June 30, 2009

End of June Already?

The older you get the smaller a fraction of your life each year is. Same thing goes with months.

Before too long, the Health Care Debate will be over. As much as I want to challenge the establishment, including withholding my support from Obama (like he cares), I do feel compelled to push for the "public option" being included in the exchange.

See? They've got us where they want us.


June 26, 2009

Women are Smarter....

I'm in "Challenge the Establishment" mode, and today I provide another strategic element. Women are at the front of the movement in Iran, and have been through out history.

The Greatful Dead knew it:

It ain't me
It's the people that say
Men are leading the women astray
But I say, it's the women today
Smarter than the man in every way

The People are hungry for real change, which is why they voted for Obama, a man whose words, and past deeds, resonated with that desire for changing the established system ... Unfortunately, the Office of the US President is not controlled by Obama, nor his senior staff... it's controlled by the establishment powers that helped put Obama into that office.

Can we change that? If so, how?

The simple answer is that "we the people" need to expose the illegitimacy of that establishment control and assert/insert our control. Simple in concept, yet difficult in practice.

This question of how to change the establishment power structure is at the root of so many other questions about creating positive social change. How? There is no silver bullet; however, women must and will play a central role if we are to succeed.

Examples across history demonstrate that women have the moral authority and courageous capacity to affect deep social change. This theme will be revisited in the weeks to come.


June 25, 2009

Strategic Framework for Challenging Establishment Power

It's difficult to ponder changing the status quo... the powerful establishment seeks, in general, to maintain the staus quo. Where does one start? Having a strategy helps. Here's a strategy shared with me by a college friend who has committed his life to promoting deep social change.

A Three-Element Strategy for Personal Activism:

It's certain that many of us share the sense that we need to move "beyond" the status quo, but we don't know how to do that. This sentiment is, in part, a reflection of the fact that our social construct is strongly defined by corporate power. An example of this might be that a corporation commits clear abuse, yet it is practically impossible to challenge that abuse because the channels to do so are filled with barriers that have been accumulated over decades of insider corporate tinkering with our judicial and legal systems. Add to that a pervasive control of mass media, and hence public awareness, that effectively isolates progressive activists from the rest of society.

So, how do we go forward? Here are three broad strategic elements by which to invest your activist energies:

Element 1: Invest part of your time in the multi-generational struggle to retract corporate constitutional rights that have been accumulated over decades. This sounds abstract, but think of it as being similar to ending slavery, which was once a legal business practice until the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the constitution were adopted. (Ironically, corporations have abused these amendments by getting the US Supreme Court to recognize them as "persons" within this Constitutional context.)

Element 2: Invest part of your time on time-sensitive issues, like saving that 700-year-old tree in your neighborhood that "needs to be chopped down" to widen a road. It's easy to become solely devoted to urgent issues of the day, so making linkages between this element and the other two is a helpful way to integrate your activism into this holistic strategy.

Element 3: Invest part of your time in identifying and promoting alternatives to status quo systems. It's easy to expose the flaws in the current "system," but difficult to develope and implement workable alternatives. Concrete steps in this regard include educating yourself and others about alternatives models of social interaction, supporting fledgling experiments into alternative models, like worker-owned businesses and so on.

By working within this construct on our own, we will be working together in a distributed way. It is a low-cost way to be organized, in the broad sense of the word.


Dave Henson, one of the founders of the Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy (POCLAD).


June 24, 2009

Is it Time to Challenge the World Establishment?

Ten Percent Blog concludes today's post with an open request for how to help Iranian's challenge their establishment without becoming tools of our own imperialist establishment:

Now, I am sick of writing about it, I want to find concrete practical things we can do to help. Suggestions welcome.

My suggestion follows:

One way we can help Iranians challenge their establishment is to challenge our own western establishments… what a “farce.” The inertia remaining from the fairly recent Greek uprisings, which spread around the world, provide a useful asset upon which to build.

On an individual level, we should use our strengths. You are a clear thinker and good writer. You should continue to make use of that strength, while others use their particular strengths.

We need to organize, and can do so in a distributed way… We should keep this impulse alive. My brief blog entry today reflects this impulse. Briefly, it concludes:

“I’m starting to feel like withdrawing all support from Obama, because he’s become the figurehead of a crime syndicate. Does anyone else feel this way?”

Psssst... Do Something


What's the Difference ....

.... between a suicide bomber at a funeral and a US Drone attack on a funeral?

In one case, the bomber dies and in the other case the bomber lives in Nevada and goes home after the bombing to see his child in a school play.

Talk about moral relativity. Add this to the list of things that show the presidency of the United States is not part of a republic of the people. The US presidency is as errant as Wall Street; it's all part of a crumbling empire that is out of control.

Today we hear reports that US drones attacked a funeral in Pakistan killing five militants and 75 civilians. Nice kill ratio. No different than a suicide bomber attacking a funeral... except for what I noted above.

I'm starting to feel like withdrawing all support from Obama, because he's become the figurehead of a crime syndicate. Does anyone else feel this way?

Psssst... Do Something


Associated Press, "Pakistani Taliban chief dodged missile: officials," Munir Ahmad, June 24, 2009.


June 23, 2009

A. Huffington & YouTube Cower to Israeli Power?

Thanks to LibHom and Ten Percent blogs for drawing my attention to yet another example of Israeli power in the US... or at least that is the appearance.

As you might know, Max Blumenthal's video, “Feeling The Hate In Jerusalem,” has been censored by the Huffington Post and YouTube. If you have not raised your voice on this, you should do so below... the right wing always raises it's voice.

Maybe the "fuck" and "nigger" words, coming out of mouths of Israeli youths in response to Obama's Cairo speech, was too much for these establishment media outlets (Yea, Huff Post and YouTube have been captured by the establishment... they are acting conservatively).

But, as usual, the censorship is drawing more attention to a video that it might otherwise.

Read more at Max Blumenthal's Blog.

Psssst... Do Something

E-mail YouTube at press@youtube.com AND use this e-mail form to sign a petition sponsored by Jewish Voices for Peace (a bunch of self-hating Jews ;-).

Contact the Huffington Post


June 22, 2009

Top 8 Media Conglomerates

In 1983, fifty corporations dominated most of every mass medium, including our news sources. In 1987, the fifty companies had shrunk to twenty-nine. In 1990, the twenty-nine had shrunk to twenty three. By the end of 2006, there are only 8 giant media companies dominating the US media, from which most people get their news and information. These Are:

  • Disney (market value: $72.8 billion)

  • AOL-Time Warner (market value: $90.7 billion)

  • Viacom (market value: $53.9 billion)

  • General Electric (owner of NBC, market value: $390.6 billion)

  • News Corporation (that's Fox, which now owns the Wall Street Journal, market value: $56.7 billion)

  • Yahoo! (market value: $40.1 billion)

  • Microsoft (market value: $306.8 billion)

  • Google (market value: $154.6 billion)

The market failure is that these conglomerates have become part of the establishment on which they are supposed to report. They have become beholden to short term profits and entertainment value. Corporate commercial interests have blunted their ability to speak truth to power at a management level, where the control lies.

The high-flying celebrity status of the hosts, and fear of loosing that status, creates a strong aversion to taking the risks associated with speaking truth to power.

The reduced numbers of employees in this consolidated industry make even the technical jobs rare plums. Thus, young people who want a job in the media industry will tend to do what ever management wants... no questions asked. It doesn't matter if these young people, and the vanishing news reporters, are "liberal"; they don't pick the stories to be covered and don't decide what makes it into print or on the air.

Bottom line is that the media industry reflects corporate conservatism, not liberalism.


June 19, 2009

Daily Visuals

Beautiful Daily Graphics at Leftwing Nut Job

... and insightful prose.

I love the visuals.


June 18, 2009

GDAE Podcast Episode 15

All Music
  • Desalambra
  • Awesome Barnhillian Medley
  • Ubalagdae: Guitar, voice and bells.
  • Wayfaring Stranger: Two versions.
  • Blackberry Turnpike: Road Trip
  • Mystery Song

Play GDAE Podcast Episode 15 from this page.

Previous Episodes & 60-Sec Promo:

GDAE Podcast 60-Second Promo

GDAE Podcast Episode 14 June 10, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 13 May 22, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 12May 5, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 11 April 24, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 10 April 9, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 9 March 28, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 8 March 15, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 7 March 1, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 6 February 17, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 5 February 6, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 4 January 24, 2009


June 17, 2009

Left Vs Right Populism

This is just a teaser post.

Libhom left the following comment recently:

I listened to your podcast on the populist right a week or two ago [April 24], and I want to blog about the subject of left populism[...] haven't gotten around to it yet.

Left populism is a point of view that deserves a lot more consideration and support, yet I've read a lot of prose on the left against it.

A historian friend passed the following to me:

Ben Tillman, governor of South Carolina and later US Senator, is considered by some to be a right wing "populist" during the populist movement in the late 18o0s. He was part of the agrarian revolt that attempted to change economic policy to help farmers who lost their farms and were forced into share cropping, and unending debt. He never became part of the Populist Party and others think his adoption of Populist Party platform elements, while remaining a member of the racist Democratic Party, took support away from the Populist Party.

At the same time, Tom Watson, of Georgia, was a populist leader who allied with black people, which was taboo at the time. He could be considered "left wing" in some regards. It is said elsewhere that he supported a KKK organization. He served in the US House of Representatives and Senate in the 1890s and was supposedly considered as a running mate by William Jennings Bryan.

Suffice it to say, regardless of the specifics of these two individuals, the populist movement of the 1890s were composed of both "right" and "left" wing elements that shared common economic concerns. The same coalition could have a role in current politics, and in Baltimore, MD, a US Senate candidate (2006), Kevin Zeese, ran as a "fusion" candidate, drawing from both the Green Party (left) and Libertarian Party (right).

Much more could be said on this subject, hence the "teaser" aspect of this post.


Lawrence Goodwyn, The Populist Moment: A Short History of the Agrarian Revolt in America, is a good source.


June 14, 2009

Walls Closing in on John Yoo

No to Impunity

Impunity of high officials from prosecution leads to the erosion of civil society. It appears that the impunity of Bush administration officials for their role in a policy of torture is being challenged... (fingers crossed). John Yoo, author of some of the torture memos as a Bush Justice Department official, is being pursued in civil court by torture victim Jose Padilla:

Mr. Padilla “has alleged sufficient facts to satisfy the requirement that Yoo set in motion a series of events that resulted in the deprivation of Padilla’s constitutional rights.” -- Judge Jeffrey S. White of Federal District Court in San Francisco

The walls are starting to close in on Bush administration officials.


New York Times, Judge Allows Civil Lawsuit Over Claims of Torture, John Schwartz, June 13, 2009.


June 11, 2009

Stiglitz on Breaking the Bank's Grip

Former World Bank Chief Economist and Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz is trying to rally public to check the power of the banks. Stiglitz is featured in Episode 14 of GDAE Podcast if you want to hear him in his own words.

Here are some of Joseph Stiglitz's words:

It has long been recognized that the US banks that are too big to fail are also too big to be managed.

The rigged system:

If they take big bets and win, they walk away with the proceeds, if they fail, the Government picks up the tab.

It's not the Banks that are being bailed out:

The Obama Administration has succumbed to political pressure and scare-mongering by the big banks and, as a result, has confused bailing out the bankers and their shareholders with bailing out the banks.

Justice and Anger:

Rewriting the rules of the market economy — in a way that has benefited those that have caused so much pain to the entire global economy — is worse than financially costly. Most Americans view it as grossly unjust, especially after they saw the banks divert the billions intended to enable them to revive lending, to payments of outsized bonuses and dividends

A Prediction:

This ersatz capitalism, where losses are socialized and profits privatized, is doomed to failure.


Business, Day, Break the banks, for the good of the people, Joseph Stiglitz, June 10, 2009.


June 10, 2009

GDAE Podcast Episode 14

Incentives and Einstein's Relativity III
  • Joseph Stigiltz and Bethany McLean on "Stopping Corrupt Capitalism in the Financial Services Industry: Regulations vs Incentives"
  • Humor: American Corporate Style
  • GDAE Podcast 15-Min of Fame?
  • Impeach Judge Jay Bybee for Torture Memos
  • Music by Dam, Palestinian rap group
  • Who are the Pirates of Somalia?
  • Einstein's Relativity: Part 3, Time Dilation and Length Contraction

You can take ACTION:

Urge your member of the House of Representatives to support impeachment hearings for judge Jay Bybee, signer of the torture memos. Write Your Rep Today. Or reach them by phone via the Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121.

Play GDAE Podcast Episode 14 from this page.

Previous Episodes & 60-Sec Promo:
GDAE Podcast 60-Second Promo

GDAE Podcast Episode 13 May 22, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 12 May 5, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 11 April 24, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 10 April 9, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 9 March 28, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 8 March 15, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 7 March 1, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 6 February 17, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 5 February 6, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 4 January 24, 2009


June 2, 2009

US Corporations Have No National Loyalty

As GM goes, so goes the nation.

Some are saying that was conventional wisdom in the 1960s... or maybe it's still true. It is no longer the fringe liberals and right wing nationalists who are saying things like:

GM is the number two foreign automaker in China behind Volkswagen, and GM’s plans for the future are dependent on success in China and not in the good old USA!

The reality is that so-called "US Corporations" have little or no loyalty to the US, except to the degree they can use the power of the government to their advantage... United Fruit Corporation liked having US military power support dictatorships in Central America so they could exploit workers and the environment without the unpredictability of democratic elections and the sovereign laws that follow.

Corporations are chartered to make a profit, and those with share holders have a fiduciary responsibility to make a profit; corporations can be sued by their share holders for bring do-gooders at the expense of profit. Corporations, apart from the people that run them, are designed to be profit-sharks... so, National loyalty, like paying their fair share of the National tax burden, is fundamentally counter to their charter... unless they are forced to do otherwise.

In stating his support for the "Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act", Senator Carl Levin siad,

“tax havens are engaged in economic warfare against the United States, and honest, hardworking Americans”

Obama and Geithner support the legislation, which makes me a little suspicious that it has been given a seal of approval by the corporate establishment. I don't claim expertise on the bill, but its good the issue is getting attention.

The "Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act" is a refinement of a bill introduced during the last Congress. According to Tax Justice USA, "The bill has been strengthened with the addition of three new provisions that would: (1) treat foreign corporations managed and controlled in the United States as domestic corporations for income tax purposes; (2) close an offshore tax dividend loophole that enables non-U.S persons to dodge payment of U.S. taxes on U.S. stock dividends; and (3) expand the tax return reporting requirements for passive foreign investment corporations (PFICs) to include U.S. persons who don’t own a PFIC, but have formed, sent assets to, received assets from, or benefitted from a PFIC."

For more, check out Tax Justice USA's website. If you like the legislation, contact your representatives in Washington.

  • Contact the US Senate
  • Contact the House of Representatives

  • Sources:

    Tax Justice USA's website.