Matching Grant Challenge
alexPureWhen I met Alexander Cockburn, one of his first questions to me was: “Is your hate pure?” It was the question he asked most of the young writers he mentored. These were Cockburn’s rules for how to write political polemics: write about what you care about, write with passion, go for the throat of your enemies and never back down. His admonitions remain the guiding stylesheet for our writers at CounterPunch. Please help keep the spirit of this kind of fierce journalism alive by taking advantage of  our matching grant challenge which will DOUBLE every donation of $100 or more. Any of you out there thinking of donating $50 should know that if you donate a further $50, CounterPunch will receive an additional $100. And if you plan to send us $200 or $500 or more, he will give CounterPunch a matching $200 or $500 or more. Don’t miss the chance. Double your clout right now. Please donate. –JSC (This photo of Alexander Cockburn and Jasper, on the couch that launched 1000 columns, was taken in Petrolia by Tao Ruspoli)
 Day 19

Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.

Unlike other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it.

CounterPunch’s website is supported almost entirely by subscribers to the print edition of our magazine. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads.

The continued existence of CounterPunch depends solely on the support and dedication of our readers. We know there are a lot of you. We get thousands of emails from you every day. Our website receives millions of hits and nearly 100,000 readers each day. And we don’t charge you a dime.

Please, use our brand new secure shopping cart to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription our monthly magazine and a gift sub for someone or one of our explosive  books, including the ground-breaking Killing Trayvons. Show a little affection for subversion: consider an automated monthly donation. (We accept checks, credit cards, PayPal and cold-hard cash….)

pp1

or
cp-store

To contribute by phone you can call Becky or Deva toll free at: 1-800-840-3683

Thank you for your support,

Jeffrey, Joshua, Becky, Deva, and Nathaniel

CounterPunch
 PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558

The Politics of Capitulation

Is Obama About to Betray Those Who Re-Elected Him Less Than Two Months Ago?

by SCOTT HARRIS

One of the most contentious issues in the current “fiscal cliff” negotiations that’s angering progressive activists is President Obama’s offer to the GOP to change the way cost of living adjustments are made to Social Security benefits. According to economists working with the group Social Security Works, moving to what is called a “chained” consumer price index will reduce benefits for the average 65-year-old by about $6,000 in the first 15 years of retirement, and $16,000 over 25 years.

I’m not surprised, but still angry. Obama has always been a failure as a negotiator with Republicans. He reliably makes major concessions before negotiations even begin – and in exchange for little or nothing from the other side.

In this case, there’s no excuse for concessions like the chained CPI on Social Security. First, by law, Social Security contributes not one thin dime to the nation’s deficit. The fact that Social Security is on the table at all in the fiscal cliff talks is indefensible. But apart from that fact, poll after poll tells us that 60 to 70 percent of the nation (including Republicans) oppose benefit cuts to Social Security and Medicare. Further polling tells us that a majority of Americans say they will blame Republicans if there’s no deal – and taxes go up before the fiscal cliff deadline on Jan. 1. If a deal is not reached before the end of the year, the GOP will be forced to approve legislation reinstating tax cuts for the middle class in the early days of the new Congress.

More importantly, there are many alternatives to pulling the trigger on the chained CPI. Richard Eskow of the Campaign for America’s Future has summarized practical ways to produce revenue and make budget cuts that don’t place the burden on poor and working families, which are summarized in his article, 8 Deficit Reducers That Are More Ethical – And More Effective – Than the “Chained CPI”.

If Obama had any true leadership qualities, core beliefs or a spine, he’d rally the nation to protect social safety net programs while standing by his previous pledge to impose tax rate increases on those making $250,000 or more a year. If he did use the power of his office to wage this fight, he’d have the support of a strong majority of the nation, and likely force the Republicans to cave.

And if they didn’t concede, Obama and the Democrats could rally voters to punish the GOP in the 2014 mid-term election. It’s a perfect storm against the right-wing, which predictably the Democrats are poised to squander without a fight.

Obama, trying to meet GOP House Speaker John Boehner somewhere in the middle, has already backed down on his tax pledge, moving away from his campaign “line in the sand,” demanding higher tax rates on those making more than $250,000. He’s now proposed limiting higher rates to those that make $400,000 or more – and that will likely move up further to $500,000 or higher before it’s all over.

Like the “team player” she is, Nancy Pelosi, despite her repeated promises during the 2012 election campaign to protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits, is backing Obama on the chained CPI. Can Nancy spell the word “hypocrite?”

The politics of “compromise,” a more benign word for targeting the nation’s most vulnerable elderly, sick and politically weak citizens, is “exhibit A” in explaining why the majority of people in the U.S. are disgusted with politicians and politics. The permanent government bought and paid for by the 1 percent usually wins and the rest of us usually lose.

Our only hope is an independent, militant progressive protest movement – divorced from the Democratic Party – that can quickly mobilize masses of people in the street to demand the government do what the majority of people want, restoring some semblance of democracy.

I think I’ll give the Occupy Wall Street movement a call to see what they’re doing next week…

Scott Harris is executive producer of Between The Lines Radio Newsmagazine, a weekly, syndicated public affairs program. http://btlonline.org    email: betweenthelines@snet.net