DARK HORSE Bernie Sander 2016- Rand Paul’s Used Car

Would you buy a used car from this man? How about a row boat in the desert or ketchup for your sushi? That’s exactly what Sen. Rand Paul and corporate messaging Heritage Foundation’s Stephen Moore are trying to sell the American people with a new flat tax plan. The Heritage Foundation, billed as a “think tank,” is behind many of the GOP talking points that inform and guide rightwing and corporate media sources. Even conservatives “lamented to the New Republic that Heritage had become a political action group “with a research division,” according to a 2013 piece at talkingpointsmemo.com.

Their lead spokesman is a pseudo-economist, who has spent his efforts in various republican institutes like Heritage or the Cato Institute attempting to convince the poor and middle class that greed is good, profits matter most and Leftists and democrats are the enemy of economic progress. Moore advocates reducing or eliminating corporate taxes, taxes on the wealthy, while raising them on the poor, whom he calls the job creators and innovators, slashing social programs and privatizing social security. A true economist would take a cautiously analytical approach, understanding the dichotomy and contradiction of modern economic theory and practice. He would communicate the reality of an economic spectrum from the very poor to the very wealthy. Instead Moore is simply a propagandist for the wealthy.

Ultimately the economy is an engine, with the necessity for long term health in regular maintenance and evaluation to promote the greatest possible efficiency for that engine. The lubricant for that engine is trust. The fuel is currency, and as with all engines there is also an element, or byproduct of waste. In capitalism that byproduct of waste is debt. And while it may seem strange, a bit of debt is a good thing for an economy. How else would a working class family with a household income of $50 thousand annually afford a $200,000 Dollar home? How would a business grow without unduly leveraging its own viability? The problem is that debt has become the fuel for the engine, sort of like pulling exhaust from your tailpipe back into the engine. Cash has become power and is being horded by a smaller and smaller pool of people. Could your vehicle run efficiently for long if 80% of every gallon was automatically siphoned into the glove compartment? This is exactly what Stephen More and Rand Paul are advocating in their new tax plan.

The details of their new tax plan constitute a direct assault on American national sovereignty in favor of corporate interests. It is also a direct assault in the ongoing effort to do away with the middle class with its unpredictable political centralism and its expectation in the so-called American dream. Both of those desires by average Americans are antithetical corporate desires for control of the economy. That cannot happen in a free thinking society. This week Moore took he and Paul’s scheme, dressed in a matter-of-fact, common-sense costume to a complicit media in hopes of tricking the American people into further surrendering more of their country and agency.

“If you make 10 times more than I do you pay 10 times more tax. It gets rid of a lot of the special interest provisions and loopholes in the code,” Moore Newsmax TV.

Sounds amazing, but would you buy a used car from Moore or Paul? With this new plan Paul and Moore are waving the visor in your face to keep you from looking under the hood at the failing engine. This morning on Salem Radio affiliate in Chicago Moore found willing accomplices to his fraudulent sale, particularly with Dan Proft, who extolled Moore and Paul’s plan, saying that it would put an extra $2000 a month in the pockets of working families. In the plan there would be a 14% across the board flat tax, with no deductions, except, as Moore pointed out, the charitable deductions that Paul insisted remain in the plan. There would be zero payroll deductions. Corporate taxes would be slashed by almost 60%.

Currently the US corporate top marginal tax rate stands at 40%(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_tax_rates). While that is the highest in the world, corporations don’t pay that, after deductions, looses, charitable donations, state and national policies on corporate subsidies and tax forgiveness and in that many companies simply do not pay . in 2012 The Economist reported that:

“Between 2005-2009, according to Gus Lubin’s post, 115 of the S&P 500 paid just 20% in corporate taxes, and 37 received higher tax credits than they paid in taxes, which includes AIG and Citi and 16 of the S&P 500 paid less than 5% in taxes, which includes Boeing. “

Gus Lubin is the Executive Editor at Business Insider.

The troubling thing is that Stephen Moore is taken seriously, particularly by a media that Moore and others on the right routinely pretend at Liberal. The reality behind the number paints an even more troubling picture of absolute disdain and disrespect for the American people. We have seen that corporations do not pay the top marginal rate, paying well below any modern industrial nation. The deficit that creates is felt directly on the backs and in the bellies of the poor, disabled and elderly. Paul’s demand that all deductions, home, school, etc., be eliminated, except for charitable contributions means the wealthy can continue to offset their income and continue to grow their power to the detriment of the poor and middle class. The Heritage Foundation “is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization and charitable contributions are tax-deductible for income, gift and estate taxes.” According to their website.

So Rand Paul, with his net worth of $2.5 million, making nearly $200,000 just from his job as senator is reported to have about another $300 thousand in income. Under his plan he would pay $70 thousand, and be forced to live on a paltry $430 thousand. However, he could offset that tax by writing a large check to Stephen Moore at the Heritage Foundation, an investment in promoting policies that would help Paul and Moore become very, very rich. By contrast, the median income in Brooklyn Iowa, population 1446 is $43,516, about $9,000 below the state and national median would sink their income $6090, no deductions, no offsets, to $37,426 which would cripple the average family.

The top 20% of the US population controls 85% of its wealth. Moore and Paul have concocted a scheme that appears to be the answer to everyone’s dreams; it is instead an answer to theirs alone. They are slashing taxes on the wealthy and corporations and slamming it onto the backs of the poor, working class and elderly. Sean Hannity rails on that supposed unfairness all the time, calling the bottom 80% of income workers deadbeats and asking how it is fair that so much of the burden falls on the minority of rich people? And Stephen Moore calls Bernie Sanders a “lunatic.”

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DARK HORSE: Bernie Sanders 2016- Death of a Soldier

22.

The number of veterans who commit suicide daily in the US, according to the Veterans Administration is 22.

In November 2013 CNN reported that the figure might be low. The VA figure was based upon data from 21 states and did not take into account deaths from three of the five largest states, Illinois, California and Texas. Considering the VA figures take into account only 40% of the nation, the reality indicates a daily suicide number in excess of 50 veterans daily, or an annual figure of an astounding 18,ooo annually. By comparison there were 14.748 homicides of all types in the US in 2010, and yet the tragedy of suicides among the nation’s veterans has gone largely ignored.

In April 2007 Afghan veteran Levi Derby, haunted, according to his mother, by seeing an Afghan child blown apart by a landmine as he handed her a bottle of water hanged himself. According to CNN, Illinois does not send data on suicides, like Derby, to the VA. In September 2014, Iraq and Afghan Veterans Against the War, #IVAW activist, who had served three combat tours in Afghanistan Jacob David George committed suicide, the ultimate therapy for sufferers of the aftermath of combat, violence and trauma. George, who struggled with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD was critical of treatment by the VA, saying in an speech that the VA, “isn’t designed to address the depths of the wounds we have. They don’t really look at the soul and how the soul has been injured in war.”

The irony is that in a society which was relatively untouched by the war, and in which reporting on the war was filtered and sanitized, American veterans may be more susceptible to suicide than countries where warfare has occurred. A study titled, “Suicide in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the city of Sarajevo” found no significant increase in the number of suicides pre and post war (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24197489). Bosnia was involved in a bloody civil war, with its capital Sarajevo besieged, from April 1992 until April 1995. Bosnia’s overall official suicide is moderately low, according to worldlifeexpectancy.com. who takes its data from the World Health Organization, UNESCO and other databases (http://www.worldlifeexpectancy.com/cause-of-death/suicide/by-country/). While the numbers coming from Bosnia are suspect, the author’s experience in more than 20 years in the Balkans indicates a cultural ‘understanding” that indicates shared trauma on a community-wide scale. They all suffered through the war and now commiserate in its aftermath, even after more than 20 years. There is no such understanding on a national level in the US. As with Vietnam and Korea, veterans return to a nation with little or no understanding of the traumas and moral transgressions of war veterans must confront.

It was only in the last several years that tens of thousands of veterans, dishonorably discharged for PTSD related behavior could apply to upgrade their discharge in order to receive VA benefits. The Pentagon did not formally recognize PTSD until 1980. Indeed, the culture of the military still is far behind in understanding, let alone dealing with PTSD. In 2012 Blue Star Families, an advocacy group for military family members, in a report s aid that inadequacies in treatment were to blame for the high number of suicides among veterans. They also pointed to the military culture as well, and a system of soft retribution for soldiers admitting to PTSD.

Congress has been painfully slow in action regarding the PTSD crisis. While there has been legislation regarding mental health care and quality of life issues for veterans facing lifelong disabilities, it has continued to ignore the unique characteristics of PTSD (http://mic.com/articles/3400/despite-combat-ptsd-act-congress-is-falling-short-in-providing-for-veterans-with-ptsd). For veterans the primary issue is one of trust in the therapy and the therapist. PTSD is unlike other mental illnesses, in that there are multiple dimensions to the disorder from a myriad of causes and is highly individual in its nature. Compounding the disorder is the social nature of PTSD as family, friends and coworkers feed and become part of the disorder for a returning veteran. PTSD becomes community. True lasting an substantive therapy should combine individual psychological and physical therapy with family therapy as well. America must become part of its war making process and be a full agent in its aftermath. Currently it is not. Uncertainty, such as Joblessness and the economy factor greatly in the long term recovery of soldiers and civilians suffering PTSD. Insolated, isolated from warfare and its horrors, propagandized by a burgeoning and greed-centered defense industry and harboring jingoistic notions of war and violence, the nation has created a climate encouraging suicide rather than minimizing it.

Donald Trump did indeed call attention to veterans’ issues, though not in the way he believes. Trump, in assaulting and insulting the not just McCain, but all former American Prisoners of War, as well as veterans overall. What he did was to underscore the ultimate ignorance of the American government, the Pentagon, lawmakers and the American people regarding the plight of veterans, who are all but forgotten once they return home from war.

Trump is all but out of the race. Since his candidacy was far more about his ego than about the country, and based upon defiant comments to critics, and a refusal to back down at all over the McCain comments, Trump won’t leave quietly. Supporters flooded phone lines equally redoubling support for Trump as well as supporting his attacks on McCain’s service. Within that narrative is a glimpse into the direction the Tea Party and hardliners are taking the GOP. To observers it is no secret that support for veteran’s issues is a populist ploy to further corporate and power interests. To be accurate, the DNC has pandered here as well, both parties using the military as a gateway into the heartland while promoting policies that ultimately are anti-vet, anti-minority and anti-poor.

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DARK HORSE: Bernie Sanders 2016- Trump on a Dime

PART ONE
“He’s not a war hero,” Trump said flippantly of Arizona Senator, former prisoner of war and fellow republican John McCain. “He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured.”

He was speaking before a crowd of about 3000 supporters on Saturday January 18th in Ames Iowa. Condemnation by fellow republican candidates was swift and predictable. Unlike the immigration issue, and Trump’s comments that Mexican immigrants were mostly “murderers” and “rapists”, saying that “some, I assume, and good people” the republican field quickly split with Trump. Rick Perry called him unfit to serve as president. He was alone in condemnation of Trump the candidate. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker couched his criticism, simply saying that Trump should apologize.

The following morning, on FOX News, an unrepentant Donald Trump pretended he was the victim, and that he alone was responsible for reigniting first the immigration debate and second the plight of veterans in the US. Perhaps Trump missed, at least the past 5 years of near constant debate and political blustering over both issues. Recall during the 2014 midterms both the VA scandal regarding medical treatment for veterans and the immigration issue, particularly with the so-called flood of young immigrants to the border, figured prominently. The media was oversaturated with those stories to the detriment of other economic, international and social issues, specifically the Ukrainian crisis, Greece and growing discontent over the general mismanagement of the economy at home in the US. FOX News was cordial and served functionally as the spin machine for rightwing causes.

This week Donald Trump emerged as the frontrunner in public opinion polls of republicans. That was based more on his media fame than by donor support. Jeb Bush was drawing strong financial support, well north $120 million, mostly through wealthy industrialists and foreign interests, like Saudi Arabia funneling money through Super PACs. Scott Walker also has stronger financial backing from the Koch Brothers than the financially leveraged Trump, who raised less than $100.000 Dollars while loaning his campaign at least $1.4 million.

Apart from Perry, who remains so marginal in polls that he has nothing to lose by assailing Trump was the only candidate universally condemning him. The rest have afforded enough wiggle room for maximum political advantage, knowing full well that Trump’s supposedly unguarded statements enliven the base. It may prove however a mixed blessing, as this rhetorical Godzilla may well begin to believe he actually has a chance of getting the republican nomination. Like big business discovered with the evangelically stained Tea Party, the monster you make may not be the monster you keep.

Trump, born to wealth and privilege did not serve in the military. Eligible for the draft during the Vietnam War, he avoided serving through a series of deferments. Like the immigration issue, Trump believes his attack on McCain’s service will enliven the veteran’s issue, doubtlessly attempting to capitalize on the recent shooting by the apparent Islamic extremist in Chattanooga Tennessee. Nowhere in that discussion, however, there has not been any substantive discussion on the policies and hypocrisy leading to many of the issues faced by veterans, and by many millions of other Americans as well.

On Sunday July 19th, The Los Angeles Times (http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-ptsd-report-20140621-story.html) cited a new Congressional report on the Pentagon and VA’s ineffective treatment of PTSD, the report calling it “ad hoc, incremental and crisis driven”. There have been no recriminations on getting into future wars that would place extraordinary burdens on the US economy, both through the execution of the war and through the long term hidden costs of medical treatment for disorders like PTSD as well as physical disabilities from combat. The Iraq and Afghanistan Wars cost the nation and estimated $2 trillion. Afghanistan alone was costing the US taxpayer an estimated $6.7 billion monthly, (http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/military/2010-05-12-afghan_N.htm) with as much as another $4-6 trillion in medical costs and effects on the economy and US foreign policy over the coming decades.

Paul Solman, explored the emerging cost in 2007 on NewsHour on PBS:

PAUL SOLMAN, NewsHour Economics Correspondent: The cost of the Iraq war, it’s a far cry from the original estimates.
DONALD RUMSFELD, Former U.S. Secretary of Defense: The Office of Management and Budget estimated it would be something under $50 billion.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, Host, “This Week”: Outside estimates say up to $300 billion.
DONALD RUMSFELD: Baloney.
PAUL SOLMAN: The $50 billion estimate turns out to be a modest fraction of what the war has actually cost thus far, the out-of-pocket, mainly military costs.
GREG SPEETER, National Priorities Project: We’re averaging, over the period of the war, about $275 million a day.
PAUL SOLMAN: Greg Speeter runs the National Priorities Project and its costofwar.com Web site, which tracks the spending per second. At this point, says Speeter, the total is close to $450 billion.
GREG SPEETER: That gives you some indication of just how expensive this war is.
PAUL SOLMAN: But, no, it really doesn’t, according to those who’ve looked at the numbers more broadly. As economist Linda Bilmes explains…
LINDA BILMES, Harvard University: Even if we withdrew all of our troops from Iraq tomorrow, the war would still keep costing us money for many, many years to come, because there are several long-term costs which are not included in the running costs of the war.

Even at those conservative numbers, back in 2007, that still puts the cost to over $1.7 trillion. The United States government, primarily the Bush administration, borrowed hundreds of billions to finance the war. That has an impact, a dramatic impact on a struggling economy. Veterans, like working poor families and many minority and poor white communities, communities from which many of our nation’s military are drawn, are the first and hardest hit in difficult economic periods.

On December 14th 2014 the national debt grew beyond $18 trillion. While that historically immense number is fodder for media pundits and partisan candidates on both sides, who routinely draw comparisons to Greece, mostly to assail social welfare programs the comparison falls rat her flat. While it is the US has the highest debt in the world it also has the largest economy and the greatest nominal GDP. While US debt is around 106% of GDP, that number is still lower than the UK at 405% of GDP, Switzerland at 229%, Germany with 145%, to name a few. To battle that rising debt, however the US has essentially created a shell game.

The US, banks, corporations and the wealthy profit off the creation of national debt. But in reality that profit is a sort of theft. Since the US owns ¾ of its debt (China and foreign investors the other 1/3), payment and interest on that debt is akin to taking $7 from the left pocket to pay the right pocket, then loaning $5 Dollars back to the left pocket again. One factor deciding that rate of repayment are interest rates, which have been kept historically low in an effort to drive economic growth, like small businesses and consumers who, it is expected, will spend enough to help refill the Left pocket. Raising interest rates while consumer spending and the overall economy is slow runs the risk of draining the left pocket (http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/2014/01/08/Rising-interest-rates-will-slam-Federal-Budget).corporate-profit-margins

Consumer confidence was at an all time low since the CCI began measuring data in June of 1997 at the end of 2008 before Barack Obama was elected and for a year following taking office, which most economists would agree was due to the impact of the global financial crisis. While consumer confidence has rebounded substantially, reaching and exceeding the CCI for much of the Bush administration, consumer confidence is much lower than the peak years during the Clinton administration from 1997 to 2000 (http://future.aae.wisc.edu/data/monthly_values/by_area/998?grid=true).

Those peak years were the years in which deregulation and trade agreements like NAFTA began draining manufacturing jobs from the US. Wages have been driven down by US corporations who use the media and elected officials to propagandize to the American people a policy of driving down wages to compete with foreign workers. This comes as corporate profits are at historic highs, particularly relative to collapsing middle and working class wages (http://www.businessinsider.com/profits-versus-wages).

The loss of manufacturing jobs to countries like China cannot be overstated. According to Bloomberg, China’s wages rose between 10-15% in 2014, while average hourly wages for US workers grew by less than 2%, a full percentage point behind annual average inflation. That describes, in fact, negative wage growth for US workers. Meanwhile, corporate profits have skyrocketed (https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?id=CP).wages-to-gdp

The mismanagement and abuse of the American economy is clear. For Hillary Clinton, posturing judiciously to stave off Bernie Sanders’ substantial challenge, her rhetoric often does not match her policies. While courting corporate and financial/banking donors, the very same donors her husband championed to the detriment of workers under NAFTA, for example, she appears to pander to the progressive/liberal base. But there is more that impacts veterans and tens of millions of other Americans struggling at the margins. We will explore that in the next post.


Listen Saturday’s from 11am-1pm to WC Turck, Brian Murray and guests on Chicago’s real alternative media, AM1680, Q4 radio, streaming at www.que4.org.
CAM00236WC Turck is an author, artist, playwright and talk radio host in Chicago. He has been called the most dangerous voice on the Left. His new book “A Tragic Fate: is an unflinching look at the events leading up to the shooting down of Malaysia Air Flight 17.” His first novel, “Broken” was recommended by NAMI for its treatment of PTSD. In 2006 he published “Everything for Love,” a memoir of his experiences during the siege of Sarajevo. He wrote and produced two critically acclaimed plays, “Occupy my Heart” and “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden.” He works with the homeless and foreclosure victims in Chicago. He partners in a weekly radio show dedicated to issues, society and politics with cohost, activist and artist Brian Murray For more information, past shows, videos and articles, visit www.revolutioandbeer.com


The Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) is a conservative think tank with offices in Chicago and Springfield, Illinois, and member of the State Policy Network. IPI is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as of 2011. IPI is also a member of ALEC’s Health and Human Services Task Force and Education Task Force. Senior Budget and Tax Policy Analyst, Amanda Griffin-Johnson, presented model legislation (the “State Employee Health Savings Account Act”) to the HHS task force at ALEC’s 2011 annual meeting.[4] Collin Hitt, Director of Education Policy, is a private sector member of the Education Task Force representing IPI. He sponsored the “Local Government Transparency Act” at the ALEC 2011 States and Nation Policy Summit. In its 2006 annual report the Cato Institute states that it made a grant of $50,000 to the Illinois Policy Institute. The Cato Institute is a libertarian think tank founded by Charles G. Koch and funded by the Koch brothers.

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Dark Horse: Bernie Sanders 2016- Nickel and Dime Season

Last week senator Rand Paul, republican presidential candidate decried $25,000 in overspending by some government agency. On the rightwing Salem network station in Chicago, dismissed former Northwestern rightwing agitator, failed candidate and smarm purveyor Dan Proft blustered to a rapidly fossilizing audience about several government funded scientific studies, each costing several million dollars, or less than a hundredth of a penny per person annually combined. Co-host Amy Jacobsen bellowed that we are $17 trillion dollars in debt and can’t afford this stuff! They are silent over Governor Bruce Rauner’s wife who has now become a lobbyist for a group she leads, spending $130,000 in hopes of getting state contracts worth millions. They were silent when, after defense industry company Raytheon posted a nearly $2 billion profit in 2014, according to the Wall Street Journal, republican Indian governor gifted the company $4.8 million in state funds for improvements and expansion. Better these profitable companies spend your money than their own…the proverbial rainy day fund that you no longer have for your family. (http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/mike-pence-announces-4.8-million-subsidy-for-defense-giant-raytheon/article/2561262) proposed-dicretionary-fy2013-np

The drumbeat against benefits for the poor and elderly continues. as the presidential election heats up we are certain to see more an more of the nickel and dime slight of hand and distraction to the American voter. The latest presidential candidate, Republican Scott Walker called the minimum wage lame, teasing a regular refrain from the right that the market, not government should decide what is fair pay for workers that could be next to nothing or…

“The left claims they’re for American workers, and they’ve got lame ideas, things like minimum wage,” said Walker yesterday in announcing that god had chosen him to be president.

The American people are perennially bombarded by such bombast, such as posting the salaries of teachers, city garbage collectors and clerks. Unions, they claim, are the reason that states and municipalities are overburdened with debt. Illinois State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka blamed the state’s much touted pension problems on “years of game-playing with the pension accounts and short-sighted decisions to raid the funds, take “pension holidays” and delay payments.”

40,000 of the state’s 50,000 workers are union. 5000 are law enforcement officers, like State Police. Another 10,000 are employed by the department of corrections to oversee an astounding 47 prisons in Illinois. Teachers, the focus of much ire on the right, a manufactured target, incidentally, by charter school lobbyists hoping to divert their share of the pie to corporate schools. Teachers, by the way are a small share of the state’s workforce, as most teachers are paid by local districts. Then there are state fire fighters, state park employees, workers who maintain roads and highways and those IDOT trucks, which anyone who has broken down on the state’s highways appreciate deeply. Zero percent of them are wealthy, by any standard. They are solidly middle class, which makes them the enemy of the right, though they will never say it aloud.

Much of the debt incurred by states are not borne from “greedy” do nothing union thugs like state cops, teachers, firefighters and those insidious state park employees. Most state debt come in paying out dividends and interest to bond holders; wealthy patrons, the friends of politicians in both houses, who loan money to state for projects that should be paid for by or held until there is appropriate money in state coffers. Hint: it isn’t about the projects; it’s about law enforced and state protected secure investments for the wealthy. Under the terms of those investments those already wealthy and well-connected investors are paid first and foremost.

Bond payments to the 1% cost states like Illinois billions of dollars annually. That number pales in comparison to the true burden on states. In Illinois alone, on a state and local level, tax forgiveness, tax breaks and subsidies to corporations and companies in Illinois cost the state conservatively, $4.5 billion annually. It isn’t a matter of holding onto companies who might go elsewhere. Illinois is a road, rail and air hub, uniquely positioned to reach international destinations, as well as the nation. The state is far more populated, with better opportunities to a broadly educated worker, client, support and customer base than any other Midwestern state, by far. The giveaways have nothing to do with keeping jobs and everything to do with access by those companies to the political elite.

Even the ultra-rightwing Illinois Policy Institute could not escape that reality. IPI’s Scott Reader, writing at QCOnline noted that democrat governor Pat Quinn was giving away hundreds of millions in corporate subsidies alone while raising income taxes on working families by 67%. (http://www.qconline.com/editorials/high-cost-of-corporate-welfare-in-illinois/article_17950983-3a6f-52e5-9bbb-dcd404eba084.html) The current republican governor, Bruce Rauner, promising to end business as usual in Illinois has seen the number of corporate lobbyists in the state capital quadruple. Wisconsin, under Scott walker has seen a decline in wages, jobs and standards of living, while violent crime has spiked since he came into office (http://www.cityrating.com/crime-statistics/wisconsin/)By contrast, neighboring Minnesota, under democtar mark Dayton, after raising the state’s minimum wage and taxes on companies, has seen a boom in growth, revenues and wages, and a decline in violent crime.

The corporate revenue drain on the US government as a whole is equally troubling. While republicans pretend hysterical about 69.8 billion in annual food stamp expenditures, most of which goes to predominantly so-called red states (http://www.statisticbrain.com/food-stamp-statistics/), with their finger planted firmly in the dike they conveniently ignore the ocean rushing in around them. Wisconsin is 24 in food stamp participation rate, more than Illinois despite Illinois being nearly 3 times larger, and far more than 45th ranked Minnesota, with a participation rate of 9.4%. Minnesota and Wisconsin are nearly equal in population at about 5.5 million.

Military spending, officially given at $711 billion costs every American, young and old $2031 annually, compared with feeding the poor at $200 annually. Compare that to oil subsidies, which republicans are silent on, to already profitable companies is projected in the US to be $333 billion, or almost $1000 annually for every American (Okay, $951.42 for the sticklers out there.). Subsidies are only part of the story. Tax forgiveness and offsets from the Federal government annually comprise more $1.5 trillion dollars, according to conservative estimates, costing every American an astounding $4286 dollars annually, but $200 hundred to the poor, or a $100 to expand the frontiers of human knowledge is our national priority for cuts? Every 6 months or so the right will attack the National Endowment for the Arts budget. At $146 million, the cost for supporting culture in a broad variety of arts, from grants, to public works, programs for children, music and education is $146 million annually, or about 41 cents per capita, less than the tax on an average lunch at McDonalds or Taco Bell.

The reason for this gross disparity is that the American people have not demanded the insulation between corporate interests and government officials. There are no laws prohibiting any congressperson from going to work for any company the federal government has business with for at least 5 years. There is no law regarding access by powerful money interests to candidates and politicians. There are no laws against the amount of money candidates can amass from powerful donors. There are reports that the Koch Brothers are prepared to spend as much as $800 billion to install Scott Walker as President, a man who has already proven he will promote pre-written legislation by the Koch Brother’s lobbying and action wing, ALEC, the American legislative Exchange Council. Jeb Bush announced this week he has amassed $114 million, a notable portion of which reportedly comes from Saudi interests. sandersalaska

By contrast, Bernie sanders has collected, as of may 1015, $19.5 million, none of which came from corporate funders and nearly all of it came from small donations by individual citizens, and yet, according to the right, Sanders is the candidate who isn’t good for America.


Listen Saturday’s from 11am-1pm to WC Turck, Brian Murray and guests on Chicago’s real alternative media, AM1680, Q4 radio, streaming at www.que4.org.
CAM00236WC Turck is an author, artist, playwright and talk radio host in Chicago. He has been called the most dangerous voice on the Left. His new book “A Tragic Fate: is an unflinching look at the events leading up to the shooting down of Malaysia Air Flight 17.” His first novel, “Broken” was recommended by NAMI for its treatment of PTSD. In 2006 he published “Everything for Love,” a memoir of his experiences during the siege of Sarajevo. He wrote and produced two critically acclaimed plays, “Occupy my Heart” and “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden.” He works with the homeless and foreclosure victims in Chicago. He partners in a weekly radio show dedicated to issues, society and politics with cohost, activist and artist Brian Murray For more information, past shows, videos and articles, visit www.revolutioandbeer.com


The Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) is a conservative think tank with offices in Chicago and Springfield, Illinois, and member of the State Policy Network. IPI is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as of 2011. IPI is also a member of ALEC’s Health and Human Services Task Force and Education Task Force. Senior Budget and Tax Policy Analyst, Amanda Griffin-Johnson, presented model legislation (the “State Employee Health Savings Account Act”) to the HHS task force at ALEC’s 2011 annual meeting.[4] Collin Hitt, Director of Education Policy, is a private sector member of the Education Task Force representing IPI. He sponsored the “Local Government Transparency Act” at the ALEC 2011 States and Nation Policy Summit. In its 2006 annual report the Cato Institute states that it made a grant of $50,000 to the Illinois Policy Institute. The Cato Institute is a libertarian think tank founded by Charles G. Koch and funded by the Koch brothers.

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Streaking Rahm: Of Course She did it for the Money

Streaking_RahmOf course Jackie S. streaked Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel for the $250k–but what for? She’s not the kind of thrill-seeking attention hound that we often expect when we someone pull a prank of this nature. Listen to a bold, intelligent, and committed young woman who decided to pay Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel an awkward surprise visit.

Listen on archive.org.

Thanks to Natalie Wahlberg for helping connect the dots.

Watch the clip below to see the awkward encounter:

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DARK HORSE: Bernie Sanders and the Democratic Field (Part 1)

Going into July 2015 4 Democrats, including Sanders, shedding his Independent moniker for expediency and inclusion, had announced their candidacy for presidency. Jim Webb had not yet officially announced. Vice President Joe Biden was sending signals that he would openly challenging the notion held by the Democratic party aristocracy that someone could challenge Hillary Clinton without committing party sacrilege. Biden has the name recognition and the party support to prove a contender, but Sanders should never lose sight of the fact that his one true adversary is Clinton. Through the convention and nomination, no other candidate from any party matters for Sanders but Hillary Clinton.

The first week of July Sanders stunned the race by attracting thousands in standing room only audiences in Minneapolis Minnesota and Madison Wisconsin. Thousands were turned away from the packed Minneapolis rally. The Clinton camp certainly took note that Sanders not only drew far more than they could, but that there was so much energy and excitement. For the time being, for Clinton, Sanders is her primary concern.

Those numbers, representing many times more who support Sanders but could not attend, portends not a small number of potential voters. Common among many of them is a distrust and even dislike for Clinton. Whether or not all of those Sanders devotee will actually come out to vote in primaries, let alone the general, is uncertain. Voters on the Left are a fickle bunch, and tend to be more opposed to the bipolar parties. That should concern both the democratic establishment and Hillary Clinton. It should also concern the Clinton camp that these voters might abandon a Clinton presidential ticket or refuse to turn out to vote at all. That could represent, given the early and unprecedented excitement for Sanders enough voters to cripple Democratic hopes for a 2016 win.

There are critical weaknesses within the party itself, some driven by the sort of politics, either real or perceived, Hillary Clinton reportedly practices. Clinton is accused of having a history of retribution against fellow democrats who oppose her or who fail to fall in lock step. On Lawrence O’Donnell’s MSNBC program at the end of June, Thom Hartmann explored that while recommending Elizabeth Warren needed to endorse Sanders.

That seemed unlikely for the time being, given that making the wrong choice at this juncture could draw that feared retaliation from Clinton. That describes a serious problem within the democratic party which is far less of a burden for republicans within their ranks.

It describes a hierarchy to the democrats that wields undemocratic amounts of power. That power was more than apparent as far back as 2014 when it had all been decided by the democratic media elites and the democratic establishment that Hillary would be the candidate. It describes a party that dictates to its constituency rather than engages and listens to it. Many progressive and liberal voters scoffed, and either threatens to opt out of voting for Clinton or who may look to other candidates like Rand Paul or to the Green Party. At the beginning of July that attitude about an assumptive Hillary coronation was still prevalent and even dominant within the party and the media.

Besides Sanders there isn’t a great deal left to choose from for democrats. With ex=republican Lincoln Chafee, whom few have heard of, or Martin O’Malley who would engender the disdain of Black voters after the Baltimore unrest in April, or Joe Biden and Jim Webb, the field begins to resemble the dismally dull offering by democrats in 84 and 88.

Of course the confused opposition on the Republican ticket doesn’t look very good either Still, there is cause for concern. The issue with the confederate flag, rather than rightfully shame those captivated by a symbol of disunity, hate, slavery and rebellion, it could well backfire on hopes for democrats in the south. We’ll explore the Republican field next.


Listen Saturday’s from 11am-1pm to WC Turck, Brian Murray and guests on Chicago’s real alternative media, AM1680, Q4 radio, streaming at www.que4.org.
CAM00236WC Turck is an author, artist, playwright and talk radio host in Chicago. He has been called the most dangerous voice on the Left. His new book “A Tragic Fate: is an unflinching look at the events leading up to the shooting down of Malaysia Air Flight 17.” His first novel, “Broken” was recommended by NAMI for its treatment of PTSD. In 2006 he published “Everything for Love,” a memoir of his experiences during the siege of Sarajevo. He wrote and produced two critically acclaimed plays, “Occupy my Heart” and “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden.” He works with the homeless and foreclosure victims in Chicago. He partners in a weekly radio show dedicated to issues, society and politics with cohost, activist and artist Brian Murray For more information, past shows, videos and articles, visit www.revolutioandbeer.com


The Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) is a conservative think tank with offices in Chicago and Springfield, Illinois, and member of the State Policy Network. IPI is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as of 2011. IPI is also a member of ALEC’s Health and Human Services Task Force and Education Task Force. Senior Budget and Tax Policy Analyst, Amanda Griffin-Johnson, presented model legislation (the “State Employee Health Savings Account Act”) to the HHS task force at ALEC’s 2011 annual meeting.[4] Collin Hitt, Director of Education Policy, is a private sector member of the Education Task Force representing IPI. He sponsored the “Local Government Transparency Act” at the ALEC 2011 States and Nation Policy Summit. In its 2006 annual report the Cato Institute states that it made a grant of $50,000 to the Illinois Policy Institute. The Cato Institute is a libertarian think tank founded by Charles G. Koch and funded by the Koch brothers. .

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Dark Horse: Bernie Sanders 2016-Charleston

At just after 8 in the evening on June 17, 2015, 21 year old Dylann Roof walked into the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The sandy-haired Roof, with white supremacists ties and leanings sat quietly among the 12 African American worshippers attending a basement Bible study, including The senior pastor, the Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney who was also a Democratic member of the South Carolina Senate.
Just before 9 Roof stood and pulled a pistol from a fanny pack and announced to the stunned attendees that, “I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.” With that Roof began firing, stopping several times to reload. When he was finished nine were dead.

There were two other attacks against Black churches that night and the next day, one in Tennessee and the other in Virginia. In the weeks to follow, incited and by encouraged by FOX News pundits and Rightwing Talk shows, white hate groups would be suspected in at least 6 church burnings. The Charleston attack was the deadliest church shooting in American history, ranking alongside the 1991 execution-style murders at a Buddhist Temple in Waddell Arizona and the murders of 6 Sikh worshippers at the hands of a white supremacist, Wade Michael Page, at a Wisconsin temple in 2012. Since 2001 some 400 Americans have been killed by white supremacists, including almost 2 dozen law enforcement officers. In 2012 two white supremacists executed 2 Nevada police officers as they ate lunch before storming a nearby Walmart and announcing the start of a white revolution.

The Charleston attack came at a period of heightened racial tension and awareness, amid a national conversation on race which was long overdue. In the weeks and months preceding the attack an alarming trend appeared to be developing after a string of controversial deaths and assaults by police which were caught on video. Just a week earlier a police officer in Texas slammed a 14 year old girl in a swimsuit to the ground and drew his weapon after complaints that Black teen agers had attended a pool party in a predominantly white neighborhood.

After the Charleston gunman, Dylann Roof was seen in photographs with a Confederate flag became the symbol of a racist thread still evident and virulent in the American weave. Republicans quickly countered that Americans, in particular republican and southern white Americans were not racist. While that was partly true, it was obvious that the Republican Party and its Tea Party offshoot had adopted icons and legacies of a more overtly racist and traitorous past.

On the candidate trail the reaction was predictable. While all of the candidates, Republican and Democrat, condemned the shooting itself, they split along seemingly irreconcilable partisan lines. Clinton, Sanders, Chafee and O’Malley all cited America’s legacy of racism. Clinton and Sanders both called for greater gun control. Roof had obtained the gun legally through a loophole in the law which does not require documentation or licensing of person to person private sales. With a pending felony charge he was prohibited from buying the gun in a store. The Republican candidates, in contrast to Democrats, were quick to defend the Confederate flag and guns, even before the victims had been publically identified. Others on the Republican side were silent.

Former Texas governor Rick Perry, who was adamant about calling the Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hassan a terrorist instead dubbed the Charleston shooting an accident. Rand Paul jumped quickly to defend the broadest possible interpretation of the Second amendment. The NRA blamed the victims for not being armed, which included an 83 year old woman and her 7 year old granddaughter. Jeb Bush said that he didn’t know if the attack was racially motivated, then canceled a trip to Charleston. Neither Lindsay Graham nor Rick Santorum could bring themselves to admit the attack was racially motivated, despite Roof telling his surviving victims and the police that his actions were indeed racially motivated!

In fact, none of the candidates on the right could bring themselves to describe the attack in terms of domestic terrorism. The issue, which seems obvious to most on the Left and many on the Right, would indicate a growing crisis in American society that is not being squarely addressed in the media and by too many political figures on the Right, especially among the current crop of presidential candidates. Many of those same pundits demand any act committed by a Muslim to be described as terrorism. Not such demand or outrage was made regarding the Charleston Massacre.

That might point to a deeper and darker problem America faces in confronting homegrown terrorism. Former FBI agent Mike German, who specialized in domestic counterterrorism from 1988 to 2004 told Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman that:

“…you can imagine the different reaction that would have occurred if Dylann Roof was wearing an ISIS flag on his jacket rather than a Rhodesia flag. And for somebody like me who knows a lot about the white supremacist movement and having been undercover in it, seeing those symbols, seeing the target—you know, the Emanuel AME Church, like many AME churches, isn’t just the spiritual center of the black community, it’s the political center, it’s the social center, so the fact that it’s targeted fits the FBI definition, which is an act of violence intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population. And the political purpose is obvious. One of the victims, who was specifically picked out, was a state legislator. So the idea that somehow this wasn’t political, I think, says a lot about the way the FBI views terrorism.”
(http://www.democracynow.org/2015/6/25/does_us_ignore_right_wing_terror)

In 2009 the Department of Homeland Security disbanded a unit tasked with looking at domestic rightwing terror groups. Since then the number of hate groups in America has mushroomed to more than 1000 in 2008, according to the Southern Poverty Law Institute, which tracks white supremacists hate groups, to more than 2100 by 2010. Both Michael Savage and Rush Limbaugh describe SPLI, for its outspoken investigations about white hate groups, as a terror group that should be closed down. Savage, through music choices and guests regularly courts a white extremist agenda paraded as populist.

What that points to is a problem with race that America seems unwilling or unable to come to terms with. Both Clinton and Sanders appeared to be in agreement on the issue of race and guns in America. Clinton forcefully condemned the shootings and was more candid than ever before regarding racism. Sen. Sanders issued a statement saying, “The Charleston church killings are a tragic reminder of the ugly stain of racism that still taints our nation.” Earlier this year, however, according the Huffington Post’s Paul Blumenthal and Ryan Grim (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/31/hillary-clinton-speeches-keystone_n_7463108.html)
Clinton took $1.6 million in speaking fees from the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) and TD Bank, both closely connected to the Keystone XL Pipeline. The pipeline remains a hot button issue with Progressives and Liberals who aggressively oppose the pipeline over environmental, safety and property rights concerns. Grim and Blumenthal write that:

Both banks have financial ties to TransCanada, the company behind the Keystone XL pipeline, and have advocated for a massive increase in pipeline capacity, including construction of Keystone. Further, Gordon Giffin, a CIBC board member and onetime U.S. ambassador to Canada, is a former lobbyist for TransCanada and was a contributions bundler for Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.
It is the belief that Hillary tends to play strongly to the ambiguous, except where it is politically safe and expedient. Her stand on banks is illustrative. While saying she would be tough on Wall Street…

It is arguable that the United States had not had a true statesman or stateswoman in recent history. President Jimmy Carter, John F. Kennedy and Dwight D. Eisenhower are the first examples that come to mind. In 1990 Sanders, running as an independent against Republican Rep. Peter Smith, benefitted from an NRA campaign against Smith who supported a ban on assault weapons. While the NRA money did not go to support Sanders, his silence was enough to allow him to beat Smith and the Democratic challenger. In 1994 Sanders voted in favor of a ban on assault weapons, a vote which some believe nearly cost him his House seat that same year.

Certainly the gun issue in America and the debate in Congress has been a contentious, complex and evolving one. There are, according to one conservative website, roughly 32000 gun deaths in, with close to a 1000 accidental shootings (which the pro-gun site attempts to minimize) and about 11000 homicides. More than half of gun deaths, almost 60% are suicides. With accidental deaths, and since most homicides are committed by acquaintances, spouses and family members, that means that gun owners are far more likely to die by a gun in the home than by a stranger’s hand. What that describes is an effort by the gun lobby to manipulate public opinion for sales, portraying a community as far more dangerous than it actually is. The gun proliferation industry has gone so far as to fictionalize even the Holocaust, pushing historical revisionism to the point of saying the Hitler’s so-called banning and confiscation of guns led to the deaths of millions of Jews.

There are numerous credible sources regarding Hitler and guns. The Nazis did not impose any gun registration or restriction laws. In fact, the Weimar government plagued with rampant violence and near insurrection between communist organizations and Nazis imposed restrictions targeting both groups. Those laws remained in place and were merely tightened in 1938 against Jews. At less than 1.5%, or about 500,000 people, the Jewish population would have merely escalated and hastened their destruction with a token insurrection, that is if enough could have foreseen the Holocaust, which to most Jews in Europe, despite the growing hate speech and isolated violence against Jews still remained unfathomable in 1938. (http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/1791/did-hitler-ban-gun-ownership)

For Bernie Sanders the issue resonates strongly. Sanders, the youngest of two sons, was born toPolish parents fleeing the Nazis. The war would end before the family would learn that almost the entire family in Poland had been wiped out in the Holocaust. Through the Nuremburg trials of Nazi war criminals the world and America would weigh the difference between vengeance and justice through the rule of law. Sanders father was paint salesman. Life in Brooklyn in the 1940s and 50s was defined in the hard-scrabble culture of poor and working class families. There were lessons to be learned there, Sanders, looking back at those formative years is candid about those lessons.

“I saw unfairness,” He told the Guardian newspaper, “That was the major inspiration in my politics.”


Listen Saturday’s from 11am-1pm to WC Turck, Brian Murray and guests on Chicago’s real alternative media, AM1680, Q4 radio, streaming at www.que4.org.
CAM00236WC Turck is an author, artist, playwright and talk radio host in Chicago. He has been called the most dangerous voice on the Left. His new book “A Tragic Fate: is an unflinching look at the events leading up to the shooting down of Malaysia Air Flight 17.” His first novel, “Broken” was recommended by NAMI for its treatment of PTSD. In 2006 he published “Everything for Love,” a memoir of his experiences during the siege of Sarajevo. He wrote and produced two critically acclaimed plays, “Occupy my Heart” and “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden.” He works with the homeless and foreclosure victims in Chicago. He partners in a weekly radio show dedicated to issues, society and politics with cohost, activist and artist Brian Murray For more information, past shows, videos and articles, visit www.revolutioandbeer.com


The Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) is a conservative think tank with offices in Chicago and Springfield, Illinois, and member of the State Policy Network. IPI is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as of 2011. IPI is also a member of ALEC’s Health and Human Services Task Force and Education Task Force. Senior Budget and Tax Policy Analyst, Amanda Griffin-Johnson, presented model legislation (the “State Employee Health Savings Account Act”) to the HHS task force at ALEC’s 2011 annual meeting.[4] Collin Hitt, Director of Education Policy, is a private sector member of the Education Task Force representing IPI. He sponsored the “Local Government Transparency Act” at the ALEC 2011 States and Nation Policy Summit. In its 2006 annual report the Cato Institute states that it made a grant of $50,000 to the Illinois Policy Institute. The Cato Institute is a libertarian think tank founded by Charles G. Koch and funded by the Koch brothers. .

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DARK HORSE: Bernie Sanders and the race for 2016

Coming next week: The numbers and how they shake out. Can Sanders become the nominee? Could he win in the general?

Continued from the previous article:

…both parties ignored the voice of the people, not over prudent judgment, but in favor of smaller but far better funded special interest groups.

For Hillary Clinton’s bid for the White House in 2016 that spells big trouble. The Progressive base is less and less enamored with Clinton, as early polls, and this is still a very early race, in favor of Sanders. Clinton felt that heat when newcomer Sanders garnering 208 votes against Clinton’s 252 votes in a Wisconsin Straw Poll. It was not an aberration. Throughout June that trend continued. While Clinton won narrowly in the New Hampshire primary against Senator Barack Obama 2008 she might not be able to stave off a serious challenge by Sanders. Recent polls, with less than a year to the primary show Sanders steadily gaining ground with 31% to Clinton’s 41%, according to a Suffolk University poll looking at 500 likely Democratic primary voters. http://www.suffolk.edu/academics/10738.php

That terrifies a Press who on one hand has alternately exalted and vilified Hillary Clinton as the presumptive Democratic nominee. The Republicans and the Right has rallied fully all of their resources and vitriol into a decades long feud going back to President Clinton’s trouncing of George Bush Sr. in 1992. Squandering energy on exaggerated or manufactured scandals has only done minor damage to Clinton. That Press is simply playing to its own already decidedly anti-Clinton base. All the while Sanders builds steadily, drawing a Progressive and Liberal base deeply disappointed in the Obama administration, and in a political hierarchy, including Clinton, whom they feel no longer speaks or fights for poor and working class Americans.

In 2007 Obama promised that he was, “in this race to tell the corporate lobbyists in Washington that their days of setting the agenda are over.” Once in office Obama filled his administration with lobbyists, including Monsanto executives, Wall Street insiders like Larry Summers as his chief financial advisor and former lobbyist Tom Wheeler, and outspoken opponent of Net Neutrality and a lobbyists for both the cell phone industry and cable television. He further soured and alienated the base when he and his justice department refused to hold banks and those responsible for the economic collapse. Instead they w ere bailed out while, as the Occupy movement railed in 2011, the people got sold out. That disenfranchised base feels betrayed by a refusal to hold banks accountable for the financial crisis, equivocations on climate and the TPP, NSA spying on Americans, immigration and more.

It is all about the base. While the media would love to claim credit for the mistrust for Hillary Clinton, it was Hillary and the Progressive and Democratic base which is leaning in greater and greater numbers to Sanders. She is trapped by the very media she feuds with, playing to cameras with messages so broad that compel her into being overly cautious, and appears to be cozy to lobbyists and special interest groups to an alarming degree. In April she hired Jerry Crawford, a Monsanto lobbyist as a campaign adviser. Not surprising, since earlier she spoke in favor of so-called genetically modified organisms, GMOs, saying that she stood,” in favor of using seeds and products that have a proven track record….And to continue to try to make the case for those who are skeptical that they may not know what they’re eating already. The question of genetically modified food or hybrids has gone on for many years. And there is again a big gap between what the facts are and what perceptions are.” In mid June she hosted a fundraiser with a top pro-TPP lobbying firm.

These are issues that pit her directly in opposition to the Democratic base, and to the majority of Progressive and Liberal voters. When pressed she equivocates and postures on issues, which the base immediately views as a dodge. That does not sow trust or create confidence. By contrast, Sanders has never wavered from clear positions and his critical positions against the TPP, banks and GMOs and his support for net neutrality. While Clinton is forced to waste energy and money posturing, Sanders, the would-be statesman, is reaping the benefits of an all too scarce commodity lost to America’s political landscape: Honesty.

Who would have figured?

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DARK HORSE: Bernie Sanders 2016

He is unassuming and professorial in appearance, with brushed white hair and wide eye glasses. At a glance one might almost expect that with rolled up shirt sleeves and loosed tie that Bernie Sanders, born September 8th 1941, just three months before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, that he just finished grading a stack of English papers, or concluded a patient exam. He slouches a bit and talks with his hands in a way reminiscent of a conductor conducting and orchestra. Those unfamiliar with Sanders say he should smile more. His smile is warm with a hint of irreverence. His words are chosen with great economy, but without hesitation. Like an aural roadmap of his life, Sanders ubiquitous Brooklyn accent is softened and tempered from nearly a half century in his adopted home of Vermont. Sanders is decidedly non political, perhaps the only current elected official in Washington DC never to run a negative ad. He is the biggest political story of the 2016 Presidential election.

Prior to March of 2014 most Americans knew little of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. While Republican candidates were lining up for the GOP ticket the Democrats were growing ever discontent over the prospect that Hillary Clinton had been ordained as the sole Democrat candidate. On May 26th Sanders officially announced his candidacy from Vermont to a virtual media blackout. Almost no one carried the announcement live in contrast to republican Rick Santorum a day earlier or Marco Rubio in April whose speeches were carried live on FOX News and on conservative radio talk shows around the country.

The national media relegated Sanders to a long shot. Almost two months into his rapidly growing grassroots campaign, they still show him little respect, instead the media clings to the Hillary brand. Maybe that is a good thing for now. He was dismissed and derided as a nobody and a socialist. Social media picked up and drove his story. Sanders was not just saying what progressives and liberals alike wanted to hear, like other candidates. Unlike those other candidates his record and actions mirrors his rhetoric.

“I voted against the war in Iraq, he told MSNBC’s Ed Schultz on May 28th 2015, “I believe in a nation in which someone who works 40 hours per week should not live in poverty. I believe in a nation in which everyone gets a fair shot, in which we don’t have massive income inequality.“

All of this happened amid a bitter political fight in Washington over the Trans Pacific Partnership trade pact and an effort by the Obama administration to fast-track the TPP through the House and Senate, avoiding lengthy debates over the specifics of the agreement. Clinton, courting Union votes was inconsistent on her position regarding the TPP. Unions and a great majority of Progressives and Liberals vehemently opposed both fast track and the TPP, which many dubbed NAFTA on steroids, referring to the North American Free Trade Agreement championed by Clinton’s husband, President Bill Clinton.

While the Obama administration asserts that the TPP will improve working conditions and wages for workers in Asia-Pacific countries-the agreement excludes China-the experience of other similarly structured agreements would tend to discredit that possibility. Though the actual text of the TPP has been kept a secret, including from lawmakers, parts of the text have been leaked and posted to Wiki-leaks on the internet. Less talked about are the ISDS or “investor-to-state dispute settlement “ courts which would allow corporate run arbitration boards to decide and impose damage awards against states and the federal government or to overturn US law, including constitutionally “protected” civil rights.

Far-fetched? Wording similar to that found in other pro-corporate trade agreements is reported to be found throughout the TPP. Critics and observers point to growing abuse by corporations in ISDS courts to the detriment of workers and sovereign governments. For example, a Swedish company is currently suing Germany for a decision to begin phasing out nuclear power in favor of clean and renewable energy sources.

Egypt’s decision to raise its minimum wage was met by a lawsuit from a Multinational company, the Veolia Group, according to France’s Le Monde Diplomatique. Veolia decided that the increase in the minimum wage was simply too much. Under the NAFTA agreement, the Canadian Company Methanex sued the government when California decided to prohibit the use of a gasoline additive. The government ultimately prevailed in the case, but at a monumental cost in court and legal fees.

These are just three of numerous examples of the sort of corporate assault against the treasury and the constitution the United States might face in ISDS courts. There is well placed concern about environmental and human rights abuses which could result from the agreement. It is conceivable, and even likely, as with the Egyptian minimum wage case, that the government could be sued and journalists jailed for writing or reporting pieces that could be argued resulted in lost revenue for corporations.

Moreover, the TPP was touted as producing jobs for Americans, yet lawmakers could not agree on a key provision of the fats track bill which would set aside one billion Dollars for US workers displaced by TPP. Even more, it could have a disastrous and destabilizing effect on other global markets, particularly emerging markets like Africa. It was that duplicitous nature which hardened many Americans against the agreement, a position that Sanders has remained very consistent and very clear about his distrust for the agreement.

Recall that many refer to TPP as NAFTA on steroids. NAFTA itself had disastrous effects on both the US and Mexico. In 2011 Dustin Ensinger wrote in Economy In Crisis that,”
highly subsidized corn flooding the Mexican market has displaced millions of rural farmers…” and that, “Mexican officials had promised that NAFTA would result in the “export of goods, not people.” That, however, has turned out to be far from reality. Since NAFTA was signed into law, illegal immigrants in the U.S. has increased to 12 million today from 3.9 million in 1993, accounting for an overall increase of over 300 percent.

There is ample reason to believe TPP will prove at least as damaging to the US economy and to be detrimental to foreign workers as well. Sanders, then an Independent representative from Vermont noted no on NAFTA, a position he has never waffled over. (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/01/01/1255736/-NAFTA-at-20-An-Unhappy-Birthday-and-a-Look-at-the-Roll-Call-Votes-on-Free-Trade-Deals)

Last February on the Senate floor sanders was unequivocally opposed to both NAFTA and TPP:

I think it’s obvious for anyone who has taken a look at this issue that is the TPP is just a new, easy way for corporations to shut down in America and to send jobs abroad. The United States, it is estimated, would lose more than 130,000 to Vietnam and Japan alone if the Trans Pacific Partnership goes into effect.
…and the reason for that is my understanding is that the minimum wage is 56 cents an hour — 56 cents an hour. when you’re dealing with a country like Vietnam…Corporate America has said we want these trade policies and the leaders of both parties have said, yeah, that’s what we will do. I think it is time to say enough is enough. This country is in a major race to the bottom. Workers are working longer hours for lower wages. No American worker should be force to compete with desperate workers around the world who are making pennies an hour…

Beyond the obvious issues and details of TPP which the Obama administration and many republicans and democrats alike support, the way this agreement has been hidden from scrutiny and debate speaks directly to the way this nation is governed and how it responds to its constituents. More than 2000 grassroots organizations and tens of thousands of Americans called congress voicing their displeasure over TPP and the fast track vote. The vote defeating the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) bill, which also halted the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) fast track bill from reaching President Obama’s desk was 126-302. Most observers were quick to point out that the defeat of TAA and TPA were hardly victories for those opposed to TPP. Many of the republican nay votes were more likely partisan in nature, continuing the obstructionist tactics characterizing much of Obama’s presidency. Congress and the senate were quickly at work on a compromise bill. In truth both parties ignored the voice of the people, not over prudent judgment, but in favor of smaller but far better funded special interest groups.


Listen Saturday’s from 11am-1pm to WC Turck, Brian Murray and guests on Chicago’s real alternative media, AM1680, Q4 radio, streaming at www.que4.org.
CAM00236WC Turck is an author, artist, playwright and talk radio host in Chicago. He has been called the most dangerous voice on the Left. His new book “A Tragic Fate: is an unflinching look at the events leading up to the shooting down of Malaysia Air Flight 17.” His first novel, “Broken” was recommended by NAMI for its treatment of PTSD. In 2006 he published “Everything for Love,” a memoir of his experiences during the siege of Sarajevo. He wrote and produced two critically acclaimed plays, “Occupy my Heart” and “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden.” He works with the homeless and foreclosure victims in Chicago. He partners in a weekly radio show dedicated to issues, society and politics with cohost, activist and artist Brian Murray For more information, past shows, videos and articles, visit www.revolutioandbeer.com


The Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) is a conservative think tank with offices in Chicago and Springfield, Illinois, and member of the State Policy Network. IPI is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as of 2011. IPI is also a member of ALEC’s Health and Human Services Task Force and Education Task Force. Senior Budget and Tax Policy Analyst, Amanda Griffin-Johnson, presented model legislation (the “State Employee Health Savings Account Act”) to the HHS task force at ALEC’s 2011 annual meeting.[4] Collin Hitt, Director of Education Policy, is a private sector member of the Education Task Force representing IPI. He sponsored the “Local Government Transparency Act” at the ALEC 2011 States and Nation Policy Summit. In its 2006 annual report the Cato Institute states that it made a grant of $50,000 to the Illinois Policy Institute. The Cato Institute is a libertarian think tank founded by Charles G. Koch and funded by the Koch brothers. .

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