Tag Archives: economics

Breaking: Glen Beck derides medal of Honor recipients, compares Afghanistan to the Wounded Knee Massacre. Says Obama is giving them out like Pez. Here are the facts.

Just moments ago Radio Host Glen Beck, following an interview with draft dodger, Ted Nugent, in which they mocked child victims of gun violence, accused President Obama of “giving them out like Pez,” the candies dispensed by a small toy. Beck and his on air staff, drew a comparison to the Wounded Knee Massacre of Lakota in South Dakota, december 29th 1890, resulting in the deaths of as many as 300 civilians. The army awarded 20 Medals of Honor. The army still has not withdrawn those medals. Beck attempted to couch his words, but continued with the remarks, as a means of impugning the President. Instead, his words were a direct and complete insult to the service and sacrifice of Afghan veterans as a whole, and medal of honor recipients. And once again, he was completely wrong, or worse, misleading to his audience, which has shown a penchant in the past for accepting his irresponsible and dangerously uninformed opinions without regard to the facts.

Beck and his staff further mocked the bravery of MoH recipients, saying that nearly all of the awards Obama gave were to living veterans, when in the past, according to Beck, they were given posthumously. In fact during the 8 years of conflict in Vietnam, 1965-73, there were 248 awards given, with 156 of those posthumously.

Begun during the Civil War, the nation has honored some 3400 men and women with the highest award given for bravery and sacrifice during war. There have been 7 MoH recipients from the 13 year long conflict in Afghanistan. 2 of those were awarded by President George Bush. There were 4 given in Iraq by Bush, and 2 by President Clinton for the Somalia operation, which lasted less than a year.

Glen Beck is frre to give his opinion to the wind and any street urchin that cares to listen while he pontificates from his filthy soapbox, but the public airwaves are just that. No one will take away that right. He has no constitutional right to be on the radio, particularly with this sort of irresponsible blather and partisanship.

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Illinois Senate Passes SB 282: SB 282 is simple legislation that provides transparency by requiring all publicly-traded corporations to disclose the amount of corporate income taxes they pay to the State of Illinois.

IIRON, Illinois People’s Action, SOUL,

Lakeview Action Coalition and Northside POWER

 For Immediate Release—November 28, 2012

 For more information, contact:                                            Erica Hade, 312.343.0322 (mobile)

                                                                                                Kristi Sanford, 773.456.4024 (mobile)

 Illinois Senate Passes SB 282

Bill Provides Information to Help Make Tax System Fair to Everyone

SPRINGFIELD, IL—Today, SB 282, the Illinois Corporate Disclosure and Responsibility Act passed the Illinois Senate.  The measure was sponsored by Senate President John Cullerton and Senators Heather Steans and Michael Noland.

“It’s high time we review corporate incentives and breaks to ensure that our policies encourage growth while maintaining fundamental fairness and accountability to taxpayers,” said Cullerton.  “This legislation can help to provide the legislature with a quantitative metric to evaluate our tax code and the need for business tax breaks and incentives.”

According to the Illinois Department of Revenue, two-thirds of corporations pay no Illinois corporate income tax at all.  Yet our current system hides the real impact of tax breaks and loopholes for big corporations and special interests—even from state legislators.  This is crucial information that the voters and public officials need to make informed tax policy decisions.

“Government should be as transparent as possible,” said Majority Leader Representative Barbara Flynn Currie.  “The better informed policy makers are the better public policy decisions they make.”  It is likely that the house will vote on SB 282 next week.

SB 282 is simple legislation that provides transparency by requiring all publicly-traded corporations to disclose the amount of corporate income taxes they pay to the State of Illinois.  The Secretary of State would disclose this information to the general public on the Internet a full two years after the fact. 

To have an equitable tax system where everyone pays their fair share, it is essential that corporations disclose this information.  If big corporations that can afford it don’t pay their fair share, that puts the burden on small business and families who can’t afford it.  With two-thirds of corporations paying no corporate income tax in Illinois, that tax contributes less than 10% of total state taxes and fees compared to personal income taxes and sales taxes that make up about 80% of the total, according to FY2012 projections by the Governor’s office (http://www.state.il.us/budget/2012%20Three%20Year%20Projection.pdf).

“It’s just not right that most corporations don’t pay any Illinois corporate income taxes, while ordinary people are playing by the rules and paying their share,” says Rev. Marilyn Pagán-Banks, IIRON President.  “Everyone should be playing by the same rules and paying their fair share.”

Enough! My response to an email from Illinois Senator Mark Kirk

So what do you want to do, Mister Kirk? Go  to war with Iran? Have the two wars over the last decade not been enough? Has the money squandered, the bad will created, the coffins buried or the thousands maimed and crippled not been enough? Are the war profiteering companies and corporations that pull your strings to the detriment of your constituents and this nation’s reputation and future hungry for more federal tax dollars that you and others like you may parade as patriotism?

 The war industry, of which you are both a pawn and a peddler, is the true reason this nation is racing towards insolvency. You would instead blame the poor, the unions and the working class; those who feel the real impact of your policies and who would almost exclusively feed their children into the death culture you help to perpetuate.

 Let me be clear, I have never supported you, and would never support you. I did say a prayer for your recovery with your recent illness. Like any sudden and catostrphic illness, one would hope that it brings clarity and a deeper humanistic perspective. It seems clear that you are so beholden to anti-humanist, anti-religous beliefs regarding human rights, dignity and freedom, that you remain undetoured from that darker destructive anti-American path. Or, perhaps, you are too entwined in crimes and schemes, and lack the moral fortitude to face them justly.

 This is not a nation of fools and the greedy? Capitalism is not our religion. War is not the natural state of affairs here. Capitalism is an economic theory, tempered by the dictates and values of the society. In practice it is either a tool or an oppressor. You have supported its misuse as an oppressor of millions. But you and your deeply mis-directed party would make it the national religion serving only  a few, while teasing the rest of us with crumbs. We are not a nation of fools, who are tricked into war and hate and destructiveness by the fear you proliferate or the patriotism you pretend.

 Across this nation hunmdreds of thousands have already risen against what you stand for as part of the Occupy Movement. I can assure you millions more support them. And I among them will stand in their ranks as a voice and a body for peace, and to help forge a better direction for this nation.

 As for those who peddle the pretend issues, short-sighted partisan-ship, or outright lies, history will cast you in a shameful light, without doubt. I pray for your health and wish you a speedy recovery with all my heart, but pray that soon men like you will no longer represent this good nation, for fear that having men like you anywhere near the reigns of power will surely wreck and ruin us as a nation beyond repair.

 Most sincerely, and resolutely yours,

 W.C. Turck: Author, Activist, War survivor, Patriot and Illinois voter. 

— On Fri, 4/13/12, Senator Mark Kirk <mark_kirk@enews.senate.gov> wrote:

From: Senator Mark Kirk <mark_kirk@enews.senate.gov>
Subject: ICYMI – WSJ Article Iran Talks Déjà Vu
To: williamturck@yahoo.com
Date: Friday, April 13, 2012, 12:28 PM

Mark Kirk U.S.<br /><br /><br /><br />
 Senator for Illinois

April 13, 2012

Obama gives Tehran reasons to doubt his seriousness.
American and Iranian negotiators will meet this weekend in Istanbul to try to hash out a deal over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, and everyone says the stakes are high. President Obama is even warning the mullahs that it’s their “last chance” to come to terms with international demands. Or else? Mr. Obama won’t specify, but Iranians can be forgiven if they don’t take the implied U.S. threat seriously.
This isn’t the first encounter between Mr. Obama’s envoys (along with the other four permanent Security Council members, plus Germany) and the Islamic Republic. In October 2009, months after the turmoil of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s stolen election, hopes were high that Iran was primed to reach a “grand bargain” with the West.
“Iran experts and regional analysts say . . . that Iran finally may be ready to make a deal,” reported the New York Times. “The analysts cite a confluence of factors, from Iran’s internal political crisis to the change in leadership in Washington, and one overriding point: Iran’s leadership may have achieved much of what it set out to accomplish when it stepped up its clandestine nuclear program in 1999.”
It didn’t work out that way. After initially appearing to agree to a proposal to allow Iran to continue enriching uranium outside its borders, Iran rejected the offer.
Far from being satisfied with its nuclear progress up to that point, Tehran continues to enrich its stockpile of uranium to higher concentrations and in more heavily defended sites. A report last November by the International Atomic Energy Agency all but accuses Iran of hiding the “military dimensions” of its nuclear program, and IAEA inspectors have repeatedly been denied access to suspected military sites.
So what hope is there for negotiations now? The Administration insists Iran is feeling the squeeze of the financial sanctions Mr. Obama signed at the end of last year, citing Iran’s depreciating currency as evidence. Then there’s the possibility that Israel may strike before Iran reaches what Israel’s defense minister recently called the “zone of immunity” from attack.
As for the terms of the deal the U.S. is prepared to offer, that seems to be changing by the minute. Mr. Obama is reported to have sent word to the Iranians via Turkish channels that the U.S. would be prepared to accept Iran’s civilian nuclear program so long as the Iranians close down their underground Fordo enrichment facility near Qom, relinquish their stockpile of medium-enriched uranium, and offer verifiable guarantees never to build a nuclear weapon. On Wednesday, though, White House spokesman Jay Carney appeared to backpedal by calling for the “full suspension of uranium enrichment.”
If we were the Iranian regime, we would probably take whatever deal is put on the table. It would offer a reprieve against the possibility of military strikes and lead to the easing of sanctions. And its terms could always be violated at a more convenient time, openly or in secret.
Then again, Mr. Obama has given Iran plenty of reasons to believe they can reject a deal outright and not face any serious consequences. For starters, he has made no secret of his opposition to an Israeli military strike, which could persuade Tehran either that Israel won’t strike after all or that it will do so alone and therefore to less effect. The President also previously resisted the very sanctions he now trumpets as his finest Iran accomplishment and the reason diplomacy may now have a chance to work.
That pattern continues in the Senate, where Harry Reid is now pushing a watered-down sanctions bill that gives the Administration wide discretion in applying the bill’s penalties. The Majority Leader also closed the bill to additional amendments, most conspicuously one from Illinois Republican Mark Kirk.
The Kirk amendment—which would have more of an impact on Iran than the rest of the bill combined—would close loopholes in existing sanctions, including one that allows a handful of Iranian financial institutions (and the Iranian government itself) to continue to do business with the outside world. It would also strengthen disclosure requirements for foreign financial institutions tempted to do business with Iran, effectively putting them to the choice of whether they want to have business ties with the U.S. or with the Islamic Republic. All but the most rogue operations will choose the former.
Economic sanctions are always a game of whack-a-mole, and we doubt they will persuade Tehran to abandon its nuclear ambitions. But the Administration’s unwillingness to ratchet up sanctions as far as they can go at the very moment that they’re supposed to provide the U.S. with diplomatic leverage says something about the Administration’s seriousness—or lack thereof. The Iranians are smart enough to figure that out.
In an interview Mr. Obama gave earlier this year on Iran to journalist Jeffrey Goldberg, he warned that “as President of the United States, I don’t bluff.” We were glad to hear him say it, and it would be nice to believe it. The only mystery is why he is giving Iran incentives to call that bluff.
A version of this article appeared April 13, 2012, on page A12 in some U.S. editions of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Iran Talks Déjà Vu.
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A Better World not a New World

I am often ask what the Occupy Movement wants. The Movement has clearly made its intentions and demands known, for those who wish to hear or read. For those who do not wish to know, nothing I write here will convince them. Their own realization will come with time, especially for poor, middle class and even upper middle class people who continue voting against their own economic and social interests.  I do not speak for the movement. I support it fully, and believe in it, but I can only speak for myself.

A recent conversation brought up a crucial point, and what I feel is a fundamental misunderstanding with regards to the movement, at least as I see things. The conversation began regarding so-called anarchists, agent provocateurs, and others who might foment violence within the group, and how that might alienate people who are on the fence regarding whether to support or not support the movement. My immediate reaction, was that if they could “go either way,” they didn’t really understand, and were unlikely to understand what the movement is about. These people are reeds of grass, and inclined to blow  where the wind is blowing, which is hardly a character of people who stand by their ideals. I stand by that.

I was then asked how these people “will fit into your new world?” New world? The media has carefully crafted a narrative on how the Occupy movement is violent and out of control. It would have their hostage audiences believe the “Occupiers” hate success, want hand outs from the government which are ultimately stolen from the wealthy, that it wants banks eradicated and corporations dismantled. In that narrative are shades of Pol Pot’s pogroms in Cambodia, or resetting the social and economic clock to year zero as with the French Revolution, and overt comparisons to Stalinist Russia. Nothing, nothing could be further from the truth.

Last night, at a general assembly, I witnessed an intervention between two members that nearly came to blows in a fight. The intervention was carried out in parliamentary fashion, with strict rules of oder. Grievances and views were offered freely and honestly. To the credit of those involved in the actual altercation, their respect for the movement had them willingly compliant with the judgement of the whole body at the GA. Ultimately, both parties were suspended from any Occupy activities and locations for a week.  

No one in the movement that I know whats to outlaw banks, eliminate corporations and confiscate the wealth of the so-called 1%. What I want, and what I hear from many, many in the movement, and which is consistent with the movement’s demands and actions is a vision of a better world.

Funny that too few in this nation question the idea of a draft for the military in a time of war. It is the responsibility of every citizen, we are told, to defend the nation in a national emergency. A few years a go I witnessed a swearing-in ceremony for new citizens to this country. Women, old men and grandmothers, their right hand raise, repeated the oath administered by a judge, that in a time of crisis, they too could be called to serve their nation. Yet, somehow the rich and powerful in this country now assert that when called to do their part, and that they have a responsibility to the nation, they are absolved, and that any mention of their responsibility to the nation and their neighbor is immoral or communist.

I will speak for myself here. I am not against corporations. I am against corporate greed, and power that eclipses, undermine or extinguishes that of individuals. I am for responsible corporations, who pay their fair share and profit and succeed morally and ethically. I am not against banks. I am against the religion of money, and the invention of scams like derivatives and credit default swaps that were just a way of stealing money, without calling it  theft(Explain to me that inventing a scheme to market risk investments of$700trillion based upon barely $23trillion in actual realestate is not theft). http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-700-trillion-elephant-room-theres

I am not for taking money from the wealthy and giving it to the “poor.” I am for a society that does not allow corporations-profitable corporations to siphon money from the treasury that could otherwise benefit fellow citizens in need.  I am for those who are lucky enough or blessed enough to be wealthy, that they also contribute their fair share to sustaining a peaceful, respectful and progressive society equal in the dispensation of justice and opportunity, rather than a stastus quo, wink-and-a-nod defacto caste society. 

I am not anti-media. I am against a media that acts and has become a marketing wing of corporations to the detriment of free discourse, dissent and the unvarnished reporting of wrong doing, wherever it may occur. I am against any media that acts as a mafia lawyer with the intention of allowing, rationalizing or whitewashing the undermining of this republic, and I am against a media that plays to the lowest common denominators in society by describing itself as a business first. We have seen the results of that alibi for at least the last two decades. Free and unbiased factual news is imperative to the survival of this nation and to the world. remember, marketing is nothing more than the controlling the message. If it is necessary to control the perception of something, that implies something needs to be hidden.

I am for human rights. Iam not for picking and choosing human rights, nor do I subscribe to a tiered application of human rights. Whether by god, birth, default or inheritance, human rights  are invioble to each person regardless of gender, orientation, religion, race, age, status or wealth. And I assert to the last breath in my body that corporations are not people, but are entities, made up of autonomous people, for business only, and that they are entitled to profit within the context of human-centered society and within the context of human-centered laws. The rights of the corporation reside in the indiviuals, and not as a collective that unfairly outweighs others.

This is what I believe, and what I find within the movement, which is why I have and many others have sacrificed mightily for the movement. No sane person wishes to tear down the world as it exists. We want a better world not a new world? Do you?

Occupy My Heart: The radio Show on Best of the Left

The Play that made national headlines, changed hearts and energized a movement is now available on Best of the Left at the link below:

Filled with heart and truth, Occupy My Heart: A revolutionary Christmas Carol is not just a story for the holidays, but a tale of our times. You will be touched in this modern retelling of the Dickens classic.

Please share it with your friends, especially those who still think the struggle of our times is not the co-opting of our great nation by corporate and financial greed.

Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures, the essence of the evolutionary spirit…

Interesting how the words of a villain in a movie have now become the mantra of the greedy in this nation. From the movie Wall Street, with Michael Douglas, the amoral Gordon Gecko proclaims greed as his religion. The words are played proudly as introductions before numberous financial and investing programs. This morning, on WLS radio, host Don Wade crafted a monologue around the quote, while mocking the “Politically Correct” idea of “Love and Kindness,” in the pejorative.

It struck me that we could substitute other words for greed, such as say, rape, and the phrase works just as well:

“Rape, for lack of a better word, is good. Rape is right, Rape works…” because if your ultimate goal is simply to take what YOU decide is yours, want sex without compromise, and merely as a physical release, want to terrify, belittle, degrade and perhaps impregnate someone, then by the definitions and standards of the 1%, rape is good.

But Greed is its own form of rape. It is the moral rape of an economy and community. It is the perversion of passion and desire, because, unlike passion and desire, inherent in the word greed is a lack of boundaries and the exaltation of self above all others. Greed is opposite of community and love. Greed is an angle. Greed is an exploration of the limits of the moral, ethic and legal tolerance of society and of others. It looks for the weakness in our morality.

The standard use to be competition in business, but greed has made business, competition and government predatory and abusive. Greed makes everything not simply negotiable but target-able for acquisition and destruction, as we have seen; morality, the justice system, freedom, commerce, life. And none of that is for the benefit of society, but wholly for the  pornographic benefit of a few, to the detriment of society. That isn’t business, it should be a crime. 


Staging a protest — on a makeshift stage: Outdoor reworking of ‘A Christmas Carol’ makes use of actors who have been drawn into the protest movement

originally published in the Chicago Tribune. All ights reserved by B. Brotman and the Chicago Tribune:

December 24, 2011|By Barbara Brotman, Chicago Tribune reporter

The audience members began to arrive, walking behind a man carrying a sign reading, “Where are the jobs created by the tax cuts for the wealthy?”

Occupy Chicago was putting on a show.

The set was ready. In front of the memorial to Abraham Lincoln in Grant Park, a bench was hammered onto pieces of plywood to keep it from being blown over. Rolling wardrobes on the sides were anchored against the wind by backpacks. Scene lists were duct-taped to the tall columns on each side.

“I like that Abe Lincoln is looking over us,” said Teresa Veramendi, looking up at the president’s somber, seated figure. “I think he would approve.”

“Occupy My Heart: A Revolutionary Christmas Carol,” by writer-activist William Turck, is a modern take on Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”:

On a cold, snowy Christmas Eve, an ambitious Chicago banker loses his job and his money-hungry girlfriend, encounters a former love who is part of the Occupy movement, is visited by three spirits who show him painful truths, and finds redemption.

“It really stays pretty true to the classic Dickens tale of somebody who has sold out all their values to the pursuit of money and isn’t really happy,” said Zach Johnson-Dunlop, 28, who plays the banker.

The action is set amid a protest, and last week it was seen by audience members who had just come from one. The premiere — a single outdoor performance Friday afternoon — was coordinated to begin at the end of a protest march that set out from LaSalle and Jackson.

The small and chilled crowd, joined by several perplexed tourists, watched and occasionally participated, to director Hannah Friedman’s delight.

The actors gently shooed away a man who had walked on stage to take close-up pictures of what he thought was a real TV newscast but was actually part of the show. And one Occupy regular kept joining the actors portraying protesters in the show.

Turck conceived of the play just before Thanksgiving. As he attended Occupy Chicago’s general assemblies, he was struck by how many theater people he was meeting.

“I thought, ‘Boy, if we could channel this talent, there’s no better form of communication, heart to heart, than art,'” he said.

Christmas was a little more than a month away. And Turck happened to be a great fan of Dickens.

“On DVD somewhere, I’ve got just about every version of ‘A Christmas Carol,'” he said.

Turck had his concept. He banged out the script in a week, returned to Occupy’s general assembly “and tried to convince people I was sane.”

“He jumped up and said, ‘I have written a play,'” said Veramendi, 26, an actress who teaches theater in Chicago schools. “People were very excited. … Everyone cheered.

“It’s a great vehicle to get people interested and to bring more people into the conversation who might not come out to a protest — but who might come to a play.”

Friedman, 22, who has been an assistant director and stage manager at Lookingglass Theatre Company, Piven Theatre Workshop and Chicago Dramatists, saw a notice on a Chicago theater website asking for actors and a director for an Occupy play. She met with Turck and Veramendi.

“I got a chance to read the script, and I really liked it a lot,” Friedman said. “He’s taken this classic — it’s almost become an icon in American culture — and turned it into a revolutionary story.”

Turck’s version differs in one important respect. “Our banker, Josh, is a likable character. He’s not Scrooge,” he said. “His arguments are compelling.

“We tried to be very realistic. We didn’t want to be cartoonish. We really wanted people to think.”

On Friday, actors changed costumes — all of which included coats — on stage, in the open. No one used mics, and though traffic hummed, sirens yowled and trains whistled, the actors generally made themselves heard.

The audience, standing behind or sitting on the steps up to the memorial, chanted along with the play’s protesters and tried to stay warm. One young man passed out chemical hand warmers; another, cookies.

At the end, people wiggled upward-raised fingers, an Occupy expression of approval, and gave enthusiastic reviews.

“It was funny, but it also had real events and actions. And I liked the turnaround of the main character,” said Ryan Griffin, who added powerful praise for an outdoor performance in winter:

“I was really getting cold, and I wanted to get out of here. But I really wanted to see the play.”

“Occupy My Heart” will be performed indoors, for free, at 8 p.m. Monday at the Prop Theater, 3502-04 N. Elston Ave., and at 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday at Studio BE, 3110 N. Sheffield Ave.

A radio play the cast recorded was to be broadcast at 10 a.m. Saturday on WCPT, 820 AM, during Marshall Stern’s “Awakened America” program. A podcast of the show was scheduled to be posted soon at bit.ly/uH3oBb.


The Fusion of Art and Activism, in the evolution of a movement. On December 23rd thousands will make Chicago and Occupy history in Grant Park for the first performance of “Occupy My Heart: A revolutionary Christmas Carol” The march will begin at 2pm, arriving at the Lincoln Memorial at Congress and Columbus for a 3pm performance of a new, innovative and family-friendly retelling of the Dickens’ classic, with the glorious skyline of Chicago’s Loop at the backdrop.

Based upon the Dickens classic, Occupy My Hearttells the story of Josh, an ambitious Chicago banker, who one cold and snowy Christmas Eve loses his job and girlfriend. Josh happens upon Kay, an old love, protesting with the Occupy movement. Where they once found cause to change the world, Josh is now lost to the greed of Wall Street. Where once he fought for the cause and dignity of every man, Josh’s heart is now indifferent to the suffering around him. But on that frosty Christmas Eve night Josh will be visited by of the oddest ever spirits three spirits that will show him that other world, the one that might have been with Kay, a world of hope and decency and dignity for all. But can a cynical heart be changed in a single night? Can that heart be changed enough to ask or beg forgiveness and a second chance with Kay? And can the changing of one heart be enough to change the world?

Our stage!

Set against the backdrop of the Occupy movement, Occupy My Heart is an hour long play written as a celebration of the movement, to bring the spirit and message of this historic moment to a broader audience. There is romance and comedy, politics and regret, heartbreak and hope. Above all this is a story of the 99%, for the 99% and by the 99%. Occupy My Heart, A Revolutionary Christmas Carol is the story of us.

Directed by K. Hannah Friedman, and brought to life by a talented and amazing cast, this family friendly one hour play is a bold, fresh and innovative realization of a holiday classic. Come out and march, or just come for the show and be part of the biggest story in Chicago theater history! And if you can’t make the show, stay tuned for details on how you can hear it on your radio, your iphone or computer anywhere in the world!

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