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Our democracy is broken. For workers, the American Dream has been as realistic as a plotline in Keeping Up With The Kardashians or, to refer back to 1966, William Shatner's hairpiece.

Since the crisis, only the well off have been progressing, the rest of us have been falling behind:

Incomes and tax revenues have grown from 2009 to 2011 as the economy recovered, but an astonishing 149 percent of the increased income went to the top 10 percent of earners.
Who has been doing best in the post--Bush era? I think you know the answer.
The top 1 percent enjoyed 81 percent of all the increased income since 2009. Just over half of the gains went to the top one-tenth of 1 percent, and 39 percent of the gains went to the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent.

Ponder that last fact for a moment -- the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent, those making at least $7.97 million in 2011, enjoyed 39 percent of all the income gains in America. In a nation of 158.4 million households, just 15,837 of them received 39 cents out of every dollar of increased income.

That extreme concentration, however, is far from the most jaw-dropping figure that can be distilled from the new Saez-Piketty analysis. That requires a long-term comparison of those at or near the top with the bottom 90 percent.

In 2011 the average AGI of the vast majority fell to $30,437 per taxpayer, its lowest level since 1966 when measured in 2011 dollars.The vast majority averaged a mere $59 more in 2011 than in 1966 For the top 10 percent, by the same measures, average income rose by $116,071 to $254,864, an increase of 84 percent over 1966.

If you can remember, President Obama used to be fond of saying, "the buck stops with me." That statement has more than a bit of tragedy and farce today. It's time he, and the rest of our elected representatives, took some responsibility and passed on a few bucks to the rest of us.

47 years? It's past time for change we can believe in; it's time for change we can see.

Discuss

According to an investigation by the Guardian and BBC Arabic, Colonel James Steele was nominated by Donald Rumsfeld to organize paramilitaries, and retired Colonel James H Coffman worked alongside him, the latter reporting directly to General Petraeus.

The Pentagon sent a US veteran of the "dirty wars" in Central America to oversee sectarian police commando units in Iraq that set up secret detention and torture centres to get information from insurgents. These units conducted some of the worst acts of torture during the US occupation and accelerated the country's descent into full-scale civil war.

Colonel James Steele was a 58-year-old retired special forces veteran when he was nominated by Donald Rumsfeld to help organise the paramilitaries in an attempt to quell a Sunni insurgency, an investigation by the Guardian and BBC Arabic shows.

After the Pentagon lifted a ban on Shia militias joining the security forces, the membership of the special police commandos increasingly came from violent Shia groups such as the Badr brigades.

A second special adviser, retired Colonel James H Coffman, worked alongside Steele in detention centres that were set up with millions of dollars of US funding.

Coffman reported directly to General David Petraeus, sent to Iraq in June 2004 to organise and train the new Iraqi security forces. Steele, who was in Iraq from 2003 to 2005, and returned to the country in 2006, reported directly to Rumsfeld.

This is the first time General Petraeus, who lost the respect of the bipartisan community to promote austerity and endless pain in all realms human (by having sex outside marriage--presumably doing the institution almost damage gays do by having a fancy for it), has been directly linked to torture.
Coffman reported to Petraeus and described himself in an interview with the US military newspaper Stars and Stripes as Petraeus's "eyes and ears out on the ground" in Iraq.

"They worked hand in hand," said General Muntadher al-Samari, who worked with Steele and Coffman for a year while the commandos were being set up. "I never saw them apart in the 40 or 50 times I saw them inside the detention centres. They knew everything that was going on there ... the torture, the most horrible kinds of torture."

Additional Guardian reporting has confirmed more details of how the interrogation system worked. "Every single detention centre would have its own interrogation committee," claimed Samari, talking for the first time in detail about the US role in the interrogation units.

"Each one was made up of an intelligence officer and eight interrogators. This committee will use all means of torture to make the detainee confess like using electricity or hanging him upside down, pulling out their nails, and beating them on sensitive parts."

There is no evidence that Steele or Coffman tortured prisoners themselves, only thatthey were sometimes present in the detention centres where torture took place, and were involved in the processing of thousands of detainees.

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