Thursday, November 28, 2013

Black Friday Protests at Walmart: What You Can Do To Help


Are you fed up with the ongoing immoral, unethical behavior from Dick Cheney's favorite corporation, Walmart?

As one of our favorite progressive sites,, points out:

"Walmart reported a profit of $15.7 billion last year, yet Walmart workers must rely on food stamps, Medicaid and other anti-poverty programs to put food on the table and keep the lights on."

Do you think this doesn't affect you personally? Think again. As notes:

"Taxpayers subsidize this worker exploitation to the tune of $900,000-$1,750,000 per store, and there are over 4,700 Walmart and Sam's Club stores in the U.S."

During the eight horrific years of the Bush/Cheney's corporatist regime, no action was taken against Walmart. Today, however, it's a different story.

From As

"Fed-up workers have walked off the job at Walmart stores in Dallas, Seattle, Chicago, Miami and Southern California. And Walmart is facing federal prosecution for its pattern of illegal firings and threats to workers across at least 13 states."

Would you like to help, or participate in the upcoming Black Friday Walmart protests? Go here.

Be sure to also check out the essential progressive Web site,

Thursday, November 21, 2013

JFK Assassination, 50 Years Later: Taking a Look at the Mysterious Life of George de Mohrenschildt


(Note: this is a guest post by Tim Fleming about the late George de Mohrenschildt. A mysterious and fascinating figure for JFK assassination researchers, de Mohrenschildt became friends with Lee Harvey Oswald in 1962. Be sure to check out Tim's blog, Left of the Looking Glass).

If you want to unravel the mysteries of the JFK case, all you have to do is follow one George de Mohrenschildt, CIA covert asset, oil geologist, Russian royalty and international man of mystery. It can be said, with only the slightest bit of exaggeration, that de Mohrenschildt knew everyone involved in The Big Hit.

De Mohrenschildt was well acquainted with the Bush family. De Mohrenschildt's nephew, Eddie Hooker, had been George H.W. Bush's prep school roommate at Phillips Academy in Massachusetts. De Mohrenschildt and Hooker went into the oil business in West Texas at the same time that Bush was working there as a Dresser Industries employee. Speaking of Dresser Industries, it was closely aligned with a fashion/sportswear business in Dallas called Nardi’s. De Mohrenschildt’s wife Jeanne worked at Nardi’s in the 1950s alongside Abraham Zapruder. Yes, that Zapruder: the man who made the most infamous home movie of all time. While Jeanne designed the clothing, Abe cut the patterns. Think about that for a moment. The man who filmed the murder of JFK worked closely with the wife of the accused assassin’s best friend. My head hurts.

The De Mohrenschildt family was steeped in an intelligence background. George's older brother Dmitri worked, on many occasions, with Allen Dulles of the OSS/CIA. George himself started doing covert work for the CIA in the 1950s. When he moved to Dallas in 1952 he joined the Dallas Petroleum Club and the Council on Foreign Relations; both organizations’ membership lists read like a who’s who of Kennedy assassination suspects.

One of De Mohrenschildt’s most dangerous CIA assignments (one that he certainly would have refused had he known the consequences) was "shepherding" or "setting up" Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas in 1962-63. De Mohrenschildt was chosen for the job because of his fluency in the Russian language and his knowledge of Russian culture. Oswald, having lived in Russia on a low-level, false-defector mission for the CIA, was naturally drawn to De Mohrenschildt’s acumen in all things Russian.

The Warren Commission called De Mohrenschildt to testify, but it was hardly a rough interrogation. De Mohrenschildt was asked about his remarkable suntan and then dismissed. Warren Commission member Allen Dulles, who certainly knew De Mohrenschildt, cleverly steered the questioning away from the most dangerous areas.

That would have been the end of it, except that a couple of FBI memos addressing George H.W. Bush's involvement in the aftermath of the assassination surfaced. The memos refer to "George Bush" of the CIA having reported on anti-Castro community activity post-assassination and having named a suspect to be questioned. But Bush has always denied being a CIA employee in 1963. Oops ... Bush got caught practicing spycraft (plausible deniability for being in Dallas the day Kennedy was murdered and snooping on a group of suspects). Naturally serious investigators raised the suspiciousness of the Bush-De Mohrenschildt-Oswald connection.

According to author Russ Baker, " the spring of 1963, immediately after his final communication with Oswald, De Mohrenschildt had traveled to New York and Washington for meetings with CIA and military intelligence officials. He even had met with a top aide to Vice President Johnson. And the (Warren) commission certainly did not learn that one meeting in New York included Thomas Devine, then Poppy Bush’s business colleague in Zapata offshore, who was doing double duty for the CIA."

It is noteworthy that De Mohrenschildt was acquainted with most, if not all, the major suspects in the JFK assassination. He befriended Dallas oil barons, he worked as a covert asset for the CIA, he set up Lee Harvey Oswald, and he even knew Lyndon Johnson.

In Watergate, Deep Throat advised Woodward to follow the money. In the JFK murder case, one need only follow George De Mohrenschildt to track the outline of the plot.

Closing Comment by Marc McDonald:

On March 29, 1977, de Mohrenschildt was contacted by an investigator with the House Select Committee on Assassinations, asking for an interview. That same day, de Mohrenschildt was found dead from a gunshot wound. De Mohrenschildt's death has been called a suicide, but its timing does seem mysterious.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Repost: Five Lingering Unsolved Mysteries From the JFK Assassination



Note: this is an encore presentation of a piece I wrote last year.

It has now been 50 years since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Since then, thousands of books have been written about what is probably the single biggest unsolved mystery of the 20th century. After nearly half a century, it's becoming increasingly clear that we may never fully understand what happened that day.

I myself have long harbored doubts about the government's own seriously flawed version of what happened in Dealey Plaza. The 1964 Warren Commission Report has rightfully been criticized over the years for the inaccuracies and flawed information it contained.

The vast majority of Kennedy assassination books over the decades have concluded that there was a conspiracy to kill JFK. However, many conspiracy theories themselves have been debunked over the years. In fact, sloppy work by conspiracy writers has, in my view, damaged the quest for truth in the case.

Authors like Gerald Posner, who have worked to debunk conspiracies, have in turn been harshly criticized by the pro-conspiracy community. Posner's book, Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK was once praised as a solid rebuttal to the conspiracy writers. But in recent years, Posner has increasingly come under fire and his reputation has taken a beating (even among those who believe Oswald acted alone).

One problem that plagues works like Posner's book (as well as pro-conspiracy works like Oliver Stone's JFK film) is that the case is simply too vast and complex to be adequately addressed in a single work.

After reading numerous JFK assassination books over the years, both pro and con, I still keep an open mind about the case. I'm not 100 percent convinced, either way, although I do lean toward the theory that Oswald did not act alone.

In any case, there are still unresolved mysteries surrounding the JFK Assassination that haven't been adequately explained to this day. Here are five of them.

1. What happened to Mary Moorman's missing fifth photo in Dealey Plaza? Moorman is known for her famous Polaroid photo that captures the JFK assassination at nearly the precise instant the head shot occurred. What is less well-known, though, is that Moorman took other photos that day. One photo she took moments before the assassination reportedly depicted the sixth-floor window of the Texas School Book Depository. The photo was reportedly turned over to Secret Service agents shortly after the assassination and vanished from sight. It has never been published and it remains missing to this day.

2. Why was Oswald's handwritten note to FBI agent James Hosty destroyed? Oswald wrote a note to Hosty a week or two before the assassination. Within hours of Oswald's death on Nov. 24, 1963, the note was torn up and flushed down the toilet by Hosty. Hosty had claimed his superior, Gordon Shanklin, had ordered him to destroy the note. However, Shanklin denied this. The lingering mystery, though, is exactly what the contents of Oswald's note were and why the note was destroyed in the first place.

3. Whatever happened to the mysterious "Babushka Lady," who was seen in the Zapruder film of the assassination? Zapruder's film depicts a woman wearing a head scarf who in turn is filming the JFK motorcade at the moment of the assassination. Given that the Babushka Lady is very close to the motorcade, her film would offer invaluable evidence if it could be located today. The problem is, shortly after the assassination, the Babushka Lady and her film vanished from history. In 1970, a woman named Beverly Oliver came forward and claimed she was the Babushka Lady and that her film was confiscated by the FBI. But her story has never been confirmed.

4. What happened in the mysterious death of Oswald's friend, George de Mohrenschildt? A noted member of the Russian emigre community in Dallas, De Mohrenschildt became an unlikely friend of Oswald in 1962. He testified at length before the Warren Commission in 1964. In later years, he became increasingly depressed and distraught and believed the CIA was persecuting him. On March 29, 1977, de Mohrenschildt was contacted by an investigator with the House Select Committee on Assassinations, asking for an interview. That same day, de Mohrenschildt was found dead from a gunshot wound. De Mohrenschildt's death has been called a suicide, but its timing does seem mysterious.

5. Did Joseph Milteer have foreknowledge of the assassination? 13 days before the assassination, right-wing extremist Milteer gave tape-recorded comments to a Miami police informant that eerily predicted key details of the JFK assassination. Milteer claimed that a conspiracy to kill Kennedy was in the works and described a scenario in which the president would be shot "from an office building with a high-powered rifle." Milteer also predicted that, in the aftermath of the assassination, the police would arrest a patsy "to throw the public off." Amazingly, the Warren Commission gave very little attention to Milteer's interview. Milteer remains a shadowy and mysterious figure to this day. His 1963 tape-recorded remarks can be heard in the video above.

Friday, November 01, 2013

How Big Business Turned Welfare For The Poor Into Corporate Welfare


America has been gutting its already-threadbare social safety net for three decades. The recent cuts to food stamps are the latest evidence of that.

Does this mean that we will eventually see the realization of the GOP's dream of ending all welfare for low-income people?

Not if corporate America has a say in the matter. And make no mistake, nothing gets done in Washington, D.C. without corporate America's blessing.

The fact is, corporate America loves welfare. (No, I'm not just talking about the billions of dollars big corporations pocket in corporate welfare every year). I'm talking about welfare for low-income people.

In fact, welfare for low-income people plays a key and crucial role in the business models of companies ranging from Walmart to the fast-food industry. Without welfare programs like Medicaid and food stamps, many of these corporations would have to rethink their entire business model.

If all this sounds odd, it really shouldn't. After all, this explains why America has a social safety net in the first place.

Of course, America is a nation that has never had much sympathy for poor people. From birth, we are taught to admire the wealthy and spit on the poor. (Yes, this is indeed odd for a so-called "Christian" nation).

Hence, America's skimpy, bare-bones social safety net. In fact, given America's hostility toward the poor, it raises a question: why does America even have a social safety net at all? It certainly isn't because low-income people have much clout in Washington, D.C.

Republicans talk a real good talk about "ending welfare." And indeed, the GOP (along with the Democrats) have managed to slash welfare programs quite a bit over the past 30 years.

But the fact is, America still has a social safety net, even if it is very skimpy. And that social safety net is going nowhere, despite what the likes of Rand Paul and Ted Cruz are demanding.

The fact, is America's social safety net exists not to protect the interests of low-income people. It exists mainly to protect the profit margins of corporate America.

The fact is, corporations like Walmart can't be bothered to pay a living wage these days. And if workers don't earn a living wage, guess who is forced to make up the difference?

Yes, that's right: you and me and tens of millions of other U.S. taxpayers.

It's clear that corporate America has cleverly manipulated the system to turn programs like food stamps into de facto corporate welfare.

Most Americans are in the dark about this. Most of us tend to believe that people on food stamps are simply too lazy to get a job.

But the reality is that "most recipients of food stamps, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, are working-class Americans with jobs, or are senior citizens or children."

Over the past 30 years, with the destruction of good middle class jobs and the crushing of organized labor, tens of millions of Americans are now finding it difficult to make ends meet without food stamps and other government aid programs.

And that's just the way corporate America likes it.

Once again, the Rich & Powerful and the corporations have manipulated the system to enrich themselves and to screw over ordinary working-class people.

I recently had a debate with a friend, who disputed my contention that today's America has become an oligarchy, the sole purpose which is to enrich the wealthy at the expense of the rest of us.

"If that's true, then how to you explain welfare programs for low-income people?" my friend asked.

But as it turns out, even welfare programs for the poor ultimately benefit corporate America. Really, it's just a clever form of backdoor corporate welfare in the increasingly Third World-like nation called America.

So what's the solution to all this? Believe it or not, it's labor unions. Organized labor has been crushed over the past 30 years, since the Reagan administration's crackdown on unions. Currently, only 5 percent of private sector workers are unionized (versus 35 percent in the 1950s).

If organized labor can ever regain clout in America, more workers will be able to demand a living wage. And U.S. taxpayers will no longer be forced to subsidize corporate America's already sky-high profits.