- Created on 02 November 2013
by Aubrey J. Lynch
The U.S. empire is struggling visibly. It is following the well-traveled path of every empire in history. The Chinese, the Japanese, the Romans, the colonialists, the French, the Germans, the English, even Ozymandias have all had their time triumphantly strutting before their subjects in the equivalence of jack boots, as the nations they conquered apparently trembled before them in fear or supplication. In Journals by Aubrey, we see a pitiful, filthy rich U.S. Congress snarling and biting in all directions as the Republicans, responsible for the fastest decline of an empire in all of history, desperately try to regain power so that they can finish off the last bit of wealth that they have not already plundered from a once great nation.
The U.S. decline occurred with breathtaking speed over the course of eight disastrous years of the Bush administration. Bush bet the empire on a roll of the dice to gain control of the oil fields of the Middle East...and lost. The election of a black president who offered hope and change to an exhausted nation was bitter gall for the overwhelmingly white Republican power structure that had gained control of the country by using a "southern strategy" pitting southern, racist whites against Democrat-supporting blacks.
The sting of defeat was further sharpened because Latinos and other people of color joined a record number of blacks as well as women of all colors and, remarkably, a high percentage of white people in rejecting the hatred, cruelty and greed that characterizes the Republican approach to governance. The years since Barack Obama was elected have been marked by ever more visible racism based on debilitating and self-defeating fears.
Republicans have focused on black voters as the number one target in their attempts to regain power. Their blatant efforts to block black people, especially poor black people from voting has caught other people of color, including Latinos in the snare. These unconscionable acts by Republican controlled governmental bodies, including governors and state legislatures, are so obviously undemocratic that they reveal the craven cowardice and insane fear that lie at the heart of the Republican party.
To keep their racist base loyal to the party, they must build on the most basic fear that has infected whites since slaves were first brought to these shores...the fear of revolt and consequent acts of revenge. The best evidence of this foundation of racism is the Second Amendment to the Constitution. It was southern plantation slave owners who pushed for and got the amendment passed. They did so to arm themselves against northern government intervention in the slave trade and to defend themselves against slave revolt and revenge. The irrational and bone-chilling fear of black people has driven the racists ever since.
Devotion to the Second Amendment is the hallmark of the white supremacist militias and the mantra of demagoguing politicians. White people are stockpiling devastating weapons and hoarding ammunition to resist the attack they expect, ostensibly by the government, but just as insanely by black people against whom they are preparing for race war. Their fear of black people has become so intense that they cannot tolerate the sight of a young black person anywhere near their heavily guarded neighborhoods. The thought that these thuggish whites could defend themselves against trained US troops is absurd. One is left with only one conclusion. In the case of governmental breakdown, the targets will be unarmed, unprepared black people.
The Republican politicians who continue to fuel and support this insanity have now backed themselves into a corner. Their rabid base of racists demands that they prevent the implementation of health coverage that will aid poor people. In their fevered brains, "poor" is equivalent to "black." They would rather bring down the government and the world economy before they will allow the outrage of having a black man help the poor. If asked how they will benefit from the collapse of government, no doubt they would point to their stockpile of weapons and proudly announce that they will do what any real American man would do, protect himself and his family from marauding black gangs.
These are the people who have backed the Republicans into a silly corner. Prevent a black president from helping the poor people of the US or bring down the US and world economies. One can only marvel at the response of the Republicans. They actually tried to use that foolish bargaining chip against a brilliant black man.
The underlying premise of the foolishness is, of course, that black people want revenge for the gross, inhuman treatment that they have received at the hands of white people. It does not take a moment's reflection to see how far this expectation is from every day reality. Since the end of slavery, the only thing black people have asked is that we be left in peace to compete on an equal footing with every other human being in the universe. When we are allowed to compete at all, even with obstacles and hindrances, both overt and covert, thrown in the path, we succeed quite well, thank you very much. With all of the racist, obscene, vicious attacks thrown at him, including threats of assassination and military coup, Barack Obama won the presidency twice. Then he has proceeded to govern the ungovernable with brilliance, dignity and forbearance befitting a true son of Africa...Kenya as the birthers continually remind us.
If nothing else, the president's success and willingness to collaborate should erase the fear that lies at the heart of a nearly broken empire. Unfortunately, the hatreds appear to be too deeply ingrained to overcome any hope of rationality.
Read more at http://aubreylynch.webs.com/
- Created on 01 November 2013
Steven Vance | Flickr
The local transit union has called on the CTA to suspend Ventra's rollout.
Just stop it.
That's the gist of the message the local transit worker's union has for the Chicago Transit Authority regarding its rollout of the new Ventra payment service which has been marked by an array of glitches and customer complaints since it began in September.
"Don't use the riding public as guinea pigs,'' Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308 President Robert Kelly said according to the Sun-Times. During the Thursday news conference, Kelly called for the CTA to halt the Ventra rollout until officials could ensure it works properly.
"If you are not ready to go, 100 percent, foolproof, don't institute it. You are only creating havoc and putting your employees and my members in harm's way."
According to Kelly, CTA employees are being "verbally attacked daily by angry riders" frustrated by problems with the new fare payment system, the Tribune reports.
"But they are mad at the wrong person,'' Kelly said. "CTA should stop (Ventra) now, pull back, until they can work out all the kinks.''
A CTA spokesman disputed claims workers have been targeted by angry customers, Fox Chicago reports.
Among glitches that have drawn public ire since the rollout started are reports of the contactless Ventra cards -- as well as other credit cards in passengers' wallet -- being charged multiple times for the same fare.
Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus users had a host of problems when replacement Ventra cards were mailed weeks after a crucial activation email was sent to customers. Consequently, the CTA is now paying almost a quarter million dollars for outbound courtesy calls intended to smooth the registration process.
Just Tuesday, a Ventra card reader at the Damen Blue Line stop in Wicker Park apparently malfunctioned causing this long line of commuters -- smack in the middle of the morning rush:
The CTA told media it had no plans to change the self-imposed deadlines of Nov. 15 -- when the agency stops selling magnetic strip cards and accepting Chicago Card Plus rides -- and Dec. 15 when the old magnetic strip cards become completely obsolete making Ventra the only accepted payment.
- Created on 01 November 2013
Chicago is expected to pay $93 million in police overtime this year. | Michael Kappel | Flickr
Chicago is expected to pay nearly triple the amount budgeted for 2013 police overtime costs.
The Chicago Police Department's overtime spending will hit $93 million this year, Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said during a budget hearing before the City Council Thursday. McCarthy estimated the force has already burned through $70 million so far.
According to the Sun-Times, the actual police overtime budget for the year was $32 million, two-thirds of which the department exhausted in just the first three months of the year.
Several aldermen and the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, the officers union, have repeatedly called for the city to hire more officers. Meanwhile, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his top cop insist it's cheaper to spend on overtime than it is to hire more "full-loaded" officers with benefits.
Ald. Ricardo Muñoz (22nd) and others pressed McCarthy over the "out of control" overtime pay as an indication the department is woefully understaffed.
According to NBC Chicago, McCarthy said staffing levels are sufficient, saying "we are meeting with attrition and staying with it."
McCarthy said current staffing levels are at 12,538 police while Mike Shields, FOP president, tells NBC the number is a few hundred bodies off with only 12,125 officers.
A Tribune analysis of U.S. Census data and FBI stats says Chicago still has the most cops per-capita among the nation's five largest cities, but has fewer civilian office workers to support them compared to cities like New York. In his promise to add 1,000 new officers to the force, Emanuel reassigned many officers on desk duty to beat assignments.
Other points mentioned during the hearing were the use of "moonlighting" cops for special events, city regulation of cell phone re-sellers to curb black market sales of stolen phones and McCarthy's refusal to accept patrolling help from state police.
- Created on 31 October 2013
CHICAGO (AP) — More than 2 million low-income Illinois residents who receive food stamps will soon see their benefits cut.
Beginning Friday, a temporary increase in food stamp dollars from the 2009 economic stimulus will expire.
The change will affect more than 47 million Americans. It comes as Congress is negotiating additional cuts to the program, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.
The Illinois Hunger Coalition says about 349,000 seniors and 886,000 children statewide will be affected.
Executive Director Diane Doherty says the benefits have provided "an important stepping stone" for struggling families.
Benefits vary based on income and other factors. The Agriculture Department says the cuts will mean a family of four will receive $36 less per month.
Nationally, the program has more than doubled in cost since 2008.