the economy aren't growing -- software developer Adobe's cutting 6 percent of its workforce, game-maker Electronic Arts is cutting 1,500 jobs. And that's just this week.
"If women are denied a chance to develop their full human potential, including their potential to lead healthier and at least somewhat happier lives, is society as a whole really healthy? "
It's not my question -- it's the question raised by Dr. Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organization which just finished up it first -- first? -- study of women's health.
Their verdict? Societies are still failing women. While women provide the bulk of health care, they rarely receive the care they need. Sound familiar?
The House passed its version of health-care legislation Saturday night by a vote of 220 to 215 after the approval of an amendment which amounts to a not-very-back door abortion ban for everyone but the very rich. Presented by Democrat Bart Stupak of Michigan with the strong backing of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the amendment would prohibit abortion coverage in the government-run plan and any private plan on the new marketplace that accepts people who are using government subsidies to buy coverage.
[There'll be an interesting conversation about this with Frances Kissling and others today on GRITtv.org]
One week before Election Day, the special election to fill a vacant House seat in New York's North Country is heating up. It's a three-way split, pitting a Republican, a Democrat, and a Conservative against one another. It's close.
And the conservative on the ticket has the kind of support the Democrat running against him must love.
Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman has already received the backing of Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and the anti-public-spending Club for Growth. On Monday he was endorsed by another beauty: Dana Rohrabacher, the senior Orange County (CA) Republican who began his career as a speechwriter for President Reagan. Said Rohrabacher "We don't need Tweedle-Dum or Tweedle-Dee, we need Hoffman. He's not afraid to stand up and speak the truth."
According to the Associated Press, Iraq's deadliest bombing in more than two years killed at least 155 and wounded more than 500 Sunday. Two suicide car bombs blew up almost simultaneously outside the Justice Ministry in downtown Baghdad having passed through multiple check points. At least 25 staff members of the Baghdad Provincial Council, which runs the city, are among the dead.
Security issue? Not for those watching US TV.